ABSTAIN FROM MEAT, FISH, DAIRY, EGGS
Holy Thursday, The Holy Hieromartyr Januarius and Those With Him, Our Holy Father Maximian, Patriarch of Constantinople, Theodore the Holy Martyr & his mother Philippa of Perge, Alexandra the Martyr, Anastasios the Monk of Sinai, Beuno, Abbot of Clynnog
ST. PAUL’S FIRST LETTER TO THE CORINTHIANS 11:23-32
BRETHREN, I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we should not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are chastened so that we may not be condemned along with the world.
MATTHEW 26:1-20; JOHN 13:3-17; MATTHEW 26:21-39; LUKE 22:43-44; MATTHEW 26:40-75; 27:1-2
The Lord said to his disciples, "You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of man will be delivered up to be crucified.
Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and took counsel together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. But they said, "Not during the feast, lest there be a tumult among the people.
Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head, as he sat at table. But when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, "Why this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for a large sum, and given to the poor.
But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, "Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me.
For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me.
In pouring this ointment on my body she has done it to prepare me for burial. Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.
Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, "What will you give me if I deliver him to you?" And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.
Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?" He said, "Go into the city to a certain one, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.'" And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover. When it was evening, he sat at table with the twelve disciples.
Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper, laid aside his garments, and girded himself with a towel. Then he poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which he was girded.
He came to Simon Peter; and Peter said to him, "Lord, do you wash my feet?" Jesus answered him, "What I am doing you do not know now, but afterward you will understand." Peter said to him, "You shall never wash my feet." Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part in me." Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!" Jesus said to him, "He who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but he is clean all over; and you are clean, but not every one of you." For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, "You are not all clean.
When he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, and resumed his place, he said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
And as they were eating, he said, "Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me." And they were very sorrowful, and began to say to him one after another, "Is it I, Lord?" He answered, "He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me, will betray me. The Son of man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born." Judas, who betrayed him, said, "Is it I, Master?" He said to him, "You have said so.
Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is my body." And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I shall not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.
And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them, "You will all fall away because of me this night; for it is written, 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.' But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee." Peter declared to him, "Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away." Jesus said to him, "Truly, I say to you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times." Peter said to him, "Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you." And so said all the disciples.
Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, "Sit here, while I go yonder and pray." And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me." And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.
And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down upon the ground.
And rising from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, "So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, "My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done." And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.
While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, "The one I shall kiss is the man; seize him." And he came up to Jesus at once and said, "Hail, Rabbi!" And he kissed him. Jesus said to him, "Friend, why are you here?" Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest, and cut off his ear.
Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?
At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, "Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But all this has taken place, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled." Then all the disciples forsook him and fled.
Then those who had seized Jesus led him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had gathered. But Peter followed him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end. Now the chief priests and the whole council sought false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward and said, "This fellow said, 'I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.'
And the high priest stood up and said, "Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?" But Jesus was silent. And the high priest said to him, "I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.
Jesus said to him, "You have said so. But I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven." Then the high priest tore his robes, and said, "He has uttered blasphemy. Why do we still need witnesses? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your judgment?" They answered, "He deserves death." Then they spat in his face, and struck him; and some slapped him, saying, "Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?
Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a maid came up to him, and said, "You also were with Jesus the Galilean." But he denied it before them all, saying, "I do not know what you mean." And when he went out to the porch, another maid saw him, and she said to the bystanders, "This man was with Jesus of Nazareth." And again he denied it with an oath, "I do not know the man." After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, "Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you.
Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, "I do not know the man." And immediately the cock crowed. And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, "Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times." And he went out and wept bitterly.
When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death; and they bound him and led him away and delivered him to Pilate the governor.
The Lord said to his disciples, "Now is the Son of man glorified, and in him God is glorified; if God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, 'Where I am going you cannot come.' A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, where are you going?" Jesus answered, "Where I am going you cannot follow me now; but you shall follow afterward." Peter said to him, "Lord, why cannot I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you." Jesus answered, "Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the cock will not crow, till you have denied me three times.
Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And where I am going you know, and the way you know." Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; henceforth you know him and have seen him." Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me; or else believe me for the sake of the works themselves. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; if you ask anything in my name, I will do it. If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more, but you will see me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him." Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, "Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?" Jesus answered him, "If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me does not keep my words; and the word which you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me. These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, 'I go away, and I will come to you.' If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place, you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me; but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go hence.
