Please Remember in Your Prayers

Archpriest Vincent Saverino; Archpriest Michael Hatrak; Deacon Michael Bishop; Mat. Myra Kovalak; Mat. Klavdiya Burbelo; Kh. Frederica Mathewes-Green; Nun Elizabeth; Nun Magdalena; Mat. Natalia Kosich; Mat. Diane Winsky; Mat. Catherine Kowalchik; Marie Vass; Charles Snipes; Arthur-Stephen Lisowsky; Yelena Radchenko; Lydia Zorina; Tatiana; Katherine Plaskowitz; Philip Plaskowitz, Michael Stanka; Bernadine Borawick; Julia Aymold; Mary Johnson; Lilli Ann Hoffman; Lara Marinich; Oleg Marinich; Ioann and Galina Zernetkin; Monika-Anastasia & Stephanie Handley; Blanche-Julia Stolkovich; Ekaterina Koroleva; Nina Lewis; Maryann Black; Lyudmila, Anton & Aleksander Karnup; John Alexander Bylen; Katherine Garrett; Stephen Kaminitsky; Constantine; John-Thomas Planinshek; Kenneth Pukita; William and Ann Ferkile; Sergei Krektyshev; Irina Kononova; Petr and Lyudmila Borodkin; Anthony Bakie; Svetlana & Aleksey; Nina; Mat. Galina, Alla; Anna; Alla; Raisa, Zinaida; Joseph Germano; Pavel, Vladimir, Valentina, Nina, and Maria; Maria Pappas; Bonnie Duke; Joseph Lacomy; Diana Radchenko; Aleksey Potapov; Oleg and Andrei; Vitaliy, Tatiana, Olena & Nicholas Berchuk; Marian, Irena and Isabella; David, Selina-Sophia, John, Maryann, David, Joseph, Lisa Ann Eichelberger; Cynthia and Bill (Basil) Popomaronis; Katerina Spilio; Ekaterina Kuzmina; Andrei, Marina, Valentina and Vladimir; Cezara–Maria, Archpriest Cezar, Mat. Christina, Darius, Justina, Christian; Victoria Lardiero.





4th Sunday of the Great Fast

St. John Climacus (of the Ladder)

Tone 8

March 5/18, 2018


Martyr Conon of Isauria (2nd c.); Uncovering of the relics (1463) of Right-Believing Theodore, Prince of Smolensk and Yaroslav (1299), and his children David (1321) and Constantine; Venerable-martyr Adrian, Abbot of Poshekhonye (1550); Martyr Onisius of Isauria (1st c.); Martyr Conon the Gardener of Pamphylia (251); Martyr Irais (Rhais) of Antinoe in Egypt (3rd c.) and with her Martyr Archelaus and 152 Martyrs in Egypt; Martyrs Evlogius and Evlampius of Palestine; Venerable Mark, the Faster of Egypt (5th c.); Venerable Hesychius the Faster of Bithynia (790); Hieromartyr Nicholas-priest (1919); Hieromartyr John-priest and Venerable-martyrs Mardarius and Theopane (1938); Uncovering of the relics of the Holy Hierarch Luke, confessor, Archbishop of Simferopol (1996); Holy Hierarch Nicholas (Velimirovich), Bishop of Ochrid and Zhicha, Serbia, Rector of St. Tikhon’s Seminary (South Canaan, PA) (1956). "Nurtured Up-Bringing" Icon of the Mother of God.



Today’s Scriptural Readings:     

Hebrews 6: 13-20 / Mark 9: 17-31

Ephesians 5: 8-19 / Matthew 4:25 – 5:12

Liturgy of St. Basil the Great

Fr. John’s Sermons (Video): Click here  


This  Week’s  Liturgical  Calendar

Wednesday, March 21st – 6:30 PM

Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts in Church

Saturday, March 24th – 9:00 AM 

Praise of the Theotokos

  Divine Liturgy in the Chapel

Saturday, March 24th – 6:00 PM 

Vigil Service in Church

Sunday, March 25th – 10:00 AM

Confessions begin at 9:00 AM

Divine Liturgy in Church 

St. Mary of Egypt

Sunday, March 25th – 5:00 PM

Pan-Orthodox Passion Service at

St. Andrew Orthodox Church



Divine Services at Holy Trinity are now live-streamed at



Please Join us for a Remembrance Meal – Today after Services

Today’s sponsor: Valentina Bosaya in memory of her father +Boris and her brother +Aleksandr


Panikhida Today

Today we will serve a Panikhida on the annual remembrances of +Boris Bosiy and +Aleksandr Bosiy.

After the Panikhida everyone is invited to the remembrance meal given by Valentina Bosaya and her family.


***  Order Homemade Kulich for Pascha ***

The St. Catherine Sisterhood is selling homemade Kulich (Pascha Bread). Cost: $12 per loaf. Submit your orders with payment. Order forms are on the bulletin table. Contact Larisa Hidar 443-986-0047 or  Lidya Potapova 919-302-4121. Best Kulich in MD! 


