St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints. Nov. 13/Oct. 31
24th Week after Pentecost. Tone 6. Fast-free period.
Apostles of the Seventy Stachys, Amplias, Urban, Narcissus, Apelles, and Aristobulus (1st c.). Martyr Epimachus of Pelusium, at Alexandria (ca. 250). St. Maura of Constantinople (436). Sts. Spyridon and Nicodemus the Prosphorabakers, of the Kiev Caves (12th c.). St. Anatolius, recluse of the Near Caves in Kiev (12th c.). 100,000 Martyrs of Tbilisi slain under Jalal al-Din (1227). New Hieromartyr John Kochurov, archpriest, of Chicago and St. Petersburg (1917). New Hieromartyr Leonid (Molchanov), abbot, of the Sovlvychegodsk Monastery (Vologda) (1918). New Hieromartyrs Euphrosynus (Antonov), hieromonk of the Seven Lakes Monastery (Kazan), Anatole (Botvinnikov), hieromonk, of Dubrovskoye (Tver), and Innocent (Mazurin), hierodeacon, of Buigorod (Volokolamsk) (1938). Martyr Quentin of Rome (3rd-4th c.). Martyrs Epimachus the Roman and his companion Gordian (361-363). St. James, bishop of Mygdonia (4th c.). Monk-martyr Foillan, Irish missionary, of Burgh Castle (East Anglia) and Fosse (Gaul) (655). New Martyr Nicholas of Chios (1754).
Scriptures for Today:
1 Thessalonians 2:20-3:8
For you are our glory and joy. Therefore, when we could no longer endure it, we thought it good to be left in Athens alone, and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith, that no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this. For, in fact, we told you before when we were with you that we would suffer tribulation, just as it happened, and you know. For this reason, when I could no longer endure it, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter had tempted you, and our labor might be in vain. But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always have good remembrance of us, greatly desiring to see us, as we also to see you- therefore, brethren, in all our affliction and distress we were comforted concerning you by your faith. For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord.
And while the crowds were thickly gathered together, He began to say, "This is an evil generation. It seeks a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. For as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation. The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here. No one, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a secret place or under a basket, but on a lampstand, that those who come in may see the light.
St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures:
Monday. [I Thess. 2:20-3:8; Luke 11:29-33]
The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgement with the men of this generation, and condemn them. For what? For indifference to the work accomplished by the Lord before their eyes. That queen, upon hearing about Solomon’s wisdom, came from afar to hear him, but these men, having before their face the Lord Himself, did not heed Him, although it was obvious that He was higher than Solomon, as the sky is higher than the earth. And the queen of the south condemns everyone who is indifferent to God’s works, because the Lord always, even among us, is as obviously present in the Gospel accounts as He was then. Reading the Gospels we have before our eyes the Lord with all of His marvellous works, for they are as doubtless as the testimony of one’s own eyes. Meanwhile, what is more attentive to the Lord as that which is impressed upon our souls? We have closed our eyes or turned them the other way; this is why we do not see; and not seeing, we do not devote ourselves to works of the Lord. However, this is no excuse, but rather the reason behind our unheedfulness, which is as criminal as what comes from it. The work of the Lord is our top priority—that is, the salvation of the soul. Furthermore, we should heed what comes from the Lord even if it is not directly related to us; ever more so should we heed what is directed at us for the accomplishment of our essential work, the significance of which extends throughout eternity. Judge for yourselves how criminal it is to disregard such a matter!
Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Saints:
The Holy Apostles Stachys, Amplias, Urban, Narcissus, Apelles and Aristobulus
1. They were all of the Seventy. Stachys was an assistant to St. Andrew the First-called. St. Andrew appointed him Bishop of Byzantium. He established the church in Argyropolis and governed his flock faithfully and zealously. After sixteen years as bishop, he entered peacefully into rest in the Lord. Amplias and Urban worked likewise with St. Andrew, and were ordained bishops by him— Amplias in Lydda of Odyssopolis in Judea, and Urban in Macedonia. Both died as martyrs for Christ the Lord. Narcissus was appointed Bishop of Athens by the Apostle Philip. St. Apelles was Bishop of Heraclea in Trachis. Aristobulus, brother of the Apostle Barnabas, preached the Christian Faith in Britain and reposed peacefully there.
2. The Holy Martyr Epimachus
He was born in Egypt and labored there in asceticism, ending his earthly life as a martyr. Imitating St. John the Baptist, he withdrew to the wilderness while still a youth. Because of his great love for God, the Spirit of God led him to every truth and, with no other teacher, taught him how to live a life of asceticism. Then, Epimachus learned that the unbelievers were torturing and killing Christians in Alexandria for the sake of Christ. All aflame with zeal for the Faith, he went to the city and smashed the idols. When the pagans tortured him for this, he cried out: “Smite me, spit on me, put a crown of thorns on my head, put a reed in my hand, give me gall to drink, crucify me on a cross, and pierce me with a spear! This is what my Lord endured, and I too want to endure it.” In the crowd of people who witnessed the torturing of St. Epimachus, there was a woman who was blind in one eye. She wept bitterly, watching the heartless torture of this God-pleaser. When the tormentors scraped the body of the holy martyr of Christ, blood spurted from him, and one drop of blood touched the blind eye of that woman. Suddenly, her blind eye regained vision, and was as whole as the other. Then she cried out: “Great is the God in whom this sufferer believes!” After this they beheaded St. Epimachus and his soul took up habitation in eternal joy, in about the year 250. St. Epimachus (fresco in St. John Monastery, Patmos, Greece, 12th c.)
