9TH THURSDAY AFTER PENTECOST
ABSTAIN FROM MEAT, FISH, DAIRY, EGGS, WINE, OLIVE OIL
Euplus the Holy Martyr & Archdeacon of Cantania, Our Holy Father Niphonus, Patriarch of Constantinople, Commemoration of St. Spyridon’s Miracle in Corfu against the Turkish invasion of 1716, Afterfeast of the Transfiguration of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Blane, Bishop of Bute
ST. PAUL’S FIRST LETTER TO THE CORINTHIANS 14:6-19
Brethren, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how shall I benefit you unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching? If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will any one know what is played? And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? So with yourselves; if you in a tongue utter speech that is not intelligible, how will any one know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air. There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning; but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I shall be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me. So with yourselves; since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excell in building up the church. Therefore, he who speaks in a tongue should pray for the power to interpret. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. What am I to do? I will pray with spirit and I will sing with the mind also. Otherwise, if you bless with the spirit, how can any one in the position of an outsider say the “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying? For you may give thanks well enough, but the other man is not edified. I thank God that I speak in tongues more than you all; nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind, in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.
At that time, as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death, and deliver him to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.
Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him, with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. And he said to her, "What do you want?" She said to him, "Command that these two sons of mine may sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom." But Jesus answered, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?" They said to him, "We are able." He said to them, "You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father." And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave; even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
The hymns of the fifth day of the Afterfeast of the Transfiguration invite us to acquire the virtues and become radiant so that we may stand upon the holy mountain and behold the Lord’s Transfiguration as He shines with glory, “filling the world with light.”
We are also assured that those who excel in virtue “shall be made worthy of divine glory.”
The Martyr Archdeacon Euplus suffered in the year 304 under the emperors Diocletian (284-305) and Maximian (305-311). He served in the Sicilian city of Catania. Always carrying the Gospel with him, Saint Euplus preached constantly to the pagans about Christ.
Once, while he read and explained the Gospel to the gathered crowd, they arrested him and took him to the governor of the city, Calvisianus. Saint Euplus confessed himself a Christian and denounced the impiety of idol-worship. For this they sentenced him to torture.
They threw the injured saint into prison, where he remained in prayer for seven days. The Lord made a spring of water flow into the prison for the martyr to quench his thirst. Brought to trial a second time, strengthened and rejoicing, he again confessed his faith in Christ and denounced the torturer for spilling the blood of innocent Christians.
The judge commanded that the saint’s ears be torn off, and that he be beheaded. When they led the saint to execution, they hung the Gospel around his neck. Having asked time for prayer, the archdeacon began to read and explain the Gospel to the people, and many of the pagans believed in Christ. The soldiers beheaded the saint with a sword.
His holy relics are in the village of Vico della Batonia, near Naples.
The Hieromartyrs Basil and Theodore of the Caves pursued asceticism in the eleventh century in the Near Caves of Kiev. Saint Theodore distributed his riches to the poor, went to the monastery and settled into the Varangian Cave, adjoining the Caves of Saint Theodosius. He dwelt here many years in strict temperance.
When the enemy aroused sorrow in him for giving away his possessions, Saint Basil comforted him: “I implore you, brother Theodore, do not forget the reward. If you want to have possessions, take everything that is mine.” Saint Theodore repented and dearly loved Saint Basil, with whom he lived in the cell.
Once, Saint Basil was on an errand outside the monastery for three months. The devil, having assumed his form, appeared to Saint Theodore and indicated that there was a treasure hidden somewhere in the cave by robbers. The monk still wanted to leave the monastery to buy possessions to live in the world. When Saint Basil returned, the demonic illusion disappeared. From that time, Saint Theodore started to be more attentive to himself. In order not to be distracted by idle thoughts during moments of inactivity, he set up a millstone, and by night he ground grain. Thus, by long and zealous ascetic action he freed himself from the passion of avarice.
