TUESDAY OF PRODIGAL SON
Onesimus the Apostle of the 70, Our Righteous Father Anthimus the Elder of Chios, Onesimos, Patriarch of Constantinople, Eusebius the Righteous of Syria, Major the Martyr
ST. PAUL’S LETTER TO PHILEMON 1:1-25
PAUL, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our beloved fellow worker, and Apphia our sister and Archippos our fellow soldier, and the church in your house: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may promote the knowledge of all the good that is ours in Christ. For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you. Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, yet for love's sake I prefer to appeal to you – I, Paul, an ambassador and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus – I appeal to you for my child, Onesimos, whose father I have become in my imprisonment. (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel; but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own free will. Perhaps this is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back for ever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother, especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. I, Paul, write this with my own hand, I will repay it – to say nothing of your owing me even your own self. Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ. Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. At the same time, prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping through your prayers to be granted to you. Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, and so do Mark, Aristarchos, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
The Lord said to his disciples, “When you see the desolating sacrilege spoken of by Daniel the prophet, set up where it ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains; let him who is on the housetop not go down, nor enter his house, to take anything away; and let him who is in the field not turn back to take his mantle. And alas for those who are with child and for those who give suck in those days! Pray that it may not happen in winter. For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will be. And if the Lord had not shortened the days, no human being would be saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days. And then if any one says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. False Christs and false prophets will arise and show signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But take heed; I have told you all things beforehand.”
Apostle Onesimus of the Seventy
Saint Onesimus, Apostle of the Seventy in his youth was a servant of Philemon, a Christian of distinguished lineage, living in the city of Colossae, Phrygia. Guilty of an offense against his master and fearing punishment, Saint Onesimus fled to Rome, but as a runaway slave he wound up in prison. In prison he encountered the Apostle Paul, was enlightened by him, and was baptized.
In prison Saint Onesimus served the Apostle Paul like a son. Saint Paul was personally acquainted with Philemon, and wrote him a letter filled with love, asking him to forgive the runaway slave and to accept him like a brother. He sent Saint Onesimus with this letter to his master, depriving himself of help, of which he was very much in need.
After he received the letter, Saint Philemon not only forgave Onesimus, but also sent him back to Rome to the apostle. Saint Philemon (January 4, February 19, and November 22) was afterwards consecrated bishop of the city of Gaza.
After the death of the Apostle Paul, Saint Onesimus served the apostles until their end, and he was made a bishop. After the death of the holy apostles he preached the Gospel in many lands and cities: in Spain, Carpetania, Colossae, Patras. In his old age, Saint Onesimus occupied the bishop’s throne at Ephesus, after the Apostle Timothy. When they took Saint Ignatius the God-Bearer (December 20) to Rome for execution, Bishop Onesimus came to meet with him with other Christians, as Saint Ignatius mentions in his Epistle to the Ephesians.
During the reign of the emperor Trajan (89-117), Saint Onesimus was arrested and brought to trial before the eparch Tertillus. He held the saint in prison for eighteen days, and then sent him to prison in the city of Puteoli. After a certain while, the eparch sent for the prisoner and, convincing himself that Saint Onesimus maintained his faith in Christ, had him stoned, after which they beheaded the saint with a sword. A certain illustrious woman took the body of the martyr and placed it in a silver coffin. This took place in the year 109.
Venerable Paphnutius the Recluse of the Kiev Caves
Saint Paphnutius had the gift of tears, which Saint John of the Ladder says (Step 6:1) is preceded by the remembrance of death. For worldly people, this remembrance may lead to fear and distress, but for Saint Paphnutius it led to constant prayer and the guarding of his mind.
By remembering the hour of death and God’s judgment, Saint Paphnutius was able to free himself from worldly distractions and passions through prayer, repentance and fasting. This, in turn, led to tears.
