St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints Oct. 18/Oct 5  

20th Week after Pentecost. Tone 2. Fast Day.    Wine and oil allowed.

 

Saints of the Day:

Martyr Charitina of Amisus (304). Sts. Peter (1326), Alexis (1378), Jonah (1461), Macarius (1563), Philip (1569), Job (1607), Hermogenes (1612), Philaret (1867), Innocent (Veniaminov) (1879), Tikhon (1925), Macarius (Nevsky) (1926), and Peter (Polyansky) (1937), hierarchs of Moscow. Hieromartyrs Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria, and the deacons Gaius and Faustus (264-265). Martyr Mamelta (Mamelchtha) of Persia (ca. 344). St. Gregory (Grigol), archimandrite, of Khandzta in the Klarjeti desert, Georgia (861). St. Damian the Healer, priest (1071), and Sts. Jeremiah (ca. 1070) and Matthew (ca. 1085), clairvoyants, of the Kiev Caves. St. Charitina, princess of Lithuania (1281). St. Varlaam, desert-dweller, of Chikoysk (1846). St. Seraphim (Amelin), schema-archimandrite, of Glinsk Hermitage (1958). Uncovering of the relics of New Hiero-confessor Basil (Preobrazhensky), bishop of Kineshma (1985). New Hiero-confessor Gabriel (Igoshkin), archimandrite, of Melekess (Saratov) (1959).  Synaxis of the holy fellow-strugglers of St. Gregory of Khandzta (9th c.). St. Cosmas, abbot, in Bithynia (10th c.). St. John (Mavropos), metropolitan of Euchaita (1100). St. Sabbas of Vatopedi, Mt. Athos, fool-for-Christ (1350). St. Methodia, recluse, of Cimola (1908).  Repose of Nun Agnia (Countess Anna Orlova-Chesmenskaya) of Novgorod (1848) and Hieroschemamonk Paisius (Olaru) of Sihastria, Romania (1990).

 

Scriptures for Today:

Philippians 2:24-30

But I trust in the Lord that I myself shall also come shortly. Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need; since he was longing for you all, and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick. For indeed he was sick almost unto death; but God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.  Therefore I sent him the more eagerly, that when you see him again you may rejoice, and I may be less sorrowful. Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem;  because for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me.

 

Luke 6:46-7:1

But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do the things which I say? Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock.

But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.  Now when He concluded all His sayings in the hearing of the people, He entered Capernaum.

 

 

St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures:

Wednesday. [Phil. 2:24-30; Luke 6:46-7:1]

   And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Why do they call Him Lord, but do not do the Lord’s will; that is, why do they not acknowledge His lordship in their deeds? Because they only call with their tongue, and not with their heart. If their heart were to utter: “Lord, Thou art my Lord,” then complete readiness would abide in it to submit to the one whom they confess as their Lord. But since they do not have this, their deeds do not match their tongue; whereas deeds always match the heart. All right, so there is no point in calling: “Lord, Lord”? No, not so. But it is necessary to make the external word match the inner word, which is the feeling and disposition of the heart. Sit and reflect upon the Lord and yourself: what is the Lord and what are you? Think about what the Lord has done and still does for you, why you live and how it will end. You immediately will come to the conviction that there is no other way than to steadfastly fulfil the Lord’s entire will; there is no other path for us. This conviction gives birth to a readiness to fulfil in deed what is expressed by the word “Lord.” With such readiness a need for help from above will be awakened, and from it the prayer: “Lord, Lord! Help me and give me strength to walk in Thy will.” And this call will be pleasing to the Lord.

 

From the Prologue of Ohrid:

1. The Holy Martyr Charitina - Having been orphaned in infancy, Charitina was adopted by an eminent Christian man named Claudius, who raised her as his own daughter. Charitina was meek, humble, obedient and quiet. She studied the Law of God day and night, and vowed to live her life in chastity, as a true bride of Christ. Since Charitina also brought others to the Christian Faith, Dometius, Emperor Diocletian’s eparch, heard of her, sent soldiers to take her from her foster father, and brought her to trial. The judge questioned her: “Is it true, young maiden, that you are a Christian, and that you deceive others, leading them to this profane Faith?” Charitina courageously replied: “It is true that I am a Christian, but it is a lie that I deceive others; rather, I lead those in error to the true path, by leading them to my Christ.” The evil judge condemned her. Her hair was shorn and hot coals were poured onto her head. Even so, she was saved by the power of God. They threw her into the sea, but God delivered her again. They tied her to a wheel and began to turn it, but an angel of God stopped the wheel, and Charitina remained unharmed. Then the depraved judge sent some dissolute young men to defile her. Fearing this dishonor, St. Charitina prayed to God to receive her soul before those degenerates could defile her virginal body. While she knelt, praying to God, her soul departed from her and was translated to the Immortal Kingdom of Christ. The Holy Martyr Charitina (by N. Kacuras) 

2. The Hieromartyr Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria - Dionysius was born in Alexandria of eminent pagan parents. He was educated in Greek philosophy, and then studied with Origen. As a young man, he read the epistles of the Apostle Paul, came to believe in Christ and was baptized by Demetrius, Bishop of Alexandria. In the year 247, Dionysius became Bishop of Alexandria, and served God and God’s people as a true shepherd under very difficult circumstances. Externally, the Church was persecuted by pagans, while from within it was rent by heretics. In addition, a plague decimated the population for several years. Dionysius lived, hidden by the faithful, outside Alexandria for three years so as not to be slain before his time. During those three years, he wrote many epistles and other compositions to his flock, instructing and encouraging them to uphold Orthodoxy. Among his writings are several canons that the Church adopted. His epistle against Novatian is also considered a canonical writing. He governed the Church for seventeen years, and reposed in the year 265. 

3. The Venerable Eudocimus of Vatopedi - In the year 1841, when the ossuary at Vatopedi was being restored, the workmen found the relics of a man in a kneeling posture. He had an icon of the Most-holy Theotokos in his hands, resting on his bosom. A wondrous fragrance exuded from these relics. Not knowing who this holy man was or when he lived, the monks gave him the name Eudocimus, and transferred his relics into the church, where they remain today. Many miracles of healing have occurred over these relics. Even now, one can read these words, carved on his silver coffin: “This coffin was made for the honorable head of St. Eudocimus by the monk Gabriel, whom this saint healed from a grave illness.” 

4. The Venerable Damian, Jeremiah and Matthew - They were clairvoyants and miracle-workers of the Monastery of the Kiev Caves. They all lived in the eleventh century. 

 

HYMN OF PRAISE

The Holy Martyr Charitina Tortured Charitina, covered with blood, Prayed on her knees to the Most-high God: “O Most High, All Merciful— my Creator— Among Thy martyrs, number me also! Sweet Christ, Thou didst suffer on the Cross for me, And now for Thee I desire to suffer. Be near to Thy virgin, O Savior, And protect me, lest the evil ones defile me. Better that they burn my body with cruel fire, Better that they drown it in the azure sea, Than that they profane it by a shameful deed, Before the heavenly angels and the righteous saints.” The Lord did according to Charitina’s prayer, And immediately received her soul into Paradise. 

 

REFLECTION 

Whenever men exert great effort in seeking the truth, and prefer nothing else to the truth, God comes to meet them in His gentle way. This is shown to us in the life of St. Dionysius of Alexandria. Even as a young man and a pagan, Dionysius read all the Greek literature, seeking the truth. When he was not satisfied with this, he read everything that came into his hands. And, in accord with God’s providence, he met a poor woman who offered to sell him several hand-copied epistles of the Holy Apostle Paul. Dionysius gladly purchased and read them. They so overcame him that he sought out this woman and asked her if there were more such writings to be had. The woman directed him to a Christian priest who gave him all of Paul’s epistles. Having read all carefully, Dionysius came to believe in Christ, and was baptized without any hesitation. Here is another incident: In the town of Arsinoe, the Millenarian heresy had spread. This heresy taught that Christ would soon come, and He would establish an earthly kingdom on earth for a thousand years. At the head of this heresy was a certain Korakion. St. Dionysius went to Arsinoe to change the minds of the millenarians and to prevent the spread of this heresy. At a large gathering of millenarians and true Orthodox, Dionysius debated with Korakion and other leaders of the millenarians. This debate lasted for three whole days. (Such zeal did the ancient Christians show in the examination of the truth!) God blessed their labor and zeal, through the prayers of St. Dionysius. At the end of the debate, Korakion and all the other millenarians rejected their false teaching and accepted the Orthodox teaching of St. Dionysius. 

 

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the repentance of King Manasseh and God’s forgiveness of him (II Chronicles 33): 

1. How Manasseh, living as a slave in a foreign land, recognized his sin, repented, and prayed to God for forgiveness; 

2. How God forgave him, and freed him from bondage; 3. How, after that, Manasseh did that which is good in the sight of the Lord unto the day of his death, and reigned peacefully. 

 

HOMILY on the good that is shown

There be many who say, Who will show us any good? (Psalm 4: 6) My brethren, great is God’s goodness. What words can express that goodness? Great is the goodness of the Heavenly Kingdom with its fiery angels, wonderful saints, and the sweetness of Paradise. Who can describe this goodness? Immortal life, close to God and the angels of God, in the company of the saints and the righteous, is a great good. Another great good will be our meeting with our kinsmen and friends in the heavenly world; with our parents, our children, and our most beloved ones, who by their departure left us in sadness and grief. Who will show us all that good? Many asked this in King David’s time, and many ask even today. Who will show it to us, so that we may believe and hope? That good is shown to us Christians, and we wait for nothing higher, for no one but the Lord Christ— the true Witness to all this good, the true Witness and Lord, brethren, of all this good. The compassionate Lord showed this good to His chosen prophets even before His coming to earth. That is why David says to God: Lord, lift up the light of Thy countenance upon us (Psalms 4: 6). This is the reply to those who ask: Who will show us any good? God Himself showed us that good. The light of the Lord’s countenance is marked upon us, inscribed and etched in our hearts, and in that light we recognize that good which only heaven can give. Brethren, is there a cure for those who have heard about the coming of Christ on earth, but nevertheless asked: Who will show us any good? If Christ had not shown and revealed all that is good by His glorious birth, His glorious miracles, His glorious Resurrection, and His Holy Church, the dark earth would not show it, for it cannot; men would not show it, for they do not know. However, there is a cure for everyone— even for the most incorrigible unbelievers— up to the moment of death. This cure is in repentance of one’s evil, in the cleansing of one’s heart, and in the fulfilling of Christ’s commandments. The healthy can see the light of the countenance of the Lord; but not the sick in soul, the impure in heart or the wrong-minded. O our Lord God, light of angels and men; help us that we not darken the light that Thou hast given us— and by which we see the heavenly good— by the darkness of our sin. Do not deprive us of these good things, O Most-merciful One. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

 

 

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints Oct. 17/Oct 4  

20th Week after Pentecost. Tone 2.     No fast.

Hieromartyr Hierotheus, bishop of Athens (1st c.). Uncovering of the relics (1595) of St. Gurias, first archbishop of Kazan, and St. Barsanuphius, bishop of Tver (1595). Synaxis of the Saints of Kazan. Martyrs Gaius, Faustus, Eusebius, and Chaeremon, of Alexandria (3rd c.). Hieromartyr Peter of Capitolia, bishop of Bostra in Arabia (715). Martyrs Domnina and her daughters Berenice (Bernice) and Prosdoce, of Syria (302). Martyr Adauctus (ca. 312) and his daughter St. Callisthene (ca. 318), of Ephesus. Sts. Paul the Simple (ca. 339) and Ammon (350), of Egypt, disciples of St. Anthony the Great. St. Vladimir Yaroslavich, prince of Novgorod (1052), and his mother St. Anna of Novgorod (1050). Sts. Helladius and Onesimus of the Near Caves in Kiev (12th c.-13th c.). St. Ammon, recluse, of the Far Caves in Kiev (13th c.). St. Stephen Stiljanovic, despot of Srem, Serbia (1540) and his wife St. Helen (Elizabeth in monasticism) (ca. 1543). Sts. Jonah and Nectarius, monks, of Kazan (16th c.). St. Peter (Michurin) of Kuznetsk (Siberia) (1820). New Hieromartyr Basil (Tsvetkov), archimandrite, of Stary Kelets (Ryazan) (1937). New Hiero-confessor Barsanuphius (Yurchenko) of Kherson (1954). St. Theodore the Wonderworker, bishop of Tamassos, Cyprus (2nd c.). St. John (Lampadistes) of Cyprus (10th c.). Hieromartyr Evdemoz, catholicos of Georgia (1642).

 

Scriptures for the Day:

Philippians 2:16-23 (Tuesday) - holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.  Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.  For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me.  But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state.  For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state.  For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus.  But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel.  Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me.

Luke 6:37-45 - Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you. And He spoke a parable to them: "Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch?  A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher. And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.  For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.  For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush.  A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

 

St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures:

Tuesday. [Phil. 2:17-23; Luke 6:37-45]       Judge not, forgive, give… It seems like nothing but expenses, without any profit. But behold what is promised: if you do not condemn, you will not be condemned; if you forgive, you will be forgiven; if you give, you will be given to. Right now the profit is not visible, but it will undoubtedly come for the one who makes these expenditures from the heart—it will come precisely at that time when he needs non-condemnation and forgiveness the most. How he will rejoice when he is suddenly made worthy to receive such good gifts as if for nothing! And on the contrary, how another will sorrow and grieve, because he did not know how to profitably manage his property! He would now forgive everything and give away everything, but it is too late: everything has its time. Not everyone pursues the profit that comes directly into one’s hands, almost right after the expenditure. A Russian proverb says, throw bread and salt behind you, and you will find it in front of you. This kind of action really is like throwing something, but in this case it is not thrown underfoot to be trampled, but into the hands of God. These hands are true, and sure to return what they receive. Just hold to faith and hope.

 

From the Prologue of Ohrid:

1. The Hieromartyr Hierotheus 

Hierotheus was a companion of St. Dionysius the Areopagite and received the Christian Faith from the Apostle Paul a short time after Dionysius did. Later, the Apostle appointed him bishop of Athens. At the time of the Dormition of the Most-holy Theotokos, Hierotheus arrived in Jerusalem and took part in her burial. With his divine chanting he inspired heartfelt worship in many, revealing himself as a man inspired from on high. He labored much in the work of evangelism, converted many pagans to the truth and governed well his rational flock. He finally died a martyr for Christ, Who granted him a twofold crown in His Heavenly Kingdom: the crown of a hierarch and the crown of a martyr. St. Hierotheus (by F. Kontoglu) 

2. Saint Stefan Štiljanović 

Stefan was a Serbian despot, born of the Pastrović clan. He governed the Serbian people during a most difficult period, struggling courageously against the Turks and the Latins. A righteous man and a patriot, this wonderful prince could be compared with St. Alexander Nevsky, or with the holy King Jovan Vladimir. He entered into rest in the sixteenth century (according to some, in 1515). Over his grave a light appeared at night, by which means his holy relics were discovered. They were brought to the Monastery of Šišatovac in Fruška Gora, where they reposed for a long time. During the Second World War, St. Stefan’s relics were transported to Belgrade and placed in the Cathedral Church beside the body of Prince Lazar. The prince’s wife, Helena, seeing Stefan’s incorrupt relics and witnessing miracles arising from the relics, was tonsured a nun, and gave herself over to asceticism until death. Saint Stefan Štiljanović (mosaic in St. George church, Oplenac, Serbia, 1930) 

3. The Venerable Ammon 

Ammon was an Egyptian wine grower. His kinsmen forced him to marry against his will, but he did not wish to live with the woman as husband and wife. From the first day he called her his sister, and counseled her to join him in preserving their mutual chastity for the sake of the greater good in heaven. He lived with his wife this way for a full eighteen years. Later, by mutual agreement, his wife established a convent in her home, and Ammon went to the Nitrian desert, where he gave himself up to the ascesis of hermitic life. Because of his purity of heart, God granted him the great gifts of clairvoyance and miracle-working. A husband and wife brought their insane son to Ammon for healing by his prayer, but Ammon in no way desired to do this. After prolonged insistence by the parents, Ammon said: “The illness and health of your child is in your hands. Return the stolen ox to that widow (and he spoke her name) and your son will be healed.” The parents, amazed at the saint’s clairvoyance, admitted their sin and promised to return the stolen ox as soon as they arrived home. Then St. Ammon prayed to God and the child was healed. Ammon was a close friend of St. Anthony the Great. When Ammon died in Nitria, in approximately 350, St. Anthony saw Ammon’s soul in the heights from his cell and said to the brethren: “Today Abba Ammon died; behold, I see his holy soul as the angels bear it to heaven.” 

4. The Venerable Paul the Simple 

Until the age of sixty, Paul lived in the world as a married man. Catching his wife in sin, he left everything and went to St. Anthony in the wilderness, receiving the monastic tonsure from him. Even though he was simple and illiterate, he achieved such spiritual perfection that he perceived every man’s soul just as ordinary men see each other’s bodies. He was a great miracle-worker, and in some instances, surpassed even St. Anthony. Paul died in deep old age in the year 340, and took up his joyful habitation with the angels. 

 

HYMN OF PRAISE

The Venerable Ammon Someone once begged Ammon: “Show me, the wretched one, the path to salvation.” To him, the saint said: “Through your entire life You must be as a prisoner who awaits judgment, As the prisoner who fears the judge, And counts the hours to his trial, Listening carefully for the voice that will say: ‘The judge is calling for you!’ He does not value food and shelter, Cares not whether he stands or sits: He simply listens and listens For the call of the judge. My dear brother, we are like that— It is true for me, and it is true for you.” And another asked him: “The narrow path, what is it? And the sorrowful path, how long does it last?” Ammon said to him: “The narrow path is Constraining your thoughts, so that they do not stray. The sorrowful path is the binding of your desires, So that your desire is naught but seeking salvation in Christ.” O all-wise Ammon, knight of asceticism; Patient bearer of the yoke of Christ Who pleased God, and tamed men— God has rewarded your labors with Paradise! 

 

REFLECTION A vision of St. Andrew: 

 

St. Paul was not the only one who was caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words (II Corinthians 12: 4). Over 850 years after St. Paul, this also occurred to St. Andrew. One wintry night, St. Andrew was lying among the dogs on a dung heap in order to warm his frozen body, when an angel of God appeared to him and raised him up to Paradise (whether in the body or outside the body, St. Andrew himself could not explain), and kept him in the heavenly world for two weeks, eventually leading him to the third heaven. “I saw myself clothed in the most dazzling garments— they were as if woven from lightning— with a wreath of flowers on my head, and girt with a royal girdle. I rejoiced greatly at this beauty, and was amazed in both mind and heart, at the inexpressible beauty of God’s Paradise, as I walked around it and rejoiced.” Andrew also wrote that he saw Christ the Lord: “And when a flaming hand drew the curtain, I saw my Lord— as once did the Prophet Isaiah— sitting upon a high and exalted throne, with Seraphim standing all around Him. He was clothed in a crimson garment. His face was most radiant, and His eyes gazed most kindly upon me. Seeing Him, I prostrated before Him, worshiping the brilliant and awesome throne of His glory. How much joy overcame me during the vision of His face cannot be expressed; and now, calling to mind this vision, I am filled with inexpressible joy…. I heard my Most-merciful Creator when, with His most sweet and pure lips, He spoke three words to me, which so sweetened my heart and inflamed it with love for Him, that I melted as warm wax from spiritual warmth…” When St. Andrew also desired to see the Most-holy Theotokos, he was told that she was not in heaven just then, but had descended to earth to help the poor and to comfort those in need. 

