St. Xenia was the wife of Colonel Andrei Feodorovich Petrov, who served as a court chanter. At the age of 26, Xenia was widowed and, appeared to have lost her mind from grief: she distributed her possessions to the poor, dressed herself in the clothes of her reposed husband, and, as if having forgotten her own name, called herself by the name of her reposed husband - Andrei Feodorovich.
These eccentricities were not indicative of a loss of reason, however, but signified a complete disdain for earthly goods and human opinion, which places them at the center of existence. Thus, Xenia of Petersburg took upon herself the difficult podvig of foolishness for Christ's sake.
Having come to know the inconstancy of earthly happiness through the death of her beloved husband, Xenia strove toward God with all her heart, and sought protection and comfort only in Him. Earthly, transitory goods ceased to have any value for her. Xenia had a house; but gave it over to an acquaintance under the condition that it be used to shelter paupers. But Xenia herself, not having a refuge, would wander among the paupers of Petersburg. At night she would go out to a field, where she spent the time in ardent prayer.
The Synaxis of the Three Holy Hierarchs: Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom: During the eleventh century, disputes raged in Constantinople about which of the three hierarchs was the greatest. Some preferred St Basil (January 1), others honored St Gregory the Theologian (January 25), while a third group exalted St John Chrysostom (January 27 and November 13).
Dissension among Christians increased. Some called themselves Basilians, others referred to themselves as Gregorians, and others as Johnites.
Some argued for Saint Basil above the other two because he was able, as none other, to explain the mysteries of the Faith, and rose to angelic rank by his virtues. The partisans of Saint Chrysostom retorted that the illustrious Archbishop of Constantinople had been no less zealous than Saint Basil in combating vices, in bringing sinners to repentance and in raising up the whole people to the perfection of the Gospel. According to a third group, Saint Gregory the Theologian was to be preferred to the others by reason of the majesty, purity and profundity of his language. Possessing a sovereign mastery of all the wisdom and eloquence of ancient Greece, he had attained, they said to such a pitch in the contemplation of God that no one had been able to express the dogma of the Holy Trinity as perfectly as he.
A Dedicated Servant of God
More than 1,600 years ago, in the year 270 AD, St. Nicholas was born not far from Myra, in a land that is now part of the country of Turkey. In those days Orthodox Christians were persecuted for their faith. It wasn't easy to be a Christian. Many of them were tortured and executed because they believed in Christ.
Nicholas was taught by his parents to love the Lord with his whole mind, heart, soul, and with ail his strength. When they died he inherited their money. He used this to help the poor, the hungry, and the sick. Whenever he helped anyone he did it secretly, so that only God would know, He did not want praise from people; he wanted his reward to be only in Heaven.
The establishment of the Nativity Fast, as well as other multi-day fasts relates to the ancient times of Christianity. But already from IV century St. Ambrosius of Milan, Philistrius and St. Augustin mention the Nativity Fast in their works. In V century Leo the Great wrote about the Nativity Fast . At first the Nativity Fast lasted seven days for Christians, and for the others - a bit longer. At the Council of 1166 when was held in the time of the Constantinople Patriarch Luke and Byzantine emperor Manuel a forty-day fast was ordered to be observed by all Christians before the great feast of the Nativity of Christ.
The life of each Orthodox Christian should be ascetic. Without our spiritual and physical effort, aided by the grace of the God, it is impossible to free of a power of sin and to unite with the Lord. That is why Fasting in the Orthodox spirituality holds a very important place and without it there is no progress in any Christian virtue. In the distant past, the concept of fasting included the complete abstinence from any food, and later took on the meaning of abstaining from one type of food called "fatty", ie. the one that contains animal fat, but at certain times and food that is prepared on vegetable fat. A special kind of fasting is "dry eating" which means using of non-cooked, dry fasting food.
St. Stephen of Decani was born as the eldest son of the saintly King Milutin (Stephen Uros II) and his wife Elizabeth, a Hungarian princess. Living at the court of his parents, the heir-apparent received a good education, his mind exercised by study of the language and writings of his people, and his heart strengthened by study of the Holy Scripture and the teachings of the Orthodox Faith.
The good fruit of his upbringing proved itself when King Milutin was forced to send him as hostage to the Tartar chief Nogyi. In spite of the potential dangers, Stephen was obedient to his father's will and did not resist, trusting his life to the Lord. And his hope was not in vain. He eventually made friends with one of the Tartar nobles, who succeeded in assisting his safe return home.