Sunday School Spaghetti Dinner – March 25th

The parents, teachers and volunteers of our Sunday School will conduct a Lenten Spaghetti Dinner on Sunday, March 25th. Menu: Spaghetti with meatless tomato sauce, fresh salad, bread and homemade desserts. Donation: Adults - $7;  Sunday School students - Free. Please support this fundraiser to benefit our parish Sunday School. 


Sunday School Project

On March 25th our Sunday School students and teachers will assemble lunch bags with non-perishable food items for homeless individuals. The students themselves will decide what items to pack and how to decorate the bags. We ask the parents to purchase the items for the bags. It is a great chance for our kids to get involved in helping others. If you would like to help, please join us. Contact Katie Radchenko:


Pan-Orthodox Services – Great Lent 2018

Orthodox faithful are warmly encouraged to attend special Pan-Orthodox services throughout Great Lent. Two churches will host Pan-Orthodox Passion Vespers Services on Sunday evenings during the Great Fast. All Baltimore area Orthodox parishes are invited. Don’t miss these uplifting services.

·         Sunday, 5:00 PM, March 25th  Passion Vespers Service at St. Andrew Orthodox Church, 2028 East Lombard Street, Baltimore, 410-276-3422 


Centennial Celebration Committee – Sunday, March 25th

After the luncheon Sunday, March 25, we will conduct an open meeting of the Centennial Celebration Committee. This committee will plan the various celebrations of our Centennial Year – Hierarchal Liturgy, Banquet, and other special events throughout the year. We need your ideas and assistance. Thank you.


Cemetery Clean-up – Saturday, March 24th

On Saturday, March 24th after Divine Liturgy in the chapel, the Cemetery Committee will conduct the Annual Spring Clean Up of our Chapel, Cemetery and Pavilion at Cathedral Gardens.  Light refreshments will be served. There is much to do in order to prepare the grounds for St. Thomas Sunday. Please bring your own lawn tools – rakes, brooms, pails, etc.


Holy Saturday, April 7th

On Holy Saturday, the Sunday School students will each read at least one Old Testament reading during the Vesperal Liturgy. The parents and/or students must request their reading assignment(s) from their Sunday School teacher by Sunday, March 25th. For more information contact Katie Radchenko 410-302-0256.




We offer our sincere congratulations to Oksana and John Strianese on the birth of their baby daughter on March 13. Mom and baby are doing fine. And we warmly congratulate Claudia and T.R. Allen on the birth of their baby daughter Skylar Elizabeth on January 16. May God bless the new infants of our parish with health, peace, love and faith for many years!


*  Our  kitchen  needs  onion  peels  *

Please bring to our kitchen your onion peels – any type. We need them to color Paschal eggs.



Let your life story become a page in history!

In preparation for the Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church centennial celebration, the History Committee invites you to participate in a new and exciting project. We are going to create a Family Album – a collection of personal pictures and stories related to our church. After all, our church is not only a historic building, but also a family of amazing people! Whether you are a Holy Trinity parishioner for as long as you remember or fell in love with this church just recently – share your impressions with us! We are looking for the pictures of weddings, baptisms and social events that happened at Holy Trinity, as well as for your memories of how it looked and felt back then and now. Bring your pictures and written stories to the church or send them by email to Natallia Makarava at Your pictures will be scanned and returned to you, and the page with your story will be published only after your approval. The Family Album will be on display in our future Church History Museum – 100 pages featuring 100 stories to celebrate the 100 years of the Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church in Baltimore.

To kick-start this project, on March 11 and 18 we plan to display in the hall the historic pictures that are already in church - to give everyone an opportunity to recognize faces, times and occasions.


Church School Camping Trip – May 18-20, 2018

The 18th Annual Church School Camping Trip at Camp Running Bear (formerly Camp Alkor) in Monkton, MD for children ages 6-12 will take place May 18-20. Our theme this year is “Old Testament Prophecies of the Messiah.” Registrations due by April 27th. Registration forms are on the bulletin table. For more information contact Dr. Pat Disharoon  410-233-5337. Also, all adult chaperones MUST register with Dr. Pat by April 20th to expedite background checks.


Church Clean-Up – Saturday, March 31st (Lazarus Saturday)

After Divine Liturgy on Saturday, March 31st many volunteers are needed to clean the church,

as well as the church hall. Help to beautify our temple in time for Holy Week and Pascha.



Pisanki Making Studio

After Divine Liturgy on Saturday, March 31 (Lazarus Saturday), our Sunday School students will learn how to decorate Paschal Eggs (Pisanki) Polish style. All children are encouraged to attend.  Children younger than seven should be accompanied by an adult. Cost: $5 per child. To register, contact Natallia Makarava: 443-625-8470,


Lenten Discussion Group

During Great Lent after Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts each Wednesday evening, join us for a discussion on the book The Spiritual Life – And How to Be Attuned to It, by St. Theophan the Recluse. In this book, rightly called a primer for spiritual life, St. Theophan with fatherly care leads the reader with a gentle yet firm approach on the narrow way to which we are called, but also explains life and all that it can bring in a light that stresses hope, forgiveness and mercy. The book is on sale in our book store. For our next discussion read through Letter 37.


Presanctified Liturgy on Wednesdays – 6:30 PM

In preparation to receive Holy Communion at the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, it is necessary to fast from all food and drink for at least six hours (i.e. from 12:00 noon). However, for those who have the strength, it is very beneficial to fast from midnight through the entire day. 


