ABSTAIN FROM MEAT, FISH, DAIRY, EGGS
Lazarus Saturday, Agape, Chionia, and Irene, the Holy Martyrs, Righteous Amphilochios of Patmos, Leonidas and Charissa, Nike, Galene, Kallida, Nounenchia, Vasilissa, and Theodora the Martyrs
ST. PAUL’S LETTER TO THE HEBREWS 12:28-29; 13:1-8
BRETHREN, let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire. Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them; and those who are ill-treated, since you also are in the body. Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for God will judge the immoral and adulterous. Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, ‘I will never fail you nor forsake you.’ Hence we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid; what can man do to me?’ Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God; consider the outcome of their life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever.
At that time, a certain man was ill, Lazaros of Bethany, from the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazaros was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, "Lord, he whom you love is ill." But when Jesus heard it he said, "This illness is not unto death; it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it."
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazaros. So when he heard that he was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, "Let us go into Judea again." The disciples said to him, "Rabbi, the Jews were but now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?" Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any one walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if any one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him." Thus he spoke, and then he said to them, "Our friend Lazaros has fallen asleep, but I go to awake him out of sleep." The disciples said to him, "Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover." Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, "Lazaros is dead; and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him." Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him."
Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazaros had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary sat in the house. Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. And even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you." Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" She said to him, "Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world."
When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying quietly, "The Teacher is here and is calling for you." And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. Then Mary, when she came where Jesus was and saw him, fell at his feet, saying to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled; and he said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Lord, come and see." Jesus wept. So the Jews said, "See how he loved him!" But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?"
Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb; it was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, "Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days." Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?" So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you have heard me always, but I have said this on account of the people standing by, that they may believe that you did send me." When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, "Lazaros, come out." The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with bandages, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go." Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him.
Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday
Visible triumphs are few in the earthly life of our Lord Jesus Christ. He preached a kingdom “not of this world.” At His nativity in the flesh there was “no room at the inn.” For nearly thirty years, while He grew “in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52), He lived in obscurity as “the son of Mary.” When He appeared from Nazareth to begin His public ministry, one of the first to hear of Him asked: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46). In the end He was crucified between two thieves and laid to rest in the tomb of another man.
Two brief days stand out as sharp exceptions to the above—days of clearly observable triumph. These days are known in the Church today as Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday. Together they form a unified liturgical cycle which serves as the passage from the forty days of Great Lent to Holy Week. They are the unique and paradoxical days before the Lord’s Passion. They are days of visible, earthly triumph, of resurrectional and messianic joy in which Christ Himself is a deliberate and active participant. At the same time they are days which point beyond themselves to an ultimate victory and final kingship which Christ will attain not by raising one dead man or entering a particular city, but by His own imminent suffering, death and resurrection.
By raising Lazarus from the dead before Thy Passion,
Thou didst confirm the universal resurrection, 0 Christ God!
Like the children with the palms of victory,
we cry out to Thee, 0 Vanquisher of Death:
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord!
(Troparion of the Feast, sung on both Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday)
In a carefully detailed narrative the Gospel relates how Christ, six days before His own death, and with particular mindfulness of the people “standing by, that they may believe that thou didst send me” (John 11:42), went to His dead friend Lazarus at Bethany outside of Jerusalem. He was aware of the approaching death of Lazarus but deliberately delayed His coming, saying to His disciples at the news of His friend’s death: “For your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe” (John 11:14).
When Jesus arrived at Bethany, Lazarus was already dead four days. This fact is repeatedly emphasized by the Gospel narrative and the liturgical hymns of the feast. The four-day burial underscores the horrible reality of death. Man, created by God in His own image and likeness, is a spiritual-material being, a unity of soul and body. Death is destruction; it is the separation of soul and body. The soul without the body is a ghost, as one Orthodox theologian puts it, and the body without the soul is a decaying corpse. “I weep and I wail, when I think upon death, and behold our beauty, fashioned after the image of God, lying in the tomb dishonored, disfigured, bereft of form.” This is a hymn of Saint John of Damascus sung at the Church’s burial services. This “mystery” of death is the inevitable fate of man fallen from God and blinded by his own prideful pursuits.
With epic simplicity the Gospel records that, on coming to the scene of the horrible end of His friend, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). At this moment Lazarus, the friend of Christ, stands for all men, and Bethany is the mystical center of the world. Jesus wept as He saw the “very good” creation and its king, man, “made through Him” (John 1:3) to be filled with joy, life and light, now a burial ground in which man is sealed up in a tomb outside the city, removed from the fullness of life for which he was created, and decomposing in darkness, despair and death. Again as the Gospel says, the people were hesitant to open the tomb, for “by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days” (John 11:39).
