2ND MONDAY OF LENT
ABSTAIN FROM MEAT, FISH, DAIRY, EGGS, WINE, OLIVE OIL
Benedict the Righteous of Nursia, Euschemon the Confessor, Bishop of Lampasakos
In that day the branch of the LORD shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and glory of the survivors of Israel. And he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy, every one who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem, when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and cleansed the bloodstains of Jerusalem from its midst by a spirit of judgment and by a spirit of burning. Then the LORD will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory there will be a canopy and a pavilion. It will be for a shade by day from the heat, and for a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain. Let me sing for my beloved a love song concerning his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. He digged it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines; he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it; and he looked for it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes. And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, between me and my vineyard. What more was there to do for my vineyard, that I have not done in it? When I looked for it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes? And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured; I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down. I will make it a waste; it shall not be pruned or hoed, and briers and thorns shall grow up; I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his pleasant planting; and he looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, a cry!
And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins, and clothed them. Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever”- therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man; and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life. Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD.” And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a tiller of the ground. In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is couching at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.”
Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he shows favor. The wise will inherit honor, but fools get disgrace.
Hear, O sons, a father's instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight; for I give you good precepts: do not forsake my teaching. When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother, he taught me, and said to me, "Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth. Get wisdom; get insight. Do not forsake her, and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her. She will place on your head a fair garland; she will bestow on you a beautiful crown." Hear, my son, and accept my words, that the years of your life may be many. I have taught you the way of wisdom; I have led you in the paths of uprightness. When you walk, your step will not be hampered; and if you run, you will not stumble. Keep hold of instruction, do not let go; guard her, for she is your life. Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil men. Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on. For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong; they are robbed of sleep unless they have made some one stumble. For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence. But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day. The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.
My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart.
Saint Benedict, founder of Western monasticism, was born in the Italian city of Nursia in the year 480. When he was fourteen years of age, the saint’s parents sent him to Rome to study. Unsettled by the immorality around him, he decided to devote himself to a different sort of life.
At first Saint Benedict settled near the church of the holy Apostle Peter in the village of Effedum, but news of his ascetic life compelled him to go farther into the mountains. There he encountered the hermit Romanus, who tonsured him into monasticism and directed him to live in a remote cave at Subiaco. From time to time, the hermit would bring him food.
For three years the saint waged a harsh struggle with temptations and conquered them. People soon began to gather to him, thirsting to live under his guidance. The number of disciples grew so much, that the saint divided them into twelve communities. Each community was comprised of twelve monks and was a separate skete. The saint gave each skete an igumen from among his experienced disciples, and only the novice monks remained with Saint Benedict for instruction.
The strict monastic Rule Saint Benedict established for the monks was not accepted by everyone, and more than once he was criticized and abused by dissenters.
Finally he settled in Campagna and on Mount Cassino he founded the Monte Cassino monastery, which for a long time was a center of theological education for the Western Church. The monastery possessed a remarkable library. Saint Benedict wrote his Rule, based on the experience of life of the Eastern desert-dwellers and the precepts of Saint John Cassian the Roman (February 29).
The Rule of Saint Benedict dominated Western monasticism for centuries (by the year 1595 it had appeared in more than 100 editions). The Rule prescribed the renunciation of personal possessions, as well as unconditional obedience, and constant work. It was considered the duty of older monks to teach the younger and to copy ancient manuscripts. This helped to preserve many memorable writings from the first centuries of Christianity.
Every new monk was required to live as a novice for a year, to learn the monastic Rule and to become acclimated to monastic life. Every deed required a blessing. The head of this cenobitic monastery is the igumen. He discerns, teaches, and explains. The igumen solicits the advice of the older, experienced brethren, but he makes the final decisions. Keeping the monastic Rule was strictly binding for everyone and was regarded as an important step on the way to perfection.
