1ST THURSDAY AFTER PENTECOST
1st Thursday after Pentecost, Tychon the Wonderworker, 40 Martyrs of Rome, Mark the Just of Apollonia
ST. PAUL’S LETTER TO THE ROMANS 1:28-32; 2:1-9
Brethren, since the ungodly did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct. They were filled with all manner of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity, they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practice them. Therefore you have no excuse, O man, whoever you are, when you judge another; for in passing judgment upon him you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who do such things. Do you suppose, O man, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume upon the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not know that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. For he will render to every man according to his works; to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek.
The Lord said, "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into Gehenna. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into Gehenna. It was also said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.' But I say to you that every one who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
The ancient Koretsk "Surety of Sinners" Icon of the Mother of God of had been kept in a castle for a long time, and was called "blessed."
After the death of Samuel, the last Orthodox Prince of Koretsk, his brother John offered to let his sister Igoumeness Serapima take the Icon from the Prince's chapel to Holy Resurrection Koretsk Maidens' Monastery. The ceremonial transfer of the holy image took place in 1622, on Thursday of Pentecost week. The annual commemoration in honor of the "Surety of Sinners" Icon of Koretsk was appointed for that day.
On August 12, 1880, the icon was transferred and returned to the Holy Trinity monastery church and placed in a carved wooden kiot near the left front column.
More than once, the wonderworking Icon was a blessed help to the suffering – in 1923, on the Feast of the Holy Trinity, a young man who was possessed by an unclean spirit, received healing before the Icon. The following year, between the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord and Thursday of Pentecost week, there were incessant downpours at Volhynia. Miraculously, after a procession around the church with the Icon, the rain began to subside.
Many believers who turn to the Queen of Heaven for her help and intercession when they experience disturbances, family troubles, and especially anguish of the soul, indicate that after praying before the Icon they receive spiritual relief and solace, for she is truly the "Surety of Sinners."
In the Icon the Mother of God is depicted with the Divine Child on her left hand, Who holds her right hand with both His hands, so that her thumb is in His right hand, and her small finger in His left hand. This is the gesture of one who gives surety for another.
The inscription reads: “I am the Surety of sinners for my Son Who has entrusted me to hear them, and through me, those who bring me the joy of hearing them shall receive everlasting joy."
On August 17, 1998, the Superior of Holy Trinity Koretsk women's monastery, Igoumeness Natalia (Ilchuk) petitioned Patriarch Alexei II of Moscow and All Russia to add the Koretsk Icon to the list of wonderworking Icons of the Mother of God on the Patriarchal Church Calendar. With the Patriarch's blessing, the celebration in honor of the Koretsk Icon was approved.
In November 2001, an attempt was made to steal the Icon, but the attackers only managed to carry off its valuable frame. People donated money for a new riza to be made, a copy of the the one which was lost.
The Koretsk "Surety of Sinners" Icon is also commemorated on March 7.
Saint Tikhon, Bishop of Amathus, was born in the city Amathus on the island of Cyprus. His parents raised their son in Christian piety, and taught him the reading of sacred books. It is said that the gift of wonderworking appeared in Saint Tikhon at quite a young age.
His father was the owner of a bakery, and whenever he left his son alone in the shop, the holy youth would give free bread to those in need. Learning of this, his father became angry, but the son said that he had read in the Scriptures, that in giving to God one receives back a hundredfold. “I,” said the youth, “gave to God the bread which was taken,” and he persuaded his father to go to the place where the grain was stored. With astonishment the father saw that the granary, which formerly was empty, was now filled to overflowing with wheat. From that time the father did not hinder his son from distributing bread to the poor.
A certain gardener brought the dried prunings of vines from the vineyard. Saint Tikhon gathered them, planted them in his garden and besought the Lord that these branches might take root and yield fruit for the health of people. The Lord did so through the faith of the holy youth. The branches took root, and their fruit had a particular and very pleasant taste. It was used during the lifetime of the saint and after his death for making wine for the Mystery of the Holy Eucharist.
