The Hieromartyr Hippolytus, Bishop of Rome (January 30)
The Holy Martyr Theophilus the New (January 30)
St Peter, King of Bulgaria (January 30)
The Three Great Hierarchs: Saints Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom (January 30)
Here is an example of how kings seek counsel of the saints, of how saints flee from vanity and riches and how they counsel kings. The orthodox King Peter of Bulgaria set off with his retinue to the moun-tain of Rila, urged by the irresistible desire to see St John of Rila and benefit from his instruction. The king sent men on ahead, to let the saint know. But the saint would not agree to see the king. The sad-dened king sent other men with some food, a fair amount of gold and the request that the saint would commit to writing some advice for him. John received the food and returned the gold, refusing to touch it, and replied to the king: `If you desire the heavenly king-dom, be merciful as is your heavenly Father. Do not give yourself to injustice and be not greedy; be meek, quiet, accessible to all. Do not listen to praise from your nobles. May your royal purple shine with all the virtues. Let the remembrance of death never leave your soul. Humble yourself before the feet of Mother Church; bow your head before her greatest saints, that so the King of kings, seeing your devotion, may give you such blessings as have never entered into the heart of man.' Receiving this letter, the king kissed it, and later referred to it frequently.
Let me ponder on the Lord Jesus as the friend of children, as: 1. The friend of the angels of heaven, who are like children, innocent, obedient and passionless. 2. The friend of little children on earth, who believe in God with simplicity and ease. 3. The friend of the saints, who are by labour and grace cleansed from sin and become innocent as children.
- on how men must be as children to be the sons of God.
`Verily I say unto you; except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven' (Matt. 18:3).
Thus speaks the Lord, and His word is holy and true. What sort of primacy do children have over adults? They have a threefold pri-macy: in faith, in obedience and in purity. Children question their parents about everything, and believe whatever reply their parents give. A child is obedient to its parents and easily subjugates its will to theirs. A child is pure and, although it quickly becomes angry, it quickly forgives. The Lord demands these three things of all men: faith, obedience and purity. He seeks that men should believe in Him unconditionally, that they should be unconditionally obedient to Him, as children obey their parents, and that they should be pure in their bearing one towards another, not remembering evil and not returning evil for evil.
Faith, obedience and purity are the chief characteristics of a child's soul. Added to these are also passionlessness and joy. A child is not greedy, nor lascivious, nor ambitious; it has an eye untroubled by vice and a joy undisturbed by cares.
Oh, my brethren, who can make us children again? None but the one Christ. He is able to make us children once more, and to aid our re-birth by His example, His wisdom and the power of His Holy Spirit.
O Lord Jesus, perfect in obedience and purity, the eternal Child of the heavenly Father; help us to be as infants by faith in Thee, by obedience to Thee and by purity one towards another. To Thee be glory and praise for ever. Amen.
* From "The Prologue from Ochrid", by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic - Lazarica Press - Birmingham 1985
Four Book Edition - Translated by Mother Maria - Dates based on old church calendar.
Please see our calendar for conversion between old and new calendar dates.