On the Saving Passion of Christ

From “The Holy Martyrs Eustratius, Auxentius, Eugene, Mardarius, and Orestes (the Five Companions)” (Dec. 13.)

The Great Collection of The Lives of the Saints

Now, O judge, permit me to make use of a comparison. Suppose that you, the ruler of this city, learned that a bear or some other fierce beast was responsible for the destruction of livestock. You gave orders to one of your servants to slay it, but he proved too weak and inexperienced, and was himself killed and eaten. Would you then send another weak, untested servant? No! Being a strong man proven in combat against wild animals, you would yourself dispatch the beast. So doing, you would not hesitate to lay aside your fine apparel and to clothe yourself in the garb of a common huntsman. Better than any words, your example would teach your slaves how to deal with fierce animals. Similarly our Lord, the Saviour of all, seeing His servants defeated in battle against the devil, abased Himself and descended into the womb of the immaculate Virgin. Himself assuming the form of a servant, He was clothed in our flesh while remaining a stranger to sin. He dwelt among mortals, out of humility wisely choosing to conceal His divinity from the wicked devil you worship. In this way He deceived the enemy into taking Him for a simple man. By His saving Passion on the Cross He conquered the adversary, destroying his power and teaching us always to contemplate His contest, do battle with the foe and vanquish him in like manner. Having taken our passions upon Himself, He imparts to us the dispassion that is, and has raised up the dead confined in Hades. His hand is always ready to help us, and He has given us the possibility of becoming children of God. For our struggles we hope to be crowned in heaven, and although death and corruption may conquer our bodies, our spirits remain victorious and immortal.

Therefore, we hate the life you love, an existence no better than an animal's, full of drunkenness and dissipation, and we strive to live like the angels and attain the everlasting abodes prepared for us.

Our eyes are not fixed on the earth like those of beasts, but on heaven; and we struggle to emulate the conduct of angels although we remain in the body. Our spirits are locked in an unceasing battle with the flesh, but by wise moderation we loosen our ties to our mortal bodies, struggling manfully against their passionate movements and love of pleasure. Turning our thoughts to heaven, we constantly struggle to mortify our flesh by patience and abstinence, and have as our sustenance the unsullied remembrance of the Lord. We thus remain safe from temptations, the power of God working in us without hindrance. Such are the blessings God bestowed up on us by clothing Himself in a body! You, however , being in bondage to the flesh, regard as gods the demon s that work impure, shameful deeds, and you build temples to them and adore them. You have alienated yourselves from heaven so your souls are always in turmoil; you fear misfortunes and are overly concerned for material prosperity. While awake, you are lost in a dream. It is clear that death, not only of the body, but of the soul, awaits you and that you shall perish eternally. Although our bodies will also decay (as does everything subject to corruption), our Lord Jesus Christ will restore them to life by returning our spirits to them, making them incorruptible.”

The Great Collection of The Lives of the Saints

This offering of the famous Russian collection of Lives of the Saints by Saint Demetrius of Rostov (1651-1709) marks the first time any of these national collections have been published in their entirety in the English language.