I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. This I command you, to love one another. If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But all this they will do to you on my account, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. It is to fulfill the word that is written in their law, 'They hated me without a cause.' But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me; and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning.
I have said all this to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues; indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do this because they have not known the Father, nor me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you of them. I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, 'Where are you going?' But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convince the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. A little while, and you will see me no more; again a little while, and you will see me." Some of his disciples said to one another, "What is this that he says to us, 'A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me'; and, 'because I go to the Father'? " They said, "What does he mean by 'a little while"? We do not know what he means." Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him; so he said to them, "Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, 'A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me'? Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is in travail she has sorrow, because her hour has come; but when she is delivered of the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being is born into the world. So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father, he will give it to you in my name. Hitherto you have asked nothing in my name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. I have said this to you in figures; the hour is coming when I shall no longer speak to you in figures but tell you plainly of the Father. In that day you will ask in my name; and I do not say to you that I shall ask the Father for you; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from the Father. I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and going to the Father." His disciples said, "Ah, now you are speaking plainly, not in any figure! Now we know that you know all things, and need none to question you; by this we believe that you came from God." Jesus answered them, "Do you now believe? The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, every man to his home, and will leave me alone; yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven and said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him power over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work which you gave me to do; and now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory which I had with you before the world was made. I have manifested your name to the men whom you gave me out of the world; yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you; for I have given them the words which you gave me, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you did send me. I am praying for them; I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours; all mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me; I have guarded them, and none of them is lost but the son of perdition, that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you; and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not pray that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you did send me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth. I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory which you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which you have given me in your love for me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world has not known you, but I have known you; and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them." When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples across the Kidron valley, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered.
THURSDAY: The Last Supper
Two events shape the liturgy of Great and Holy Thursday: the Last Supper of Christ with His disciples, and the betrayal of Judas. The meaning of both is in love. The Last Supper is the ultimate revelation of God’s redeeming love for man, of love as the very essence of salvation. And the betrayal of Judas reveals that sin, death and self-destruction are also due to love, but to deviated and distorted love, love directed at that which does not deserve love. Here is the mystery of this unique day, and its liturgy, where light and darkness, joy and sorrow are so strangely mixed, challenges us with the choice on which depends the eternal destiny of each one of us. “Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour was come… having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end…” (John 13:1). To understand the meaning of the Last Supper we must see it as the very end of the great movement of Divine Love which began with the creation of the world and is now to be consummated in the death and resurrection of Christ.
God is Love (1 John 4:8). And the first gift of Love was life. The meaning, the content of life was communion. To be alive man was to eat and to drink, to partake of the world. The world was thus Divine love made food, made Body of man. And being alive, i.e. partaking of the world, man was to be in communion with God, to have God as the meaning, the content and the end of his life. Communion with the God-given world was indeed communion with God. Man received his food from God and making it his body and his life, he offered the whole world to God, transformed it into life in God and with God. The love of God gave life to man, the love of man for God transformed this life into communion with God. This was paradise. Life in it was, indeed, eucharistic. Through man and his love for God the whole creation was to be sanctified and transformed into one all-embracing sacrament of Divine Presence and man was the priest of this sacrament.
But in sin man lost this eucharistic life. He lost it because he ceased to see the world as a means of Communion with God and his life as eucharist, as adoration and thanksgiving. . . He loves himself and the world for their own sake; he made himself the content and the end of his life. He thought that his hunger and thirst, i.e. his dependence of his life on the world—can be satisfied by the world as such, by food as such. But world and food, once they are deprived of their initial sacramental meaning—as means of communion with God, once they are not received for God’s sake and filled with hunger and thirst for God, once, in other words, God is no longer their real “content,” can give no life, satisfy no hunger, for they have no life in themselves… And thus by putting his love in them, man deviated his love from the only object of all love, of all hunger, of all desires. And he died. For death is the inescapable “decomposition” of life cut from its only source and content. Man thought to find life in the world and in food, but he found death. His life became communion with death, for instead of transforming the world by faith, love, and adoration into communion with God, he submitted himself entirely to the world, he ceased to be its priest and became its slave. And by his sin the whole world was made a cemetery, where people condemned to death partook of death and “sat in the region and shadow of death” (Matt. 4:16).
