June 15, 2023

An Introduction to the Lives of the Saints (St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite) - Part 1 of 4

Introduction to the Synaxaristes

By St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite

It is now time to invite all Christians to read this Synaxaristes. Come all you who are patriarchs, hierarchs, priests and whatever order of clergy you belong to. Come you who are kings, governors and rulers. Come all you who by Christ are called Orthodox Christians, the chosen people of the Lord, men and women, small and great, young and old.

This Synaxaristes, is a multi-illuminated Heaven, which, like the great Luminary and the most brilliant Sun, has the Master Christ. For the Moon, silvery and full of light, it has the Most Holy Theotokos. For a star that does not fall and does not fade, it contains all the choirs of all the saints. Whence it illuminates, warms, animates and stimulates towards the fruitfulness of the virtues, the whole Church of Christ, and all the earthly Creation.

This Synaxaristes should rightfully be called the diverse and fragrant Garden of Christ's holy Church, full of Pomegranates and Dry Fruits, Spikenard and Crocus, Calamus and Hyacinthus, Narcissus and Cinnamon and of all the best and most fragrant odors and perfumes, through whose splendor and grace she sweetens, gladdens, delights and makes fragrant her own children, each according to their own order and profession. Of such was written concerning the sung about Bride: "Awake, O north wind; and come, O south; and blow through my garden, and let my spices flow out" (Songs 4:16), and again: "Let my kinsman come down into his garden, and eat the fruit of his choice berries" (Songs 5:1). In regards to this garden, it was right for Theophilos, the sixth bishop of Antioch, to write to Autolycus, that the Church is truly a Garden, in which are the Roses of Martyrs, the Lilies of Virgins, the Violets of Widows and the Ivy of the Married.

This is why Mary Magdalene, who although she erred (so to speak) did not err, and misrecognizing she did not misrecognize, when in the garden she mistook the Master Christ as the gardener. For Jesus Christ, He is the true gardener of this Garden of the Synaxaristes, and He planted within it with His almighty right hand, the many kinds and ubiquitous and diverse trees of the saints, and showed it to be incomparably better than the Asian gardens and paradises, planted by King Cyrus, and the hanging gardens of Babylon, which was one of the seven wonders of the world; or rather we should say, the whole fruit of the incarnate economy of the Word of God, and the coming of the Holy Spirit in the form of tongues of fire, which happened during the day of Pentecost, and the gain of the whole gospel, which was preached throughout the world by the holy apostles, were all the Saints, most of whom are contained in this Synaxaristes. Because of this fruit, the Lord said to the sacred apostles: "By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples" (John 15:8).


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