St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints Oct. 21/Oct 8

20th Week after Pentecost. Tone 2.    No fast.

Saints for the Day:

St. Pelagia the Penitent, of the Mount of Olives (457). St. Dositheus, founder of Verkhneostrov (Pskov) (1482). St. Tryphon, archimandrite, of Vyatka (1612). Synaxis of the Saints of Vyatka.  Virgin-martyr Pelagia of Antioch (303). St. Thais (Taisia) of Egypt (4th c.). St. Anthony, archbishop of Novgorod (1232).  New Hieromartyrs Demetrius (Dobroserdov), archbishop of Mozhaisk, Ambrose (Astakhov), archimandrite, of Aksinyino (Moscow), Pachomius (Turkevich), abbot, of Moscow, and John Khrenov, deacon, and with them Monkmartyr Barlaam, Nun-martyr Tatiana, and Martyrs Nicholas, Maria, and Nadezhda (1937). New Hieromartyr Jonah (Lazarev), bishop of Nevel (Pskov) (1937). New Monk-martyr Ignatius of Bulgaria and Mt. Athos, at Constantinople (1814). St. Triduana of Scotland (4th c. or 8th c.)


Today’s Scriptures:


2 Corinthians 1:8-11

For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us, you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many.


Luke 5:27-32

After these things He went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, "Follow Me."  So he left all, rose up, and followed Him.  Then Levi gave Him a great feast in his own house. And there were a great number of tax collectors and others who sat down with them.  And their scribes and the Pharisees complained against His disciples, saying, "Why do You eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?"  Jesus answered and said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.


St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures:

Saturday. [II Cor. 1:8-11; Luke 5:27-32]       I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. What a consolation for sinners! But it is necessary to leave sins and do only good; and when doing good, to continue to call oneself a sinner not only on the tongue, but in the heart. Do not sin, but as a true sinner repent and call to the Lord for forgiveness. When you will be disposed in such a way, it means that you stand in the truth; as soon as you give way to self-righteousness and start considering yourself sinless, know, that you are turning aside from the right path and have headed toward those for whom there is no salvation. How we can combine a proper life with feelings of sinfulness is something only scribes ask. They write, but do not do. For the one who follows the path of action this is so clear that he cannot understand how it could be any other way.


From the Prologue of Ohrid

1. The Venerable Pelagia 

Pelagia was a repentant sinner. She was born to pagan parents in Antioch, and was endowed by God with great physical beauty. Pelagia used her beauty to the destruction of her own soul and those of others. She became very wealthy as a result of her prostitution. Once, while walking past the Church of the Holy Martyr Julian, in which Bishop Nonnus was preaching, she stopped in and heard a sermon on the Dread Judgment and the punishment of sinners. Those words so shook her and changed her that she immediately felt revulsion for herself, acquired true fear of God, repented of all her sins and fell down before St. Nonnus with the plea that he baptize her: “Have mercy on me, a sinner, holy Father. Baptize me and teach me repentance— I am a sea of iniquity, an abyss of destruction, a net and weapon of the devil.” Thus this penitent begged the hierarch of Christ with tears, and he baptized her. At her baptism, Blessed Romana, the deaconess of the church, was her godmother. Romana, as her spiritual mother, grounded her well in the Christian Faith. But Pelagia was not satisfied with baptism alone. She was keenly aware of the multitude of her sins and, pricked by her conscience, decided on a great ascetic labor. She left her enormous, sinfully gained wealth to the poor, and secretly went to Jerusalem as the monk Pelagius. There, she shut herself up in a cell on the Mount of Olives, and began the difficult ascesis of fasting, prayer and all-night vigils. After three years, St. Nonnus’s deacon, James, visited her and found her still alive, but when he visited her again several days later, he found that she had reposed, and he honorably buried her body. St. Pelagia entered into rest in about the year 461. Thus, this formerly terrible sinner pleased God by her repentance and labor, was forgiven of her sins, and became sanctified. And her purified and enlightened soul was deemed worthy of the Kingdom of God. The Venerable Pelagia (Menologion of Basil II, 11th c.) 


2. The Venerable Thais 

Thais was a repentant sinner. She was an Egyptian by birth. Like St. Pelagia, Thais also spent her youth in unrestrained fornication. Thais was directed in this evil way of life by her shameless mother. But the merciful God, Who does not desire the death of a sinner, but salvation, found a way in His wondrous providence to save the sinner Thais. One of the disciples of St. Anthony the Great, Paphnutius the Sindonite, heard of Thais’s sinful life, and the spiritual poison with which she was poisoning the souls of many men. He decided to save her, with God’s help. Clothed in secular clothing, St. Paphnutius took one gold coin and went to the city. He found Thais and gave her the gold coin. Thais, thinking that this man gave her the gold coin for an impure act, took Paphnutius into her room. Then Paphnutius opened his blessed mouth and denounced Thais’s sins and called her to repentance. Thais’s soul and conscience were both awakened, and she burst into tears of profound, sincere repentance. Distributing all her goods to the poor, she entered a convent at the instruction of St. Paphnutius, and remained there for about three years, closed off in a cell, living only on bread and water. St. Paphnutius visited her before her death, and brought her out of her cell against her will. She soon fell ill, and after a brief illness gave up her purified and sanctified soul to God. St. Paul the Simple, another disciple of St. Anthony, saw in a vision a most beautiful habitation in Paradise, prepared by God for St. Thais the penitent. This holy soul entered into rest in the year 340. 


3. The Holy Martyr Pelagia 

Pelagia was a maiden from an eminent family in Antioch. During the reign of Emperor Numerian, the governor of Antioch sent soldiers to bring Pelagia to trial as a known Christian. The soldiers surrounded the house and called the holy maiden to come to the door. She greeted them, and when she heard that they were taking her before the judge, she pretended to be happy, and told the soldiers to wait for a moment while she went back into the house to change clothes. Then she climbed to the roof of the house, raised her hands to heaven and prayed to God for a long time that He receive her soul and not permit her virginal purity be defiled. God received her soul, and her body fell dead before the soldiers. St. John Chrysostom wrote: “Her death came about not by natural causes but rather by the command of God.” And he continues: “Thus, this virginal body, more pure than any gold, lay on the ground; angels surrounded it, archangels honored it and Christ Himself was beside her.”***) 



The Venerable Pelagia Pelagia the sinner repented, And with knowledge of the true Faith, illumined her soul. The world beckoned her, the world enticed her, but she hearkened not. Her conscience was awakened, her soul began to shine. How much effort she applied, how many struggles She endured, wrestling with her sinful body— Itself like a decaying apple. So much effort, so much suffering she invested, Until she deified her unhappy soul through faith. In the heavens, God’s sun shone, But Pelagia’s soul shone more. Repentance— God has left us repentance. By repentance, Pelagia was glorified. 



Oh, if only we would invest as much effort in our souls as we invest in our bodies! Oh, if only we could become as desirous of adorning ourselves with virtue before God and His glorious angels, as we do with the vain, transitory, external displays of appearances! At first, both Pelagia and Thais were only aware of their bodies, while their souls were slaves bound in the prison of the body. Both were adorned with nothing but vanity: clothed in vanity, arrayed with vanity, surrounded by vanity, and flattered by vanity. But what a sudden change! What a divine turn of events in their lives! More wondrous than if a wild apple were to be grafted and begin to bring forth sweet fruits; or if a turgid, fetid swamp were suddenly to become clear, pure potable water. When Bishop Nonnus, in the company of other bishops, first saw the sinner Pelagia in her outward splendor— clothed in the most expensive garments, adorned and bedecked with rings, necklaces and baubles, perfumed, and surrounded by slaves— Bishop Nonnus began to weep, and said to his companions: “In truth, I have learned much from this woman. The Lord will set her before His Dread Judgment and will rebuke us through her. How many hours does this woman spend in her room bathing herself, clothing herself, adorning herself, and looking at herself in the mirror— and for what? Only to appear more beautiful to men. And we, who have the immortal Bridegroom in heaven, do not strive to adorn our souls with repentance; we do not hasten to bathe them with the tears of repentance and clothe them in the beauty of the virtues, that they might appear more beautiful before the eyes of God!” 



