4TH THURSDAY OF LENT
ABSTAIN FROM MEAT, FISH, DAIRY, EGGS, WINE, OLIVE OIL
The Holy Hieromartyr Hypatius, Bishop of Gangra, Theophilos the Martyr and those with him, Innocent, Enlightener of Siberia & Alaska, Akakios the Confessor
Thus says the LORD, you scoffers, who rule this people in Jerusalem! Because you have said, "We have made a covenant with death, and with Sheol we have an agreement; when the overwhelming scourge passes through it will not come to us; for we have made lies our refuge, and in falsehood we have taken shelter"; therefore thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I am laying in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: 'He who believes will not be in haste.' And I will make justice the line, and righteousness the plummet; and hail will sweep away the refuge of lies, and waters will overwhelm the shelter." Then your covenant with death will be annulled, and your agreement with Sheol will not stand; when the overwhelming scourge passes through you will be beaten down by it. As often as it passes through it will take you; for morning by morning it will pass through, by day and by night; and it will be sheer terror to understand the message. For the bed is too short to stretch oneself on it, and the covering too narrow to wrap oneself in it. For the LORD will rise up as on Mount Perazim, he will be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon; to do his deed – strange is his deed! and to work his work – alien is his work! Now therefore do not scoff, lest your bonds be made strong; for I have heard a decree of destruction from the Lord GOD of hosts upon the whole land.
These are the families of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, in their nations; and from these the nations spread abroad on the earth after the flood. Now the whole earth had one language and few words. And as men migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, "Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly." And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth." And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the sons of men had built. And the LORD said, "Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; and nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech." So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.
A desire fulfilled is sweet to the soul; but to turn away from evil is an abomination to fools. He who walks with wise men becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. Misfortune pursues sinners, but prosperity rewards the righteous. A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children, but the sinner's wealth is laid up for the righteous. The fallow ground of the poor yields much food, but it is swept away through injustice. He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him. The righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite, but the belly of the wicked suffers want. Wisdom builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down. He who walks in uprightness fears the LORD, but he who is devious in his ways despises him. The talk of a fool is a rod for his back, but the lips of the wise will preserve them. Where there are no oxen, there is no grain; but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox. A faithful witness does not lie, but a false witness breathes out lies. A scoffer seeks wisdom in vain, but knowledge is easy for a man of understanding.
Saint Innocent (Veniaminov), Metropolitan of Moscow and Kolomensk (August 26, 1797—March 31, 1879), was glorified by the Russian Orthodox Church on October 6, 1977. He was born in the village of Anginsk in the Irkutsk diocese. The Apostle of America and Siberia proclaimed the Gospel “even to the ends of the earth”: in the Aleutian islands (from 1823), in the six dialects of the local tribes on the island of Sitka (from 1834), among the Kolosh (Tlingit); in the remotest settlements of the extensive Kamchatka diocese (from 1853); among the Koryak, Chukchei, Tungus in the Yakutsk region (from 1853) and North America (in 1857); in the Amur and the Usuriisk region (from 1860).
Having spent a large part of his life in journeys, Saint Innocent translated a Catechism and the Gospel into the Aleut language. In 1833, he wrote in this language one of the finest works of Orthodox missionary activity INDICATION OF THE WAY TO THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.
In 1859, the Yakut first heard the Word of God and divine services in their native language. Twice (in 1860 and 1861) Saint Innocent met with Saint Nicholas the Apostle to Japan (February 3), sharing with him his spiritual experience.
A remarkable preacher, Saint Innocent said, “Whoever abounds in faith and love, can have mouth and wisdom, and the heart cannot resist their serving it.”
Having begun his apostolic work as a parish priest, Saint Innocent completed it as Metropolitan of Moscow (January 5, 1868—March 31, 1879). He obeyed the will of God all his life, and he left behind a theme for the sermon to be preached at his funeral: “The steps of a man are rightly ordered by the Lord” (Ps 36/37:23).
Saint Innocent is also commemorated on October 5 (Synaxis of the Moscow Hierarchs) and on October 6 (his glorification).
Hieromartyr Hypatius, Bishop of Gangra, was bishop of the city of Gangra in Paphlagonia (Asia Minor). In the year 325 he participated in the First Ecumenical Council at Nicea, at which the heresy of Arius was anathematized.
When Saint Hypatius was returning in 326 from Constantinople to Gangra, followers of the schismatics Novatus and Felicissimus fell upon him in a desolate place. The heretics ran him through with swords and spears, and threw him into a swamp. Like the Protomartyr Stephen, Saint Hypatius prayed for his murderers.