But if man betrayed, God remained faithful to man. He did not “turn Himself away forever from His creature whom He had made, neither did He forget the works of His hands, but He visited him in diverse manners, through the tender compassion of His mercy” (Liturgy of Saint Basil). A new Divine work began, that of redemption and salvation. And it was fulfilled in Christ, the Son of God Who in order to restore man to his pristine beauty and to restore life as communion with God, became Man, took upon Himself our nature, with its thirst and hunger, with its desire for and love of, life. And in Him life was revealed, given, accepted and fulfilled as total and perfect Eucharist, as total and perfect communion with God. He rejected the basic human temptation: to live “by bread alone”; He revealed that God and His kingdom are the real food, the real life of man. And this perfect eucharistic Life, filled with God, and, therefore Divine and immortal, He gave to all those who would believe in Him, i,e. find in Him the meaning and the content of their lives. Such is the wonderful meaning of the Last Supper. He offered Himself as the true food of man, because the Life revealed in Him is the true Life. And thus the movement of Divine Love which began in paradise with a Divine “take, eat. ..” (for eating is life for man) comes now “unto the end” with the Divine “take, eat, this is My Body…” (for God is life of man). The Last Supper is the restoration of the paradise of bliss, of life as Eucharist and Communion.
But this hour of ultimate love is also that of the ultimate betrayal. Judas leaves the light of the Upper Room and goes into darkness. “And it was night” (John 13:30). Why does he leave? Because he loves, answers the Gospel, and his fateful love is stressed again and again in the hymns of Holy Thursday. It does not matter indeed, that he loves the “silver.” Money stands here for all the deviated and distorted love which leads man into betraying God. It is, indeed, love stolen from God and Judas, therefore, is the Thief. When he does not love God and in God, man still loves and desires, for he was created to love and love is his nature, but it is then a dark and self-destroying passion and death is at its end. And each year, as we immerse ourselves into the unfathomable light and depth of Holy Thursday, the same decisive question is addressed to each one of us: do I respond to Christ’s love and accept it as my life, do I follow Judas into the darkness of his night?
The liturgy of Holy Thursday includes: a) Matins, b) Vespers and, following Vespers, the Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great. In the Cathedral Churches the special service of the Washing of Feet takes place after the Liturgy; while the deacon reads the Gospel, the Bishop washes the feet of twelve priests, reminding us that Christ’s love is the foundation of life in the Church and shapes all relations within it. It is also on Holy Thursday that Holy Chrism is consecrated by the primates of autocephalous Churches, and this also means that the new love of Christ is the gift we receive from the Holy Spirit on the day of our entrance into the Church.
At Matins the Troparion sets the theme of the day: the opposition between the love of Christ and the “insatiable desire” of Judas.
“When the glorious disciples were illumined by washing at the Supper,
Then was the impious Judas darkened with the love of silver
And to the unjust judges does he betray Thee, the just Judge.
Consider, 0 Lover of money, him who hanged himself because of it.
Do not follow the insatiable desire which dared this against the Master,
0 Lord, good to all, glory to Thee.”
After the Gospel reading (Luke 12:1-40) we are given the contemplation, the mystical and eternal meaning of the Last Supper in the beautiful canon of Saint Cosmas. Its last “irmos,” (Ninth Ode) invites us to share in the hospitality of the Lord’s banquet:
“Come, 0 ye faithful
Let us enjoy the hospitality of the Lord and the banquet of immortality
In the upper chamber with minds uplifted….”
At Vespers, the stichira on “Lord, I have cried” stress the spiritual anticlimax of Holy Thursday, the betrayal of Judas:
“Judas the slave and Knave,
The disciple and traitor,
The friend and fiend,
Was proved by his deeds,
For, as he followed the Master,
Within himself he contemplated His betrayal….”
After the Entrance, three lessons from the Old Testament:
1) Exodus 19: 10-19. God’s descent from Mount Sinai to His people as the image of God’s coming in the Eucharist.
2) Job 38:1-23, 42:1-5, God’s conversation with Job and Job’s answer: “who will utter to me what I understand not? Things too great and wonderful for me, which I knew not…”—and these “great and wonderful things” are fulfilled in the gift of Christ’s Body and Blood.
3) Isaiah 50:4-11. The beginning of the prophecies on the suffering servant of God,
The Epistle reading is from I Corinthians 11:23-32: Saint Paul’s account of the Last Supper and the meaning of communion.
The Gospel reading (the longest of the year is taken from all four Gospels and is the full story of the Last Supper, the betrayal of Judas and Christ’s arrest in the garden.