Cleaning Group – Group #1 /  Join a Group – Help your brothers and sisters

Group #1 will clean this week March 19-24: Adele Pastor (captain), Drew Pastor, Dan Walsh,

Natalie & Andrei Burbelo, and Erica Lawson. This group needs more members. Any volunteers??


Birthday / Anniversary Celebrations:  March 18-24

We offer our best wishes and birthday congratulations to Anastasia Bakie (3/19). May God bless her

with health, prosperity and many years. To include your birthday/anniversary in the bulletin call Fr. John.


Vigil Candles: On the Altar and near St. Barbara

March 18-24: Candles offered by the Bakie Family for the health/salvation of the servants of God: Anastasia, Tamara,

Yura, and Aleksandr. A $15 donation will keep all three candles lit for one week. Schedule your candle offering with Vadim Radchenko 410-465-6172.


Submit your 2018 Pledge

The mission of our parish is to spread the Word of God, to grow, to expand, to improve and not just to preserve our traditions.  Our parish shouldn’t become stale, but pursue holiness.


We strive to fulfill the mission of our parish, through prayer, work and sacrifice. Prayer – because we are called to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17); work – because we are taught to increase the talents given to us (Matt. 25: 14-30); and sacrifice – because "everyone to whom much is given, from him will much be required" (Luke 12:48).


Please be generous as the Lord is generous to you. When completing your pledge for the new year, please consider raising your level of giving. Our church cannot operate without your financial contributions. Our parish will grow only through your prayers, work and generous sacrifice.


When you are generous, you are not bestowing a gift, but repaying a debt. Everything you possess materially comes from God, who created all things. And every spiritual and moral virtue you possess is through divine grace. Thus, you owe everything to God. More than that, God has given you his Son, to show you how to live: how to use your material possessions, and how to grow in moral and spiritual virtue. St. John Chrysostom 


Please Remember in Your Prayers…

Archpriest Vincent Saverino; Archpriest Michael Hatrak; Deacon Michael Bishop; Mat. Myra Kovalak; Mat. Klavdiya Burbelo; Kh. Frederica Mathewes-Green; Nun Elizabeth; Nun Magdalena; Mat. Natalia Kosich; Mat. Diane Winsky; Mat. Catherine Kowalchik; Marie Vass; Charles Snipes; Arthur-Stephen Lisowsky; Yelena Radchenko; Lydia Zorina; Tatiana; Katherine Plaskowitz; Philip Plaskowitz, Michael Stanka; Bernadine Borawick; Julia Aymold; Mary Johnson; Lilli Ann Hoffman; Lara Marinich; Oleg Marinich; Ioann and Galina Zernetkin; Monika-Anastasia & Stephanie Handley; Blanche-Julia Stolkovich; Ekaterina Koroleva; Nina Lewis; Maryann Black; Lyudmila, Anton & Aleksander Karnup; John Alexander Bylen; Katherine Garrett; Stephen Kaminitsky; Constantine; John-Thomas Planinshek; Kenneth Pukita; William and Ann Ferkile; Sergei Krektyshev; Irina Kononova; Petr and Lyudmila Borodkin; Anthony Bakie; Svetlana & Aleksey; Nina; Mat. Galina, Alla; Anna; Alla; Raisa, Zinaida; Joseph Germano; Pavel, Vladimir, Valentina, Nina, and Maria; Maria Pappas; Bonnie Duke; Joseph Lacomy; Diana Radchenko; Aleksey Potapov; Oleg and Andrei; Vitaliy, Tatiana, Olena & Nicholas Berchuk; Marian, Irena and Isabella; David, Selina-Sophia, John, Maryann, David, Joseph, Lisa Ann Eichelberger; Cynthia and Bill (Basil) Popomaronis; Katerina Spilio; Ekaterina Kuzmina; Andrei, Marina, Valentina and Vladimir; Cezara–Maria, Archpriest Cezar, Mat. Christina, Darius, Justina, Christian; Victoria Lardiero.


Next Council Meeting: Thursday, April 19th – 7:00 PM in the Church Hall


Fr. John Vass, Pastor  443-527-7067

Fr. Deacon Michael Bishop:                    410-563-0472

Victor Marinich, Council President:           443-512-0985

Vadim Radchenko, Vice President:          410-465-6172

Andrei Burbelo,  Recording Secretary:     443-567-6031

Albert Blaszak, Treasurer:                         410-799-3226

Monika Handley, Stewardship Chair:       410-263-5758

Vacant Member-At-Large:                                                      

Natallia Makarava Sisterhood President:  443-625-8470

Michael Mickel, Cemetery Manager:        410-666-2870


St. John of the Ladder (Climacus)

St. John Climacus is honored by the Church as a great ascetic and as the author of a remarkable work entitled, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, and therefore he has been named “Climacus,” or “of the Ladder.” 


