1. VENERABLE DAVID
David was born in Thessalonica. At first, he lived a life of asceticism in the proximity of Thessalonica in a hut built beneath an almond tree. Later, he continued his asceticism in Thessaly. So much did he purify himself by fasting, prayer and all-night vigils that he was made worthy to receive great grace from God. Once he took live coals in his hand, placed incense on the coals and censed the emperor without any injury to his hand. Seeing this, the emperor bowed down to the ground before him. He amazed many people by his numerous miracles. He died peacefully and took up habitation in eternal blessedness in the year 540 A.D.
2. THE FEAST OF THE ICON OF TIKHVIN [TICHVINE]
This icon of the Holy Birth-giver of God [the Theotokos] was first in Constantinople but in 1383 A.D., seventy years before the fall of Constantinople in 1453 A.D., it suddenly appeared in the sky near the town of Tikhvin in northern Russia. There, where it descended to the ground, a monastic community and church were established. The icon is named after the town of Tikhvin. Countless miracles were wrought from this miraculous icon; especially many of the sick received healing from it.
3. THE FEAST OF THE HOLY ICON OF THE MOTHER OF GOD, THE GUIDE [HODIGITRIA]
The Evangelist Luke himself painted [wrote] this icon on wood. The All-holy Birth-giver of God saw this icon and blessed it. St. Luke donated this icon to the statesman Theophilus for whom he wrote the Acts of the Apostles. From Antioch, this icon was later brought to Jerusalem, from Jerusalem, Empress Eudocia took it and sent it to Constantinople as a gift to the emperor's sister, the pious Pulcheria. Pulcheria placed the icon in the church of Blachernae, her own memorial church. The All-holy Birth-giver of God once appeared to two blind men and led them into the church of Blachernae before her icon and there, restored their sight. Because of this, this icon was called Hodigitria the Guide. When the army of the Persian King Chozroes and the Scythian King Kagan attacked Constantinople, Patriarch Sergius brought this icon out to the ramparts of the city and processed with it around the ramparts. The All-holy Birth-giver of God then saved the Christians from the non-Christians. The armies of the adversaries became confused, the sea became agitated, the boats sank and the enemies who remained alive fled. From that time, the commemoration of this miracle of the All-holy Birth-giver of God was instituted on the fifth Sunday of the Honorable Fast Season [Lent] by chanting the Akathist. During the time of iconoclasm, this icon was brought to the monastery of the Pantocrator and there it was sealed in a wall and a votive light was left there to burn in front of it. As it was sealed, so it was later found.
HYMN OF PRAISE
THE FEAST OF THE ICON OF THE BIRTH-GIVER OF GOD [THEOTOKOS] OF LYDDA OR OF ROME
The icon of the Mother of God of Lydda
Patriarch Herman, a prisoner for the Faith,
From Constantinople, sent to the Pope
When the east suffered for icons.
The icon upon the water set out,
Faster than the boats that sail the sea,
Lighter than water and of the Zypher,
Atop the waves, water it touches not.
For a long time, the icon in Rome remained
Much time, many years,
Until the iconoclastic emperors
From battle with Christ, ceased from fatigue
And when golden peace, the east gilded
The icon of Lydda returned home,
Lighter than water and of the Zypher
Atop the waves, water it touches not.
Two capital cities [Constantinople and Rome], two martyrs,
The power of the Birth-giver of God, recognized,
Power most wonderful, the icon of Lydda
That raises the dead and heals the sick.
Until his last breath ceaseless repentance is necessary for a Christian. St. Mark the Ascetic says: "Think and you will see that the mystery of devotion in the chosen ones of God was realized through repentance." Repentance, even at the hour of death! This case occurred: an old ascetic and renown spiritual father was dying and he called for a priest to administer Holy Communion to him. Along the way a robber joined the priest and desired to see for himself how a holy man dies. The holy elder peacefully received Holy Communion and peacefully talked with the priest. The robber then wept and said: "Blessed are you! Alas, what kind of death will I be worthy of?" The holy elder suddenly became proud and responded to him: "Be as I am and it will be to you as it is to me!" The robber returned along the road weeping all the time and lamenting over himself and, at that moment, dropped dead. Then the people saw a "fool for Christ" as he weeps over the holy elder and dances and sings over the robber. When he was asked the reason for this, he replied: "By the pride of that one [the elder] he lost all merits; the repentance of this one [the robber] he reaped all the fruits."
To contemplate the miraculous healing of the bent over woman: "And behold, there was a woman who for eighteen years had a sickness caused by a spirit; and she was bent over and utterly unable to look upwards" (St. Luke 13:11):
1. How the Lord placed His hands on the deformed woman and the woman straightened up;
2. How my soul is deformed as the woman and is bent over to the ground;
3. How the Lord can put His hand on my soul, i.e., His Holy Spirit and the deformity will immediately be straightened up.
About the fear of the wicked man
"The wicked man flees although no one pursues him; but the just man, like a lion feels sure of himself" (Proverbs 28:1).
Wicked men are even afraid of shadows; to them shadows of trees seem as an army. Wherever something rustles, the wicked man thinks; the avenger comes! The trembling of leaves, he hears as a sound of chains; he takes the voices of birds as the shout of hunters who give chase after game; he sees grass as a spy of his evil deed; water, as a witness against him; the sun, as a judge; the stars, as those who taunt him. O my brethren, how many lies are born out of fear? For fear is of sin, sin is of the devil and the devil is the father of all lies.
Fear is the first-fruit of sin. When Adam sinned, he hid from the face of God. And when God cried out, Adam said: "I heard your voice in the garden and I was afraid" (Genesis 3:10). Before sin, Adam did not know about fear; neither did he hide from the face of God but, on the contrary, always hurried to encounter God. And as soon as he sinned, he "was afraid."
"But the just man, like a lion feels sure of himself." Without sin, without fear. Without sin, without weakness. The sinless ones are powerful, very powerful and brave, very brave. The righteous ones are strong and fearless. Such are the righteous ones, only the righteous ones.
O Sinless Lord, save us from empty fear but before that, preserve us from sin, the parent of fear.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.