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!
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.”
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.