They accepted the pious youth into the church clergy, made him a reader. Later, Mnemonios, the Bishop of Amathus ordained him a deacon. After the death of Bishop Mnemonios, Saint Tikhon by universal agreement was chosen as Bishop of Amathus. Saint Epiphanius, Bishop of Cyprus (May 12), presided at the service.
Saint Tikhon labored zealously to eradicate the remnants of paganism on Cyprus; he destroyed a pagan temple and spread the Christian Faith. The holy bishop was generous, his doors were open to all, and he listened to and lovingly fulfilled the request of each person who came to him. Fearing neither threats nor tortures, he firmly and fearlessly confessed his faith before pagans.
In the service to Saint Tikhon it is stated that he foresaw the time of his death, which occurred in the year 425.
The name of Saint Tikhon of Amathus was greatly honored in Russia. Temples dedicated to the saint were constructed at Moscow, at Nizhni Novgorod, at Kazan and other cities. But he was particularly venerated in the Voronezh diocese, where there were three archpastors in succession sharing the name with the holy hierarch of Amathus: Saint Tikhon I (Sokolov) (+ 1783, August 13), Tikhon II (Yakubovsky, until 1785) and Tikhon III (Malinin, until 1788).
Saint Tikhon of Medin and Kaluga, in his youth received monastic tonsure at the Chudov monastery in Moscow, but through his love for solitude he settled at an isolated spot near Maloyaroslavl. He lived in asceticism in a deep dense forest, on the bank of the River Vepreika, in the hollow of an ancient giant oak. Once, during a hunt, Prince Basil Yaroslavich (grandson of Vladimir the Brave), came upon Saint Tikhon, angrily ordered him to leave his property immediately, and dared to raise his whip against the monk. At once, the hand of the prince grew numb. Taken aback by such punishment, the prince repented of his conduct and with humility asked forgiveness.
He received healing through the prayer of Saint Tikhon. The prince entreated the monk to remain always on his property and to build a monastery there for monks, promising to provide it with everything necessary. Saint Tikhon built a monastery in honor of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, which he headed. He guided the monastery until he reached a great old age, and he died in the year 1492, after receiving the great schema.
Saint Tikhon’s body was buried at the cathedral church of the monastery he founded. The celebration of Saint Tikhon was established at the Council of 1584.
Saint Tikhon of Lukhov, and Kostroma (in the world Timothy), was born within the bounds of the Lithuanian princedom and was in military service there. In the year 1482, not wanting to accept Uniatism, he went from Lithuania to Russia. The saint gave away everything that he had, accepted monastic tonsure with the name Tikhon, and settled in the Kostroma diocese in the Lukhov region. The city of Lukh was at that time given to Prince Theodore Belsky, with whom Saint Tikhon had come from Lithuania. On the banks of the boundary of the Kopitovka Saint Tikhon built his cell. When two monks, Photius and Gerasimus, came to him in the wilderness, because of them Tikhon moved three versts from the Koptovka to a more satisfactory location.
The monks earned their living by the work of their hands. Saint Tikhon copied books with skill, and was a fine lathe turner. Out of humility he did not become a priest. Saint Tikhon died on June 16, 1503 in such poverty that his disciples did not know how they would bury him. But to their comfort the Archbishop of Suzdal sent a monastic burial shroud, in which to bury him. Soon after his death, at the place of his labors, a monastery was built in honor of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker.
Saint Tikhon is also commemorated on June 26. (the uncovering of his holy relics in 1569).
Hieromartyr Tigrius the Presbyter and the Martyr Eutropius the Reader were contemporaries of Saint John Chrysostom (November 13) and were among his clergy. The holy presbyter Tigrius was a mild and kindly pastor, and Saint Eutropius was distinguished for his prudence and purity of life. When Saint John Chrysostom was banished from Constantinople in 404, Saint Tigrius and the reader Eutropius were arrested as his partisans and were accused of setting fire to churches and buildings belonging to the opponents of Saint John Chrysostom.
Saint Tigrius was put to torture, beaten with leather and banished to Mesopotamia, where he was imprisoned and died. Saint Eutropius was flogged, suspended, struck with iron rods, and thrown into prison. When the torments were repeated, he died. His body, which had been thrown to the dogs, was taken by night and buried by Christians. As they took his body for burial, angelic singing was heard in the sky above them.
