St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints. Nov. 6/Oct. 24
23rd Week after Pentecost. Tone 5. No fast.
Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “The Joy of All Who Sorrow” (Moscow) (1688). Martyr Arethas of Omir and 4,299 martyrs with him, including Martyr Syncletica and her two daughters (523). St. Zosima (Verkhovsky), elder, of Siberia (1833). Blessed Elesbaan, king of Ethiopia (553-555). St. Arethas, recluse, of the Kiev Caves (1190). St. Sisoes of the Kiev Caves (13th c.). St. Theophilus the Silent, of the Kiev Caves (12th c.-13th c.). St. Athanasius, patriarch of Constantinople (1311). St. John, recluse, of the Pskov Caves (1616). New Hieromartyrs Lawrence (Knyazev), bishop of Balakhnin, and Alexis Porfiriev, archpriest, and with them New Martyr Alexis Neidhardt (1918). New Hieromartyr Arethas (Mitrenin), hieromonk of Valaam (1932). St. Senoch, abbot, of Tours (Gaul) (576). Repose of Blessed Eudocia of Ryazan (1890) and Hieroschemamonk Barsanuphius of Valaam (1910).
Scriptures for Today:
1 Thessalonians 1:1-5
Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God. For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake.
All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Then He turned to His disciples and said privately, "Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see; for I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and have not seen it, and to hear what you hear, and have not heard it.
St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures:
Monday. [I Thess. 1:1-5; Luke 10:22-24]
No man knoweth…who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him. The Son was on the earth and revealed everything necessary for us Himself and through the Holy Spirit which acted in the apostles. Consequently, what you find in the Gospels and the apostolic writings is all you will and can know about the Father and Godly things. Do not seek more than this, and do not think to find apart from this anywhere else the truth about God and God’s plans. What a great treasure we possess!… Everything has been said already. Do not rack your brains, just accept with faith what has been revealed. It has been revealed that God is one in essence and triune in persons—the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; accept this with faith and uphold it. It has been revealed that the thrice-hypostatical God created all through the word, preserves all in His right hand, and is providential toward everything; accept this with faith and uphold it. It has been revealed that we were in a blessed state and fell, and that for our restoration and redemption the Son of God, the second person of the Most Holy Trinity, was incarnate, suffered, died on the cross, was resurrected and ascended into heaven—accept this with faith and uphold it. It has been revealed that one who desires to be saved must believe in the Lord, and accepting divine grace in the holy mysteries, live, with its help, according to the Lord’s commandments, struggling with the passions and lusts, by means of corresponding spiritual endeavours—accept this with faith and do it. It has been revealed that whosoever lives according to God’s direction enters after their death into bright dwelling places, the pre-beginning of eternal bliss; while whosoever does not live thus, upon death will pre-begin to experience the torments of hell—accept this [revelation] with faith and thus give yourself understanding, and inspire yourself for good and spiritual endeavours. Thus accept all with faith and keep it faithfully. There is no need to rack your brains over your own invented things. Do not listen to those who show off their intelligence—they do not know where they are going.
From the Prologue of Ohrid
1. The Holy Martyr Arethas
This holy martyr suffered for the Christian Faith with over four thousand Christians— priests, monks and nuns, men, women and children. Arethas was the eparch in the town of Nagran, in the southern Arabian land of Omir. He was ninety-five years old when he suffered. Dunaan, a cruel Jewish persecutor of Christians, then governed Omir. Determined to eradicate all Christians from his land, he surrounded the Christian town of Nagran, and sent a message to the people saying he would put them all to death unless they renounced Christ. The citizens closed the gates, and Dunaan attacked the city wall for a long time without success. Then the iniquitous governor swore to the citizens that he would do nothing to them, if only they would open the gate for him to enter and receive the tribute that they owed him— and that he would take it and immediately withdraw. The Christians believed him and opened the gate. Then the oath-breaking Jew summoned the aged Arethas, the clergy and other distinguished citizens and beheaded them all with the sword. He then perpetrated a horrible slaughter in the town. Learning of this, the Byzantine Emperor Justin was greatly grieved, and wrote a letter to the Ethiopian Emperor, Elesbaan, requesting him to set out with an army against Dunaan to avenge the innocent blood of the Christians. Elesbaan obeyed Justin, attacked the governor of Omir with his army, defeated him, slew his entire army, and beheaded him. By a revelation from God, a certain devout man named Abramius was installed as governor of Omir, and again by God’s revelation, St. Gregory of Omir (December 19) was installed as archbishop. Christians rebuilt the Church of the Holy Trinity in Nagran that Dunaan had burned, and also built a church to the Holy Martyr Arethas and the other martyrs of Nagran. St. Arethas and the others suffered and received martyr’s wreaths from the Lord in the year 523. St. Arethas (fresco in Protat, Mount Athos, 14th c.)
2. Saint Elesbaan, King of Ethiopia
Inflamed with zeal for the Christian Faith, this pious king raised an army against the governor Dunaan, the wicked persecutor of Christians in the land of Omir. However, at the battle’s outset, Elesbaan had little success and much of his army perished in the arid desert. He then wept bitterly before God, and vowed to become a monk if God would help him conquer the mortal enemy of Christianity. Defeating Dunaan, Elesbaan returned to Ethiopia, immediately left the imperial court and entered a monastery, where he lived a strict life of asceticism as a true monk for fifteen full years. God endowed him with the grace of miracle-working before and after his death. He entered into rest in the year 555.
