30 October 2009

Most Holy Theotokos, Save Us!

Beneath thy compassion
We take refuge, O Theotokos
Despise not our prayers
In our necessities,
But deliver us from harm,
O only pure,
Only blessed one.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us!
Most Holy Theotokos, save us!
Most Holy Theotokos, save us!

14 October 2009

The Blessed Harold, Martyr-King of England, and those with him at the Battle of Hastings

On 14 October 1066, the Blessed King Harold Godwinson, by right and tradition King of England, died defending his realm against the Papal proto-crusade led by the Normans against the English people. Fatigued and battle weary after defeating the Norweigian king, Harold Hardrada at the Battle of Fulford (in Yorkshire) on 20 September of the same year, King Harold hastened to reach Sussex, where William the Bastard landed his fleet of invaders on 27 September (having set sail from Normandy some fifteen days prior). The final battle of Anglo-Saxon England took place on Senlac Hill, outside of the town of Hastings.

King Harold died valiantly defending England from the Norman heretics. Tradition holds that his death-blow was an arrow wound through the eye, and that his body was brutally mutilated by William and his men. His final resting place is unknown, but many hold that the king was buried at Bosham Church, in Chichester.

13 October 2009

The Holy Great-Martyr Zlata of Moglensk

from the Synaxarion:

The Holy Great-Martyr Zlata (Chrysa or Golda) of Moglensk was born and lived in the Bulgarian village of Slatino, Moglensk diocese (+ 1795). Bulgaria at this time was under the Turkish Yoke.

From her youth Zlata displayed an unusually strong character, a firm faith in Christ, and was both chaste and beautiful. The local Turks attempted repeatedly to seduce the maiden and force her to accept Islam. But neither by persuasion, nor by threats, nor by monstrous torturing continued in prison for many months, did they break the spirit of the glorious confessor of Christ.

Holy Great-Martyr Zlata, pray to God for us that our souls be saved!

12 October 2009

St. Edwin, the Martyr-King of Northumbria

From OCA.org:

Saint Edwin (Eadwine) was the son of Alla, King of Deira, and was born around 584. When his father died, Edwin was cheated out of his kingdom by King Ethelred of Bernicia, who united Bernicia and Deira into a single kingdom of Northumbria.

Edwin fled to East Anglia and took refuge with King Redwald. Redwald, because of the threats and promises he had received, was persuaded to give Edwin up to his enemies. Edwin was warned by a friend of the danger he faced. That night, a stranger promised that his kingdom would be restored to him if Edwin would do as he taught him. Edwin agreed, and the stranger laid his hand on Edwin's head, telling him to remember the gesture.

In time, Edwin became ruler of the entire north of England and, by force of arms, obliged the other kings to acknowledge him as sovereign. He married Ethelburga, the daughter of St Ethelbert (February 25), the first Christian king in England. Ethelburga was also the sister of King Ealbald of Kent.

There was an attempt on Edwin's life in 626, on the eve of Pascha. That night the queen gave birth to a baby girl, and King Quichelm of the West Saxons sent an assassin named Eumer to kill Edwin with a poisoned dagger. Eumer was admitted to Edwin's presence and tried to stab him. He would have succeeded if it had not been for Lilla, King Edwin's faithful minister, who placed himself between the king and the assassin. The blade passed through his body, however, and wounded the king. The assassin was killed, and Lilla saved Edwin's life at the cost of his own. This event is commemorated by a stone cross which stands on Lilla Howe near Flyingdales Ballistic Missle Early Warning System on the North Yorkshire Moors. Before the Pickering-Whitby road was built in 1759, this cross served as a guide for those who walked across the moors from Robin Hood's Bay to Saltergate.

Edwin thanked his gods that he had been spared, but he was told by Bishop Paulinus of York (October 10) that he had been saved by the prayers of his queen. The bishop said that he should show his gratitude to the true God by allowing his newborn daughter to be baptized. The child was baptized on Pentecost, and was given the name Eanfleda.

The king, who had been slightly wounded in the attack, promised Bishop Paulinus that he would become a Christian if he were restored to health, and if he would triumph over those who conspired to kill him.

As soon as his wound healed, King Edwin marched against the King of the West Saxons with an army. He vanquished the opposing army, killing or capturing those involved in the plot against him. He no longer followed the pagan religion, but he put off his promise to embrace Christianity, and it was many years before Edwin converted. He would sit alone for hours trying to decide which religion he should follow. St Paulinus, informed by a revelation about the stranger's promise to the king, went to Edwin and laid his hand upon his head. "Do you remember this gesture?" he asked.

