Monthly Archives: September 2022

Daily Readings for Friday, September 30, 2022

GREGORY THE ILLUMINATOR, BISHOP OF ARMENIA

ABSTAIN FROM MEAT, FISH, DAIRY, EGGS, WINE, OLIVE OIL

Gregory the Illuminator, Bishop of Armenia, Mardonios & Stratonikos the Martyrs

ST. PAUL’S FIRST LETTER TO THE CORINTHIANS 16:13-24

Brethren, be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. Now, brethren, you know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints; I urge you to be subject to such men and to every fellow worker and laborer. I rejoice at the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicos, because they have made up for your absence; for they refreshed my spirit as well as yours. Give recognition to such men. The churches of Asia send greetings. Aquila and Prisca, together with the church in their house, send you hearty greetings in the Lord. All the brethren send greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss. I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. If any one has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.

MATTHEW 24:42-47

The Lord said, “Watch, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the householder had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Who then is the faithful and wise servant whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions.”

Hieromartyr Gregory, Bishop of Greater Armenia, Equal of the Apostles, Enlightener of Armenia

The Hieromartyr Gregory, Enlightener of Greater Armenia, was born in the year 257. He was descended from a line of Parthian Arsakid kings. Anak, the father of Saint Gregory, was a Parthian by birth. In his quest for the Armenian throne, Anak and his brother attacked their kinsman, King Kursar with their swords, leaving him mortally wounded. The King's servants found him still alive, and he was able to tell them what had happened. Before he expired, the King ordered the execution of Anak, his brother, and also their wives and children. The murderers were caught by a river, where they were slain and their bodies were thrown into the water.

One of Anak's relatives saved Gregory and his brother, who were infants, and hid them in his home. There was a revolt in Armenia, and King Artasirus of Persia was able to conquer Armenia and bring it under his rule. As for Arak's sons, one was taken to Persia, and Gregory was sent to the Roman Empire.

When he reached adulthood, Gregory lived in Caesarea in Cappadocia, where he was converted to the Christian Faith. Gregory married, and had two sons, but soon was left a widower. Gregory raised his sons in piety. One of them, Orthanes, later became a priest, and the other, Arostanes, was tonsured as a monk and went into the wilderness to live in solitude.

In order to atone for the sin of his father, who had murdered the father of Tiridates, Gregory entered into the latter's service, and was a faithful servant to him. Tiridates, who was serving in the Roman army, loved Gregory like a friend, but when he learned that Gregory was a Christian, he became angry. Saint Gregory, however, ignored his master's unjust wrath.

When the Goths attacked the Roman Empire, the Prince of the Goths challenged the Emperor to single combat. The Emperor was afraid to fight the Prince, so he had Tiridates put on his armor and take his place. Tiridates defeated his adversary without using his sword, and led him as a captive to the Emperor. Then the entire Gothic army was defeated. In gratitude, the Emperor made Tiridates King of Armenia. When Tiridates offered sacrifice to his "gods" for his new position, he wanted Gregory to sacrifice with him. Gregory refused, and so Tiridates ordered that he be tortured.

The Saint was suspended head downward, with a stone about his neck, and for several days they choked him with a foul-smelling smoke, they beat and ridiculed him, and forced him to walk in iron sandals inset with nails.

During these torments, Saint Gregory sang Psalms. In prison the Lord healed all his wounds. When Gregory stood before the King cheerful and unharmed, he was astonished and ordered that the torments be repeated. Saint Gregory endured them, not wavering, with his former determination and bearing. They then poured hot tin over him and threw him into a pit filled with snakes, scorpions, and other poisonous creatures. The Lord, however, spared His chosen one, and he was left unharmed.

Some pious women kept him alive for fourteen years by feeding him with bread, secretly lowering it into the pit. A holy angel appeared to the martyr, strengthening and encouraging him. During this time King Tiridates killed the holy virgin Saint Ripsimia (Ριψιμία, or Ριψίμη), the Eldress Gaianḗ (Γαϊανή), and 32 other Virgin Martyrs (some sources say 35) from Asia Minor. Tiridates, who seemed to have lost his mind after this, recovered six days later. Then the wrath of God struck King Tiridates, his associates, and the soldiers who had participated in the execution of the virgins. Beset by demons, their appearance resembled wild boars, as once happened to Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:30). Running through forests and fields, they tore their clothes and devoured their own flesh.

Saint Gregory was taken from from the pit, and then he was washed, dressed in clean clothes, and fed. Then he was led to the King. Everyone bowed before him, begging him to ask God to heal the King as well as the others responsible for killing the Holy Virgin Martyrs. First, the Saint asked about their relics, which remained unburied for nine days. Saint Gregory buried the bodies, and then began preaching to the people, urging them to turn away from the darkness of idolatry and toward Christ. The people came to believe in Christ, and wanted to build a large church. When it was completed, Saint Gregory had the relics of the holy nuns brought into it. Then he led King Tiridates to the church before the bodies of the Saints whom he had slain, so that they might pray to Christ for him. He repented, and at once his face was restored to its original appearance once more.

