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April 30

1. THE HOLY APOSTLE JAMES

James was the son of Zebedee, brother of John and one of the Twelve Apostles. At the invitation of the Lord Jesus, James left his fishermen's net and his father and, together with John, immediately followed after the Lord. He belonged to that trinity of apostles to whom the Lord revealed the greatest mysteries, before whom He was transfigured on Tabor, and before whom He was in agony in the Garden of Gethsemane preceeding His passion. After receiving the Holy Spirit, he preached the Gospel in various places and traveled to Spain. Upon his return from Spain, the Jews began to quarrel with him concerning Holy Scripture, but no one was able to withstand him, not even a certain magician, Hermogenes. Hermogenes and his disciple Philip were defeated by the power of the truth which James preached, and both of them were baptized. Then the Jews accused James before Herod and persuaded a certain Josias to slander the apostle. Josias, seeing the brave conduct of James and listening to his clear explanation of the truth, repented and believed in Christ. When James was condemned to death, this same Josias was also condemned to death. En route to the place of execution, Josias implored James to forgive him the sin of slander. James embraced and kissed him and said: "Peace and forgiveness be to you!" Both of them bowed their heads under the sword and were beheaded for the Lord, Whom they loved and Whom they served. Saint James suffered in Jerusalem in the year 45 A.D. His body was translated to Spain, where miraculous healings occur over his grave even to this day.

2. SAINT DONATUS

Donatus was Bishop of Evira in Albania. He was endowed by God with the great blessing of miracle-working, by which he performed many miracles for the benefit of the people. Donatus changed bitter water into sweet water; brought down rain during a drought; healed the king's daughter of insanity; and resurrected a man from the dead. This deceased man had paid his debt to a certain creditor. But the unscrupulous creditor wanted the debt to be paid a second time, and so, wanting to benefit from the death of his debtor, he came to his widow and demanded that the debt be repaid immediately. The widow wept and complained to the bishop. St. Donatus warned the creditor to wait, at least until the man was buried, and then the debt would be discussed. The creditor angrily stood his ground. Then Donatus approached the dead man, touched him and cried out: "Arise, brother, and see what you have with your creditor!" The dead man rose and with a frightening glance looked at his creditor and related to him the time, when and where, he had paid the debt. He also sought from the creditor his written receipt. The frightened creditor then placed the document into his hands, and the enlivened deceased tore it up and again lay down and died. St. Donatus died peacefully in very old age and took up habitation with the Lord, in the year 387 A.D. His relics repose in Evira, Albania, and even today they benefit the faithful.

3. THE HOLY FEMALE MARTYR ARGYRA

This New Martyr was born in Brusa of devout parents. As soon as Argyra was married to a Christian, a certain Turk from the neighborhood fell in love with her and invited her to live with him. The Christ-loving Argyra rejected such a vile proposal of this Turk. He became enraged and accused her before the judge, saying that she had wanted to embrace Islam and had later reneged. This holy Argyra spent fifteen years suffering for Christ, going from judge to judge and from prison to prison. She loved Christ above everything in this world. She finally died in prison in Constantinople in the year 1725 A.D.

HYMN OF PRAISE

THE HOLY APOSTLE JAMES

Zebedee's James, one of three was,

Who saw the most miraculous mysteries of Christ,

Who saw the Transfiguration of the Savior,

In clothing white, with a radiant countenance.

And again in the Garden they saw Him sorrowful,

As a seemingly helpless prisoner in the cage of the world.

By this contradiction James was confused,

Until, enlightened he was, by the light of the Resurrection.

And when the Lord arose, James believed;

Torn asunder were his doubts, like a cloud of dreams!

And yet more when the Spirit descended, and the power to him He gave,

James, an invincible commander became.

Day and night, he began to wage war,

And with God's help, miracles to work.

All for the Name of Christ, all to the glory of Christ,

Until that Holy Name did shine in the world.

In vain did the bloody Herod behead him;

His commander, God granted eternal glory.

REFLECTION

A devout elder lay on his death bed. His friends gathered around him and mourned him. At this, the elder laughed three times. The monks asked him: "What are you laughing at?" The elder replied: "I laughed the first time because all of you are afraid of death; the second time because none of you are prepared for death; and the third time because I am going from labor to rest." Behold, how a righteous man dies! He is not afraid of death. He is prepared for death. He sees that through death he passes from the difficult life to eternal rest. When the nature of man contemplates its original state in Paradise, then death is unnatural, the same way that sin is unnatural. Death emanated from sin. Having repented and being cleansed from sin, a man does not consider death annihilation, but the gate to life eternal. If, at times, the righteous prayed to God to prolong their earthly life, that was not because of love for this life nor because of the fear of death, but solely that they would gain more time for repentance and cleansing from sin, in order that they might present themselves before God more sinless and more pure. Even if they showed fear before death, that was out of fear not of death but of God's judgment. What fear then must the unrepentant sinner experience before death?

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the Ascension of the Lord Jesus:

1. How all the gravitational forces on earth were unable to keep the body of the Lord from ascending;

2. How, by His Ascension, the Lord showed Himself to be above the laws of nature.

HOMILY

About the illumination of Christ

"Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light" (Ephesians 5:14).

Saint Paul the Apostle, like all the other apostles and Christian saints, teaches what he teaches from his own personal experience, for the Faith of Christ is experience and not theory or human sophistry. Even Paul had lain as one spiritually asleep, and he was spiritually dead while he opposed the Christian Faith. St. Paul then awakened, arose, and was resurrected in the spirit and illumined by Christ. He knows himself from the time when he was spiritually asleep, and from the time when he awakened, and when he arose, and when he was resurrected by the Spirit, and when he was illumined by Christ. That which he knows about himself as a Christian, he commends to others. As an apostle, he sees himself in a great light and believes that all other men, if they so desire, can be as bright as he is. The light is not his, but Christ's light. His is only the love for that Light, Who is Christ.

But the illumination of Christ is necessary for man in the beginning as well as in the end. For without Christ's illumination, man is unable to awaken, to arise, or to resurrect from the dead, as afterward he is unable by himself to live in faith or to die in hope. Christ is needed in the beginning as well as in the end. As to a drowning child the hand of the parent is needed to retrieve him from the water and afterward to lead him onto dry land, protecting him and preventing him from drowning again, so is Christ needed for those drowning in the waters of sin. The Apostle himself received the illumination of Christ in the beginning, on the road to Damascus, and, again, he received it later. The first illumination was his conversion to Christ and the second illumination was his confirmation in Christ. The first illumination we all receive through baptism, and the latter, through faith and the fulfilling of the commandments of the Lord. All of those who do not possess the illumination of Christ--or who have had it and lost it--are as if asleep, as if dead.

O gentle Lord, awaken us, raise us, resurrect us--for we cannot do any of these things without You.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

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