Saint Benedict was granted by the Lord the gift of foresight and wonderworking. He healed many by his prayers. The monk foretold the day of his death in 547. The main source for his Life is the second Dialogue of Saint Gregory.
Saint Benedict’s sister, Saint Scholastica (February 10), also became famous for her strict ascetic life and was numbered among the saints.
Saint Theognostus the Greek succeeded Saint Peter (August 25 and December 21) as Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russia, holding this office from 1327 until 1353. It was through his influence that the Grand Prince Simeon sent money to the Byzantine Emperor John Cantacuzene for repairs to the Great Church of Hagia Sophia.
Saint Rostislav-Michael, Great Prince of Kiev, was the son of the Kievan Great Prince Saint Mstislav the Great (June 14), and the brother of holy Prince Vsevolod-Gabriel (February 11, April 22, and November 27). He was one of the great civil and churchly figures of the mid-twelfth century.
His name is connected with the fortification and rise of Smolensk, and both the Smolensk principality and the Smolensk diocese.
Up until the twelfth century the Smolensk land was part of the Kievan realm. The beginning of its political separation took place in the year 1125, when holy Prince Mstislav the Great, gave Smolensk to his son Rostislav (in Baptism Michael) as an inheritance from his father, the Kievan Great Prince Vladimir Monomakh. Thanks to the work and efforts of Saint Rostislav, the Smolensk principality, which he ruled for more than forty years, expanded and was built up with cities and villages, adorned with churches and monasteries, and became influential in Russian affairs.
Saint Rostislav founded the cities of Rostislavl, Mstislavl, Krichev, Propoisk, and Vasiliev among others. He was the forefather of the Smolensk princely dynasty.
In 1136 Saint Rostislav succeeded in establishing a separate Smolensk diocese. Its first bishop was Manuel, installed between March-May of 1136 by Metropolitan Michael of Kiev. Prince Rostislav issued an edict in the city of Smolensk assuring Bishop Manuel that he would provide him with whatever he needed. On September 30, 1150 Saint Rostislav also ceded Cathedral Hill at Smolensk to the Smolensk diocese, where the Dormition cathedral and other diocesan buildings stood.
Contemporaries thought highly of the church construction of Prince Rostislav. Even the sources that are inclined to report nothing more about it note that “this prince built the church of the Theotokos at Smolensk.” The Dormition cathedral, originally built by his grandfather, Vladimir Monomakh, in the year 1101 was rebuilt and expanded under Prince Rostislav. The rebuilt cathedral was consecrated by Bishop Manuel on the Feast of the Dormition, August 15, 1150. Prince Rostislav was a “builder of the Church” in a far wider sense: he endowed the Smolensk Dormition church of the Mother of God, and transformed it from a city cathedral into the ecclesiastical center of the vast Smolensk diocese.
Holy Prince Rostislav was the builder of the Smolensk Kremlin, and of the Savior cathedral at the Smyadynsk Boris and Gleb monastery, founded on the place of the murder of holy Prince Gleb (September 5). Later his son David, possibly fulfilling the wishes of his father, transferred the old wooden coffins of Saints Boris and Gleb from Kievan Vyshgorod to Smyadyn.
In the decade of the fifties of the twelfth century, Saint Rostislav was drawn into a prolonged struggle for Kiev, which involved representatives of the two strongest princely lines: the Olgovichi and the Monomakhovichi.
On the Monomakhovichi side the major contender to be Great Prince was Rostislav’s uncle, Yurii Dolgoruky. Rostislav, as Prince of Smolensk, was one of the most powerful rulers of the Russian land and had a decisive voice in military and diplomatic negotiations.
For everyone involved in the dispute, Rostislav was both a dangerous opponent and a desired ally, and he was at the center of events. This had a providential significance, since Saint Rostislav distinguished himself by his wisdom regarding the civil realm, by his strict sense of justice and unconditional obedience to elders, and by his deep respect for the Church and its hierarchy. For several generations he was the bearer of the “Russkaya Pravda” (“Russian Truth”) and of Russian propriety.