Venerable Paphnutius and Euphrosynē of Alexandria
Our venerable Mother Euphrosynē was born at the beginning of the fifth century in the city of Alexandria. She was the only child of illustrious and wealthy parents. When she was twelve years old, her mother reposed, and so the girl was raised by her Father, Paphnutios, who was a very devout Christian. He was in the habit of visiting a certain monastery, where the Igoumen was his Spiritual Father.
When Euphrosynē turned eighteen, her father wanted her to marry. He went to the monastery to obtain the Igoumen's blessing for his daughter's wedding. The Igoumen talked with her and gave her his blessing, but Saint Euphrosynē longed for the monastic life. One day, she gave away her possessions to the poor, and then she snuck out of the house.
The Saint had decided to enter a monastery in order to spend her life in solitude and prayer, but she was afraid that her father was apt to find find her in a women’s monastery. Therefore, she disguised herself as a man and entered the same men's monastery which she had visited with her father from her childhood, calling herself Smaragdos. The monks did not recognize Euphrosynē dressed in men’s clothes, and so they received her into the monastery. The monks were impressed by her spiritual struggles and by her willingness to serve everyone.
There in a solitary cell, Saint Euphrosynē spent 38 years in spiritual endeavors, fasting and prayer, thereby attaining a high level of spiritual accomplishment.
Paphnutios was deeply saddened by the loss of his beloved daughter; more than once, on the advice of his Spiritual Father, he spoke to the "monk" Smaragdos, disclosing his grief and receiving spiritual comfort. Before her death, Saint Euphrosynē revealed her secret to her grieving parent and insisted that no one but he should prepare her body for burial. After he buried his daughter, Paphnutios distributed all his wealth to the poor and to the monastery, and then he was tonsured. For ten years, until the time of his own repose, he labored in his daughter's cell.
By her life, Saint Euphrosynē reminds us that we must renounce "worldly passions and live soberly, uprightly, and devoutly" (Titus 2:12). That is, after rejecting the desires of this vain and sinful world, we ought to live abstemiously, with justice toward our fellow human beings, and with piety toward God.
Saint Euphrosynē and her father are also commemorated on September 25.
Venerable Eusebius the Hermit of Syria
Saint Eusebius the Hermit lived in the fourth century and lived in asceticism on a mountain near the village of Asicha in Syria. He led a very strict life under the open sky, patiently enduring the summer heat and winter cold. He wore skins for clothing, and nourished himself on the pods of peas and beans.
Though he was elderly and infirm, he ate only fifteen figs during the Great Forty day Fast. When many people began to flock to Saint Eusebius, he went to a nearby monastery, built a small enclosure at the monastery walls and lived in it until his death.
Saint Eusebius died at the age of ninety, sometime after the year 400.
Vil'na Icon of the Mother of God
Today's celebration commemorates the transfer of the Icon from Moscow to Vil'na (Vilnius), Lithuania. According to local tradition, this Icon (of the Hodēgḗtria type) was painted by the Holy Evangelist Luke, and was brought from Palestine to Constantinople. For many years it belonged to the family of the Byzantine emperors. Later, they sent the Icon to the rulers of Galicia and Chervona Rus'.
After the fall of the Galician principality, the Icon became the property of the Great Princes of Moscow. It did not stay In Moscow very long, however. In 1495, Grand Duke Ivan III (1462-1505), blessed his daughter Elena with the Icon before giving her in marriage to the Lithuanian Grand Duke Alexander. Thus, the Icon came with her to the Lithuanian capital of Vil'na, where it remains today.
According to another legend, which is more credible, this Icon was brought to Moscow by Princess Sophia Palaiologina in 1472 when she married Ivan III. Both legends converge in all other details.
When Princess Elena died, the holy Icon of the Mother of God was placed above her tomb in the Cathedral of the Most Holy Theotokos.
After the relationship between the courts of Moscow and Lithuania came to an end, Ivan the Terrible (1530-1584) tried to bring the wonderworking Icon back to Moscow, offering Grand Duke Sigismund II of Lithuania (1520-1572) fifty noble Lithuanian prisoners in exchange, but Sigismund strongly opposed this, because all the clergy, both the Orthodox and the Uniates, did not want to lose this treasure.
