1. THE HOLY FEMALE-MARTYR AGRIPPINA
Saint Agrippina was born and educated in Rome. From her childhood she trained herself to live an evangelical life, driving away the stench of passions from her heart and filling her heart with the sweet-smelling fragrance of purity, of virginity and chastity. She was betrothed to Christ the Lord and, as the Bride of Christ, suffered during the reign of Emperor Valerian. She endured flogging with rods until her bones were crushed. An angel of God appeared to her and strengthened her. While being tortured, St. Agrippina gave up her soul to God. Her companions, Bassa, Paula and Agathonice, translated her relics to the island of Sicily and honorably buried them there. A church was later built there in St. Agrippina's honor. Countless miracles were wrought from her relics. By the power of her relics, even the Hagarians were turned away from the town where her relics reposed. St. Agrippina rested in the year 275 A.D. and was crowned with glory.
2. THE HOLY MARTYRS EUSTOCHIUS AND GAIUS AND OTHERS WITH THEM
Eustochius was a pagan priest during the reign of Emperor Maximian and by witnessing the heroism of the Christian martyrs rejected paganism and was baptized. Eudoxius, the bishop of Antioch, personally baptized him. After that Eustochius gradually converted his relatives to Christianity. His relative Gaius was baptized along with three children: Probus, Lollias and Urban. All of these, and others with them, were brought before the court, tortured and beheaded in Lystra for the sake of their faith in Christ the Lord. Their souls took up habitation in the eternal Kingdom of Christ.
3. THE COMMEMORATION OF THE ICON OF THE ALL-HOLY BIRTH-GIVER OF GOD [THEOTOKOS] OF THE TOWN OF VLADIMIR
When the Tartar King Ahmet besieged Moscow, Prince John Vasillievitch set out with an army to defend the city. Even though the army of Prince John was smaller in number and weaker than the Tartar army, nevertheless, it emerged victorious. All at once, an indescribable fear overcame the Tartars and they became confused and fled. Everyone ascribed this unexpected success to the icon of the All-Holy Birth-giver of God before whom the Russian people prayed for salvation from the Tartars. As a result of this, June 23 was designated in Russia for the commemoration of this miracle.
4. THE HISTORY OF THE REPENTANCE OF THEOPHILUS
Theophilus, out of envy toward the bishop, rendered his soul to the devil and, in writing, renounced Christ and the Birth-giver of God [Theotokos]. However, after that Theophilus repented bitterly and obtained the forgiveness of the Holy All-pure One. After forty days of fasting and tearful prayers, Theophilus received back the paper he had written renouncing Christ, which he had given to the devil, and openly confessed his sin in church before the bishop and the people. When the bishop pronounced the words of forgiveness and administered Holy Communion to him, the face of Theophilus shone as the sun. Behold, an example of how the merciful God not only forgives the sins of true penitents but also includes them among the saints.
HYMN OF PRAISE
Agrippina, purer than the lily,
Of God's Son, the betrothed,
Her soul, brighter than a flame
And her faith, firmer than a rock.
To the Lord she prayed, while being flogged,
Chanted psalms while enduring the wounds,
Forgiving everyone and blessing all,
As a pillar of blood, stood before judgment.
When her bones were crushed
An angel descended, the wounds healed!
But when new sufferings were imposed,
Agrippina's strength gave out,
To God, Agrippina gave her spirit,
The soul departed, the body remained.
The holy relics of St. Agrippina
Are the defense of the land of Sicily,
Medicine to the misfortunate and to the sick
And a protection from the battlesome hoards.
By the prayers of Saint Agrippina
May many miseries pass us by.
Christian patience is a meek patience, but patience with a weak malice does not differ much from vengeance. Our saints are great in every good evangelical work but how great and magnificent are they in meek patience! Perhaps they appear the greatest to us in this goodness because we are the smallest in it. When the desert fathers at one time had gathered around John Kolovos [The Short] to hear an instruction a certain envious one heckled: "Your vessel, O John, is full of poison!" To that the meek John immediately responded: "You said that only seeing the exterior but what would you have said if you could see the interior?" When they brought out Cyprian, the Bishop of Carthage for beheading, he commanded that twenty-five gold pieces be given to his executioner following his death.
To contemplate the miraculous healing of Zacharias from dumbness: "And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed and he began to speak, blessing God" (St. Luke 1:64).
1. How Zacharias became dumb because of his disbelief in the angel of God;
2. How Zacharias spoke as soon as he fulfilled the command of the angel: "And asking for a writing tablet, he wrote the words: ' John is his name' " (St. Luke 1:63);
3. How dumbness will fall from my soul as soon as I begin to fulfill the commandments of God and how my soul will be full of words and wisdom according to God.
About how we need not envy the sinners
"Be not emulous [envious] of evil men" (Proverbs 24:1).
Does anyone envy the leper? No one envies him. Why then do some envy the evil man when evil is a greater sickness than leprosy? Leprosy is a disease of the flesh but evil is a disease of the soul. A leper can be healthy within while he is unhealthy on the outside. However, the evil man can be healthy on the outside but his interior is ill, his heart is sick. Greater value has a tree that is sick on the outside but has a healthy core than a tree that is healthy on the outside but has a rotten core. Thus, leprosy is a lesser evil than evil i.e., than sin. Because under evil, the All-wise One thought of sin as evil.
Does the physician envy the sick person? He does not envy him. Neither does the righteous one envy the sinner. If you do not know whether you are righteous examine your heart: do you envy the sinner? If you envy the sinner then you are not righteous; if you do not envy the sinner, then rejoice, O righteous one of God. The sick person can envy the healthy one, but the healthy person does not envy the sick person. Neither does the righteous envy the sinner. A physician recognizes a fatal illness of his patient and, knowing that, he pities him but does not envy him. The righteous one recognizes the sickness of sin, horrifying and deadly, and does not envy the sinner but pities him.
O good and compassionate Lord, uproot envy from our hearts and implant love.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.