Soon all of Armenia was converted to Christ. The temples of the idols were destroyed, and churches for the worship of the only true God were built. Saint Gregory ordained priests, established schools, founded monasteries, and provided for the good order of the Church.

After this, Saint Gregory went into the wilderness, where he ended his earthly life in a manner pleasing to the Lord. His son Aristanes was made a bishop in Cappadocia, and was one of the 318 Holy Fathers of. the Council of Nicea.

Venerable Gregory, Abbot of Pelsheme and Wonderworker of Vologda

Saint Gregory of Pelsheme, Vologda, was born in the city of Galich, Kostroma governia. He came from the line of the Lopotov nobility. When the youth reached age fifteen, his parents wanted him to marry, but they died, without seeing this come to pass. Young Gregory distributed the inheritance left him to the poor, and entered the monastery of the Most Holy Theotokos on the shore of Lake Galich.

The Igumen of the monastery regarded the new monk with mistrust because of his youth and noble parentage. Therefore, he placed Gregory in obedience to an experienced Elder. With great humility Saint Gregory served all the brethren. After a certain while he was ordained a priest. Soon Saint Gregory’s fame as a pastor spread, and many began to arrive for spiritual guidance and counsels.

The Galich prince asked the monk to be godfather for his children. Burdened by fame and the nearness of his relatives, the monk went to Rostov to venerate the relics of Saint Leontius (May 23), and he settled in the monastery of Saint Abramius, (October 29). But here also news of the saint’s ascetic feats quickly spread.

The monks of the Savior (Yakovlev) monastery turned to Archbishop Dionysius of Rostov (1418-1425) with a request to assign Saint Gregory to head their monastery. Out of humility the monk accepted the guidance over the monastery, but after two years he secretly left the monastery and withdrew into the Vologda forest.

In the Sosnovetsk wilderness he became acquainted with Saint Dionysius of Glushitsa (June 1). When the Lord prompted the holy ascetic to found his own monastery, Saint Dionysius approved his friend’s intention. With a cross on his shoulders, Saint Gregory crossed over the River Pelsheme and planted the cross in a thicket by the river bank.

The first monk in the new monastery was the priest Alexis, in monasticism Alexander. In 1426 a church was built at the monastery in honor of the Most Holy Theotokos. Its icons were painted by Saint Dionysius, and Saint Gregory himself copied the sacred texts for the monastery. Gradually the number of monks increased, the monastery grew and became more famous.

Saint Gregory concerned himself with the nurturing of piety at the monastery, and at the same time he shared in the destiny of his country. In the year 1433, he went to Moscow in order to prevail upon the Galich prince Yuri Dimitrievich, who had seized the Moscow principality from Basil the Dark, to return Moscow to Prince Basil. Prince Yuri obeyed the monastic Elder.

But in 1434 the son of Prince Yuri, Demetrius Shemyaka, began to ravage the Vologda lands belonging to the Great Prince. Saint Gregory, distraught over the discord and violence, went to Demetrius Shemyaka and addressed him with bold words. “Prince Demetrius,” said the monk, “you do things that are not Christian. It would be better if you had gone into a pagan land to a vile people ignorant of God. Widows and orphans cry out against you to God. How many people will perish from hunger and cold because of you, and if you don’t stop the fratricide, the bloodshed and violence soon, then you shall lose both your glory and your princedom.”

After this bold denunciation, Shemyaka gave orders to throw the holy Elder off a bridge. For several hours the monk lay there unmoving. His denunciations produced the desired effect, and Shemyaka soon quit Vologda. The courage of the monk only increased the veneration of him. Before his death, he received the Holy Mysteries, spoke a word of guidance to the brethren, and appointed as igumen of the monastery his fellow ascetic Alexander. Saint Gregory reposed on September 30, 1442 and was buried in the monastery he founded.

Saint Michael, first Metropolitan of Kiev

Saint Michael the first Metropolitan of Kiev, according to the Joakimov chronicle, was a Syrian by birth, but according to other chronicles, he was a Bulgarian or Serb. In the year 989, he arrived at Korsun with other clergy for holy Prince Vladimir (July 15), not long after Vladimir’s Baptism (988).

As first metropolitan of the Russian Church his service was difficult, but grace-filled. He zealously made the rounds of the newly-enlightened Russian Land, preaching the Holy Gospel, baptizing and teaching the newly-illumined people, founding the first churches and religious schools.

In Rostov he established the first wooden church in honor of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos and installed Theodore the Greek there as bishop. Saint Michael was a wise and gentle, but also strict hierarch. The Russian Church has preserved the memory of the saint’s praiseworthy deeds. In the Synodikon of the Novgorod and Kiev Sophia cathedrals he is rightfully called the initiator.