The life of Saint Kaikhosro the Georgian has been passed down to our century in the works of Archbishop Timote (Gabashvili), a famous Church figure and historian of the 18th century.
In a passage describing the frescoes and commemoration books of the Holy Cross Monastery in Jerusalem, Bishop Timote writes that an image of Saint Kaikhosro the Georgian is among the sacred frescoes.
According to the commemoration books of the Holy Cross Monastery, Saint Kaikhosro the Georgian was tortured to death by Shah Abbas I in 1612 for his pious veneration of the holy icons.
Saint Moses (Putilov) was born on January 15, 1782 in the city of Borisogleb in the Yaroslavl province, and was baptized with the name Timothy. His siblings were called Jonah, Basil, Cyril, Anysia, and Alexander. John Putilov named all his children after the saint commemorated on the eighth day after their birth, so the future Saint Moses was named for the holy Apostle Timothy of the Seventy (January 22). The children were educated at home, since their parents feared they would be corrupted in some way if they were sent away to school.
When Timothy was nineteen, his father sent him and his younger brother Jonah to work in Moscow. While in Moscow they met the Elders Alexander and Philaret of the Novospassky Monastery, who had spiritual ties to Saint Paisius Velichkovsky (November 15). Through their aquaintance with these two ascetics of piety, the brothers decided that they also wished to become monks. In May of 1805 they visited the Sarov monastery (which their widowed brother-in-law Cosmas Krundishev had entered in November 1804) and spoke with Saint Seraphim (January 2). The brothers remained at Sarov for two and a half years. At first they were assigned to the bakery, and then to other obediences.
In 1811, following the advice of Hieromonk Alexis of Moscow’s Simonov Monastery, Timothy went to live with the hermits of the Roslavl forests. There he was placed under the guidance of Elder Athanasius, a disciple of Saint Paisius Velichkovsky. In time, he received the monastic tonsure from Father Athanasius and was named Moses. His sponsor at his tonsure was Elder Dositheus, who had lived in the Rostov forests for forty years.
Alexander, the youngest brother of Father Moses, came to the Roslavl forest on January 15, 1816 to share the life of the monks. Four years later, he was tonsured with the name Anthony. He was placed in the care of Father Moses, to whom he remained obedient for the rest of his life.
In 1821 Bishop Philaret of Kaluga (later Metropolitan of Kiev) suggested that the Putilov brothers move to the Optina Hermitage with a few monks and establish a skete near the monastery, where they could live in greater solitude. Saints Moses and Anthony arrived at Optina on July 6, 1822 to begin their labors. Their first task was to clear away some trees from the place they had chosen, and to uproot the stumps. They built a small cell and enclosed it with a fence, and also built a church dedicated to Saint John the Baptist.
Bishop Philaret suggested that Father Moses be ordained, but he absolutely refused to consider it. The bishop said, “If you do not agree to this, I will call you to account for it at the Dread Judgment of the Lord.” Only then would Father Moses consent. He was ordained as a deacon on December 22, 1822, and to the holy priesthood on December 25. At the same time, he was appointed Father Confessor for the whole monastery.
Father Moses was chosen to be the Superior of Optina Hermitage in 1826 when he was forty-three, serving in this capacity for thirty-seven years. He was prepared for this service by his years of living in the wilderness under the guidance of his Elder, and by his study of patristic writings. He was mature in years, and he had also acquired a spiritual maturity through his patient endurance of tribulations and acceptance of God’s will in all things.
Optina underwent many changes during this time, and the number of monks increased. The size of the monastery’s property was doubled, orchards of fruit trees and berry bushes were planted, a library was established, and many buildings were constructed, including a cathedral and two churches.
Saint Moses did not have the money for all these projects, but he undertook them anyway, trusting in God to provide the means. Sometimes he would even travel to Moscow to solicit donations to the monastery. When people asked if he had enough money for his projects, he would show them a few roubles. Someone would say, “Father, that is nothing!” Then Father Moses would reply, “Are you forgetting about God? I may have nothing, but He has everything.”
