3RD MONDAY AFTER PENTECOST
ABSTAIN FROM MEAT, FISH, DAIRY, EGGS, WINE, OLIVE OIL
Samson the Hospitable, Joanna the Myrrhbearer, Anektos the Martyr, Luke the Hermit
ST. PAUL’S LETTER TO THE ROMANS 7:1-14
Brethren, I am speaking to those who know the law. Do you not know that the law is binding on a person only during his life? Thus a married woman is bound by law to her husband as long as he lives; but if her husband dies she is discharged from the law concerning the husband. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.
Likewise, my brethren, you have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead in order that we may bear fruit for God. While we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.
What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet, if it had not been for the law, I should not have known sin. I should not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, "You shall not covet." But sin, finding opportunity in the commandment, wrought in me all kinds of covetousness. Apart from the law sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died; the very commandment which promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, finding opportunity in the commandment, deceived me and by it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good.
Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, working death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.
MATTHEW 9:36-38; 10:1-8
At that time, when Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.
And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity. The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaios, and Lebbaeos called Thaddaios; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. These twelve Jesus sent out, charging them, "Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And preach as you go, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying, give without pay.
Saint Sampson the Hospitable of Constantinople
Saint Sampson (Σαμψών) was born in Rome, the son of wealthy, but devout and virtuous parents. He received an excellent education, studying philosophy and medicine, among other subjects. From his earliest childhood, he lived an exemplary Christian life. After the death of his parents he transformed the family estate into a clinic for the sick. Word of his healing skills spread, and so many people came to him that he had to hire a staff to care for the increasing numbers of people who sought his help. When he had an adequate staff, he donated all of his wealth to the clinic, and was content to live in poverty (Luke 12:33-34).
Saint Sampson went to Constantinople, where he hoped to spend the rest of his life in asceticism. He found, however, that there was just as much need for his skill in Constantinople as there had been in Rome. He bought a modest home and began to treat the sick. God blessed Saint Sampson's work and gave him the grace of working miracles. He healed the sick not only by his medical skill, but also as one filled with the grace of God. News of Saint Sampson spread rapidly throughout the Queen of Cities.
His piety and love for his neighbor brought him to the attention of Patriarch Menas of Constantinople (August 25), who ordained him to the holy priesthood. When Emperor Justinian became ill, and his physicians were unable to provide any relief for him, Patriarch Menas suggested that he send for Sampson, who healed the Emperor. Justinian offered him gold and silver to show his gratitude, but the saint refused, saying that he had already given all his wealth away. Instead, he asked Justinian to build a hospice for travelers.
His Life was written by St. Symeon Metaphrastes. The historian Procopius, however, implies that Sampson lived before the sixth century, and that the hospice had existed before his own time (Buildings, I, 2, 14). When Sampson's hospice (xenon) was burnt and destroyed in 532, Justinian rebuilt it and endowed it with a generous annual income. It was intended for the destitute, and those who suffered from serious illnesses, as well as those who had lost their property or their health.
Saint Sampson reposed quietly, following a brief illness, in the year 530 at a ripe old age. He was buried in the church of Saint Mokios (Μώκιος), which was built by Saint Constantine the Great. Many miracles of healing took place at the tomb of Saint Sampson.
Even after his death, the Saint continued to watch over his hospice. Twice he appeared to a lazy worker, and chastised him for his negligence. Later, the hospice became a church, and a new building for the homeless was constructed beside it. A terrible fire once raged in Constantinople, but did not damage the church or the new building. Through the prayers of Saint Sampson, a heavy rain extinguished the flames.
The appointed Scriptural readings for his Feast are from Galatians 5:23-6:2 and from Luke 12:32-40.
Through the prayers of Saint Sampson, may we also find the treasure which does not fail, in Heaven.
Saint Joanna the Myrrhbearer
Saint Joanna was the wife of Herod's household stewart Khouza (Χουζά) and she served the
Lord during His public ministry, along with some other women. She is mentioned in Luke 8:3 and 24:10.