Saint Michael died in the year 992 and was buried in the Desyatin-Tithe church of the Most Holy Theotokos in Kiev. In about the year 1103, under the Igumen Saint Theoctistus (afterwards Bishop of Chernigov, August 5), his relics were transferred to the Antoniev Cave, and on October 1, 1730 into the Great Church of the Caves. Thus his memory was celebrated on September 30, and also July 15, the day of his repose.

Formerly, his memory was celebrated on September 2, along with Saints Anthony and Theodosius of the Caves. There is a trace of this earlier celebration in the service to Saint Michael. In the second verse of the “Praises” we sing: “Having begun the new year, we offer you our first songs, O blessed one, for you were the beginning of the hierarchy in the Russian land.”

Martyrs Rhipsime and Gaianḗ of Armenia and those with them

Saint Ripsimia (Ριψιμία or Ριψίμη) suffered martyrdom in the year 292, during the reign of Diocletian (284-304). She was very beautiful in terms of her outward appearance, and modest in her character. In those days, Diocletian sent men throughout the Empire to find a maiden fairer than all others for him to marry. They found Saint Ripsimia, who had consecrated her virginity to Christ, and was living in a community of women in Asia Minor, of which Saint Gaianḗ was the Superior. The messengers had a portrait of Ripsimia made and sent it to Diocletian. The Emperor was captivated by her beauty, and he sent her a letter, asking her to be his wife. Ripsimia, who had Christ as her heavenly Bridegroom, did not want to marry anyone else. Therefore, the nuns decided to take refuge in Armenia. On the way, they endured hunger, thirst, and many other trials.

They settled in a vineyard on the slopes of Mount Ararat, and the stronger women would go into the city to work for people in order to earn money to purchase food and other necessities. All the women were willing to endure exile, and to bear every burden and sorrow for the sake of purity.

When Diocletian was informed that Ripsimia had fled to Armenia, he wrote to his friend King Tiridates saying, "If you find her, send her to me, or, if you wish, marry her yourself."

Tiridates sent his men to search for Ripsimia, and when they found her they surrounded the area so that she could not escape. When he learned how beautiful she was, Tiridates sent her presents and raiment worthy of a queen, so that she might appear before him in a suitable fashion. Ripsimia, however, acting in accordance with the instructions of Saint Gaianḗ, who had raised her from childhood, rejected these gifts and refused to go to the King. Saint Gaianḗ told the messengers that these virgins were already betrothed to Christ, and that it was impossible for them to enter into an earthly marriage.

When the messengers told Tiridates what had happened, he became very angry. He sent one of his princes and an army of soldiers to kill all the virgins and to bring Ripsimia to him by force. When she saw the soldiers approach the virgins with drawn swords, Saint Ripsimia told the Prince, "Take me to your King, but do not harm these virgins."

Saint Ripsimia was taken to the royal bedchamber, weeping and praying that God would preserve her virginity. Recalling how He had helped His servants in the past, how He saved Israel from Pharoah's hands, keeping Jonah in the belly of the whale for three days, and how He protected the Three Holy Youths in the fiery furnace, she believed that He would also rescue her from Tiridates.

When the King entered the chamber he attempted to rape her, but with God's help she became stronger than Tiridates, and he was not able to harm her. Leaving the chamber, the King commanded that Saint Gaianḗ be brought to him, since he had discovered that she had raised Ripsimia. The King told her to persuade Ripsimia to submit to him, but when the Eldress spoke to her she counseled her to preserve her virginity, which she had dedicated to Christ, and to remember the crown which her Bridegroom had prepared for her. Finally, she said that if the King should put her to death, she would enjoy even greater favor from Christ.

Seeing that he had accomplished nothing, even though he had struggled with Ripsimia for a long time, the King began to tremble and roll around on the floor. That night, Saint Ripsimia escaped and fled from the city. She found the sisters and told them how she had remained undefiled.

The next morning some soldiers found Ripsimia and arranged a cruel death for her. First they cut out her tongue, stripped her, tied her hands and feet to columns, and burned her with candles. Then they tore her stomach open with a sharp stone, so that her entrails fell out. Finally, they plucked her eyes out and cut off her members. Having completed her contest, she departed to Christ, the bestower of crowns.

The Eldress Gaianḗ and two other virgins suffered even greater torments. The pagans drilled through their legs, suspended them upside down, and skinned them alive. Cutting their necks from behind, they pulled their tongues out and cut them off. Next, their stomachs were cut with sharp stones so that their entrails fell to the ground. Finally, they were beheaded.

Thirty-two other Virgin Martyrs (some sources say there were thirty-five) suffered horrible tortures, and died by the sword, then their bodies were thrown to the wild animals.

In addition to these holy women, seventy men who were hiding in that area also suffered martyrdom.

