Daily Readings for Tuesday, May 31, 2022



Hermias the Martyr at Comana, Eustathios, Patriarch of Constantinople, Eusebius and Haralambos the Monk-martyrs


IN THOSE DAYS, the Athenians took hold of Paul and brought him to the Areopagos, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is which you present? For you bring some strange things to our ears; we wish to know therefore what these things mean.” Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new. So Paul, standing in the middle of the Areopagos, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all men life and breath and everything. And he made from one every nation of men to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their habitation, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after him and find him. Yet he is not far from each one of us, for ‘In him we live and move and have our being.’

JOHN 12:19-36

At that time, the Pharisees took counsel against Jesus and said to one another, "You see that you can do nothing; look, the world has gone after him.
Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus." Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew went with Philip and they told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If any one serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him.
Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour?' No, for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name." Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again." The crowd standing by heard it and said that it had thundered. Others said, "An angel has spoken to him." Jesus answered, "This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the ruler of this world be cast out; and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." He said this to show by what death he was to die. The crowd answered him, "We have heard from the law that the Christ remains for ever. How can you say that the Son of man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of man?" Jesus said to them, "The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, lest the darkness overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.

Apostle Hermas of the Seventy

The Holy Apostle Hermas was a bishop in Philippopolis, Thrace. He was a Greek, but he spent some time in Rome. The holy Apostle Paul greets him in the Epistle to the Romans (Rom 16:14). The Apostle Hermas endured much grief from the pagans for preaching the Gospel, but he died in peace.

According to Tradition, Saint Hermas is the author of The Shepherd, an instructive book based on revelations from angels.

Martyr Hermias at Comana

Holy Martyr Hermias suffered for Christ in the city of Comana during the persecution under the emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161). The governor Sebastian, who was in Cappadocia to arrest Christians, urged the saint to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, promising him honors and mercy from the emperor.

The old soldier bravely confessed his faith in Christ. After long exhortation, the governor gave orders to torture the saint. They beat him on the face so that the skin peeled from his face, and they threw him into a red-hot oven. When the oven was opened after three days, the martyr Hermias emerged from it unharmed.

The governor Sebastian ordered the sorcerer Marus to poison Saint Hermias with a potion. The poisonous drink did the saint no harm. A second goblet with even stronger poison also failed to kill the saint. The sorcerer believed in Christ the Savior, and was immediately beheaded. Saint Marus was baptized in his own blood, and received a martyr’s crown.

Saint Hermias was subjected to even more terrible tortures. They raked his body with sharp instruments, threw him in boiling oil, and gouged out his eyes, but he gave thanks to the Lord Jesus Christ. Then they suspended the martyr head downward. For three days he hung in this position.

People sent by the governor to verify his death found him alive. Struck by the miracle, they were blinded with fright and began to call out to the saint to help them. The holy martyr ordered the blind to approach him, and healed them in the Name of Jesus Christ.

In anger the governor ordered the skin flayed from the saint’s body, but he remained alive. Then the crazed Sebastian beheaded him with his own sword. Christians secretly buried the body of the martyr Hermias, whose relics bestowed numerous healings.

Martyr Philosophus at Alexandria

Holy Martyr Philosophus suffered for Christ in Alexandria during the persecution by the emperor Decius (249-251). They urged the youth to deny Christ, but he remained steadfast.

After suffering various tortures, he was placed on a soft bed, bound hand and foot, and a harlot was put in the room with him to tempt him to sin. In order not to yield to sin, the saint bit off his tongue and spit it in the harlot’s face. She was so horrified that she fled from him. The executioners, seeing the martyr’s bravery and fearlessness, beheaded the saint with a sword.

New Martyr Philosophus of St. Petersburg

No information available at this time.

Metropolitan Philotheos of Tobolsk, Enlightener of Siberia

The Most Reverend hierarch, the renowned Metropolitan of Siberia and Tobolsk, was from a noble, but poor family and received a theological degree at the then famous Kiev Theological Academy.

At the end of the course, he was ordained as a priest for one of the rural churches, but he was soon widowed. He was tonsured as a monk with the name Philotheos, and joined the brotherhood of the Kiev Caves Lavra.

In Siberia Christianity began to spread among the native pagans and Mohammedans from the very conquest of this country by the Russian state (in 1581), but conversions of the Siberian non-Russians to faith in Christ were generally insignificant and mostly individual.