After the death of his brother Izyaslav (November 13, 1154), Saint Rostislav became Great Prince of Kiev, but he ruled Kiev at the same time with his uncle Vyacheslav Vladimirovich. After the latter’s death, Rostislav returned to Smolensk, ceding the Kiev princedom to his other uncle, Yurii Dolgoruky, and he removed himself from the bloodshed of the princely disputes. He occupied Kiev a second time on April 12, 1159 and he then remained Great Prince until his death (+ 1167). More than once, he had to defend his paternal inheritance with sword in hand.
The years of Saint Rostislav’s rule occurred during one of the most complicated periods in the history of the Russian Church. The elder brother of Rostislav, Izyaslav Mstislavich, a proponent of the autocephaly of the Russian Church, favored the erudite Russian monk Clement Smolyatich for Metropolitan, and wanted him to be made Metropolitan by a council of Russian bishops, without seeking the usual approval from the Patriarch of Constantinople. This occurred in the year 1147.
The Russian hierarchy basically supported Metropolitan Clement and Prince Izyaslav in their struggle for ecclesiastical independence from Constantinople, but several bishops headed by Saint Niphon of Novgorod (April 8), did not recognize the autocephaly of the Russian metropolitanate and shunned communion with it, having transformed their dioceses into independent ecclesial districts, pending the resolution of this question. Bishop Manuel of Smolensk also followed this course. Saint Rostislav understood the danger which lay hidden beneath the idea of Russian autocephaly for these times, which threatened the break-up of Rus. The constant fighting over Kiev among the princes might also lead to a similar fight over the Kievan See among numerous contenders, put forth by one princely group or another.
The premonitions of Saint Rostislav were fully justified. Yurii Dolgoruky, who remained loyal to Constantinople, occupied Kiev in the year 1154. He immediately banished Metropolitan Clement and petitioned Constantinople for a new Metropolitan. This was to be Saint Constantine (June 5), but he arrived in Rus only in the year 1156, six months before the death of Yurii Dolgoruky (+ May 15, 1157). Six months later, when Saint Rostislav’s nephew Mstislav Izyaslavich entered the city on December 22, 1157, Saint Constanine was obliged to flee Kiev, while the deposed Clement Smolyatich returned as Metropolitan. Then a time of disorder began in Russia, for there were two Metropolitans.
All the hierarchy and the clergy came under interdict: the Greek Metropolitan suspended the Russian supporters of Clement, and Clement suspended all the supporters of Constantine. To halt the scandal, Saint Rostislav and Mstislav decided to remove both Metropolitans and petition the Patriarch of Constantinople to appoint a new archpastor for the Russian metropolitan See.
But this compromise did not end the matter. Arriving in Kiev in the autumn of 1161, Metropolitan Theodore died in spring of the following year. Following the example of Saint Andrew Bogoliubsky (July 4), who supported his own fellow ascetic Bishop Theodore to be Metropolitan, Saint Rostislav put forth his own candidate, who turned out to be the much-suffering Clement Smolyatich.
The fact that the Great Prince had changed his attitude toward Metropolitan Clement, shows the influence of the Kiev Caves monastery, and in particular of Archimandrite Polycarp. Archimandrite Polycarp, who followed the traditions of the Caves (in 1165 he became head of the monastery), was personally very close to Saint Rostislav.
Saint Rostislav had the pious custom of inviting the igumen and twelve monks to his own table on the Saturdays and Sundays of Great Lent, and he served them himself. The prince more than once expressed the wish to be tonsured a monk at the monastery of Saints Anthony and Theodosius, and he even gave orders to build a cell for him.
