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.
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.
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.
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.