20131226_lucy_sqIn the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. Dear beloved, let us remember the Holy Virgin and Martyr St Lucy of Syracuse. St Lucy, pray for us!

In the face of adversity, suffering and danger, we are often placed in a position of anxiety, pain and fear. In some situations, we confront some of the worst fears we will ever face, and as ordinary people, we will invariably become afraid, demoralized, and even desolate.

And yet, throughout Biblical history, we have meditated passage upon passage, teaching after teaching, that we are to trust in God and lay our fears and anxieties aside, leaving them in the palms of God, and brave on with our repentance and our prayers.

During the time of Diocletian who persecuted Christians, St Lucy brought her sick mother on a pilgrimage to the tomb of St Agatha, and prayed for healing. St Agatha appeared to St Lucy in a dream, saying, “Dear Lucy my sister, why do you ask of me what your own faith can provide? Your mother is healed, and you will be glorified in Syracuse as I was of Catania.” St Lucy found that her mother was indeed healed. St Lucy then broke off her engagement to a nobleman, gave away her wealth, and gave herself entirely to God. Her former fiancé became angry and reported her as a Christian to the governor.

St Lucy bravely confessed her Christian faith and would not submit to the pagan idols. The governor of Syracuse then ordered the saint be placed in a brothel to be wasted away, but no matter how the men dragged her by hand, rope or oxen, she was rooted to the ground. The governor denounced her as a witch, but the saint replied that it was the power of God that willed her there, and even ten thousand men would not move her unless God intended so. The governor then ordered her to be burned there, but the fire could not burn her. Finally, the governor beheaded her there, and she uttered her last words of the the death of Maximian and Diocletian, and that the Church would prevail.

In the face of mortal danger, St Lucy of Syracuse, among thousands of saints we venerate before us, have shown us that they placed their complete faith and trust in God, with abandon and without hesitation, as we read in Psalm 56:11-13 (LXX 55).

As we march towards the Nativity of our Christ and Lord soon, we are constantly reminded in whatever state we are in, in whatever situation we face, in whatever adversity we have to face quietly and often alone, of the power of our Lord’s Love and Mercy for all of us, such as we read in Isaiah 46:1-4, St Luke 21:12-19 and Ephesians 6:10-17.

Closer to our time, we remember two holy elders, Fr Arsenie Boca, and recently glorified St Porphyrios the elder. May their memory be eternal, and pray for us.

St Porphyrios, who wrote the beautiful work “Wounded by love”, said, “All unpleasant things, that remain in your soul and make you stressed, can become a reason for worshipping God and so stop hurting you. Trust in God.”

Fr Arsenie Boca, a Romanian Orthodox monk and theologian, who suffered under the hands of the communists, once said, “God’s love for the worst sinner is greater than the love of the holiest man for God.”

Be encouraged, dear beloved, for even in the worst of adversity and danger, our holy saints, martyrs, confessors, and elders before us and in our time, have pointed us all to the same direction towards God, that God does not forsake us, and God strengthens us when we choose Him.

Like all of us gathered here in faith to partake in the Holy Communion, father among the saints St Gregory of Nyssa, said in his Catechetical Oration, “When God revealed Himself, He united Himself with our mortal nature in order to deify humanity through this close relation with Him. Since this is so, through His flesh, constituted by bread and wine, He implants Himself in all believers.”

Let us pray often, in our quiet moments, in our fleeting moments, in our busy moments, in His Holy Name, that He may fill us with prayers and trust, “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
Isaiah 46:1-4
Psalm 56:11-13 (LXX 55)
St Luke 21:12-19
Ephesians 6:10-17