A report reached Prince Mstislav Svyatopolkovich that Saint Theodore had found much treasure in the cave. He summoned the monk to him and commanded him to show him the spot where the valuables were hidden. Saint Theodore told the prince that indeed he had once seen gold and precious vessels in the cave, but fearing temptation, he and Saint Basil had buried the treasure, and God took from him the memory of where it was hidden.
Not believing the saint, the prince gave orders to torture him to death. They beat Saint Theodore so much, that his hair-shirt was wet with blood, and then they hung him head-downwards, lighting a fire beneath him. In a drunken condition the prince commanded them to torture Saint Basil also, and then to kill him with an arrow. Dying, the martyr Basil threw the arrow at the feet of Prince Mstislav and predicted that he himself would soon be mortally wounded by it. The prophecy was fulfilled on July 15, 1099 during an internecine war with David Igorevich. On the wall of the Vladimir fortress, Prince Mstislav was suddenly struck in the chest by an arrow through an opening in the timbers, and on the following night he died. Recognizing his own arrow, the prince said: “I die because of the monastic martyrs Basil and Theodore.”
Saint Theodore, Prince of Ostrog, gained fame with the construction of churches and by his defense of Orthodoxy in Volhynia against the enroachment of Papism. He was descended from Saint Vladimir (July 15), through a great-grandson Svyatopolk-Michael, prince of Turov (1080-1093) and later Great Prince of Kiev (+1113).
The first time the name of the holy Prince Theodore is mentioned is in the year 1386, when the Polish king Jagiello and the Lithuanian prince Vitovt affirmed his hereditary possession of the Ostrog district, and they augmented the Zaslavsk and Koretsk surroundings.
In 1410 Saint Theodore participated in the defeat of the Teutonic Knights of the Catholic Order at the Battle of Gruenwald. In 1422 the holy prince, because of sympathy for the Orthodox in Bohemia, supported the Hussites in their struggle with the German emperor Sigismund. Theodore introduced the Hussite formation (i.e., the Taborite, adopted by the Ukrainian Cossacks) into Russian military strategy.
In 1432, after winning a series of victories over the Polish forces, Saint Theodore compelled Prince Jagiello to guarantee the freedom of Orthodoxy in Volhynia under the law. Prince Svidrigailo, apprehensive of the strengthening of his ally, locked Saint Theodore into prison, but the people who loved the saint rose up in rebellion, and he was freed.
Saint Theodore was reconciled with the offender and went to him for help in the struggle against the Lithuanians and the Poles. In 1438, the holy prince took part in a battle with the Tatars. In 1440, with the accession to the Polish throne of Cazimir, youngest son of Prince Jagiello, Saint Theodore received the rights of administration of the city of Vladimir, Dubno, Ostrog, and he was granted extensive holdings in the best regions of Podolia and Volhynia.
Saint Theodore left all this behind, together with princely power and fame. After 1441 he entered the Kiev Caves monastery, where he received the monastic tonsure with the name Theodosius, he struggled there for the salvation of his soul until the time of his blessed repose.
The year of Saint Theodore’s death is unknown, but it is probable that he died in the second half of the fifteenth century at a great old age (S. M. Soloviev in his History of Russia gives the year of his death as 1483). The saint was buried in the Far Caves of Saint Theodosius. His glorification apparently took place at the end of the sixteenth century, since in the year 1638 the hieromonk Athanasius Kal’nophysky testified that “Saint Theodore rests in the Theodosiev Cave, where his body was discovered incorrupt.”
Saint Theodore is also commemorated on the Synaxis of the Monastic Fathers of the Far Caves on August 28.
The Holy Martyr Susanna the Virgin was the daughter of Presbyter Gavinius and a niece of the Holy Bishop Caius of Rome (283-296). She was raised in strict Christian piety and in her youthful years dedicated herself to God. The family of the saint was related to the emperor Diocletian (284-305), who heard reports of her virtue and beauty.