The newly-baptized aliens left their former places of residence and their compatriots and, settling in Russian cities and villages, they entered into the Russian population, so their conversion did not influence the masses, who still remained solid pagans or Mohammedans. All this was known to the great converter of Russia, Tsar Peter I, who decided to take measures to enlighten the Siberian aliens with the light of Christianity and with them their neighbors, the Mongols and Chinese. To implement this wise plan, by a decree of June 18, 1700, the Sovereign commanded Metropolitan Barlaam Yasinsky of Kiev to “find” in the Russian cities and monasteries Archimandrites, Igumens, and other monks to occupy the cathedra of Tobolsk, which had remained vacant after Metropolitan Ignatius. He wanted “Pastors who are not only good and adorned with a blameless life, but also scholars who would take with them to Siberia any educated monks who were capable of learning the local languages. With God’s help, and with their help, the Metropolitan of Tobolsk could gradually lead the blind inhabitants of Siberia, Mongolia and China, who were stagnating in idolatry, to the knowledge of the true God. ”

Metropolitan Barlaam’s choice fell on the Novgorod-Seversk Archimandrite Demetrios Tuptalo, later Saint Demetrios, the wonderworker of Rostov, who was summoned to Moscow in early 1700. On March 23, at the age of 50, he was consecrated as the Metropolitan of Siberia and Tobolsk. Saint Demetrios ruled his Siberian flock for only nine months, but he did not live in Siberia.

When Saint Demetrios of Rostov was appointed to the Siberian Diocese, primarily for missionary purposes, he refused to go to Siberia for good and was transferred to the cathedra of Rostov. Then Archimandrite Philotheos Leschinsky was appointed as someone who was well-known for his pious life, high education and energy. He was consecrated as Metropolitan of Siberia and Tobolsk on January 4, 1702.

The Diocese of Tobolsk and Siberia is extensive today; but in the 17th and early 18th centuries it was incomparably more extensive; its borders were then in the north – the Arctic Sea, in the east – the Pacific Ocean, in the south – lands under the Chinese emperor, i.e. Dauria and so on, and the Kirghiz-kaysati steppe, in the west – the Urals and even part of European Russia, to the fortress of Beerskaya and Achitskaya. In general, the diocese occupied more than 300,000 square miles, a space in which there are currently more than nine independent dioceses with several vicariates.

The difficulty of administering such a huge diocese was increased by its complete lack of organization. But the new bishop of Siberia, Metropolitan Philotheos, energetically set to work. In the very first year of his stay in Siberia he followed the example of the pastors of the first centuries of Christianity, and decided to assemble a spiritual council from representatives of the Siberian clergy for the improvement of the Siberian Church.

Such a council took place in Tobolsk in December 1702. It developed a number of rules and instructions to the clergy regarding the streamlining of their pastoral work.

Then, the new Metropolitan of Siberia occupied himself with the Tobolsk episcopal residence, multiplying churches in Siberia, increasing the number of clergy, improving their condition, etc. They paid great attention to widespread education, and he first set an example by teaching foreign children in the religious schools he established.

In order to provide the diocese with good pastors, Metropolitan Philotheos started a “Slavic-Russian” school in the episcopal residence, and paid for it with his own money. This became the progenitor of all educational institutions in the city of Tobolsk. He also got several learned monks from Kiev as teachers for the school. When Metropolitan Philotheos took over the administration of the Tobolsk diocese, there were only 160 churches throughout its vast area. The saint made tremendous efforts to multiply of the churches of God in Siberia, and the Lord blessed these works with success. By the time he left the diocese there were already up to 448 churches and 37 monasteries.

Building new churches, he also took care of maintaining their well-being and beauty: he asked the government for permission to renovate some of the monasteries; he stopped issuing “wax, incense, and red wine” to the congregational and unpaid churches. At the cathedral, permission was given to form a choir of singers from the exiled Little Russians.

The missionary activity of Metropolitan Philotheos among the Siberian pagans was the main subject of his cares and labors and was crowned with good success, which the archpastor achieved, however, not during his administration of the diocese, but after his release from it, when he devoted himself entirely to the apostolic ministry. The hierarch began his educational activity from Kamchatka, where in 1705 he sent a missionary, Archimandrite Martinian, and after him the missionary monk Ignatius Kozyrevsky, but the preaching of these missionaries was not particularly successful, since the missionaries had to experience many obstacles. The hierarch’s second mission was sent in 1707 to the Ostyaks of the Berezovsky Territory, and the third to Mongolia, to the Kutuhta (high priest) of the Buddhists, to the town of Khalkhas.

