Martyr Nestor of Thessalonica

The holy Martyr Nestor was very young in age, handsome in appearance, and he was known to the holy Great Martyr Demetrios (October 26), for he had instructed Nestor in the faith.

The Emperor was visiting Thessaloniki, and he built a high platform in the midst of the city so that a gigantic barbarian named Lyaios could wrestle there and be seen by everyone. Beneath the platform many spears and other sharp weapons were placed pointing upward. When Lyaios defeated his opponents, he threw them down onto the spears and they died. Many Christians were forced to fight Lyaios, and were killed. When Nestor saw how Emperor Maximian rejoiced over the victories of his champion, he disdained his pride. Seeing the miracles of Saint Demetrios, however, he took courage and went to the prison where the holy Martyr was confined, and fell at his feet.

Homily on the Rich man and Lazarus

There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; and in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

Always hungry, the suffering Lazarus wished to eat if only the crusts that fell from the rich man’s table, the ones that were thrown to the dogs before his very eyes, but apparently not even those were made available to him. No one pitied his sickness, no one bandaged his wounds, and the dogs licked them, which prevented them from healing. The unfortunate man died, the rich man also died, and after death their positions reversed. Each received his reward—Lazarus was carried up by angels to paradise, and the rich man was cast into hell. The rich man in his terrible torments remembered his wasted life; he could see the poor man Lazarus who suffered outside his gates and thus constantly reminded him of his sufferings, to which he nevertheless paid no attention and never helped him in any way. Wondering where that sufferer was now and what became of him, the rich man suddenly saw him standing with Abraham, and he begged, “Father Abraham! Send me Lazarus to ease my torment!” “My son!” replied Abraham, “Remember your life!”

The Testament of St. John of Rila

This is the spiritual testament of the most famous Bulgarian saint, John of Rila (Ioan Rilski), which he wrote and signed on 25 March 941, five years before his death. St. John of Rila was a hermit who brought together a group of monks that led to the founding of Rila Monastery in southwest Bulgaria, a World Heritage Site. This was less than a hundred years after the mass conversion of Bulgaria to Christianity under their king Boris I, an Orthodox saint, in 865.

I, the humble and sinful John, who have never done any good on the earth, when I came to this Rila wilderness, found no man in it, but only wild beasts and impenetrable thickets. And I lived here alone with the beasts, without any food or shelter, but the sky was my shelter, the earth my bed and herbs my food. Blessed God, however, for the love of Whom I despised everything and endured hunger and thirst, frost and summer heat, and bodily nakedness, did not abandon me in the slightest, but like a good and indulgent father plentifully provided all my needs. And what do I have to give the Lord in return for all that He has given me? Many are His blessings towards me, since He looked down from His holy heights on my humility and helped me to endure everything – not me, but Christ’s strength which is in me, because every good deed is from Him and every perfect gift proceeds from on high.

Venerable Hilarion the Great

Saint Hilarion the Great was born in the year 291 in the Palestinian village of Tabatha. He was sent to Alexandria to study. There he became acquainted with Christianity and was baptized. After hearing an account of the angelic life of Saint Anthony the Great (January 17), Hilarion went to meet him, desiring to study with him and learn what is pleasing to God. Hilarion soon returned to his native land to find that his parents had died. After distributing his family’s inheritance to the poor, Hilarion set out into the desert surrounding the city of Maium.

In the desert the monk struggled intensely with impure thoughts, vexations of the mind and the burning passions of the flesh, but he defeated them with heavy labor, fasting and fervent prayer. The devil sought to frighten the saint with phantoms and apparitions. During prayer Saint Hilarion heard children crying, women wailing, the roaring of lions and other wild beasts. The monk perceived that it was the demons causing these terrors in order to drive him away from the wilderness. He overcame his fear with the help of fervent prayer. Once, robbers fell upon Saint Hilarion, and he persuaded them to forsake their life of crime through the power of his words.

Apostle and Evangelist Luke

The Holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke, was a native of Syrian Antioch, a companion of the holy Apostle Paul (Phil.1:24, 2 Tim. 4:10-11), and a physician enlightened in the Greek medical arts. Hearing about Christ, Luke arrived in Palestine and fervently accepted the preaching of salvation from the Lord Himself. As one of the Seventy Apostles, Saint Luke was sent by the Lord with the others to preach the Kingdom of Heaven during the Savior’s earthly life (Luke 10:1-3). After the Resurrection, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to Saints Luke and Cleopas on the road to Emmaus.

Luke accompanied Saint Paul on his second missionary journey, and from that time they were inseparable. When Paul’s coworkers had forsaken him, only Luke remained to assist him in his ministry (2 Tim. 4:10-11). After the martyric death of the First-Ranked Apostles Peter and Paul, Saint Luke left Rome to preach in Achaia, Libya, Egypt and the Thebaid. He ended his life by suffering martyrdom in the city of Thebes.