Contemplate the unrighteousness of King Ahab, and God’s punishment of him through the Prophet Elias (I Kings 16, 17): 


1. How Ahab gave himself up totally to idolatry, and did that which is evil in the sight of the Lord; 


2. How the Prophet Elias shut the heavens by his prayer, and there was no rain for three years. 


HOMILY on how the weapons of the enemy will vanish in the end

O thou enemy, thy destructions are come to a perpetual end, even as the cities which thou hast destroyed; thy memorial is perished with a roar (Psalm 9: 6) The enemy of the human race, the murderer of men from the very beginning, has used every weapon and intrigue against man. He thinks up new weapons and new intrigues day and night, in order to destroy someone as a roaring lion, … seeking whom he may devour (I Peter 5: 8). He hides like a poisonous snake and awaits his prey; he stretches his webs everywhere, like a spider, with the sole purpose of ensnaring some human soul and entrapping it in his foul kingdom. Pagan peoples were his cities. Until the coming of Christ, he ruled untroubled and absolutely in them. When they served idols, they served him; the practices of soothsaying and fortune-telling served him; he protected, directed and enhanced men’s unbridled licentiousness; human sacrifice, fiery passions, discord, war, evildoings of all descriptions— this was all pleasure for him. But in the end, no weapons remained in him; his “cities” were destroyed and his memorial is perished with a roar. This “end” of which the prophet speaks is the coming of Jesus Christ the Lord into the world. The Lord manifested His power over the devil when He overcame his temptations on the mountain. He manifested His authority in driving demons out of men, commanding them to go this way or that; He manifested His invincible lordship over sin and death by His suffering and Resurrection. And, what is perhaps most important, He harrowed hell and scattered the demonic power. He did not desire to utterly destroy the demons, but to disperse them and smash their weapons; He smashed them and scattered them as He later did the Jews, but more terribly than He did the Jews. He freed the people from their domination; and even more importantly, He gave men authority over the demons, such that they can drive the demons out by the power of His name. Do you see how the Lord linked His victory over the demons with His mercy toward men? He so weakened and broke them, He so confused and dispersed them, that He placed them under the authority of men. Even so, the Lord did not grant authority over demons to all men, but only to those who believe in Him and who follow His commandments. He gave them authority, and He also gave them a weapon. That weapon is the Cross. O Lord our God, our Savior from the dominion of the devil, help us also to do that “least part” that Thou hast left us to do. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints O

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints Oct. 20/Oct 6

Click here to see our icon of St. Theophan the Recluse.

Click here to see our icon of St. Theophan the Recluse.

20th Week after Pentecost. Tone 2.   Fast Day.      Wine and oil allowed.


Saints for the Day:

Martyrs Sergius and Bacchus, in Syria (290-303). St. Jonah, bishop of Hankou, Manchuria (1925).  Hieromartyrs Julian, presbyter, Caesarius, deacon, Eusebius, presbyter, and Martyr Felix, at Terracina (268). Virgin-martyr Pelagia of Tarsus in Asia Minor (287). Hieromartyr Polychronius, priest, of Gamphanitus (4th c.). St. Sergius the Obedient, of the Kiev Caves (13th c.). St. Sergius, founder of Nurma Monastery (Vologda), disciple of St. Sergius of Radonezh (1412). Uncovering of the relics of St. Martinian, abbot, of Belozersk (White Lake) (1514).  New Hieromartyr Valentine Sventsitsky, archpriest, of Moscow (1931).  St. Mark, pope of Rome (336). St. Dubtach, bishop of Armagh (Ireland) (513). Martyr Osyth, princess of Chich (England) (ca. 700). St. Joseph, elder and wonderworker, of Khevi, Georgia (1763). St. John the Hermit and 98 Fathers, of Crete, St. Leontius the governor.

Today’s Scriptures:

Philippians 3:8-19

Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.  Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.  Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind. Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.  For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:  whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame-who set their mind on earthly things.

Luke 7:31-35

And the Lord said, "To what then shall I liken the men of this generation, and what are they like?  They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, saying:'We played the flute for you, And you did not dance; We mourned to you, And you did not weep.'  For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, 'He has a demon.'  The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, 'Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!'  But wisdom is justified by all her children.


St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures:


Friday. [Phil. 3:8-19; Luke 7:31-35]

   Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? That is, unbelievers. If the Lord poses this question as if in perplexity, is it not even more proper for us to be perplexed by acts of unbelief? One might ask: how can people go against something that is obvious in every respect? And yet they do. The fact that Satan resists is not surprising—such is his name: the enemy of truth and goodness. He clearly sees that God exists, that God will judge him and condemn him, that death for him is already prepared, but is nevertheless defiant, and not for the sake of anything but evil, and consequently, for greater ruin to himself. Are not unbelievers being controlled by this spirit of fighting against God? At least according to the understanding we have about the soul and its operations, unbelief, given the obviousness of the foundations of faith, is as inexplicable as a sinner’s slavery to sin after he has clearly seen that sin is destroying him. And here is another contradiction! Only unbelievers and lovers of the passions deny the existence of Satan and unclean spirits. Those who should have stood up for them most of all totally renounce them. Does not this teaching come from them? Those who are of the darkness love the darkness, they teach people to say that they do not exist, and that moral life takes shape by itself, without their snares and deceit.


From the Prologue for Today:


1. The Holy Martyrs Sergius and Bacchus 

These holy and wonderful martyrs and heroes of the Christian Faith were at first noblemen at the court of Emperor Maximian. The emperor himself esteemed them greatly because of their courage, wisdom and fidelity. But when the emperor heard that his two noblemen were Christians, his love for them turned into rage. Once, when there was a great sacrificial offering to idols, the emperor demanded that Sergius and Bacchus offer sacrifices with him, but they openly refused to obey the emperor in this. Beside himself with rage, the emperor commanded that their military garments, rings and emblems be stripped from them and that they be dressed in women’s clothing. He then placed iron hoops around their necks and paraded them through the streets of the city of Rome, to be mocked by everyone. Afterward, he sent them to Antiochus, his deputy in Asia, for torture. Antiochus had risen to his position with Sergius and Bacchus’s help, as they had at one time recommended him to the emperor. When Antiochus implored them to deny Christ and save themselves from dishonorable suffering and death, these saints replied: “Both honor and dishonor, both life and death— all are the same to him who seeks the Heavenly Kingdom.” Antiochus cast Sergius into prison and ordered that Bacchus be tortured first. His minions took turns beating the holy Bacchus until his whole body was broken. Bacchus’s holy soul departed his broken and bloodied body, and in the hands of angels was borne to the Lord. St. Bacchus suffered in the town of Barbalissos. Then St. Sergius was led out and shod in iron shoes with inward-protruding nails. He was driven, on foot, to the town of Rozapha, in Syria, and was beheaded there with the sword. His soul went to Paradise where, together with his friend Bacchus, he received a crown of immortal glory from Christ, his King and Lord. These two wondrous knights of the Christian Faith suffered in about the year 303. The Holy Martyrs Sergius and Bacchus (icon in Hilandar Monastery, 17th c.) 