According to Tradition, she recovered the head of Saint John the Baptist after Herodias had disposed of it (February 24).
Saint Joanna went to the Sepulchre with the other Myrrh-bearing Women, in order to anoint the Holy Body of the Lord with myrrh after His death on the Cross. She also heard from the angels the joyful proclamation of His All-Glorious Resurrection.
Saint Joanna reposed peacefully in the first century. She is also commemorated on the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearing Women.
Venerable Serapion of Kozhe Lake
Among the captives whom the Kazan Tatars brought to Moscow in 1551 was the myrza (Tatar Prince) Turtas Gravirovich. He was baptized with the name Sergius and lived in the home of the Moscow boyar Zachariah Plescheev. Sergius embraced the Christian Faith so sincerely, that he decided to dedicate himself wholly to God.
On a desert peninsula of Kozhe Lake in 1560, he met the anchorite Niphon, who became his Elder. Together they began to share the struggle of a harsh reclusive life, and their food consisted of grass and berries. Sergius obeyed all of Niphon's instructions to the letter. After a trial period, Sergius asked the Elder if he might receive the monastic tonsure. Seeing his sincerity and the purity of his wishes, the Elder tonsured him with the name Serapion.
Little by little the hermits became known, and stories about them began to attract spiritual zealots to their spiritual life. Serapion's reclusive life lasted almost eighteen years. When Niphon and Serapion has a fair number of monks, Father Niphon went to Moscow to ask for some land for the monastery, but he reposed in Moscow before he could conduct his business there. The monastic community was not yet aware of Father Niphon's fate.
At the time, because of the the lack of food supplies, people began to get hungry, and out of compassion for the suffering, Father Serapion went to seek donations. He was given some grain to make bread, and a millstone. He carried all this by himself to the monastic community and saved the brethren from dying of starvation.
Upon learning of Niphon's passing, Saint Serapion went to Moscow. There he received a document from Tsar Theodore (1584-1598) dated September 30, 1584 which provided the land for the new monastic community: four versts in all directions; A Metropolitan gave him a gramota with his blessing for the establishment of a monastery. Returning to his place, Saint Serapion and the monks cleared the forest in order to have land for growing crops. They put up fences around the monastery and built two temples: one dedicated to the Holy Theophany, and the other to Saint Nicholas. Patriarch Job (1589-1605; † 1607) gave Saint Serapion two antimensia for the churches.
In 1608, when Saint Serapion had grown quite old, he made his disciple Abramius Igoumen in his place. Saint Serapion reposed on June 27, 1611 and was buried in the church of the Kozhe Lake Monastery, leaving behind as many as forty monks in that community.
In 1613 the monk Bogolep of Kozhe Lake wrote an account of the founding of the monastery, and of its initial construction under Saint Serapion. He also compiled a Life of Saint Serapion.
Saint Severus the Presbyter of Interocrea, Italy
Saint Severus the Presbyter during the sixth century served in a church of the Most Holy Theotokos in the village of Interocrea in Central Italy. He was noted for his virtuous and God-pleasing life. One time, when the saint was working in his garden, cutting grapes in the vineyard, they summoned him to administer the Holy Mysteries for the dying. Saint Severus said: “Go back, and I’ll catch up with you soon.”
There remained only but a few more grapes to cut off, and Saint Severus dallied for awhile in the garden to finish the work. When he arrived at the sick person’s home, they told him that the person was already dead. Saint Severus, regarding himself as guilty in the death of a man without absolution, started to tremble and loudly he began to weep. He went into the house where the deceased lay.
With loud groans and calling himself a murderer, in tears he fell down before the dead person. Suddenly the dead man came alive and related to everyone that the demons wanted to seize his soul, but one of the angels said, “Give him back, since the priest Severus weeps over him, and on account of his tears the Lord has granted him this man.” Saint Severus, giving thanks to the Lord, confessed and communed the resurrected man with the Holy Mysteries. That man survived for another seven days, then joyfully went to the Lord.
