FRIDAY OF PRODIGAL SON
Leo the Great, Pope of Rome, Agapetus the Confessor, Bishop of Sinai, Flavian the Confessor, Patriarch of Constantinople
ST. JOHN’S FIRST UNIVERSAL LETTER 2:7-17
Brethren, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment which you had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new commandment, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. He who says he is in the light and hates his brother is in the darkness still. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and in it there is no cause for stumbling. But he who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides for ever.
At that time, while Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. But there were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment thus wasted? For this ointment might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and given to the poor.” And they reproached her. But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you will, you can do good to them; but you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burying. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”
Saint Leo I the Great, Pope of Rome (440-461), received a fine and diverse education, which opened for him the possibility of an excellent worldly career. He yearned for the spiritual life, however, and so he chose the path of becoming an archdeacon under holy Pope Sixtus III (432-440), after whose death Saint Leo was chosen as Bishop of Rome in September 440.
These were difficult times for the Church, when heretics assaulted Orthodoxy with their false teachings. Saint Leo combined pastoral solicitude and goodness with an unshakable firmness in the confession of the Faith. He was in particular one of the basic defenders of Orthodoxy against the heresies of Eutyches and Dioscorus, who taught that there was only one nature in the Lord Jesus Christ. He was also a defender against the heresy of Nestorius.
He exerted all his influence to put an end to the unrest by the heretics in the Church, and by his letters to the holy emperors Theodosius II (408-450) and Marcian (450-457), he actively promoted the convening of the Fourth Ecumenical Council, at Chalcedon in 451, to condemn the heresy of the Monophysites.
At the Council at Chalcedon, at which 630 bishops were present, a letter of Saint Leo to the deceased Saint Flavian, Patriarch of Constantinople (447-449) was read. Saint Flavian had suffered for Orthodoxy under the “Robber Council” of Ephesus in the year 449. In the letter of Saint Leo the Orthodox teaching about the two natures [the divine and the human] in the Lord Jesus Christ was set forth. All the bishops present at the Council were in agreement with this teaching, and so the heretics Eutyches and Dioscorus were excommunicated from the Church.
Saint Leo was also a defender of his country against the incursions of barbarians. In 452, by the persuasive power of his words, he stopped Attila the Hun from pillaging Italy. Again in the year 455, when the leader of the Vandals [a Germanic tribe], Henzerich, turned towards Rome, he persuaded him not to pillage the city, burn buildings, nor to spill blood.
He knew the time of his death beforehand, and he prepared himself, with forty days of fasting and prayer, to pass from this world into eternity.
He died in the year 461 and was buried at Rome. His literary and theological legacy is comprised of 96 sermons and 143 letters, of which the best known is his Epistle to Saint Flavian.
Saint Cosmas of Yakhrom was the servant of a certain nobleman, whom he comforted during his prolonged illness by reading him books. And so, travelling from city to city, they happened to stop at the River Yakhroma. Here in the woods an icon of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos appeared to Cosmas, and he heard a voice commanding him to become a monk and to build a monastery. His sick master then received healing from the icon, and Cosmas went to Kiev, where he was tonsured in the Monastery of the Caves. Then with the icon of the Mother of God, and on an inspiration from above, he again went to Yakhrom, 40 versts from the city of Vladimir, constructing a temple in honor of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos with the help of some good Christians.
Brethren began to gather around the monk, and a monastery was formed. Saint Cosmas was chosen as igumen. During this time, word of the monk’s ascetic struggles reached even the Great Prince. Saint Cosmas died at an advanced old age on February 18, 1492, and was buried in the monastery he founded. His memory is celebrated also on October 14, the day that the Yakhrom Icon of the Mother of God is commemorated.
Saint Agapitos came from Cappadocia and was the son of pious and God-loving parents. He lived during the time of the emperors Diocletian (284-305) and Maximian (285-305). At a young age he departed for a monastery near Synnada in Phrygia, where he became a monk. He was loved by the Igumen because of his virtuous life and so he was taught how to read and write. He also received from God the gift of working miracles, performing over a hundred of them. By his prayers he killed a great dragon, which had appeared near the monastery, carrying off both people and animals. This was a great benefit for those who had turned to him for help.