The preaching of the Tobolsk Metropolitan among the Ostyaks, Voguls and other Siberian aliens was particularly successful. Accompanied by an insignificant retinue, with the then impossible ways of communication, the ever-memorable missionary spent most of his archpastoral ministry in Siberia in constant journeys among savages, teaching the Samoyeds, Voguls, Ostyaks, building churches in the far north, in the Kyrgyz territory in the Altai, then enlightening the distant sons of the outskirts of Siberia, Laplanders and Chukchi, helping them spiritually and materially. During all the time of his archpastoral ministry, he enlightened and baptized up to 400,000 foreigners, not to mention how many churches this great architect built across Siberia, how many parishes he founded, how many cornerstones he laid, so to speak, for the spread of Christianity among the pagans. It was not easy for Metropolitan Philotheos. Not to mention the incredible difficulties traveling along the wild outskirts, across steppes and marshes, taiga and northern tundra; not to mention all sorts of hardships associated with traveling under such conditions; the very life of the Metropolitan was repeatedly endangered.

Once he came to the Ostyaks of Burinsky. Those who were invited to be baptized replied that they were Muslims and no one had the right to baptize them. They left him and locked themselves in one large yurt.1 His Eminence nevertheless remained in their territory and from time to time he sent them missionaries who were with him to summon the Ostyaks. These same savages, in order to put an end to the matter all at once, according to the suggestion of the Tatar preacher hiding from them, seized their weapons, and fiercely rushed at the Orthodox missionaries. One of them was wounded in the head with an arrow, the other in the shoulder, and the third was punctured through and through by their hands. In fright, the unarmed Russians all fled from the shore onto the ships. The Metropolitan, who was then praying for the restraint of his enemies, was left alone on the shore. Then the Ostyak foreman Uman fired a rifle at the Metropolitan, but God preserved His Apostle-Preacher. The bullet passed through his clothing without touching his body.

On another occasion, the Metropolitan was threatened with danger in Konda. When he stayed in the Katyshev yurts to rest, a messenger came to him from Vogulsky Prince Satyga inviting him to hasten to the nomad camp because a lot of people had gathered there, desiring to be baptized. In fact, as it turned out, Satyga was deceived by a Tatar from Tobolsk, as though the Tsar himself wanted the Metropolitan’s death, and that there would be no punishment for the murderers. He intended to kill Philotheos and all those with him. But for now, the Metropolitan avoided danger. Sataga’s envoys were received kindly by the Metropolitan, and after receiving generous gifts, they informed Philotheos of the danger that threatened him. Horror overtook the missionaries, and many advised him to flee to Tobolsk. Some, however, argued that such cowardice would impair the future work of preaching the Word of God. The Metropolitan agreed with those who wished to stay, and it was decided to sail down to the nomad camp. Satyga was frightened when he learned that his plans were known to the Metropolitan. The intruders fled into the forest, and the remaining Voguls were willingly baptized.

Metropolitan Philotheos not only cared about the spiritual enlightenment of the pagans who converted, but he also tried to deliver those or other benefits to the converts in civil matters. At his request, those who were persecuted by the unbaptized were protected from being chased by guards; newly-baptized slaves were given their freedom, and those who were included in the head tax were exempted from it. Everyone was relieved of the obligation to supply carts, and received benefits in the payment of the yasak, and they were protected from insults and harassment by the Cossacks and minor officials. The Metropolitan distributed a significant amount of bread and money to the newly-baptized poor, and, in general, he helped as much as he could, anyway. The newly-baptized loved the Metropolitan as a father. When he visited them, they immediately went out to meet him and greeted him with cordiality and pleasure clearly written on their faces; willingly they heeded his instructions, and gave a firm promise to put his advice into practice. In general, they accepted the Metropolitan as their benefactor and their protector, as a man sent from God. The memory of Metropolitan Philotheos still lives among the aliens who were enlightened by him. For example, the Ostyaks, when they were asked about him, usually said: “He was a kindly old man; the people did not give offense; he loved the Ostyaks very, very much…. ”