Venerable George of Mount Athos
Saint George’s family had its roots in the region of Samtskhe in southern Georgia. George was born in Trialeti to the pious Jacob and Mariam.
When George reached the age of seven, the God-fearing and wise Abbess Sabiana of Tadzrisi Monastery in Samtskhe took him under her care. George spent three years at Tadzrisi, and when he was ten his father sent him to Khakhuli Monastery, to his own brothers Saints George the Scribe and Saba.
Soon after, Prince Peris Jojikisdze of Trialeti invited George’s uncle, George the Scribe, to stay with him, and George’s uncle took his young nephew with him. But the Byzantine emperor Basil II subsequently summoned Peris and his family to Constantinople, accused him of conspiring against the throne, and had him beheaded. (At that time Trialeti was under the jurisdiction of Byzantium.) Peris’ faithful wife remained in Constantinople for twelve years and sent the young George to study with the finest philosophers and rhetoricians of that time.
Eventually Emperor Basil was moved with compassion for the prince’s family and permitted them to return to Georgia. The twenty-five-year-old George returned to Khakhuli Monastery and “bowed his neck to the sweet yoke of monastic life.”
Later George secretly left the monastery and, clad in beggars’ rags, journeyed to Jerusalem. After enduring many deprivations and overcoming a great number of obstacles, he reached the Black Mountains near Antioch and, after venerating the holy places and visiting several elders, began to search for a spiritual father and guide. He found the great Georgian elder Saint George the Recluse (the God-bearer) in an isolated cave and remained there with him for three years.
Then Saint George the Recluse tonsured his disciple, “who had reached perfection of age, wisdom and understanding,” into the great schema and sent him to Jerusalem on a pilgrimage. According to his teacher’s counsel, George then moved from Jerusalem to the Ivḗron Monastery on Mt. Athos to continue the work of Saint Ekvtime—the translation of theological texts from the Greek to the Georgian language. George considered himself unworthy and unqualified to continue Saint Ekvtime’s great work, but Saint George the Recluse was insistent, so he set off for the Holy Mountain in humble obedience.
The monks of the Ivḗron Monastery received Saint George with great joy. But instead of translating the patristic texts as his spiritual father had advised him, George soon grew slothful and for seven years performed only the work of a novice. When Saint George the Recluse heard this, he sent his disciple Tevdore to Mt. Athos to rebuke him and remind him of the reason he had been sent there. Finally George of the Holy Mountain obeyed the will of his teacher, and soon he was enthroned as abbot of the monastery.
From that time on Saint George of the Holy Mountain pursued his work with great earnestness. He gathered information on Saints Ekvtime and John, compiled their Lives, translated their holy relics to ornate burial vaults covered in precious jewels, and enhanced the life of the monastery in many other ways.
During a visit to the Byzantine emperor Constantine Monomachus, the Georgian king Bagrat IV Kuropalates offered George the opportunity to return to Georgia to be consecrated bishop of Chqondidi and serve as his own spiritual adviser. But George declined, having already been drawn far from the vanity of the world.
Leadership of the monastery was demanding, and George was forced to choose between his literary work and the life of the monastery.
He resigned as abbot and returned to Saint George the Recluse for counsel. But his teacher blessed him to return to the Ivḗron Monastery, so George set off again for Mt. Athos.
The God-fearing king Bagrat IV Kuropalates continued to ask Saint George to return to Georgia, and he finally consented to the will of the king and the catholicos. In accordance with their request, the pious father instituted general guidelines for the qualifications and conduct of the clergy and wisely administered the affairs of the Church. Five years later Saint George returned to the Ivḗron Monastery. Before he departed, King Bagrat bestowed upon him much of his own wealth and saw him off with great respect.