3. The Icon of the Holy Theotokos, “Joy of All Who Sorrow”
This name is given to one of the wonderworking icons of the Most-holy Theotokos. On this day the icon is celebrated for the miraculous healing in Moscow, of Euphemia, the sister of Patriarch Joachim, in the year 1688. Euphemia had a serious wound in the side and as the doctors failed in their treatments, she prayed with tears to the Most-holy Theotokos. Then, she heard a voice: “Euphemia, go to the Church of the Transfiguration of my Son; there you will find the icon, ‘Joy of All Who Sorrow.’ Have the priest pray for you before this icon and you will be healed.” Euphemia did so, and was immediately made well. 4. The Venerable Arethas of the Monastery of the Kiev Caves He reposed in the year 1190. (See “Reflection” below.)*****)
HYMN OF PRAISE to the Icon of the Most-holy Theotokos, “Joy of All Who Sorrow”
O Most-holy Mother of God, “Joy of All Who Sorrow,” Grant thy mercy to us sinners. Thy Son now sits on the throne of the Eternal Kingdom, And all our troubles thou seest; thou knowest them as they occur. Thou hast always prayed to Christ God for the faithful, And hast relieved much pain and misery of the sorrowful. O Holy Virgin, never cease, to the end of time, To pray for the salvation of our race. God hast made thee even more glorious than the Seraphim: O hasten to us, O Joy of all who sorrow! REFLECTION When a consecrated person commits a transgression, a greater punishment awaits him than awaits a layman, less enlightened in the mystery of the will of God than he, who commits the same sin. St. Arethas was a monk in the Monastery of the Kiev Caves, and was very avaricious. He would give nothing to anyone of the piles of possessions in his cell, not even a kopeck. But once, he became very seriously ill and saw, as if in a vision, devils snatching his soul from the angels, screaming, “He is ours, he is ours!” and citing as their proof Arethas’s greed and miserliness. Upon his recovery Arethas amended his life, and from then on counted all earthly goods as nothing. Our benevolent God forgave him, and later endowed him with abundant grace. Again, in the monastery where the blessed Emperor Elesbaan reposed, a monk developed the habit of visiting a tavern often, getting drunk there, and even committing immoral acts with women. One day, returning from the tavern, a terrifyingly huge snake began chasing him and gained on him rapidly. In great torment and anguish, the monk cried out: “Depart from me, as you would from the holy and righteous Elesbaan!” Suddenly, the snake stopped. And the monk heard as it were a human voice from the serpent: “An angel of God commanded me to consume you because of your impurity and foulness, for you vowed to serve God in purity, but now you soil your body and anger the Holy Spirit.” The monk vowed never to sin again, returned to the monastery, and sinned no more up to his death. Thus, God rebuked, and showed mercy, by the prayers of the Holy Emperor Elesbaan.
Contemplate Cornelius the Centurion’s wondrous visitation by the angel of God (Acts 10):
1. How, though it was daytime, Cornelius saw in a vision an angel of God who called him by name;
2. How Cornelius was afraid and replied, What is it, Lord?
3. How the angel instructed him to send to Joppa for the Apostle Peter, who would speak to him the words of salvation.
HOMILY on the clear coming of God
Our God shall come and shall not keep silent (Psalm 50: 3) The vocation of a commander is different than the vocation of a judge. The commander does not show himself to his enemy immediately, but allows his enemy to think whatever he wants about him; for the main purpose of the commander is to conquer. The judge, however, immediately shows himself to those whom he has to judge. Then, too, the vocation of a teacher is different than the vocation of a judge. For the teacher, the main purpose is to teach his pupils. That is why he often lowers himself to the level of his students and speaks to them as their friend. A judge, however, from beginning to end, is bound to show himself as nothing other than a judge. The vocation of a physician is different than the vocation of a judge, and the difference in these two vocations can be compared as in the first two instances cited above. Brethren, God appeared to the world in the body of a man. He appeared as a Commander, as a Teacher and as a Physician, but He has not yet appeared as a Judge. In the first instance, He chose to remain silent, and not to openly express His greatest dignity, but rather left His enemies, His pupils and His patients to make their judgments about Him from what they knew. Those who had sound judgment would know Him as God in the flesh by the evidence of His words and by His deeds, by His love for mankind and by the heavenly signs at His birth, Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension. However, those whose minds were darkened by evil passion would not recognize Him or acknowledge Him as God. But when He comes as Judge, then no one will ask “Art Thou He?” or “Who art Thou?” because everyone will know, without any doubt, Who He is. The angels will blow their trumpets before Him; His Cross will shine in the heavens before Him: A fire goes before Him and burns up His enemies round about (Psalm 97: 3). Then both the believers and the unbelievers, the righteous and the unrighteous, will recognize the Judge. Then, only they who recognized Him beforehand as God, in the cave and on the Cross, will rejoice. Truly, they will rejoice: for they shall recognize in the Judge Him for Whom they waged war, Him from Whom they learned, and Him by Whom they were healed. O Most-glorious Savior, have mercy on us and set us aright before Thy Second Coming. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen. *****) In the Greek Synaxarion, the Holy Martyr Sebastiana is also commemorated. She was a disciple of the Apostle Paul and suffered in the reign of Emperor Dometian, in the year 82. She was first tortured in the town of Marcianopolis, where the Apostle Paul appeared to her and said: “Rejoice and do not sorrow, for from here you will go to your town to confess your faith in Christ!” And, indeed, the judge sent her to Heraclea, her place of birth, where she was tortured and finally beheaded. Her relics were placed in a sack and thrown into the sea, but an angel of God carried them to a place called Rhaidestos, where Ammia, the wife of a senator, received and honorably buried them. Sebastiana’s relics streamed myrrh and had the power of healing.