During a time of famine there was scarcely enough food to feed the monks. It was just then that Father Moses began the construction of guest houses on the monastery grounds and hired people from the neighboring towns and villages to do the work. The monastery not only paid their wages, but also fed their families. One of the monks was concerned that the coming famine would force them to postpone the construction and lay off the workers. Saint Moses told him that the people would not starve, because as long as God sent gifts to the monastery they would share them with the people.
Though he was short-tempered by nature, Saint Moses struggled to acquire patience and meekness. If he felt himself becoming angry, he would leave to pray by himself for a while. Once he had calmed down, he would return. He would also advise people to keep the rule of Saint Dorotheus (June 5) for being at peace: “Do not desire that things turn out the way you would like, but desire whatever happens. That way you will be at peace” (Seventeenth Instruction).
Saint Moses did not sleep much. He would arise before midnight, and usually came to church for Matins. He said that the Bloodless Sacrifice was offered for us at Liturgy, and so the monk should sacrifice his own rest at Matins.
During Father Moses’ time the monastery published sixteen volumes of patristic writings under the direction of Saint Macarius (September 7). Saint Moses would send these books free of charge to various monasteries and individuals for their spiritual benefit.
Although Saint Moses concerned himself with every aspect of the monastery’s life, his greatest achievement was to establish eldership at Optina. He received Saint Leonid (October 11) and Saint Macarius into the monastery, yet he submitted his will to them. He made no decisions, and would not tonsure any monk without first seeking their counsel. Saint Moses had the gift of eldership himself, but preferred not to offer spiritual counsel to the brethren. He left this to Father Leonid or Father Macarius.
The saint endeavored to hide his spiritual gifts from others, but people knew that he was clairvoyant, and that his holy prayers were answered by God. Whenever anyone praised him for anything, he would smile and say, “I do not agree with you. I have my doubts.”
On June 15, 1862 Father Archimandrite Moses became very weak, and had to be supported by others when he received Holy Communion because he did not wish to partake of the Holy Mysteries of Christ while lying down. That evening he listened as the Gospel according to Saint John was being read for him. At midnight he received Holy Communion again, although this time he received lying down.
A few hours later, Saint Moses raised his right hand and those in the room came to receive his blessing. He continued to bless, even when there was no one there. Evidently, he was blessing people he knew in other places. Later the monastery received a letter from a person in Saint Petersburg who said that he had seen Saint Moses in a dream at the very hour when he was dying and blessing those who were absent. He seemed to see the Elder lying on a bed and blessing each individual member of this person’s family.
Then it was decided to resume reading the Gospel over Father Moses. The monks took turns reading until about ten o’clock when the Elder breathed a little sigh and surrendered his soul to God. At that very moment, the monk who was reading reached the end of the sixtenth chapter of the Gospel of Saint Matthew: “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Truly I say unto you, there are some standing here who shall not taste of death until they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” (Matthew 16:27-28).
Early in his life, when he visited the Sarov monastery and saw the life of the monks there, he resolved not to possess anything during his life. Ironically, he was forced to deal with raising money for building projects, and with paying the workers at Optina. After his death the money coffer in which he kept the monastery funds was opened. Inside they found a single ten kopek coin stuck between the bottom and side of the chest. His brother Saint Anthony remarked, “Father Moses probably did not notice it, otherwise he would have spent it.”
Several years after his death, the holy relics of Saint Moses were found to be incorrupt.
The Moscow Patriarchate authorized local veneration of the Optina Elders on June 13,1996. The work of uncovering the relics of Saints Leonid, Macarius, Hilarion, Ambrose, Anatole I, Barsanuphius and Anatole II began on June 24/July 7, 1998 and was concluded the next day. However, because of the church Feasts (Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, etc.) associated with the actual dates of the uncovering of the relics, Patriarch Alexey II designated June 27/July 10 as the date for commemorating this event. The relics of the holy Elders now rest in the new church of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God.
The Optina Elders were glorified by the Moscow Patriarchate for universal veneration on August 7, 2000.