The commemoration day of the saints who shown forth in the Russian land show us that spiritual heaven under which the Russian land was created and lived. Before Holy Prince Vladimir, in the Russian land lived disparate pagan tribes who were constantly at war with each other. Holy Prince Vladimir brought them a new faith, a new inner spiritual state; he gave them a new, all-uniting spirit of life, and thus was one nation formed.
A search for compromise will be the characteristic disposition of men. Straightforwardness of confession will vanish. Men will cleverly justify their fall, and an endearing evil will support such a general disposition. Men will grow accustomed to apostasy from the truth and to the sweetness of compromise and sin.
Saints retain all that is characteristic of the human condition; they know everything that is ours. They are near to God, but they are also near to us; they walked and dwelt among us. The people of Holy Russia venerated them, kissed their icons and holy relics, wanted to be as close as possible to the saints, touched holiness, and the Russian land was filled with it.
When He created the world, God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness(Gen. 1:26). God’s image manifests in man’s mental capabilities, in his authority over nature, his power, and his ability to create. God’s likeness in man consists in his moral perfection, his spiritual strivings, and in his possibility of attaining sanctity. God’s image and likeness, in which our fore-parents were created, was fully reflected in them before the fall. Sin disrupted both the former and the latter, although it did not entirely deprive man of them.
St. Euphemia was tortured during the persecutions against Christians under Diocletian, and her death and suffering are commemorated on September 16/29. But today her memory is celebrated because of a miracle that happened during the Fourth Ecumenical Council. This council was supposed to decide who is right—those who believe that Christ was both God and man, the God-Man, or those who asserted that the divinity in Christ completely swallowed up His humanity, so that even His sufferings were only apparent.
“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19), said the Lord, summoning His first disciples. I did not imagine in my earliest childhood that this call would be addressed to me, though from the first, I knew that I wished to serve the truth. My parents kindled within me the desire to stand firmly for the truth, and my soul was captured by the examples of those who sacrificed their lives for it, struggling against kings when they persecuted the faith of salvation, struggling for kings when they were the bearers and protectors of piety.
The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not three gods, but one God, since They have one nature. But not only because of this. People also have one nature, one essence. But with people one cannot say that two or three persons are one person, no matter how close and amicable they may be. People not only have separate bodies, but each one also has his own will, his own tastes, his own moods.
Our grief for our loved ones who have died should be inconsolable and boundless, had the Lord not given us eternal life. Our life would be senseless if it ended in death. What benefit would there be from virtue, or from good deeds? Then they would be right who say, “Let us eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die!”
On Theophany, that is, the Day of the Lord's Baptism, every year a great miracle is performed. The Holy Spirit, coming down upon the water, changes its natural properties. It becomes incorrupt, that is it does not spoil, remains transparent and fresh for many years, receives the grace to heal illnesses, to drive away demons and every evil power, to preserve people and their dwellings from every danger, to sanctify various objects whether for church or home use.
The Apostles gave Her most pure body over to burial with sacred hymns, and on the third day they opened the tomb so as once more to venerate the remains of the Mother of God together with the Apostle Thomas, who had arrived then in Jerusalem. But they did not find the body in the tomb and in perplexity they returned to their own place; and then, during their meal, the Mother of God Herself appeared to them in the air, shining with heavenly light, and informed them that Her Son had glorified Her body also, and She, resurrected, stood before His Throne. At the same time She promised to be with them always.
Being born exactly half a year before Christ, John the Forerunner by the exact time of his birth depicted his mission of preparing the way for the Lord. He was born at the time of the year (June 24) when the day begins to grow shorter after the summer solstice, whereas the Nativity of Christ occurs (December 25) when the day begins to grow longer after the winter solstice. These facts are an embodiment of the words spoken later, by the Forerunner, after the beginning of Christ's preaching: He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30).