An Arian woman struck the saint on the head with a stone, killing him. The murderers hid his body in a cave, where a Christian who kept straw there found his body. Recognizing the bishop’s body, he hastened to the city to report this, and the inhabitants of Gangra piously buried their beloved archpastor.
After his death, the relics of Saint Hypatius were famous for numerous miracles, particularly for casting out demons and for healing the sick.
From of old the hieromartyr Hypatius was particularly venerated in the Russian land. Thus in the year 1330 the Ipatiev monastery was built at Kostroma, on the place where the Mother of God appeared with the Pre-eternal Christ Child, the Apostle Philip, and the hieromartyr Hypatius, Bishop of Gangra. This monastery later occupied a significant place in the spiritual and social life of the nation, particularly during the Time of Troubles.
The ancient copies of the Life of the hieromartyr Hypatius were widely distributed in Russian literature, and one of these was incorporated into THE READING MENAION of Metropolitan Macarius (1542-1564). In this Life there is an account of the appearance of the Savior to Saint Hypatius on the eve of the martyr’s death.
The entry for the saint’s Feast consists of his Life, some prayers, and words of praise and instruction. The pious veneration of Saint Hypatius was also expressed in Russian liturgical compositions. During the nineteenth century a new service was written for the hieromartyr Hypatius, distinct from the services written by Saint Joseph the Studite, contained in the March MENAION.
Saint Jonah, Metropolitan of Moscow and Wonderworker of All Russia, was born in the city of Galich into a pious Christian family. The father of the future saint was named Theodore. The youth received monastic tonsure in one of the Galich monasteries when he was only twelve years old. From there, he transferred to the Moscow Simonov monastery, where he fulfilled various obediences for many years.
Once, Saint Photius, Metropolitan of Moscow (May 27 and July 2), visited the Simonov monastery. After the Molieben, he blessed the archimandrite and brethren, and also wished to bless those monks who were fulfilling their obediences in the monastery.
When he came to the bakery, he saw Saint Jonah sleeping, exhausted from his work. The fingers of the saint’s right hand were positioned in a gesture of blessing. Saint Photius said not to wake him. He blessed the sleeping monk and predicted to those present that this monk would be a great hierarch of the Russian Church, and would guide many on the way to salvation.
The prediction of Saint Photius was fulfilled. Several years later, Saint Jonah was made Bishop of Ryazan and Murom.
Saint Photius died in 1431. Five years after his death, Saint Jonah was chosen Metropolitan of All Russia for his virtuous and holy life. The newly-elected Metropolitan journeyed to Constantinople in order to be confirmed as Metropolitan by Patriarch Joseph II (1416-1439). Shortly before this the nefarious Isidore, a Bulgarian, had already been established as Metropolitan. Spending a short time at Kiev and Moscow, Isidore journeyed to the Council of Florence (1438), where he embraced Catholicism.
A Council of Russian hierarchs and clergy deposed Metropolitan Isidore, and he was compelled to flee secretly to Rome (where he died in 1462). Saint Jonah was unanimously chosen Metropolitan of All Russia. He was consecrated by Russian hierarchs in Moscow, with the blessing of Patriarch Gregory III (1445-1450) of Constantinople. This was the first time that Russian bishops consecrated their own Metropolitan. Saint Jonah became Metropolitan on December 15, 1448. With archpastoral zeal he led his flock to virtue and piety, spreading the Orthodox Faith by word and by deed. Despite his lofty position, he continued with his monastic struggles as before.
In 1451 the Tatars unexpectedly advanced on Moscow; they burned the surrounding area and prepared for an assault on the city. Metropolitan Jonah led a procession along the walls of the city, tearfully entreating God to save the city and the people. Seeing the dying monk Anthony of the Chudov monastery, who was noted for his virtuous life, Saint Jonah said, “My son and brother Anthony! Pray to the Merciful God and the All-Pure Mother of God for the deliverance of the city and for all Orthodox Christians.”
The humble Anthony replied, “Great hierarch! We give thanks to God and to His All-Pure Mother. She has heard your prayer and has prayed to Her Son. The city and all Orthodox Christians will be saved through your prayers. The enemy will soon take flight. The Lord has ordained that I alone am to be killed by the enemy.” Just as the Elder said this, an enemy arrow struck him.
The prediction of Elder Anthony was made on July 2, on the Feast of the Placing of the Robe of the Most Holy Theotokos. Confusion broke out among the Tatars, and they fled in fear and terror. In his courtyard, Saint Jonah built a church in honor of the Placing of the Robe of the Most Holy Theotokos, to commemorate the deliverance of Moscow from the enemy.