Having decided to give Saint Susanna in marriage to his co-emperor Maximian (305-311), Diocletian sent his own kinsman, the dignitary Claudius, to the priest Gavinius, and then his own brother Maximus. Both of them, together with the wife of Claudius Prepedigna and her sons Alexander and Cythius, accepted Baptism after conversation with the pious family. Having learned that the entire family of his relatives had been converted to Christianity, Diocletian sent them into exile.
Soon they burned the martyrs at Ostia, not far from Rome, and threw the ashes into the sea. They took the holy virgin Susanna to the palace, and the empress tried to persuade her to submit. But the empress, secretly a Christian, supported the martyr in her intention to preserve her virginity for the sake of the Lord. She explained to the emperor about the virgin’s unwillingness to enter into marriage with a pagan. Diocletian gave permission to his co-ruler to defile the holy virgin, but an angel defended her.
Macedonius began to urge the martyr to offer sacrifice to the idols. “I offer myself in sacrifice to my Lord,” she answered. Then Macedonius cut off the martyr’s head. The empress secretly buried the body of the saint. The room where the murder occurred was consecrated into a church by the holy Bishop Caius. Soon the father of Saint Susanna, Presbyter Gavinius, accepted a martyr’s end, as did Saint Caius in the year 296.
Saint Nḗphon II, the Patriarch of Constantinople, was from the Peloponnesos. His parents were named Manuel and Maria, and he was named Nicholas in Holy Baptism. Later, he was tonsured as a monk at Epidauros, receiving the new name Nḗphon.
After the death of his Elder Anthony, he went to Mount Athos, where he occupied himself by copying books. Afterward, he was chosen as Metropolitan of Thessaloniki. In 1486 he occupied the Patriarchal throne of Constantinople.
Banished in 1488, the Saint went to the Holy Mountain, at first to Vatopedi Monastery, and then to the monastery of Saint John the Forerunner (Dionysiou). He concealed his rank and occupied the lowliest position. By God’s providence, his rank was revealed to the brethren of the monastery. Once, when the Saint was returning from the forest where he had gone for firewood, all the brethren went out to meet him, greeting him as Patriarch. But even after this, the Saint continued to share various tasks with the brethren.
In all, he served three times as Patriarch of Constantinople: 1486-1488; 1497-1498; and 1502.
Saint Nḗphon reposed on September 3, 1508 at the age of 90. Immediately after his death, he was honored as a Saint in many places. On August 16, 1517, in the newly-established monastery of Curtea de Argeş, Patriarch Theoleptos of Constantinople, together with the Synod of the Romanian Lands, and the Igoumens of the Athonite monasteries, performed the solemn glorification of Saint Nḗphon, decreeing that his Feast Day be celebrated on August 11th.
His relics are kept in a shrine at the Monastery of Dionysiou, where there is also a chapel dedicated to him. In gratitude, the Athonite monks gave the Saint's head and hand to Nyagoe Basarab, who placed them in the Monastery he built at Curtea de Argeş in what is now Romania. In the XVIII century, these relics were placed in a silver reliquary.
At the behest of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church, they were brought to Craiova, to the church of Saint Dēmḗtrios, the Metropolitan cathedral of Oltenia on October 25, 1949.
In 2009, the relics of Saint Nḗphon were moved to the Cathedral of the Ascension of the Lord at Târgovişte.
In the Constantinople Icon of the Mother of God, the child Christ is naked to the waist, and is carried in His Mother’s right hand. Her left hand rests on His knees.
Saint Passarion pursued asceticism in the first half of the fifth century. He founded a monastery in Jerusalem. He was “chorepiskopos” [vicar-bishop] of Palestine, and a converser with Saint Euthymius the Great (January 20).
Saint Mary Syncletica [i.e., of Senate Rank] was healed by the Icon of the Savior Not-Made-by-Hands, which appeared during the reign of the emperor Tiberias (578-582).