Daily Readings for Thursday, September 29, 2022

THURSDAY OF THE 2ND WEEK

NO FAST

Cyriacus the Hermit of Palestine, Martyr Petronius, Malachi the New Righteous Martyr of Lindos, Theophanes the Merciful of Gaza, Dionysios I, Patriarch of Constantinople

ST. PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIANS 5:22-26; 6:1-2

Brethren, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us have no self-conceit, no provoking of one another, no envy of one another. Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Look to yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

LUKE 6:12-19

At that time, Jesus went out to the mountain to pray; and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when it was day, he called his disciples, and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles; Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaios, and Simon who was called the Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came forth from him and healed them all.

Venerable Cyriacus the Hermit of Palestine

Saint Cyriacus was born at Corinth to the priest John and his wife Eudokia. Bishop Peter of Corinth, who was a relative, seeing that Cyriacus was growing up as a quiet and sensible child, made him a reader in church. Constant reading of the Holy Scriptures awakened in him a love for the Lord and of a yearning for a pure and saintly life.

Once, when the youth was not yet eighteen years old, he was deeply moved during a church service by the words of the Gospel: “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me” (Mt.16:24). He believed these words applied to him, so he went right to the harbor without stopping at home, got onto a ship and went to Jerusalem.

After visiting the holy places, Cyriacus dwelt for several months at a monastery not far from Sion in obedience to the igumen Abba Eustorgius. With his blessing, he made his way to the wilderness Lavra of Saint Euthymius the Great (January 20). Saint Euthymius, discerning in the youth great gifts of God, tonsured him into the monastic schema and placed him under the guidance of Saint Gerasimus (March 4), pursuing asceticism at the Jordan in the monastery of Saint Theoctistus.

Saint Gerasimus, seeing the youthfulness of Cyriacus, ordered him to live in the community with the brethren. The young monk easily accomplished the monastic obediences: he prayed fervently, he slept little, he ate food only every other day, nourishing himself with bread and water.

During Great Lent it was the custom of Saint Gerasimus to go into the Rouva wilderness, returning to the monastery only on Palm Sunday. Seeing Cyriacus’ strict abstinence, he decided to take him with him. In complete solitude the ascetics redoubled their efforts. Each Sunday Saint Gerasimus imparted the Holy Mysteries to his disciple.

After the death of Saint Gerasimus, the twenty-seven-year-old Cyriacus returned to the Lavra of Saint Euthymius, but he was no longer among the living. Saint Cyriacus asked for a solitary cell and there he pursued asceticism in silence, communicating only with the monk Thomas. But soon Thomas was sent to Alexandria where he was consecrated bishop, and Saint Cyriacus spent ten years in total silence. At 37 years of age he was ordained to the diaconate.

When a split occurred between the monasteries of Saint Euthymius and Saint Theoctistus, Saint Cyriacus withdrew to the Souka monastery of Saint Chariton (September 28). At this monastery they received even tonsured monks as novices, and so was Saint Cyriacus received. He toiled humbly at the regular monastic obediences. After several years, Saint Cyriacus was ordained priest and chosen canonarch and did this obedience for eighteen years. Saint Cyriacus spent thirty years at the monastery of Saint Chariton.

Strict fasting and total lack of evil distinguished Saint Cyriacus even among the ascetics of the Lavra. In his cell each night he read the Psalter, interrupting the reading only to go to church at midnight. The ascetic slept very little. When the monk reached seventy years of age, he went to the Natoufa wilderness taking with him his disciple John.

In the desert the hermits fed themselves only with bitter herbs, which through the prayer of Saint Cyriacus was rendered edible. After five years one of the inhabitants found out about the ascetics and brought to them his demon-possessed son, and Saint Cyriacus healed him. From that time many people began to approach the monk with their needs, but he sought complete solitude and fled to the Rouva wilderness, where he dwelt five years more. But the sick and those afflicted by demons came to him in this wilderness, and the saint healed them all with the Sign of the Cross and by anointing them with oil.

At his 80th year of life Saint Cyriacus fled to the hidden Sousakim wilderness, where two dried up streams passed by. According to Tradition, the holy Prophet David brought Sousakim to attention: “Thou hast dried up the rivers of Etham” (Ps 73/74:15). After seven years, brethren of the Souka monastery came to him, beseeching his spiritual help during a period of debilitating hunger and illness, which God permitted. They implored Saint Cyriacus to return to the monastery, and he settled in a cave, in which Saint Chariton had once lived.

Saint Cyriacus rendered great help to the Church in the struggle with the spreading heresy of the Origenists. By prayer and by word, he brought the wayward back to the true path, and strengthened the Orthodox in their faith. Cyril, the author of the Life of Saint Cyriacus, and a monk of the Lavra of Saint Euthymius, was a witness when Saint Cyriacus predicted the impending death of the chief heretics Nonos and Leontius, and soon the heresy would cease to spread.

The Most Holy Theotokos Herself commanded Saint Cyriacus to keep to the Orthodox teaching in its purity: Having appeared to him in a dream together with the Saints John the Baptist and John the Theologian, She refused to enter into the cell of the monk because in it was a book with the words of the heretic Nestorius. “In your cell is My enemy,” She said (The appearance of the Most Holy Theotokos to Saint Cyriacus is commemorated on June 8).