Saint Jonah reposed in the year 1461, and miraculous healings began to take place at his grave.
In 1472 the incorrupt relics of Metropolitan Jonah were uncovered and placed in the Dormition Cathedral of the Kremlin (the Transfer of the holy Relics is celebrated May 27). A Council of the Russian Church in 1547 established the commemoration of Saint Jonah, Metropolitan of Moscow. In 1596, Patriarch Job added Saint Jonah to the Synaxis of the Moscow Hierarchs (October 5).
Saint Hypatius the Healer of the Caves, attained glory through his severe fasting and prayerful vigilance. By night he stood at prayer, slept very little, and ate only bread and water.
Saint Hypatius devoted himself entirely to the service of the sick, and received from God the gift of healing. Those sick with various illnesses often hastened to his prayerful intercession.
The memory of Saint Hypatius is celebrated also on August 28, on the Synaxis of the Saints of the Far Caves.
Saint Apollonius, when he was a fifteen-year-old youth, withdrew into the inner Thebaid desert (Lower Egypt), where he spent forty years in monastic struggles. Directed by God, he founded a monastery near Hermopolis, where eventually about five hundred monks gathered. Saint Apollonius was strict in fasting, only on Sundays did he eat cooked food, and on other days he ate wild plants.
All the monks followed the example of Saint Apollonius, engaging in spiritual struggles at the monastery. The holy ascetic died in the fourth century.
Saint Avdas was Bishop of Bethchasar in Persia. He destroyed a temple of the fire-worshippers, and was brought to trial before the Persian emperor Izdegerd I (401-402), who ordered the saint to rebuild the temple. When Bishop Avdas refused, the emperor ordered soldiers to destroy all the Christian churches, persecute the Christians, and to torture them.
Saint Avdas was the first to be martyred. He was beheaded after lengthy tortures. After thirty days, the other martyrs were also executed. Among them was the deacon Benjamin, who suffered particularly cruel torments. They stuck sharp needles under his nails and impaled him on a spear.
The hieromartyrs died in the old Persian city of Suza.
Saint Hypatius, Igumen of Rufinus in Chalcedon was born in Phrygia (Asia Minor) into the family of a lawyer and he received a fine education. Once, when he was eighteen years old, his father punished him, after which the youth left home and went to Thrace (Balkans).
There he herded cattle for a time, and then he lived with a priest who taught him how to chant the Psalms. Soon the chosen one of God was tonsured in one of the monasteries. Struggling against the temptations of the flesh, the holy ascetic spent fifty days in a strict fast. One night, with the blessing of the igumen, he drank some wine and ate some bread in the presence of the brethren, and was healed of his passions.
In search of a new place for ascetic struggles, Saint Hypatius settled with two other monks in the neglected Rufinus monastery near Chalcedon (Asia Minor). The monastery was rebuilt and soon many monks gathered about the holy ascetic, and the monastery began to flourish spiritually once more.
At the age of forty, Saint Hypatius was chosen igumen and he guided the monastery for forty years. Many monks, imitating their guide, attained spiritual perfection. For his strict ascetic life and love for others, Saint Hypatius was granted the gifts of wonderworking and healing by the Lord. Through his holy prayers bread was multiplied at the monastery. Those afflicted with demons, and the blind, the withered and the hemorrhaging, came to the monastery and were healed.
Saint Hypatius reposed in 446, at eighty years of age. On the eve of his death, he predicted misfortunes to come: a devastating hailstorm, an earthquake, and Attila the Hun’s invasion of Thrace.
The Ivḗron Icon of the Mother of God (which is preserved on Mt. Athos) was kept in the home of a certain pious widow, who lived near Nicea. During the time of the emperor Theophilus, the Iconoclasts came to the house of this Christian, and one of the soldiers struck the image of the Mother of God with a spear. Blood flowed from the place where it was struck.
The widow, fearing its destruction, promised the imperial soldiers money and implored them not to touch the icon until morning. When the soldiers departed, the woman and her son (later an Athonite monk), sent the holy icon away upon the sea to preserve it. The icon, standing upright upon the water, floated to Athos.
For several days, the Athonite monks had seen a fiery pillar on the sea rising up to the heavens. They came down to the shore and found the holy image, standing upon the waters. After a Molieben of thanksgiving, a pious monk of the Ivḗron monastery, Saint Gabriel (July 12), had a dream in which the Mother of God appeared to him and gave him instructions. So he walked across the water, and taking up the holy icon, he placed it in the church.