2. The Holy Martyr Polychronius 

Polychronius was born in the district of Gamphanitus, of peasant parents. As a young man, he worked as a day-laborer in the vineyard of a certain Constantinopolitan. But even as a day-laborer Polychronius devoted himself to the ascetic life of prayer and fasting day and night. Seeing his life, angelic in its purity and abstinence, the vintner was amazed, and gave him much more money than he earned. St. Polychronius took the money and built a church. At the time of the Nicaean Council (325), Polychronius was a church reader. He showed such zeal in the defense of Orthodoxy against the Arians that he was ordained a priest. Later, these evil heretics sought revenge, and attacked St. Polychronius inside the church itself, and chopped him into pieces. Thus, this great defender of the truth and purity of Orthodoxy suffered and received a wreath of glory from his Most-glorious Lord.**)



The Holy Martyrs Sergius and Bacchus The royal men, Sergius and Bacchus Served the King, but not the earthly one— Rather, Jesus, the Immortal King. The earthly king mocked the saints And removed the belts from their waists, But the Lord girded them with strength. The emperor removed their noblemen’s togas, But the Savior clothed them more beautifully In an incorrupt garment of immortality; The emperor removed their rings from their right hands, But the Lord gave them far more glorious ones, In betrothing their souls to Himself. The emperor banished them from his court, But God welcomed them into the heavenly courts. The earth tortured these knights of Christ, The earth tortured them, but heaven gave them repose. Decay rejects purity, Evil rejects goodness, But Saints Bacchus and Sergius Returned all earthliness to the earth, And gave their holy souls over to God! Though exiled from the earthly kingdom, They illumine the earth even now; By their suffering, they conquered malice; By their death for the Cross, they are glorified. As victors over the powers of darkness, They show us the path to victory. 



A vision of St. Andrew the Fool-for-Christ: Once, St. Andrew was sitting with his disciple Epiphanius, talking about the salvation of the soul. Just then, a demon approached Epiphanius and began setting traps to distract his thoughts, but did not dare to approach Andrew. Andrew cried out: “Depart from here, impure adversary!” The devil drew back and replied maliciously: “You are my adversary, such as no other in all of Constantinople!” Andrew did not drive him away immediately, but permitted him to speak. And the devil began: “I feel that the time is coming when my work will be finished. At that time, men will be worse than I, as children will be even more wicked than adults. Then I will rest and will not teach men anything anymore, since they themselves will carry out my will in everything.” Andrew asked him: “In what sins do your kind rejoice the most?” The devil replied: “The service of idols, slander, malice against one’s neighbor, the sodomite sin, drunkenness and avarice— in this we rejoice the most.” Andrew further asked him: “And how do you tolerate it when someone who first served you rejects you and your works?” The devil replied: “You know that better than I do; we find it difficult to tolerate, but we are comforted by this: we will probably bring them back to us— for many who have rejected us and turned to God have come back to us again.” After the evil spirit had said this and much more, St. Andrew breathed on him and he disappeared. 



Contemplate the righteousness of King Josiah, and God’s reward to him (II Chronicles 34): 

1. How King Josiah rooted out the idols, and did all that which is good in the sight of the Lord; 

2. How God’s blessing was poured out upon him and his people during his long reign. 


HOMILY on children and their praise of the Lord

Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings Thou hast ordained strength, because of Thine enemies (Psalm 8: 2) At the glorious Entry of the Lord Jesus into Jerusalem, and even in the Temple itself, the children cried out: Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord! (Matthew 21: 9). It seems that nothing irritated the Jewish elders so much as this praising of Jesus by young children. Hearest thou what these say? (Matthew 21: 16), they asked Him maliciously. And Jesus answered them meekly: Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise? (Matthew 21: 16). Thus, it is as clear as day that these prophetic words of David pertain to the wonder that occurred at the Entry of the Lord Jesus Christ into Jerusalem: this wondrous praising of the Lord by little children. It is obvious that, as this event was prophesied, so it was literally fulfilled. It is also obvious from this that the Lord Himself was then referring to that prophecy of King David: Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings Thou hast perfected praise. There can be no doubt that it was a great wonder, inspired by the Spirit of God and carried out by the power and will of God. While the princes, scribes, elders and priests were not able to recognize Christ the Lord, the little children both recognized and proclaimed Him! In truth, this is a miracle, unique throughout the Old and New Testaments; and no less of a miracle than the resurrection of the dead. In fact, during the first miracle [Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem] and during the second [Christ’s Resurrection], the same power of God was acting— the same Spirit and the same providence of God. And the prophet wanted especially to emphasize this power and majestic glory of God by the event with the little children, which event he places parallel with the wonders of the starry universe, created by the same power of God. When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained (Psalm 8: 3). Besides this, among those little children should be numbered the apostles themselves— and many saints, ascetics, martyrs for Christ, and virgins— thousands, thousands and thousands of those who, with innocence and open hearts, recognized Christ as the Son of God and their Savior, who embraced Him with wholehearted love and endured difficult suffering for Him. Why, exactly, did the Lord ordain praise for Himself from their mouths, and not from the mouths of nobles, philosophers and rhetoricians? He accepted their praise because of their meekness, and rejected the others because of their pride; for the proud are the greatest enemies of God. That is why Christ miraculously loosed the tongues of children, simple fisherman and peasants— to proclaim the truth contrary to their enemies, that is, the proud and empty princes and scribes of the Jews. O Lord Most-powerful, Almighty God; loose our tongues also, that with strong faith and childlike joy we too may proclaim Thine endless glory. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.


St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints Oct. 19/Oct 6

20th Week after Pentecost. Tone 2.    No fast.

Today’s Saints:

Holy Apostle Thomas (1st c.). Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “O All-Hymned Mother.”  St. Cindeus of Cyprus, monk.

Today’s Scriptures:

Philippians 3:1-8

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so:  circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.  But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.  Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.

Luke 7:17-30

And this report about Him went throughout all Judea and all the surrounding region.  Then the disciples of John reported to him concerning all these things.  And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to Jesus, saying, "Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?"  When the men had come to Him, they said, "John the Baptist has sent us to You, saying, Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?' "  And that very hour He cured many of infirmities, afflictions, and evil spirits; and to many blind He gave sight. Jesus answered and said to them, "Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them.  And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.  When the messengers of John had departed, He began to speak to the multitudes concerning John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?  But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed those who are gorgeously appareled and live in luxury are in kings' courts.  But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet.  This is he of whom it is written: 'Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.'  For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.  And when all the people heard Him, even the tax collectors justified God, having been baptized with the baptism of John.  But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.


St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures


Thursday. [Phil. 3:1-8; Luke 7:17-30] - Saint John the Forerunner sends his disciples to ask the Lord: is He the One That should come? Or should they look for another? He did not ask this for himself but for his disciples, for he knew precisely who Jesus Christ was, being informed about this from heaven. The disciples sought an answer to this question not out of empty inquisitiveness, but out of a sincere desire to know the truth. To such as these there is no need to say much; the Lord does not speak, only indicates what had been accomplished by Him at that time. Divine deeds witnessed to His divinity. It was so obvious, that the questioners no longer questioned. This is the way it always is. The power of God lives in the Church; a sincere seeker of the truth immediately feels it and is sure of this truth. This sureness through experience puts an end to all questions and completely soothes. He who does not want to believe, and, having lost his faith, begins to seek in the Church and Christianity not the foundations of faith, but grounds to justify his unbelief, will find no indications satisfactory. He considers his unbelief well-grounded, although its foundations are petty and insignificant. His heart wants this—that is why it is all tolerable.