Departing for Mt. Athos, Blessed George took with him eighty orphans. En route he stopped in Constantinople, and sensing that the day of his repose was near, he arranged for the orphans to be received in the emperor’s court. He personally requested that the emperor make provision for the orphaned children.
Venerable George of the Holy Mountain reposed peacefully the next day, the Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. His Athonite brothers buried him on the monastery grounds with great reverence.
Finding of the relics of Venerable Ambrose of Optina
No information available at this time.
Venerable Martin of Turov
Saint Martin of Turov served as a cook under the Turov bishops Simeon, Ignatius, Joachim (1144-1146), and George. This last hierarch made Saint Martin retire because of his age. But the old man did not want to leave the monastery (the bishops lived at the monastery of Saints Boris and Gleb), and so he accepted monasticism.
In his former work he had often overexerted himself and therefore often fell ill.
One time Saint Martin lay motionless and in moaning with sickness. He fervently called on Saints Boris and Gleb for help, and on the third day the saints appeared to him, gave him a sip of water, and healed him of his illness. After this miraculous healing, Saint Martin survived for another year.
Hieromartyr Kirion II, Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia
The holy Hieromartyr Kirion II (known in the world as George Sadzaglishvili) was born in 1855 in the village of Nikozi in the Gori district. His father was a priest.
He enrolled at the parochial school in Ananuri, then at the theological school in Gori, and finally at Tbilisi Seminary.
In 1880 he graduated from the Kiev Theological Academy and was appointed assistant dean of the Odessa Theological Seminary. From 1883 to 1886 Saint Kirion was active in the educational life of Gori, Telavi, Kutaisi, and Tbilisi. In 1886 he was appointed supervisor of the Georgian monasteries and dean of the schools of the Society for the Renewal of Christianity in the Caucasus. He directed the parochial schools, established libraries and rare book collections within them, and published articles on the history of the Georgian Church, folklore and literature under the pseudonyms Iverieli, Sadzagelov, and Liakhveli (the Liakhvi River flows through his native region of Shida [Inner] Kartli, the central part of eastern Georgia).
In 1886 God’s chosen, George, was tonsured a monk with the name Kirion, and he was enthroned as abbot of Kvabtakhevi Monastery. Kirion continued his scholarly pursuits and intensified his spiritual labors. He collected folklore and ethnographic materials and studied artifacts from ancient Georgian churches. He generously donated the reliquaries and rare manuscripts he found to the antiquities collections at the Church Museum of Tbilisi and the Society for the Propagation of Literacy among the Georgians.
In 1898 Kirion published a description of the historical monuments of Liakhvi Gorge. His publication is an important resource for scholars and historians, since most of the monuments he describes were toppled by Georgia’s ideological and national enemies in subsequent years. (Kirion would later join the Moscow Archaeological Society.)
In August of 1898 Archimandrite Kirion was consecrated bishop of Alaverdi.
Saint Kirion began at once to rebuild Alaverdi Church, and he offered his own resources for this momentous task. At the same time, he began to study the ancient artifacts of Kakheti and Hereti in eastern Georgia. Among the manuscripts he turned over to the Church Museum of Tbilisi was a Holy Gospel from the year 1098, unknown to scholars until that time.
Bishop Kirion was a tireless researcher, with a broad range of scholarly interests. To his pen belong more than forty monographs on various themes relating to the history of the Georgian Church and Christian culture in Georgia. He compiled a short terminological dictionary of the ancient Georgian language and, with the linguist Grigol Qipshidze, a History of Georgian Philology.
Kirion fought the appropriation of Georgian churches by the Armenian Monophysites. He sent a detailed memorandum to the Russian exarch in Georgia demanding that the confiscated Orthodox churches be returned.
In 1901 Kirion was installed as bishop of Gori. By that time it had become clear to the Georgian exarchate that the educated and progressive clergymen were endorsing the holy hierarch Kirion and contesting the abolition of the autocephaly of the Georgian Church. But the government found a way out of this “dangerous situation” by frequently reassigning Saint Kirion to serve in different parts of the Russian Empire: in 1903 he was reassigned to Cherson, in 1904 to Orel, and in 1906 to Sokhumi. In Sokhumi Saint Kirion exerted every effort to restore and revive the historical Georgian churches and monasteries, though he would soon be reassigned to the Kovno diocese.