At the age of ninety-nine, Saint Cyriacus again went off to Susakim and lived there with his disciple John. In the wilderness a huge lion waited on Saint Cyriacus, protecting him from robbers, but it did not bother wandering brethren and it ate from the monk’s hand.

Once in the heat of summer, all the water in the hollow of a rock dried up, where the ascetics had stored water during the winter, and there was no other source of water. Saint Cyriacus prayed, and rain fell, filling the pit with water.

For the two years before his death Saint Cyriacus returned to the monastery and again settled into the cave of Saint Chariton. Until the end of his life the righteous Elder preserved his courage, and prayed with fervor. He was never idle, either he prayed, or he worked. Before his death Saint Cyriacus summoned the brethren and blessed them all. He quietly fell asleep in the Lord, having lived 109 years.

Martyrs Dadas, Gabdelas, and Kazdoa of Persia

The Martyrs Dadas, Gabdelas and Kazdoa (Kasdoe) accepted death for Christ under the Persian emperor Sapor. Dadas was chief steward under Sapor, and Saints Gabdelas and Kazdoa were the cruel emperor’s own children.

Not knowing that Saint Dadas was a Christian, the emperor appointed him as governor of one of the Persian districts. When it was discovered, he was stripped of all honors, sent to the court of the cruel torturer Andromelik and was condemned to be burned. Approaching the stake, Saint Dadas shielded himself with the Sign of the Cross, and the fire went out.

Seeing this miracle, the emperor’s stunned son Gabdelas believed in Christ and in the hearing of all, confessed his faith. The judge reported this to the emperor, and he commanded Saint Gabdelas to be fiercely tortured. But in all the sufferings divine strength preserved the saint.

An angel of the Lord comforted him, and each time the Lord restored health and strength to him. Beholding the miraculous healing of the holy martyr, many prisoners in the prison with him became Christians, even the sorcerer Gargal, and thus accepted martyrdom. The emperor’s daughter Kazdoa, sister of the Martyr Gabdelas, secretly visited him in prison and brought him water.

Another time Kazdoa saw her brother when the torturers tortured him anew. The holy martyr was hung on a cross, and a volley of arrows shot at him, but the arrows bounced off and struck the archers. Seeing his sister, he prevailed upon her to believe in Christ. Saint Kazdoa confessed herself a Christian, and by the command of her father the emperor Sapor, she was cruelly beaten and thrown into prison where her brother languished.

Suffering from her wounds, Saint Kazdoa asked her brother to pray for her. Saint Gabdelas, having said the prayer, assured his sister that she would suffer no more. On the following day during new tortures Saint Gabdelas, saw two presbyters Dadias and Abdi, asked them to bring oil and water, since he deeply wanted to receive holy Baptism.

At this moment a cloud overshadowed the martyr, from which poured out water and oil, and a voice was heard: “Servant of God, you have already received Baptism.” The face of the martyr became radiant, and in the air was the fragrance of perfume. The torturer commanded the saint to be pierced with spears, and after several hours he died with prayer on his lips.

His body was cut into three parts, but the priests Dadias, Abdi and the deacon Armazates took the holy relics and buried them reverently. The body of the holy Martyr Dadas, whom they also tortured for a long time and cut in parts, was also secretly buried by Christians.

At midnight the Martyr Gabdelas appeared to the priest Dadias, gave him a vessel with oil and sent him to the martyr Kazdoa to anoint her with oil and give her the Holy Mysteries. The priest did this and, at the very last, said to the holy martyr: “Sleep, sister, until the coming of the Lord,” and Saint Kazdoa departed to the Lord. The mother of the holy martyr prepared her for burial and with joy buried her with the Martyr Gabdelas.

Venerable Theophanes the Merciful of Gaza

Saint Theophanes the Merciful was an inhabitant of the Syrian city of Gaza. He was very kind and merciful. He took in vagrants, he helped the poor and the sick, and he spent all his substance on help for the needy, while he himself remained in want.

Saint Theophanes did not grieve at all over the loss of his property, but he lost his health, and sickness caused him great suffering. His body began to swell up, to rot, and to give off a stench. This ordeal he also endured in good spirit, giving thanks to God for all things.

A fierce storm raged while he was dying, and his wife grieved that she would not be able to give him proper burial. The saint comforted her: “Weep not, woman, for up to now the trial has lasted, but here comes help from the Merciful God, since in the hour of my death the storm will cease, by the will of God.” So it occurred: just as he gave up his soul to God, calmness prevailed. After death the body of Saint Theophanes became completely cleansed of wounds and decay and became fragrant, giving forth abundant healing myrrh.