 

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the injustice of King Manasseh and God’s punishment (II Chronicles 33): 

1. How Manasseh restored idol worship, enchantments and witchcraft, and did everything that is evil in the sight of the Lord; 

2. How God permitted the Chaldeans to capture Manasseh. 

 

HOMILY on useful anger

Be angry and sin not (Psalm 4: 4) Be angry with yourself, brethren, and sin no more. Be angry at your sins of thoughts and deeds, and sin no more. Be angry with Satan the father of lies (John 8: 44), and no longer do his will. Be angry at sin in the world and the trampling of God’s holy Church by godless men, but beware that you do not cure sin by sin. Be angry with your friends when they sin; but be angry with the intention to correct them, and not to embitter them even more. The anger of a friend toward a friend, and the anger of parents toward their children— and of God toward men— is not a storm that uproots the tree but a wind that strengthens the tree, and rids it of rotten fruit so that the healthy fruit will increase in number and beauty. But let your anger have measure, so that it may be healing and not poisonous. In order to have this kind of control, keep God before you in your anger. There is no stronger containment for anger than God. All anger that is not in the name of God and God’s righteousness is a sin. Do not become angry for the sake of idleness, but become angry for that at which God is angered. If your will is firmly set in God’s law, you will always know when it is necessary to be angry, and how much is needed. This cannot be expressed entirely in words, nor can it even be explained to the uneducated. Anger, in its place, acts as mercy does in its place. O my brethren, do you see how various powers are placed in our souls, and man, by his free will, can utilize them for life or death? Anger toward oneself can never be recommended enough. Here is a wonderful example: the more a man learns to be angry with himself, the less he is angry with others. Carried away with anger at his own weaknesses, he either does not see the weaknesses of others, or when he does see them, he judges them kindly. O Lord God, Thou only righteous One, implant in us the remembrance of the Day of Thy righteous anger, so that we may protect ourselves from spiritual sin. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

 

ST. THEOPHAN THE RECLUSE AND THE PROLOGUE OF OHRID ON TODAY’S SCRIPTURES AND SAINTS

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints Oct. 16/Oct 3  

Click here to see our icon of St. Theophan

Click here to see our icon of St. Theophan

20th Week after Pentecost. Tone 2.  No fast.

 

Saints of the day:

Hieromartyrs Dionysius the Areopagite (96), bishop of Athens, the priest Rusticus, and the deacon Eleutherius (96). St. John the Chozebite, bishop of Caesarea in Palestine (532). Blessed Hesychius the Silent, of Mt. Horeb (6th c.). St. Dionysius, recluse of the Kiev Caves (15th c.). Uncovering of the relics of St. Joseph, elder, of Optina Monastery (1988).New Hiero-confessor Agathangelus (Preobrazhensky), metropolitan of Yaroslavl (1928). St. Jerome of Aegina (1966). Hieromartyrs Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria, and the deacons Gaius and Faustus (ca. 265). Repose of Blessed Olga, fool-for-Christ, of Bogdanoya Bari and St. Petersburg (1960).

 

Today’s Scriptures:

Philippians 2:12-16 (Monday)- Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.  Do all things without complaining and disputing,  that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.

Luke 6:24-30 (Monday) - But woe to you who are rich, For you have received your consolation.  Woe to you who are full, For you shall hunger. Woe to you who laugh now, For you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, For so did their fathers to the false prophets.  But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.  To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either.  Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back.

 

St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures:

Monday. [Phil. 2:12-16; Luke 6:24-30]  - Woe to those who are rich, who are full, who laugh, and who are praised. But good shall come to those who endure every wrongful accusation, beating, robbery, or compulsory difficulty. This is completely opposite to what people usually think and feel! The thoughts of God are as far from human thoughts as heaven is from the earth. How else could it be? We are in exile; and it is not remarkable for those in exile to be offended and insulted. We are under a penance; the penance consists of deprivations and labours. We are sick; and most useful for the sick are bitter medicines. The Saviour Himself all of His life did not have a place to lay His head, and He finished his life on the cross—why should his followers have a better lot? The Spirit of Christ is the spirit of preparedness to suffer and bear good-naturedly all that is sorrowful. Comfort, arrogance, splendour, and ease are all foreign to its searching and tastes. Its path lies in the fruitless, dreary desert. The model is the forty-year wandering of the Israelites in the desert. Who follows this path? Everyone who sees Canaan beyond the desert, boiling over with milk and honey. During his wandering he too receives manna, however not from the earth, but from heaven; not bodily, but spiritually. All the glory is within.

 

From the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Saints:

1. The Holy Hieromartyr Dionysius the Areopagite 

Dionysius is numbered among the Seventy Lesser Apostles. This wonderful man was the scion of a distinguished pagan family in Athens. Having completed the school of philosophy in Athens, he went to Egypt to study further. While he was there the Lord Christ died on the Cross, the sun was darkened, and there was darkness in Egypt for three hours. Then Dionysius cried out: “Either God the Creator of the world is suffering, or this world is coming to an end.” Returning to Athens, he married a woman named Damaris and had sons by her. He became a member of the highest court among the Greeks, the Areopagus, and thereafter he was known as the “Areopagite.” When the Apostle Paul preached the Gospel in Athens, Dionysius was baptized with his entire household. Paul consecrated him Bishop of Athens. He left his wife, children and his position for the love of Christ. He traveled with Paul for a long time and met all the other apostles of Christ. He traveled to Jerusalem especially to see the Most-holy Theotokos, and described his encounter with her in one of his written works. He was present at the burial of the Holy and Most-pure One. When his teacher, St. Paul, suffered martyrdom, Dionysius also desired such a death for himself, and went to Gaul, with his presbyter Rusticus and the deacon Eleutherius, to preach the Gospel among the barbarians. He suffered much but also succeeded much. By his labors many pagans were converted to the Christian Faith. Dionysius built a small church in Paris, where he celebrated the divine services.*) When he was ninety years old, he, Rusticus and Eleutherius were seized and tortured for Christ; then all three were beheaded. The severed head of St. Dionysius rolled a long distance, to the feet of Catula, a Christian, who honorably buried it with his body. Dionysius suffered during the reign of Dometian in the year 96. He wrote several famous works: on the Divine Names of God, on the Celestial and Ecclesiastical Hierarchies, on Mystical Theology, and on the Most-holy Theotokos. St. Dionysius the Areopagite (fresco in Protat, Mount Athos, 14th c.) 

2. The Venerable John the Chozebite 

John was an Egyptian who lived the ascetic life in the Chozeba community during the reign of Emperor Justinian. Whenever he celebrated the Liturgy, he perceived a heavenly radiance in the sanctuary. Ananias, an elder, labored ascetically not far from him. Wondrous was the humility of these two saints. A man brought his insane son to the elder Ananias to heal him by prayer. Ananias sent him to St. John as being greater than he. John could not help but obey the elder; however, he cried out: “In the name of Jesus Christ, it is Ananias, not I, who commands you to come out of this young man!” And the young man was healed immediately. 

3. The Venerable Dionysius of the Monastery of the Kiev Caves 

Dionysius was a hieromonk and a recluse. The following incident occurred to him on the Feast of the Resurrection in 1463. With a cross and censer, Dionysius visited the caves in order to cense the relics and graves of the saints reposing there. Filled with the joy of the Resurrection, as he approached the caves, he cried out: “Holy fathers and brethren— Christ is Risen!” And a voice resounded from the graves as powerful as thunder: “Indeed, He is Risen!” 

4. Saint Hesychius the Chorebite 

At first, Hesychius was negligent about his soul’s salvation, but then he became gravely ill and died. However, he came back from the dead and regained health. This completely changed him. He shut himself up in a cell on the Holy Mountain, and spoke to no one for twelve years. Before his death, the monks opened his cell and begged him to give them some instruction. He said only: “He who contemplates death cannot sin.” From Hesychius descended the so-called hesychasts, who stress silence, divine contemplation, and mental prayer as the chief works of a true monk. There was even a hesychast skete on the Holy Mountain. It is said that St. Gregory the Theologian was a hesychast during the Lenten season. St. Hesychius lived in the sixth century. 

 

HYMN OF PRAISE

The Holy Hieromartyr Dionysius the Areopagite Glorious saint Dionysius, Wondrous theologian and lucid scribe! His mind, gathered in his heart, he directed to God; He witnessed heavenly mysteries and revealed them to us. He perceived the glory of the heavenly orders And described the hierarchy of heaven: Principalities, Dominions, Virtues, Powers, Wondrous Thrones, Seraphim, Cherubim and Archangels, Golden-winged Angels of God, And the Mother of God.— He beheld all with fear, And also that which shines above the dust of the earth: Heavenly powers of infinite strength, Immortal suns and stars most brilliant! All that he witnessed, Dionysius made clear And told to the Church. Thus he adorned and enriched the Church, And his accomplishments were made golden By his bloody death for his Christ. Now he shines in heaven; And the angelic hosts, blazing with the glory of God, Call Dionysius “Brother.” REFLECTION A vision of St. Andrew: Walking one day along the streets of Constantinople, St. Andrew saw a large, splendid procession. A rich man had just died, and his funeral procession was majestic. However, when Andrew looked more closely, he saw many black figures capering around the corpse with joy: some laughing like prostitutes, others barking like dogs, others grunting like swine, and others pouring a foul liquid over the body of the deceased. They all mocked the processional chanters, saying: “You are chanting over a dog!” Astonished, Andrew wondered what this man had done in his life. Glancing around, he saw a handsome youth standing by a wall and weeping. “For the sake of the God of heaven and earth, tell me the reason for your weeping!” he said, and the youth replied that he was the guardian angel of the deceased. The dead man had grievously offended God by his sins, and had rejected the counsels of his angel. He had completely given himself over to the black devils. The angel said that that man had been a great and unrepentant sinner: he had been a liar, a despiser of men, a miser, a perjurer and a libertine, who had defiled three hundred souls by his debauchery. He had been honored by the emperor and respected by men, but all in vain. The great funeral retinue was also in vain. Death had caught up with the rich man in his unrepentant state, and the harvest had come to him suddenly. 

 

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the miraculous deliverance of Jerusalem from the Assyrians (II Chronicles 32): 

1. How Sennacherib and his mighty army surrounded the walls of Jerusalem and mocked the God of Israel; 

2. How Hezekiah and the Prophet Isaiah fervently prayed to God for deliverance; 

3. How an angel slew 185,000 Assyrians by night; how Sennacherib was slain by his sons; and how Jerusalem was saved. 

 

HOMILY on fear and joy in God

Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice in Him with trembling (Psalm 2: 11) The prophet of God speaks these words to earthly kings and judges, for they are inclined to pride and lasciviousness born out of the power and riches that are given to them. O you kings and judges— clods of dust beneath the feet of God— do not forget that you are only the servants of God, hirelings from today until tomorrow! Of what does a hireling think, digging in the field all day? About the pay that he will receive in the evening. Of what is the hireling proud? Not of his labor, but rather his pay. In what does the hireling rejoice? In his labor, his sweat, or his pay? Naturally, in his pay. O kings and judges, your service in the field of this life is the labor of a hireling. Therefore, with fear serve your Lord, who hired you: for you know not how your Lord will evaluate your labor in the end, or what pay He will render unto you. Serve with great humility, saying to yourself: We are unprofitable servants (Luke 17: 10). Whether you will receive a reward or punishment when you go down into the grave and come before the King and Judge is uncertain. Therefore, fear must fill all the days of your service. Rejoice in Him with trembling. Rejoice with a pure and holy joy, as the angels rejoice in the living and unapproachable God. The joy of Paradise is fragrant with purity and sanctity; but the malicious joy of hades is accompanied by rebellious laughter. Therefore the joy of Paradise is eternal, while the laughter of hades is turned to rage and groans. Serve with fear, for the Lord is just; rejoice with trembling, for the Lord is exalted and holy. O Lord our God— just and exalted, awesome and holy— all of our life on earth is service to Thee and joy in Thee. If we do not serve Thee, we serve our own destruction; and if we do not rejoice in Thee, we rejoice in our own evil works. We worship Thee and pray Thee to help us, that our service be directed by fear of Thee, and that our joy be purified by our trembling before Thee. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen. 

(*) Some historians believe that Dionysius [Denis] of Paris was someone other than Dionysius the Areopagite.

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints  

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints Oct. 15/Oct 2  

19th Sunday after Pentecost. Tone 2.     No fast.

Hieromartyr Cyprian and Virgin-martyr Justina, of Antioch, and with them Martyr Theoctistus, at Nicomedia (304).  Blessed Andrew, fool-for-Christ, of Constantinople (911). St. Theodore Ushakov, admiral of the Russian Navy (1817). Martyrs David and Constantine, princes of Argveti, Georgia (740). St. Anna, princess of Kashin (Euphrosyne in monasticism) (1368). St. Cassian the Greek, monk, of Uglich (1504). Blessed Cyprian of Suzdal, fool-for-Christ (1622). St. Damaris of Athens (1st c.). Hieromartyr Leodegarius (Leger), bishop of Autun (679). Great-martyr Theodore (Gavra) of Atran in Chaldia of Pontus (1180). Repose of Hieroschemamonk Theodosius of Karoulia, Mt. Athos (1937), Monk Roman the Soldier, of Valaam (1994), and Schema-archimandrite Alexander (Vasiliev) of the Pskov Caves Monastery (1998).

 

Today’s Scriptures:

 

2 Corinthians 11:31-19 (Epistle)

The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying.  It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.  I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago-whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows-such a one was caught up to the third heaven.  And I know such a man-whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows-  how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Of such a one I will boast; yet of myself I will not boast, except in my infirmities. For though I might desire to boast, I will not be a fool; for I will speak the truth. But I refrain, lest anyone should think of me above what he sees me to be or hears from me. And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.  And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

 

Luke 6:31-36 (Gospel)

And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.  And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back.  But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.  Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.

 

St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures:

Nineteenth Sunday After Pentecost. [II Cor. 11:31-12:9; Luke 6:31-36]       The fundamental, original commandment is: love! It is a small word, but it expresses an all-encompassing thing. It is easy to say: you must love, but it is not easy to attain love to the necessary degree. It is also not exactly clear how to attain it; this is why the Saviour surrounds this commandment with other explanatory rules: love as thyself; and as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. Here is shown a degree of love that one can call boundless; for is there any limit to one’s love for oneself? And is there any good which one would not want for himself from others? Meanwhile, however, the instructions are not impossible to fulfil. The matter depends upon having perfect compassion toward others, to fully transfer their feelings to yourself, to feel the way they feel. When this occurs, there will be no need to point out what you must do for others in a given situation: your heart will shw you. You must only take care to maintain compassion, otherwise egoism will immediately approach and return you to itself and confine you in itself. Then you will not lift a finger for another, and will not look at him, though he might be dying. When the Lord said: love thy neighbor as thyself, He meant that our neighbour should be in us, that is, in our heart, instead of our own selves. If our “I” remains in there as before, we cannot expect anything good to come of it.

 

Prologue of Ohrid

1. Saint Andrew the Fool-for-Christ Andrew was a Slav by birth. As a young man, he was enslaved; and was bought by Theognostus, a wealthy man in Constantinople, during the reign of Emperor Leo the Wise (son of Emperor Basil the Macedonian). Andrew was handsome in body and soul. Theognostus took a liking to Andrew, and allowed him to become literate. Andrew fervently prayed to God, and with love attended church services. Obeying a heavenly revelation, he adopted the ascesis of foolishness for Christ. Once, when he went to the well for water, he tore off his clothes, and slashed them with a knife, feigning insanity. Saddened by this, his master Theognostus bound him in chains and brought him to the Church of St. Anastasia the Deliverer from Bonds, so that prayers would be read for him. But Andrew did not improve, and his master freed him as mentally ill. Andrew pretended insanity by day, but prayed to God all night long. He lived without shelter of any kind. He even spent the nights outside, walked around half-naked in a single tattered garment, and ate only a little bread when good men would give it to him. He shared all that he received with the beggars, and would mock them— to avoid being be thanked by them— for holy Andrew wanted all his reward to come from God. Therefore, the great grace of God entered into him and he was able to discern the secrets of men, perceive angels and demons, exorcize demons from men, and correct men from their sins. Andrew had a most beautiful vision of Paradise and the exalted powers of heaven. He also saw the Lord Christ on His throne of glory; and he, with his disciple Epiphanius, saw the Most-holy Theotokos in the Church of Blachernae as she covered the Christian people with her omophorion. This occurence is celebrated as the Feast of the Protection of the Most-holy Theotokos (October 1). In a vision he also heard ineffable, heavenly words that he dared not repeat to men. After a life of almost unparalleled harshness of ascesis, Andrew entered into rest in the eternal glory of his Lord in 911. Saint Andrew the Fool-for-Christ (fresco in Iviron Monastery, Mount Athos, 14-15th c.) 

 

2. The Hieromartyr Cyprian and Justina the Virgin

Cyprian moved from Carthage to Antioch, where Justina lived with her parents, Edesius and Cleodonia. Edesius was a pagan priest, and his entire household was pagan. But when Justina visited a Christian church and learned the true Faith, she converted both her father and mother to the Christian Faith. All three received baptism by Optatus the bishop. Cyprian, however, was a magician, who consorted with impure spirits and practiced sorcery. A certain dissolute pagan youth named Aglaidas was willing to pay any price to charm Justina, for she was beautiful. The holy virgin Justina rejected him adamantly, and he sought help from Cyprian. Cyprian invoked one evil spirit after another, to inflame Justina with impure passion for Aglaidas, but did not succeed. By the sign of the Cross and prayer to God, she drove the evil spirits away. After this futile effort, Cyprian recognized the power of the Cross and was baptized. Eventually, he was made a presbyter, then a bishop. Embittered pagans denounced him and Justina; both were tried in Damascus, tortured, and then beheaded in Nicomedia. They entered into rest at the end of the third century. 

 

3. The Holy Martyrs David and Constantine 

David and Constantine were Christian princes from Argveti (Georgia). They were condemned to death by Caliph Emil-el Mumenim, and were drowned in a river in Imereti in the year 730. Before their death, they prayed to God that He forgive the sins of all who would invoke them in prayer for help. After their prayers were completed, lightning struck, and a voice from heaven said that their prayers had been heard. The saints’ relics repose at the Monastery of Motsameta in Georgia. HYMN OF PRAISE Saint Andrew the Fool-for-Christ Fool-for-Christ Andrew stood at night Under the starry firmament, praying: “O Most-high God, three Persons in one Essence, Salvation and Revival of souls that slumber! O sweet Jesus, sweeter than life, Treasury of joy and eternal beauty, Cleanse the shepherds, enlighten the kings, Console the troubled and sanctify the whole world. Do not separate even me, the sinner, Andrew the Fool-for-Christ, From Thy holy people, O Lord!” O Saint Andrew, full of God’s wisdom, You who taught the world by words of foolishness— With the language of the world you spoke to the world, And by feigned foolishness you glorified Christ. Men despised you for your foolishness, And their dogs rose up from their lairs and chased you! You were God’s altar on the rubbish heap of the world. You censed the world with your prayers— And the world is not worthy of this marvel. Glory to you, Andrew, holy Fool-for-Christ!” 