The Icon remained In the Cathedral of the Mother of God until the XVIII century, Later, it was moved to the church of Saint John the Forerunner. Afterward, the Icon was transferred to Vil'na's Holy Trinity Monastery, which was then in possession of the Uniates, and the Cathedral of the Mother if God was also given to them.
Only in 1839 were Holy Trinity Monastery and the Hodēgḗtria Icon returned to the Orthodox. Since that time, the Icon of the Mother of God has been there with other local icons, and was honored by all the Orthodox. It has replaced her lost Ostro Bram (the Dawn Gates) Icon (which is commemorated on December 26 and April 14).
The Hodēgḗtria Icon is painted on four boards which have been joined together. Some are made of cypress wood, and the others of birch. It was restored in 1864.
In a monastery on the outskirts of Vil'na, there is another Vil'na Icon, which appeared in 1341. It is not unlike the Hodēgḗtria Icon. It is a full length depiction of the Mother of God, who stands on a crescent moon, and Holy Angels hold a crown over her pure head. In some variations of this Icon she stands on clouds, surrounded by Angels, and is wearing a crown.
The Vil'na Icon is also commemorated on April 14.
Icon of the Mother of God of Dalmatia
In Perm Gubernia, Shadrinsk county, on the banks of the Iseti River, is the Dalmatian Monastery of the Dormition. In the cathedral church of this monastery is a wonderworking Icon of the Dormition of the Mother of God, which belonged to Father Dalmatios (Δαλμάτιος), the founder of this monastery.
In the first half of the XVII century, a certain resident of Tobolsk, a nobleman by the name of Demetrios Mokrinsky, left his wife and children, and went to the Nev'yan Monastery (Tobolsk Diocese), where he was tonsured with the name Dalmatios, in honor of the fourth century ascetic Saint Dalmatios of Constantinople (August 3).
Since Father Dalmatios was known for his exalted life of asceticism and virtue, the brethren of the Nev'yan Monastery wanted to choose him as their Igoumen, but out of humility, the Elder would not accept such an august position with all its responsibilities. He left the monastery, taking with him an Icon of the Dormition of the Mother of God.
In 1644 he arrived in Perm Gubernia, where he settled in a cave on land owned by the Tyumen Tatar Ilegei. When Iligei discovered that a monk had settled on his property, and even intended to establish a monastery there, he was indignant. Gathering his relatives, he went with the intention of expelling Dalmatios. Iligei spent the night near the cave, beyond the River Iseti, waiting for dawn to make an unexpected attack on the recluse.
Father Dalmatios seemed to be in imminent danger of death, if he tried to resist or defend himself. He could not expect help from anyone anywhere, nor could he flee, since he did not know that an enemy lurked beyond the river in the darkness of night, ready to spill his blood at any moment. The monk did not require any human protection, however, for his protector was the Queen of Heaven.
When Iligei was asleep, the Mother of God appeared to him in a dream, wearing a crown and dressed in a crimson robe, holding a flaming sword in her hands. The Most Holy Theotokos strictly forbade him to harm Father Dalmatios, and ordered Iligei to give the monk some land for a monastery. Awakened by this terrible vision, the Tatar went to Father Dalmatios, accompanied by all his companions, and gave him a piece of land on which to build a monastery.
The Queen of Heaven's wondrous protection of Dalmatios occurred in 1646. In that same year, the Dalmatian Monastery was founded.
At the end of 1646, the newly-established monastery was attacked by the Kalmyks. They set fire to the monastery's buildings; some of the monks who fled were killed, and some were taken captive. During this time, only Dalmatios, the founder of the monastery, escaped death, saved by the wonderworking Icon. This was the same Icon of the Dormition of the Mother of God which he brought with him from the Nev'yan Monastery. When the Kalmyks went away, Elder Dalmatios returned to the same site and began working alone to rebuild the monastery. A few years later, because of his diligence, a wooden church was already standing on the site of the ruined monastery, and nearby there were also cells for monks. Pilgrims began to visit and made donations for the adornment of the monastery and the temple. From that time, word of the monastery quickly spread all over, not only in the places close by, but also in very remote places.