Saint Onuphrius of Saint David Gareji Monastery, Georgia

Saint Onuphrius of Gareji (Otar Machutadze in the world) lived and labored in the 18th century. He was a Kartlian aristocrat famed for his wealth, hospitality, and charity.

Longing for the ascetic life, Otar wore a hair shirt under his distinguished raiment and unceasingly prayed to God for the strength to lead the monastic life. He revealed his will to his wife: “I thirst to turn from this world and draw nearer to Christ,” he said. “Therefore, I beg your forgiveness for all my transgressions, both voluntary and involuntary.”

His faithful wife consented and permitted him to go in peace. Otar traveled with his two eldest sons to Tbilisi, blessed them, and bade them farewell for the last time. Then he set off for the David-Gareji Monastery, which at that time was led by the kindhearted superior Archimandrite Herman.

Archimandrite Herman received Otar with great joy, and after a short time he tonsured him a monk with the name Onuphrius.

Blessed Onuphrius was a peaceful, humble and obedient man and a tireless ascetic. He would keep vigil through the night, and after the morning prayers he would go down to the ravine and continue to chant psalms, shedding tears over his past transgressions. He ate just one meal a day of bread and water, after the hour of Vespers. Once the Dagestanis attacked the David-Gareji Monastery, plundered the church, and took captive several monks including Onuphrius, the priests Maxime and Ioakime, and four deacons. Onuphrius was the oldest among them. The unbelievers planned to stab him to death, but the Lord protected him from their evil scheme.

According to the will of the All-merciful God, Onuphrius was freed and returned to the monastery.

The brotherhood was impoverished after the invasion, so Archimandrite Herman sent Saint Onuphrius on a mission to solicit alms. It was difficult for Saint Onuphrius to depart from the monastery, but he unquestioningly obeyed the will of his superior: the former aristocrat began to walk from door to door, begging for charity. At Tskhinvali in Samachablo Saint Onuphrius attracted the attention of a crowd of people leading a young, demon-possessed man. The saint approached them and discovered that they were bringing the young man to a fortuneteller for help.

With love and great boldness Saint Onuphrius addressed the crowd, saying, “My children, such behavior is not fitting for Christian believers. Bring the young man to me!”

The young man’s mother fell on her knees before him, begging for help, but Saint Onuphrius raised her up and proclaimed: “I have come bearing earth from the grave of Saint David of Gareji. This will help your son!” He dissolved a pinch of the earth in water and gave it to the young man to drink, and he was immediately healed.

Saint Onuphrius took with him his youngest son, John, and returned to the monastery with a great quantity of provisions.

Once a certain Arab with a wounded eye came to the monastery seeking help. Saint Onuphrius washed his eye in water from the holy spring of David-Gareji, and he was immediately healed.

Later Saint Onuphrius desired to be tonsured into the great schema. The superior was hesitant, and told Onuphrius to remain for twenty or thirty days at the grave of Saint David praying and supplicating God to reveal His will. The saint remained there in prayer, and after thirty days God revealed to the abbot that Fr. Onuphrius was truly worthy of this honor. Then Schemamonk Onuphrius gave a vow of silence and began to sleep on a tattered mat. Under his clothing he wore a heavy chain, and he left his cell only to attend the divine services.

Soon Blessed Onuphrius became so exhausted that he was no longer able to stand. The brothers begged him to lie on a bed and rest his head on a pillow, but the blessed Onuphrius opened his mouth for the first time since taking the vow of silence and said, “I vow to end my days on this mat.”

Saint Onuphrius endured his infirmities with thanksgiving and repeated the Jesus Prayer incessantly. When people came to receive his blessing, he would welcome them, saying, “Let me kiss the edge of your garments and wash your feet with my tears!”

Sensing that the end of his days was approaching, Saint Onuphrius partook of the Holy Gifts and, eighteen days later, on the Feast of Theophany, fell asleep in the Lord.

Saint Onuphrius was buried on the south side of the grave of Saint David of Gareji, near the altar window.

Saint Cyprian of Ustiug

Saint Cyprian of Ustiug was a wealthy landowner, but turning from the vanities of the world, he received the Angelic Schema with the name Cyprian at the monastery of the Holy Trinity at Gledeno.

The inhabitants of the newly-established city of Ustiug begged Saint Cyprian to build a monastery somewhere near the city. Saint Cyprian, went around the city and observed its layout, then chose a place near shallow lakes at the Ostrozh falls and he started building a cell.

By the year 1212, he had established a monastery in honor of the Entrance into the Temple of the Most Holy Theotokos, and a church dedicated to the Archangel Michael, the Chief Commander of the Heavenly Hosts. The inhabitants of Ustiug, seeing the godliness of the holy ascetic, brought him all the things he needed to build the monastery, and many came to live the ascetic life with Saint Cyprian, who received everyone with joy and with love.

The holy monastery grew, and according to the account in the Ustiug Chronicle, Saint Cyprian “was chosen as the Superior of the holy monastery, and pastor of the flock of Christ, but out of humility he would not agree to be ordained to the holy priesthood.” There was a stone by his bed, which he used to rest his head. During his night prayers, the ascetic held it in his hands in order to maintain vigilance and to be constantly at prayer.