From the Prologue of Ohrid:


1. The Holy Apostle Thomas 

Thomas was one of the Twelve Apostles. Through his doubt in the Resurrection of Christ the Lord, a new proof was given of that wonderful and saving event. The resurrected Lord appeared to His disciples a second time, in order to convince Thomas. The Lord said to Thomas: Reach hither thy finger, and behold My hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into My side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas replied: My Lord and my God (John 20: 27– 28). After the descent of the Holy Spirit, when the apostles cast lots to see where they would each go to preach, the lot fell to Thomas to go to India. He was a little saddened that he had to go so far away, but the Lord appeared to him and encouraged him. In India, St. Thomas converted many, both aristocrats and poor, to the Christian Faith, and established the Church there, appointing priests and bishops. Among others, Thomas converted two sisters to the Faith— Tertiana and Migdonia— both wives of Indian princes. Because of their faith, both sisters were ill-treated by their husbands, with whom they no longer wanted to live after their baptism. Eventually, they were allowed to go. Being freed of marriage, they lived God-pleasing lives until their repose. Dionysius and Pelagia were betrothed, but when they heard the apostolic preaching they did not marry, but devoted themselves to the ascetic life. Pelagia ended her life as a martyr for the Faith, and Dionysius was ordained a bishop by the apostle. Prince Mazdai, Tertiana’s husband, whose son, Azan, was also baptized by Thomas, condemned the apostle to death. Mazdai sent five soldiers to kill Thomas. They ran him through with their five spears, and thus the Holy Apostle Thomas rendered his soul into the hands of Christ. Before his death, he and the other apostles were miraculously brought to Jerusalem for the burial of the Most-holy Theotokos. Arriving too late, he wept bitterly, and the tomb of the Holy Most-pure One was opened at his request. The Theotokos’ body was not found in the tomb: the Lord had taken His Mother to His heavenly habitation. Thus, in his tardiness St. Thomas revealed to us the wondrous glorification of the Mother of God, just as he had once confirmed faith in the Resurrection of the Lord by his unbelief. St. Apostle Thomas (icon in Hilandar Monastery, 14th c.) 


2. The Venerable New Martyr Macarius 

Macarius was born in the town of Kios, in Bithynia. His parents, Peter and Anthusa, were Christians, and he was baptized with the name of Manuel. In his youth, he was sent to learn tailoring as a trade. In the meantime, his father embraced Islam and moved to Brussa. There came a time when Manuel came to Brussa on business, and his father found him and exerted great pressure on him to become a Moslem. Manuel resisted in vain: the Turks circumcised him by force. Manuel then fled to the Holy Mountain and was tonsured a monk in the Skete of St. Anna. His monastic name was Macarius. For twelve years he was an excellent monk, but he never had peace of soul. Whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father which is in heaven (Matthew 10: 33)— Christ’s words continually echoed in Macarius’s mind. Finally, with the blessing of his elder, he went to Brussa and openly confessed his Faith in Christ before the Turks, calling Mohammed a false prophet. After being flogged for 130 days and enduring other harsh tortures, he was beheaded there, on October 6, 1590. A part of his miracle-working relics is preserved in the Skete of St. Anna on Mount Athos. 



The Holy Apostle Thomas The Apostle Thomas, by his unbelief, Strengthened his faith: the Lord appeared to him. Thomas witnessed Him and rejoiced, And joyfully glorified Christ. India became Thomas’s vineyard, And he cultivated that land with the Cross: Preaching Christ to the mighty and the lowly, Preaching His wisdom and His works. O wise sons of India, Your wisdom is but a snake in the grass. Lo, true Wisdom has descended from heaven for you— The Wisdom of God has appeared in the flesh! Thomas spoke and worked miracles, And a multitude of people followed him, In hearing his wisdom, and beholding the wonders That Thomas worked in the name of the Lord. Thomas endured great torments, But shattered the gates of the darkness of idolatry, And suffered, like Christ, five cruel wounds, Which he received in his body for the sake of the truth. Five bitter wounds, for the number of the senses— Which is a lesson in mystical wisdom: He who subdues not all his senses Will taste of no spiritual sweetness. 



We have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens (II Corinthians 5: 1), says the discerning Apostle Paul. All our efforts for God on earth have this purpose: to merit, according to our power, this eternal house in the heavens not made by hands. The Indian King Gundafor decided to build himself a magnificent palace, unlike any other on earth. When Abban, his envoy, sought a skilled craftsman to build the king’s palace, he met the Apostle Thomas by God’s providence. St. Thomas told him that he was a craftsman, and that no one else could build what the king wanted. Thomas therefore received much gold from the king for the building of this palace. As soon as he departed from the king, he distributed all the gold to the poor. The palace site was some distance from the king’s capital, and after two years the king sent servants to ask Thomas if the palace was completed. Thomas replied: “Everything is ready except the roof,” and he sought more money from the king; and the king gave it to him. Again, Thomas distributed it all to the poor, and went throughout the kingdom doing his work, preaching the Gospel. The king, learning that Thomas had not even begun to build the palace, seized him and threw him into prison. That night, the king’s brother died, and the king fell into great sorrow. An angel took the soul of the deceased and, leading him through Paradise, showed him a magnificent palace, such as the mind of man could not imagine. The soul of the deceased wished to enter that palace, but the angel told him that he could not, for it was his brother’s palace, which the Apostle Thomas had built with his alms. Then the angel returned the brother’s soul to his body. When he came to himself, he said to the king: “Swear to me that you will give me anything I ask.” And the king swore. Then the brother said: “Give me the palace that you have in the heavens.” The king was amazed that he had a palace in the heavens. When the brother described everything in detail, the king believed and immediately released Thomas from prison. Then, when he heard the apostle’s preaching of salvation and eternal life, the king and his brother were baptized. King Gundafor undertook new works of charity, and built an even more magnificent palace in the heavens for himself. 



Contemplate the injustice of King Amon and God’s punishment of him (II Chronicles 33): 

1. How Amon, the son of Manasseh, turned from God and did that which is evil in the sight of the Lord; 

2. How he reigned for only two years, and was slain by his servants. 


HOMILY on the king’s repentance

I am weary with my groaning; all night I wash my bed; I water my couch with my tears (Psalms 6: 6) Day replaces night, and night replaces day. Let our daily repentance be succeeded by nightly repentance, and our nightly repentance by daily repentance. Daily repentance is shown primarily in good works; and nightly repentance in prayer, sighing and weeping. Thus, we repay our debt both day and night, by filling them with that which is most worthwhile before the Lord, and that which will go with us to the Judgment of God. Look at King David and behold an example of true repentance. It is not enough to confess one’s sin before a priest and consider it forgiven. Behold, even David acknowledged his sin before the Prophet Nathan, saying: I have sinned against the Lord (II Samuel 12: 13). However, the great king did not consider this enough, but continually sighed in prayer before God, and washed away his sin every night with tears of repentance. Even lying in bed did not serve as rest for him, but as exhaustion from tearful repentance and tearful sighing. Do not say: “David committed murder and adultery, and therefore he had much to repent for.” Do you not kill men by your hatred, and commit adultery by your impure thoughts and desires? Brethren, this life is not to justify ourselves but to condemn ourselves. Blessed is he whom God will justify at the Dread Judgment. Repentance is not a matter for one hour or for one day. Repentance should be our inner occupation to the end of life. All night I water my couch, said King David. That does not mean that there is no need for repentance during the day, but that the outpouring of spiritual repentance is more suited to the night than the day. In the stillness of the night, both our sins and God’s judgment come more clearly into focus. Doesn’t the night remind us more clearly of death than the day? Doesn’t the bed remind us of the nearness of the grave? O Lord, just and wonderful, truly we cannot repent without Thy help. Help us, O All-good One, that we might see our sinful wounds, and smell the stench from them, and weep over ourselves— before our kinsmen begin to weep over our dead bodies, and before our guardian angels begin to weep over the carrion of our souls, when they are cast into the unquenchable fire. Help us and save us, O our God. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints Oct. 18/Oct 5  

20th Week after Pentecost. Tone 2. Fast Day.    Wine and oil allowed.