The monks of the Caves, a tremendous spiritual influence in ancient Rus, encouraged the prince to think about the independence of the Russian Church. Moreover, during those years in Rus, there was suspicion regarding the Orthodoxy of the bishops which came from among the Greeks, because of the notorious “Dispute about the Fasts” (the “Leontian Heresy”). Saint Rostislav’s pious intent to obtain the blessing of the Patriarch of Constantinople for Metropolitan Clement came to naught. The Greeks believed that appointing a Metropolitan to the Kiev cathedra was one of their most important prerogatives. This served not only the ecclesiastical, but also the political interests of the Byzantine Empire.
In 1165 a new Greek Metropolitan arrived at Kiev, John IV, and Saint Rostislav accepted him out of humility and churchly obedience. The new Metropolitan, like his predecessor, governed the Russian Church for less than a year (+ 1166). The See of Kiev was again left vacant, and the Great Prince was deprived of the fatherly counsel and spiritual wisdom of a Metropolitan. His sole spiritual solace was the igumen Polycarp and the holy Elders of the Kiev Caves monastery and the Theodorov monastery at Kiev, which had been founded under his father.
Returning from a campaign against Novgorod in the spring of 1167, Saint Rostislav fell ill. When he reached Smolensk, where his son Roman was prince, relatives urged him to remain at Smolensk. But the Great Prince gave orders to take him to Kiev. “If I die along the way,” he declared, “put me in my father’s monastery of Saint Theodore. If God should heal me, through the prayers of His All-Pure Mother and Saint Theodosius, I shall take vows at the monastery of the Caves.”
God did not fulfill Saint Rostislav’s last wish to end his life as a monk of the holy monastery. The holy prince died on the way to Kiev on March 14, 1167. (In other historical sources the year is given as 1168). His body, in accord with his last wishes, was brought to the Kiev Theodosiev monastery.
Saint Euschemon the Confessor, Bishop of Lampsacus, lived in Asia Minor on the coastal region of the Dardanelles peninsula, and was known for his virtuous and ascetic life. He suffered for the holy icons under the iconoclast emperor Theophilus (829-842), and having been imprisoned, he was sent into exile and died.
The Theodore—Kostroma Icon of the Mother of God was painted by the Evangelist Luke and resembles the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God.
This icon received its name from Great Prince Yaroslav Vsevolodovich (+ 1246), the father of Saint Alexander Nevsky, and who in holy Baptism was named Theodore in honor of Saint Theodore Stratelates (February 8).
According to Tradition, the icon was found by his elder brother, Saint George (February 4), in an old wooden chapel near the city of Gorodets. Later, the Gorodetsk Theodorov monastery was built on this spot. Prince Yaroslav-Theodore became the Great Prince of Vladimir after his brother Saint George perished in battle with the Mongols at the Sita River. In the year 1239, he solemnly transferred the relics of his brother from Rostov to the Vladimir Dormition cathedral. He gave the icon which he inherited from his brother to his own son, Saint Alexander Nevsky.
Yaroslav-Theodore is renowned in Russian history. He continued with the glorious traditions of his uncle Saint Andrew Bogoliubsky (July 4), and of his father Vsevolod III Big-Nest, and he was connected to almost all of the significant events in the history of Rus in the first half of the thirteenth century.
Russia was burned and torn apart by the Mongols in 1237-1238. He raised it up from the ashes, rebuilt and embellished the cities, the holy monasteries and the churches. He restored cities along the Volga devastated by the enemy: Kashin, Uglich, Yaroslavl’, Kostroma, Gorodets.
He founded he church of Theodore Stratelates at Kostroma and the Theodorov monastery near Gorodets in honor of his patron saint. For eight years he ruled as Great Prince, but he had to guide the land through a singularly difficult path, maintaining a military-political balance with the Golden Horde to the East, while mounting an active opposition to Catholic Europe in the West. His closest companion was his son, Saint Alexander Nevsky, who also continued his policies.
The wonderworking Theodore Icon of the Mother of God was constantly with Saint Alexander, and he prayed before it. After Saint Alexander Nevsky died on November 14, 1263 at the monastery founded by his father, the icon was taken by his younger brother Basil.