Saint Cyprian went to the Lord at 6 o’clock in the afternoon on September 29, 1276, and his body was buried in the monastery which he founded. Later, a church was built over his holy relics and was dedicated to the Feast of Mid-Pentecost, which also had a chapel in honor of Saint Cyprian of Carthage (August 31).

Daily Readings for Wednesday, September 28, 2022

CHARITON THE CONFESSOR

ABSTAIN FROM MEAT, FISH, DAIRY, EGGS, WINE, OLIVE OIL

Chariton the Confessor, Our Righteous Father Alkeisonus, Metropolitan of Nicopolis; Old Epirus, Baruch the Prophet, Neophytos & Auxentios the Martyrs of Cyprus, Wenceslaus the Martyr, Prince of the Czechs

ST. PAUL’S SECOND LETTER TO THE CORINTHIANS 4:6-15

Brethren, it is the God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness, " who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.
Since we have the same spirit of faith as he had who wrote, "I believed, and so I spoke, " we too believe, and so we speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

LUKE 6:17-23

At that time, Jesus stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came forth from him and healed them all. And he lifted up his eyes on His disciples, and said: “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God. Blessed are you that hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven.”

Venerable Chariton the Confessor, Abbot of Palestine

Saint Chariton the Confessor was born at Iconium in the province of Lycaonia, and suffered there during a persecution against Christians in the reign of Emperor Aurelian (270-275). The example of the holy Protomartyr Thekla (September 24), who was also a native of his city, encouraged him to confess Christ, since he had a great devotion to her.

Saint Chariton bravely denounced the pagan gods and staunchly confessed faith in the one True God, Christ the Savior. The holy Confessor underwent fierce tortures but, by God's Providence, he survived. The persecution ended after Aurelian's death in 275. Saint Chariton was among the many Christians who were released from prison, and he resolved to dedicate his entire life to the service of the Lord. Although he escaped death, he grieved because he had not received the crown of martyrdom.

After arriving at Jerusalem on a pilgrimage to the holy places, he fell into the hands of thieves. They tied him up and threw him in a cave, intending to kill him later. After they left to find people to rob, the saint prayed fervently to God expecting to be put to death. He did not ask God to deliver him, but instead he entreated Him to do with him as He wished.

At this time a snake crawled into the cave and began to drink wine from a vessel setting there. Later it vomited forth its deadly venom, poisoning the wine. When they returned to the cave, the evil men drank the poisoned wine and they all perished. Thus, their wicked lives came to a fitting end. Saint Chariton gave thanks to God, and then he gave away the gold which the malefactors had stolen, distributing it to the poor, to churches, and to monasteries. He began his ascetic struggles in the place of his miraculous rescue, and there he built a church. In time a monastery was established: the renowned Pharan Lavra in Palestine. Saint Chariton's fame drew many disciples to him. He governed them with paternal affection, and he elevated them to the highest degrees of virtue.

Saint Chariton compiled a strict Rule for his monastery. Yearning for solitude, the monk withdrew farther into the desert in order to avoid the praise of men, but he never rejected anyone who sought his spiritual guidance. He founded two more monasteries: the Jericho (called the Monastery of Saint Chariton) and the Souka, which was called “the old Lavra.” He also brought many Jews and pagans to the Faith.

At the end of his life, Saint Chariton struggled in a cave atop a hill near the Souka monastery, but he did not cease to provide guidance for all three of the monasteries which he founded. He fell asleep in the Lord peacefully and at an advanced age on September 28, 350.

According to Tradition, Saint Chariton compiled the Office of the Monastic Tonsure. Saint Chariton was buried at the Pharan monastery, in accordance with his last wishes. His grace-filled relics were enshrined in the church that had been built on the site of the robbers' cave.

Synaxis of the Venerable Fathers of the Kiev Near Caves

The Synaxis of Monastic Fathers who are venerated in the Near Caves of Saint Anthony, is now celebrated on September 28. This general commemoration was originally on the first Saturday after the Leave-taking of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (i.e. after September 21).

The general commemoration of the monastic Fathers of the Near Caves of Saint Anthony on the Saturday after the Leave-taking of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Venerable Cross dates to the year 1670. During the restoration of the Caves, which had been damaged by an earthquake, some of the relics of the ancient ascetics were uncovered and a church was built in honor of the Exaltation of the Venerable Cross.

In 1760 a stone church in honor of the Exaltation of the Venerable Cross was built over the Caves. In 1886, under Metropolitan Platon of Kiev, the Synaxis of the Fathers of the Near Caves was moved to September 28 because of the celebration of the Synaxis of the Saints of the Far Caves on August 28.