In 1711, Metropolitan Philotheos was relieved of the administration of the diocese “due to illness,” and retired to the Tyumen Holy Trinity Monastery, where he received the schema and the name Theodore. The Metropolitan did not give up his archiepiscopal cathedra for rest and peace, now that he was burdened with age and illnesses, but for even more difficult feats of missionary work in the harsh north of Siberia. In June 1712, Metropolitan Schema-monk Theodore, with the blessing of the then Siberian archpastor, Metropolitan John Maximovitch (June 10), by his own desire and inclination, and at the suggestion of Prince M. Gagarin, who was then the governor of Siberia, who fulfilled the command of Peter I to begin preaching the Gospel among Siberians, and personally entered into this apostolic spiritual exploit(подвиг). In that year, the hierarch made his first missionary journey to Berezovsky territory along the rivers Irtysh, Ob and Sosve. Metropolitan John, who ruled the diocese, gave him capable employees, and Prince Gagarin supplied him from the treasury with a vessel for sailing, rowers, interpreters of the native languages, a guard for preserving the mission, the sum of 2000 rubles, and various gifts for newly-baptized.

According to the ukaz of Peter the Great, the evangelizer of Siberia wished to prepare the ground of this field on his previous journey; that is, to destroy the pagan places of worship with their idols, and to show the pagans how powerless their imaginary gods are to protect even themselves. With the help of God, Metropolitan Schema-monk Theodore managed to convince the Ostyaks, who lived near Samarov and in the yurts of Sherkal, to destroy the idols which were especially honored in those districts.

On June 10, 1715, Metropolitan John Maximovich of Tobolsk reposed, and the aged Metropolitan Schema-monk Theodore was again entrusted with the administration of the Siberian Diocese, but he did not stop his favorite missionary activity. Metropolitan Schema-monk Theodore was so fond of the enlightened Ostyaks that, a year before his death, being retired and ill for the second time, the patient visited Nizovsky territory again in 1726 and even reached far off Obdorsk. But this was to be the last journey of the ever-memorable hierarch.

During his second administration of the diocese, Metropolitan Theodore paid attention to the overseas Beijing mission, which from 1714 was headed by Archimandrite Hilarion of Lezhaysk, who was sent to the capital of China by imperial command, under Metropolitan John Maximovich. Upon the death of this Archimandrite, his successor Anthony Platkovsky was appointed head of the mission, and returned to Russia in 1721, because according to the suggestion of the Most Reverend Theodore and the Siberian governor, as well as the highest levels of government, it was decided to send a bishop to Beijing.

Even during his first administration of the Tobolsk diocese, he had a vicar bishop, Barlaam Kossovsky, the Bishop of Irkutsk from 1706. He lived in Irkutsk until 1714, when he returned to Moscow, and he was soon appointed to the archiepiscopal cathedra of Tver. Metropolitan Theodore’s second tenure in the Siberian Diocese lasted for five years. In 1720, at his own request, Tsar Peter I sent him a letter granting him retirement, in which he gave thanks to the holy hierarch of God for his zealous pastoral service, especially for his tireless and successful work in the missionary field. In addition, the archpastor received a retirement pension: 200 rubles in cash, 50 quarters of bread (3000 bushels of grain) per year. The exhausted hierarch settled in the Tyumen monastery which he himself had built. On May 31, 1727, he reposed at the age of 76, among the brethren and children of the newly-baptized.

Judging by his portraits, Metropolitan Philotheos was tall, lean, with a long nose, and gray hair. As to his character, in the words of the Siberian Chronicle of Cherepanov, “he was quiet, very indulgent to all, and had very little vanity.” His life was most active and simple; in the summertime, he often used to go on foot to Tobolsk to the Ivanov monastery and fished there in the Shantalyne River.

Living alone, he taught the children of the newly-baptized to read, write, and sing in his leisure hours. Many of them lived in his cell. Sometimes he composed Church hymns; for example – the Troparion and Kontakion of the wonderworker Saint Simeon of Verkhoturye (December 18), a Canon to the martyr Basil of Mangazea (March 23),2 and others, as well as poems of religious content. With his own hand, he wrote many of the documents which he issued, especially those concerning the newly-baptized, or pertaining to the episcopal estates.

Not only the residents of Tyumen, but also those from other places in Siberia, visit the grave of the pious archpastor with reverence and offer memorial services for him.3 After the Russian Revolution, his relics were secretly reburied. On October 21, 2006, the incorrupt relics of Saint Philotheos were found in Tyumen in the Ascension-Saint George Church.