The Cherubic hymn and the hymn of Communion are replaced by the words of the prayer before Communion:
“Of Thy Mystical Supper, O Son of God, accept me today as a communicant,
For I will not speak of Thy Mystery to Thine enemies,
Neither like Judas will I give Thee a kiss;
But like the thief will I confess Thee:
Remember me, O Lord, in Thy Kingdom.”
by The Very Rev. Alexander Schmemann, S.T.D.
Professor of Liturgical Theology, Saint Vladimir’s Seminary
Hieromartyr Januarius Bishop of Benevento, and the deacons Proculus, Sossius and Faustus, Desiderius the Reader, Eutychius and Acution suffered martyrdom for Christ about the year 305 during the persecution ordered by the emperor Diocletian (284-305).
They arrested Saint Januarius and led him to trial before Menignus, the governor of Campagna (central Italy). Because of his firm confession of Christianity, they threw the saint into a red-hot furnace. But like the Babylonian youths, he came out unharmed. Then at Menignus’s command, they stretched him out on a bench and beat him with iron rods until his bones were exposed.
In the crowd were Deacon Faustus and the Reader Desiderius, who wept at the sight of their bishop’s suffering. The pagans surmised that they were Christians, and threw them into prison with the hieromartyr Januarius, in the city of Puteolum. At this prison were two deacons who had been jailed for confessing Christ: Saints Sossius and Proculus, and also two laymen, Saints Eutychius and Acution.
On the following morning they led out all the martyrs into the circus to be torn to pieces by wild beasts, but the beasts would not touch them. Menignus claimed that all the miracles were due to sorcery on the part of the Christians, and immediately he became blinded and cried out for help. The gentle hieromartyr Januarius prayed for his healing, and Menignus recovered his sight. The torturer’s blindness of soul, however, was not healed. He accused the Christians of sorcery, and ordered the martyrs beheaded before the walls of the city (+ 305).
Christians from surrounding cities took up the bodies of the holy martyrs for burial, and those of each city took one, in order to have an intercessor before God. The inhabitants of Neapolis (Naples) took the body of the hieromartyr Januarius. With the body, they also collected his dried blood.
Since the fifteenth century, the blood liquifies when the container is placed near another relic, believed to be the martyr’s head. Many miracles proceeded from the relics of the hieromartyr Januarius. During an eruption of Vesuvius around 431, the inhabitants of the city prayed to Saint Januarius to help them. The lava stopped, and did not reach the city.
The Holy Martyrs Theodore, his mother Philippa, Dioscorus, Socrates and Dionysius suffered during the reign of the emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161) in Perge, Pamphylia. When they were conscripting robust and healthy young men for military service, then they led the youth Theodore and the others to the military commander Theodotus.
The military commander ordered the youth to offer sacrifice to idols, but the martyr submitted neither to persuasion nor threats. Then the military commander had him placed on a red-hot plate and poured liquid tar on him. Suddenly, there was an earthquake, and a torrent of water gushed forth from the ground and extinguished the fire.
The martyr Theodore remained unharmed, and gave praise to God. The commander ascribed his deliverance to sorcery, so Saint Theodore suggested that he test the power of his gods by putting the pagan priest Dioscorus through the same trials.
The commander told Dioscorus to lie upon the red-hot plate, and call on the help of Zeus. Saint Dioscorus replied that he believed in Christ, and he was prepared to throw the idol of Zeus into the fire. Again the military commander commanded him to get on the heated plate. Saint Dioscorus fell at the knees of Saint Theodore, asking that he pray for him. Then he got onto the plate, crying out: “I thank You, Lord Jesus Christ, that You have numbered me among Your servants. Accept my soul in peace.” Then he died, having been delivered from terrible torment.
They continued to torture Saint Theodore. They tied him to wild horses, which began to run. But at the city walls the horses fell down and collapsed, and the martyr Theodore remained unharmed. Two soldiers, Socrates and Dionysius, saw how a fiery chariot came down from the heavens to Saint Theodore, on which the martyr was carried off.
The astonished soldiers shouted: “Great is the God of the Christians!” They seized them and on the next day threw them into a fiery furnace with the martyr Theodore. But a heavenly dew cooled the furnace, and the saints remained alive.