3. The Holy Martyr Nicholas of Chios
Nicholas was a pious youth and a great zealot for the Christian Faith. He was born in the village of Karyes on the island of Chios, where he was tortured and beheaded by the Turks in the year 1754, and gave his righteous soul to God.
4. The Venerable Spyridon and Nicodemus
They were monks and prosphora-bakers in the Monastery of the Kiev Caves. Though illiterate, Spyridon knew the entire Psalter by heart and worked many miracles during his lifetime. He entered into rest in the year 1148. HYMN OF PRAISE The Holy Martyr Epimachus Epimachus, the saint of God, Felt no fear in his heart, Either of men or of devils, And even less of dead idols. Epimachus rejoiced in his torture; With his smile he whipped the judge. His body in torment, his mind in heaven, Epimachus was adorned with wounds. He wanted to suffer like Christ, To stand as a martyr before Christ— And what he desired, God gave him, And endowed him with wondrous power To heal the infirmities of the people, And to gladden men with grace. A knight of Christ with the sign of the Cross, A precious stone among precious stones, Epimachus shines like a star— A soul such as only Christ can raise. O Epimachus, wondrous martyr And glorious prisoner of the true Faith: Defend us from evil by your prayers, And protect the Church of God unto the end.
And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after Me, is not worthy of Me, said the Lord (Matthew 10: 38). The holy and venerable Martyr Timothy of Esphigmenou (October 29) was at first a married man and had two daughters. Later, as a monk, he decided to suffer for the sake of Christ. Already prepared for the path of suffering, he begged the abbot for a blessing to stop by his village of Kessana to say farewell to his daughters. The abbot would not allow him to do that out of fear that a meeting with his two daughters would soften him, and turn him away from martyrdom for the Faith. But Kessana lay on the road to Propontis, where Timothy was headed. When he got to his village, he met a former neighbor, conversed with him and gave him a farewell message for his daughters. In vain, the neighbor begged him to stay and see his daughters, and rest. Timothy went hurriedly on his way. The daughters heard about their father from the neighbor and ran to see him. And now was seen a rare and majestic sight. The daughters raced to overtake and embrace their father, while the father fled from his daughters, so as not to transgress the command of his abbot. The daughters ran quickly but their father ran even faster. The daughters hurried to embrace their father, and Timothy, fleeing from them, hurried to embrace death. The daughters became weary and turned back in despair, and their father disappeared. Before his death Timothy begged his spiritual father, Germanus, to stop by his village and inform his daughters of his end by martyrdom. The Turks then beheaded Timothy and threw his body into a river. Germanus succeeded in retrieving just one garment from the martyr. He brought it to Kessana, found Timothy’s daughters and related their father’s heroic death to them, and showed them his garment.
Contemplate the miraculous guidance of the apostles by the Holy Spirit (Acts 16):
1. How Paul and Silas wanted to go from Mysia to Bithynia;
2. How the Spirit would not allow it;
3. How, in a vision at midnight, a Macedonian man appeared to Paul and summoned him to come to Macedonia.
on the certainty of the righteous one that he shall not die I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord (Psalm 117: 17) Who can say: I shall not die? He who cleaves to the Living Lord. Who can confirm with confidence: but [I shall] live? He who sees the Living Lord before him. Enoch and Elias did not die, but were taken into eternal life. The Lord took them in His mercy, and as proof to mankind of immortal life. Jesus Christ the Lord died and resurrected in accordance with His power, and as proof to mankind of the resurrection from the dead. The apostles and saints were slain, but many of them appeared from the other world in their love for mankind, and as proof to mankind of eternal life. Thus, those who were taken up to heaven in the flesh and those whose bodies reposed, live with the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ in the Immortal Kingdom. I shall not die, but live, said King David with great certainty, even though he lived on earth before the Resurrection of the Lord, and before the announcement of the General Resurrection of the righteous. With still more certainty, each of us Christians must speak this too: I shall not die, but live, for the resurrected Lord is the foundation of our Faith, and our eyes have seen and our ears have heard more— much more— than the eyes and ears of King David. After the Cross of Christ, the devil became as smoke; and after His Resurrection, death became like a mere fog through which one passes to the sunlit field of immortality. Blessed is he, brethren, who becomes worthy to live, and declare the works of the Lord. O Living Lord, enliven us and save us. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.