FIRST TUESDAY OF LENT
ABSTAIN FROM MEAT, FISH, DAIRY, EGGS, WINE, OLIVE OIL
Theophylact the Confessor, Bishop of Nicomedia, Hermas the Apostle of the 70, Dometios the Righteous, Paul the Confessor, Felix of Burgundy, Enlightener of East Anglia
If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
How the faithful city has become a harlot, she that was full of justice! Righteousness lodged in her, but now murderers. Your silver has become dross, your wine mixed with water. Your princes are rebels and companions of thieves. Every one loves a bribe and runs after gifts. They do not defend the fatherless, and the widow's cause does not come to them.
Therefore the Lord says, the Lord of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel: "Ah, I will vent my wrath on my enemies, and avenge myself on my foes. I will turn my hand against you and will smelt away your dross as with lye and remove all your alloy. And I will restore your judges as at the first, and your counselors as at the beginning. Afterward you shall be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city.
Zion shall be redeemed by justice, and those in her who repent, by righteousness. But rebels and sinners shall be destroyed together, and those who forsake the Lord shall be consumed. For you shall be ashamed of the oaks in which you delighted; and you shall blush for the gardens which you have chosen. For you shall be like an oak whose leaf withers, and like a garden without water. And the strong shall become tow, and his work a spark, and both of them shall burn together, with none to quench them.
The word which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say: "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths." For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
And God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth." And it was so. And God made the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.
And God said, "Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the firmament of the heavens." So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth." And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.
Wisdom cries aloud in the street; in the markets she raises her voice; on the top of the walls she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks: "How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge?
Give heed to my reproof; behold, I will pour out my thoughts to you; I will make my words known to you. Because I have called and you refused to listen, have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded, and you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when panic strikes you, when panic strikes you like a storm, and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you.
Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but will not find me.
Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord, would have none of my counsel, and despised all my reproof, therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way and be sated with their own devices.
For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacence of fools destroys them; but he who listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of evil.
Saint Theophylactus lived at Constantinople in the eighth century during the time of the Iconoclast heresy. After the death of the iconoclast emperor Leo IV the Khazar (775-780), Emperor Constantine VI (780-797) ascended the throne. At the same time, the holy Patriarch Paul (August 30), not having the strength to continue guiding the flock in the face of iconoclasm, voluntarily resigned his office (784). Saint Tarasius (February 25) was chosen in his place. At that time, he was an eminent imperial counselor. Under the supervision of the new Patriarch the Seventh Ecumenical Council (787) was convened to condemn the Iconoclast heresy. A relatively peaceful time began for the Church, and monasteries again began to fill with monks.
Saint Theophylactus, a gifted disciple of Saint Tarasius, with the blessing of the Patriarch, went to a monastery on the coast of the Black Sea with Saint Michael (May 23). The zealous ascetics by their God-pleasing labors and intense prayer were granted the gift of wonderworking by God. During a drought, when the workers in the field were weakened by thirst, the saints prayed and an empty vessel became filled with enough water to last the entire day.
After several years in the monastery, they were both consecrated as bishops by Patriarch Tarasius. Saint Michael was made Bishop of Synada, and Saint Theophylactus was made Bishop of Nicomedia.
Heading the Church of Nicomedia, Saint Theophylactus cared for the flock entrusted to him. He built churches, hospices, homes for wanderers, he generously distributed alms, was the guardian of orphans, widows and the sick, and personally attended those afflicted with leprosy, not hesitating to wash their wounds.
When the iconoclast Leo the Armenian (813-820) came to the imperial throne, the terrible heresy burst forth with renewed strength.
But the iconoclast emperor was not able to influence Saint Nikēphóros (June 2), the successor of Patriarch Tarasius, who with the other bishops vainly urged Leo not to destroy the peace of the Church. Saint Theophylactus was present at the negotiations of the emperor with the Patriarch. Denouncing the heretics, Saint Theophylactus predicted a speedy death for Leo the Armenian. For his bold prophecy the saint was sent into exile to the fortress Strobil (in Asia Minor). He languished for thirty years until his death, which took place around the year 845.
After the restoration of icon-veneration in the year 847 under the empress Saint Theodora (February 11) and her son Michael, the holy relics of Saint Theophylactus were returned to Nicomedia.
Saint Lazarus of Murom was a Greek, born at Constantinople. In his native city he became a monk at the High-Mount monastery under the Elder Athanasius Diskotes, builder of many monasteries. Eight years later, Lazarus was under the guidance of Bishop Basil of Caesarea. In the year 1343 Bishop Basil, wanting to encourage the Russian Church, sent Saint Lazarus as a noted iconographer together with monks and gifts to Saint Basil, Archbishop of Novgorod (February 10, October 4, June 3).
Saint Lazarus made a copy of Novgorod’s Icon of Sophia, the Wisdom of God (August 15) for the Caesarea diocese, and compiled an account of Novgorod churches and monasteries. Meeting the monk, the Novgorod hierarch bowed to the ground to his guest and blessed him to remain in a monastery he built. For ten years Saint Lazarus faithfully served Saint Basil, and in 1352 upon the death of the holy archpastor, he “dressed the holy body in the prepared clothing and shed many tears.”