Saints of the Day:

Martyr Charitina of Amisus (304). Sts. Peter (1326), Alexis (1378), Jonah (1461), Macarius (1563), Philip (1569), Job (1607), Hermogenes (1612), Philaret (1867), Innocent (Veniaminov) (1879), Tikhon (1925), Macarius (Nevsky) (1926), and Peter (Polyansky) (1937), hierarchs of Moscow. Hieromartyrs Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria, and the deacons Gaius and Faustus (264-265). Martyr Mamelta (Mamelchtha) of Persia (ca. 344). St. Gregory (Grigol), archimandrite, of Khandzta in the Klarjeti desert, Georgia (861). St. Damian the Healer, priest (1071), and Sts. Jeremiah (ca. 1070) and Matthew (ca. 1085), clairvoyants, of the Kiev Caves. St. Charitina, princess of Lithuania (1281). St. Varlaam, desert-dweller, of Chikoysk (1846). St. Seraphim (Amelin), schema-archimandrite, of Glinsk Hermitage (1958). Uncovering of the relics of New Hiero-confessor Basil (Preobrazhensky), bishop of Kineshma (1985). New Hiero-confessor Gabriel (Igoshkin), archimandrite, of Melekess (Saratov) (1959).  Synaxis of the holy fellow-strugglers of St. Gregory of Khandzta (9th c.). St. Cosmas, abbot, in Bithynia (10th c.). St. John (Mavropos), metropolitan of Euchaita (1100). St. Sabbas of Vatopedi, Mt. Athos, fool-for-Christ (1350). St. Methodia, recluse, of Cimola (1908).  Repose of Nun Agnia (Countess Anna Orlova-Chesmenskaya) of Novgorod (1848) and Hieroschemamonk Paisius (Olaru) of Sihastria, Romania (1990).


Scriptures for Today:

Philippians 2:24-30

But I trust in the Lord that I myself shall also come shortly. Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need; since he was longing for you all, and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick. For indeed he was sick almost unto death; but God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.  Therefore I sent him the more eagerly, that when you see him again you may rejoice, and I may be less sorrowful. Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem;  because for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me.


Luke 6:46-7:1

But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do the things which I say? Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock.

But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.  Now when He concluded all His sayings in the hearing of the people, He entered Capernaum.



St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures:

Wednesday. [Phil. 2:24-30; Luke 6:46-7:1]

   And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Why do they call Him Lord, but do not do the Lord’s will; that is, why do they not acknowledge His lordship in their deeds? Because they only call with their tongue, and not with their heart. If their heart were to utter: “Lord, Thou art my Lord,” then complete readiness would abide in it to submit to the one whom they confess as their Lord. But since they do not have this, their deeds do not match their tongue; whereas deeds always match the heart. All right, so there is no point in calling: “Lord, Lord”? No, not so. But it is necessary to make the external word match the inner word, which is the feeling and disposition of the heart. Sit and reflect upon the Lord and yourself: what is the Lord and what are you? Think about what the Lord has done and still does for you, why you live and how it will end. You immediately will come to the conviction that there is no other way than to steadfastly fulfil the Lord’s entire will; there is no other path for us. This conviction gives birth to a readiness to fulfil in deed what is expressed by the word “Lord.” With such readiness a need for help from above will be awakened, and from it the prayer: “Lord, Lord! Help me and give me strength to walk in Thy will.” And this call will be pleasing to the Lord.


From the Prologue of Ohrid:

1. The Holy Martyr Charitina - Having been orphaned in infancy, Charitina was adopted by an eminent Christian man named Claudius, who raised her as his own daughter. Charitina was meek, humble, obedient and quiet. She studied the Law of God day and night, and vowed to live her life in chastity, as a true bride of Christ. Since Charitina also brought others to the Christian Faith, Dometius, Emperor Diocletian’s eparch, heard of her, sent soldiers to take her from her foster father, and brought her to trial. The judge questioned her: “Is it true, young maiden, that you are a Christian, and that you deceive others, leading them to this profane Faith?” Charitina courageously replied: “It is true that I am a Christian, but it is a lie that I deceive others; rather, I lead those in error to the true path, by leading them to my Christ.” The evil judge condemned her. Her hair was shorn and hot coals were poured onto her head. Even so, she was saved by the power of God. They threw her into the sea, but God delivered her again. They tied her to a wheel and began to turn it, but an angel of God stopped the wheel, and Charitina remained unharmed. Then the depraved judge sent some dissolute young men to defile her. Fearing this dishonor, St. Charitina prayed to God to receive her soul before those degenerates could defile her virginal body. While she knelt, praying to God, her soul departed from her and was translated to the Immortal Kingdom of Christ. The Holy Martyr Charitina (by N. Kacuras) 

2. The Hieromartyr Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria - Dionysius was born in Alexandria of eminent pagan parents. He was educated in Greek philosophy, and then studied with Origen. As a young man, he read the epistles of the Apostle Paul, came to believe in Christ and was baptized by Demetrius, Bishop of Alexandria. In the year 247, Dionysius became Bishop of Alexandria, and served God and God’s people as a true shepherd under very difficult circumstances. Externally, the Church was persecuted by pagans, while from within it was rent by heretics. In addition, a plague decimated the population for several years. Dionysius lived, hidden by the faithful, outside Alexandria for three years so as not to be slain before his time. During those three years, he wrote many epistles and other compositions to his flock, instructing and encouraging them to uphold Orthodoxy. Among his writings are several canons that the Church adopted. His epistle against Novatian is also considered a canonical writing. He governed the Church for seventeen years, and reposed in the year 265. 

3. The Venerable Eudocimus of Vatopedi - In the year 1841, when the ossuary at Vatopedi was being restored, the workmen found the relics of a man in a kneeling posture. He had an icon of the Most-holy Theotokos in his hands, resting on his bosom. A wondrous fragrance exuded from these relics. Not knowing who this holy man was or when he lived, the monks gave him the name Eudocimus, and transferred his relics into the church, where they remain today. Many miracles of healing have occurred over these relics. Even now, one can read these words, carved on his silver coffin: “This coffin was made for the honorable head of St. Eudocimus by the monk Gabriel, whom this saint healed from a grave illness.” 

4. The Venerable Damian, Jeremiah and Matthew - They were clairvoyants and miracle-workers of the Monastery of the Kiev Caves. They all lived in the eleventh century. 



The Holy Martyr Charitina Tortured Charitina, covered with blood, Prayed on her knees to the Most-high God: “O Most High, All Merciful— my Creator— Among Thy martyrs, number me also! Sweet Christ, Thou didst suffer on the Cross for me, And now for Thee I desire to suffer. Be near to Thy virgin, O Savior, And protect me, lest the evil ones defile me. Better that they burn my body with cruel fire, Better that they drown it in the azure sea, Than that they profane it by a shameful deed, Before the heavenly angels and the righteous saints.” The Lord did according to Charitina’s prayer, And immediately received her soul into Paradise. 



Whenever men exert great effort in seeking the truth, and prefer nothing else to the truth, God comes to meet them in His gentle way. This is shown to us in the life of St. Dionysius of Alexandria. Even as a young man and a pagan, Dionysius read all the Greek literature, seeking the truth. When he was not satisfied with this, he read everything that came into his hands. And, in accord with God’s providence, he met a poor woman who offered to sell him several hand-copied epistles of the Holy Apostle Paul. Dionysius gladly purchased and read them. They so overcame him that he sought out this woman and asked her if there were more such writings to be had. The woman directed him to a Christian priest who gave him all of Paul’s epistles. Having read all carefully, Dionysius came to believe in Christ, and was baptized without any hesitation. Here is another incident: In the town of Arsinoe, the Millenarian heresy had spread. This heresy taught that Christ would soon come, and He would establish an earthly kingdom on earth for a thousand years. At the head of this heresy was a certain Korakion. St. Dionysius went to Arsinoe to change the minds of the millenarians and to prevent the spread of this heresy. At a large gathering of millenarians and true Orthodox, Dionysius debated with Korakion and other leaders of the millenarians. This debate lasted for three whole days. (Such zeal did the ancient Christians show in the examination of the truth!) God blessed their labor and zeal, through the prayers of St. Dionysius. At the end of the debate, Korakion and all the other millenarians rejected their false teaching and accepted the Orthodox teaching of St. Dionysius. 