The king trembled with astonishment, and would have fallen at the bishop's feet. St Paulinus gently raised him up and said, "You see that God has delivered you from your enemies. Moreover, He offers you His everlasting Kingdom. See that you fulfill your promise to become a Christian and keep the commandments of God."

King Edwin said that he would seek the counsel of his advisers and urge them to convert with him. He asked them what he should do. Coifi, a pagan priest, said it was readily apparent that their gods had no power. Another person said that this brief life was inconsequential, compared to eternity.

St Paulinus addressed the gathering, and when he had finished, Coifi told the king that the altars and temples of their false gods should be burned. The king asked him who should be the first to profane them. Coifi replied that he should be the first, since he had been foremost in leading their worship. The chief priest of the pagans was not permitted to bear arms or to ride a horse. It was customary that he ride a mare. Coifi, however, asked for a horse and for arms. Mounted on the king's own horse, Coifi threw a spear into their temple, commanding the others to pull it down and set it afire. This place was not far from York, and today it is known as Godmanham.

In 627, the eleventh year of his reign, St Edwin was baptized by St Paulinus of York in the wooden church of St Peter. St Edwin began the construction of a new stone church, which was completed by his successor St Oswald (August 5).

St Edwin ruled his kingdom in peace for six more years, and continued to practice and promote Christianity. He was killed in a battle with Penda of Mercia and Cadwalla of Wales in 633, when he was forty-eight years old, at a place now known as Hatfield.

St Edwin's body was buried at Whitby, but his head was buried at York in the church he had built. Most of the early English calendars list St Edwin as a martyr.

After the death of St Edwin, his wife St Ethelburga (April 5) returned to Kent, where she became the abbess of a monastery which she founded at Lyminge.

09 October 2009


There are times when I feel almost overwhelmed by ghosts—no, not phantasms, or spirits, or things that go “bump” in the night, but the kind of ghosts that a person with a less than stellar past collects in life. I wish that I could say that the past is behind me. It should be. God has endowed me with a gift beyond price, but I spurn it, I ignore it, I intentionally forget it...because I want my own way. I am still stubborn and prideful, willful to the point of absolute absurdity. And when I start rolling in it deep, that's when the ghosts come trotting out on parade.

Regrets. Failures. Disasters. Pain and heartache and sorrows, both the recent and those long since gone by, come traveling through this dark and diseased psyche of mine. I have spent whole hours lost in memories of things that were; things that I wish I could forget, or finally close off. The demon of despair is one I have a particularly hard time fending off; acedia is the condition that, sadly, comes upon me all too often.

And so it is with a heavy heart that in these early hours of the morning I am contemplating the words of the holy prophet and king David:
Sacrifice unto God a sacrifice of praise, and pay unto the Most High thy vows. And call upon Me in the day of thine affliction, and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me. But unto the sinner God hath said: Why declarest thou My statutes and takest up My covenant in thy mouth? Thou hast hated instruction, and hast cast out My words behind thee. If thou sawest a thief, thou didst run with him; and with the adulterer thou hast set thy portion. Thy mouth hath abounded with evil, and thy tongue hath woven deceits. Thou didst sit down and speak against thy brother, and against thine own mother's son didst thou lay a stumbling-block; these things thou didst, and I kept silence. Thou didst think an iniquity, that I should be like unto thee; I will reprove thee, and bring thy sins before thy face. Wherefore, understand these things, ye that forget God, lest He snatch you away and there be none to deliver you. A sacrifice of praise shall glorify Me, and there is the way wherein I shall show unto him My salvation. (from Psalm XLIX)
And really...I have nothing to say for myself after that.

Dominus vobiscum+

07 October 2009

On the Psalter

From St. Basil the Great's homily, "A Psalm on the Lot of the Just Man"

"All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful, composed by the Spirit for this reason, namely, that we men, each and all of us, as if in a general hospital for souls, may select the remedy for his own condition. For it says, 'care will make the greatest sin to cease.' Now the prophets teach one thing, historians another, the law something else, and the form of advice found in the proverbs something different still. But, the Book of Psalms has taken over what is profitable from all. It foretells coming events; it recalls history; it frames laws for life; it suggests what must be done; and, in general, it is the common treasury of good doctrine, carefully finding what is suitable for each one. The old wounds of souls it cures completely, and to the recently wounded it brings speedy improvements; the diseased it treats and the unharmed it preserves. On the whole, it effaces, as far as is possible, the passions, which subtly exercise dominion over souls during the lifetime of man, and it does this with a certain orderly persuasion and sweetness which produces sound thoughts."