On the following day, however, the icon was found not within the church, but on the gates of the monastery. This was repeated several times, until the Most Holy Theotokos revealed to Saint Gabriel Her will, saying that She did not want the icon to be guarded by the monks, but rather She intended to be their Protectress. After this, the icon was installed on the monastery gates. Therefore this icon came to be called “Portaitissa” or “Gate-Keeper” (October 13). This comes from the Akathist “Rejoice, O Blessed Gate-Keeper who opens the gates of Paradise to the righteous.”
There is a tradition that the Mother of God promised Saint Gabriel that the grace and mercy of Her Son toward the monks would continue as long as the Icon remained at the monastery. It is also believed that the disappearance of the Ivḗron Icon from Mt. Athos would be a sign of the end of the world.
The Ivḗron Icon is also commemorated on February 12, October 13 (its arrival in Moscow in 1648), and Bright Tuesday (commemorating the appearance of the Icon in a pillar of fire at Mt. Athos and its recovery by Saint Gabriel).
Saint Acacius the Confessor lived during the Decian persecution, and was Bishop of Melitene, Armenia.
Arrested as a Christian, Saint Acacius was brought before the governor Marcianus, who ordered that he be tortured. He was not put to death, but was set free after a while, bearing the wounds of Christ on his body. He died in peace.
Saint Acacius the Confessor is also commemorated on September 15. He should not be confused with another Saint Acacius of Melitene (April 17) who lived in the fifth century.
Righteous Joseph the Fair was the son of the Old Testament patriarch Jacob and his wife Rachel (Genesis 37:3). His eleven brothers, the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah (Genesis 37:2) were jealous of him, because their father loved him more than his other sons, because he was the son of his old age. They feared him because he revealed his dreams, which foretold his future greatness. One dream was about how he and his brothers were binding sheaves in the field. Joseph's sheaf rose up, and the sheaves of his brothers arose and bowed down to it. In another dream the sun, the moon, and eleven stars bowed down to him. Jacob rebuked him for implying that his father, mother, and eleven brothers would also bow before him one day.
The brothers decided to kill Joseph, but the eldest son Reuben persuaded them not to do so. "Do not shed any blood. Cast him into this pit … but do not lay hands upon him" (Genesis 37:32). Reuben intended to come back later and rescue Joseph, but his plans were thwarted.They stripped Joseph of his coat and threw him into the pit, and then sold him for twenty gold coins to merchants who were traveling to Egypt in a caravan. After killing a goat, they smeared its blood on the coat and brought it to Jacob saying that they had found it on the ground. Jacob recognized the coat and concluded that a wild animal must have killed Joseph.
In Egypt Joseph was sold to Potiphar, a captain of the guards. Because his master saw that the Lord was with Joseph, and that he was a successful man, he made him the overseer of his house, placing him in charge of all his possessions. The Righteous Joseph was fair of countenance, and Potiphar's wife wanted him to lie with her. He would not consent to this, but the shameless woman continued pestering him. One day she repeated her request, and he fled from her. She seized his garment as he ran away, and showed it to her husband when he returned home. Out of malice and spite, Potiphar's wife slandered the Righteous Joseph before her husband, saying that he had attempted to rape her. Believing the lie, Potiphar confined the innocent young man in a prison. There, Saint Joseph the Fair gained fame when he interpreted the dreams of two men in the prison (Genesis chapter 40).
After Joseph interpreted Pharaoh's two dreams (Genesis chapter 41), predicting seven years of plenty, and seven years of famine and misfortune for Egypt, he advised Pharaoh to appoint overseers to store one fifth of the grain harvest each year, and to reserve it for the time of famine. The Righteous Joseph was set free and was given charge of Pharaoh's household, and became the Lord of Egypt. Pharaoh was still the ruler, but Joseph answered only to him.
When famine also struck his home in the land of Canaan, ten of Joseph's brothers were sent to Egypt by Jacob in order to buy some grain. Only Benjamin stayed at home with his father. Joseph recognized them, but they did not know him. He threw them into prison for three days, then released them. He gave them provisions and sent them on their way, ordering them to send him their youngest brother.
Later, Joseph revealed himself to them, and he wept. He told them to bring his father and his entire family to Egypt. After Jacob's death, Joseph's brothers feared that he would repay them for all the evil they had done to him, so they asked for forgiveness. He replied, "You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good" (Genesis 50:20).
Before his death around 1700 B. C., the Righteous Joseph ordered that his bones be taken from Egypt to the Promised Land, which was done in the time of the holy Prophet Moses (September 4), 1496 B.C. As the father of Manassah and Ephraim, Saint Joseph is placed at the head of two of the tribes of Israel.
Saint Joseph is also commemorated on the Sunday of the Holy Fathers, and on Great and Holy Monday.