There has been very little information preserved about his origin. Tradition tells us that he was born in around the year 570 and was the son of Saints Xenophon and Maria, who are commemorated on January 26/February 28. St. John came to the monastery on Mt. Sinai at age sixteen. Abba Martyrius became his spiritual father and mentor. After four years of living on Mt. Sinai, John was tonsured a monk. One of the fathers present at his tonsure foretold that John would become a great luminary of Christ's Church. St. John labored in asceticism for nineteen years in obedience to his spiritual father. After the death of Abba Martyrius, St. John chose the life of reclusion, departing to a desert place called Thola, where he lived forty years in silence, fasting, prayer, and repentant tears. It is not by chance that St. John speaks so much of repentant tears in The Ladder. "As fire burns and destroys dead wood, so do pure tears cleanse all impurity, both inwardly and outwardly." His prayer was strong and effective—this can be seen in the following example of the great ascetic's life. 


St. John had a disciple, Monk Moses. One day St. John sent his disciple to spread soil on the garden beds. As he was fulfilling his obedience, Monk Moses became weary from the fierce summer heat and reclined under the shade of a large cliff. St. John was in his cell at that moment, resting a bit after his labor of prayer. Suddenly a man of venerable countenance appeared and woke the ascetic, reproofing him: "John, why are you resting peacefully here while Moses is in danger?" St. John immediately arose and began praying for his disciple. When Moses returned that evening, the saint asked him if anything had happened to him that day. The monk answered, "No, but I was in serious danger. A large rock broke off from a cliff under which I had fallen asleep at midday and nearly crushed me. Fortunately, I was having a dream in which you were calling me, and I jumped up and ran; at that moment a huge rock fell with a crash upon that very place where I was…" 


It is known from St. John's life that he ate what was allowed by the rule of fasting, but within measure. He did not go without sleep at night, although he never slept more than was needed to support his strength for ceaseless vigilance, and so as not to negatively affect his mind. "I did not fast beyond measure," he said of himself, "and I did not conduct intensified night vigil, nor did I sleep on the ground; but I humbled myself…, and the Lord speedily saved me." The following example of St. John's humility is notable. Gifted with a strong, sharp mind that was made wise by deep spiritual experience, he taught everyone who came to him and guided them to salvation. But when certain others out of jealousy accused him of loquaciousness, which they said sprung from vainglory, St. John took a vow of silence in order not to temp anyone and remained thus for a year. His enviers admitted their error and begged the ascetic not to deprive them of his beneficial instruction. 


To hide his ascetic labors from people, St. John would sometimes depart to a solitary cave, but fame of his holiness spread far beyond his enclosure, and people from all walks of life would come to him seeking a word of edification and salvation. When he was seventy-five years old, after forty years of ascetic labors in solitude, the saint was chosen to be abbot of Sinai. St. John Climacus ruled the holy monastery for four years. The Lord granted the saint many gifts of grace toward the end of his life, including clairvoyance and miracle-working. 


During St. John's abbacy, another St. John, abbot of Raithu Monastery (commemorated on the Saturday of Cheesefare week) asked him to write the famous Ladder—instructions for the ascent to spiritual perfection. Knowing of the saint's wisdom and spiritual gifts, the abbot of Raithu asked on behalf of all the monks of his monastery for "true instruction for those who seek unwaveringly, and a kind of steadfast ladder that will take those who desire it to the Heavenly gates…" St. John, who had a humble opinion of himself, first balked at the task but then set about writing the treatise out of obedience to the request of the Raithu monks. He thus called the work, The Ladder, explaining his choice: "I have built a ladder of ascent… from earth to holiness… In honor of the thirty years of the Lord, I have built a ladder of thirty steps, which if we climb it to the age of the Lord, we will be righteous and safe from falls." The aim of this treatise was to teach us that the attainment of salvation requires difficult self-denial and intense ascetical labor. The Ladder first suggests the cleansing of sinful impurity, the uprooting of vices and passions of the "old man"; second, it shows the restoration of God's image in man. Although the book was written for monks, any Christian who lives in the world will find it a reliable guide on the ascent to God. Pillars of spiritual life such as St. Theodore the Studite, St. Sergius of Radonezh, St. Joseph of Volokolamsk, and others continually referred to The Ladder as the best book for soul-saving instruction. 


The steps of The Ladder are the ascent from strength to strength on the human path to perfection, which can only be attained gradually and not suddenly; for, in the words of the Savior, The Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force (Mt. 11:12).   

Translated from the Russian by 



Metropolitan + Philaret (Voznesensky)

The Fourth Sunday in Great Lent


In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

More than once, brethren, the fact has been mentioned that on each Sunday in the Great Fast (i.e., Lent) there are other commemorations besides that of the Resurrection. Thus, on this day, the Church glorifies the righteous John of the Ladder, one of the greatest ascetics, which the Church, in speaking of them, calls "earthly angels and Heavenly men." 


These great ascetics were extraordinary people. They commanded the elements; wild beasts willingly and readily obeyed them. For them, there were no maladies they could not cure. They walked on the waters as on dry land; all the elements of the world were subject to them, because they lived in God and had the power of grace to overcome the laws of terrestrial nature. One such ascetic was St. John of the Ladder. 