When the stone was removed from the tomb, Jesus prayed to His Father and then cried with a loud voice: “Lazarus, come out.” The icon of the feast shows the particular moment when Lazarus appears at the entrance to the tomb. He is still wrapped in his grave clothes and his friends, who are holding their noses because of the stench of his decaying body, must unwrap him. In everything stress is laid on the audible, the visible and the tangible. Christ presents the world with this observable fact: on the eve of His own suffering and death He raises a man dead four days! The people were astonished. Many immediately believed on Jesus and a great crowd began to assemble around Him as the news of the raising of Lazarus spread. The regal entry into Jerusalem followed.
Lazarus Saturday is a unique day: on a Saturday a Matins and Divine Liturgy bearing the basic marks of festal, resurrectional services, normally proper to Sundays, are celebrated. Even the baptismal hymn is sung at the Liturgy instead of Holy God: “As many as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ.”
Very Rev. Paul Lazor
The Holy Martyrs Agape, Irene, and Chionia were sisters who lived at the end of the third century to the beginning of the fourth century, near the Italian city of Aquilea. They were left orphaned at an early age.
The young women led a pious Christian life and they turned down many offers of marriage. Their spiritual guide was the priest Xeno. It was revealed to him in a vision that he would die very soon, and that the holy virgins would suffer martyrdom. Also at Aquilea and having a similar vision was the Great Martyr Anastasia (December 22), who is called “Deliverer from Potions,” because she fearlessly visited Christians in prison, encouraging them and healing them from potions, poisons, and other harmful things. The Great Martyr Anastasia visited the sisters and urged them to endure all things for Christ. Soon what was predicted in the vision came to pass. The priest Zeno died, and the three virgins were arrested and brought to trial before the emperor Diocletian (284-305).
Saint Chionia (“snow” in Greek) preserved the purity of her baptism according to the words of the Prophet-King David, “You will wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Ps. 50/51:7).
Saint Irene (“peace” in Greek) preserved the peace of Christ within herself and manifested it to others, according to the Savior’s word, “My peace I give you” (John 14:27).
Saint Agape (“love” in Greek) loved God with all her heart, and her neighbor as herself (Mt.22:37-39).
Seeing the youthful beauty of the sisters, the emperor urged them to deny Christ and he promised to find them illustrious bridegrooms from his entourage. The holy sisters replied that their only Bridegroom was Christ, for Whom they were ready to suffer. The emperor demanded they renounce Christ, but neither the elder sisters, nor the youngest, would consent. They called the pagan gods mere idols made by human hands, and they preached faith in the true God.
By order of Diocletian, who was leaving for Macedonia, the holy sisters were also to be brought there. And they brought them to the court of the governor Dulcititus.
When he saw the beauty of the holy martyrs, he was aroused with impure passion. He put the sisters under guard, and he told them that they would receive their freedom if they agreed to fulfill his desires. But the holy martyrs replied that they were prepared to die for their Heavenly Bridegroom, Christ.
Then Dulcititus decided to have his way by force. When the holy sisters arose at night to glorify the Lord in prayer, Dulcititus came to the door and tried to enter, but an invisible force prevented him. He staggered about, unable to find his way out. Then he fell down in the kitchen among the cooking utensils, the pots and pans, and he was covered all over with soot. The servants and the soldiers recognized him only with difficulty. When he saw himself in a mirror, he then realized that the holy martyrs had made a fool of him, and he decided to take his revenge on them.
At his court, Dulcititus gave orders to strip the holy martyrs. But the soldiers were not able to do this, no matter how much they tried. Their clothing seemed to be stuck to the bodies of the holy virgins. During the trial Dulcititus suddenly fell asleep, and no one could rouse him. Just as they carried him into his house, he immediately awoke.
When they reported to the emperor Diocletian everything that had happened, he became angry with Dulcititus and he gave the holy virgins over to Sisinius for trial. He began with the youngest sister, Irene. Seeing that she remained unyielding, he sent her to prison and then attempted to sway Saints Chionia and Agape. He also failed to make them renounce Christ, and Sisinius ordered that Saints Agape and Chionia be burned. On hearing the sentence, the sisters gave thanks to the Lord for their crowns of martyrdom. In the fire, Agape and Chionia surrendered their pure souls to the Lord.
When the fire went out, everyone saw that the bodies of the holy martyrs and their clothing had not been scorched by the fire, and their faces were beautiful and peaceful, as if they were asleep. On the day following, Sisinius gave orders to bring Saint Irene to court. He threatened her with the fate of her older sisters and he urged her to renounce Christ. Then he threatened to hand her over for defilement in a brothel. But the holy martyr answered, “Even if my body is defiled by force, my soul will never be defiled by renouncing Christ.”
When the soldiers of Sisinius led Saint Irene to the brothel, two luminous soldiers overtook them and said, “Your master Sisinius commands you to take this virgin to a high mountain and leave her there, and then return to him and report to him that you have fulfilled his command.” And the soldiers did so.
