6TH SUNDAY OF MATTHEW
6th Sunday of Matthew, Christina the Great Martyr of Tyre, Athenagorus the Apologist, Boris and Gleb, the Passion-bearers, Kapiton, Himenaos and Hermogenes, the Martyrs, Theophilos the New Martyr of Zakynthos
ST. PAUL’S LETTER TO THE ROMANS 12:6-14
Brethren, having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; he who teaches, in his teaching; he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who contributes, in liberality; he who gives aid, with zeal; he who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
At that time, getting into a boat Jesus crossed over and came to his own city. And behold, they brought to him a paralytic, lying on his bed; and when Jesus saw their faith he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say ‘Your sins are forgiven, ‘ or to say ‘Rise and walk?’ But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” he then said to the paralytic — “Rise, take up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.
Saints Boris and Gleb were sons of Saint Vladimir (July 15). Saint Boris was named Romanus and Saint Gleb was named David at their Baptism. After their father’s death the eldest son Sviatopolk planned to kill his brothers Boris, Gleb, and Yaroslav in order to seize power. He sent a message to Boris, pretending that he wished to live in peace with him, and to increase Boris’s land holdings inherited from their father.
Some of Vladimir’s advisers told Boris that he should take the army and establish himelf as ruler of Kiev. Saint Boris, however, said that he could never lift his hand against his own brother. Unfortunately, Sviatopolk was not so scrupulous. He came to the town of Vyshegorod to ask its leaders if they were loyal to him. They assured him that they were ready to die for him.
Sviatopolk sent assassins to the Alta to kill Boris, who already knew that his brother wanted him dead. When they arrived they heard him chanting psalms and praying before an icon of Christ. He asked the Lord to strengthen him for the suffering he was about to endure. He also prayed for Sviatopolk, asking God not to count this against him as sin.
Then he lay down upon his couch, and the assassins stabbed him with their lances, and also killed some of Boris’s servants. Wrapping Boris in a cloth, they threw him onto a wagon and drove off with him. When Sviatopolk saw that he was still breathing, he sent some men to finish him off with swords.
After Sviatopolk had killed Boris, he wondered, “Now how can I kill Gleb?” He sent him a message saying that their father was ill and wished to see him. As he was on his way, he received word from Yaroslav that their father had died and that Sviatopolk had murdered Boris.
Saint Gleb wept for his father and brother, and was lamenting them when the assassins arrived. They seized his boat and drew their weapons, but it was Gleb’s cook Torchin who stabbed him with a knife.
The martyr’s body was thrown onto the shore between two trees. Later, he was buried beside Saint Boris in the church of Saint Basil.
Saints Boris and Gleb received the crown of martyrdom in 1015. They became known as Passion-Bearers, since they did not resist evil with violence.
The holy martyrs Princes Boris and Gleb are also commemorated on May 2.
The Martyr Christina lived during the third century. She was born into a rich family, and her father was governor of Tyre. By the age of 11 the girl was exceptionally beautiful, and many wanted to marry her. Christina’s father, however, envisioned that his daughter should become a pagan priestess. To this end he placed her in a special dwelling where he had set up many gold and silver idols, and he commanded his daughter to burn incense before them. Two servants attended Christina.
In her solitude, Christina began to wonder who had created this beautiful world. From her room she was delighted by the stars of the heavens and she constantly came back to the thought about the Creator of all the world. She was convinced, that the voiceless and inanimate idols in her room could not create anything, since they themselves were created by human hands. She began to pray to the One God with tears, entreating Him to reveal Himself. Her soul blazed with love for the Unknown God, and she intensified her prayer all the more, and combined it with fasting.
One time Christina was visited by an angel, who instructed her in the true faith in Christ, the Savior of the world. The angel called her a bride of Christ and told her about her future suffering. The holy virgin smashed all the idols standing in her room and threw them out the window. In visiting his daughter Christina’s father, Urban, asked her where all the idols had disappeared. Christina was silent. Then, having summoned the servants, Urban learned the truth from them.
In a rage the father began to slap his daughter’s face. At first, the holy virgin remained quiet, but then she told her father about her faith in the One True God, and that she had destroyed the idols with her own hands. Urban gave orders to kill all the servants in attendance upon his daughter, and he gave Christina a fierce beating and threw her in prison. Having learned about what had happened, Saint Christina’s mother came in tears, imploring her to renounce Christ and to return to her ancestral beliefs. But Christina remained unyielding. On another day, Urban brought his daughter to trial and urged her to offer worship to the gods, and to ask forgiveness for her misdeeds. Instead, he saw her firm and steadfast confession of faith in Christ.