 

REFLECTION

A vision of St. Andrew the Fool-for-Christ: A monk in Constantinople was distinguished as an ascetic and spiritual father, and many people came to him for prayers. But this monk had the secret vice of avarice. He collected money and gave it to no one. St. Andrew met him on the street one day, and saw a terrible snake coiled around his neck. St. Andrew took pity on him, approached him, and began to counsel him: “Brother, why have you lost your soul? Why have you bound yourself with the demon of avarice? Why have you given him a resting place within yourself? Why are you amassing gold as though it will go to the grave with you, and not into the hands of others? Why are you strangling yourself by stinginess? While others hunger and thirst and perish from cold, you rejoice looking at your heap of gold! Is this the path of repentance? Is this the monastic rank? Do you see your demon?” At that, the spiritual eyes of the monk were opened, and he saw the dark demon and was greatly horrified. The demon dropped away from the monk and fled, driven by Andrew’s power. Then a most radiant angel of God appeared to the monk, for his heart was changed for the good. Immediately, he went about distributing his hoarded gold to the poor and needy. From then on, he pleased God in everything and was more greatly glorified than before. 

 

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the righteousness of Hezekiah, and God’s reward to him (II Chronicles 30, 31): 

1. How Hezekiah did that which was good and right and truth before the Lord his God (II Chronicles 31: 20); 

2. How he restored holiness to the Temple of the Lord, and rooted out idols and idol-worshiping among the people; 

3. How God had mercy on him, and he was prosperous in everything. 

 

HOMILY on the will of the righteous in the will of God 

But his delight is in the Law of the Lord and on His Law doth he mediate day and night (Psalm 1: 2) Brethren, blessed is that man— thrice blessed is he— whose will is submitted to the will of God; whose mind thinks of nothing contrary to the counsel of God; and whose heart desires nothing contrary to the will of God. The mind is the rudder of both the will and the heart. If the mind is permanently directed toward God, then it will eagerly meditate day and night on the Law of God, and will not walk in the counsel of the ungodly (Psalm 1: 1) but will seek the truth and the revelation of all that is in God’s Law. If the mind is so directed to God, then, swiftly, the heart and will of man will also be directed toward God. Then the will, as the implementing organ of the inner man, will carry out only what is in accordance with the will of God and what is written in the Law of God. Then man will not stand in the way of the sinners (Psalm 1: 1), and will not sit in the seat of the scornful (Psalm 1: 1); he will not commit sin, nor will he draw other men to sin. At the beginning of this Psalm, the Prophet David praises the man who does not commit three specific evils, and now he continues to praise him when he does two good things. The three evils are: to seek wisdom of a sinner, to live the life of a sinner and to corrupt others by one’s evil example. The two good things are: to conform one’s will completely to the Law of God; and to direct one’s mind to meditate day and night on God’s Law. O my brethren, how lamentably shallow are the minds of all those who do not know the Law of God! The depth of man’s mind is measured by the depth of his knowledge of God’s law. The mind of him who meditates on the mysteries of God’s law is deep, wide and exalted; and the mind is the rudder of the heart and will. O my brethren, how shallow, unstable and dissolute is the will of him who does not subordinate his will to the will of God! Indeed, it is lamentably shallow, unstable and dissolute. What is the Law of God, brethren? It is the expression of God’s will. Where is that expression to be found? In Holy Scripture and in the Tradition of the saints of the Church of God. Blessed is he who knows the will of God and fulfills it. O Lord God, great and powerful, merciful and just; enlighten our minds by Thy holy law, so that we may conform our wills to Thy man-loving and saving will. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints Oct. 14/Oct 1

19th Week after Pentecost. Tone 1.    No fast.

The Protection of Our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary. Apostle Ananias of the Seventy (1st c.).  St. Romanus the Melodist, of Constantinople (556). St. Sabbas, founder of Vyshera Monastery (Novgorod) (1461). Martyr Domninus of Thessalonica (4th c.). Hieromartyr Michael, abbot, of Zovia Monastery near Sebaste, and 36 Monk-martyrs with him (ca. 790). Miracle of the Pillar over the Robe of the Lord at Mtskheta, Georgia (ca. 330). New Hieromartyr Archpriest Ismael Rozhdestvensky of Strelna (St. Petersburg) (1938).  Icons of the Most Holy Theotokos “Pokrov” (Pskov) and Lublin (1581). King Mirian and Queen Nana of Mtskheta, St. Abiathar of Mtskheta, and St. Sidonia, disciple of St. Nina (4th c.). St. Remigius of Rheims, apostle to the Franks (533). St. Bavo, hermit, of Ghent (654). St. Melchizedek, catholicos-patriarch of Georgia (ca. 1030). Saint Melor the Breton, Prince and Martyr (6th c.). St. Joseph of Bisericani Monastery (Moldavia) (late 15th c.). Repose of Hieroschemamonk Euthymius of Valaam (1829).

Scriptures for today:

Luke 1:39-49, 56 (Matins Gospel) - Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.  Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord. And Mary said: "My soul magnifies the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, And holy is His name. And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her house.

 

Hebrews 9:1-7 (Epistle, Theotokos) - Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary. For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron's rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail. Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services. But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people's sins committed in ignorance;

 

Luke 10:38-42; 11:27-28 (Gospel, Theotokos) - Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word.But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me."  And Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her. And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, "Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!" But He said, "More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!"

 

Luke 5:17-26 - And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them. And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him. And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.  And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?  But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts?  Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk?  But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house. And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God.  And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to day.

 

1 Corinthians 15:58-16:3 - Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.  Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem.

St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures:

Saturday. [I Cor. 15:58-16:3; Luke 5:17-26]       But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, He said to the paralytic, I say unto thee, Arise, and take up they couch, and go into thine house. Remisson of sins is an inner, spiritual miracle; healing from paralysis is an outer miracle—the natural acting of God in the world, a physical miracle. The flowing in of God’s power is justified and confirmed by this event in the moral realm, and in the movement of phenomena in the physical world. The latter is in view of the former, for in the former lies the goal of everything. The Lord does not coerce one’s freedom, but gives understanding, inspires, and amazes. One of the best means for this is an outer miracle. This came to be when man became a rational creature, ruled by freedom. This connection is so essential, that those who reject the supernatural action of God in the world also reject the freedom of man, along with the recognition that the latter must necessarily call forth the former. On the other hand, those who confess the truth of God’s influence in the world beyond a natural flow of events can say boldly: we can feel that we are free. The recognition of freedom is as strong and irresistible as the recognition of one’s existence. Freedom urgently demands direct providential actions of God: consequently the acknowledgement of these actions stands as firmly as the recognition of freedom.

From the Prologue of Ohrid:

 

1. The Protection of the Most-holy Theotokos - From time immemorial, the Church has celebrated the Most-holy Theotokos as the patroness and protectress of the Christian people, who, by her intercessory prayers, implores God’s mercy for us sinners. The help of the Most-holy Mother of God has been clearly shown numerous times, to individuals and to nations, in peace and in war, in monastic deserts and in densely populated cities. The event that the Church commemorates and celebrates today confirms the Theotokos’ consistent protection of Christian people. On October 1, 911, during the reign of Emperor Leo the Wise, there was an All-night Vigil in the Blachernae Church of the Mother of God in Constantinople. The church was full of people. St. Andrew the Fool-for-Christ was standing in the rear of the church with his disciple Epiphanius. At four o’clock in the morning, the Most-holy Theotokos appeared above the people, holding her omophorion outstretched as a protective covering for the faithful. She was clothed in gold-encrusted purple, and shone with an ineffable radiance, surrounded by apostles, saints, martyrs and virgins. St. Andrew said to Blessed Epiphanius: “Do you see, brother, the Queen and Lady of all praying for the whole world?” Epiphanius replied: “I see, Father, and am struck with amazement!” The Feast of the Protection was instituted to commemorate this event, and to remind us that we can prayerfully receive the unceasing protection of the Most-holy Theotokos in any time of difficulty. 

2. The Holy Apostle Ananias - Ananias was one of the Seventy Apostles. He was bishop in Damascus. In accordance with God’s revelation (Acts 9: 10– 17), he baptized Saul (the Apostle Paul). Because of his courageous preaching of the Gospel he was stoned to death in the town of Eleutheropolis. His holy relics were taken to Damascus and later to Constantinople. St. Apostle Ananias (mosaic in St. George Church, Thesaloniki, Greece, 9th c.) 

3. The Venerable Romanus the Melodist - Romanus was born in the Syrian town of Emesa. He was, at first, a sexton in Beirut, and later served in the cathedral church in Constantinople in the time of Patriarch Euthymius (490– 504). Romanus was not well educated and was untrained in chanting, for which he was ridiculed by some of the more educated clergy. St. Romanus tearfully prayed to the Most-holy Theotokos, and she appeared to him in a dream, gave him a scroll, and told him to swallow it. The following day was the Feast of the Nativity. Romanus took his place as a chanter at the ambo, and with an angelic voice sang the hymn “Today the Virgin….” All were amazed at both the content of this hymn and at the magnificent singing of the chanter. Having received the poetic gift from the Theotokos, Romanus composed over a thousand Kontakia. Romanus entered into rest as a deacon of the Great Church, Hagia Sophia, in Constantinople. He joined the angelic choirs in the year 510. 

4. The Venerable John Koukouzelis - John was a Slav from Dracha (Dyrrachium). As a young man, he was taken to the school of music in Constantinople, where he became the favorite singer at the imperial court. Fearing the flattery and praise of men, John fled to the Holy Mountain and presented himself at the Great Lavra as a simple shepherd. He lived an exceptional life of asceticism. The Most-holy Theotokos appeared to him on two occasions. He reposed in the twelfth century. 

5. The Venerable Gregory - Gregory was a monk of the Great Lavra on Mount Athos in the fourteenth century. 

 

HYMN OF PRAISE

The Venerable Romanus the Melodist St. Romanus, in mid-service, Appeared on the ambo And sang a wondrous hymn In a sweet angelic voice: “Today, the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One, And the earth offers a cave to the Unapproachable One. Angels and Shepherds glorify Him, And the wise men journey with the star— For unto us the Eternal God is born As a little Child.” Hearing this hymn, All were filled with gladness; And on the faces of all the people Was great astonishment. Glory to the Mother of God! Who hearkens to tearful prayers, And gloriously fulfills The prayerful supplications of the devout! 

 

REFLECTION

 The Most-holy Theotokos has often appeared to holy men in need: sometimes to encourage them in asceticism, or to heal them from sickness, or to reveal a certain mystery to them. Two similar, wonderful events took place in the Great Lavra on the Holy Mountain. In Great Lent, during the chanting of the Great Akathist, St. John Koukouzelis was tired and sat down, facing the icon of the Theotokos. As he sat, he fell asleep. Just then, the Holy Most-pure One appeared to him in heavenly light and said: “Rejoice, O John! Chant and do not stop chanting, and for this I will not abandon you.” With this, she placed a gold coin in John’s hand. When he awoke from sleep, the gold coin was still in his hand. After this, many wonderful miracles were worked from the icon of the Theotokos, as well as from the gold coin. The second incident involved St. Gregory the monk, who, like John Koukouzelis, was a church cantor. Patriarch Kallistos had established that in the Liturgy of St. Basil the Great, “All Creation Rejoices in Thee” be sung in place of “It Is Truly Meet.” His successor, Patriarch Philotheus, rescinded this, reinstating “It Is Truly Meet” because of its brevity. But then, on the eve of the Theophany, and in the presence of Patriarch Gregory of Alexandria, St. Gregory sang “All Creation Rejoices in Thee” instead. Immediately after this, the Holy Most-pure One appeared to him, and, as she had done to John Koukouzelis, placed a gold coin in his hand. She said: “I am very grateful for your singing in my honor.” Because of this, it was instituted that all Liturgies of St. Basil would thereafter include “All Creation Rejoices in Thee.” 

 

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the injustice of King Ahaz and God’s punishments of him (II Chronicles 28): 

1. How, throughout his life, Ahaz did that which was evil before the Lord; 

2. How he set up idols in every corner of Jerusalem and throughout the entire land, and worshiped them; 

3. How he waged many wars and was defeated in them all; his land was laid waste; a hundred thousand of his people were slain; and just as many were taken into bondage. 

 

HOMILY on the blessed man

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful (Psalm 1: 1) Brethren, most blessed is he who is not so hardened by sin that he can hear and fulfill this counsel of God that has come through the prophet. The ungodly are those who, in every way, think contrary to God and His will. The sinners are those who walk the path of their own desires, and their thoughts are contrary to the will of God and His law. The scornful are those who destroy themselves and others by their evil deeds. The danger is this: first comes the ungodly counsel (either from wicked men or from sinful thoughts); then the actual committing of sin; then the unrepentant sinner becomes a scandalous example of evil to others. Therefore, blessed is the man who neither heeds the counsel of ungodly men or thoughts, but finds sufficient counsel for his salvation in the Law of God. Blessed is the man who has not even once walked in the way of sinners, or, if he has walked on that path, he has repented and returned to the path of life that is the Lord’s. Blessed is the man who has not sat in the presence of the scorner of innocent souls who, by his seductive example, corrupts such souls. For it is said of the corrupter: It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea (Matthew 18: 6). O my brethren, blessed be all of you, men and women, who cautiously avoid these three evils: ungodly thoughts and counsels, sinful deeds, and the corrupting of others. These three evils are like one poisonous serpent that grows from a small snake into a giant serpent. O Blessed Lord our Creator, help us by Thy power and Thy goodness, that we may be saved from the cruel serpent that Thou, O Lord Christ, didst defeat by the weapon of Thine invincible and honorable Cross. Help us to hearken only to Thy counsel, that we may walk only on Thy path, and shine by Thine example. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

 

 

 

 

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints + Oct. 13/Sept. 30

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19th Week after Pentecost. Tone 1. Fast Day. 

Wine and oil allowed.

 

Today's Saints:

Hieromartyr Gregory, bishop and enlightener of Greater Armenia (ca. 335).  St. Gregory, founder of Pelshma Monastery (Vologda) (1442).  Translation of the relics of St. Michael, first metropolitan of Kiev (c. 1103). Martyrs Rhipsima and Gaiana and companions, in Armenia (beg. of 4th c.). St. Michael, great prince of Tver (1318). New Martyr Alexandra (Chervyakova), schemanun, of Moscow (1937). New Hiero-confessor Seraphim (Zagorovsky), hieromonk, of Kharkov (1943). Blessed Jerome (Hieronymus) of Stridonium (420). St. Honorius, archbishop of Canterbury (653). St. Meletius, patriarch of Alexandria (1601).

 

Scriptures:

Philippians 1:27-2:4 - Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.  Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy,  fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.  Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

 

Luke 6:17-23 - And He came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases, as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed.  And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all.  Then He lifted up His eyes toward His disciples, and said: Blessed are you poor, For yours is the kingdom of God.  Blessed are you who hunger now, For you shall be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, For you shall laugh.  Blessed are you when men hate you, And when they exclude you, And revile you, and cast out your name as evil, For the Son of Man's sake.  Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven, For in like manner their fathers did to the prophets.

 

St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures:

Friday. [Phil. 1:27-2:4; Luke 6:17-23]

   The Lord blesses the poor, those who hunger and weep, and the persecuted under the condition that it is all for the sake of the Son of Man; this means that He blesses a life which is surrounded by every kind of need and deprivation. According to this saying, pleasures, ease, honour are not something good; this is the way it is indeed. But while a person rests in these things, he does not realize this. Only when he frees himself from their spell does he see that they are not the good, but only phantoms. A soul cannot do without consolations, but they are not of the senses; it cannot do without treasures, but they are not in gold and silver, not in luxurious houses and clothes, not in this external fullness; it cannot get by without honor, but it lies not in human servility. There are other pleasures, there is other ease, other honour—spiritual, akin to the soul. He who finds them does not want the external ones; not only does he not want them, but he scorns and hates them because they block off the spiritual, do not allow one to see it, they keep a soul in darkness, drunkenness, and phantoms. This is why such people prefer with all their soul poverty, sorrow and obscurity, feeling good within them, like behind some safe fence against the spell of the deceptions of the world. What about those people who have all these things without trying? They should relate to all of these things, according to the word of the holy Apostle, as one who possesses not (cf. 1Cor. 7:30).

 

From the Prologue of Ohrid

1. Saint Gregory the Enlightener, Bishop of Armenia

Gregory was born of a prominent family which was related to the royal houses of Persia (King Arteban) and Armenia (King Khosrov). When these two houses made war against each other, Gregory withdrew to Caesarea in Cappadocia. It was there that he first learned of the Christian Faith, was baptized and married. He had two sons of this marriage, Bardanes and Aristakes, and dedicated them both to the service of the Church. After the death of his wife, Gregory returned to Armenia and placed himself in the service of King Tiridates. He faithfully served him, and Tiridates loved Gregory. But when the king learned that Gregory was a Christian, he became greatly enraged and pressured him to deny Christ and worship idols. Not succeeding in this, Tiridates subjected Gregory to many harsh tortures, then threw him into a deep pit full of poisonous reptiles to kill him. However, the All-seeing God preserved St. Gregory’s life in that pit for fourteen full years. After that, Tiridates set out to persecute all Christians in his kingdom, and attacked a convent where there were thirty-seven nuns, including the abbess, Gaiana. When he had killed all of them by terrible tortures, Tiridates went insane and was like a wild boar. His sister had a dream in which a man, dazzlingly bright, told her that Tiridates would only become well when Gregory was removed from the pit. Taken from the pit, Gregory healed and baptized Tiridates. Then, at the wish of Tiridates, Gregory became Bishop of Armenia. Through God’s providence, Tiridates also helped him in enlightening all of Armenia and its surrounding regions with the Christian Faith. St. Gregory ended his earthly life of great labor in old age, in about the year 335. Meanwhile, his son Aristakes had been consecrated a bishop, and he continued the work of his father, both physically and spiritually. Aristakes was one of the 318 Holy Fathers at the First Ecumenical Council.

 

2. The Holy Martyrs Gaiana, Rhipsimia, and thirty-five other nuns

They were all slain by King Tiridates because of their faith in Christ. Rhipsimia was of unusual beauty, which tempted Emperor Diocletian to take her for his wife. This was the cause of their martyrdom. Rhipsimia refused to go with the emperor, as she had betrothed herself to Christ, her Bridegroom. Then Tiridates too was tempted and wanted to claim her for himself, for he was intoxicated by her beauty. St. Rhipsimia resisted the pagan king with all her strength, “And he who defeated the Princes of the Goths and destroyed the Persians was unable to overcome one virgin of Christ.” The enraged king gave her over to cruel tortures—her tongue was cut out, her stomach cut open, and her entrails pulled out—and Rhipsimia gave up her soul to God. After this, the other nuns were seized and beheaded. The famous Monastery of Echmiadzin was built over the relics of these holy martyrs. Situated near Yerevan, it was the main spiritual center of Armenia for many centuries.

3. Saint Michael, First Metropolitan of Kiev

St. Michael was sent to Russia by the Patriarch of Constantinople at the request of the great Prince Vladimir, to baptize the pagan people and establish and organize the Church. St. Michael baptized the people in Kiev, Novgorod, Rostov and many other towns and villages. He organized the Church, appointed bishops and priests, laid the foundation for the Monastery of St. Michael in Kiev, and sent missionaries among the Bulgarians and Tartars, winning many of them for Christ. This saint accomplished all this, and much more of great benefit, in only four years. He went to his reward peacefully, in the year 992. His relics repose in the Monastery of the Kiev Caves.

 

HYMN OF PRAISESaint Gregory the Enlightener

Gregory was a great light

To his people and his nation.

He spurned glory and riches

For the poverty of Christ the Crucified,

Preferring eternal riches in heaven.

He raised his mind to heaven and thoughts of God,

And endured much physical torture,

As if it all were painless.

He was strong with the power of God’s grace,

And nourished by God’s heavenly food,

And armored against evil by God’s providence.

He was lowered into the pit from his glory,

And from the pit he was elevated to the heights—

The heights of eternal glory.

