Saturday February 6, 2021 / January 24, 2021
35th Week after Pentecost. Tone one.
Venerable Xenia of Rome and her two female slaves (5th c.). St. Xenia of Petersburg, fool-for-Christ (18th c.). Martyr Nicholas (1918). St. Gerasimus, bishop of Perm (1441). Martyr John of Kazan (1529). Martyrs Babylas of Sicily and his two disciples Timothy and Agapius (3rd c.). Venerable Macedonius, hermit of Syria (ca. 420). Translation of the relics (632) of St. Anastasius the Persian (628).
St. Xenia of Petersburg, fool-for-Christ (18th c.)
Commemorated on January 24, May 24
She was born about 1730, and as a young woman married an army colonel named Andrei, a handsome and dashing man fond of worldly living. When she was twenty-six years old, her husband died suddenly after drinking with his friends, leaving Xenia a childless widow. Soon afterward, she gave away all her possessions and disappeared from St Petersburg for eight years; it is believed that she spent the time in a hermitage, or even a monastery, learning the ways of the spiritual life. When she returned to St Petersburg, she appeared to have lost her reason: she dressed in her husband’s army overcoat, and would only answer to his name. She lived without a home, wandering the streets of the city, mocked and abused by many. She accepted alms from charitable people, but immediately gave them away to the poor: her only food came from meals that she sometimes accepted from those she knew. At night she withdrew to a field outside the city where she knelt in prayer until morning.
Slowly, the people of the city noticed signs of a holiness that underlay her seemingly deranged life: she showed a gift of prophecy, and her very presence almost always proved to be a blessing. The Synaxarion says “The blessing of God seemed to accompany her wherever she went: when she entered a shop the day’s takings would be noticeably greater; when a cabman gave her a lift he would get plenty of custom; when she embraced a sick child it would soon get better. So compassion, before long, gave way to veneration, and people generally came to regard her as the true guardian angel of the city.”
Forty-five years after her husband’s death, St Xenia reposed in peace at the age of seventy-one, sometime around 1800. Her tomb immediately became a place of pilgrimage: so many people took soil from the gravesite as a blessing that new soil had to be supplied regularly; finally a stone slab was placed over the grave, but this too was gradually chipped away by the faithful. Miracles, healings and appearances of St Xenia occur to this day, to those who visit her tomb or who simply ask her intercessions. Her prayers are invoked especially for help in finding employment, a home, or a spouse (all of which she renounced in her own life). A pious custom is to offer a Panachida / Trisagion Service for the repose of her husband Andrei, for whom she prayed fervently throughout her life.
Saint Xenia was first officially glorified by the Russian Orthodox Church outside Russia in 1978; then by the Moscow Patriarchate in 1988.
HYMN OF PRAISE
The virgin Xenia, like Agnes,
Or the all-glorious Thecla or Anastasia,
Did not want to be tied to a corruptible man,
But found a Bridegroom in the Immortal Christ.
With all her soul, Xenia loved His beauty,
Mercy, tenderness and radiant purity.
Even the senator’s house and wealth, she left,
When the Sun of Righteousness shone in her soul.
The soul! The soul! The soul is the true bride,
While the body is poor, like the transient grass.
Xenia began to adorn the bride,
And, by many prayers, to wash and nourish her,
That the bride would take on a heavenly appearance,
Pleasant and worthy of the Heavenly Bridegroom.
The labors of Holy Xenia were pleasing to the Bridegroom,
And many wondrous gifts, upon her, He bestowed.
When her pure soul, over the flesh, gained the rule,
As calmly as a king over a vanquished city,
The the Lord crowned her with the wreath of immortality.
Into the mansions of eternal joy He led her:
Where the angels hymn the Creator in song;Where the Lord receives His bride.
In our day, you usually hear these words from parents: “We want to secure the life of our child.” That is why they work very hard to amass wealth–often unjustly–to educate their child in the calling that brings the greatest physical security and material benefit. And this is done by so-called Christians! They do this because their concept of real life and the real security of life is erroneous. Here is how a true Christian mother prepares her son for a real life: At the time of her death, Blessed Euphrosyne spoke to her son, Clement of Ancyra: “Do me the honor, O my son, and bravely stand up for Christ and confess Him firmly and without hesitation! In my heart I hope that the crown of martyrdom will soon blossom on you, in my honor and for the salvation of many. Do not be afraid of threats, or swords, or pains, or wounds, or fire. Let nothing separate you from Christ, but look up to heaven–and from there you can expect your great, eternal and rich reward from God. Fear God’s majesty; be afraid of His awesome judgment; tremble at His all-seeing Eye; for all those who deny Him will receive the punishment of unquenchable fire and the eternally vigilant worm. Let this be my reward from you, my sweet son–for my pain in child-bearing and my effort concerning your education–that I may be called the mother of a martyr. Do not spare the blood that you received from me, but shed it that from this I may also receive honor. Submit your body to torture, that I too may rejoice at this before our Lord–as though I myself had suffered for Him.”
Contemplate the Lord Jesus as Teacher:
1. As a Teacher Who teaches how a man should think in order to be saved;
2. As a Teacher Who teaches how a man should talk in order to be saved;
3. As a Teacher Who teaches how a man should act in order to be saved.
on the most-discerning Prophet
“Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?” (Matthew 9:4).
When our Lord deigned to direct a rebuke to the Pharisees and scribes, they had, as yet, neither killed anyone, nor deceived anyone, nor robbed anyone. Not only that: they had not yet even offended anyone by their words. Why then did our Lord admonish them when they had not committed any sin either in works or in words? Why? Because their thoughts were evil.
An evil thought is sin! This is the great new understanding, which Christ brought into the world. In truth, an evil thought is the sinful source of all sin because, before a man says something or does something sinful, he thinks sinfully. Thought is the causative sin. All other sins are only subsequent sins. Whoever wishes to annihilate evil actions, must first uproot evil thoughts. Whoever desires to stem the flow of water, must first dry up the source. Therefore, let no one justify himself by saying: “I am not a sinner, for I have not killed anyone, robbed anyone, profaned anyone, or lied to anyone!” Behold, we are full of deadly robbing, profaning and deceiving thoughts! If we have not committed sin by our deeds, this is simply a matter of the mercy of God and external circumstances. But, if God had allowed it, and if the circumstances had been favorable, we would have committed all those sins that we thought of. The serpent is venomous not only when it bites but also when it does not bite–because it carries the venom in itself.
Therefore, not only is thought a sin, but it is also the source of sin, the beginning of sin, the seed and the root of sin. That is why the All-seeing and All-knowing Lord rebuked those who had evil thoughts. Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?
O Lord, all-seeing and all-knowing, help us to cleanse our hearts and minds from evil thoughts, so that our words and deeds may be pure.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.