In the morning, the military commander ordered soldiers to look upon the burned bodies of the martyrs. The soldiers returned and reported that the three youths were unharmed. Saint Theodore’s mother, Philippa, encouraged the martyrs in their act.
The military commander told Saint Philippa to save her son, by urging him to offer sacrifice to the idols. Saint Philippa said that when her son was born it was revealed to her that he would be crucified for Christ. Hearing this, the military commander commanded them to crucify Saint Theodore, and to cut off the heads of the other martyrs. Saint Theodore hung on the cross for three days, offering prayers to God until he finally died.
The Holy Martyrs Isaac, Apollos and Quadratus were pagans who served at the court of the emperor Diocletian (284-305). They were among the spectators who witnessed the sufferings of the Holy Great Martyr George (April 23).
His faith, valor and miracles caused them to believe in Christ. The saints openly declared themselves Christians, and reproached the emperor for his impiety and cruelty. They were sentenced to death. The martyr Quadratus was beheaded with a sword, and the martyrs Apollos and Isaac perished by starvation (+ 303).
Saint Maximian, Patriarch of Constantinople, was born in Rome from wealthy and pious parents. Upon receiving his inheritance, he provided tombs to bury those who led holy lives.
Saint Maximian was a plain man and he preferred to live far from worldly vanity. Because of his pure and virtuous life, Patriarch Sisinius of Constantinople (426-427) ordained him presbyter. When the heretic Nestorius (428-431) was deposed as Patriarch of Constantinople, Saint Maximian replaced him on the patriarchal throne on October 25, 431, during the reign of the holy emperor Theodosius the Younger (408-450).
The holy Patriarch Maximian died peacefully on April 12, 434, on Great and Holy Thursday.
Saint Theodore was born near the town of Romanov in the province of Yaroslavl in 1719, the son of Prince Ignatius Ushakov and his wife Paraskevḗ (or Irene). At his Baptism, he was named John.
As a young man, John Ushakov enlisted in the Preobrazhensky Guard Regiment in Petersburg, and attained the rank of sergeant. Life in the capital was fraught with great spiritual danger for a young person, but God delivered John from the wrong path.
When John was twenty, at a drinking party with his friends, one of them suddenly collapsed and died. They all experienced fear and sadness, but this seemed to affect John more than the others.This incident is remarkably similar to the circumstances surrounding the death of Major Andrew Petrov, the husband of Blessed Xenia of Saint Petersburg (January 24), but it may be only coincidental.
In any case, John decided to leave Saint Petersburg and live in the wilderness, dedicating himself to God. While walking near the city of Yaroslavl disguised as a laborer, he saw his uncle out with his servants. His uncle did not recognize him because of his poor clothing, but John was reminded of his former life of luxury and ease. He soon banished this thought and resolved to dwell in the wilderness.
While walking in the forests near the White Sea, John came upon an abandoned cell, so he decided to remain there in solitude and pray to God. He lived there for three years in great hardship and affliction. Government regulations of the time enjoined citizens not to permit monks to live in the forests. When John came to the village for supplies, he was beaten within an inch of his life, and was forced to flee.
John eventually came to the region south of Kiev, reaching the Ploschansk Monastery. He begged the igumen to accept him, saying that he was the son of a priest. He could not admit to being a sergeant of the Guard, since legal obstacles would have made it very difficult for him to enter monastic life.
The igumen would not accept him for a long time, since he did not have the proper identification papers. Finally, he did accept John and assigned him to read in church. After hearing him read, the igumen realized that John was not from a priestly family, but probably belonged to the nobility. Fearing trouble with the authorities, he ordered John to live in the forest near the monastery where other ascetics were living. He found an empty cell and received the blessing of these Fathers to remain there.
When a team of investigators came to the forest looking for monks living there illegally, John was caught. Since he had no documents and admitted to being a sergeant in the Guard, he was brought to Saint Petersburg and taken to the empress Elizabeth. When he was taken to the empress, she asked, “Why did you desert my regiment?”
John explained that he had done so in order to save his soul. Elizabeth forgave him and was willing to restore him to his former rank, but John said that he did not want his former life or rank.
The empress then asked why he had snuck away in secret instead of asking to be discharged. John replied, “If I had troubled Your Majesty with such a request, you would not have believed that a young man such as I could have borne such a burden. I have now been tested in the spiritual life, and I ask Your Majesty to bless me to continue in it until my death.”
