514 Years Before the Great Schism of 1054
Wednesday March 25, 2020 / March 12, 2020
Fourth Week of the Great Lent: Adoration of Cross. Tone seven.
Great Lent. By Monastic Charter: Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)Venerable Theophanes the Confessor of Sigriane (818). St. Alexander confessor priest (1933). New Hieromartyrs John, Constantine priests, New Hieromartyr Vladimir (1938). New Hieromartyr Sergius priest (1943). Righteous Phineas, grandson of Aaron (1500 B.C.). St. Gregory the Dialogist, pope of Rome (604). Venerable Symeon the New Theologian (1022) and his elder Symeon the Reverent of the Studium (987). The Lydda Icon of the Mother of God Not-Made-by-Hands (1st c.)
The Scripture Readings
Sainted Gregory Dialogus, Pope of Rome
Commemorated on March 12
Sainted Gregory Dialogus, Pope of Rome, was born in Rome in about the year 540. His grandfather was Pope Felix, and his mother Sylvia and aunts Tarsilla and Emiliana were likewise enumerated by the Roman Church to the rank of saints. Having received a most excellent secular education, he attained to high governmental positions. And leading a God-pleasing life, he yearned with all his soul for monasticism. After the death of his father, Saint Gregory used up all his inheritance on the establishing of six monasteries. At Rome he founded a monastery in the name of the holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called, and having exchanged his capacious chambers for a narrow cell, he accepted there monastic tonsure. Afterwards, on a commission entrusted to him by Pope Pelagius II, Saint Gregory lived for a long while in Byzantium. And there he wrote his “Exposition on the Book of Job”. After the demise of Pope Pelagius, Saint Gregory was chosen to the Roman cathedra-see. But reckoning himself unworthy, over the course of seven months he would not consent to accept so responsible a service, and having acceded only through the entreaties of the clergy and flock, he finally accepted the consecration.
Wisely leading the Church, Sainted Gregory worked tirelessly at propagating the Word of God. Saint Gregory compiled in the Latin language the rite of the “Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts”, which before him was known of only in the verbal tradition. Affirmed by the Sixth OEcumenical Council, this liturgical rite was accepted by all the Orthodox Church.
He zealously struggled against the Donatist heresy; he likewise converted to the True Faith the inhabitants of Brittany – pagans and Goths, adhering to the Arian heresy.
Saint Gregory left after him numerous works of writing. And after the appearance of his book, “Dialogues concerning the Life and Miracles of the Italian Fathers” (“Dialogi de vita et miraculis patrum Italiorum”), the saint became called “Dialogus”, i.e. “teaching by dialogue conversations”. Particular reknown was enjoyed by his “Pastoral Rule” (or “Concerning Pastoral Service” – “Liber regulae pastoralis”). In this work Saint Gregory describes from every side the model of the true pastor. There have likewise reached us his letters (848), comprised of moral guidances.
Sainted Gregory headed the Church over the course of 13 years, concerning himself over all the needs of his flock. He was characterised by an extraordinary love of poverty, for which he was vouchsafed a vision of the Lord Himself.
Pope Saint Gregory I the Great, as he is otherwise known, died in the year 604, and his relics rest in the cathedral of the holy Apostle Peter in the Vatican.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.
HYMN OF PRAISE
Leo the Armenian offers Theophanes
As many riches as he wants,
If only he will sign his name
On the evil roster of the iconoclasts.
From the dungeon Theophanes writes to him:
“O Emperor, I cannot please you,
I cannot be true both to you and to God.
While I was young and agreeable to the world,
I had immense wealth.
I left all and turned to God;
I distributed all and withdrew to the wilderness,
Yet in the wilderness I had no hunger:
God feeds and sweetens me with Himself.
In my old age, what do you offer me?
Dust that I despised in my early youth!
There is nothing, O Emperor, that you can give me
That the Lord does not give me a hundredfold,
Except tortures, for which I waited so long.
Tortures will separate me from the world
And unite me with the All-precious Lord.
O Emperor, why do you wage war against icons?
Was not Christ Himself as an icon,
As an icon of the Eternal Hypostases,
As an icon of the Trinity Almighty,
As an icon of the unseen God,
Unseen and unapproachable.
He will judge both you and me.
Rule, O Emperor, but give way to your replacement.
The world passes, and only God remains.
Whoever is with God does not fear the world.”
No one, not even the Lord Himself, takes pleasure in instructing the proud. No one wants to give instruction to him who cries out that he knows everything. Mysteries shall be revealed to the meek, says the wise Sirach (The Book of Ecclesiasticus – Sirach 3:19). David also speaks of God, saying: He guides the meek to justice, He teaches the meek His way (Psalm 25:9). The proud person is he who wants to teach everyone yet does not want to be taught anything by anyone. The humble man is he who does not wish to teach anyone but continually desires to be taught by someone, no matter whom. An empty ear of corn raises its head above the field, and the full ear of corn hangs down with bowed head.
O proud man, if only your guardian angel would somehow remove the veil from your eyes and show you the endless open sea of all that you do not know. You would kneel before every man before whom you have exhibited pride and kneel before every man whom you have belittled. You would cry out lamenting: “Forgive me, forgive me! I do not know anything!” Often the humble and pious have the time of their death revealed to them, but the death of the proud comes unexpectedly and without warning. St. Gregory the Dialogist speaks of a bishop, Carpus, who daily celebrated the Divine Liturgy, and how suddenly One appeared from the other world and said: “Continue in the way you are serving Me and may your legs never grow tired or your hands grow weak. On the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos you will come to Me and I will give you your reward in My Heavenly Kingdom, together with all of those for whom you have prayed at the divine services.” After a year, on the Feast of the Dormition, Bishop Carpus celebrated the Divine Liturgy of God, sought forgiveness from his priests, and gave up his soul to God. His face shone like the sun.
Contemplate the Lord Jesus before Pilate:
1. How the Jews accused Him before Pilate and how He did not say anything;
2. How He did not reply, even to Pilate’s questions;
3. How our Lord speaks when it is necessary to defend men from the devil, from sin, from disease and death, but is silent when He Who is the Defender of Men is asked to protect Himself from man.
on the Second Coming of Christ
“And before Him shall be gathered all nations” (Matthew 25:32).
All the nations will be assembled before the Lord Jesus when He appears in His glory, surrounded by the holy angels, sitting on a throne as the Judge of all the living and the dead. All the nations will be assembled–all, without exception. Not only the Jews who tormented Him, not only the Christians who glorified Him, but also the heathen who neither knew Him nor acknowledged Him. For if He were not to appear to all nations, He would have to send someone or give something to all nations for them to know God’s will and receive the message of salvation. That is why all the nations must appear before Him for judgment.
Oh, what an awesome and majestic spectacle, when all the nations and all the tribes on earth are assembled before the Lord, Who is brighter than many suns. What joy for the holy martyrs and confessors when they see how, in this countless mass of nations, there is not one tongue left to deny the divinity of the Lord Jesus! But it will be of no value to anyone in that hour and place to recognize and to confess the divinity of our great Lord, if they denied Him on earth. Accounts will settled there and then, with no gain and no loss. With whatever one appears before the Lord, with that he will be either condemned or justified.
Now is the time to acknowledge the divinity of the Lord Jesus–now, when many deny Him and when His divinity is doubted by many. They who love the Lord and who trust in all of His words will easily acknowledge this. For when He says this, what do those who love Him have to worry, to doubt, or to hesitate about?
O Lord, Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us!
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.