14TH SUNDAY OF LUKE
14th Sunday of Luke, Hieromartyr Clement, Bishop of Ancyra, Agathangelus the Martyr, Righteous Father Dionysius of Olympus
ST. PAUL’S FIRST LETTER TO TIMOTHY 1:15-17
Timothy, my son, the saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. And I am the foremost of sinners; but I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience for an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory to the ages of ages. Amen.
At that time, as Jesus drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging; and hearing a multitude going by, he inquired what this meant. They told him, "Jesus of Nazareth is passing by." And he cried, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent; but he cried out all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" And Jesus stopped, and commanded him to be brought to him; and when he came near, he asked him, "What do you want me to do for you?" He said, "Lord, let me receive my sight." And Jesus said to him, "Receive your sight; your faith has made you well." And immediately he received his sight and followed him, glorifying God; and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.
On the Sunday closest to January 25, the Church commemorates the Synaxis of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, remembering all those Orthodox Christians who suffered for Christ at the hands of the godless Soviets during the years of persecution. These include the royal Passion Bearers Tsar Nicholas II and his family, and the Grand Duchess Elizabeth. Countless thousands of martyrs, both clergy and laity also suffered, some of whose names are known, as well as millions of simple believers whose names have been lost to history.
It is estimated that the number of the New Martyrs of Russia, who were glorified by the Russian Orthodox Church at the Jubilee Council of 2000, far exceeds that of all the martyrs who died for Christ during the first three centuries of Christianity. The Russian Church lost millions of its sons and daughters, not only at the hands of external enemies, but also those of their own country. Among those who were murdered and tortured in the years of persecution were countless Orthodox: laity, monks, priests, and bishops, whose only “crime” was their unshakable faith in God.
In the long history of the world, never have so many new heavenly intercessors been glorified by the Church in such a way (more than one thousand New Martyrs were numbered among the saints). Among those who suffered for their faith were some who labored in America before the Russian Revolution: St. Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia (April 7); St. Alexander Hotovitzky (Dec. 4); St. John Kochurov (Oct. 31).
The Hieromartyr Clement was born in the Galatian city of Ancyra in the year 258, of a pagan father and a Christian mother. He lost his father when he was an infant, and his mother when he was twelve. She predicted a martyr’s death for him because of his belief in Christ.
A woman named Sophia adopted him and raised him in the fear of God. During a terrible famine in Galatia several pagans turned out their own children, not having the means to feed them. Sophia took in these unfortunates, and fed and clothed them. Saint Clement assisted her in this. He taught the children and prepared them for Baptism. Many of them died as martyrs for Christ.
Saint Clement was made a reader, and later a deacon. When he was eighteen he was ordained to the holy priesthood, and at age twenty he was consecrated Bishop of Ancyra. Soon afterwards the persecution against Christians under Diocletian (284-305) broke out.
Bishop Clement was denounced as a Christian and arrested. Dometian, the governor of Galatia, tried to make the saint worship the pagan gods, but Saint Clement firmly confessed his faith and valiantly withstood all the tortures.
They suspended him on a tree, and raked his body with sharp iron instruments so that his entrails could be seen. They smashed his mouth with stones, and they turned him on a wheel and burned him over a low fire. The Lord preserved His sufferer and healed his lacerated body.
Then Dometian sent the saint to Rome to the emperor Diocletian himself, with a report that Bishop Clement had been fiercely tortured, but had proven unyielding. Diocletian, seeing the martyr completely healthy, did not believe the report and subjected him to even crueler tortures, and then had him locked up in prison.
Many of the pagans, seeing the bravery of the saint and the miraculous healing of his wounds, believed in Christ. People flocked to Saint Clement in prison for guidance, healing and Baptism, so that the prison was literally transformed into a church. When word of this reached the emperor, many of these new Christians were executed.
Diocletian, struck by the amazing endurance of Saint Clement, sent him to Nicomedia to his co-emperor Maximian. On the ship, the saint was joined by his disciple Agathangelus, who had avoided being executed with the other confessors, and who now wanted to suffer and die for Christ with Bishop Clement.
The emperor Maximian in turn sent Saints Clement and Agathangelus to the governor Agrippina, who subjected them to such inhuman torments, that even the pagan on-lookers felt pity for the martyrs and they began to pelt the torturers with stones.