In 1905, at the demand of Georgia’s intelligentsia (under the leadership of Saint Ilia the Righteous), the regime formed an extraordinary commission to formally consider the question of the autocephaly of the Georgian Church. Saint Kirion delivered two lectures to the commission: one on the reasons behind Georgia’s struggle for the restoration of an autocephalous Church, and the other on the role of nationality in the life of the Church. The commission rejected the Georgian claims to autocephaly and subjected the leaders of the movement to harsh repression.
In 1907 Saint Ilia the Righteous was killed, and the government forbade Saint Kirion to travel to Georgia to pay his last respects. Saint Kirion managed only to send a letter of condolence to Saint Ilia’s loved ones. In the months that followed, the regime tightened down even more severely on Saint Kirion. In 1908 he was accused of conspiring in the murder of Exarch Nikon, deprived of the rank of bishop, and arrested. This treacherous deed roused the indignation not only of the Georgian people but of the faithful of Russia as well. Even the democratic forces in Europe founded a society for the protection of the rights of Bishop Kirion and gathered signatures to demand his release from prison. The bishop himself humbly carried the cross of his persecution and consoled his sympathizers with the words of the great Georgian poet Shota Rustaveli: “‘Not a single rose is plucked from this world without thorns.’ We must bear our suffering with love, since suffering is the fruit of love and in suffering we will find our strength!”
By the year 1915 the regime had ceased to persecute Saint Kirion. They restored him to the bishopric and elevated him as archbishop of Polotsk and Vitebsk in western Russia. He was not, however, permitted to return to his motherland.
In March of 1917 the Georgian Apostolic Orthodox Church declared its autocephaly restored. At the incessant demands of the Georgian people, Saint Kirion finally returned to his motherland. One hundred and twenty cavalrymen met him in Aragvi Gorge (along the Georgian Military Highway) and reverently escorted him to the capital. In Tbilisi Saint Kirion was met with great honor.
In September of 1917 the Holy Synod of the Georgian Orthodox Church enthroned Bishop Kirion as Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia. During the enthronement ceremony at Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, Saint Kirion addressed the faithful: “My beloved motherland, the nation protected by the Most Holy Theotokos, purified in the furnace by tribulations and suffering, washed in its own tears: I return to you, having been separated from you, having sought after you, having grieved over you, having sought for you and now having returned not as a prodigal son, but as your confidant and the conscience of your Church.
“I know that in your minds you are all inquiring, ‘What has he brought back with him? With what ointment will he heal his wounds? How will he comfort himself in his sadness?’ Consider my words: He came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many (Matt. 20:28). I, likewise, have come not as a hired servant, but as a faithful and obedient son!”
Soon after he was enthroned, Saint Kirion sent an appeal to all the Orthodox patriarchs of the world in which he described in detail the history of the Georgian Church and requested an official recognition of her autocephaly.
On May 26, 1918, Georgia declared its independence. The next day Catholicos-Patriarch Kirion II presided during a service of thanksgiving. The chief shepherd and his flock rejoiced at the restoration of the autocephaly of the Georgian Church and the independence of the Georgian state, though from the beginning they perceived the imminence of the Bolshevik danger. The socialist revolution, now showing its true face, posed an enormous threat to the young republic and her Church.
On June 27, 1918, Catholicos-Patriarch Kirion II was found murdered in the patriarchal residence at Martqopi Monastery. The investigation was a mere formality and the guilty were never found.
Rumors were even spread that Saint Kirion had shot himself. When the Holy Synod of the Georgian Apostolic Orthodox Church convened on October 17, 2002, it canonized Holy Hieromartyr Kirion and numbered him among the saints.