St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints. Nov. 7/Oct. 25
3rd Week after Pentecost. Tone 5. No fast.
Martyrs Marcian and Martyrius the Notaries, of Constantinople (355). St. Tabitha, the widow resurrected by Apostle Peter (1st c.). Martyr Anastasius the Fuller, at Salona in Dalmatia (3rd c.). St. Martyrius, deacon, and St. Martyrius, recluse, of the Kiev Caves (13th-14th c.). St. Matrona (Vlasova) the Confessor, of Diveyevo (1963). St. Front, bishop of Perigueux (2nd c.). Martyr Miniatus of Florence (251). Sts. Crispinus and Crispinianus, Romans, martyred under Diocletian at Soissons (289). St. George, bishop of Amastris (ca. 805). St. Macarius, bishop of Paphos on Cyprus.
Scriptures for Today:
1 Thessalonians 1:6-10
And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe. For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything. For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples." So He said to them, "When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one." And He said to them, "Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves; 'for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him'; and he will answer from within and say, 'Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you'? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs. So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures:
Tuesday. [I Thess. 1:6-10; Luke 11:1-10]
The Lord gave a common prayer for everyone, combining in it all of our needs, spiritual and bodily, inner and outer, eternal and temporal. But since it is impossible to include everything which one has to pray to God about in life in only one prayer, a rule is given after the common prayer for private requests about something: Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. So it is done in the Church of God: Christians pray in common about common needs, but each privately sets his own needs and requirements before the Lord. We pray in common in churches according to established rites, which are nothing other than the Lord’s Prayer which has been explained and presented in various ways; while privately, at home, everyone asks the Lord about his own things in whatever way he can. Even in church one can pray about one’s own concerns, and at home one can pray with a common prayer. We must concern ourselves about only one thing: that when we stand at prayer, at home or in church, we have true prayer in our soul, true turning and lifting up of our mind and heart to God. Let everyone do this as he is able. Do not stand like a statue, and do not mutter the prayers like a street organ wound up, playing songs. As long as you stand like that, and as long as you mumble the prayers, you are without prayer, the mind wandering and the heart full of vain feelings. If you already stand in prayer and are adjusted to it, is it difficult for you to draw your mind and heart there as well? Draw them there, even if they have become unyielding. Then true prayer will form and will attract God’s mercy, and God’s promise to prayer: ask and it will be given, it will be fulfilled. Often it is not given because there is no petition, but only a posture of petitioning.
Prologue of Ohrid for Today:
1. The Holy Martyrs Marcian and Martyrius
These saints of God were clergymen under Paul, the Patriarch of Constantinople, during the reign of Emperor Constantius. With the death of the great Emperor Constantine, the Arian heresy, which until then had been suppressed, revived and gained momentum. Even Emperor Constantius himself leaned toward this heresy. There were two influential noblemen at the emperor’s court, Eusebius and Philip, both of whom were ardent Arians. Under their influence, Patriarch Paul was ousted from the patriarchal throne and banished to Armenia, where the Arians strangled him. Then the dishonorable Macedonius seized the patriarchal throne. At that time Orthodoxy had two bitter struggles: against the pagans and against the heretics. Marcian and Martyrius interceded with all their strength and determination on the side of Orthodoxy. Marcian was a reader and Martyrius was a subdeacon at the cathedral church of Hagia Sophia; under Patriarch Paul they had been patriarchal notaries (secretaries). The Arians at first tried to bribe them, but when these holy men rejected this with scorn, the heretics condemned them to death. When they were brought to the executioner, they raised their hands and prayed to God, giving Him thanks for a martyr’s end to their lives: “Lord, we rejoice that we depart from this life by such a death. Make us worthy to be partakers of eternal life. Thou art our life!” They placed their necks beneath the sword and were beheaded in the year 355. Later, St. John Chrysostom built a church in their name over their miracle-working relics. The Holy Martyrs Marcian and Martyrius (by N. Kacuros)
2. The Holy Martyr Anastasius
He was a cloth-maker and a zealous Christian. During Diocletian’s persecution of Christians, this man of God appeared before the judge in the Dalmatian town of Solin, and confessed his faith in Christ. He was inhumanly tortured and slain, and his body was thrown into the sea but was later found and honorably buried. 3. Saint Tabitha St. Tabitha (which means “gazelle”) was a disciple of the apostles and lived in Joppa. She was full of good works and almsdeeds (Acts 9: 36), but suddenly became weak and died. The Apostle Peter was then in the town of Lydda, and the grieving disciples sent for him, imploring him to comfort her kinsmen. Upon his arrival, the great Apostle of Christ told everyone to leave the room where the corpse lay, then knelt in prayer. Then, turning to the body, he said: Tabitha, arise (Acts 9: 40) and Tabitha opened her eyes and stood up. Many believed in the Lord Jesus Christ because of this wonderful miracle.
