St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints Oct. 23/Oct 10
21st Week after Pentecost. Tone 3. No fast.
Saints for the Day:
Martyrs Eulampius and Eulampia and 200 martyrs with them, at Nicomedia (303-311). St. Ambrose, elder, of Optina Monastery (1891). St. Innocent, bishop of Penza (1819). Martyr Theotecnus of Antioch (3rd-4th c.). St. Bassian of Constantinople (ca. 458). St. Theophilus the Confessor, of Bulgaria (716). Blessed Andrew of Totma (Vologda), fool-for-Christ (1673). Synaxis of the Saints of Volhynia: Sts. Stephen (1094) and Amphilochius (1122), bishops of Vladimir in Volhynia; St. Yaropolk-Peter, prince of Vladimir in Volhynia (1086); St. Theodore (in monasticism Theodosius) of the Kiev Caves, prince of Ostrog in Volhynia (1483); St. Juliana, princess of Olshansk (ca. 1540); St. Job, abbot and wonderworker of Pochaev (1651); and Hieromartyr Macarius of Kanev, archimandrite, of Obruch and Pinsk (1678). New Hieromartyr Theodore (Pozdeyevsky), archbishop of Volokolamsk (1937). Zographou Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “Of the Akathist.” St. Pinytus, bishop of Knossos on Crete (2nd c.). Martyrs of the Theban Legion, along the Rhine: Sts. Cassius and Florentius, at Bonn; Sts. Gereon and companions, at Cologne; and Sts. Victor and companions, at Xanten (Germany) (ca. 287). St. Paulinus, archbishop of York (644). Martyrdom of the 26 Martyrs of Zographou Monastery on Mt. Athos by the Latins: Abbot Thomas, Monks Barsanuphius, Cyril, Micah, Simon, Hilarion, Job, James, Cyprian, Sabbas, James, Martinian, Cosmas, Sergius, Paul, Menas, Ioasaph, Ioannicius, Anthony, Euthymius, Dometian, and Parthenius, and four laymen (1284). Repose of Schemamonk Theodore, desert-dweller of Valaam (1834).
Scriptures for the Day:
But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress. Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar's household. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee's house, and sat down to eat. And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, "This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner." And Jesus answered and said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." So he said, "Teacher, say it." There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more? Simon answered and said, "I suppose the one whom he forgave more." And He said to him, "You have rightly judged." Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little. Then He said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" Then He said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you. Go in peace."
St. Theophan on Today’s Scriptures:
Monday. [Phil. 4:10-23; Luke 7:36-50] How could it be that although Simon the Pharisee reveres the Lord and invites Him over, he is scandalized when he sees that He shows favour toward a sinful woman and permits her to approach Him? Why does he think to himself, “If He were a prophet,” and so forth? Because he had busied himself with the entertaining, and therefore ignored a sensible understanding of how God does things. These two realms, worldly and spiritual, are completely completely different characteristics and laws. Our mind all the while judges its own preoccupations according to the laws of those preoccupations. According to worldly thinking, one must not have contact with an obviously sinful woman. Simon judges thus, forgetting that repentance makes everyone pure and puts sinners on one level with the righteous. He thinks that the sinful woman should not be there, and that if the Saviour does not chase her away, it is probably because He does not know who she is. Another thought immediately follows this one: If He does not know that she is sinful, then what kind of prophet is He? He did not say this in words, but only thought it, although there was no change in his appearance outwardly. But the Lord saw his heart and corrected him accordingly. He suggested to him that sinners also have a place beside Him, and that the sinful woman who united with Him in her heart, revered Him more than did Simon, who honoured Him with nothing but food. Externals lead a person to a feeling of self-righteousness unpleasant to the Lord, while inner things always preserve a feeling of unworthiness before the face of the omniscient Lord.