He was surnamed "of the Ladder" (Climacus) because he wrote an immortal work, the "Ladder of Divine Ascent." In this work, we see how, by means of thirty steps, the Christian gradually ascends from below to the heights of supreme spiritual perfection. We see how one virtue leads to another, as a man rises higher and higher and finally attains to that height where there abides the crown of the virtues, which is called "Christian love." 


Saint John wrote his immortal work especially for the monastics, but in the past his "Ladder" was always favorite reading in Russia for anyone zealous to live piously, though he were not a monk. Therein the Saint clearly demonstrates how a man passes from one step to the next. 


Remember, Christian soul, that this ascent on high is indispensable for anyone who wishes to save his soul unto eternity. 


When we throw a stone up, it ascends until the moment when the propelling force ceases to be effectual. So long as this force acts, the stone travels higher and higher in its ascent, overcoming the force of the earth’s gravity. But when this force is spent and ceases to act, then, as you know, the stone does not remain suspended in the air. Immediately, it begins to fall, and the further it falls the greater the speed of its fall. This, solely according to the physical laws of terrestrial gravity. 


So it is also in the spiritual life. As a Christian gradually ascends, the force of spiritual and ascetical labors lifts him on high. Our Lord Jesus Christ said: "Strive to enter in through the narrow gate." That is, the Christian ought to be an ascetic. Not only the monastic, but every Christian. He must take pains for his soul and his life. He must direct his life on the Christian path, and purge his soul of all filth and impurity. 


Now, if the Christian, who is ascending upon this ladder of spiritual perfection by his struggles and ascetic labors, ceases from this work and ascetic toil, his soul will not remain in its former condition; but, like the stone, it will fall to the earth. More and more quickly will it drop until, finally, if the man does not come to his senses, it will cast him down into the very abyss of Hell. 


It is necessary to remember this. People forget that the path of Christianity is indeed an ascetical labor. Last Sunday, we heard how the Lord said: "He that would come after Me, let him take up his cross, deny himself, and follow Me." The Lord said this with the greatest emphasis. Therefore, the Christian must be one who takes up his cross, and his life, likewise, must be an ascetic labor of bearing that cross. Whatever the outward circumstance of his life, be he monk or layman, it is of no consequence. In either case, if he does not force himself to mount upwards, then, of a certainty, he will fall lower and lower. 


And in this regard, alas, people have confused thoughts. For example, a clergyman drops by a home during a fast. Cordially and thoughtfully, they offer him fast food (i.e., food prepared according to the rules of the Fast), and say: "For you, fast food, of course!" To this, one of our hierarchs customarily replies: "Yes, I am Orthodox. But who gave you permission not to keep the fasts?" All the fasts of the Church, all the ordinances, are mandatory for every Orthodox person. Speaking of monastics, such ascetics as St. John of the Ladder and those like him fasted much more rigorously than the Church prescribes; but this was a matter of their spiritual ardor, an instance of their personal ascetic labor. This the Church does not require of everyone, because it is not in accord with everyone’s strength. But the Church DOES require of every Orthodox the keeping of those fasts which She has established. 


Oftentimes have I quoted the words of Saint Seraphim, and once again shall I mention them. Once there came to him a mother who was concerned about how she might arrange the best possible marriage for her young daughter. When she came to Saint Seraphim for advice, he said to her: "Before all else, ensure that he, whom your daughter chooses as her companion for life, keeps the fasts. If he does not, then he is not a Christian, whatever he may consider himself to be." You see how the greatest saint of the Russian Church, Saint Seraphim of Sarov, a man who, better than we, knew what Orthodoxy is, spoke concerning the fasts? 


Let us remember this. Saint John Climacus has described the ladder of spiritual ascent: then let us not forget that each Christian must ascend thereon. The great ascetics ascended like swiftly-flying eagles; we scarcely ascend at all. Nonetheless, let us not forget that, unless we employ our efforts in correcting ourselves and our lives, we shall cease our ascent, and, most assuredly, we shall begin to fall. Amen. 



The Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste

(Thursday, March 9/22)


In the year 313 St Constantine the Great issued an edict granting Christians religious freedom, and officially recognizing Christianity as equal with paganism under the law. But his co-ruler Licinius was a pagan, and he decided to stamp out Christianity in his part of the Empire. As Licinius prepared his army to fight Constantine, he decided to remove Christians from his army, fearing mutiny. 


One of the military commanders of that time in the Armenian city of Sebaste was Agricola, a zealous champion of idolatry. Under his command was a company of forty Cappadocians, brave soldiers who had distinguished themselves in many battles. When these Christian soldiers refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, Agricola locked them up in prison. The soldiers occupied themselves with prayer and psalmody, and during the night they heard a voice saying, "Persevere until the end, then you shall be saved." 


On the following morning, the soldiers were again taken to Agricola. This time the pagan tried flattery. He began to praise their valor, their youth and strength, and once more he urged them to renounce Christ and thereby win themselves the respect and favor of their emperor. 


Seven days later, the renowned judge Licius arrived at Sebaste and put the soldiers on trial. The saints steadfastly answered, "Take not only our military insignia, but also our lives, since nothing is more precious to us than Christ God." Licius then ordered his servants to stone the holy martyrs. But the stones missed the saints and returned to strike those who had thrown them. One stone thrown by Licius hit Agricola in the face, smashing his teeth. The torturers realized that the saints were guarded by some invisible power. In prison, the soldiers spent the night in prayer and again they heard the voice of the Lord comforting them: "He who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live (John 11:25). Be brave and fear not, for you shall obtain imperishable crowns." 