Gregory, great and holy,

Enlightened Armenia with Jesus.

Even the wild boar, Tiridates,

Was baptized under the Cross and became a lamb.

With great glory, the land of Armenia glorifies

Its miracle-worker, St. Gregory.

 

REFLECTION

Marvelous changes occur daily in the destiny of men—in the present, as in times past. Those humiliated for the sake of God’s righteousness are raised to great heights, and the blasphemers of the Faith are converted to servants of the Faith. King Tiridates threw St. Gregory into a deep pit. The saint spent fourteen years in that pit, forgotten by the entire world, but not by God. Who among men could have thought that the greatest light of the Armenian people was to be found in the darkness of a pit? And who would have ever thought that the powerful and tyrannical King Tiridates would one day save the life of that same Gregory, whom he had condemned to death, and would help him more than the rest of the whole world could help him? After fourteen years, God revealed Gregory as still alive.  Gregory then miraculously healed the insane king. King Tiridates, the unrestrained persecutor of Christ, was baptized and became the greatest zealot for the Christian Faith! It could be said that, with God’s help, Gregory and Tiridates were both drawn out of the pit of darkness—Gregory a physical one, and Tiridates a spiritual one. Oh, the infinite wisdom of God in governing the destinies of men!

The formerly wild and passionate Tiridates was softened and ennobled so much by repentance and the Christian Faith, that he came to resemble St. Gregory more than his old, unrepentant self.

 

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the righteousness of King Jotham and God’s reward for him (II Chronicles 27):

1. How Jotham did that which is right in the sight of the Lord, and cared for the Temple of the

Lord;

2. How God helped him, so that he was successful in war and in peace: in war he conquered, and

in peace he enriched and strengthened his people.

 

HOMILY on the Kingdom not of this world

My Kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36)

He who has great wealth also has little wealth. Therefore, let no one think that Christ the Lord does not have royal authority over this world, even though He told Pilate: My Kingdom is not of this world. He who possesses the eternal also rules over the temporal. Here, the Lord speaks of His Eternal Kingdom, independent of time, decay, injustice, illusion and death. It is as if someone were to say: “My wealth is not in paper but rather in gold.” If he has gold, can he not afford paper? Is not gold worth more than paper? Therefore, the Lord does not tell Pilate that He is a king, but on the contrary says that He is a higher King than all earthly kings, and that His Kingdom is greater, more powerful and more enduring than all earthly kingdoms. He is indicating His principal Kingdom, upon which all earthly kingdoms depend, in time and in space. My Kingdom is not of this world. This does not mean that He has no power over this world, but on the contrary confirms His awesome power over this world. All His works on earth manifest His unparalleled, lordly power over the world. Tell me, in what other king’s presence is the wind quieted and the sea calmed? And have you forgotten His words in Gethsemane? Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and He shall presently give Me more than twelve legions of angels? (Matthew 26:53). And just one angel has greater power than all the universe! The Lord of the soul is also the Lord of the body. The Lord of eternity is also the Lord of time. The Lord of the greatest good is also the Lord of the lesser good. Brethren, nothing can escape the power of the Almighty Jesus Christ our Lord, Who by His own will suffered for us, and by His own power rose from the grave. O Lord Jesus Christ, our Almighty Savior, help us to seek Thy Heavenly Kingdom, and to beeternally with Thee where there is neither sin nor death, but life and joy and peace. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

 

 

 

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints Oct. 12/Sept. 29

19th Week after Pentecost. Tone 1.    No fast

St. Cyriacus the Hermit, of Palestine (556).

Martyrs Dada, Gabdelas, and Casdoe, of Persia (4th c.). St. Theophanes the Merciful, of Gaza. St. Cyprian, abbot, of Ustiug (Vologda) (1276). St. Onuphrius the Wonderworker, of Gareji, Georgia (1733). Uncovering of the relics of St. John (Maximovitch), archbishop of Shanghai and San Francisco (1993). Synaxis of the Saints of Poltava. New Hieromartyr John (Pommer), archbishop of Riga (Latvia) (1934). Holy Martyr Gudelia of Persia (4th c.). 80 Holy Martyrs of Byzantium (364- 378). Martyrs Tryphon, Trophimus, and Dorymedon, and 150 Martyrs, in Palestine. Repose of Blessed Anthony Alexeyevich, fool-for-Christ, of Zadonsk (1851), and Archimandrite Gerasim (Schmaltz) of Alaska (1969).

 

Today's Scriptures:

Philippians 1:20-27 - according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.  For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again. Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,

Luke 6:12-19 - Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles: Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot; Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor. And He came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases, as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed. And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all.

St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures:

Thursday. [Phil 1:20-27; Luke 6:12-19] - And He continued all night in prayer to God. Here is the foundation and beginning of Christian all-night Vigils. A prayerful heat chases away sleep, and exhilaration of the spirit does not allow one to notice the passing of time. True men of prayer do not notice this; it seems to them that they had just begun to pray, meanwhile day has already appeared. But until one reaches such perfection, he must take on the labour of vigils. Solitaries have borne this and bear it; cenobitic monastics have borne this and bear it; reverent and God-fearing laypeople have borne this and bear it. But though vigil comes with difficulty, its fruit remains in the soul, directly and constantly present—peace of soul and contrition, with weakening and exhaustion of the body. It is a state very valuable for those who are zealous about prospering in the spirit! That is why in places where vigils are established (on Athos), they do not want to give them up. Everyone realizes how difficult it is, but nobody has a desire to rescind this order, for the sake of the profit which the soul receives from vigils. Sleep, more than anything, relaxes and feeds the flesh; vigils more than anything humble it. One who sleeps abundantly is burdened by spiritual deeds and is cold towards them; he who is vigilant is quick in movement, like an antelope, and burns in the spirit. If the flesh must be taught to be good, like a slave, then there is no better way to succeed in this than through frequent vigils. Here the flesh fully feels the power of the spirit over it, and learns to submit to it; while the spirit acquires the habit of reigning over the flesh.

From the Prologue of Ohrid:

1. The Venerable Cyriacus the Recluse - Cyriacus was born in Corinth, to John and Eudoxia. His father John was a presbyter and Peter, Bishop of Corinth, was his kinsman. In his early youth, the bishop ordained Cyriacus a reader in the cathedral church. Reading the Holy Scripture, the young Cyriacus marveled at God’s providence: how God glorified all His true servants and how He arranged the salvation of the human race. At age eighteen, Cyriacus’s desire for the spiritual life led him to Jerusalem. There, he entered the monastery of a godly man Eustorgius, who gave him his first instruction in the monastic life. After that, he went to St. Euthymius, who foresaw that he would be a great spiritual father. He clothed him in the schema and sent him to St. Gerasimus at the Jordan, where Cyriacus spent nine years. Following the death of Gerasimus, he returned to the Monastery of St. Euthymius, where he remained in stillness for ten years. Then, fleeing the praise of men, he moved from place to place. He finally lived a life of asceticism in the community of St. Chariton, where he ended his earthly sojourn of 109 years. A celebrated ascetic and miracle-worker, St. Cyriacus was massive and strong in body, and remained such in deep old age, despite strict fasts and vigils. In the wilderness, he sometimes ate only raw greens for years. He was very zealous for the Orthodox Faith, denouncing all heresies, especially that of Origen. He said of himself that, since he became a monk, the sun had neither seen him eat nor become angry with anyone. According to the Rule of St. Chariton, the monks ate only once a day, after the setting of the sun. Cyriacus was a great light, a pillar of Orthodoxy, the adornment of monks, a mighty healer of the sick, and a gentle comforter of the sorrowful. Having lived long for the benefit of many, he took up his habitation in the eternal joy of his Lord in the year 557. St. Cyriacus the Recluse (fresco in St. Neophytus Monastery, Pafos– Cyprus, 1195) 

2. The Holy Martyrs Dada and Gabdelas - Dada was a great Persian nobleman and a kinsman of King Sapor, and Gabdelas was Sapor’s son. When St. Dada openly confessed his faith in Christ, King Sapor ordered that he be cruelly tortured. During these tortures, Dada worked great miracles in the name of Christ, and these so strongly influenced Gabdelas that he also believed in Christ. The pagan King did not even spare his own son, but subjected him also to harsh tortures. Both Dada and Gabdelas glorified God with their patient endurance and many miracles, and gave up their souls to God under torture. They suffered in the fourth century. Gabdelas’s sister Casdoa, and Gargal the chief pagan priest, suffered with them— for they, too, had come to believe in Christ. The Holy Martyrs Gabdelas (fresco in Kalenić Monastery, Serbia, 15th c.) 3. Saint Theophanes the Merciful Theophanes was a wealthy citizen from Gaza. He was so merciful that, in distributing his possessions to the poor, he impoverished himself. Toward the end of his life, he was afflicted with dropsy and died from that illness. Thereafter a healing myrrh flowed from his body, by which the sick were healed. 4. Saint Mary of Palestine At first, Mary was a reader of the Psalter in the Church of the Resurrection in Jerusalem. Because she was of beautiful countenance, many who gazed upon her were tempted by lustful thoughts. So that she would no longer be a cause of temptation for men, Mary withdrew into the wilderness of Souka with a basket of beans and an earthenware jug of water. St. Mary lived in the wilderness for eighteen years. By God’s power, neither the beans nor the water ran out. The disciples of St. Cyriacus found her during her lifetime, and later buried her. HYMN OF PRAISE Saint Mary of Palestine The beautiful Mary was born beautiful, And, faithful to Christ, she prayed to Him: “Help me, my Lord, a helpless woman, Show me, the lowly one, the path to salvation. With Thy help, I struggle not to sin, But my face is a temptation to the weakness of others.” Mary bowed with tears to the Living God, And hid in the wilderness from the eyes of men. Mary conversed with God, and that was her reward. Her soul shone brighter than pure gold. Her body withered with the passing years, And an angel raised the heavenly woman up to Paradise. She now rejoices, radiant among the angels, And Saint Mary prays to God for us. 

REFLECTION

In ignorance, many people labor more to avoid suffering in old age and terminal illness than to avoid the torments of hell in the life after old age and death. Such was the case of an unmarried and avaricious man who, from year to year, and with ever greater passion, amassed for himself unnecessary wealth. When asked why he strove so much to pile up excess wealth he replied: “I am gathering it for my old age. This wealth will heal and feed me in old age and sickness.” And indeed, his foreboding came true. In old age, a grave and long-lasting illness befell him. He distributed his accumulated wealth to physicians so they would heal him, and to servants so they would care for him and feed him. His wealth was soon spent, and the illness continued. The physicians and servants abandoned him, and he fell into despair. His neighbors brought him bread until his death, and he was buried at the expense of the community. He had used his wealth for that which he had intended it. God had even done for him according to the man’s will. God had sent him the illness that he had, in a sense, desired, and for which he had prepared great wealth. Nevertheless, all his wealth was unable to alleviate his sufferings in this world— so with what would he be able to alleviate his sufferings in the other world? Nothing, if he took with him neither faith, nor hope, nor charitable deeds, nor prayers, nor repentance! Someone saw a departed man in the great glory of Paradise, and asked him how he had become worthy of that glory. The man replied: “In my earthly life I was the hireling of an evil-doer who never paid me. But I endured all and served him to the end, with hope in God.” Then the onlooker saw another man in even greater glory, and when he asked him, that one replied: “I was a leper, and to the very end I offered gratitude to God for that.” But no one saw in the glory of Paradise the man who had amassed money for illness in old age. 

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the punishment with which God punished King Uzziah (II Chronicles 26): 

1. How, in his conceit, Uzziah unlawfully approached the sanctuary of God; 

2. How leprosy suddenly appeared on his forehead. 

HOMILY on knowing the Father through the Son

O righteous Father, the world hath not known Thee: but I have known Thee (John 17: 25) An equal knows his equal best. The lower does not know the higher, or the mortal the immortal. The Old Testament prophets and some of the wise men of ancient times knew God as the Creator and the Provider, but no one knew Him as the Father of the Son. Those who knew Him in ancient times knew Him through creation, and not through birth. Through creation they knew something of the righteousness, wisdom and power of God; but they did not know His love, for love is known through birth. A father knows the mystery of the one born, and the one born knows the love of the parent. It could be put this way: “The world hath not known Thee, for the world looked at Thee as Lord and itself as a slave; But I have known Thee, for I see Thee as Father and feel Thine inexpressible love. The world looks at Thee through the veil of Thy works; but I look at Thee face to face, in the eternal beauty of Thy love.” The Lord brought this illuminating flame of eternal filial and paternal love among men, so that men could see God in this flame, in this new and hitherto unknown light. The Lord passed this new knowledge of God’s love to His apostles, and through them to us. Oh, may this flame of divine eternal love burn in us! May we thus know God as our Father, and ourselves as His children, adopted through the sacrifice of the Only-begotten Son of God. O God of Triune Flame, Father, Son and Holy Spirit: illumine us also, darkened as we are by sin, with the eternal glory of Thy love. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

 

 

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints 

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and SaintsOct. 11/Sept. 28

19th Week after Pentecost. Tone 1.  Fast Day.    Wine and oil allowed.

St. Chariton the Confessor, abbot, of Palestine (350). Sts. Cyril, schemamonk, and Maria, schemanun, parents of St. Sergius of Radonezh (ca. 1337). Prophet Baruch (6th c. b.c.). Martyrs Alexander, Alphius, Zosimas, Mark the Shepherd, Nicon, Neon, Heliodorus, and 24 others, in Pisidia and Phrygia (4th c.). Martyr Wenceslaus (Vyacheslav), prince of the Czechs (935). St. Chariton, abbot of Syandema Monastery (Vologda) (1509). St. Herodion, founder of Iloezersk Monastery (Belozersk) (1541). Synaxis of the Holy Fathers of Kiev whose relics lie in the Near Caves of St. Anthony. New Hieromartyr Hilarion (Gromov), hieromonk., of Petushki (Vladimir), and New Martyr Michaela (Ivanova), schemanun, of Aksinyino (Moscow) (1937). St. Faustus, bishop of Riez (495). St. Alkison, bishop of Nicopolis (Preveza) in Epirus (561). Hieromartyr Annemund, archbishop of Lyons (658). St. Leoba, abbess of Tauberbischofsheim, English missionary to Germany (779). St. Auxentius the Alaman, wonderworker, of Cyprus (12th c.). Martyr Eustace of Rome. Translation of the relics of St. Neophytus the Recluse, of Cyprus (1214).

Scriptures:

Philippians 1:12-20 - But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.  Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill:  The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel.  What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.  For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.

Luke 5:33-39 (Wednesday) - Then they said to Him, "Why do the disciples of John fast often and make prayers, and likewise those of the Pharisees, but Yours eat and drink?"  And He said to them, "Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them?  But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them; then they will fast in those days. Then He spoke a parable to them: "No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one; otherwise the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old.  And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined.  But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved.  And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, 'The old is better.'

St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures:

Wednesday. [Phil. 1:12-20; Luke 5:33-39]       It is indecent for the children of the bridechamber to fast while the bridegroom is with them, said the Lord, and thus pronounced the law that even with virtues and spiritual endeavours everything has its place and time. And this is so pressing that an untimely and inappropriate deed loses its value, either entirely, or in part. The Lord arranged everything in visible nature with measure, weight and number; He also wants everything in the moral realm to be in good form and order. Inner good form amounts to a combination of every virtue with all virtues in totality, or a harmony of virtues, so that none protrude without need, but are all harmonious like voices in a choir. Outer good form gives each deed its place, time and other points of contact. When all of this is properly arranged, it is like a beautiful lady dressed in beautiful clothes. Virtue which is in good form both on the inside and outside is decent; it is Christian good sense that makes it this way, or according to spiritual elders: it is discernment acquired through experience and sensible examination of the lives of saints in the light of the word of God.

From the Prologue of Ohrid:

1. The Venerable Chariton the Confessor - Chariton was a distinguished and devout citizen of the city of Iconium. Imbued with the spirit of his compatriot, St. Thecla, Chariton openly confessed the name of Christ. When a bitter persecution of Christians began during the reign of Emperor Aurelian, Chariton was immediately brought to trial before the eparch. The judge ordered him to worship the gods, but Chariton replied: “All your gods are demons, and were cast from the heavens into the nethermost hell.” Chariton clearly proclaimed his faith in the One Living God, the Creator of all, and the Lord Jesus, the Savior of mankind. The eparch ordered that he be tortured and beaten, until his whole body was like one great wound. When Aurelian’s evil deeds caught up with him and he died an evil death, Chariton was freed from torture and prison. He then set out for Jerusalem. On the way he was seized by robbers, but escaped from them by God’s providence. Chariton, not wanting to return to Iconium again, withdrew to the wilderness of Pharan, where he founded a monastery and gathered monks. He established a rule for the monastery and then, to avoid the praise of men, withdrew to another wilderness near Jericho. There he founded another monastery called the Monastery of Chariton. Finally, he founded a third monastery, Souka, which the Greeks called the Old Lavra. Chariton died at a great old age, and took up his abode in the glory of his Lord on September 28, 350. His relics repose in his first monastery. The composition of the rite of monastic tonsure is attributed to St. Chariton. The Venerable Chariton the Confessor (fresco in St. John Evangelist Monastery, Patmos, 12th c.) 

2. The Holy Prophet Baruch - He was a disciple and faithful friend of the great prophet Jeremiah. He prophesied the return of the Jews from the Babylonian Captivity, the destruction of Babylon, and the coming of the Son of God to earth. It is held that he was slain by the Jews in Egypt, as was the Prophet Jeremiah, in the seventh century before Christ. 

3. The Holy Martyr Mark the Shepherd - At the time of Diocletian, Magnus, the magistrate of Antioch, went hunting with his soldiers. Pursuing a wild beast, the soldiers saw that it fled to the shepherd Mark, who was tending his flock there. The beast fawned around Mark, a man of God. Seeing this, thirty soldiers listened to Mark’s explanation of the Faith, and believed in Christ. They were soon beheaded. The magistrate then bound Mark, took him to town and summoned three brothers, Alexander, Alphaeus and Zosimas, who were blacksmiths. He ordered them to make instruments of torture with which to torment Mark. All three of them, after conversing with St. Mark, confessed the Christian Faith, and ignored the magistrate’s order. The magistrate sentenced them to death, and ordered that molten lead be poured into their mouths. After this, the saintly Mark was beheaded, and his head was mockingly placed in the temple of Artemis. Because of this, that temple was destroyed by the power of God. 

4. The Holy Martyr Vatslav [Wenceslaus], King of the Czechs - Vatslav was the grandson of St. Ludmilla. As king, he labored in the Faith like the great ascetics, and strengthened the Orthodox Faith among his people. He was strict in ensuring that no innocent person suffer in the courts. In his zeal for the Christian Faith and in his love for his fellow man, St. Vatslav purchased pagan children who were being sold as slaves, and immediately baptized them and raised them as Christians. He translated the Gospel of St. John into the Czech language, and transported the relics of St. Vitus and St. Ludmilla to Prague. His brother Boleslav invited him to be his guest, and then killed him in his court. Immediately after this, Boleslav brought in German priests and had the services celebrated in Latin. St. Vatslav suffered in the year 935 and his relics repose in Prague. 