From the Prologue of Ohrid:
1. The Holy Martyrs Eulampius and Eulampia
They were brother and sister from Nicomedia. During one of the terrible persecutions of Christians by Maximian some of the faithful fled Nicomedia and hid. The young Eulampius was sent into the city to buy bread. There he saw the imperial edict decreeing the persecution of Christians posted on a wall. He laughed at it, removed it, and tore it up. He was arrested and immediately brought before the judge. When the judge advised him to deny Christ, Eulampius counseled the judge to reject the false idols and to acknowledge Christ as the One Living God. The judge ordered that he be flogged for a long time until his blood flowed, and that he be tormented with other cruel tortures. Hearing of her brother’s suffering, the virgin Eulampia came running, and she, together with her brother, suffered for Christ. She was flogged until blood flowed from her nose and mouth. After that, they were thrown into boiling pitch, and then into a red-hot furnace, but by the power of the sign of the Cross and the name of Christ, they rendered the fire harmless. Finally Eulampius was beheaded, but Eulampia died before being beheaded. Two hundred other Christians were also slain, who had come to believe in Christ upon witnessing the power and miracles of St. Eulampius and his sister. All were crowned with martyrs’ wreaths, and passed over into their eternal heavenly homeland. The Holy Martyrs Eulampius and Eulampia (Menologion of Basil II, 11th c.)
2. The Holy Martyrs of Zographou
When Emperor Michael Palaeologus contracted the infamous Union of Lyons with the pope, in order to obtain help from the West against the Bulgarians and Serbs, the monks of the Holy Mountain sent a protest to the emperor against this Union, imploring him to reject it and return to Orthodoxy. The pope dispatched an army to help the emperor. The Latin army entered the Holy Mountain and committed such barbarism as the Turks had never committed in five hundred years. Having hanged the Protaton****), and having killed many monks in Vatopedi, Iveron and other monasteries, the Latins attacked Zographou. The blessed Abbot Thomas warned the brethren that whoever wished to be spared from the Latins should flee from the monastery, and that whoever desired a martyr’s death should remain. And so, twenty-six men remained: the abbot, twenty-one monks, and four laymen who served as laborers for the monastery. They all closed themselves in the monastery’s tower. When the Latins arrived, they set fire to the tower and these twenty-six heroes of Christ found a martyr’s death in the fire. While the tower was burning, they chanted the Psalms and the Akathist to the Most-holy Mother of God. They gave their holy souls to God on October 10, 1283. In December of the same year, the dishonorable Emperor Michael died in poverty, when the Serbian King Milutin rose up against him in defense of Orthodoxy.
3. The Venerable Theophilus the Confessor
Theophilus was a Macedonian Slav from somewhere near Strumica. He was tonsured a monk when still young, and founded his own monastery. He suffered much for the icons during the reign of Leo the Isaurian, and would have been slain on one occasion, had he not succeeded in convincing Governor Hypaticus, his judge, of the principle and need for the veneration of icons. The governor freed him. Theophilus returned to his monastery, where he reposed peacefully in the year 716, and entered into the joy of his Lord.
4. The Holy Martyr Theotecnus
He was a Roman officer in Antioch during the reign of Emperor Maximian. When the emperor urged him to sacrifice to the idols, he replied: “I believe in Christ God, and to Him will I offer myself as a sacrifice— a living sacrifice.” After cruel tortures, he was drowned by being thrown into the sea with a stone around his neck. He suffered honorably for Christ and was crowned with the wreath of martyrdom.
5. The Venerable Bassian
During the reign of the right-believing Emperor Marcian, this saint came to Constantinople from Anatolia in the year 450. Great was his asceticism, and great was the wonderworking power that God bestowed upon him. Bassian had about three hundred disciples. Among them was St. Matrona. Emperor Marcian built a church in Bassian’s name, which still exists today. HYMN OF PRAISE The Holy Martyrs of Zographou Heroes of Zographou, knights of truth, Sacrificed themselves for the Orthodox Faith, And shamed the proud, shameless Latins, As their souls rose up to the Kingdom of God. The tower’s flames mounted up to heaven, As the monks in the fire sent up praise to God! Heaven with its angels beheld that spectacle, As the criminals crawled about like worms below the tower. In the flames, Abbot Thomas, a true parent, Encouraged his brethren, and began the Psalms: He who glorifies the Lord does not fear death, And he who dies for God will not perish. The sacrifice is offered, and the altar of oblation remains: The bodies were burned, the souls flew off, And by that sacrifice, Zographou increased in glory With magnificence eternal and true. St. George the knight, cherishes his knights*****) As the Mother of God cherishes all heavenly citizens. In these knights of righteousness, the Church rejoices: They are her children, her fruitful branches.
