Nativity of the Theotokos squareIn the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. Dear beloved, let us remember the St Julian of Galatia and 40 martyrs with him, may all the holy martyr saints pray for us.

The 4th century saint St Julian was hiding in a cave with 40 Christians from persecution. He was arrested by the governor of the Galatian area, and was forced to give over the 40 Christians still hidden well away. The saint was told to denounce his faith but he refused. He was strapped naked on a hot grate, but an angel of our Lord doused the heat when the saint crossed himself.

The saint was eventually to be executed, and the saint prayed to God for the 40 Christians hiding in the cave, that their sins be forgiven. Then the saint prayed, “Lord, in peace accept my spirit!” A voice came from the Kingdom, heard by all, summoning the saint to the Kingdom. Many confessed to the Christian faith, and were all beheaded by the governor.

From St Julian, as with many other saints before us and even in our time, we hear of martyrdom, whether living or dying, where these saints confessed their faith in Christ our Lord, and stood their ground till the end. Even with the promise by those who persecute these saints to survive and be pardoned, these saints did not succumb to such temptations of the world, but chose God instead. To these saints, their faith in God and a life in righteousness and prayer, were the reasons for living, and the only worthy goals to pursue (Psalm 5:8-12).

We must never forget that we fight enemies seen and unseen (1 Peter 5:8), and that temptations of the evil one will surround us everywhere, everyday.

We are to remain vigilant in prayer and repentance (Genesis 3:1-7, St Mark 7:24-30). At every Divine Liturgy, we pray the Lord’s Prayer, that we are to be delivered from the evil one. It is our constant prayer, and a constant reminder, that we must be vigilant and guarding against all snares that the evil one may present on our paths to trip us, to fool us into prelest (spiritual deception), or to drag us from our spiritual pilgrimage to God. We must never be arrogant to imagine that our intellect will outsmart the evil one, for the evil one has existed far longer than us, and can trick us very readily when we lose sight of our God. We keep repenting, and we keep praying unto God, in His Holy Name we abide.

We are encouraged by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 1:1-9, that our faith in Christ our God, we will be strengthened by His Grace and Will, in our journey as pilgrims and servants, when we seek to be in communion with Him. Let us remember podvig, a lifelong struggle towards God.

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

Let us close by praying the thanksgiving prayer:

It is truly meet to call thee blest, the Theotokos, ever blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God. More honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious than the Seraphim, without corruption thou gavest birth to God the Word: True Theotokos, we magnify thee.

O virgin Theotokos, rejoice; O Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast borne the Savior of our souls, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Fr Raphael+

Readings
Genesis 3:1-7
Psalm 5:8-12
St Mark 7:24-30
Ephesians 1:1-9