HYMN OF PRAISE 

The Holy Martyr Vatslav, King of the Czechs From a wicked mother, good fruit was born: St. Vatslav, who pleased God. His wicked mother gave him only a body, But his grandmother— light and faith and hope. The glorious grandmother, pious Ludmilla, Nurtured Vatslav’s soul. As a white lily, Vatslav grew, And adorned himself with innocence. As the king reigned, the people rejoiced, And with their king they honored God. Yet the adversary of man never sleeps or dozes, Laying sinful snares for every soul, And he incited Boleslav against Vatslav. “For what, my brother, do you want my head?” Vatslav asked, but was still beheaded! But the evildoer did not escape God. The soul of St. Vatslav went Before the Most-high God, the Just, The One he had always adored, And with Ludmilla, Vatslav now prays For his people, that they be strengthened in faith. St. Vatslav, beautiful as an angel! REFLECTION In guiding the dispensation of this world, and especially of His Holy Church, God often makes unexpected moves, and changes the evil destiny of Hisservantstothe good.Thisoccurred many timesinthe life of St. Chariton. Following cruel tortures, Chariton was thrown into prison and was promised certain death. Then, Emperor Aurelian died unexpectedly, and the new emperor freed the Christian captives. Thus, Chariton escaped death. Then, when he was traveling to Jerusalem, robbers seized him and took him to their cave. They left him there, and went off to rob and plunder, with the intention of killing him when they came back. In this cave there was a wine cask into which a poisonous snake had crawled, drunk of the wine, and vomited its venom into the cask. When the robbers returned, tired and thirsty from the heat, they drank the venomous wine and, one by one, fell dead. And thus, St. Chariton was saved from death by yet another unexpected event. The Lord heaped misfortunes upon His servant, in order that by these misfortunes He would temper and purify him as gold is tempered and purified by fire, and that He might bind him even more securely to Himself. He delivered him from death, because Chariton had yet to establish several monasteries where, by his ascetic example, he would direct many human souls on the path of salvation. 

CONTEMPLATION 

Contemplate King Uzziah’s turning to evil (II Chronicles 26): 

1. How Uzziah became proud and corrupt when, with God’s help, he became strong; 

2. How he violated the Law, took the censer, and strove to serve in the Temple against the protests of the priests. 

HOMILY on Christ’s last prayer for the faithful

Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am (John 17: 24) Behold the recompense of God’s laborers! Behold the glorious reward of the followers of Christ! That which the Son of God desires, the Father desires and the Holy Spirit also desires. And that which the Holy Trinity desires, comes to pass. What does the Lord, the Son of God, desire? He desires that His disciples be together with Him in the Heavenly Kingdom— and not only His twelve disciples, but also all those which shall believe on Me through their word (John 17: 20). My brethren, we who are baptized and who have received the Faith of the apostles and have kept it, are also numbered among these— but only under the condition that we ourselves do not disown that great treasure by our misdeeds, by apostasy from the Faith, by the impurity of sin, or by blasphemous words and thoughts. The Lord further says: Father I will… that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me (John 17: 24). No one should conclude from these words that the Son is less than the Father. For the Lord Himself said to His Father: I have glorified Thee (John 17: 4). Do you see the equality of the Father and the Son, and the boundlessness of Their mutual love? I have glorified Thee … and now, O Father, glorify Thou Me (John 17: 4,5). But the fact that Christ’s glory did not begin on earth or in time is shown by these words of the Lord Christ: the glory which I had with Thee before the world was (John 17: 5). Therefore, this is not an earthly or temporal glory: it is not worldly and human glory, but rather a heavenly, eternal, lasting and inexpressible glory. How does the Son of God want the Father to glorify Him? In such a way that He will show the heavenly and eternal glory to all those who have obeyed His Son, and who have followed after Him, and who have fulfilled His commandments. The man-loving Lord wills that, not only the apostles, but all of us who are called by His name, participate in this glory. Oh what mercy! Oh what love for mankind! Brethren, the dogma of our immortality, eternal life and eternal glory is not of men, but of our Lord and Savior Himself. May bodily cares, slothfulness at prayer, and mutual strife not separate us from this glory of Christ, from eternal life! O gracious and merciful Lord, forgive us our sins, and grant us Thine Eternal Kingdom. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

 

 

 

 

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints Oct. 10/Sept 27

19th Week after Pentecost. Tone 1.    No fast.

Martyrs Callistratus and 49 companions, of Carthage (304). St. Sabbatius, wonderworker of Solovki (1435). Apostles Mark, Aristarchus, and Zenas, of the Seventy (1st c.). Martyr Epicharis of Rome (3rd c.-4th c.). St. Ignatius, abbot, of the monastery of the Deep Stream (963-975). St. Archippus, schemamonk of Glinsk Hermitage (1896). St. Rachel, schemanun of Borodino Convent (1928). New Hieromartyr Peter (Polyansky), metropolitan of Krutitsa (1937). New Hieromartyr Herman (Kosolapov), bishop of Volsk (1919). St. Flavian I, archbishop of Antioch (404). Martyr Sigebert, king of the East Angles (635). New Hieromartyr Anthimus the Georgian, metropolitan of Wallachia (1716). New Virgin-martyr Aquilina of Thessalonica (1764).

St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures:

Tuesday. [Phil. 1:8-14; Luke 5:12-16]

   The leper fell down before the Lord and besought: Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. The Lord said: I will: be thou clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him. So does every moral leprosy immediately depart as soon as one falls down before the Lord with faith, repentance, and confession—it truly departs and loses any power over him. Why does the leprosy sometimes return again? For the same reason that bodily diseases return. One who has recovered is told, “do not eat that, do not drink this, do not go there.” If he does not obey, the disease again flares up. So it is in the spiritual life. One must be sober, vigilant, and pray—then the disease of sin will not return. If you are not attentive toward yourself, if you allow yourself to see, hear, say, and do everything indiscriminately, how can sin not flare up and take power once again? The Lord charged the leper to fulfil all according to the law. This means that upon confession one must receive a penance and faithfully fulfil it; within it is concealed great preventive strength. But why do some say: this sinful habit has overcome me, I cannot handle myself. Either because repentance and confession were not complete, or because after making precautionary changes he adheres only weakly to them, or indulges himself. He wants to do everything without toil and self-coercion, and is laughed at by the enemy. Resolve to stand unto death and show [this resolve] in deed, and you will see what power there is in this. It is true that in every insurmountable passion that comes up the enemy possesses the soul, but this is no justification; for he immediately flees as soon as you produce an inner change, with God’s help.

 

Philippians 1:8-14 - For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ. And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

 

Luke 5:12:16-And it happened when He was in a certain city, that behold, a man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus; and he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean."  Then He put out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." Immediately the leprosy left him.  And He charged him to tell no one, "But go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as a testimony to them, just as Moses commanded."  However, the report went around concerning Him all the more; and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities.  So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.

Prologue of Ohrid for Today:

1. The Holy Martyr Callistratus - Callistratus was born in Carthage. He was a Christian from birth, for his father and grandfather were Christians. One of Callistratus’s ancestors, Neochorus by name, was a soldier in Jerusalem under Pontius Pilate, at the time of the Crucifixion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Witnessing the many miracles at the time of Christ’s death, Neochorus believed in Him, and was instructed in the Faith and baptized by an apostle. Returning home to Carthage, Neochorus brought his Christian Faith with him as a precious pearl. So it was that in time Callistratus was born, baptized and raised a Christian. While he was in the army there were no other Christians in his regiment besides him. One of his companions, seeing how St. Callistratus arose at night and prayed to God, reported him as a Christian to the commander, Persentinian. Persentinian was a cruel torturer of Christians. In order to confirm that Callistratus was indeed a Christian, the commander ordered him to offer sacrifice to the idols, which Callistratus straightway refused to do. He was then severely beaten and thrown into the sea. However, the power of God saved him, and he emerged from the sea in sound health. Seeing Callistratus’s endurance and miracles, forty-nine other soldiers came to believe in Christ. They were beaten and thrown into prison with Callistratus. In prison Callistratus taught his companions the Faith, and strengthened them. They displayed great bravery in suffering, and the Lord manifested great power through them. Then the evil torturer sent soldiers to the prison by night, and they slew St. Callistratus and his forty-nine companions. They suffered for the truth in the year 304. A church was later built over their relics. St. Callistratus (fresco in Dečani Monastery, 1345-50) 

2. The Holy Apostles Mark, Aristarchus and Zenas - Mark, Aristarchus and Zenas were apostles of the Seventy. St. Mark was also known as John. The holy apostles gathered for prayer at the house of his mother Mary in Jerusalem (Acts 12: 12). He preached the Gospel with the Apostles Paul and Barnabas (Acts 12: 25). After that, Mark was bishop in the town of Byblos. St. Aristarchus, a fellow traveler of the Apostle Paul, was bishop in Syrian Apamea (Acts 19: 29). St. Zenas (or Zena) was described as a lawyer by the Apostle Paul (Titus 3: 13). He was bishop in Palestinian Lydda. They shone as stars in the darkness of paganism, and brought many to the Christian Faith. Now they shine as stars in the Kingdom of Christ, their Beloved. 

3. The Holy New Martyr Aquilina - was from the village of Zaklivera, in the Diocese of Jedrene. She was a girl of eighteen. Her father embraced Islam, and even pressured her to become a Moslem, but her mother supported her in the Christian Faith. After many torments, totally wounded and bloodied, she breathed her last on her mother’s lap, and received the victor’s wreath of martyrdom on September 27, 1764. 

4. The Venerable Sabbatius of Solovki - Sabbatius is commemorated together with St. Zosimas on April 17. Today is commemorated the fact that he reposed in the Lord on September 27, 1435. 

HYMN OF PRAISE The Holy Martyr Callistratus 

St. Callistratus prayed to God, He prayed to God and gave thanks to Him. During torture for the Christian Faith, The torturer mocked Callistratus: “You believe in Christ the Crucified One! When I send you from this world, There will not remain one Christian In all of this great city.” St. Callistratus prayed to God, He prayed to God, and said to the judge: “You will crush my sinful body, And stain the earth with my blood, But a church will be built upon that blood. By your sword I will attain my goal!” As St. Callistratus spoke, so it happened: His blood, like a clear trumpet-call Quickly awakened the conscience of men. The city was baptized, the church was built, And the martyr achieved his goal. Now in heaven, in the heavenly army, The soldier of Christ, St. Callistratus And his companions, among the angels, Pray to God to deliver us as well, That through us too the Lord would be glorified! REFLECTION All our riches, glory and honor are as a brief repast that ends at death. No one takes a single crumb of this meal into the other world. Blessed is the one who understands that the soul is his only possession that is not diminished by anything, not even by death. Such a one thinks only of three realities: death, the soul, and God the Judge. Abba Evagrius teaches: “Hold your approaching death and the Judgment constantly in your mind, and you will preserve your soul from sin.” All our bodily cares in this life are like cares about a meal which must soon be cut short. St. Isaiah the Solitary says: “Have death before your eyes every day: think constantly about how you will separate from the body, how you will pass through the region of the powers of darkness who will meet you in the air, and how you will present yourself before God. Prepare yourself for the Dread Day of answering to the Judgment of God, as though you already behold it now.” One day, John, a rich merchant, came to St. Sabbatius of Solovki and brought him many alms. Sabbatius did not accept any of it, but rather told the donor to distribute all of it to the needy. John became very sad at this, and the saint, in order to comfort him and make everything clear to him said: “John, my son, stay here and rest until tomorrow, and then you will see the grace of God.” John obeyed. The next day, John entered the cell of Sabbatius and saw the elder in final repose, and sensed a wonderful fragrance in the cell. He who foresees the end of his life does not think of worldly goods. 

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the righteousness of King Uzziah, and God’s reward (II Chronicles 26): 

1. How the king did that which is right in the sight of the Lord; 

2. How, as long as he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper. 

HOMILY on Christ’s last prayer for the faithful

That they all may be one, as Thou, Father, art in Me and I in Thee (John 17: 21) Brethren, God’s mercy is great. When a righteous man feels it, he weeps; but when a sinner feels it, he is ashamed. By the mercy of God, we are cleansed, illumined, saved, adopted and united with God Himself. However, no one should construe that, by this unity with God, we become of the same Essence with God and equal to God. We will never be of one Essence with God, nor equal to God, in the way in which the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are of one Essence and equal in being. That they all may be one the Savior says to His Father on behalf of His disciples, as Thou, Father, art in Me and I in Thee, and here He is thinking of the unity of love and not of the unity of nature. From love flows mutual obedience, mutual help, mutual mercy, meekness, humility, goodness, good will and sacrifice. And when the Lord says, Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5: 48), He does not mean that men can be equal to God, but means to show them the supreme example of perfection in every good thing. For many teachers of men have pointed to examples of perfection in some thing or some person, but not in God. Often enough, they have taught men evil, and pointed to it as an example of perfection. That is why the Lord teaches men to take the Heavenly Father as an example of every perfection, and to labor and strive for that true perfection, and not some other. By the grace of God, we are all adopted of God and become one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3: 28). However, we do not become gods; we do not become equal with the Persons of the Holy Trinity. Do not forget that it is said in the Scriptures: The heavens are not clean in His sight (Job 15: 15). The majestic powers of the heavens are not even equal to Him, so what then of man? However, by the grace of God, and because of the sufferings of the Lord Jesus, the faithful are raised up into unity with God, in love and spirit. Therefore, let us make an effort to do the will of God, that we in truth may be raised up to such majestic heights. O Lord Jesus Christ our God, Who art the God of every mercy and goodness; uphold us in Thy mercy to the end, and be not angry with us, but rather forgive us. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

 

St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures and Saints

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints Oct. 8/Sept 25

18th Sunday after Pentecost. Tone 1.   Fast-free period.

St. Euphrosyne, nun, and her father St. Paphnutius, monk, of Alexandria (5th c.). Repose of St. Sergius, abbot, of Radonezh (1392). Monk-martyr Paphnutius and 546 companions, in Egypt (ca. 303). St. Euphrosyne, nun, of Suzdal (1250). Translation of the relics of St. Herman, archbishop of Kazan (1595). St. Dosithea the Recluse, of the Kiev Caves (1776). Commemoration of the earthquake in Constantinople in 447. St. Cadoc, abbot, of Llancarfan (577). St. Finbarr (Barry), bishop of Cork (ca. 633). St. Ceolfrith (Geoffrey), abbot, of Wearmouth-Jarrow Monastery (716). St. Arsenius the Great, catholicos of Georgia (887). Martyrs Paul and Tatta and their children Sabinian, Maximus, Rufus, and Eugene, of Damascus.  Repose of philosopher Alexei Stepanovich Khomiakov (1860).

St. Theophan on the Today’s Scriptures:

Eighteenth Sunday After Pentecost. [II Cor. 9:6-11; Luke 5:1-11]       The fishermen toiled for an entire night and took nothing; but when the Lord entered their ship, and, after preaching commanded them to cast their net, they took so many that they could not pull them out and the net broke. This is an image for all work without God’s help, and for work with God’s help. When one person works, wanting to achieve something through his strength alone—he is all thumbs. When the Lord draws near to him, then one good thing after another flows in from somewhere. In the spiritual-moral sense the impossibility of success without the Lord is tangibly visible: Without Me ye can do nothing, said the Lord. And this law acts in all things. Just as a branch not grown onto a tree not only does not bear fruit, but dries up and loses its life as well, neither can people bring forth fruits of truth valuable for eternal life if they are not in living communion with the Lord. Any good that they might have is only an appearance of good, but in essence it is faulty—like a forest apple that appears red but if you taste it, it is sour. It is also tangibly clear in an external, worldly sense: one struggles and struggles, and all in vain. When God’s blessing descends, all comes out well. Those who are attentive toward themselves and the paths of life know these truths through experience.

 

2 Corinthians 9:6-11 (Epistle)

But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.  So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written: "He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever." Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.

 

Luke 5:1-11

So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets.  Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon's, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat.  When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, "Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch."  But Simon answered and said to Him, "Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net."  And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking.

So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.

When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!" For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men."  So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.

 

Galatians 5:22-6:2 (St. Sergius)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.  Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.  Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

 

Luke 6:17-23 (St. Sergius)

And He came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases, as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed.  And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all. Then He lifted up His eyes toward His disciples, and said: Blessed are you poor, For yours is the kingdom of God.  Blessed are you who hunger now, For you shall be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, For you shall laugh.  Blessed are you when men hate you, And when they exclude you, And revile you, and cast out your name as evil, For the Son of Man's sake.  Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven, For in like manner their fathers did to the prophets.

From the Prologue of Ohrid

1. The Venerable Euphrosyne

Euphrosyne was the daughter of Paphnutius, a wealthy and distinguished man of Alexandria. Her childless parents had besought God with prayer for the birth of a child, and they were given her. Her devout parents raised their daughter in the Christian Faith. Not wanting to enter into marriage, the young Euphrosyne hid from her father, changed into men’s clothing, and presented herself to the abbot of a monastery as a eunuch of Emperor Theodosius, giving the name Smaragdus. The abbot received her, and turned her over to the spiritual father Agapitus for guidance. By her fasting and prayerful asceticism, Smaragdus quickly surpassed all the monks in that monastery. When she had completed thirty-eight years of strict asceticism, her father Paphnutius visited that monastery, and the abbot directed him to Smaragdus for prayer and counsel. Smaragdus recognized Paphnutius, but Paphnutius did not recognize Smaragdus. When the father confessed his grief for his lost daughter, Smaragdus told him not to lose hope, for he would see his daughter again in this life, and besought him to come again within three days. When Paphnutius came again, Smaragdus was on her deathbed. The dying one said to Paphnutius: “I am Euphrosyne, your daughter; you are my father!” For a long time, the father was unable to come to himself due to his severe shock. Then, the Blessed Euphrosyne breathed her last, and her father wept over her. After burying her, Paphnutius himself entered the monastery, and settled in the cell of his holy, reposed daughter. After ten years of asceticism, Paphnutius also entered into rest in the Lord. The Venerable Euphrosyne (by S. Skliris) 

 

2. The Venerable Sergius of Radonezh 

Sergius was a great ascetic and light of the Russian Church. He was born in 1313, in Rostov, of devout parents, Cyril and Maria. After his parents’ deaths, Bartholomew— for that was his baptismal name— became a monk, and founded the Monastery of the Holy Trinity in the forests of Radonezh. As a quiet and gentle servant of God, he knew only labor and prayer. Because of the purity of his heart he was made worthy of the gift of miracle-working, even resurrecting the dead in the name of Christ. The Holy Theotokos appeared to him many times. Princes and bishops came to him for advice. He blessed Prince Dimitri Donskoy, and foretold his victory in the battle for the liberation of Russia from the Tartars. He saw into the hearts of men as well as future events. His monastery was full of monks, even during his lifetime and, century after century, has been one of the most important centers of spiritual life and God’s miracles. St. Sergius entered into rest in the year 1392. Following his repose, he appeared many times to various people. 

 

3. The Venerable Euphrosyne of Suzdal 

Euphrosyne’s baptismal name was Theodula. She was the daughter of Michael Vsevolodovich, and the betrothed of Menas, the Prince of Suzdal. She did not at all desire to marry, and prayed to God to preserve her as a virgin until death. When they took her to Suzdal to be married, her betrothed, Menas, suddenly died. Euphrosyne did not return to the home of her parents but entered a convent, where she labored in asceticism until her repose. God endowed her with the gift of working miracles. She entered into rest in the year 1250. 