HYMN OF PRAISE Saint Tabitha
Tabitha died, not that she might no longer live, But that the world might be astonished at the miracle which came to pass. Beside her deathbed Peter humbly knelt, And uttered fervent prayer unto the Lord. She was resurrected in body! And the unbelievers heard How the Lord hearkened to the apostle’s prayer And returned the living soul to the dead body. And Peter turned the unbelievers to the Faith. O wondrous miracle, of a kind unknown in the world! By the name of Christ, death was conquered. Death was conquered, and life rejoices. The young Tabitha rejoices in life; And, more than in her own life, She rejoices that she served as a wonder to the unbelieving world. She was resurrected in body! The unbelievers heard, And their own souls were raised from the dead. O great Peter, servant of Christ, Pray to our Savior for us; Resurrect our souls, buried in the mud— You, who revived Tabitha by the power of God.
Among other mysterious perceptions from the world of spirits, the saints also had perceptions of sweet fragrances from good spirits and foul stenches from impure spirits. During every appearance of luminous, pure spirits, a life-giving and sweet fragrance wafted about; and during every appearance of dark and impure spirits, a suffocating, unbearable stench filled the air. The saints were able to discern which passion possessed a man by the kind of stench he emanated. Thus it was that St. Euthymius the Great recognized the stench of the passion of adultery in the monk Emilian of the Lavra of St. Theoctistus. Going to Matins one morning, Euthymius passed by Emilian’s cell and smelled the stench of the demon of adultery. Emilian had not committed any physical sin, but had adulterous thoughts that were being forced into his heart by the demon, and the saint already sensed it by its smell. The power of this perception once revealed itself even more wondrously in St. Hilarion the Great. A certain avaricious miser had sent some of his vegetables to Hilarion. When they were brought to Hilarion for a meal, the saint said: “Take these away from here. I cannot stand the stench that comes from these vegetables! Do you not smell how they reek of avarice?” When the brethren were amazed by these words, Hilarion told them to take the vegetables to the oxen, and they would see that not even the oxen would eat them. Indeed, the oxen merely sniffed at them, and turned their heads away in disgust.
Contemplate God’s miraculous revelation to the Apostle Peter (Acts 11):
1. How Peter saw the heavens open and a sheet full of all kinds of animals, beasts, creeping things and birds, being lowered to him;
2. How he heard a voice: Arise, Peter; slay and eat! (Acts 11: 7);
3. How this admonished him to attend even to the pagans and preach the Gospel to them.
HOMILY on fleeing the world and dwelling in the wilderness
Lo, then would I flee afar off, and remain in the wilderness (Psalm 55: 7) Brethren, from whom did the prophet flee into the wilderness? From evil adversaries, from passions, and from vanity. Why did he flee into the wilderness? Because that is the way of victory over wicked adversaries, passions, and the vanity of the world. Very few choose the wilderness: that is why he fled into the wilderness. Men fight over cities and lands, over authority and wealth, but not over the wilderness. In the cities, the inner adversaries of man— the passions and diverse vanities— constantly are aroused with new fire, while in the wilderness they fade and vanish. Before he spoke of fleeing, the prophet said, And the terrors of death have fallen upon me (Psalm 55: 4); this is the reason to flee into the wilderness. One should prepare his soul for the other world, for the encounter with God. Not even a king can save himself from death or avoid judgment. Living in constant luxury and merriment, man is indeed as if lulled to sleep by the strong drink of this world. But then, in the midst of luxury and merriment, the thought of death tugs at him and awakens him. Oh, I must die! I must leave this world! I must come before God and before the angels! Where is my soul? Where are my deeds? With what shall I leave this world, and with what shall I enter into the next world? Thousands upon thousands of those who have been awakened from sinful sleep by such questions have fled to the wilderness and, day and night, they amend their souls and purify their hearts by repentance, prayer, fasting, vigils, labor and other proven means by which man kills the fear of death, and becomes adopted by God. O Lord Jesus Christ, our Most-wise and Most-gracious Teacher, Who Thyself at times withdrew from men into solitude, help us to be collected in soul and prepare ourselves for Thy Most-glorious Kingdom. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.