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.
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.”
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.