 

HYMN OF PRAISE

The Venerable Sergius of Radonezh An example of prayerful meekness From his youth, holy Sergius Loved God and God’s beauty, And instilled serenity and goodness in himself. He filled the wilderness with ceaseless prayer, And transformed the forest into a holy place of God. He cared not for worldly vanity, Nor was he ever angered. He was utterly quiet and meek with everyone, Yet not meek toward the wicked adversary. With the foe of God, the father of all lies, Who seeks to devour the souls of men, Sergius bravely waged a bitter struggle, Tireless and powerful unto the final victory. Thus the elder reposed, but the saint remained As a fiery pillar for the Russian people, Beseeching God for every blessing And bringing blessings down from heaven to his people. Holy Sergius, do not cease to shine, Do not cease to pray to the Most-high God For the good of the Church, for the good of Russia, In the glory of Christ, O Saint Sergius! REFLECTION A saint does not shine outwardly. All of his riches are within, in his soul. A peasant came from afar to the monastery to see St. Sergius. When he asked the monks for the abbot, they told him he was working in the garden. The peasant went to the garden, and there saw a man in poor, ragged clothes, digging like any other peasant on a farm. The peasant returned to the monastery dissatisfied, thinking that the monks had made fun of him. So, to make things clear, he asked again for the glorious holy father, Sergius. Just then, Sergius returned to the monastery, and welcomed the peasant, serving him at the table. The saint saw into the heart of his guest, and knew the low opinion he had of his appearance. He consoled him by promising that he would see Sergius in a little while. A prince and his boyars then arrived at the monastery, and they all bowed low to St. Sergius, and asked his blessing. The monks then removed the peasant from the room in order to make room for the new guests. In amazement the peasant looked on from a distance, to see that the one he had sought had been nearby all the time. The peasant rebuked himself for his ignorance, and was greatly ashamed. When the prince departed, the peasant quickly approached the saint, fell at his feet and began to beg his forgiveness. The great saint embraced him and said to him: “Do not grieve, my son, for you are the only one who knew the truth about me, considering me to be nothing— while others were deluded, taking me for something great.” 

 

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the righteousness and sin of King Joash, and God’s reward and punishment (II Chronicles 24): 

1. How, at first, Joash hearkened to the high priest Jehoiada, and did that which is right in the sight of the Lord; 

2. How God blessed Joash with a long and peaceful reign; 

3. How Joash changed, and slew the righteous son of Jehoiada, and committed other evils; 4. How a small Syrian army defeated Joash, and plundered the land; and, how Joash, gravely ill, was slain in bed by his servants. 

 

HOMILY on the shared riches of the Father and the Son

All things that the Father hath are Mine (John 16: 15) These are some of the last words of Christ the Lord before His passion. They are the weightiest words— for they reveal the divinity of Christ the Savior to the world, and in connection with the words, He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you (John 16: 14), also reveal the equality of the Holy Spirit with the Father and the Son. That which the Spirit will receive of Mine cannot be different or contrary to that which is the Father’s, for All things that the Father hath are Mine. Why did our Lord not say, “He will take Mine,” but rather, He shall receive of Mine? Because the Holy Spirit will not reveal everything to men, but only a part of everything— as much as men can bear, and as much as is necessary for them. One part of God’s gifts are given to the faithful on earth, and another part will be given to them in the Heavenly Kingdom. This heavenly part is that which the visionary Apostle describes: Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him (I Corinthians 2: 9). All this, and incomparably more, is part of Christ’s possession. His possession encompasses not only this world, but also the other world, and it is incomparably greater and more precious than both worlds. Eternity is His, immortality is His, perfect might is His, perfect wisdom is His, perfect love is His, and perfect goodness is His, as are mercy and justice and truth. What else can we think of or express that is good? All perfection is His, and it transcends everything that earthly man can ever conceive of. The Father has all this, the Son has all this, and the Holy Spirit has all this. All things that the Father hath are Mine. By these words, the indescribably wealthy One, the unequaled Son of the King, Jesus Christ, revealed His boundless and inconceivable riches to His disciples on the dark night when He was about to stand barefoot before the Jewish elders to be scourged and spat upon. O our God, Most-holy and Most-abundant Trinity, have mercy on us sinners, and save us. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

 

Velimirovic, Saint Nikolai. The Prologue of Ohrid (Kindle Locations 20104-20179). Sebastian Press Publishing House. Kindle Edition. 

 

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today's Scriptures and Saints

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints Oct. 7/Sept 24

Protomartyr and Equal-to-the-Apostles Thecla of Iconium (1st c.).

St. Coprius, monk, of Palestine (530). Sts. Stephen the First-Crowned (in monasticism Simon) (1224), David (13th c.), and Stephen Vladislav (1243), of Serbia. St. Nicander, hermit, of Pskov (1582). Monk-martyr Galacteon of Vologda (1612). St. Abramius, first abbot of Mirozh Monastery (Pskov) (1158). St. Theodosius, abbot, of Manyava Skete (Ukraine) (1629). St. Dorothea, schemanun, of Kashin (1629). St. Gabriel of Seven Lakes Monastery (Kazan) and Pskov-Eleazar Monastery (Pskov) (1915).

Icons of the Most Holy Theotokos “Of Mirozh” and “Of the Myrtle Tree” (ca. 1160).

St. Isarnus of Toulouse, abbot (1048). New Hiero-confessor Leontius, archimandrite, of Vilnius (1620). Arrival in America of the first Orthodox Mission: Sts. Herman, Juvenaly, and others (1794). New Martyr Peter (Cungagnaq) the Aleut (1815).

St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures

Saturday. [I Cor. 15:39-45; Luke 4:31-36]

   If ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins (John 8:24). There is none other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12). We must receive remission of sins, but there is no way to receive it other than by faith in the Son of God, crucified in the flesh for our sake, on the condition that we do not desire to indulge in sinful habits and deeds; for when we sin, we have only Him as an intercessor before the Father. He who gives his word to abstain from sins must accept the helping grace of the Most-Holy Spirit; but this grace descended to the earth after the Lord ascended to sit at the right hand of God the Father, and is only given to those who believe in this marvellous economy of our salvation, and who approach the Divine mysteries with this faith—mysteries which were established in the holy Church of the Lord through the Apostles. Thus, he who does not believe in the Lord as He is cannot be pure of sins. Because he has not been cleansed of sins he shall die in them, and shall be judged of them according to their weightiness. When you want to do someone good that is of eternal value, guide him in true faith in the Lord, not allowing philosophizing or wavering. Those who directly or indirectly disrupt faith in the Lord must be considered everlasting evil-doers, for they wreak an evil that nothing can correct, and its power stretches to all eternity. Their ignorance does not justify them, for how can they not know that truth which is known to the whole world? Their opposing beliefs do not justify them, for if you should only start strictly testing them you would immediately shake their strength; a person cannot rely on anything other than faith in the Lord. Those who do not properly examine the foundations, faith, and teachings to which they adhere go astray in the faith. An exact investigation of the conditions for salvation will lead to the conviction that they can only be met through God incarnate, who died on the cross, and who sent the Holy Spirit down to the earth. In this lies the essence of the Christian faith. He who sincerely believes this way will not die in his sins, for he bears within himself the power which brings forgiveness. The unbeliever is already condemned, for he bears this condemnation within himself.

1 Corinthians 15:39-45

All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.  There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.  And so it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

Luke 4:31-36

Then He went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and was teaching them on the Sabbaths. And they were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority. Now in the synagogue there was a man who had a spirit of an unclean demon. And he cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are-the Holy One of God!"  But Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be quiet, and come out of him!" And when the demon had thrown him in their midst, it came out of him and did not hurt him.  Then they were all amazed and spoke among themselves, saying, "What a word this is! For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits, and they come out."

From the Prologue of Ohrid

1. The Holy Protomartyr Thecla, Equal to the Apostles 

Thecla was born in Iconium of eminent but pagan parents. As a girl of eighteen, she was betrothed to a young man at the same time that the Apostle Paul arrived in Iconium with Barnabas to preach the Gospel. Hearing Paul’s testimony for three days and nights, Thecla converted to the Christian Faith, and vowed to live in virginity. Her mother, seeing that she was now ignoring her betrothed and no longer thought of marriage, tried to dissuade her, and then beat her and tortured her by starvation. Finally, this wicked mother turned Thecla over to the judge and demanded that Thecla be burned. The judge threw her into the fire, but God preserved her unharmed. Then, Thecla followed the Apostle Paul, and went to Antioch with him. Attracted by Thecla’s external beauty, a certain elder of the city wanted to take her for himself by force, but Thecla escaped his grasp. The pagan elder accused her to the eparch as a Christian who disdained marriage. The eparch condemned her to death, and had her thrown to wild beasts, but the wild beasts did not touch the body of this holy virgin. Amazed by this, the eparch asked her: “Who are you and what kind of power is in you, that nothing can harm you?” Thecla replied: “I am a servant of the Living God.” The eparch then released her, and she departed to preach the Gospel. She succeeded in converting many to the true Faith, among whom was Tryphena, a prominent and honorable widow. Then, having received the blessing of the Apostle Paul to do so, Thecla withdrew to a secluded place near Seleucia. There she lived a life of asceticism for a long time and, by healing the sick with wonderworking power, she converted many to Christianity. The doctors and soothsayers in Seleucia were envious of her, and sent some young men to defile her, hoping that the loss of her virginity would also mean the loss of her miraculous power. Thecla fled from these arrogant young men, but as they were about to catch her, she prayed to God for help. A large rock opened up and hid this holy virgin and bride of Christ. This rock was her refuge and her tomb. St. John Chrysostom says of this wonderful Christian heroine and saint: “It seems to me that as I see this blessed virgin, in one hand she offers Christ virginity, and in the other hand, martyrdom.” The Holy Protomartyr Thecla (мозаик у Еуфразијевој базилици у Поречу, Истра, 6 век) St. Sava, St. Simeon and Saint Stefan, the First-crowned King of Serbia (fresco in Bogorodica Ljeviška Monastery, Prizren, Serbia, about 1310) 

2. Saint Stefan, the First-crowned King of Serbia 

Stefan was crowned at his royal foundation Žiča by St. Sava, his brother and spiritual father. He was a devout Christian and a wise and peace-loving ruler. Stefan, with St. Sava, elevated Orthodoxy to great glory among his people. According to his wish, St. Sava tonsured him a monk before his death, and gave him the name Simon. He entered into rest in the Lord on September 24, 1224, and his miracle-working relics repose in Studenica Monastery. St. David, (formerly Prince Dimitrije) the son of Stefan’s brother Vukan, built the Monastery of Lim where he himself was tonsured a monk. The holy King Vladislav, son of King Stefan, built the Monastery of Mileševa, to which he translated the relics of St. Sava from Trnovo. He distinguished himself by a special compassion for the poor. On the coinage of his time, he had inscribed: “Vladislav, the servant of Christ.” 

HYMN OF PRAISE

The Holy Protomartyr Thecla, Equal to the Apostles St. Thecla, Equal to the Apostles, The first martyr of the virgins, Submitted her body to her spirit, And her spirit and body to Almighty Christ. Therefore all things submitted to her. Terrible fire and fierce beasts, Demons and the infirmities of men— All submitted to faith and purity, All were obedient to holy innocence, The innocence of Christ’s bride. Is not a mother a most great treasure? Yet what is a mother compared to Christ? And the betrothed, made of the earth, Is as dust before the glory of Christ. Riches and earthly beauty— A passing dream and wind that blows away. Only one Rock stands forever, And fears neither tempest nor time, And is the Bridegroom of Thecla the martyr: He is Christ, the King of kings. Holy Thecla, illumined in Paradise, Pray to Christ the Savior, And save us sinners from our sins. 

REFLECTION

Every saint is close to the place where he is invoked for help, or where his sanctity is commemorated and glorified. Those who are clairvoyant see the saints. If those who are not clairvoyant truly believe, they will see them in due time. Even as a young monk, St. Cosmas of Zographou had this gift. Once, on the Feast of the Annunciation, he went with several other monks to the Monastery of Vatopedi for this, their main feast. During the church service, and during the meal in the refectory, Cosmas saw a woman of royal beauty and majesty, who authoritatively organized, directed, and even served. This was not a momentary vision, but continued for a long time, both in the church and in the refectory. Cosmas was perplexed and startled by this vision. It was not at all proper for a woman to be in a monastery of the Holy Mountain. When he related this vision to his brother monks at Zographou, all the while protesting the presence of women on the Holy Mountain, the astonished monks explained to him that she was the Queen of the Holy Mountain, the Most-holy Theotokos. Then the perplexed heart of Cosmas was filled with great joy. St. Cosmas was so gifted with spiritual sight that, later, as an old hermit in his cave, he saw the soul of the abbot of Hilandar ascending to heaven, struggling to pass through the tollhouses, tormented by demons. Cosmas immediately sent someone to ask the brethren at Hilandar to pray to God for the soul of their reposed abbot. Matins had just been dismissed, and the monks and the abbot had just left the church. Hearing Cosmas’s message, the monks laughed, saying that their abbot had just gone to his cell to prepare for Divine Liturgy. But when they entered the cell they found their abbot dead. 

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the sin of King Ahaziah and God’s punishment of him (II Chronicles 22): 

1. How Ahaziah did that which is evil in the sight of the Lord, and associated with the sinful house of Ahab;

 2. How Ahaziah was slain with many of his kinsmen. 

HOMILY on God the Holy Spirit, the Glorifier

He [the Holy Spirit] shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you (John 16: 14) The Holy Spirit is equal in might with the Father and the Son. All that the Father can do, the Son can do, and so can the Holy Spirit. All that the Father knows, the Son knows, and so does the Holy Spirit. But, according to Their infinite love for one another, and according to Their infinite wisdom with regard to the dispensation of man’s salvation, They appear in turn to men from the point of view of time. As the Father glorifies the Son, so the Son glorifies the Father, and the Holy Spirit glorifies the Son. He shall glorify Me. Did not the Son glorify Himself? Yes, He did, but not to the extent that He could have; rather only to the extent that men of that time could receive and endure it. In time, the Holy Spirit will reveal an even greater glory of the Son of God, when He, the All-gracious One, will fill the faithful with His gifts of grace. He shall glorify Me. Brethren, the Lord also speaks these words as a lesson to us, so that if we perform some good work, we shall leave it to others to glorify us, and not seek to glorify ourselves. For He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you. With these words, the Lord revealed the unity of the Spirit of God with Him, and not the subordination of the Spirit. Before this, He said: He will guide you into all truth (John 16: 13). So that the disciples would not think that the Spirit knows more of the truth than the Son, or that the Spirit is greater than the Son, He revealed that the Spirit shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you. Christ was able to guide the disciples into all truth, but at the time, the disciples were not prepared to receive all truth. Therefore, the Holy Spirit will guide them into all truth, at the proper time. Yet, in revealing all truth to them, the Spirit will reveal nothing that is not known to the Son, let alone anything that is contrary to the knowledge and will of the Son. That is why the Lord said: For He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you. O wondrous unity of the Holy Trinity, O power of the Triune Flame, light and love from one and the same fire! O Holy and Most-holy Trinity, kindle divine love in our hearts. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

 

Velimirovic, Saint Nikolai. The Prologue of Ohrid (Kindle Locations 20026-20103). Sebastian Press Publishing House. Kindle Edition. 

 

 

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today's Scriptures and Saints

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today's Scriptures and Saints Oct 6/Sept 23

18th Week after Pentecost. Tone 8. Fast Day.    

Wine and oil allowed.

The Conception of the Glorious Prophet, Forerunner, and Baptist John. Glorification of St. Innocent, metropolitan of Moscow, enlightener of Alaska and Siberia (1977). Sts. Xanthippa and Polyxena, of Spain, disciples of the Apostles (109). Virgin-martyr Irais (Rhais) of Alexandria (308). Martyrs Andrew and John, and his sons Peter and Antoninus, of Syracuse, martyred in Africa (9th c.). Icon of the Mother of God of Slovenka (1635).St. Adomnan (Adamnan), abbot, of Iona (704). New Martyr Nicholas the Grocer, at Constantinople (1672). New Martyr John of Epirus (1814).    Repose of Abbess Eupraxia of Old Ladoga Convent (1823) and Hieroschemamonk Jerome of Solovki (1847).

St. Theophan:

Friday. [Eph. 6:18-24; Luke 4:22-30]       The people of Nazareth marvelled at the word of the Lord, but nevertheless they did not believe: envy prevented them as the Lord Himself revealed. Every passion opposes truth and goodness, but envy most of all, because falsehood and spite make up its essence. This passion is the most unjust and poisonous both for the one who bears it and for the one against whom it is directed. It occurs on a small scale with everyone when someone equal or inferior gets the upper hand. Egoism gets irritated, and envy begins to gnaw away at the heart. This is still not so tormenting if the road is still open to you; but when it is blocked off, especially by the one you already envy, then its aggression is unstoppable, and peace is impossible. Envy demands the overthrow of one’s enemy from his place on the peak, and will not rest content until it somehow attains this, or until it ruins the envier. Good natured, well-wishing people, whose kindly sentiments prevail over egotistical ones, do not suffer from envy. This is also the way to extinguish envy for any person tormented by it. You must hasten to inspire good will, especially towards the one whom you envy, and manifest it in deed; then envy will immediately abate. If you repeat this several times, with God’s help it will entirely subside. But if you leave it the way it is, if you do not overcome yourself and force yourself to do good to the one you envy, it will torment you, dry you up, and send you to your grave.

 

Ephesians 6:18-24

praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints- and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.  But that you also may know my affairs and how I am doing, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will make all things known to you; whom I have sent to you for this very purpose, that you may know our affairs, and that he may comfort your hearts. Peace to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.

 

Luke 4:22-30

So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, "Is this not Joseph's son?"

He said to them, "You will surely say this proverb to Me, 'Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in Your country.' " Then He said, "Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country.  But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land; but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.  And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.  So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff.  Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way.

From the Prologue of Ohrid

1. The Conception of Saint John the Baptist 

On this day the mercy, miracles and wisdom of God are celebrated: His mercy toward the devout and righteous parents of St. John, the aged Zacharias and Elizabeth, who all their lives had wished for and begged a child from God; His miracle, that of John’s conception in the aged womb of Elizabeth; His wisdom, in the dispensation of man’s salvation. God had an especially great intention for John: namely, that he be the Prophet and Forerunner of Christ the Lord, the Savior of the world. Through His angels, God announced the births of Isaac to the childless Sarah, Samson to the childless wife of Manoah, and John the Forerunner to the childless Zacharias and Elizabeth. All of these were those for whom He had special intentions, and he foretold their birth through his angels. How could children be born of aged parents? If someone desires to understand this, he should not ask men about it, for men do not know; nor should he study natural law, for this is beyond natural law. Rather, he should turn his gaze upon the power of the Almighty God, Who created the whole world from nothing, and Who needed no parents— old or young— for the creation of the first man, Adam. Instead of being curious, let us give thanks to God, Who often reveals His power, mercy and wisdom to us in ways that are beyond natural law— in which we would be imprisoned without these special miracles of God, and would fall into despair and forgetfulness of God. Благовест анђела Св. Пророку Захарији о зачећу Св. Јована Крститеља (icon in Benaki museum, Greece, 16th c.) 

2. The Holy Martyr Iraida 

In some places Iraida is called Rhais or Raida. She was a maiden from the town of Batan in Egypt, and was therefore probably an Egyptian. Once, Iraida went out to draw water from a well near the sea, and saw a ship laden with bound Christians: priests, deacons, monks, women and maidens. Inquiring, she learned that all of these people were being transported by the pagan persecutors to torture and death for the name of Jesus Christ. Young Iraida’s heart suddenly flared up with the desire to suffer for the Lord. Leaving her pots by the well, she boarded the ship and confessed that she too was a Christian. They immediately bound her with the others and took them all to the Egyptian city of Antinopolis. After various tortures, Iraida was the first to be beheaded, followed by the others. She suffered honorably and was glorified at the beginning of the fourth century. 

