January 2 according to the Church Calendar
1. SAINT SYLVESTER, BISHOP OF ROME
Sylvester was born in Rome and from his early youth was learned in worldly wisdom and in the Faith of Christ. He always conducted his life according to the Gospel commandments. He benefited much from the instruction of Timothy the priest whose death for the Faith Sylvester himself witnessed and, observing the example of the heroic sacrifice of his teacher, was imbued with such a spirit throughout his entire life. At age thirty, he became the Bishop of Rome. He amended the customs of Christians. For example, he dispensed the fast on Saturdays, which was practiced by many Christians up to that time, and ordered that fasting be observed only on Holy and Great Saturday as well as on those Saturdays that fall within the fasting seasons. By his prayers and miracles Sylvester assisted in bringing Emperor Constantine and his mother Helena into the True Faith. They were later baptized. He participated with the Empress Helena in finding the Honorable Cross. He governed the Church of God for twenty years. His earthly life ended honorably and he was translated into the heavenly Kingdom.
2. THE VENERABLE SERAPHIM OF SAROV
Seraphim was one of the greatest Russian ascetics, discerners and miracle-workers. He was born in 1759 A.D and died in 1833 A.D. Seraphim was distinguished by great humility. When the entire world praised him, he referred to himself as "the wretched Seraphim."
3. SAINT THEODOTA
Theodota was the mother of the brothers Cosmas and Damian, the Unmercenaries and Miracle-workers. Theodota lived a God-pleasing life and in such a life she instructed her sons.
4. THE VENERABLE AMMON
Ammon was a great ascetic of the fifth century. He was the abbot of the Tabennesiote Monastery in Upper Egypt. Three thousand monks lived the ascetical life under his direction. He possessed the abundant gift of miracle-working and discernment. Once when a monk asked him for advice, he said to him, "Be like a convict in prison, as he continually asks: when will the judge come, and so should you ask with trembling."
O Lord, most wonderful, wonderful in Your saints, You are,
Mighty and Merciful, through Your saints, You appear.
As the sun through the stars, You shine through Your saints,
To the humble You give strength; To Paradise You raise them.
To the simple You impart wisdom; through them the wise, You shame,
To the unfortunate; you comfort with kindness; with heaven, You nourish the hungry.
Saints of every type, You have,
Among the saints, from every age, You receive
From every age and from every stock,
Without caste, without mark: the last or the first.
Pure from sin and, in good, fruitful,
Noble souls, kindred to Your Christ,
You call them saints. Everyone You call
To be a saint. Those who respond, You cleanse,
Wash them from sins that white as wool they become,
In such as these, all heaven rejoices with You,
Sylvester was such a one; In him You rejoice, and
Because of him, blessing You impart to us.
How do you respond to those who say that Christ the Miracle-worker cannot fit in our logic? Simply reply: You fit into His logic. In His logic, all eternity fits and all the nobleness of time and, then, if you wish, a place will be found even for you. If a barrel cannot fit into a thimble, you can fit a thimble into a barrel. Blessed Clement of Alexandria says; "Philosophers are children until they become men though Christ. For truth is never thinking only." Christ came to correct man and, therefore, men's logic. He is our Logos and our Logic. That is why we must direct our reason toward Him and not Him toward our reason. He is the corrector of our reason. The sun is not regulated according to our clock, but our clock is regulated according to the sun.
To contemplate the Lord Jesus as the Divine Word [The Logos]:
1. How the Triune God created everything by His Word, i.e., by Christ the Lord;
2. How senseless is every man, who distances himself from Christ, the Word of God, and in whom there is no Christ.
"Pride goes before disaster,and a haughty spiritbefore a fall" (Proverbs 16:18).
Of all that exists on the four corners of the earth, what, O mortal man, can make us proud except stupidities and demonic illusions. Did we not enter into the world naked and wretched and are we not going to depart this world in the same manner? Everything that we have, did we not borrow it; and by our death, are we not going to return everything? Oh, how many times has this been said and overheard? The wise apostle says, "For we have brought nothing into the world, just as we shall not be able to take anything out of it" (I Timothy 6:7). And, when we offer sacrifice to God of ordinary bread and wine, we say, "Thine own of Thine own, we offer unto Thee" (Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom). For nothing that we have in this world is ours: not even a crumb of bread nor a drop of wine; nothing that is not of God. In truth, pride is the daughter of stupidity, the daughter of a darkened mind, born of evil ties with the demons.
Pride is a broad window through which all of our merits and good works evaporate. Nothing makes us so empty before men and so unworthy before God as does pride. When the Lord is not proud, why should we be proud? Who has more reason to be proud than the Lord, Who created the world and Who sustains it by His power? And behold, He humbles himself as a servant, a servant to the whole world: a servant even to the death, to the death on the Cross!
O humble Lord, burn up within our hearts the devil's sowing of pride with the fire of Your Holy Spirit, and plant within it the noble sowing of humility and meekness.