Blessed is she who has despised perishable things and acquired love

IF any man will follow me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Mark 8:34

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An icon of St Paraskevi (Parascheva) of the Balkans, by Fr Arsenie Boca

An icon of St Paraskevi (Parascheva) of the Balkans, by Fr Arsenie Boca.

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It was these words from St Mark’s Gospel that in the 11th century inspired the young Petka (St Parascheva) to flee her home in Serbia to the desert of Jordan.

In the Prologue from Ohrid, however, St Nikolai Velimirovic gives us a hymn to St Parascheva of Serbia (whose feast falls today) based on words in St Matthew’s Gospel.

JESUS said unto him,

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

Matthew 22:37

As St John Cassian wrote,

“THOUGH I give my body to be burned, and have no love, it profits me nothing” (1 Cor 13:3).

From this we learn that perfection does not follow immediately upon renunciation and withdrawal from the world.

It comes after the attainment of love which, as the Apostle said, “is not jealous or puffed up, does not grow angry, bears no grudge, is not arrogant, thinks no evil”(cf. 1 Cor 13:4-5).

All these things establish purity of heart; and it is for this that we should do everything, scorning possessions, enduring fasts and vigils gladly, engaging in spiritual reading and psalmody.

St John Cassian, “On the Holy Fathers of Sketis And on Discrimination”, in the Philokalia.

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“THE Lord desires a pure heart”:
Thus says the Gospel.
A pure virgin you remained,
And you gave your pure heart to God –
O most wonderful saint,
Saint Parasceva, our ideal!

THE Lord seeks a most pure mind,
Without fancy and without falsehood;
And you presented Him your most pure mind,
Like that of an angel, of the same kind.
O most wonderful saint,
O Saint Parasceva, hearken to our petitions!

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The Metropolitan Cathedral of Iaşa, Romania

“The Lord seeks a pure soul, as a heavenly shrine; you perfected such a soul, and now shine in heaven, O most wonderful saint.” The Metropolitan Cathedral of Iaşa, Romania, where the relics of St Parascheva now rest.

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THE Lord seeks a pure soul,
As a heavenly shrine;
You perfected such a soul,
And now shine in heaven.
O most wonderful saint,
Parasceva, help us!

BY your prayers, help us
In the misfortunes of life.
Through the clouds of earthly sorrow
Bring us light, like a rainbow –
O chaste virgin, most wonderful,
Holy Mother Parasceva!

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AGAIN I say, and I will not stop saying, ‘Blessed is one who has despised all earthly and perishable things and acquired love.’

Such a person’s reward increases every day. Such a person’s reward and crown has been prepared, the Kingdom of heaven has been given them.

All the Angels call them blessed; all the Powers of heaven praise them; the choirs of the Archangels receive them with joy.

For them the gates of heaven will be speedily opened, and they will enter with boldness, take their stand by the throne of God, be crowned by God’s right hand, and will reign with him for endless ages.

Ephrem the Syrian. Translation by Archimandrite Ephrem at Anastasis.

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THROUGH thee the divine likeness was securely preserved, O Mother Paraskeva; for thou didst carry the cross and followed Christ.

By example and precept thou didst teach us to ignore the body because it is perishable, and to attend to the concerns of the undying soul.

Therefore, doth thy soul rejoice with the angels.

(The Romanian Troparion sung above differs from the Greek and Russian)

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