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April 23

1. SAINT GEORGE, THE HOLY AND GREAT MARTYR

This glorious and victorious saint was born in Cappadocia, the son of wealthy and virtuous parents. His father suffered for Christ, and his mother then moved to Palestine. When George grew up, he entered the military, where in his twentieth year, he attained the rank of Tribune, and as such was in the service of the Emperor Diocletian. When Diocletian began his terrible persecution against Christians, George came before him and courageously confessed that he was a Christian. The emperor had him thrown into prison and ordered that his feet be placed in a stockade of wooden hobbles and that a heavy stone be placed on his chest. After that, the emperor commanded that George be tied to a wheel, under which was a board with large nails, and he was to be rotated until his whole body became as one bloody wound. After that, they buried him in a pit with only his head showing above the ground, and there they left him for three days and three nights. Then George was given a deadly poison to drink by a magician. But through all of these sufferings, George continuously prayed to God, and God healed him instantly and saved him from death, to the great astonishment of the people. When he also resurrected a dead man through his prayers, many then accepted the Faith of Christ. Among these were Alexandra, the wife of the Emperor Diocletian; the chief pagan priest; the farmer Glycerius; and Valerius, Donatus and Therinus. Finally the emperor ordered that George and his own wife Alexandra be beheaded. Blessed Alexandra died on the scaffold before being beheaded, and St. George was beheaded in the year 303 A.D. The miracles which have occurred over the grave of St. George are without number. Numerous are his appearances, both in dreams and openly, to those who have invoked him and implored his help from that time until today. Inflamed with love for Christ the Lord, it was not difficult for this saintly George, for the sake of this love, to leave all: rank, wealth, imperial honor, his friends and the entire world. For this love, the Lord rewarded him with the wealth of unfading glory in heaven and on earth, and with eternal life in His kingdom. In addition, the Lord bestowed upon him the power and authority to assist all those in afflictions and difficulties who honor him and call upon his name.

2. THE HOLY NEO-MARTYR LAZARUS

This new martyr Lazarus was a Bulgarian by birth from Gabrovo. As a young man he left the place of his birth and went to Anatolia. Lazarus tended sheep in the village of Soma. As a Christian, Lazarus provoked the wrath of the Turks against himself and was cast into prison by a certain Aga. After prolonged tortures from inhuman tormentors, which Lazarus heroically endured out of love for Christ, this young martyr was killed on April 23, 1802, in his twenty-eighth year. The Lord received him into His eternal courts and glorified him in heaven and on earth. Countless miracles have occurred over the relics of St. Lazarus.

HYMN OF PRAISE

SAINT GEORGE THE GREAT MARTYR

Saint George, on a tall horse,

Saved the maiden from the dragon.

On his lance was the sign of the Cross:

The holy weapon, invincible.

With this weapon, the dragon he slayed,

The maiden, alive and well, to her father he returned,

With his goodness he indebted God Himself;

With a wreath of glory God repaid him.
--------
Saint George, with a hero's heart,

All his wealth, he distributed to the poor,

And rejected the honor and glory of the world

For the sake of the Name of Christ, the Victor.

Sufferings he embraced; and to sufferings consented.

His body was crushed for the sake of the salvation of his soul.

With his goodness he indebted God Himself;

With a wreath of glory God repaid him.
--------
George the Saint and Victory-bearer

Even now walks with the cross on his lance.

Justice he defends, injustice he punishes.

Whoever invokes him with faith and tears,

Whoever prays to him with a repentant soul--

George, the Saint, flies to his aid.

With his goodness George indebted God Himself;

With a wreath of glory God repaid him.

REFLECTION

During a certain uprising in Constantinople during the reign of Emperor Constantine, some embittered men broke off the nose and ears of the statue of the emperor in the city. Many flatterers quickly came to the emperor and with great disgust relayed to the emperor how rebels had broken the nose and ears from his statue, and they asked the emperor to punish the transgressors with the most severe punishment. The great emperor felt his nose and ears with his hands and said to the flatterers: "I feel that my nose and ears are whole and undamaged!" The flatterers were ashamed and withdrew. With such royal magnanimity we all need to endure insults from others. Yet with particular caution let us listen to the accusations against other people which our flatterers bring to us. We should always confess before God and before ourselves that we, because our sins, deserved even greater insults than those which are perpetrated against us.

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the resurrected Lord Jesus:

1. How His Resurrection is the beginning of a new and bright day in the history of mankind;

2. How His Resurrection is my peace and my strength, and the resurrection of my soul while I am still in the body.

HOMILY

About stirring up pure minds

"This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you; through them by way of reminder I am trying to stir up your sincere disposition" (2 St. Peter 3:1).

Do you see, brethren, the goal with which the Apostle Peter writes his epistle? To stir up in people their pure minds! The apostle considers this as the main thing. And truly, it is the main thing. For if in every man the dormant pure mind were awakened, there would not be a single human soul left on earth who would not believe in Christ the Lord, who would not confess Him as the crucified and resurrected Savior of the world, and who would not contritely turn to repentance for sins committed under the influence of an impure mind.

Nothing distances us more from the Good News [Gospel] than an impure mind. What makes the human mind of man impure? Sin makes the human mind impure. As milk, when poison is poured in, becomes completely poisonous, so the human mind, when impure sin enters into it, becomes completely impure. Every sin is impure; every sin makes the mind of man impure, muddy and poisonous. All knowledge which an impure mind possesses is impure, like a muddied and soiled image of an object in a muddied and soiled mirror. To the pure all things are pure (Titus 1:15), said Paul, the other chief apostle. While Adam had a pure mind in Paradise, all of his knowledge about the Creator and created things was clear and true. Sin darkened his mind and the minds of his descendants. That paradisal, pure mind of the sinless man is not dead; rather it is dormant in men under sin. It is necessary only to awaken it, and then it will unerringly lead man back to Christ. That is why the apostle takes the responsibility to awaken in men that original, pure, clear, discerning mind given to him by God.

O my brethren, let us assist the holy apostle in awakening men--he who was crucified upside down on the cross because of His preaching. Let us help him, at least in whatever way it concerns us, and let each of us awaken our own pure mind. If every one of us does this, we will see that all of us have one mind. For a pure mind is one, while impure minds are legion!

O resurrected Lord, awaken in us a pure mind, through the prayers of Your Holy Apostle Peter.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

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