In 1651, less than twenty years after the founding of the Dalmatian Monastery, it was attacked again. This time it was attacked by the Siberian Prince Devlet-Girei. He ransacked and burned the monastery. The Icon of the Mother of God, however, remained unscathed, although the church completely burned down. In just one place, on the back of the board, there was a scorched spot where a certain Muslim had put his hand.
In 1702, the icon was restored by the Tobolsk iconographer Ivan Nikitin.
The monastery was restored by Archimandrite Isaac, the son of Father Dalmatios. He built a stone church in 1707, and in it he placed the wonderworking Icon of the Dormition of the Mother of God.
During the reign of Empress Catherine II, the monastery withstood a three-day siege by the troops of Emelian I. Pugachev, while the monks prayed before the Dalmatian Icon.
In 1800 the Icon was adorned with a gilded riza with silver crowns and precious gems, by order of Igoumen Gideon. In 1864 Archimandrite Methodios ordered a new silver and gilded riza from Moscow, decorated with precious stones. The Icon was in a special kiot, decorated with carvings, and was covered with a colorful silk curtain, which could be opened when necessary.
On April 19, 1852, many of the Monastery buildings, including the upper church, were destroyed by fire.
Once again, the Dalmatian Icon remained damaged.
Every year on February 15th, and again on August 15th, the Monastery's Altar Feast, great crowds would travel to the Dalmatian Monastery in order to venerate the wonderworking Icon. The sick receive healing, according to their faith, from this wonderworking Icon of the Mother of God. This custom continued until 1917.
In the early 1920s, after the monastery was abolished, the monks went to other monasteries, taking the Dalmatian Icon with them. At present, there is no information about the location of the Icon.
Those who experience physical or spiritual suffering pray before the Dalmatian Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos for deliverance.
Saint Anthimus of Chios
Saint Anthimos (Argyrios K. Bagianos) was born on July 1, 1869 in the vicinity of Saint Luke at Livadion, Chios. His righteous and virtuous parents, Constantine and Argyro, took care to give their child a Christian education. The young Argyrios was endowed by the Holy Spirit with the spirit of wisdom; he was foreordained by God to shine forth as a chosen vessel and to become a great guide who would lead others to Christ. His entire childhood development and upbringing was apparently due to the strong and profound influence of his Christian family environment.
On Sundays Argyrios and his family attended services at the Monastery of Nea Moni.1 When he was eight years old he met Saint Nektarios, who was a Deacon at the time. After conversing with young Argyrios, he said to Igumen Pachomios, "Elder, do you see that child? Someday he will become a Saint."
Argyrios had little formal education, and was limited to simple elementary school knowledge. So with no theoretical knowledge of worldly acclaim, but with a good disposition, spiritual discernment, and with a particularly intense desire for the spiritual life, he advanced unwaveringly in the virtuous life with the precious gift of unshakable faith.
Divine love led him to renounce the world and its noisy turmoil, and to enter the monastic state where his virtues shone forth. The starting point for him to follow the path of monasticism was his visit to the Skete of the Holy Fathers of Chios for the restoration of his own wonderworking icon of the All Holy Virgin the Helper (Παναγία Βοηθεία), which he had received from his mother. Since that time, this icon remained an integral part of his entire life. The Theotokos became a source of inexhaustible strength for him in his later difficult struggles, and she was also a fount of refreshment and respite.
His guide in the ascetical life was the venerable Elder Pachomios of Sketis, by whom he was tonsured into the small Schema, and who renamed him Anthimos.