Elizabeth agreed to this, but stipulated that he should remain in the Saint Alexander Nevsky Lavra in Saint Petersburg. Soon, at her express command, John was tonsured in August of 1748 at the age of twenty-nine. Archbishop Theodosius, who then governed the monastery, ordered that he be named Theodore, in honor of Saint Theodore of Yaroslavl (September 19).
While Father Theodore was in the Lavra, people would visit and ask him about how to please God while living in the world. He tried to tell them that there were older, wiser monks there who would be able to instruct them better than he could. Still, they insisted, so he tried to help them. He found, however, that he could not always answer their questions or find solutions to their problems, so he began to read patristic books, especially the works of Saint John Chrysostom, asking God to enlighten him so he could understand the Scriptures and the teachings of the Fathers. He learned many things from his reading, and he was able to instruct people for their spiritual profit. This caused jealousy among some of the older monks, who complained to the archbishop that this young monk was attracting people to himself and disturbing the tranquility of the monastery. The hierarch ordered that no visitor requesting to see Father Theodore should be admitted.
Father Theodore went to the steward of the monastery, asking him why people could not see him. He was told that because he presumed to instruct people, attracting many visitors, that the routine of the monastery was disrupted.
“If there is something in my teaching which seems unlawful to His Eminence,” Father Theodore responded, “then he should question me. It is sinful, however, to cause unnecessary sorrow to those seek spiritual profit.”
The archbishop was furious, but he ordered that people should be allowed to see Father Theodore again. The jealousy and difficulties continued for ten years, and Father Theodore endured his trials with patience. In 1757, he wanted to transfer to Sarov Monastery, and when the brethren of the Lavra found out about this, they insisted that he submit a written request for transfer.
Obtaining his release, Father Theodore left Saint Petersburg with many of his disciples, male and female. Along the way they stopped at Saint Nicholas Convent in Arzamas, where he settled his women disciples. Soon they moved to the vacant Alexeyevsky Convent. The male disciples went with him to Sarov.
In 1759, after two years at Sarov, Father Theodore asked Igumen Ephraim to let him have the Sanaxar Monastery, because the number of his disciples had increased. Sanaxar had been founded in 1659, but was closed by Tsar Peter I in the first half of the eighteenth century, and the property was administered by the Sarov Monastery. After moving to Sanaxar Hermitage, Father Theodore began the work of building cells and storerooms. Bishop Pachomius of Tambov appointed Father Theodore as the Superior. He also ordained the reluctant Father Theodore to the holy priesthood on December 13, 1762. Father Theodore began setting things in order, establishing a Rule for the reverent, unhurried celebration of the services. He also set down a cell Rule for the monks to follow. Everyone shared in the work (except those who were too old or too sick), including the Superior.
The number of monks at Sanaxar continued to increase, but not all of them had been tonsured. It was necessary to obtain permission to have them tonsured, for the number of monks allowed to live in a monastery was regulated by law. On April 23, 1763 Empress Catherine II decreed that all of Father Theodore’s monks should be tonsured. The following year, she issued a decree limiting the number of monasteries, those not specifically approved would be closed.
Sanaxar Hermitage was among the monastic institutions scheduled to be closed, but it remained open through Father Theodore’s efforts. Father Theodore was raised to the rank of igumen in October of 1764, and Sanaxar was reclassified as a Monastery on March 7, 1765.
Because of the number of brethren, it became necessary to build a larger stone church to replace the small wooden one. A foundation was dug and a Molieben served at the site. Suddenly, a swarm of bees came and settled on the spot where the altar would be. This was taken as a sign of an increase in the number of brethren, and an abundance of grace in the monastery.
According to N. Subbotin’s 1862 book on Archimandrite Theophanes of the Saint Cyril of New Lake Monastery (who was a novice at Sanaxar at the same time that Saint Herman was), Igumen Theodore ordered a monk named Herman to brush the bees into a hive. It is probable that this was the future Saint Herman of Alaska (December 13). In another edition of the book, the brother’s name is given as Gerasimus. After this account, Subbotin mentions “Father Herman, who is now in America.” The discrepency in names may be explained if Saint Herman’s name before his tonsure was Gerasimus. Saint Herman, in one of his letters to Father Nazarius, says that he had friends at Sarov and Sanaxar, so Saint Theodore may have been one of Saint Herman’s early instructors.
