Our venerable father Gerasimus first learned about the ascetic life while he was in the Egyptian Thebaid. He went to the Jordan and founded a community in which there were seventy monks. He instituted a special rule in his monastery: each monk spent five days a week in their cell weaving baskets and rush mats. They were never allowed to light a fire in their cells. Five days a week they ate only a little dry bread and a few dates. The monks were required to keep their cells open so that, when they went out, anyone could enter and take whatever they needed. On Saturdays and Sundays they gathered in the monastery church. They had a common meal with a few vegetables and a little wine. Each monk would then bring in and place at the feet of the abbot that which he made during the past five days. St. Gerasimus set the example to all. During Great Lent he did not eat anything except what he received in Holy Communion. Gerasimus attended the Fourth Ecumenical Council in 451. Although at the beginning he leaned toward the Monophysite heresy of Eutyches and Dioscorus, he was a great defender and champion of Orthodoxy at the Council.
Living a life angelic in fasting and powerful in prayer, a life unwavering in trials, unceasing in vigil, and temperate in all things, you astonished the angels and vanquished the legions of devils, O father Gerasimus. You gladden the hearts of the faithful, O blessed saint. The beasts were obedient to you for all of this. Since you have achieved a place of honor before the Lord, pray for the salvation of our souls.
Inflamed with an exalted ideal, you preferred Jordan severity to worldly delights. Until the day you died, the wild animals listened to you; and they died of sorrow upon your grave, O father. Truly they praised you before God. Pray to Him, O father Gerasimus, and keep us in your holy memory.
Hebrews 3: 12-16
Brothers and sisters, take care lest any of you have an evil and unfaithful spirit and fall away from the living God. Encourage one another daily while it is still “today,” so that no one grows hardened by the deceit of sin. We have become partners of Christ only if we maintain to the end that confidence with which we began. When Scripture says, “Today, if you should hear his voice, harden not your hearts as at the revolt,” who were those who revolted when they heard that voice? Was it not all whom Moses had led out of Egypt?
Mark 1: 35-44
At that time Jesus went off to a lonely place in the desert; there he was absorbed in prayer. Simon and his companions managed to track him down, and when they found him, they told him, “Everybody is looking for you!” Jesus said to them: “Let us move on to the neighboring villages so that I may proclaim the good news there also. That is what I have come to do.” So he went into their synagogues preaching the good news and expelling demons throughout the whole of Galilee.
A leper approached Jesus with a request, kneeling down as he addressed him, “If you will do so, you can cure me.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said: “I do will it. Be cured.” The leprosy left him then and there, and he was cured. Jesus gave him a stern warning and sent him on his way. “Not a word to anyone, now,” he said. “Go off and present yourself to the priest and offer for your cure what Moses prescribed. That should be a proof for them.” The man went off and began to proclaim the whole matter freely, making the story public. As a result of this, it was no longer possible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He stayed in desert places; yet people kept coming to him from all sides.
Icon courtesy of Jack Figel, Eastern Christian Publications – ecpubs.com
Friday, March 3 –