Having been set free, the saints healed an inhabitant of the city through the laying on of hands and they baptized and instructed people, thronging to them in multitudes. Arrested again on orders of Maximian, they were sent home to Ancyra, where the ruler Cyrenius had them tortured. Then they were sent to the city of Amasea to the proconsul Dometius, known for his great cruelty.
In Amasea, the martyrs were thrown into hot lime. They spent a whole day in it and remained unharmed. They flayed them, beat them with iron rods, set them on red-hot beds, and poured sulfur on their bodies. All this failed to harm the saints, and they were sent to Tarsus for new tortures. In the wilderness along the way Saint Clement had a revelation that he would suffer a total of twenty-eight years for Christ. Then having endured a multitude of tortures, the saints were locked up in prison.
Saint Agathangelus was beheaded with the sword on November 5. The Christians of Ancyra freed Saint Clement from prison and took him to a cave church. There, after celebrating Liturgy, the saint announced to the faithful the impending end of the persecution and his own martyrdom. On January 23, the holy hierarch was killed by soldiers from the city, who stormed the church. The saint was beheaded as he stood before the altar and offered the Bloodless Sacrifice. Two deacons, Christopher and Chariton, were beheaded with him, but no one else was harmed.
Saint Gennadius of Kostroma and Liubimograd, in the world Gregory, was born in the city of Mogilev into a rich family. He early displayed love for the church, and his frequent visits to monasteries evoked the dismay of his parents. Gregory, however, was firmly resolved to devote himself to God, and changing into tattered clothing, he secretly left his parental home and journeyed to Moscow.
He visited the holy places in Moscow, but he did not find it suitable in spirit and so set out to the Novgorod region. The destiny of the future ascetic was decided by an encounter with Saint Alexander of Svir (August 30). With his blessing, Gregory went to the Vologda forest to Saint Cornelius of Komel (May 19), and was tonsured by him with the name Gennadius. Together with Saint Cornelius, Gennadius moved on to the Kostroma forest. Here, on the shores of Lake Sura, in about the year 1529, there emerged the monastery of the Transfiguration of the Lord, afterwards called “the Gennadiev monastery”. Having become igumen, Saint Gennadius did not slacken his monastic efforts, and together with the brethren he went out to the monastery tasks: he chopped wood, carried firewood, made candles and baked prosphora. He also wore heavy chains. One of his favorite tasks was the painting of icons, with which he adorned his new monastery.
For his holy life Saint Gennadius received from the Lord the gift of clairvoyance and wonderworking. Journeying to Moscow on monastic affairs, at the house of the nobleman Roman Zakharin, the saint predicted to his daughter Anastasia that she would become Tsaritsa. Indeed, Tsar Ivan the Terrible chose her as his wife.
The Life of Saint Gennadius was written by his disciple, Iguman Alexis, between the years 1584-1587. In it was inserted his spiritual testament, dictated by Saint Gennadius himself. In it he commands the monks to observe the monastery Rule, to toil constantly, to be at peace with everyone, and to preserve the books collected at the monastery, while striving to understand their meaning. He said, “Strive towards the light, and shun the darkness.”
Saint Gennadius died on January 23, 1565, and was glorified by the Church on August 19, 1646.
The main Feast of Saint Theoctistus is December 23. He was glorified in 1664, because of the miraculous healings which took place at his relics. In 1786, the relics of the saint were transferred to Yuriev, where Archimandrite Photius built a chapel in his honor at the local cathedral.
Saint Mausimas the Syrian lived in Syria, near the city of Cyrrhus. He voluntarily embraced poverty and devoted his life to the service of his neighbor. The doors of his hut were always open to anyone who had need of him.
In his hut there were two vessels: one with bread, and the other with oil. Anyone in need came to him and received the food from his hand. These vessels never became empty. The saint died at the end of the fourth century.
Saint Salamanēs (Σαλαμάνης) was from the town of Kapersana (Καπερσανά) in Syria, on the west bank of the Euphrates River. Since he loved the solitary life, he followed the path of monasticism, building his cell near the Euphrates River.
The Bishop of the town, who was informed of the virtue of the venerable one, went to see him in order to ordain him to the priesthood. Arriving at the Saint's cell, the Archpastor ordered him to dismantle part of the wall so that he might enter. The Bishop spoke to him about the grace of the priesthood, but during the time he was in the cell, the Hierarch did not hear a single word from the Saint. Therefore, he departed, after ordering him to rebuild the wall.