Later on, during the reign of Licinius (308-323) Saint Agapitos was recruited into the army against his will. There he saw the victorious Martyrs Victor, Dorotheos, Theodoulos, Agrippa and many others, being tortured for their faith in Christ. Right away he wanted to join them in their martyrdom. Though they were perfected in Christ by the sword, he was preserved and, by God's providence, he suffered no harm, even though they wounded him with a spear. His life was spared so that he might lead many to salvation.
The holy Emperor Constantine the Great (May 21) heard that Saint Agapitos could heal people by his prayers. The emperor sent him a sick servant, and he was cured. Saint Constantine wished to reward Saint Agapitos, but he asked only that he be discharged from military service and be permitted to return to his monastery. His request was granted, and so he went back to the monastery.
Saint Agapitos devoted himself to the study of the Holy Gospel, and the Bishop of Synnada ordained him to the holy priesthood. After the bishop reposed, Saint Agapitos was chosen to succeed him in this position by the common consent of the clergy and the people.
After governing his flock in a God-pleasing manner, instructing them in the Orthodox Faith, and in virtuous living, Saint Agapitos reposed in peace
Saint Flavian the Confessor, Patriarch of Constantinople, occupied the patriarchal throne of Constantinople under the holy Emperor Theodosius the Younger (408-450) and his sister the holy Empress Pulcheria (September 10).
At first he was a presbyter and caretaker of church-vessels in the cathedral. He became Patriarch after the death of holy Patriarch Proclus (November 20). During this time, various disturbances and heresies threatened church unity.
In the year 448, Saint Flavian convened a local Council at Constantinople to examine the heresy of Eutyches, which admitted only one nature (the divine) in the Lord Jesus Christ. Persisting in his error, the heretic Eutyches was excommunicated from the Church and deprived of dignity, but Eutyches had a powerful patron in the person of Chrysathios, a eunuch close to the emperor.
Through intrigue Chrysathios brought Bishop Dioscorus of Alexandria over to the side of Eutyches, and obtained permission from the emperor to convene a church council at Ephesus, afterwards known as the “Robber Council.”
Dioscorus presided at this council, gaining the acquittal of Eutyches and the condemnation of Patriarch Flavian by threats and force. Saint Flavian was fiercely beaten up during the sessions of this council by impudent monks led by a certain Barsumas.
Even the impious president of the Robber Council, the heretic Dioscorus, took part in these beatings. After this heavy chains were put upon Saint Flavian, and he was sentenced to banishment at Ephesus. The Lord, however, ended his further suffering, by sending him his death (+ August 449). The holy Empress Pulcheria withdrew from the imperial court. Soon the intrigues of Chrysathios were revealed. The emperor dismissed him, and restored his sister Saint Pulcheria. Through her efforts, the relics of holy Patriarch Flavian were reverently transferred from Ephesus to Constantinople.
Nicholas Batonishvili was the son of Levan I, King of Kakheti (1520-1574). He lived during the grievous period of the Persian invasion of eastern Georgia. The young prince chose the path of monastic life and bravely helped his elder brother, King Alexandre II (1574-1605).
Despite his royal blood, he preferred the monk’s habit and the sweet, light yoke of Christ to the glamour and opulence of his inheritance.
According to God’s will, Nicholas was enthroned as Catholicos of All Georgia. The Georgian chronicle Life of Kartli (Kartlis Tskhovreba) relates the date of his enthronement as Saturday, February 28, 1584.
Armed with the highest hierarchical rank, royal blood, and personal integrity, Catholicos Nicholas was an exemplary leader for the Georgian nation. He struggled to plant the seeds of Christian love between countries of like faith.
He corresponded with Patriarch Job of Russia (1586-1590) and even sent him a horse. He also donated a leather-bound illuminated manuscript of the Gospels, copied in 1049, to the Metekhi Church of the Theotokos.
In his book Pilgrimage, the renowned eighteenth-century historian Archbishop Timote (Gabashvili) reports that there is an icon of Holy Catholicos Nicholas hanging in the refectory at the Ivḗron Monastery on Mt. Athos. Bishop Timote also describes another refectory, built by Ashotan Mukhran-Batoni, and notes, “There, I believe, Catholicos Nicholas Batonishvili reposed.”
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