The torturers tied her to an iron wheel, beneath which they lit a fire. The body of the martyr, turning round on the wheel, was scorched on all sides. They then threw her into prison.
An angel of God appeared at night, healing her wounds and strengthening her with food. Her father, seeing her unharmed, gave orders to drown her in the sea. An angel sustained the saint while the stone sank down, and Christina miraculously came out of the water and reappeared before her father. In terror, her father imputed this to sorcery and decided to execute her in the morning. That night he himself suddenly died. Another governor, Dion, was sent in his place. He summoned the holy martyr and also tried to persuade her to renounce Christ, but seeing her unyielding firmness, he again subjected her to cruel tortures. The holy martyr was for a long while in prison. People began to flock to her, and she converted them to the true faith in Christ. Thus about 300 were converted.
In place of Dion, a new governor Julian arrived and resumed the torture of the saint. After various torments, Julian gave orders to throw her into a red-hot furnace and lock her in it. After five days they opened the furnace and found the martyr alive and unharmed. Seeing this miracle take place, many believed in Christ the Savior, and the torturers executed Saint Christina with a sword.
Saint Polycarp the Archimandrite entered the Kiev Caves Monastery, where he received monastic tonsure and struggled for the salvation of his soul.
Soon Polycarp (whose name means “much fruit”) began to bear fruits of repentance and virtue. His relative Saint Simon (May 10), who became Bishop of Vladimir and Suzdal, planted the seeds which Saint Polycarp developed. As the holy bishop taught Polycarp the principles of the spiritual life, the two became increasingly united in spirit, just as they were related by blood.
When Saint Simon left the Monastery of the Caves to assume his hierarchal responsibilities in Vladimir, he took Polycarp with him. Saint Polycarp wrote down the stories that Saint Simeon told him of the God-pleasing ascetics of the Kiev Caves so that others might also benefit from them. Therefore, he is also known as Saint Polycarp the Hagiologist. Although Saint Polycarp returned to the monastery, he always tried to live according to Saint Simeon’s instructions.
After the repose of Igumen Akindynus, the brethren chose Polycarp to succeed him as the Superior of the Lavra. He proved to be a skilled guide for the brethren in their struggle for salvation, and also for those outside the monastery.
The Great Prince Rostislav was one of many who profited from the teaching of Saint Polycarp, and asked that he be allowed to become a monk. Saint Polykarp told him, “God has appointed you to stand for the truth, to judge with justice, and to stand firmly before the Cross.”
Rostislav answered, “Holy Father, one cannot be a prince in this world without falling into sin. I am already exhausted and weakened by daily cares and labors. Now in my old age I would like to serve God and emulate those who have followed the narrow and sorrowful path and received the Kingdom of Heaven. I have heard of how Constantine (May 21), great among kings, appeared to a certain Elder and said, ‘If I had known what glory the monks receive in heaven… I would have taken off my crown and royal purple, and replaced them with the monastic garb’.”
Saint Polycarp told him, “If you desire this from your heart, then may it be God’s will.”
However, as the prince was passing through Smolensk, he fell ill and asked to be taken home to Kiev. Seeing how weak he was, his sister Rogneda urged him to remain in Smolensk and be buried in the church they had built there.
Rostislav would not accept this suggestion. He said, “If I do not make it back to Kiev, then let me be placed in the church my father built in the Monastery of Saint Theodore. If God delivers me from this illness and grants me health, then I vow to become a monk at the Monastery of the Caves under Polycarp.”
As he lay at death’s door, Rostislav said to the priest Simon, “You must answer before God since you hindered me from being tonsured by the holy one in the Caves Monastery, for I truly desired that. May the Lord not count it as a sin that I did not fulfill this.”
Saint Polycarp went to the Lord on July 24, 1182. After this, no successor was chosen for a long time. Although there were many worthy Elders in the Lavra, they all declined the office of igumen out of humility. The brethren realized that they could not remain for long without a shepherd. They assembled in the church and prayed to Saints Anthony and Theodosius and Saint Polycarp to help them find someone worthy to take his place.
Then a voice was heard saying, “Let us go to the priest Basil in Schekovitsa. Let him be our Superior and rule the monastery in the monastic rank.”
