FIRST THURSDAY OF LENT
ABSTAIN FROM MEAT, FISH, DAIRY, EGGS, WINE, OLIVE OIL
Quadratus the Martyr & his Companions, Anastasia of Alexandria, Michael Mauroudes the New-Martyr
The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the pride of men shall be humbled; and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.
For the Lord of hosts has a day against all that is proud and lofty, against all that is lifted up and high; against all the cedars of Lebanon, lofty and lifted up; and against all the oaks of Bashan; against all the high mountains, and against all the lofty hills; against every high tower, and against every fortified wall; against all the ships of Tarshish, and against all the beautiful craft. And the haughtiness of man shall be humbled, and the pride of men shall be brought low; and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day. And the idols shall utterly pass away. And men shall enter the caves of the rocks and the holes of the ground, from before the terror of the Lord, and from the glory of his majesty, when he rises to terrify the earth.
In that day men will cast forth their idols of silver and their idols of gold, which they made for themselves to worship, to the moles and to the bats, to enter the caverns of the rocks and the clefts of the cliffs, from before the terror of the Lord, and from the glory of his majesty, when he rises to terrify the earth.
These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.
In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up — for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no man to till the ground; but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground — then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one which flows around the whole land of Hav'ilah, where there is gold; and the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one which flows around the whole land of Cush. And the name of the third river is Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphra'tes.
The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, "You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.
Then the Lord God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." So out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.
My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; for length of days and years of life and abundant welfare will they give you.
Let not loyalty and faithfulness forsake you; bind them about your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.
Honor the Lord with your substance and with the first fruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.
My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.
Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gets understanding, for the gain from it is better than gain from silver and its profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called happy.
During a persecution against Christians (in the third century) a certain pious woman named Rufina fled from Corinth to a mountain, to escape from her pursuers. There she gave birth to a son Quadratus, and died soon afterward. By the Providence of God the infant remained alive and was nourished in miraculous manner: a cloud appeared over him, dropping a sweet dew into his mouth.
The childhood and youth of Saint Quadratus were spent in the wilderness. When he was a young man, he chanced upon Christians, who enlightened him with the light of the true Faith. Quadratus studied grammar, and later learned the physician’s art and attained great success in it. But most of all, Quadratus loved the wilderness solitude and he spent the greater part of his time in the hills, in prayer and meditation upon God. Many years passed, and his friends and followers frequently came to the saint to hear his instruction. Among them were Cyprian, Dionysius, Anectus, Paul, Crescens and many others.
By order of the impious emperor Decius (249-251), the military prefect Jason arrived at Corinth to torture and slay Christians. Since Quadratus was the eldest, he spoke for the rest. The saint bravely defended his faith in Christ the Savior, then they began the torture. Saint Quadratus, despite inhuman suffering, encouraged the others, urging them not to be afraid and to stand firmly for the Faith.
Unable to persuade any of them to deny Christ, Jason ordered the martyrs to be thrown to wild beasts to be torn apart. But the beasts did not touch them. They tied the saints to chariots by their feet and dragged them through the city, and many of the crowd threw stones at them. Finally, they condemned the martyrs to beheading by the sword. At the place of execution the martyrs requested for a certain time to pray, and then one after the other they bent their necks beneath the sword.
The remaining disciples of Saint Quadratus also suffered for Christ: Dionysius (another one) was stabbed in the night; Victorinus, Victor and Nikēphóros were crushed in a large stone press; Claudius’s hands and feet were cut off; Diodorus was thrown into a fire prepared for him; Serapion was decapitated; Papias and Leonidas were drowned in the sea. Many holy women also went voluntarily to suffer for Christ: Saints Chariessa, Nunechia, Basilissa, Nike, Galla, Galina, and Theodora were among them.
The Holy Martyrs Quadratus of Nicomedia, Saturinus, Rufinus and others suffered during the persecutions of the emperor Decius (249-251) and his successor Valerian (253-259).
Saint Quadratus was descended from an illustrious family. Possessing considerable wealth, the saint did not spare his means in helping fellow Christians, languishing in prison for the faith.
When the envoy of the impious Decius, the proconsul Perennius, arrived in Nicomedia, Saint Quadratus voluntarily appeared before him, in order to strengthen the courage of the imprisoned brethren by his self-sacrificing decision. At first Perennius attempted to lure Quadratus from Christ, promising him rewards and honors. Then, seeing the futility of his attempts, he cast the saint into prison and gave orders to lay him down on a bed of nails and to lay a large stone on him.
Setting out for Nicea, the proconsul commanded that all the imprisoned Christians be brought after him. In that number was Saint Quadratus. Upon arriving in the city, Saint Quadratus implored that they be led to the pagan temple. As soon as they untied his hands and feet, he began to overturn and destroy the idols. By order of the proconsul, they gave Quadratus over to torture. Enduring terrible torments, the saint held firm in spirit and by his act encouraged the other martyrs, whose wounds were seared with burning candles.