Saint Philotheos is commemorated on May 31, and also on June 10, the Synaxis of Siberian saints.

1 A yurt was a sort of tepee made from animal skins.
2 See Orthodox Life # 2, 1972.
3 Source: The Russian Pilgrim, 1900 (Русский Паломник, 1900 г.)

Saint Apollonios (Apollo) of the Egyptian Thebaid

The Venerable Apollonios was the son of the pious parents, Aisi and Amani. According to one version, he had an elder brother, a monk, who died before his birth, who appeared to him in a dream. According to other sources, his parents were childless before the birth of Apollonios.

At the age of fifteen, the Saint retired to the inner desert of the Thebaïd (in Lower Egypt), along with his kinsman Abib. After fourteen years of the solitary life, Saint Apollonios was granted a Divine Revelation. A Voice said: “Apollonios, by your hands I will destroy the wisdom of the wise men of Egypt, and I will remove their knowledge, which is not true knowledge. You will also overthrow those who are reputed to be the wise men of Babel (the Babylon of Egypt), and all their service to devils (idolatry). Now go quickly to the desert, to the region which is near the habitations of men. There you shall beget for me a holy people, who will be exalted by their good works.”

Soon he became known for the multitude of miracles which he performed. He was the head of many monks; and he directed them profitably by his spiritual instructions.

During the reign of Julian the Apostate, God commanded the Saint to go to the near desert. In a spot close to Hermopolis he founded a monastery in which about five hundred monks would gather in the future.The brethren of the Monastery partook of the Holy Mysteries in the morning, and then in the afternoon they studied the Holy Scriptures. Only after sunset did they eat a little food, and then they went off into the desert alone, “in the darkness of the night, devoting themselves to the contemplation of God and His Holy Word,” while some of the monks remained in the monastery.

The monks would eat food just once a day. Apollonios condemned those who adhered to the harsher forms of austerity – these did not cut their hair and wore chains – regarding such things as a sign of vanity. At the same time, Apollonios himself was a strict faster, he ate boiled food on Sundays, and on other days he ate only wild plants.

Once one of the monks was forcibly recruited for military service and was locked up in a prison for refusing to serve. Apollonios and some other monks visited him in the prison. They comforted him and advised him to remain steadfast. When the centurion heard about this, he became very angry and locked Apollonios and his companions in prison, posting many guards. However, an angel of the Lord appeared at midnight, to open the doors of the prison, and the monks left unhindered.

Near the monastery were ten pagan settlements. Saint Apollonios was once a witness to a pagan ritual: priests of the idols, accompanied by a crowd, carried an idol around to the villages, “raging like bacchants.” By the Saint’s prayers, the idolaters were halted and could not continue the procession. Upon learning of the cause of the incident, many of them followed Apollonios, and the idol was destroyed. After this miracle, many pagans became Christians, and some of them even remained in the monastery. Soon there were almost no pagans left in the vicinity of the monastery.

When there was strife between two villages near the monastery, Saint Apollonios managed to convert a robber (who may have been the instigator of the quarrel) to Christ, and so peace was restored.

On another occasion, Apollonios was able to prevent bloodshed between the Christian and pagan villages, punishing the leader of the pagans with a terrible death. When famine occurred at the Thebaid, Apollonios supplied the inhabitants with food.

Saint Apollonios reposed in peace around the year 395, at very advanced age.

Much of the information about Saint Apollonios was recorded in chapter 9 of Saint Jerome’s History of the Monks of Egypt. The author had visited Apollonios shortly before the latter’s repose, along with his companions. They lived in his monastery for about a week.

Sozomon also provides some details about Apollonios in Book VI, chapter 29 of his Church History, citing Timothy, the primate of the Church of Alexandria, as the source for what we know about Saint Apollonios’s personal discipline as well as his “divine and marvelous deeds.” The Coptic Church has also preserved an ancient testimony of Saint Apollonios in a description of Abba Paul’s journey from Antinoë through the monasteries of Egypt, and another account from a Jacobite Synaxarion (in Arabic). This Synaxarion under 5 Amshire (January 30) calls Apollonios “an Equal of the angels.” The Coptic Church commemorates Saint Apollonios on 25 Papo (October 22).