Contemplate the repentance of King Manasseh and God’s forgiveness of him (II Chronicles 33): 

1. How Manasseh, living as a slave in a foreign land, recognized his sin, repented, and prayed to God for forgiveness; 

2. How God forgave him, and freed him from bondage; 3. How, after that, Manasseh did that which is good in the sight of the Lord unto the day of his death, and reigned peacefully. 


HOMILY on the good that is shown

There be many who say, Who will show us any good? (Psalm 4: 6) My brethren, great is God’s goodness. What words can express that goodness? Great is the goodness of the Heavenly Kingdom with its fiery angels, wonderful saints, and the sweetness of Paradise. Who can describe this goodness? Immortal life, close to God and the angels of God, in the company of the saints and the righteous, is a great good. Another great good will be our meeting with our kinsmen and friends in the heavenly world; with our parents, our children, and our most beloved ones, who by their departure left us in sadness and grief. Who will show us all that good? Many asked this in King David’s time, and many ask even today. Who will show it to us, so that we may believe and hope? That good is shown to us Christians, and we wait for nothing higher, for no one but the Lord Christ— the true Witness to all this good, the true Witness and Lord, brethren, of all this good. The compassionate Lord showed this good to His chosen prophets even before His coming to earth. That is why David says to God: Lord, lift up the light of Thy countenance upon us (Psalms 4: 6). This is the reply to those who ask: Who will show us any good? God Himself showed us that good. The light of the Lord’s countenance is marked upon us, inscribed and etched in our hearts, and in that light we recognize that good which only heaven can give. Brethren, is there a cure for those who have heard about the coming of Christ on earth, but nevertheless asked: Who will show us any good? If Christ had not shown and revealed all that is good by His glorious birth, His glorious miracles, His glorious Resurrection, and His Holy Church, the dark earth would not show it, for it cannot; men would not show it, for they do not know. However, there is a cure for everyone— even for the most incorrigible unbelievers— up to the moment of death. This cure is in repentance of one’s evil, in the cleansing of one’s heart, and in the fulfilling of Christ’s commandments. The healthy can see the light of the countenance of the Lord; but not the sick in soul, the impure in heart or the wrong-minded. O our Lord God, light of angels and men; help us that we not darken the light that Thou hast given us— and by which we see the heavenly good— by the darkness of our sin. Do not deprive us of these good things, O Most-merciful One. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.




St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints Oct. 16/Oct 3  

Click here to see our icon of St. Theophan

Click here to see our icon of St. Theophan

20th Week after Pentecost. Tone 2.  No fast.


Saints of the day:

Hieromartyrs Dionysius the Areopagite (96), bishop of Athens, the priest Rusticus, and the deacon Eleutherius (96). St. John the Chozebite, bishop of Caesarea in Palestine (532). Blessed Hesychius the Silent, of Mt. Horeb (6th c.). St. Dionysius, recluse of the Kiev Caves (15th c.). Uncovering of the relics of St. Joseph, elder, of Optina Monastery (1988).New Hiero-confessor Agathangelus (Preobrazhensky), metropolitan of Yaroslavl (1928). St. Jerome of Aegina (1966). Hieromartyrs Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria, and the deacons Gaius and Faustus (ca. 265). Repose of Blessed Olga, fool-for-Christ, of Bogdanoya Bari and St. Petersburg (1960).


Today’s Scriptures:

Philippians 2:12-16 (Monday)- Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.  Do all things without complaining and disputing,  that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.

Luke 6:24-30 (Monday) - But woe to you who are rich, For you have received your consolation.  Woe to you who are full, For you shall hunger. Woe to you who laugh now, For you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, For so did their fathers to the false prophets.  But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.  To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either.  Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back.


St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures:

Monday. [Phil. 2:12-16; Luke 6:24-30]  - Woe to those who are rich, who are full, who laugh, and who are praised. But good shall come to those who endure every wrongful accusation, beating, robbery, or compulsory difficulty. This is completely opposite to what people usually think and feel! The thoughts of God are as far from human thoughts as heaven is from the earth. How else could it be? We are in exile; and it is not remarkable for those in exile to be offended and insulted. We are under a penance; the penance consists of deprivations and labours. We are sick; and most useful for the sick are bitter medicines. The Saviour Himself all of His life did not have a place to lay His head, and He finished his life on the cross—why should his followers have a better lot? The Spirit of Christ is the spirit of preparedness to suffer and bear good-naturedly all that is sorrowful. Comfort, arrogance, splendour, and ease are all foreign to its searching and tastes. Its path lies in the fruitless, dreary desert. The model is the forty-year wandering of the Israelites in the desert. Who follows this path? Everyone who sees Canaan beyond the desert, boiling over with milk and honey. During his wandering he too receives manna, however not from the earth, but from heaven; not bodily, but spiritually. All the glory is within.


From the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Saints:

1. The Holy Hieromartyr Dionysius the Areopagite 

Dionysius is numbered among the Seventy Lesser Apostles. This wonderful man was the scion of a distinguished pagan family in Athens. Having completed the school of philosophy in Athens, he went to Egypt to study further. While he was there the Lord Christ died on the Cross, the sun was darkened, and there was darkness in Egypt for three hours. Then Dionysius cried out: “Either God the Creator of the world is suffering, or this world is coming to an end.” Returning to Athens, he married a woman named Damaris and had sons by her. He became a member of the highest court among the Greeks, the Areopagus, and thereafter he was known as the “Areopagite.” When the Apostle Paul preached the Gospel in Athens, Dionysius was baptized with his entire household. Paul consecrated him Bishop of Athens. He left his wife, children and his position for the love of Christ. He traveled with Paul for a long time and met all the other apostles of Christ. He traveled to Jerusalem especially to see the Most-holy Theotokos, and described his encounter with her in one of his written works. He was present at the burial of the Holy and Most-pure One. When his teacher, St. Paul, suffered martyrdom, Dionysius also desired such a death for himself, and went to Gaul, with his presbyter Rusticus and the deacon Eleutherius, to preach the Gospel among the barbarians. He suffered much but also succeeded much. By his labors many pagans were converted to the Christian Faith. Dionysius built a small church in Paris, where he celebrated the divine services.*) When he was ninety years old, he, Rusticus and Eleutherius were seized and tortured for Christ; then all three were beheaded. The severed head of St. Dionysius rolled a long distance, to the feet of Catula, a Christian, who honorably buried it with his body. Dionysius suffered during the reign of Dometian in the year 96. He wrote several famous works: on the Divine Names of God, on the Celestial and Ecclesiastical Hierarchies, on Mystical Theology, and on the Most-holy Theotokos. St. Dionysius the Areopagite (fresco in Protat, Mount Athos, 14th c.) 

2. The Venerable John the Chozebite 

John was an Egyptian who lived the ascetic life in the Chozeba community during the reign of Emperor Justinian. Whenever he celebrated the Liturgy, he perceived a heavenly radiance in the sanctuary. Ananias, an elder, labored ascetically not far from him. Wondrous was the humility of these two saints. A man brought his insane son to the elder Ananias to heal him by prayer. Ananias sent him to St. John as being greater than he. John could not help but obey the elder; however, he cried out: “In the name of Jesus Christ, it is Ananias, not I, who commands you to come out of this young man!” And the young man was healed immediately. 

