1. THE HOLY ARCHANGEL GABRIEL
This great archangel of God is celebrated on March 26. On this day however,
he is celebrated and honored for his appearances and miracles throughout the
entire history of man's salvation. It is believed that this celebration was
first established on Mt. Athos in the ninth century, during the reign of Emperor
Basil and the Empress Constantina Porphyrogenitus and Patriarch Nicholas
Chrysoverges, on the occasion of the appearance of the Archangel Gabriel in a
cell near Karyes where he wrote on a stone tablet with his finger, the hymn to
the Birth-giver of God, "Worthy It is meet," [Dostojno Jest Axion
Estin]. As a result of this, even today, this cell is called the cell of "Axion
Estin." In connection with this, other appearances of the Archangel Gabriel
are also commemorated: the appearance to Moses while he was tending the flock of
Jethro and, at which time, he related to this great one called of God, how the
world was created and all the rest which Moses recorded in his Book of Creation
(Genesis); his appearance to the Prophet Daniel and revealing to him the mystery
of future kingdoms and of the coming of the Savior; his appearance to St. Ann
and the promise that she will give birth to a daughter, the All-blessed and
All-pure Holy Virgin Mary; the very brief appearance to the Holy Virgin while
she lived in the Temple in Jerusalem; the appearance to Zacharias the High
Priest and the tidings concerning the birth of John the Forerunner and the
severe punishment of Zacharias with dumbness because he did not believe his
words; again, the appearance to the Holy Virgin in Nazareth and informing Her of
the good news of the conception and the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ; the
appearance to the righteous Joseph; the appearance to the shepherds near
Bethlehem; the appearance to the Lord Himself in the Garden of Gethsemane when
he strengthened our Lord as a man prior to His passion; the appearance to the
myrrh-bearing women and so forth.
2. SAINT JULIAN, THE BISHOP OF CENOMAINS [LEMANS,
Some think that this saint is none other than Simon the Leper, who was cured
by the Lord. The Apostle Peter consecrated him a bishop and sent him to pagan
Gaul, where St. Julian endured great miseries but succeeded to convert many
people to the Faith of Christ. When he baptized Prince Defenson, many subjects
of this prince turned to the True Faith. By the grace of God, he worked great
miracles: he healed the sick, cast out demons and resurrected the dead. He
ended his life peacefully and, at the time of his death, appeared to Prince
Defenson in the middle of the day while he was at lunch.
3. THE VENERABLE STEPHEN OF SABAS
Stephen was a first cousin to St. John Damascene. He lived a life of
asceticism in the Monastery of St. Sabas the Sanctified for which he was
surnamed Sabas. He was a great imitator of the life of St. Sabas and a shining
star among the monks in Palestine. He reposed in the Lord in the year 794 A.D.,
in his sixty-ninth year.
4. THE VENERABLE FEMALE SARAH
As a young maiden, Sarah withdrew to live a life of austere mortification
and for sixty years lived a life of asceticism on the shores of the Nile river
not far from Alexandria. By her example she attracted many women to the
monastic life. She found rest in the Lord in the year 370 A.D.
HYMN OF PRAISE
When St. Julian passed away,
Wonderful shepherd of Christ's flock,
His spiritual child, Prince Defenson,
With the noblemen was at lunch,
At lunch in the middle of the day.
All at once, the prince stared,
An apparition unusual, he saw:
In the middle of the room, Julian stood,
In vesture, gilded with gold
As a bishop in the temple of God,
In an unusual light;
With a smile, looked at the prince.
Beside him, three deacons radiant,
With tapers in white hands
That apparition shown and disappeared,
Frightened, the prince leaped to his feet,
To his noblemen spoke:
"Behold, I saw Father Julian,
The saint, our baptizer
Could be that he, from his soul, departed
Into the Heavenly Kingdom moved."
And on the road the prince set out,
Until, in the home of Julian he arrived,
And as he arrived, so he learned,
His soul to God, Julian presented.
A man adorns simple clothing and ornate clothing adorns a man. Simple
clothing calls attention to the man, but ornate clothing calls attention to
itself. The passion for ornate clothing simply drains and withers the soul of
man. This is the real reason why the Church from time immemorial stood against
opulence in dress and recommended the simple and plain. Among the countless
Christian saints there is no mention of one for whom ornate clothing helped to
attain sanctity. Many great and wise kings, not only Christians but also
heathens, loved simplicity in dress. Thus, it is said that the Emperor Augustus
Octavius, during whose reign the Lord Christ was born wore only simple clothing
which was woven for him by his wife, sister or daughter. Of King Charles V, it
is said, that he wore such simple clothing that even ordinary citizens, his
subjects, were better dressed than he. A man once invited the glorious Greek
military general Philopomenes to dinner in whose home he had never previously
entered. Philopomenes arrived at the home of his host a little early. The host
had not yet arrived and, the hostess not knowing Philopomenes personally and
seeing him attired in simple clothing, thought that he was a servant of
Philopomenes who was sent in advance to inform her husband of the coming of the
military general. Because of this, she ordered him to chop wood. Philopomenes
willing acceded to her command and began to chop wood. When the host came and
saw what this honored guest was doing, he was horrified and asked him: "Who
dared to give this type of work to Philopomenes?" Quietly, the military
general answered: "My clothing."
To contemplate the great patience of God toward the unbelieving Jewish
generation and their deserved punishment (Numbers 14):
1. How God worked a multitude of miracles before the eyes of the Israelites
and how they remain stubborn in their unbelief and murmured against Moses;
2. How God punished them, making them wander for forty years in the
wilderness and all of them perished except Joshua and Caleb;
3. How even some of us perish in the wilderness of sensuality and do not
enter into the land of spiritual honey and milk in the Kingdom of Christ.
About the indispensability of sobriety in battle
against the devil
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a
roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour"
(1 Peter 5:8).
Orthodox monks have elevated sobriety and vigilance to the status of
mortification. The spirit must be sober in order to sense danger and vigilant
in order to recognize from which side the danger is coming and from whom.
My child, be vigilant that you do not tread on a serpent, that you do not
fall into a pit, that you do not encounter a wolf, that you do not step out into
deep water, that you do not stray from the path and get lost in the forest!
Thus a mother counsels her child, fearing for his body. With no less love does
the Church counsel a man, fearing for his soul. Therefore children, "be
sober, be vigilant." Your old adversary the devil does not rest nor sleep
but, similar to a hungry lion, stalks and seeks whomsoever he can devour. "Be
sober, be vigilant," for you are as sheep and he is as a lion. When sheep
sense the foul odor of the wolf, they flee to their shepherd. Therefore, "be
vigilant" all of you and sense the foulness of the devil when he approaches
you and flee immediately under the wings and protection of your shepherd, Christ
the Lord. And You will sense the odious smell of the devil through your
thoughts, through your feelings, through your intentions and through your
passions of the flesh. All that you would have thought, imaged, felt, intended
and desired contrary to Christ and the Law of Christ, know that that is the
snare of the devil, the foulness of the devil know that and flee to your
Shepherd directing your entire mind and all your heart and all your soul and
body to Him.
O Lord Jesus, our Sober and Vigilant Shepherd, make us "sober and
vigilant" at every moment so that our enemy will not surprise us and devour
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.