He submitted to Elder Pachomios and through unceasing prayer and fasting, and by the harsh struggles which he undertook with God’s good will, he grew great in asceticism and in virtue. His physical and spiritual struggles left him exhausted and ill. So, with the blessing of Father Pachomios, he returned to his home in order to recuperate. Saint Anthimos, however, did not abandon his struggles. Once his health was partially restored he retired to a small isolated cell on his father’s estates in Livadia, Chios, and continued his spiritual contests. At the same time he worked as a shoemaker in order to help his poor parents, and to show mercy to those who were afflicted.
In his cell, by unceasing prayer, and by studying the lives of the great ascetics, he was strengthened and he made progress in his spiritual formation, but he also provoked the demonic rage of the Evil One. He struggled severely and effectively, conducting multifaceted and victorious contests against the Evil One with ardent prayer, and each day he ascended the blessed Ladder of virtues and holiness. In 1909, at the age of forty, he was tonsured into the Great Schema by Hieromonk Andronikos, the successor of Father Pachomios.
The virtuous ascetic Anthimos was a chosen vessel and was ready for the office of the priesthood, but the local bishop refused to ordain him because of his lack of education. In 1910, he was invited to Adramyttium in Asia Minor by his godfather, Stephen Diomataris, for this purpose. The saint’s ordination by the Bishop of Smyrna was not a typical event.
In his case, there were signs of divine approval following the ordination. Earthquake, lightning, thunder, and a cataclysmic rainfall occurred at that sacred hour. The vigil lamps swayed, and one of them fell down. After the ordination there was calm, stillness, and joy from God. These physical phenomena revealed and bore witness to the fact that God was pleased by his ordination.
As long as he remained in Adramyttium, he shone forth in a dazzling way because of his virtue and holiness, by which he healed those in the region who were possessed by demons, something his fellow priests were unable to do. His spiritual radiance stirred up the passion of jealousy in his concelebrants. Wishing to free them from this passion, the Saint left Adramyttium in 1911 and went to Mount Athos, where the Hagiorite monks freely bestowed many honors upon him.
Returning to Chios, he was assigned as the priest for the home for lepers, which became a new setting for his virtues and charitable activities. The icon of the Panagia Ypapanti (the Meeting of the Lord), the protectress of the hospital for lepers, focuses on all her acts of kindness.
The Lady Theotokos, through the prayers of Saint Anthimos, performed countless miracles of healing the infirmities of the faithful, both those whose names are known and those who remain anonymous. This institution for unfortunate lepers became a spiritual center of physical and mental health. His entire ministry at the home for lepers shows his deepest faith and his very valuable contributions.
Here the greatness of the Saint is revealed. As the priest of that church, Saint Anthimos was always found with the lepers: he ate with them, he talked to them, and he communed them with the Spotless Mysteries. After the Divine Liturgy he rested.
In that hallowed atmosphere, he envisioned the establishment of a Monastery to shelter nuns who had fled there from Asia Minor following the exchange of populations (1922-1924).2 So his dreams moved forward toward their fulfillment. In 1927, after he had a vision of the Theotokos, he received permission to build such a monastery. He also built the magnificent temple dedicated the icon of the Mother of God the Helper (Παναγία Βοηθεία) in 1930. From that time he settled in the Monastery filled with devotion to the Most Holy Theotokos, and there he advanced in his life of asceticism, filled with a multitude of virtues and holiness through the intercession and help of the Theotokos, and he shepherded his flock with great affection and love, strengthening and consoling them with his sweet and simple speech, healing the sicknesses and afflictions of those who had recourse to him.
After his life-long ministry, now at the age of 90, fully ripe and full of days, with a dignity which was reminiscent of the great ascetics of the desert, he celebrated his last Divine Liturgy on January 27, 1960. A few days later he reposed in peace.
Saint Anthimos was glorified by the Church of Constantinople on August 13, 1992.
1 The monastery was dedicated to Saints Nikḗtas, John, and Joseph.
2 At that time many Greeks in Asia Minor were sent to Greece, and many Turks in Greece went to Turkey.