On the following day the judge repeated the interrogation in front of the torturer, but the soldiers remained unyielding. It was winter, and there was a severe frost. They lined up the holy soldiers, threw them into a lake near the city, and set a guard to prevent them from coming out of the water. In order to break the will of the martyrs, a warm bath-house was set up on the shore. During the first hour of the night, when the cold had become unbearable, one of the soldiers made a dash for the bath-house, but no sooner had he stepped over the threshold, than he fell down dead. 


During the third hour of the night, the Lord sent consolation to the martyrs. Suddenly there was light, the ice melted away, and the water in the lake became warm. All the guards were asleep, except for Aglaius, who was keeping watch. Looking at the lake he saw that a radiant crown had appeared over the head of each martyr. Aglaius counted thirty-nine crowns and realized that the soldier who fled had lost his crown. 


Aggias then woke up the other guards, took off his uniform and said to them, "I too am a Christian," and he joined the martyrs. Standing in the water he prayed, "Lord God, I believe in Thee, in Whom these soldiers believe. Add me to their number and make me worthy to suffer with Thy servants." Then a fortieth crown appeared over his head. 


In the morning, the torturers saw with surprise that the martyrs were still alive, and their guard Aggias was glorifying Christ together with them. They led the soldiers out of the water and broke their legs. During this horrible execution the mother of the youngest of the soldiers, Meliton, pleaded with her son not to persevere until death. 


They put the bodies of the martyrs on a cart and committed them to fire. Young Meliton was still breathing, and they left him to lay on the ground. His mother then picked up her son, and on her own shoulders she carried him behind the cart. When Meliton drew his last breath, his mother put him on the cart with the bodies of his fellow sufferers. The bodies of the saints were tossed in the fire, and their charred bones were thrown into the water, so that Christians would not gather them up. 


Three days later the martyrs appeared in a dream to St Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, and commanded him to bury their remains. The bishop together with several clergy gathered up the relics of the glorious martyrs by night and buried them with honor. 


There is a pious custom of baking pastries shaped like skylarks on the commemoration day of the Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste.  Holy Tradition tells us that birds sang at the time of the Holy Martyrs’ deaths to announce the arrival of spring and the victory of Life over death



The Ten Commandments: A Self Examination


1.   I am the Lord your God, and you shall have no other gods before Me.    Have I believed in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit? Or have I failed to trust in God and His mercy? Have I complained to God when faced with adversity? Have I been thankful for God's blessings? Have I doubted the Christian faith and the teachings of the Orthodox Church? Have I strayed from the teachings of the Church by unbelief or indifference to the Faith? Have I equated the Holy Orthodox Faith with other beliefs and heresies? Have I been impatient… fallen into despair or apathy? Have I tried to serve God and keep His commandments? Or have I believed in astrology, superstitions, fortune-tellers and the like?? Have I neglected my duties to God through fear of ridicule or persecution? Have I failed to pray to God faithfully? Have I put myself before God?  Having asked myself these questions, I pray: O God, have mercy on me, I have transgressed this commandment and I repent, forgive me a sinner.


2. You shall not make for yourself a graven image in order to worship it.   Have I given to anyone the worship that is due to God alone? Have I placed anyone above God? Have I made an idol of any person or thing? Have I given excessive attention to money, possessions and other earthly cares?  Have I loved these things more than God? Have I set before myself the holy life of Jesus Christ and tried to imitate Him? Have I read the Holy Scriptures regularly? Have I been irreverent during Church Services, let my attention wander, or been insecure? Have I neglected to receive Holy Communion regularly or without due preparation? Having asked myself these questions, I pray: O God, have mercy on me, I have transgressed this commandment and I repent, forgive me a sinner.


3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.   Have I profaned the holy name of God in any way? Have I cursed anyone or anything, or sworn a false oath? Have I failed to give proper reverence to holy, persons and things? Have I had due respect for the clergy of the Church or hindered them in performing God's work? Have I broken any solemn vow or promise? Have I entered into any unlawful contract or made an unlawful promise? Have I used the name of the Lord in swearing, foul language or in a joking way? Have I sworn or murmured against God? Having asked myself these questions, I pray: O God, have mercy on me, I have transgressed this commandment and I repent, forgive me a sinner.


4. Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it Holy.   Have I attended Church services regularly? Have I stayed away from Church on Sundays, Saturday evenings and other holy days and feast days or prevented others from going? Have I done unnecessary work on Sundays? Have I spent the day in an unwholesome fashion or profaned it by improper conduct? If I could not go to Church because of illness or other grave cause, have I prayed at home? Have I caused anyone else to profane the Lord's Day? Have I prayed to God upon rising and before eating and sleeping each day? During prayer have I been distracted by other thoughts? Do I make the sign of the Cross carelessly, irreverently? Have I been ashamed to make the sign of the Cross in front of others? When in Church, have I been inattentive, laughed or talked unnecessarily? Have I attended parties, movies, or other social gathering during the hours of Church services? Have I failed to keep the fast or other rules of the Church? Have I failed to ask for God's help in every effort? Have I concealed sins at confession? Having asked myself these questions, I pray: O God, have mercy on me, I have transgressed this commandment and I repent, forgive me a sinner.