During the suffering of the martyrs, suddenly there shone a brilliant cloud, but the pagans found themselves in total darkness. In the ensuing silence was heard the singing of angels glorifying God. Many of those present confessed themselves Christians. Perennius ascribed the miracle to sorcery, and gave orders to take them to prison.
From Nicea the martyrs walked behind the proconsul to Apamea, then to Caesarea, Apollonia and the Hellespont, where they tortured them in all sorts of ways, hoping to make them deny Christ.
They tied Saint Quadratus into a sack filled with poisonous serpents, and threw it into a deep pit. On the following morning, everyone was astonished to see the martyr whole and unharmed. When they began to beat him mercilessly, two noblemen, Saturinus and Rufinus, were moved with pity for the martyr. This was observed, and Saturinus and Rufinus were beheaded.
Perennius subjected the martyr to even more fierce and refined tortures, but was not able to break his spirit. The saint lost his strength and was hardly able to move. For the last time the proconsul urged the martyr to abjure Christ. Marshalling his strength, the saint firmly replied, “Since childhood I have acknowledged Christ as the one and only God, and I know no other.”
The proconsul gave orders to light the fire, make the iron grate red-hot and throw the martyr on it. Having blessed himself with the Sign of the Cross, Saint Quadratus laid himself down upon the red-hot couch as upon a soft bed, emerging unharmed from the flames. In frustration, the proconsul gave orders to behead Saint Quadratus.
Saint Anastasia the Patrician of Alexandria lived in Constantinople and was descended from an aristocratic family. She was an image of virtue, and she enjoyed the great esteem of the emperor Justinian (527-565). Widowed at a young age, Anastasia decided to leave the world and save her soul far from the bustle of the capital. She secretly left Constantinople and went to Alexandria. She founded a small monastery not far from the city, and devoted herself entirely to God.
Several years later, the emperor Justinian was widowed and decided to search for Anastasia and marry her. As soon as she learned of this, Saint Anastasia journeyed to a remote skete to ask Abba Daniel (March 18) for help.
In order to safeguard Anastasia, the Elder dressed her in a man’s monastic garb and called her the eunuch Anastasius. Having settled her in one of the very remote caves, the Elder gave her a Rule of prayer and ordered her never to leave the cave and to receive no one. Only one monk knew of this place. His obedience was to bring a small portion of bread and a pitcher of water to the cave once a week, leaving it at the entrance. The nun Anastasia dwelt in seclusion for twenty-eight years. Everyone believed that it was the eunuch Anastasius who lived in the cave.
The Lord revealed to her the day of her death. Having learned of her approaching death, she wrote several words for Abba Daniel on a potsherd and placed it at the entrance to the cave. The Elder came quickly and brought everything necessary for her burial. He found the holy ascetic still alive, and he confessed and communed her with the Holy Mysteries. At Abba Daniel’s request, Saint Anastasia blessed him and the monk accompanying him. With the words: “Lord, into Thy hands I commend my spirit,” the saint died in peace (ca. 567-568).
When the grave was prepared, the Elder gave his disciple his outer garment and ordered him to dress the deceased “brother” in it. As he was putting on the rassa, the monk noticed that she was a woman, but he did not dare to say anything. However, when they returned to the monastery after they buried the nun, the disciple asked Abba Daniel whether he knew the “brother” was a woman, and the Elder related to the young monk the life of Saint Anastasia. Later, the abba’s narrative was written down and received wide acclaim.
The relics of Saint Anastasia were transferred to Constantinople in the year 1200, and put not far from the church of Hagia Sophia.
In the second half of the 10th century King Davit Kuropalates founded Khakhuli Monastery in the historical region of Tao, at the gorge of the Khakhuli River, where it joins the Tortumi River.
Once famed for its holiness and academic activity, today Khakhuli Monastery is a Turkish possession and has become a tourist site. Nevertheless, the Georgian nation continues to be illumined by its grace and the radiance of the Georgian faithful who labored there.
A contemporary of King Bagrat III (975-1014), Saint John of Khakhuli was a highly educated theologian, translator, and calligrapher. He has been called “Chrysostom” since he, like the beloved archbishop of Constantinople, delivered his sermons with extraordinary eloquence.
Some sources claim that Saint John was first consecrated bishop of Bolnisi and later transferred to the Khakhuli diocese. It is generally agreed, however, that he left Khakhuli around the year 1019 and traveled to Mt. Athos with Arsen of Ninotsminda and John Grdzelisdze.
One Georgian manuscript, however, suggests that Saint John was not a bishop at that time, and this has baffled Church historians to this day. In this manuscript it is written: “Pray for the blessed monk John Grdzelisdze and his spiritual son John Chrysostom, who labored to write this holy book.”
While laboring on Mt. Athos, Saint John faithfully assisted Saint Ekvtime of the Holy Mountain, and these spiritual brothers became close friends.
The countless good works he performed from the bishop’s throne, the title “Chrysostom,” and the many important writings accredited to him attest to the piety, wisdom, and patriotism of Saint John of Khakhuli. It is written in The Life of Giorgi of the Holy Mountain that Saint John reposed on Mt. Athos.
No information available at this time.