Saint Salamanēs was content with his silence, prayer, and study of the Word of God. Thus, comforted by God, he led people's souls to Christ.
In the Synaxarion it is said that people from the place where Saint Salamanēs was born went to his cell because they wanted him to live near them. He did not protest their actions, nor agree to them, but maintained his silence. So they picked him up and brought him to their town, where they built a cell similar to the other one and enclosed him within. The Saint also remained in this cell in silence and prayer.
A few days later, some people went there by night from a town on other side of the river, who took the Saint and brought him to their town. He did not object when they took him away, neither opposing nor agreeing to it. Soon the inhabitants of the village on the other side of the river came at night to his new dwelling and heard him say this prayer: "O Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me and all the servants of Thy name, and those who worship Thee, our true God."
Saint Salamanēs was dead to this world, seeking only to obey the will of God. Therefore, he could say with Saint Paul: "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me, and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me" (Galatians 2:20).
The ascetic did not interrupt his feat of silence, speaking only to God. The Orthodox Church honors him as the first Saint to embrace complete silence, which he maintained until his death († ca. 400).
Saint Paulinus the Merciful, Bishop of Nola, was descended from an aristocratic and wealthy family of Bordeaux (France). By virtue of his extensive education and upbringing, the twenty-year-old youth was chosen to become a Roman senator, later he became consul and finally, governor of the region of Campagna in Italy.
At twenty-five years of age, he and his wife were converted to Christ and were baptized. After this he completely changed his manner of life. He disposed of all his property, and distributed the money to the needy, for which he endured the scorn of his friends and servants.
Not having children of their own, the pious couple adopted poor orphans and raised them in the fear of God. In his searchings for a secluded life, Saint Paulinus went to the Spanish city of Barcelona.
News of his ascetic life spread about, and in 393 they asked him to be ordained as a priest. Soon he left Spain and went on to the city of Nola in Italy, where he was elected bishop.
When the Vandal barbarians invaded Italy and carried off many people to Africa in captivity, Saint Paulinus used church funds to ransom the captives. However, he did not have enough money to ransom the son of a certain poor widow from slavery in the household of the Prince of the Vandals. So, he volunteered to take his place. Dressed as a slave, Saint Paulinus began to serve the Vandal prince as a gardener.
Soon his identity was revealed to the ruler, King Riga, in a dream. Not only did he receive his own freedom, but he also won the release of all the other prisoners from Campania, and returned home with them.
Saint Paulinus is known both as a builder of churches and as a Christian poet. Among his many virtues, his love for mankind and his compassion for the poor and needy deserve special mention. He died at seventy-eight years of age on June 22, 431. Thirty-two of his poems and fifty-one of his letters survive. They contain various moral discourses filled with deep piety.
His relics are in Rome, in the church of the holy Apostle Bartholomew.
The Sixth Ecumenical Council was convened by the emperor Constantine Pogonatos (668-685) at Constantinople in the year 681 to combat the Monothelite heresy. At it 171 holy Fathers were present, who affirmed the doctrine of two wills in Jesus Christ, the divine and the human.
This Council was followed by another Council in the year 691, called the Council in Trullo. This Council addressed certain practical matters, and 102 canons were promulgated.
The saints of Kostroma include
Saint Abramius of Galich, or Chukhloma Lake (July 20)
Saint Adrian of Monza (May 5)
Saint Alexander of Galich, abbot of Voche (March 27)
Saint Barnabas abbot of Verluga (June 11)
Saint Cyril of New Lake (February 4, November 7)
Saint Cyril of White Lake (June 9)
Saint Dionysius, Archbishop of Suzdal (June 26, October 15)
Saint Gennadius, abbot of Kostroma (August 19)
Saint Gregory, abbot of Pelshme, wonderworker of Vologda (September 30)
Saint James of Brileev (April 11)
Saint James of Galich Monastery (April 4, May 30)
Saint James of Zheleznoborovsk (April 11, May 5)
Saint Jonah, Metropolitan of Moscow (March 31, May 27, June 15)
Saint Macarius, abbot of Zheltovod and Unzha (July 25)
Saint Macarius of Pisma Monastery (January 10)
Saint Metrophanes, bishop of Voronezh (August 7, September 4, November 23)
Saint Pachomius, abbot of Nerekhta (March 21, May 15)
Saint Paisius, abbot of Galich (May 23)
Saint Paul of Obnora (January 10, October 7)
Saint Therapon of Monza (May 27, December 1).