By God’s providence, the greatest number of miracles and heavenly manifestations occur during the martyrdom of His servants. On the day that the Latins set out for the Monastery of Zographou, an old monk had an obedience in a vineyard half an hour’s distance from the monastery. At the prescribed time, he read the Akathist before the icon of the Mother of God. However, when he began to pronounce the word “Rejoice!” a voice came to him from the icon: “Do thou also rejoice, O elder! Flee from here now, or misfortune will befall thee; go and tell the brethren of the monastery to lock themselves in, for the God-opposing Latins have attacked this, my chosen Mountain, and are already near.” The frightened elder fell to his knees and cried out in fear: “How can I leave thee here, my Queen and Intercessor?” At this he again heard the voice: “Do not worry about me, but go quickly!” The elder went to the monastery immediately. But when he reached the monastery gates he beheld that same icon of the Mother of God. In a miraculous manner, the icon had preceded him to the monastery. The amazed elder related all that had been revealed to him to the abbot and the brethren. At that, all of them glorified God and the Mother of God. Once, during the celebration of the Feast of the twenty-six martyrs of Zographou, on October 10, 1873, there was a great all-night vigil. It was a moonless night. In the middle of the night, while the monks were chanting and reading the lives of the holy martyrs in the church, a noise was suddenly heard, and over the church a fiery pillar appeared, extending from earth to heaven. It was so bright that things at a distance could be seen as though it were midday. This wondrous manifestation lasted for about a quarter of an hour and then disappeared.
Contemplate God’s miraculous appearance to the Prophet Elias (I Kings 19):
1. How Elias, fatigued by the unrighteousness of the people, prayed to God to grant him death;
2. How God comforted Elias by His appearing on Horeb;
3. How there was a strong wind, then an earthquake, then fire, and finally a still, small voice— the voice of God.
HOMILY on the sufferings of David and the prophecy of the sufferings of Christ
For many dogs have surrounded Me; the congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet (Psalm 22: 16) This is the mystical experience of the penitent David, and, at the same time, a clear prophecy of Christ’s sufferings. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (II Timothy 3: 12), says the Apostle Paul. When King David sinned, the devils did not appear to him nor did they disturb him; but when he began to repent and to direct his life on the path of God, then the devils surrounded him and tormented him. The words here are not about men but about demons, who sometimes attack the penitent directly, or torment him through other men. David would not have called God’s people, the crown of God’s creation, “dogs.” Rather, he called the demons “dogs,” who are perceived by righteous men as dogs, snakes, black men, lions, or in some other form. That he here means “dogs” as evil spirits can be proven by the written lives of the great ascetics, to whom the demons appeared in the form of dogs and other animals, to frighten them. We can also be convinced of this from the words of the Lord our Savior, that He spoke from the Cross: Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do (Luke 23: 34). This means that the Jews were not doing their own will but rather someone else’s: the demons’ will. For many dogs and the congregation of the wicked gathered to destroy Christ the Lord. When the devil— the tempter— could not defeat the Lord on the Mount of Temptation by his false promises, he began with all his might to destroy Him through men by a dishonorable death on the Cross. Brethren, see how clear the prophecy is! They pierced My hands and My feet. These words could not have pertained to anyone else, in the entire history of the world, but the crucified Savior. This prophecy continues in great detail: They divided My garments among them and for My vesture they cast lots (Psalm 22: 18). Everything happened as it was prophesied— everything! But the devil was deluded in his reckoning. He thought he could destroy the One mightier than death, by condemning Him to death. He thought to dishonor Him Who alone gives honor to all creation. By his glorious Resurrection, the Lord Jesus Christ conquered and shamed the devil and his entire pack of dogs, and gave man power and authority over them. The whole pagan world was unable to exorcize even one single demon; but we, by the name of Christ and by the power of His Cross, are able to disperse legions of demons like smoke— for, after Christ’s victory, the demons became like whipped and frightened dogs. O Lord, Conqueror and Savior, to Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.