The monks went to the widowed priest Basil and asked him to be their Superior, but he refused for a long time. After many entreaties, he finally agreed and went with them to the monastery. He was tonsured as a monk and installed as igumen by Metropolitan Nikēphóros of Kiev, Bishops Laurence of Turov and Nicholas of Polotsk. Igumen Basil proved to be a model of virtues and a worthy successor to Saint Polycarp.
Saint Hilarion of Tvali (Tulashvili) served as abbot of Khakhuli Monastery in southwestern Georgia at the beginning of the 11th century.
In his work The Life of George of the Holy Mountain, George the Lesser writes that Venerable Hilarion was outstanding in virtue and celebrated for his sermons and ascetic labors.
Saint Hilarion raised the young George of the Holy Mountain to be a brilliant writer, translator, theologian and patriot. From him George also received a blessing to enter the monastic life.
According to the chronicle Life of Kartli, Saint Hilarion was a famous translator and writer and an eminent theologian.
Eventually Saint Hilarion moved from Khakhuli to Tvali Monastery, not far from Antioch, where he remained for the rest of his life. According to the 19th-century historian-iconographer Michael Sabinin, Saint Hilarion reposed in the year 1041.
Abramius the wonderworker. + August 21, ca. 1224.
Andrew, Prince. October 27(Uncovering of his relics) ca. 1390.
Anthony, Bishop of Vologda. + October 26, 1588 & January 17.
Arcadius, monk of Vyazma, disciple of Saint Ephraim of Novotorzhok. Ca. 1592. July 11, August 14 (translation of his relics in 1798), December 13.
Arcadius Dorogobuzhsky, disciple of Saint Gerasimus of Baldino. XVI century.
Constantine, Prince, son of Saint Theodore of Smolensk March 5 (translation of his relics), June 22, September 19.
David, prince and wonderworker, son of Theodore of Smolensk. March 5 (translation of his relics in 1321), June 22, September 9.
Ephraim of Novotorzhok + 1053. January 28, June 11 (translation of his relics in 1572).
Ephraim of Smolensk, disciple of Saint Abramius of Smolesk. + August 21, 1238.
Gerasimus of Baldino, + May 1, 1554.
Gleb (David in Baptism), prince and passion-bearer. May 2 (translation of his relics in 1115), July 24 (commemorated with Saint Boris), September 5 (his martyrdom in 1015). Gleb, prince of Smolensk, July 7 (XIV-XV century).
Ignatius, Bishop of Smolensk, wonderworker. + January 29, 1210.
Juliana, princess of Vyazma. June 2 (uncovering of her relics in 1819), December 21 (her martyrdom in 1406).
Macarius (Glukharov), Apostle to the Altai + May 15, 1847.
Mercurius, warrior and martyr + November 24, 1239.
Mercurius, Hieromartyr, Bishop of Smolensk. + August 7, 1238.
Michael, Bishop of Smolensk + November 28, 1402.
Michael, Prince, son of Saint Theodore of Smolensk. September 19, 1290.
Nicholas, Archbishop of Japan, equal of the Apostles (in the world Ivan Dimitrievich Kasatkin). + February 3, 1912.
Pitirim, Bishop of Tambov. + July 28, 1698.
Prochorus of the Kiev Caves, wonderworker. + February 10, 1107.
Rostislav (Michael in Baptism) Great Prince of Kiev. + 1167. March 14.
Simeon, Prince of Vyazma. + December 21, 1406.
Simeon, Metropolitan of Smolensk + January 4, 1699.
Simeon, disciple of Saint Sergius of Radonezh. + 1392.
Theodore, Prince and wonderworker + 1299. March 5 (translation of his relics in 1321), June 22, September 19.
Saint Athenogoras was a Christian philosopher and apologist of the second century A.D. He probably came from Athens where he studied Middle Platonism and Stoic philosophy. He flourished during the time of the Roman emperors Marcus Aurelius (161-180) and Commodus (180 – 192).
There are some basic facts about Saint Athenagoras, his formation and his work which are drawn from his two works, preserved in a codex from the year 914, which was produced in the literary workshop of Arethas: “Embassy (or Supplication) for the Christians" and "On the Resurrection of the dead.”
Saint Athenagoras stands out among the apologists of his day because of his literary excellence and his clear and eloquent style. His writings contain quotes from poets and philosophers, and from the rhythm of his sentences, and the arrangement of his material, we can deduce that he attended a school of rhetoric. In the field of theology he affirms Orthodox teachings about the Holy Trinity, the divine inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, and reveals a strict ascetical position concerning the moral life of Christians. His work has an important place in the ecclesiastical writings of the first two centuries.