3. The Holy New Martyr Nicholas Pantopolis 

As a young man, Nicholas suffered for the Christian Faith at the hands of the Turks in Constantinople in 1672. His father had come to Constantinople from Thessaly and, as his father owned a variety shop, he was called Pantopolis. After much pressure to become a Moslem, and after much torturing because he refused, Nicholas was beheaded and took up his abode in the Kingdom of God. His relics repose in the Monastery of Xeropotamou, on the Holy Mountain. 

4. The Holy New Martyr John 

John was born in a place called Konitsa in Albania. He was a Moslem of Moslem parents. After witnessing the miraculous power of the Christian Faith in various places and situations, he accepted baptism. For this, he was denounced and brought before the Turkish court. Tortured by the Turks for the Christian Faith in Aitolia, he was beheaded in the year 1814. Before his death, John cried out: “Remember me, O Lord, in Thy Kingdom!” HYMN OF

PRAISE

The Holy Martyr Iraida Virtuous virgin Iraida went to fetch water, And returned not to her mother, but went to the Lord. Iraida sought suffering willingly; Christ the Lord was more precious to her than was her mother. A boat full of martyrs was ready to depart. “Receive me also!” Iraida quickly cried. “I too am a servant of Christ, for He is everything to me, And I wish to be an instrument of His hymn, A song of torture and suffering for the truth.— Oh, receive me, let me perish!” And Iraida perished for her God, And was made an heir of life eternal. By her prayers, O Lord, now save us also. Thanks be to holy Iraida, and glory to God! 

 

REFLECTION

He who gives to the poor, gives to Christ. This is the meaning of the Gospel teaching, and it has been confirmed in the experience of the saints. Upon his repentance, Peter the Merciful gave alms to the poor wherever the opportunity presented itself. On one occasion Peter encountered a shipwrecked man who had barely managed to save his naked body from the wreck. The man begged him for some clothing. Peter removed his costly cloak and clothed the naked man with it. Shortly afterward, Peter saw his cloak in the shop of a merchant, who had it displayed for sale. Peter was very saddened that the shipwrecked man had sold his cloak instead of using it for himself. Peter thought: “I am not worthy; the Lord does not accept my alms.” But later, the Lord appeared to him in a dream. He appeared as a handsome man, brighter than the sun, with a cross on His head, wearing Peter’s cloak. “Peter, why art thou sad?” asked the Lord. “My Lord, why would I not be sad, when I see that which I gave to the poor being sold at the market?” Then the Lord asked him: “Dost thou recognize this garment on Me?” Peter replied: “I recognize it, Lord; that is my garment with which I clothed the naked man.” Then the Lord spoke to him again: “Therefore do not be sad; thou gavest it to the poor man, and I received it, and I praise thy deed.” 

 

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the sins of King Jehoram and God’s punishment of him (II Chronicles 21): 

1. How Jehoram slew all his brothers, and restored idolatry in the groves and the hills; 

2. How his enemies plundered and enslaved the land; 

3. How he was smitten with a grave illness of the bowels and died, and no one mourned for him. 

 

HOMILY on God the Holy Spirit, Who proceedeth from the Father

But when the Comforter is come, Whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me (John 15: 26) Brethren, the depths of the Essence of God are unfathomable. But God has neither hidden all from us, nor did He reveal all to us. He has revealed to us as much as our weakness can bear, and as much as is necessary for our salvation. Concerning the Holy Spirit, it has been revealed to us that He proceedeth from the Father and is sent by the Son. Let no one seek further, lest they fall into error. Since He proceedeth from the Father, He is of one Essence with the Father; since He is sent by the Son to continue the Son’s work, He is equal to the Son. The Lord said earlier: The Father… beareth witness of Me (John 8: 18); and now He says of the Spirit of Truth that He shall testify of Me. Both these witnesses are the same; that is why the Lord cites one at one time and the other at another time. He Who has borne witness and He Who will bear witness are equal in Essence— for the Lord would not have the witness for the future be less than the witness for the past. Thus, we are speaking in human terms with regard to time; but in reality, the Three bear witness eternally in heaven, according to the words of the Evangelist: For there are Three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit: and these Three are One (I John 5: 7). There are men who assert that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. Who revealed this to them, and when? We know that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father, for that was revealed to us by the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, we reject such an addition to our Orthodox Faith, as it does not agree with the words of the Lord Himself. Yet, if we are to truly understand the words of the Most-pure Lord, our hearts must be made very pure. Therefore, we must make more of an effort to cleanse our hearts from passions, rather than obeying vain curiosity by prying into the endless depths of God’s being with unclean hearts— for those who do that fall into heresy and lose their souls. O Lord God, great and mighty, we thank Thee that Thou hast come to us through our Savior Jesus Christ; and thereby, we know that we are not the children of darkness, but rather the sons of light. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today's Scriptures and Saints

St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures and Saints Oct. 5/Sept 22

18th Week after Pentecost. Tone 8.    

No fast.

Prophet Jonah (8th c. b.c.). 

Hieromartyr Phocas, bishop of Sinope (117). 

St. Jonah the Presbyter (9th c.), father of Sts. Theophanes the Hymnographer and Theodore Graptus. Blessed Parasceva (“Pasha of Sarov”), fool-for-Christ, of Diveyevo (1915).

Martyr Phocas the Gardener, of Sinope (320). St. Peter of Constantinople, tax collector in Africa (6th c.). St. Jonah, founder of the Yashezersk Annunciation Monastery (Karelia) (1589-1592). St. Macarius, founder of Zhabyn Monastery (Belev) (1623). Hieromartyr Theodosius of Brazi Monastery, metropolitan of Moldavia (1694). Synaxis of the Saints of Tula.

New Hieromartyr Benjamin (Voskresensky), bishop of Romanov (1931).

Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “She Who Is Quick to Hear.”

Martyrs Maurice and the Theban Legion, including the officers Candidus and Exuperius, at Agaunum (Gaul) (ca. 287). Hieromartyr Emmeram, bishop in Gaul, at Regensburg (Bavaria) (652). 26 Martyrs of Zographou Monastery, Mt. Athos, martyred by the Latins (see October 10th) (1284). St. Cosmas, desert-dweller of Zographou, Mt. Athos (1323).

Repose of Abbot Innocent of Valaam (1828).

 

Thurs­day. [Phil 1:20-27; Luke 6:12-19] 

And He continued all night in prayer to God. Here is the foun­da­tion and be­gin­ning of Chris­tian all-night Vig­ils. A prayer­ful heat chas­es a­way sleep, and ex­hil­a­ra­tion of the spir­it does not al­low one to no­tice the pass­ing of time. True men of prayer do not no­tice this; it seems to them that they had just begun to pray, mean­while day has al­ready ap­pear­ed. But un­til one reach­es such per­fec­tion, he must take on the la­bour of vig­ils. Solitaries have borne this and bear it; ce­no­bit­ic mo­nas­tics have borne this and bear it; rev­er­ent and God-fear­ing lay­peo­ple have borne this and bear it. But though vig­il comes with dif­fi­cul­ty, its fruit re­mains in the soul, di­rect­ly and con­stant­ly pres­ent — peace of soul and con­tri­tion, with weak­en­ing and ex­haus­tion of the bod­y. It is a state very valu­able for those who are zeal­ous a­bout pros­per­ing in the spir­it! That is why in plac­es where vig­ils are es­tab­lish­ed (on Athos), they do not want to give them up. Ev­ery­one re­al­izes how dif­fi­cult it is, but no­bod­y has a de­sire to re­scind this or­der, for the sake of the prof­it which the soul re­ceives from vig­ils. Sleep, more than any­thing, re­lax­es and feeds the flesh; vig­ils more than any­thing hum­ble it. One who sleeps abun­dant­ly is burdened by spir­i­tu­al deeds and is cold to­wards them; he who is vig­i­lant is quick in move­ment, like an an­te­lope, and burns in the spir­it. If the flesh must be taught to be good, like a slave, then there is no bet­ter way to suc­ceed in this than through fre­quent vig­ils. Here the flesh ful­ly feels the pow­er of the spir­it over it, and learns to sub­mit to it; while the spir­it ac­quires the hab­it of reigning over the flesh.

 

Philippians 1:20-27

according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.  For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell.  For[a] I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.  And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again. Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,

 

Luke 6:12-19

Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.  And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles:  Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot; Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor.  And He came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases, as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed. And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all.

 

Ephesians 5:33-6:9

Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise: that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth. And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.

Luke 4:16-22

So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:  The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD."  Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, "Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, "Is this not Joseph's son?"

From the Prologue of Ohrid

1. The Hieromartyr Phocas, Bishop of Sinope 

Phocas exercised himself in all the Christian virtues from his youth. As bishop in his birthplace, the town of Sinope on the shores of the Black Sea, he strengthened the faith of the true believers by his example and divine words and converted many idol-worshipers to the true Faith. The hard-hearted pagans were filled with rage against holy Phocas. Through a vision granted him by the Lord, he foresaw his martyrdom: Phocas saw a white dove fly down from heaven carrying a beautiful wreath of flowers in its beak, and lowered the wreath onto his head. And Phocas heard a voice, saying: “Your cup is full and you should drink it!” From this vision the God-pleaser realized that he was soon to suffer for Christ. He was not afraid, but with gratitude toward God prepared himself for suffering. Soon after, a certain prince, Africanus, took Phocas for interrogation, and subjected him to harsh tortures. The torturers beat and wounded his whole body, and after a time of imprisonment threw him into boiling water, where this brave soldier of Christ ended his earthly life and settled in the joy of his Lord. Phocas suffered during the reign of Emperor Trajan. 

2. The Holy Prophet Jonah 

Jonah lived more than eight hundred years before Christ. It is said that he was that son of the widow of Zarephath in Sidon whom the Prophet Elias had raised from the dead. By his three-day sojourn in the belly of the whale, he prefigured the three days that Christ lay in the tomb; and, by his deliverance from the belly of the whale, he prefigured the Lord’s Resurrection from the dead. Everything else concerning this wonderful prophet can be read in the Book of Jonah. The Holy Prophet Jonah (Menologion of Basil II, 11th c.) 

3. The Holy Martyr Phocas the Gardener

Phocas was a compatriot of the Hieromartyr Phocas. He had a garden in Sinope, near the Black Sea, that he himself cultivated. He treated all passers-by with the fruits of his garden, not missing an opportunity to feed their souls with the word of God. But a certain prince who persecuted Christians heard of him, and sent soldiers to kill him. Phocas treated the soldiers so cordially that they hesitated to kill him. However, by his own insistent request, they carried out the command and beheaded him. In that place, over his miracle-working relics, a church was soon built in his name. St. Phocas is especially venerated by sailors, and is invoked for help by all who travel by sea. Phocas suffered in the year 320. St. Phocas the Gardener (fresco in Studenica Monastery, 1315) 

4. The Venerable Cosmas of Zographou 

Cosmas was of a noble family from Bulgaria. When his parents wanted him to marry, Cosmas fled to Mount Athos. He was a hermit and miracle-worker. He labored ascetically in a cave near the Monastery of Zographou. The Holy Theotokos appeared to him on more than one occasion. He is known as the greatest ascetic and miracle-worker of Zographou. The formidable cell in which Cosmas labored in silence and struggled with demons exists even today to the northwest of the Monastery of Zographou. With spiritual sight and clairvoyance, he described events in distant times and places. He died in old age, on September 22, 1323, and after a life of much labor took up his habitation in the joy of his Lord. The Venerable Cosmas of Zographou (fresco in Ksiropotam Monastery, Mount Athos, 18th c.) 

5. Saint Peter the Merciful Peter was a God-pleaser of the sixth century. (See “Reflection” below.) 

6. Saint Jonah the Presbyter 

Jonah was the father of St. Theophanes, the writer of canons, and St. Theodore the Branded. Jonah was a miracle-worker and died in the Monastery of St. Sava the Sanctified in the ninth century. 

 

HYMN OF PRAISE

The Holy Prophet Jonah Nineveh! Nineveh resounds with sin, And God sends Jonah to heal Nineveh. Jonah does not want to, and flees from God! Oh, where will you go, Jonah, to hide from the Most High? Jonah sleeps; he sleeps and the tempest rises. God moves slowly, but He will find you in time. Hurled into the waves, swallowed by the whale, “From whom did I flee?” Jonah asks himself. “I fled from Him, from Whom one cannot hide!” God chastises Jonah and yet delivers him, And, by His providence, glorifies him forever. Jonah, you do not want to speak to the Ninevites, But through your punishment you will prophesy the immortal Christ. You do not want to by words? Then you must, by deeds, Prophesy Christ and the death and resurrection of the body! Your deeds, Jonah, will not fade away, And Christ the Lord will speak of you to men, That, through you, the mercy of the Living God might be revealed, By which you will be saved, as well as Nineveh. Through you, the power of repentance shall be revealed— The power of repentance and God’s forgiveness. You pitied the gourd, and God pitied men. Help us to repent, O God, and save us from condemnation. 

 

REFLECTION

When a man clearly senses God’s mercy toward him, he is startled, as from a dull and senseless dream, and becomes ashamed of his long blindness to God’s unceasing compassion. In the time of Emperor Justinian, the chief imperial tax collector in Africa was a certain Peter, a very wealthy but very hard and merciless man. The beggars grumbled among themselves, that not one of them had ever received alms from Peter. Then, one of them bet that he would succeed in getting alms from Peter. He persistently begged alms of the miser until Peter, in a rage, hit him with a loaf of bread, since he had nothing else close at hand. Joyfully the beggar took the bread and fled. Immediately after this Peter became seriously ill and had this vision: He was being interrogated by demons in the other world. There was a scale, and on one side of it, the demons heaped Peter’s sins, making that side extremely heavy. On the other side— which was empty— angels stood, sorrowing that they had not even one good deed in Peter’s life to help balance the scale. One of them said: “We have nothing to place on the scale except one loaf of bread, with which he struck a beggar the day before yesterday.” The angels placed this one loaf of bread on the empty side of the scale, and that loaf of bread outweighed the other side of the scale, laden with all of Peter’s sins. When the vision was over Peter said to himself: “Indeed, this was not an apparition but the living truth, for I saw all my sins from my youth. And when I can be helped so much by one loaf of bread that I threw at a beggar, how much help would I receive from many deeds of almsgiving, performed from the heart and with humility?” And from that time, Peter became the most compassionate man in his town. He distributed all of his possessions to the poor, and when he had finished distributing his possessions, he sold himself into slavery for thirty gold pieces and distributed even his own price as a slave to the poor as alms in the name of Christ. He was, thereafter, called Peter the Merciful. 

 

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the wrath of God against King Jehoshaphat (II Chronicles 18-20): 

1. How Jehoshaphat allied himself with the apostate King Ahab, and almost perished; 

2. How he allied himself with King Ahaziah, and again suffered a great loss; 

3. How God does not wish the faithful to unite with unbelievers. 

HOMILY on God the Holy Spirit, the Comforter

And I will pray the Father and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever (John 14: 16) Brethren, where there is love, there are no commands; requests take the place of commands. Among those who love one another, a request has greater power than does a command among those who do not love. The Holy Trinity represents the supreme kingdom and majesty of love. Isaiah refers to the Holy Trinity as Mighty Counsel (Isaiah 9: 6) and the Incarnate Son of God as Angel of Great Counsel— that is, messenger. How does this counsel relate to the unity of God? You yourself are one being, but you still take counsel with yourself. Your mind asks your will, “Can you?” and asks your heart, “Do you want to?” And the will and the heart ask your mind: “Do you know how?” And, yet, even with this internal counseling with yourself, you are still one— one man, one person. Naturally, this is but a pale illustration and shadow of the Holy Trinity and Their perfect counsel, for there is complete equality and harmony of Persons in the Holy Trinity. That which the Father wills, the Son and the Holy Spirit immediately will. And He shall give you another Comforter. See how confident the Son of God is— that whatever He would request and counsel would immediately be confirmed in the great Divine Counsel? The Father will agree to send, and the Spirit will agree to be sent. The Son of God does not say: “I will pray to the Father to give you, and I believe that He will give you.” Rather, He says: “I will pray and He will give you.” He knows in advance that the Father will give what He asks. He knows this— if it can be thus said— from His own eternal experience. For through all eternity harmony reigns, has reigned and will reign between the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. He shall give you another Comforter. By these words, the complete equality of the Son and the Holy Spirit is revealed. In other words, “The Father will send you another Comforter— equal in power with Me, of one Essence with Me and equal in honor with Me. He will be able to fully act for Me in His way in accordance with His Divine Person, which is uniquely different from My Person as the Son.” O my brethren, do you see how the undivided Holy Trinity participates in our salvation? Do you see Whose we are? Do you see what dignity is given to us mortal and sinful ones? O Most-holy and Most-glorious Trinity our God, have mercy on us and save us. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

 

 

 

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today's Scriptures and Saints

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today's Scriptures and Saints Oct. 4/Sept 21

18th Week after Pentecost. Tone 8. 

Fast Day.    

Wine and oil allowed.

Apodosis of the Exaltation of the Cross. 

Apostle Quadratus of the Seventy (ca. 117). 

Uncovering of the relics of St. Demetrius, metropolitan of Rostov (1752).

Hieromartyr Hypatius, bishop of Ephesus, and his priest Andrew (730). St. Daniel, founder of Shuzhgorsk Monastery (Belozersk) (16th c). St. Joseph, founder of Zaonikiev Monastery (Vologda) (1612). Sts. Isaacius and Meletius, bishops of Cyprus. Martyrs Priscus of Phrygia, Eusebius, Nestabus, Zeno, and Nestor the Confessor, of Gaza (4th c.) Synaxis of the Saints of Uglich.

New Hieromartyrs Theophan (Tuliakov), metropolitan of Lipetsk and Belorussia, and Maurice (Poletaev), archimandrite, of Yuriev-Polsky (Vladimir) (1937).

Martyr Eusebius of Phoenicia (2nd c.). St. Jonah the Sabbaite (9th c.).  Repose of Priest Dumitru Staniloae of Romania (1993).

Wednesday. [Eph. 5:25-33; Luke 4:1-15]

   The devil approaches the God-man with temptations. Who among men is free of them? He who goes according to the will of the evil one does not experience attacks, but is simply turned more and more toward evil. As soon as one begins to come to himself and intends to begin a new life according to God’s will, immediately the entire satanic realm enters into action: they hasten to scatter good thoughts and the intentions of the repentant one in any way they can. If they do not manage to turn him aside, they attempt to hinder his good repentance and confession; if they do not manage to do that, they contrive to sow tares amidst the fruits of repentance and disrupt his labours of cleansing the heart. If they do not succeed in suggesting evil they attempt to distort the truth; if they are repulsed inwardly they attack outwardly, and so on until the end of one’s life. They do not even let one die in peace; even after death they pursue the soul, until it escapes the aerial space where they hover and congregate. You ask, “What should we do? It is hopeless and terrifying!” For a believer there is nothing terrifying here, because near a God-fearing man demons only busy themselves, but they do not have any power over him. A sober man of prayer shoots arrows against them, and they stay far away from him, not daring to approach, and fearing the defeat which they have already experienced. If they succeed in something, it is due to our blundering. We slacken our attention, or allow ourselves to be distracted by their phantoms, and they immediately come and disturb us more boldly. If you do not come to your senses in time they will whirl you about; but if a soul does come to its senses they again recoil and spy from afar to see whether it is possible to approach again somehow. So be sober, watch, and pray—and the enemies will do nothing to you.

 

Ephesians 5:25-33 (Wednesday)

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word,that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.  For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

 

Luke 4:1-15

Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry. And the devil said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread." But Jesus answered him, saying, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.' " Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, "All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.  Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours. And Jesus answered and said to him, "Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.' " Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. For it is written:'He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you,' and, 'In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.' " And Jesus answered and said to him, "It has been said, 'You shall not tempt the LORD your God.' "  Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time. Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region. And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.