Previously, Saint Lazarus had received letters informing him of the death of Bishop Basil of Caesarea. Grieved that he had been deprived of both his guides, the Saint considered returning to his native land. However, in a dream the Novgorod hierarch appeared to him and directed him “to go northward towards the sea, to Mucha Island in Lake Onega” (Murom Island in Lake Onega). In a short time his first guide, Bishop Basil of Caesarea, commanded him in a dream to go to that same place and found a monastery. The Chronicles say that at this time the Novgorodians were making their first attempts to convert the peoples of the White Sea coastal region to Christianity.
But Saint Lazarus was not able to get to this island at once. For a long time, the owner of the island, the Novgorod merchant Ivan, would not permit him. The monk prayed fervently to the Most Holy Theotokos and to Saint John the Forerunner, and he wept at the grave of Saint Basil; and the owner’s resistance was removed. Saint Basil once appeared to him in a dream and ordered him to bestow the island “to our friend Lazarus”, so that the Mother of God might be honored there.
Saint Lazarus arrived alone at the blessed spot. He set up a cross, a hut, and a chapel. Soon the Lopari and Chud natives living on the island heard about him, and he endured much suffering from them. They burned down his hut and did what damage they could. They beat him, chased him from the island, and pursued him in order to kill him. But God and the Queen of Heaven guarded the saint.
At the site of the burned hut the icon of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos again appeared to Saint Lazarus, miraculously undamaged by the fire. It was with this icon that they had blessed him when he became a monk, and from it was heard a commanding Voice: “The faithless people shall become faithful, and there will be one Church and one flock of Christ. Establish upon this place a church of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos.”
Another time the saint saw how this place was blessed by “a Woman of majesty, radiant with golden hue, and resplendent men who made reverence to Her.” Soon the eldest of the Lopari came to the monk and begged him to heal a child born blind: “… then we shall depart from the island, as your servants have been commanded.” Saint Lazarus perceived that this was an angel, and he gave thanks unto the Lord. He healed the blind child after praying and sprinkling him with holy water. Then those resisting the Saint quit the island. The father of the healed child later became a monk and all his sons were baptized.
From that time, people started coming to the saint from faraway places. He baptized them, and tonsured them into monasticism. Even his fellow countrymen came to him from Constantinople, the holy Monks Eleazar, Eumenius and Nazarius (June 4), future founders of the Monastery of the Forerunner in the Olonetsk region.
Visiting Novgorod, Saint Lazarus received from Bishop Moses (1352-1360) his blessing for the construction of a monastery, together with an antimension and some church vessels. A church was built in honor of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, the first in all the coastal region; also a church of the Resurrection of Lazarus, and even a wooden church of Saint John the Forerunner together with a trapeza.
The Murom Dormition monastery was built up and strengthened by its zealous head Saint Lazarus until his old age.
The time of his death was revealed to him in a vision by his faithful protector, Saint Basil of Novgorod. Having chosen a worthy successor, the Athonite Elder Theodosius, and after receiving the Holy Life-Creating Mysteries and blessing everyone, Saint Lazarus departed to the Lord on March 8, 1391 at the age of 105 years. They buried him in a chapel beside the church of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos.
The Life of Saint Lazarus was written by the Elder Theodosius from the words of the monk himself.
Igumen Athanasius labored in the monastery of Saint Lazarus of Murom, or Murmansk, in the mid-fifteenth century. Unfortunately, there is no information about his godly life. After his repose, the body of Saint Athanasius was placed in a special chapel, and here his chains are kept as evidence of his exploits. The ascetic is revered locally in the monastery of Saint Lazarus along with the latter. The veneration of Saint Athanasius goes back a long time. In the second half of the seventeenth century Igumen Athanasius was described as a “venerable wonderworker.”
A troparion and a kontakion in honor of Saint Athanasius are known to exist.
In iconography Saint Athanasius is depicted with a prayer rope in his left hand, while in his right hand he holds a rolled-up scroll as a symbol of his teaching. If the scroll is open, the inscription reads: “Listen, my brother, and do not sin until the end of the age.” In an icon of Saints Lazarus and Athanasius from Murom’s Dormition Monastery, the Saints are depicted full length, praying to the Savior in heaven.
Sometimes Saint Athanasius is shown with his head uncovered, short hair, and a long dark beard, pointed at the tip. He is wearing a light green robe and a brown mantle with a blue Schema and a kukulion on his shoulders. Above is the inscription: “Saint Athanasius of Murom, Wonderworker.”
Saint Hermḗs is mentioned by the Holy Apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Romans (16:14). According to Tradition, he was the Bishop of Dalmatia and reposed in peace. In the Synaxarion of Hippolyte Delehaye (1902) he is called Ermylos. In the Paris Codex 13 f. 296 he is listed on April 8 along with with Herodion, Asynkritos (Bishop of Hyrkania in Asia), Phlegon (Bishop of Marathon), Rufus and his mother (whom Saint Paul refers to as his mother, as well), Epaphras, and Agabos.