5. Honor your Father and Mother.   Have I respected my parents and been obedient to them? Have I been guilty of deception, or caused them pain by my words or actions? Have I neglected them or failed to help them? Have I done my duty towards my family? Do I pray for my parents everyday? Have I been wanting in love or kindness towards my husband (or wife), or harmed him (or her) in any way? Have I set before my children a good example and tried to bring them up properly? Have I corrected their faults with patience and not with anger? Have I over-indulged or spoiled them? Have I neglected my godchildren and failed in my obligations towards them? Have I worked for my employers honestly and diligently? Have I treated fairly all those who have worked for me? Have I honored God as my Heavenly Father by treating others as my brothers and sisters, and have I honored the Church as my spiritual Mother by honoring and practicing my religion in accordance with her teachings? Have I been disrespectful to members of the clergy, my elders, teachers or superiors? Have I caused them pain or neglected to help them? Having asked myself these questions, I pray: O God, have mercy on me, I have transgressed this commandment and I repent, forgive me a sinner.


6. You shall not kill.   Have I caused the injury or death of anyone, or wished that I were dead? Have I done anything to shorten my own life or that of someone else by injuring them, or through evil and intemperate living? Have I given way to anger or harmed others with words or actions? Have I defamed others who needed help, or failed to stand up for those unjustly treated? Have I been cruel to anyone? Have I abused anyone…used foul language against them…or struck someone? Have I mistreated animals or destroyed any life unnecessarily? Have I failed to forgive anyone or harbored evil thoughts and anger against him or her? Have I raised my voice in anger? Am I truly at peace with everyone? Have I asked forgiveness of those I may have offended? Have I failed to give aid to someone in need, especially when asked?  Having asked myself these questions, I pray: O God, have mercy on me, I have transgressed this commandment and I repent, forgive me a sinner.


7. You shall not commit adultery.  Have I been faithful to my husband or wife in word, deed and thought? Do I order my life properly so that my marriage is nourished or do I put myself and my own desires before those of my spouse? Have I given way to impure thoughts, words, or deeds? Have I committed any unworthy actions alone or with others? Have I degraded myself in any way, or forgotten human dignity? Have I read immoral books or magazines, or delighted in obscenity of any kind? Have I associated with bad companions or frequented unsavory places? Do I often eat too much? Do I drink alcohol to excess?  Do I smoke, abuse substances or bring physical harm to myself? Have I been lazy, idle, or wasted my time? Have I led others to commit sinful acts? Have I been unfaithful to any trust confided in me? Having asked myself these questions, I pray: O God, have mercy on me, I have transgressed this commandment and I repent, forgive me a sinner.


8. You shall not steal.   Have I stolen anything or wished to do so? Have I kept anything that did not belong to me? Have I taken something without asking? Have I tried honestly to find owners of lost articles I have found? Have I cheated anyone? Have I paid my debts? Have I lived within my income, and not wastefully and extravagantly? Have I contributed a fair percentage of my income to the Church as a steward? Have I given to charitable causes in proportion to my means? Have I been honest and upright? Having asked myself these questions, I pray: O God, have mercy on me, I have transgressed this commandment and I repent, forgive me a sinner.


9. You shall not bear false witness.   Have I told lies, or added to or subtracted from the truth? Have I made careless statements or spoken evil of anyone? Have I told any secrets entrusted to me, or betrayed any one? Have I gossiped about anyone or harmed their reputation? Have I concealed the truth, assisted in carrying out a lie, or pretended to commit a sin of which I was not guilty? Have I really tried to see the good in others instead of searching for and rejoicing in their shortcomings? Do I judge others? Have I been stubborn, insistent on pressing my point of view? Have I plotted or taken revenge on one who's offended me? Have I joked about the faults of others, or exposed the faults of another to make myself the better? Do I seek glory or praise for myself? Having asked myself these questions, I pray: O God, have mercy on me, I have transgressed this commandment and I repent, forgive me a sinner.


10. You shall not covet.   Have I envied anything good that has come to others? Have I been jealous of another's good fortune, another’s possessions, appearance or standing? Have I wished for anything that was another's? Have I damaged or destroyed the property of others? Have I wished for things God has not given me, or been discontented with my lot? Have I been stingy? Have I held back anything due to someone? Have I hoped for the downfall of anyone so that I might gain by it? Have I failed to be gracious and generous to anyone? Have I expected God to give me that which I would refuse one of my fellow men? Am I prideful? Do I rightfully acknowledge my sinfulness and unworthiness in the sight of God or rather do I brag of my abilities, position or possessions?  Have I been lazy?  Having asked myself these questions, I pray: O God, have mercy on me, I have transgressed this commandment and I repent, forgive me a sinner.



Excerpt from the book The Way of a Pilgrim


Turning my gaze at myself and attentively observing the course of my interior life I am convinced, through experience, that I love neither God nor my neighbor, that I have no faith, and that I am full of pride and sensuality. This realization is the result of careful examination of my feelings and actions. 