3. The Venerable Dionysius of the Monastery of the Kiev Caves 

Dionysius was a hieromonk and a recluse. The following incident occurred to him on the Feast of the Resurrection in 1463. With a cross and censer, Dionysius visited the caves in order to cense the relics and graves of the saints reposing there. Filled with the joy of the Resurrection, as he approached the caves, he cried out: “Holy fathers and brethren— Christ is Risen!” And a voice resounded from the graves as powerful as thunder: “Indeed, He is Risen!” 

4. Saint Hesychius the Chorebite 

At first, Hesychius was negligent about his soul’s salvation, but then he became gravely ill and died. However, he came back from the dead and regained health. This completely changed him. He shut himself up in a cell on the Holy Mountain, and spoke to no one for twelve years. Before his death, the monks opened his cell and begged him to give them some instruction. He said only: “He who contemplates death cannot sin.” From Hesychius descended the so-called hesychasts, who stress silence, divine contemplation, and mental prayer as the chief works of a true monk. There was even a hesychast skete on the Holy Mountain. It is said that St. Gregory the Theologian was a hesychast during the Lenten season. St. Hesychius lived in the sixth century. 



The Holy Hieromartyr Dionysius the Areopagite Glorious saint Dionysius, Wondrous theologian and lucid scribe! His mind, gathered in his heart, he directed to God; He witnessed heavenly mysteries and revealed them to us. He perceived the glory of the heavenly orders And described the hierarchy of heaven: Principalities, Dominions, Virtues, Powers, Wondrous Thrones, Seraphim, Cherubim and Archangels, Golden-winged Angels of God, And the Mother of God.— He beheld all with fear, And also that which shines above the dust of the earth: Heavenly powers of infinite strength, Immortal suns and stars most brilliant! All that he witnessed, Dionysius made clear And told to the Church. Thus he adorned and enriched the Church, And his accomplishments were made golden By his bloody death for his Christ. Now he shines in heaven; And the angelic hosts, blazing with the glory of God, Call Dionysius “Brother.” REFLECTION A vision of St. Andrew: Walking one day along the streets of Constantinople, St. Andrew saw a large, splendid procession. A rich man had just died, and his funeral procession was majestic. However, when Andrew looked more closely, he saw many black figures capering around the corpse with joy: some laughing like prostitutes, others barking like dogs, others grunting like swine, and others pouring a foul liquid over the body of the deceased. They all mocked the processional chanters, saying: “You are chanting over a dog!” Astonished, Andrew wondered what this man had done in his life. Glancing around, he saw a handsome youth standing by a wall and weeping. “For the sake of the God of heaven and earth, tell me the reason for your weeping!” he said, and the youth replied that he was the guardian angel of the deceased. The dead man had grievously offended God by his sins, and had rejected the counsels of his angel. He had completely given himself over to the black devils. The angel said that that man had been a great and unrepentant sinner: he had been a liar, a despiser of men, a miser, a perjurer and a libertine, who had defiled three hundred souls by his debauchery. He had been honored by the emperor and respected by men, but all in vain. The great funeral retinue was also in vain. Death had caught up with the rich man in his unrepentant state, and the harvest had come to him suddenly. 



Contemplate the miraculous deliverance of Jerusalem from the Assyrians (II Chronicles 32): 

1. How Sennacherib and his mighty army surrounded the walls of Jerusalem and mocked the God of Israel; 

2. How Hezekiah and the Prophet Isaiah fervently prayed to God for deliverance; 

3. How an angel slew 185,000 Assyrians by night; how Sennacherib was slain by his sons; and how Jerusalem was saved. 


HOMILY on fear and joy in God

Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice in Him with trembling (Psalm 2: 11) The prophet of God speaks these words to earthly kings and judges, for they are inclined to pride and lasciviousness born out of the power and riches that are given to them. O you kings and judges— clods of dust beneath the feet of God— do not forget that you are only the servants of God, hirelings from today until tomorrow! Of what does a hireling think, digging in the field all day? About the pay that he will receive in the evening. Of what is the hireling proud? Not of his labor, but rather his pay. In what does the hireling rejoice? In his labor, his sweat, or his pay? Naturally, in his pay. O kings and judges, your service in the field of this life is the labor of a hireling. Therefore, with fear serve your Lord, who hired you: for you know not how your Lord will evaluate your labor in the end, or what pay He will render unto you. Serve with great humility, saying to yourself: We are unprofitable servants (Luke 17: 10). Whether you will receive a reward or punishment when you go down into the grave and come before the King and Judge is uncertain. Therefore, fear must fill all the days of your service. Rejoice in Him with trembling. Rejoice with a pure and holy joy, as the angels rejoice in the living and unapproachable God. The joy of Paradise is fragrant with purity and sanctity; but the malicious joy of hades is accompanied by rebellious laughter. Therefore the joy of Paradise is eternal, while the laughter of hades is turned to rage and groans. Serve with fear, for the Lord is just; rejoice with trembling, for the Lord is exalted and holy. O Lord our God— just and exalted, awesome and holy— all of our life on earth is service to Thee and joy in Thee. If we do not serve Thee, we serve our own destruction; and if we do not rejoice in Thee, we rejoice in our own evil works. We worship Thee and pray Thee to help us, that our service be directed by fear of Thee, and that our joy be purified by our trembling before Thee. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen. 

(*) Some historians believe that Dionysius [Denis] of Paris was someone other than Dionysius the Areopagite.

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints

St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints + Oct. 13/Sept. 30

Click here to see our icon of St. Theophan the Recluse

Click here to see our icon of St. Theophan the Recluse

19th Week after Pentecost. Tone 1. Fast Day. 

Wine and oil allowed.


Today's Saints:

Hieromartyr Gregory, bishop and enlightener of Greater Armenia (ca. 335).  St. Gregory, founder of Pelshma Monastery (Vologda) (1442).  Translation of the relics of St. Michael, first metropolitan of Kiev (c. 1103). Martyrs Rhipsima and Gaiana and companions, in Armenia (beg. of 4th c.). St. Michael, great prince of Tver (1318). New Martyr Alexandra (Chervyakova), schemanun, of Moscow (1937). New Hiero-confessor Seraphim (Zagorovsky), hieromonk, of Kharkov (1943). Blessed Jerome (Hieronymus) of Stridonium (420). St. Honorius, archbishop of Canterbury (653). St. Meletius, patriarch of Alexandria (1601).



Philippians 1:27-2:4 - Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.  Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy,  fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.  Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.


Luke 6:17-23 - 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.


St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures:

Friday. [Phil. 1:27-2:4; Luke 6:17-23]

   The Lord blesses the poor, those who hunger and weep, and the persecuted under the condition that it is all for the sake of the Son of Man; this means that He blesses a life which is surrounded by every kind of need and deprivation. According to this saying, pleasures, ease, honour are not something good; this is the way it is indeed. But while a person rests in these things, he does not realize this. Only when he frees himself from their spell does he see that they are not the good, but only phantoms. A soul cannot do without consolations, but they are not of the senses; it cannot do without treasures, but they are not in gold and silver, not in luxurious houses and clothes, not in this external fullness; it cannot get by without honor, but it lies not in human servility. There are other pleasures, there is other ease, other honour—spiritual, akin to the soul. He who finds them does not want the external ones; not only does he not want them, but he scorns and hates them because they block off the spiritual, do not allow one to see it, they keep a soul in darkness, drunkenness, and phantoms. This is why such people prefer with all their soul poverty, sorrow and obscurity, feeling good within them, like behind some safe fence against the spell of the deceptions of the world. What about those people who have all these things without trying? They should relate to all of these things, according to the word of the holy Apostle, as one who possesses not (cf. 1Cor. 7:30).