Saint Theodoritus was a presbyter and keeper of sacred vessels at the cathedral church in Antioch. This church was built and richly adorned by the emperor Saint Constantine the Great (May 21) and his son Constantius, and the people called it “the Golden church.” Having occupied the throne after the death of the emperor Constantius (337-361), Julian the Apostate (361-363) decided to restore paganism throughout the Roman Empire.
The emperor appointed his uncle, also named Julian, as prefect of Antioch. He ordered him to close the Christian churches, and to send the valuables within them to the imperial treasury. Wanting to please the emperor, the prefect, also an apostate from Christianity, set about his impious task with zeal.
Arriving at Antioch with the dignitary Felix, he gave orders to lock up the priest Theodoritus under guard, and he began his plundering, defiling the altar and the holy altar table. One of those present, Euzoios, tried to admonish him for his impiety, and for this he was killed. Julian accused Theodoritus of hiding the church valuables, but the venerable keeper of vessels denied the accusation and openly denounced Julian for his apostasy.
Despite beastly tortures, the holy martyr maintained his faith in Christ the Savior, and predicted a speedy death for Julian and the emperor for their sacrilege.
The soldiers torturing the faithful presbyter were struck by his firmness and endurance, and by the power of the Word of God. They were converted to Christ, for which they were drowned in the sea.
The holy confessor was beheaded. The mockery and sacrilege of the pagans did not go unpunished, and the predictions of Saint Theodoritus were soon fulfilled. The prefect Julian died in agony from a grievous illness, and the emperor Julian perished in a campaign against the Persians.
It is possible that this Saint Dometius is the same as Saint Dometius the Persian who is commemorated on August 7 with his two disciples.
This is a copy of the famous “Kursk Root” Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos commemorated on November 27.
Saint Felix, the Apostle of East Anglia, was born in the Burgundy region of Gaul (now France). It was he who converted Sigebert (September 27), King of East Anglia, while he was in exile in Gaul. He was forced to flee there, in order to save himself from the intrigues of his kinsmen.
When Saint Sigebert (or Sigerberht, which means "bright victory") was summoned home to claim his ancestral crown, he invited his Spiritual Father, Saint Felix, to leave Gaul to assist him in converting his idolatrous subjects to Christianity. Saint Felix was consecrated as a bishop in 631 by Archbishop Honorius of Canterbury (September 30), who sent him to preach in East Anglia.
The new Bishop was quite successful in his ministry. After seventeen years he had converted almost the entire region. He established churches, monasteries, and a school for boys with the help of King Siegbert, and Saint Felix provided him with teachers from Canterbury. Because of this, some regard him as the founder of the university of Cambridge. Saint Felix also established schools at Felixstoe and at Flixton, or Felixton.
After after two years, King Sigebert abdicated in favor of his cousin Egric, and entered the monastery at Cnobersburgh, now Burgh Castle in Suffolk, the monastery he had founded for Saint Fursey, or Fursa (January 16), who had lived there for about ten years. In 642, after Saint Sigebert was killed in battle against King Penda of Mercia, Saint Fursey made a pilgrimage to Rome. Then he travelled to Gaul, where he established a monastery at Lagny-sur-Marne, near Paris, around the year 644.
Saint Felix reposed in 648 and was buried at Dunwich, but his relics were transferred to Ramsey Abbey in Huntingdonshire in 971. Saint Felix has given his name to Felixstowe in Suffolk, and to Felixkirk in Yorkshire. He is mentioned by Saint Bede (History of the English Church and People, Book 3, chapters 18 and 20).
Dunwich was once a large city, with fifty-two religious establishments, but was gradually swallowed up by the sea. The remains of the steeples may still be seen, underwater, about five miles from shore.
On March 8, 1898, a group of anarchists who hoped to undermine the people’s faith in the Kursk-Root Icon’s wonderworking power, decided to destroy it. They placed a time bomb in the Cathedral of the Sign in the city of Kursk, and at 2 o’clock in the morning there was a devastating explosion that shook the monastery's walls.
The frightened monks ran immediately to the cathedral, where they saw horrible devastation. The force of the blast shattered the gilded canopy above the Icon. The heavy marble base, with several massive steps, had been jolted out of position and had split into several pieces. A huge metal candlestick which had stood in front of the Icon was blown to the opposite side of the cathedral. A cast iron door near the Icon of the Mother of God was torn from its hinges and was thrown outward where it smashed against a wall and made a deep crack. All the windows in the cathedral, including those in the dome overhead, were shattered. Amid the general devastation, the holy Icon remained in one piece and even the glass within the frame was intact. Instead of destroying the Kursk-Root Icon, the anarchists had, on the contrary, become the cause of its greater glorification.
The principal Feast Day of the Kursk-Root Icon is on November 27. It is also commemorated on September 8, the day of its appearance in 1259.