 

Hebrews 7:26-8:2 (St. Demetrius)

For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people's, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever. Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.

 

John 10:9-16 (St. Demetrius)

I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.

From the Prologue of Ohrid

1. The Holy Apostle Quadratus 

Quadratus, one of the Seventy, was a disciple of the Great Apostles. He preached the Gospel in Athens and was at first bishop of Athens after St. Publius, and afterward bishop of Magnesia. Quadratus was highly educated in secular wisdom, and rich in the grace of the Holy Spirit. His biographer says of him: He was as the morning star among the clouds (Sirach 50: 6). The clouds were the darkness of Hellenic paganism, without the light of piety. The Holy Apostle Quadratus, through the word of God, shone upon the Hellenes as a great light, illuminating the darkness, destroying the foul sacrifices, crushing the idols, and destroying the demonic temples by his prayer. However, darkness always hates the light, and the pagans hated holy Quadratus. First they stoned him, as once the Jews did St. Stephen. Then they threw him into prison and gave him no bread until he gave up his holy soul, and went to dwell in the Kingdom of Christ, his God. St. Quadratus wrote an Apologia for Christianity and gave it to Emperor Hadrian. This Apologia had such an effect on the pagan emperor that he ordered that Christians not be persecuted without specific cause. St. Quadratus suffered in about the year 130. He is buried in the city of Magnesia, where he suffered. The Holy Apostle Quadratus (Menologion of Basil II, 11th c.) 

2. The Hieromartyrs Hypatius, Bishop of Ephesus, and Andrew the Presbyter 

Both Hypatius and Andrew were born in Lycia, and were friends from childhood. When they matured, both of them dedicated themselves wholeheartedly to the service of God— Hypatius as a strict monk and ascetic, and Andrew as a priest among the people and a preacher of God’s word. Because of their great virtues, Hypatius was consecrated bishop of Ephesus, and Andrew was ordained a presbyter. Both suffered martyrdom under the reign of the iconoclast Emperor Leo the Isaurian. After horrible tortures for holy Orthodoxy they were beheaded in 730, and passed from this transitory life to life eternal. 

3. Saint Dimitri, Bishop of Rostov 

St. Dimitri’s life is celebrated on October 28, but today we commemorate the finding of his miracle-working relics in 1752. 

4. The Synaxis of the Saints of the Monastery of the Kiev Caves 

The blessed work of asceticism begun by the industrious and great God-pleaser Anthony grew throughout the centuries like a fruitful olive tree. The numerous saints who shone as stars in Anthony’s Caves are each celebrated on their own day. Today, however, the whole assembly of them is commemorated together and called upon by the faithful for aid. HYMN OF PRAISE The Holy Apostle Quadratus St. Quadratus, like the morning star, Shone forth the light of the Holy Gospel, Shone forth rays through the thick darkness, And grace upon empty hearts. Quadratus dispelled the confusion of men’s thoughts, Illumining the forebodings in men’s hearts, Illumining them with the light of Christ, And enlightening the world with Christ’s wisdom. Unbelievers converted to the Most-high God, And received cruel wounds for Christ. To Hadrian, the persecutor of the Cross, Quadratus wrote a great defense With the eloquence and the skill of the Hellenes And the simplicity of Christian truth. Quadratus succeeded: the emperor was persuaded To protect the Holy Church from evil. O Quadratus, Christ’s disciple, Wise defender of the Holy Church, In word and deed, you were God’s servant— With unfading glory, you are now crowned! To you, we Christians pray fervently: Help us, O holy Apostle! Help us to overcome misfortunes, And to endure all sufferings for Christ. 

REFLECTION 

If only we begin with the firm intention to live according to God’s law, we need not be afraid of any assaults by unreasonable men. For he who truly begins to live according to God’s law finds that all things done to him by men happen for his benefit, and to the glory of God. One especially need not fear being compelled to move from a place that he loves to a place that he doesn’t care for. Instead of empty fear and fruitless lamentation, it is better to seek out God’s intention for us. What harm did the evil actions of Joseph’s brothers do to him? Did not his involuntary departure to Egypt glorify him, save his brothers from famine, and create the necessary conditions for all the wondrous things God worked through Moses in Egypt and in the wilderness? The pagans and heretics often drove Orthodox Christians into barbarian regions. What did they accomplish by that? Did they destroy Orthodoxy? No— rather, they strengthened it even more in the souls of the persecuted, and spread it among the barbarian peoples. The evil heretic Lucius exiled the glorious Macarius, with several Tabennisiot ascetics, from Egypt to a barbarian island, where the entire population worshiped idols. But by the teachings and example of these holy men, the entire populace of the island was soon baptized. That island was later renamed the “Island of Repentance.” 

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate God’s miraculous saving of Jerusalem because of the righteousness of Jehoshaphat (II Chronicles 20): 

1. How a multitude of Moabites and Ammonites set off against Jerusalem; 

2. How King Jehoshaphat prayed to God, and it was revealed to him through the prophet that the battle is not yours, but God’s (II Chronicles 20: 15); 

3. How the Moabites and the Ammonites fought among themselves, and perished to the last man.

HOMILY on the divinity of the Son and His unity of Essence with the Father 

He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father (John 14: 9) Philip saith unto Him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us (John 14: 8). To these words, the Lord Jesus replied: Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip? He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father (John 14: 9). Thus replied the Lord to His disciple. Philip wanted to see God with his bodily eyes. Yet, for three years he looked upon Christ, and did not recognize Him as God. Why? Because, before the descent of the Holy Spirit, Philip looked with the body at the body. In other words, he perceived with bodily eyes, and saw the Lord Jesus Christ as a man. He still had not seen the divinity in the Son of God Incarnate, and yet he sought to see God the Father! He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father. By this the Lord did not want to say that He was God the Father, but that He and the Father are of one Essence. Insofar as God could reveal Himself to men, He revealed Himself through the Son, who appeared to men as a man. God the Father did not become incarnate; God the Holy Spirit did not become incarnate; but God the Son did become incarnate. How then, could He show His Father to the bodily eyes of a mortal man? This is precisely why the Son became incarnate, to reveal Himself to men— Himself, the Father, and the Holy Spirit: consubstantial unity, in three Persons. He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father. Here, the Lord speaks of His divine nature. In that, he is completely equal and of one Essence with the Father. So it is that, had Philip perceived the divine nature of Christ, he would not have made the request: Show us the Father. Naturally, he could not have seen the divine nature, as it is spiritual and invisible; but he could see— and see clearly— the great works of Christ as a manifestation of His divine nature. Brethren, even today, some men say: “Show us God and we will believe!” We should say to them: “Behold, we show you the Lord Jesus— believe!” “I have been with you for nineteen centuries, O men, and have you not recognized Me?” Nineteen centuries filled with His glory, miracles, power, grace, mercy, saints and martyrs! And there are still imbeciles who ask: “Where is God?” O Lord Christ our God, open the spiritual eyes of those who still do not see, that they may see the majesty of Thy glory. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

 

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today's Scriptures and Saints

ST. THEOPHAN THE RECLUSE AND THE PROLOGUE OF OHRID ON TODAY'S SCRIPTURES AND SAINTS - OCT 3/SEPT 20

18th Week after Pentecost. Tone 8.    

Fast-free period.

Great-martyr Eustathius Placidas, his wife Martyr Theopistes, and their sons Martyrs Agapius and Theopistus, of Rome (118). 

Holy Martyrs Prince Michael and his counselor Theodore, of Chernigov (1245)

St. Oleg, prince of Bryansk, monk (1285). Synaxis of the Saints of Bryansk. Right-believing Prince John of Putivl (Ukraine) (14th c.).

Martyr John the Confessor, of Egypt, beheaded in Palestine, and with him 40 martyrs (310)

Sts. Theodore and Euprepius and two named Anastasius, confessors and disciples of St. Maximus the Confessor (7th c.). St. John, monk, of Crete (1031).

St. Eustathius, archbishop of Thessalonica (1194). New Monk-martyr Hilarion the Cretan, of St. Anne’s Skete, Mt. Athos, at Constantinople (1804). St. Meletius of Cyprus, bishop.

Tues­day. [Phil. 1:8-14; Luke 5:12-16] The lep­er fell down be­fore the Lord and besought: Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. The Lord said: I will: be thou clean. And im­me­di­ate­ly the lep­ro­sy de­part­ed from him. So does ev­ery mor­al lep­ro­sy im­me­di­ate­ly de­part as soon as one falls down be­fore the Lord with faith, re­pen­tance, and con­fes­sion — it tru­ly de­parts and los­es any pow­er over him. Why does the lep­ro­sy some­times re­turn again? For the same rea­son that bodi­ly dis­eases re­turn. One who has re­cov­er­ed is told, “do not eat that, do not drink this, do not go there.” If he does not obey, the dis­ease again flares up. So it is in the spir­i­tu­al life. One must be so­ber, vig­i­lant, and pray — then the dis­ease of sin will not re­turn. If you are not at­ten­tive to­ward your­self, if you al­low your­self to see, hear, say, and do ev­ery­thing in­dis­crim­i­nate­ly, how can sin not flare up and take pow­er once again? The Lord charged the lep­er to fulfill all ac­cord­ing to the law. This means that up­on con­fes­sion one must re­ceive a pen­ance and faith­ful­ly fulfill it; with­in it is con­ceal­ed great pre­ven­tive strength. But why do some say: this sin­ful hab­it has over­come me, I can­not han­dle my­self. Ei­ther be­cause re­pen­tance and con­fes­sion were not com­plete, or be­cause af­ter mak­ing pre­cau­tionary chang­es he ad­heres on­ly weak­ly to them, or in­dulges him­self. He wants to do ev­ery­thing with­out to­il and self-co­er­cion, and is laugh­ed at by the en­e­my. Re­solve to stand un­to death and show [this resolve] in deed, and you will see what pow­er there is in this. It is true that in ev­ery in­sur­mount­able pas­sion that comes up the en­e­my pos­sess­es the soul, but this is no jus­ti­fi­ca­tion; for he im­me­di­ate­ly flees as soon as you pro­duce an in­ner change, with God's help.

Luke 5:12-16 New King James Version (NKJV)

12 And it happened when He was in a certain city, that behold, a man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus; and he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”

13 Then He put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately the leprosy left him. 

14 And He charged him to tell no one, “But go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as a testimony to them, just as Moses commanded.”

15 However, the report went around concerning Him all the more; and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities. 

16 So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.Philippians 1:8-14 New King James Version (NKJV)

8 For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ.

9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 

10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ,

11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

12 But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, 

13 so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; 

14 and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

Ephesians 5:20-26 (Tuesday)

20    giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

21    submitting to one another in the fear of God.

22    Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

23    For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.

24    Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

25    Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,

26    that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word,

Luke 3:23-4:1

23    Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, the son of Heli,

24    the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Janna, the son of Joseph,

25    the son of Mattathiah, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai,

26    the son of Maath, the son of Mattathiah, the son of Semei, the son of Joseph, the son of Judah,

27    the son of Joannas, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri,

28    the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmodam, the son of Er,

29    the son of Jose, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi,

30    the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonan, the son of Eliakim,

31    the son of Melea, the son of Menan, the son of Mattathah, the son of Nathan, the son of David,

32    the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon,

33    the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah,

34    the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor,

35    the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah,

36    the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech,

37    the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel, the son of Cainan,

38    the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.

1    Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,

From the Prologue of Ohrid

September 20 

1. The Holy Great-martyr Eustathius (Placidas) 

Eustathius was a great Roman general during the reigns of Emperors Titus and Trajan. Though he was a pagan, Placidas (for that was his pagan name) was a just and merciful man, similar to Cornelius the Centurion, who was baptized by the Apostle Peter (Acts 10). Out hunting one day, he pursued a stag. By God’s providence, a cross appeared between the antlers of the stag and the voice of the Lord came to Placidas, directing him to go to a Christian priest and become baptized. Placidas was baptized, along with his wife and two sons. At baptism, he received the name Eustathius; his wife, Theopiste (“ faithful to God”); and his sons, Agapitus and Theopistus. After his baptism, he returned to the place where he had experienced the revelation of the stag and, kneeling, gave thanks to God that He had brought him to the truth. Just then, the voice of the Lord again manifested itself to him, foretold that he would suffer for His name, and strengthened him. Then Eustathius secretly left Rome with his family, intending to hide among the simple people and serve God in humble and unknown surroundings. Arriving in Egypt, he was immediately beset by trials. An evil barbarian abducted his wife, and both of his sons were seized by wild beasts and carried away. However, the barbarian soon lost his life, and the children were saved from the wild beasts by shepherds. Eustathius settled in the Egyptian village of Vadisis and lived there for fifteen years as a hired laborer. Then barbarians attacked the Roman Empire, and Emperor Trajan grieved that he did not have the brave General Placidas, who had carried the victory whenever he fought. The emperor sent two of his officers to seek the great commander throughout the empire. By God’s providence, these officers (who were once companions of Eustathius), came to the village of Vadisis, found Eustathius and brought him back to the emperor. Eustathius amassed an army and defeated the barbarians. On the way back to Rome, Eustathius found his wife and both sons. Meanwhile, Emperor Trajan had died and Emperor Hadrian was on the throne. When Hadrian summoned General Eustathius to offer sacrifices to the gods, Eustathius declined, declaring himself a Christian. The emperor subjected him and his wife and sons to torture. They were thrown to the wild beasts, but this did them no harm. Then they were cast into a red-hot metal ox. On the third day their dead bodies were removed, but they were unharmed by the fire. Thus, this glorious commander rendered unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s (Luke 20: 25), and took up his habitation in the Eternal Kingdom of Christ our God. St. Eustathius (fresco in Protat, Mount Athos, 14th c.) 

2. Saint Michael the Prince and Saint Theodore the Boyar 

Prince Michael of Chernigov visited the Tartar horde with Theodore, his Boyar, at the invitation of Khan Batu. Since they refused to follow the Tartar custom of passing through fire and worshiping idols before gaining audience with the king, they were beheaded. This occurred in the year 1244. Their relics, witnesses of their martyric death for Christ the Lord, repose in the Church of the Archangel in Moscow. 

3. The Venerable Martyr Hilarion

Hilarion was an Athonite monk. He willingly suffered for the Christian Faith at the hands of the Turks in Constantinople on September 20, 1804. His miracle-working relics repose in the Church of the Transfiguration on the island of Proti. 

HYMN OF PRAISE The Holy Great-martyr Eustathius 

Eustathius, a wonder among generals, Gave his life for the Living Lord. Authority and glory and royal honor He discarded as refuse and chaff, For the sake of Christ, the Immortal King, For the sake of true eternal life. When the voice of Jesus greeted him, He was infused with ardent love For Christ the All-glorious God— The All-glorious Lover of Mankind. That voice remained deep in his soul, And the world could not drown it out; And the radiant cross which the general saw, Never left his soul. The Cross gave him wondrous fearlessness. The Cross saved him from the enemy’s power, And saved his spouse, faithful as a rock, And his children, heroic and virtuous. Eustathius gave his body over to the fire, And his blessed spirit to the Lord. O Eustathius, glorious martyr, Invincible soldier of Christ, Help and strengthen the Church of God That the malicious demon not slander it. Let the Church shine as a star, And glorify her Sun, Christ. 

REFLECTION 

Suicide is a mortal sin and an act of defiance against the Holy Spirit, Who gives life. Suicide is a much greater sin than murder, since for the sin of murder a man can still repent; but for the sin of suicide there is no repentance. Here are two examples of overwhelming misfortune, in the face of which a fainthearted man would commit suicide, yet in which holy men of God showed themselves to be heroes. St. Eustathius found himself in the following predicament: he left one of his sons on the bank of a river, while he carried the other son to the opposite bank and returned for the first son. Halfway back across the river, he saw that a lion had seized his son and carried him away. He looked at the other bank and saw a wolf seize the second son and carry him away. A fainthearted man in such a situation would have drowned himself in the water, and made an end to his life. Even though drowning in sorrow, Eustathius did not commit suicide, but with hope in God lived as a hireling for fifteen years. This patient man lived to see his two sons again. Thus, God rewarded his faith and patience. As a young man, St. Hilarion was forced to become a Moslem, but his conscience began to torment him cruelly, and he had no peace at all. He returned to the Christian Faith, was tonsured a monk, and gave his body over to intense fasting and every difficult ascetic labor. Even so, his peace of soul did not return to him. A fainthearted man of little faith would have committed suicide. But Hilarion chose an incomparably better path. He went to Constantinople with his spiritual father Bessarion, and not only openly confessed the Christian Faith at the sultan’s court, but even counseled him to go to Russia and be baptized. After being subjected to mockery and torture, this courageous young man was beheaded, and God glorified him both in heaven and on earth. Even today, his holy relics are miracle-working. But where is the glory of those who commit suicide? Where are their relics? 

CONTEMPLATION 

Contemplate the righteousness of King Jehoshaphat, and God’s reward (II Chronicles 17): 

1. How Jehoshaphat was zealous for God’s truth, and how he destroyed the idols in his land; 

2. How God granted him riches, glory, peace and victory over his enemies. 

HOMILY on the only Way, Truth and Life

I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me (John 14: 6) Brethren, these words were not merely spoken, but were soaked with blood, confirmed by the Resurrection, instilled by the Holy Spirit in the hearts of the faithful, and proven again and again by the Church through ages and ages. Of all the treasures on earth, men love life the most— and they love life more than they do truth, even though there is no life without truth. Thus, the highest good is life, but truth is the foundation of life. He who loves life, must also love truth. But where is the way to truth? Our Lord says: I am the Way. He did not say: “I am a way,” so that none would think there is another way to truth besides the Lord Jesus. And He is not only the Way, but also the Truth and the Life, so that none would think that there is some other truth and some other life besides the Lord Jesus. For this He was born as a man, to show men the way; for this He was crucified, to mark the way by His blood. No man cometh unto the Father, but by Me. This addresses those who deceive themselves by thinking that they can know God and acquire the Kingdom of God without the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord entirely cut off this false hope and desperate self-deception by these words. The apostle who heard and wrote these words in the Gospel, expressed them in his Epistle in this way: Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father (I John 2: 23). O Blessed Lord Jesus Christ, Source of all blessings— truly Thou art for us the only Way, the only Light, the only Truth, the only Life and Life-giver. We acknowledge Thee before men and angels as our only God and Savior. Have mercy on us and save us. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

 

Velimirovic, Saint Nikolai. The Prologue of Ohrid (Kindle Locations 19715-19792). Sebastian Press Publishing House. Kindle Edition. 

 

Happy Name Day Archangel Gabriel

Orthodox Saints of the day:

Our fine art icon print of the Synaxis of the Holy Archangel Gabriel in English.

Our fine art icon print of the Synaxis of the Holy Archangel Gabriel in English.

Synaxis of the Holy Archangel Gabriel.

Also on this day:

Venerable Stephen of St. Sabbas' Monastery (794).
St. Julian, bishop of Cenomanis (Le Mans) in Gaul (1st c.).
Martyr Serapion, under Severus (193).
Martyr Marcian of Iconium (258).
Translation of the relics (1620) Venarable Anthony Leokhnovsky (1611).
Venerable Abbess Sarah of Seeds in Libya (370).
Venerable Just, monk in Cornwall (5th c.) (Celtic & British).
Venerable Mildred, abbess of Minster in Thanet (England) (700) (Celtic & British).
Synaxis of Hilandar Saints, Mt. Athos (Greek).
Virgin-martyr Juthwara of Cornwall.