Saint Theodore once visited Saint Tikhon (August 13) at the Zadonsk Monastery. It is not known how long the two had known one another, but the retired bishop received him with love. This visit was providential, because Saint Tikhon also knew what it was to suffer offenses from superiors, from worldly-minded monks, and from laymen. Perhaps he even advised Father Theodore on how to endure the trials which lay ahead of him.
When Father Theodore returned to Sanaxar a royal edict was delivered to him by a courier. It ordered him to be sent as an exile to Solovki Monastery as a troublemaker. He was deprived of the rank of Igumen and Hieromonk, and the Superior of Solovki was ordered to keep a close eye on him. Father Theodore remained there for nine years (1774-1783).
His release came about thanks to his disciple Archimandrite Theophanes (Sokolov), who found himself assigned as cell attendant to Metropolitan Gabriel of Saint Petersburg. Desiring to help his Elder, Father Theophanes made the Metropolitan aware of Father Theodore’s situation. His Eminence asked Father Theophanes to prepare a memorandum setting forth the facts of the case in detail. As a result, Metropolitan Gabriel asked Empress Catherine II to release Father Theodore and permit him to return to Sanaxar.
On April 18, 1783 she issued a decree authorizing his release. Because of his weakened condition from the cold and fumes from smoky stoves, it took him a long time to make his way back to Sanaxar. He arrived at Arzamas Monastery on October 9, 1783 where he was greeted by the sisters, and by two hieromonks from Sanxar. Others were also on hand to meet the Elder: superiors from other monasteries, respected nobles, merchants, and ordinary men and women. He stayed about a week, instructing the nuns each day. Finally, he prepared to return to Sanaxar. The entire brotherhood came to meet him at the ferry on the Moksha River. After receiving his blessing, they accompanied him on the walk to Sanaxar. Father Theodore thanked the brethren for their continued love, and for completing the church without him.
Within a few days after his return, Father Theodore faced renewed persecution. Hierodeacon Hilarion accused him of being “a heretic and an atheist,” and placed these accusations before the Holy Synod. They determined that Hierodeacon Hilarion was at fault and should be punished. He later asked Father Theodore’s forgiveness in front of the whole community.
The Superior of the Monastery, Father Benedict, was jealous of Father Theodore because of the crowds of visitors who came to see him. He complained to the local bishop, saying that the quiet of the monastery was being disturbed by so many people. Investigators were sent, but they did not interview anyone who might have said anything favorable to Father Theodore. As a result, Father Theodore was forbidden to receive visitors.
Once again, Father Theophanes brought the Elder’s plight to the attention of Metropolitan Gabriel. His Eminence sent a note saying that he was well-disposed toward Father Theodore. As a result, he was given a bit more freedom, but his disciples could only seek his advice by writing letters.
Father Benedict became ill, and Father Theodore went to his cell to ask his forgiveness. Father Benedict turned his face to the wall and refused to speak to the Elder. After suffering for a while, Father Benedict died on December 27, 1778.
After the Superior’s death, Father Theodore was once again permitted to visit the nuns of the Alexeyevsky Convent at Arzamas. After delivering a moving homily on Psalm 136 (“By the rivers of Babylon”) he left Arzamas and stopped at the monastery in Sarov. There he asked forgiveness of everyone, then rushed back to Sanaxar. He arrived on Wednesday of Cheesefare Week and spoke to his disciples in his cell around noon. Then he dismissed them to return to their cells.
Two noble disciples of Saint Theodore remained behind to ask his advice. Suddenly his expression changed and he began to weep for about fifteen minutes, lamenting how he had sinned in his youth. Then he ordered them to their cells, saying that he was feeling weak.
It was not rare for the Elder to be ill, but this weakness seemed unusual. His two disciples left and returned to their cells. Soon after this, his cell attendant knocked on the door with the customary prayer, but received no reply. He entered the cell and found Father Theodore lying on his bed and praying, so he left and told the brethren about this. They all came to see him, but he would not speak.
About five hours later, around nine o’clock on the evening of February 19, 1791, Saint Theodore surrendered his soul to God.
Saint Theodore’s relics were uncovered on April 21, 1999, and he was glorified for local veneration on June 28, 1999. He was glorified for national veneration by the Orthodox Church of Russia in 2004.
Saint Theodore of Sanaxar, who is also commemorated on February 19, should not be confused with his famous relative Saint Theodore (Ushakov), Admiral of the Russian Fleet (October 2).