Basil Yaroslavich was the youngest (eighth) son of Yaroslav Vsevolodovich. In 1246 after the death of his father (Prince Yaroslav was poisoned in the capital city of Mongolia, Karakorum when he was only five years old) Basil became prince of the Kostroma appanage-holding, the least important of his father’s domains. In the year 1272, he became Great Prince of Vladimir.
His four years as Great Prince (1272-1276) were filled with fratricidal princely quarrels. For several years he waged war against Novgorod with an unruly nephew Demetrius. In becoming Great Prince, however, Basil did not journey to Vladimir, but remained under the protection of the wonderworking icon at Kostroma, regarding this place as safer in case of new outbreaks of strife.
He had occasion also to defend Rus against external enemies. In 1272, during a Tatar incursion, a Russian army came forth from Kostroma to engage them. Following the example of his grandfather, Saint Andrew Bogoliubsky (who took the wonderworking Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God with him on military campaigns), Prince Basil went into battle with the wonderworking Theodore Icon. A blinding light came forth from the holy image, and the Tatars dispersed and fled from the Russian land.
The Chronicles say that the Great Prince Basil had a special love for the Church and the clergy. After the martyric death of Bishop Metrophanes of Vladimir during the storming of Vladimir by Tatars on February 4, 1238, the Vladimir diocese had remained widowed for many years. This grieved Great Prince Basil. With his help, a large cathedral was constructed in Vladimir in 1274. This was apparently in connection with the consecration of Saint Serapion (July 12) as Bishop of Vladimir. He was an igumen from the Monastery of the Caves.
Metropolitan Cyril III (+ 1282) presided over a council of Russian hierarchs. This was the first council in the Russian Church since the time of the Mongol invasion. Many problems and disorders had arisen in Church life, but the Russian Church was just barely beginning to recover from the woe that had befallen it. One of its main tasks was to recover a Russian churchly literacy, and the restoration of the tradition of the ancient Russian “princely order.”
Without books the Church’s salvific activity would be almost impossible. Books were needed for church services, and for preaching, for the monastic cell rule, and for believers to read at home. Through the efforts of Metropolitan Cyril and the Russian bishops and monastic scholars, this important task was begun. The council approved new editions of essential books which formed the canonical basis of Orthodox church life.
In 1276, Prince Basil completed his life’s journey. Most of the important events in his life occured with the blessing of the Theodore Icon of the Mother of God. He died at Kostroma, and there he also found his final resting place. Since that time, the holy icon has been in the Kostroma cathedral of Saint Theodore Stratelates.
Renewed interest in the Theodore Icon of the Mother of God and the spread of its veneration throughout all Russia is connected with events of the beginning of the seventeenth century, and the end of the Time of Troubles. In the year 1613, the wonderworking Theodore Icon from the Kostroma cathedral was used at the proclamation of Michael Romanov as the new Tsar. In memory of this historic event, March 14 was designated for the commemoration of the Theodore Icon of the Mother of God.
Numerous copies were made from the Kostroma Theodore Icon, and one of the first was commissioned and brought to Moscow by Tsar Michael’s mother, the nun Martha. From the second half of the seventeenth century, various copies of the Theodore Icon were enlarged with scenes depicting events from the history of the wonderworking icon.
In the year 1670 the hierodeacon Longinus from the Kostroma Hypatiev monastery wrote the “Narrative concerning the Manifestations and Miracles of the Theodore Icon of the Mother of God in Kostroma.” Not all the things contained in it agree with things previously stated.
The Theodore Icon is two-sided. On the reverse side is the image of the holy Great Martyr Paraskevḗ, depicted in the splendid attire of a princess. It is believed that the image of Paraskevḗ on the reverse of the icon is connected with the wife of Saint Alexander Nevsky.
The Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos of Saint Theodore is also commemorated on August 16.