From the Prologue of Ohrid

1. Saint Gregory the Enlightener, Bishop of Armenia

Gregory was born of a prominent family which was related to the royal houses of Persia (King Arteban) and Armenia (King Khosrov). When these two houses made war against each other, Gregory withdrew to Caesarea in Cappadocia. It was there that he first learned of the Christian Faith, was baptized and married. He had two sons of this marriage, Bardanes and Aristakes, and dedicated them both to the service of the Church. After the death of his wife, Gregory returned to Armenia and placed himself in the service of King Tiridates. He faithfully served him, and Tiridates loved Gregory. But when the king learned that Gregory was a Christian, he became greatly enraged and pressured him to deny Christ and worship idols. Not succeeding in this, Tiridates subjected Gregory to many harsh tortures, then threw him into a deep pit full of poisonous reptiles to kill him. However, the All-seeing God preserved St. Gregory’s life in that pit for fourteen full years. After that, Tiridates set out to persecute all Christians in his kingdom, and attacked a convent where there were thirty-seven nuns, including the abbess, Gaiana. When he had killed all of them by terrible tortures, Tiridates went insane and was like a wild boar. His sister had a dream in which a man, dazzlingly bright, told her that Tiridates would only become well when Gregory was removed from the pit. Taken from the pit, Gregory healed and baptized Tiridates. Then, at the wish of Tiridates, Gregory became Bishop of Armenia. Through God’s providence, Tiridates also helped him in enlightening all of Armenia and its surrounding regions with the Christian Faith. St. Gregory ended his earthly life of great labor in old age, in about the year 335. Meanwhile, his son Aristakes had been consecrated a bishop, and he continued the work of his father, both physically and spiritually. Aristakes was one of the 318 Holy Fathers at the First Ecumenical Council.


2. The Holy Martyrs Gaiana, Rhipsimia, and thirty-five other nuns

They were all slain by King Tiridates because of their faith in Christ. Rhipsimia was of unusual beauty, which tempted Emperor Diocletian to take her for his wife. This was the cause of their martyrdom. Rhipsimia refused to go with the emperor, as she had betrothed herself to Christ, her Bridegroom. Then Tiridates too was tempted and wanted to claim her for himself, for he was intoxicated by her beauty. St. Rhipsimia resisted the pagan king with all her strength, “And he who defeated the Princes of the Goths and destroyed the Persians was unable to overcome one virgin of Christ.” The enraged king gave her over to cruel tortures—her tongue was cut out, her stomach cut open, and her entrails pulled out—and Rhipsimia gave up her soul to God. After this, the other nuns were seized and beheaded. The famous Monastery of Echmiadzin was built over the relics of these holy martyrs. Situated near Yerevan, it was the main spiritual center of Armenia for many centuries.

3. Saint Michael, First Metropolitan of Kiev

St. Michael was sent to Russia by the Patriarch of Constantinople at the request of the great Prince Vladimir, to baptize the pagan people and establish and organize the Church. St. Michael baptized the people in Kiev, Novgorod, Rostov and many other towns and villages. He organized the Church, appointed bishops and priests, laid the foundation for the Monastery of St. Michael in Kiev, and sent missionaries among the Bulgarians and Tartars, winning many of them for Christ. This saint accomplished all this, and much more of great benefit, in only four years. He went to his reward peacefully, in the year 992. His relics repose in the Monastery of the Kiev Caves.


HYMN OF PRAISESaint Gregory the Enlightener

Gregory was a great light

To his people and his nation.

He spurned glory and riches

For the poverty of Christ the Crucified,

Preferring eternal riches in heaven.

He raised his mind to heaven and thoughts of God,

And endured much physical torture,

As if it all were painless.

He was strong with the power of God’s grace,

And nourished by God’s heavenly food,

And armored against evil by God’s providence.

He was lowered into the pit from his glory,

And from the pit he was elevated to the heights—

The heights of eternal glory.

Gregory, great and holy,

Enlightened Armenia with Jesus.

Even the wild boar, Tiridates,

Was baptized under the Cross and became a lamb.

With great glory, the land of Armenia glorifies

Its miracle-worker, St. Gregory.



Marvelous changes occur daily in the destiny of men—in the present, as in times past. Those humiliated for the sake of God’s righteousness are raised to great heights, and the blasphemers of the Faith are converted to servants of the Faith. King Tiridates threw St. Gregory into a deep pit. The saint spent fourteen years in that pit, forgotten by the entire world, but not by God. Who among men could have thought that the greatest light of the Armenian people was to be found in the darkness of a pit? And who would have ever thought that the powerful and tyrannical King Tiridates would one day save the life of that same Gregory, whom he had condemned to death, and would help him more than the rest of the whole world could help him? After fourteen years, God revealed Gregory as still alive.  Gregory then miraculously healed the insane king. King Tiridates, the unrestrained persecutor of Christ, was baptized and became the greatest zealot for the Christian Faith! It could be said that, with God’s help, Gregory and Tiridates were both drawn out of the pit of darkness—Gregory a physical one, and Tiridates a spiritual one. Oh, the infinite wisdom of God in governing the destinies of men!

The formerly wild and passionate Tiridates was softened and ennobled so much by repentance and the Christian Faith, that he came to resemble St. Gregory more than his old, unrepentant self.



Contemplate the righteousness of King Jotham and God’s reward for him (II Chronicles 27):

1. How Jotham did that which is right in the sight of the Lord, and cared for the Temple of the


2. How God helped him, so that he was successful in war and in peace: in war he conquered, and

in peace he enriched and strengthened his people.


HOMILY on the Kingdom not of this world

My Kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36)

He who has great wealth also has little wealth. Therefore, let no one think that Christ the Lord does not have royal authority over this world, even though He told Pilate: My Kingdom is not of this world. He who possesses the eternal also rules over the temporal. Here, the Lord speaks of His Eternal Kingdom, independent of time, decay, injustice, illusion and death. It is as if someone were to say: “My wealth is not in paper but rather in gold.” If he has gold, can he not afford paper? Is not gold worth more than paper? Therefore, the Lord does not tell Pilate that He is a king, but on the contrary says that He is a higher King than all earthly kings, and that His Kingdom is greater, more powerful and more enduring than all earthly kingdoms. He is indicating His principal Kingdom, upon which all earthly kingdoms depend, in time and in space. My Kingdom is not of this world. This does not mean that He has no power over this world, but on the contrary confirms His awesome power over this world. All His works on earth manifest His unparalleled, lordly power over the world. Tell me, in what other king’s presence is the wind quieted and the sea calmed? And have you forgotten His words in Gethsemane? Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and He shall presently give Me more than twelve legions of angels? (Matthew 26:53). And just one angel has greater power than all the universe! The Lord of the soul is also the Lord of the body. The Lord of eternity is also the Lord of time. The Lord of the greatest good is also the Lord of the lesser good. Brethren, nothing can escape the power of the Almighty Jesus Christ our Lord, Who by His own will suffered for us, and by His own power rose from the grave. O Lord Jesus Christ, our Almighty Savior, help us to seek Thy Heavenly Kingdom, and to beeternally with Thee where there is neither sin nor death, but life and joy and peace. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.




Happy Name Day Archangel Gabriel

Orthodox Saints of the day:

Our fine art icon print of the Synaxis of the Holy Archangel Gabriel in English.

Our fine art icon print of the Synaxis of the Holy Archangel Gabriel in English.

Synaxis of the Holy Archangel Gabriel.

Also on this day:

Venerable Stephen of St. Sabbas' Monastery (794).
St. Julian, bishop of Cenomanis (Le Mans) in Gaul (1st c.).
Martyr Serapion, under Severus (193).
Martyr Marcian of Iconium (258).
Translation of the relics (1620) Venarable Anthony Leokhnovsky (1611).
Venerable Abbess Sarah of Seeds in Libya (370).
Venerable Just, monk in Cornwall (5th c.) (Celtic & British).
Venerable Mildred, abbess of Minster in Thanet (England) (700) (Celtic & British).
Synaxis of Hilandar Saints, Mt. Athos (Greek).
Virgin-martyr Juthwara of Cornwall.