When they reported back to Sisinius, he flew into a rage, since he had given no such orders. The luminous soldiers were angels of God, saving the holy martyr from defilement. Sisinius went to the mountain with a detachment of soldiers and saw Saint Irene on the summit. For a long while they searched for the way to the top, but they could not find it. Then one of the soldiers wounded Saint Irene with an arrow. The martyr cried out to Sisinius, “I mock your impotent malice, and I go my Lord Jesus Christ pure and undefiled.” Having given thanks to the Lord, she lay down upon the ground and surrendered her soul to God on the very day of Holy Pascha (+ 304).
The Great Martyr Anastasia heard about the end of the holy sisters, and she buried their bodies with reverence.
The Holy Martyr Leonidas and the Holy Martyrs Charissa, Nike (Nika, Victoria), Galina, Kalista (Kalida), Nunekhia, Basilissa, Irene, and Theodora suffered at Corinth in the year 258. They threw them into the sea, but they did not drown. Instead, they walked upon the water as if on dry land, singing spiritual hymns. The torturers overtook them in a ship, tied stones around their necks and drowned them.
No information available at this time.
No information available at this time.
The Ilyin-Chernigov Icon of the Mother of God was painted in the year 1658 by the iconographer Gregory Dubensky (Gennadius in monasticism). Tears flowed from the icon for eight days in 1662, from April 16-24.
In this same year Tatars descended upon Chernigov and devastated it. At midnight they burst into the Trinity monastery, went into the church, overturned all the icons and grabbed all the utensils, but the wonderworking icon and its ornaments remained untouched.
An invisible power held back the impious from the holy icon. Previously, the Queen of Heaven had not permitted the enemy to enter the cave of Saint Anthony of the Caves, where the brethren of the monastery had hidden. The Tatars fled, as though terrified by a vision.
The miracle of the Mother of God and Her Chernigov Icon was described by Saint Demetrius of Rostov (October 28 and September 21) in his book, THE MOISTENED FLEECE [Runo Oroshennoe]. Later on, Saint John of Tobolsk (June 10) also wrote about the Chernigov Icon.
A wonderworking copy of the Chernigov Icon of the Mother of God, in the Gethsemane skete of the Trinity-Sergiev Lavra, was glorified in the year 1869 (September 1).
In 1686, Saint Pitirim (July 28) arrived in Tambov. Along with other holy objects, he brought a copy of the Il'insk-Chernigov Icon of the Mother of God, which was considered to be the patroness of the southwest territory. Therefore, the copy was placed at the southwestern gate of the city. After a while, the Icon was called Tambov, especially since the copy differed slightly from the original Il’insk-Chernigov Icon. On either side of the Virgin, Saint Alexis, the man of God, and Saint Eudokia were depicted. It has been suggested that these were the patron saints of Saint Pitirim’s parents, and it is quite possible that he himself painted the images of these Saints.
Later, on the site of the southwestern city gates, a small wooden church was built and dedicated to the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. In that church, there was an Icon. When the merchant Ivan Utkin built a stone church in honor of the Protomartyr Archdeacon Stephen with his own funds in 1771, the Tambov Icon was transferred here and placed in the altar above the Table of Oblation. People began to call the church Utkino, after the builder, and subsequently, the Icon was completely forgotten. The Queen of Heaven made them remember her, however.
At the beginning of the XIX century, a certain provincial priest from Kaluga suffered from an affliction in his leg, and he was unable to walk. It was this Icon of the Mother of God which appeared to him in a dream, and a voice told him, “Search for this icon. Pray before it, and you shall be healed.”
After this, the priest obtained some relief from his illness, so that he was able to walk. Right away, he began to search for the Icon he had seen in his dream. After visiting several villages and cities, he finally reached Tambov. He looked in all the churches until he found the Icon from his dream in the altar of the Utkino church. After praying before this Icon, he was completely healed. This incident became widely known in the city, and thereafter several more miraculous cures of the townspeople took place.
The Tambov Icon became known once again, and in 1835, when the old Utkino church was in a terrible state of disrepair, the townspeople requested that the right side altar be dedicated to the Tambov Icon of the Mother of God. Over time, the grateful people of Tambov diligently adorned the Icon. A luxurious silver riza was made, studded with many gems. There were so many cases of healing before the Icon that there was not enough time to record all of them. In 1888, by a decree of the Holy Synod, all the churches of the city were ordered to have a Cross Procession on April 16 in honor of the Tambov Icon. In 1900, the church itself was named for the Theotokos.
After the Russian Revolution, the churches of Tambov were ravaged, and the wonderworking Icon suffered. They removed the riza and picked out the gems, and the Icon itself disappeared without a trace. The city has preserved accounts of the miracles performed by the Icon.