1. I do not love God. For if I loved Him, then I would be constantly thinking of Him with heartfelt satisfaction; every thought of God would fill me with joy and delight. On the contrary, I think more and with greater eagerness about worldly things, while thoughts of God present difficulty and aridity. If I loved Him, then my prayerful communion with Him would nourish, delight, and lead me to uninterrupted union with Him. But on the contrary, not only do I not find my delight in prayer but I find it difficult to pray; I struggle unwillingly, I am weakened by slothfulness and am most willing to do anything insignificant only to shorten or end my prayer. In useless occupations I pay no attention to time; but when I am thinking about God, when I place myself in His presence, every hour seems like a year. When a person loves another, he spends the entire day unceasingly thinking about his beloved, imagining being with him, and worrying about him; no matter what he is occupied with, the beloved does not leave his thoughts. And I in the course of the day barely take one hour to immerse myself deeply in meditation about God and enkindle within myself love for Him, but for twenty-three hours with eagerness I bring fervent sacrifices to the idols of my passions I greatly enjoy conversations about vain subjects which degrade the spirit, but in conversations about God I am dry, bored, and lazy. And if unwillingly I am drawn into a conversation about spiritual matters, I quickly change the subject to something which flatters my passions. I have avid curiosity about secular news and political events; I seek satisfaction for my love of knowledge in worldly studies, in science, art, and methods of acquiring possessions. But the study of the law of the Lord, knowledge of God, and religion does not impress me, does not nourish my soul. I judge this to be an unessential activity of a Christian, a rather supplementary subject with which I should occupy myself in my leisure time. In short, if love of God can be recognized by the keeping of His commandments-"If anyone loves me he will keep my word," says the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:23), and I not only do not keep His commandments but I make no attempt to do so-then in very truth I should conclude that I do not love God. St. Basil the Great confirms this when he says, "The evidence that man does not love God and His Christ is that he does not keep His commandments." 


2. I do not love my neighbor. Not only because I am not ready to lay down my life for the good of my neighbor, according to the Gospel, but I will not even sacrifice my peace and my happiness for his good. If I loved my neighbor as myself, as the Gospel commands, then his misfortune would grieve me also and his prosperity would bring me great joy. But, on the contrary, I listen with curiosity to accounts of my neighbor’s misfortune and I am not grieved but indifferent to them and, what is more, I seem to find satisfaction in them. I do not sympathize with the failings of my brother but I judge them and publicize them. My neighbor’s welfare, honor, and happiness do not delight me as my own; I am either completely indifferent to them or I am jealous or envious. 


3. I do not have faith in spiritual realities. I believe neither in immortality nor in the Gospel. If I were firmly convinced and believed without a doubt in eternal life and in retribution for our earthly actions, then I would be constantly thinking about this; the very thought of immortality would inspire me with wonder and awe and I would live my life as an alien who is getting ready to enter his native land. On the contrary, I don't even think of eternity and I consider the end of this life as the limit of my existence. I nurture a secret thought within and wonder, "Who knows what will happen after death?" Even when I say that I believe in immortality, it is only from natural reasoning, for down deep in my heart I am not convinced of it and my actions and preoccupations with earthly cares prove this. If I accepted the Holy Gospel with faith into my heart as the word of God, then I would be constantly occupied with it; I would study it, would delight in it, and with deep reverence would immerse myself in it. Wisdom, mercy, and love hidden within it would lead me to ecstasy, and day and night I would delight in the lessons contained in the law of God. They would be my daily spiritual bread and I would earnestly strive to fulfill them; nothing on earth would be strong enough to keep me from this. But on the contrary, even if I sometimes read or listen to the word of God, it is either out of necessity or curiosity; I do not delve deeply into it but feel dryness and indifference to it and I receive no greater benefit from it than I do from secular reading. Further, I am eager to give it up promptly and go to worldly reading, in which I have greater interest and from which I get more satisfaction. 

4. I am full of pride and self-love. All my actions confirm this. When I see something good in myself, then I wish to display it or brag about it to others, or interiorly I am full of self-love even when outwardly I feign humility. I ascribe everything to my own ability and I consider myself more perfect than others, or at least not worse. If I notice a vice in myself, then I try to excuse it or justify it; I pretend to be innocent or I claim that I couldn't help it. I am impatient with those who do not show me respect and I consider them incapable of judging character. I am vain about my talents and cannot accept any failure in my actions. I grumble and I am glad to see the misfortune of my enemies, and my intention in doing anything good is either praise, self interest, or earthly comfort. In a word, I continuously make an idol out of myself, to whom I give unceasing service as I seek sensual delights and try to nourish my carnal desires. Studying the guide to confession leads me to conclude that I am proud, adulterous, without faith; I do not love God and hate my neighbor. What state could be more sinful? The state of the spirits of darkness is better than my condition, for though they do not love God and hate man and are nourished by pride, at least they believe and tremble. But I? Can there be a worse fate than I am faced with? What is more strictly forbidden that man will be judged on than the careless and slothful life which I recognize in myself? 


O Most Holy Trinity, Our God, Glory to Thee!