Saints Cosmas and Damian

Saints Cosmas and Damian were twins born to Christian parents in Arabia, in the third century. They lived in the region around the border between modern day Turkey and Syria. …[The brothers] were physicians who were renowned for their skill as well as their refusal to charge for their services. Before beside manner was a “thing”, they had a loving and respectful way, and for this reason, they were called by the Church “unmercenary physicians” (Anargyroi in Greek).

Their charity and Christian witness won many converts to the faith and earned them a place of prominence in the Christian communities of Asia Minor. Therefore, when the Diocletian persecutions began in the latter half of the third century they were of some of the first to be sought out for execution.

St Samson the hospitable

Today we are given as a model of holiness and witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ the venerable father, Samson, called the hospitable, priest and physician. Samson is numbered among a few who are ordained priests and physicians, so we ought to make it a point to ask for his intercession as we all face medical concerns personally or with family and friends.

The Church teaches us the place St Samson has among the great Cloud of Witnesses in the Troparion for the Divine Liturgy. We have a clear expectation for our own Christian life in seeing St Samson extolled:

“Patience reaped you your reward, O holy father, for you persevered in constant prayer and devotion. In your great love for the poor and the afflicted, you attended to their needs of body and soul. So now we entreat you in our need, O holy father, Samson, beg Christ, our God, so save our souls.”

The Birth of the Holy Prophet, Forerunner, and Baptist John

This feast is the story of the fidelity of God, and of his servants. The first reading at Vespers compares the story of Elizabeth and Zechariah to Abraham and Sarah. Abraham and Sarah were barren until their old age and had lost hope of being able to pass on life to a new generation. But beyond the bounds of all hope, God told Abraham that he and Sarah would have a child, and, indeed, not just any child but the founder of Israel, of the people of God, and of all who believe in his name. Elizabeth and Zechariah also had lost all hope of new life, and for them it was a shame before the people.

Yet the angel of the Lord appeared to Zechariah in the holy place and told him that Elizabeth would give birth to a son, and again, not just any son, but the forerunner of the Messiah, who would give life to all by his resurrection. We see the fidelity of God – he will bless us with life, he loves us beyond all limits, beyond our despair, beyond all hopes.

Holy Prophet Amos

The Holy Prophet Amos is known as the prophet of doom, the third of the Twelve Minor Prophets who lived during the eighth century before Jesus Christ. Amos accurately foretold the destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel due to the unfaithfulness of the Israelites. That is, the tribes of Israel were governed by an idol-worshipper and the people joined in that worship of a golden calf (a false god) instead of the One, Living God. Thus, they rejected the God of Israel.

Biographically, little is known about his life and what we known comes from his book in the Bible, the first to be named after a Hebrew prophet.

Saints Cyril and Methodius

Today is the feast of our Holy Fathers Cyril and Methodius, equals-to-the-Apostles and teachers of the Slavs.

It is thanks to Ss. Cyril and Methodius’ missionary efforts and zeal for the Gospel, they brought the Christian faith in the Slavonic tongue to our ancestors in AD 863.

With the Church we sing:

O Cyril and Methodius, inspired by God,
You became equal to the Apostles by your life.
Since you were teachers of the Slavs,
Intercede with the Master of all
That He may strengthen all Orthodox peoples in the True Faith,
And that He may grant peace to the world
And great mercy to our souls. (Troparion for the feast)

Holy and Just Job

Today we commemorate the holy and just Job, the Long-Suffering, a man of admirable patience in the land of Uz, who was “simple and upright, fearing God and avoiding evil.” (Job 1:1)

If you are suffering and need a friend in Heaven, the sainted Job is your understanding man of faith, hope, trust and patience. God hears and answers all our prayers. And the sometimes we must accept that sometimes the answer is “no.”

Keep focused on God with Blessed Emilian Kovch

The Ukrainian Patriarch Sviatoslav mentioned in his video message for May 1st the life of Blessed priest-martyr Emilian Kovch. Who is this man referenced?

Blessed Emilian Kovch (1884-1944) was the son of a priest, a married Eastern Catholic priest, and father of six who was persecuted by the Nazi ideologues.

Father Emilian served as a military chaplain (1919-1921). At the time he said, “I know that the soldier on the front line feels better when he sees the doctor and the priest also there . . . You know, lads, that I am consecrated, and a bullet doesn’t take a consecrated man easily.”

As Sviatoslav quotes Blessed Emilian, let these words become our own: “Here I see God, Who is one and the same for all.”

Prophet Jeremiah

On the Byzantine liturgical calendar today is the feast of the Holy Prophet Jeremiah; as a point of comparison, the Armenian liturgical calendar commemorates Jeremiah on August 27.

Knowledge of sacred Scripture will remind us that the Prophet Jeremiah is one of the major prophets of the Bible. Jeremiah lived in-between the 7th and 6th centuries before Christ—thus making him a contemporary of Solon (the Athenian lawgiver).

We speak of prophets receiving his call from God. In Jeremiah’s case, the prophetic calling happened in a time of promise: the reign of the godly king Josiah, during which a lost book of Moses, known as Deuteronomy, was re-discovered, springing a movement of spiritual renewal awakened among the Hebrew people. But with the king’s death came the people’s despair.

St Mark

Happy feast of Saint Mark, evangelist. Blessings for those who are named Mark. Prayers for the Diocese of Venice in Italy.

Here’s our mission: Go into all the world and preach the Gospel. (Mark 16:15)

St Nicholas the wonderworker

Our father among the saints, Nicholas, archbishop of Myra in Lycea, the wonderworker.

There is probably more folklore surrounding St Nicholas than any other saint on the calendar, though actual biographical facts are few. He was bishop in Myra, in what is now Turkey, during the first part of the fourth century. He probably attended the first ecumenical council in Nicea.

Within two centuries of his death, his renown was such that the Emperor Justinian built a church in his honor in Constantinople. In the eleventh century his relics were stolen and taken to Bari in southern Italy, where they remain to this day. A portion, however, was presented to the Greek Church in North America in 1972.