There are two Canons to the Monastic Fathers of the Near Caves. The first was compiled by the hieromonk Meletius the Orphan (inscribed in the Kiev Akathistnik of 1764). The second, found in the services in honor of the Fathers of the Kiev Caves, was compiled by Saint Demetrius of Rostov.

Among the Monastic Fathers of the Near Caves are:

Monk Anthony the First-Founder (July 10)

Monk Abramius the Lover of Labor (August 21)

Monk Abramius the Recluse (October 29)

Monk Agapitus, Unmercenary Physician (June 1)

Monk Alexis the Recluse (April 24)

Monk Alypius the Iconographer (August 17)

Martyr Anastasius the Deacon (January 22)

Monk Anatolius the Recluse (July 3)

Monk Arethas the Recluse (October 24)

Monk Athanasius the Recluse (December 2)

Igumen Barlaam (November 19)

Hosiomartyrs Basil and Theodore (August 11)

Venerable Chariton of Senyazemsk (no information)

Hieromonk Damian the Healer (October 5)

Monk Elias of Murom (December 19)

Bishop Ephraim of Pereyaslavl (January 28)

Monk Erasmus the Black-Robed (February 24)

Martyr Eustratius (March 28)

Monk Gregory the Iconographer (August 8)

Martyr Gregory the Wonderworker (January 8)

Monk Helladius the Recluse (October 4)

Monk Isaac the Recluse (February 14)

Monk Isaiah the Wonderworker (May 15)

Monk Jeremiah the Clairvoyant (October 5)

Monk John the Faster (December 7)

John the God-pleasing (December 29)

Martyr John the Infant (December 29)

(commemorated with the 14,000 Infants killed at Bethlehem by Herod)

Monk John the Long-Suffering (July 18)

Nun Juliana, Princess of Olshansk (July 6)

Hieromartyr Kuksha, Enlightener of the Vyati (August 27)

Bishop Laurence the Recluse of Turov (January 29)

Monk Luke the Steward (November 6)

Monk Macarius (January 19)

Monk Mark the Grave-digger (December 29)

Monk Matthew the Clairvoyant (October 5)

Venerable Menignus the Steward of the Caves (no information)

Bishop Mercurius of Smolensk (August 7)

Martyr Moses the Hungarian (July 26)

Monk Nectarius the Obedient (November 29)

Monk Nestor the Chronicler (October 27)

Monk Nicholas Svyatosha, Prince of Chernigov (October 14)

Monk Νikόdēmos the Prosphora-baker (October 31)

Igumen Nikon (March 23)

Monk Nikon the Shriveled (December 11)

Bishop Niphon of Novgorod (April 8)

Monk Onesimus the Recluse (October 4 and July 21)

Monk Onesiphorus the Confessor (November 9)

Monk Onuphrius the Silent (July 21)

Monk Pimen the Faster (August 27)

Monk Pimen the Much-Ailing (August 7)

Archmandrite Polycarp (July 24)

Monk Prochorus the Orach-eater (February 10)

Monk Savva the God-pleasing (April 24)

Monk Sergius the Obedient (October 7)

Monk Simon, Bishop of Suzdal (May 10)

Monk Sisoes the Recluse (October 24)

Monk Spyridon the Prosphora-baker (October 31)

Monk Sylvester the Wonderworker (January 2)

Monk Theophanes the Faster (October 11)

Monks Theophilus the Mourner (December 29)

Monk Theophilus the Recluse (October 24)

Hieromonk Titus (February 27)

Twelve Master Architects of Constantinople who painted the monastery church of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos (February 14)

Besides these Saints, there are thirty other Saints among the monks of the Kiev Caves, whose myrrh-producing heads were preserved. In the Service to the Monastic Fathers of the Near Caves on September 28 Saint Ephraim the Priest is mentioned (Ode 9). The hieromonk Athanasius Kalpophyisky wrote in 1638, that his incorrupt body, clothed in priestly vestments, lay opposite the relics of Saint Elias of Murom. Hieromonk Athanasius also mentions Saint Eustathius, (Ode 8), who was a goldsmith before he came to the monastery.

In the Canon of Meletius the Orphan, Saint Dionysius, Archbishop of Suzdal (June 26 and also October 15) is also mentioned. The holy hierarch was detained by the Lithuanian prince at Kiev after his consecration as Metropolitan of Moscow by the Patriarch of Constantinople. He died on October 15, 1384 and was buried in the Antoniev Cave.

Besides the monks mentioned in the Services, the hieromonk Athanasius Kalpophyisky in his Manuscript of 1638 indicated even more Saints, whose uncovered relics they venerated: Saint Hieronymos, Recluse and Wonderworker; Saint Meladius, holy Elder and Wonderworker; Saint Pergius, holy Elder; Saint Paul, a monk of remarkable obedience.

The names of the priests Saint Meletius, Saint Serapion, Saint Philaretos, Saint Peter are preserved in the old manuscript Calendars.

On May 24,1853, in one of the branches of the Near Caves, an inscription was discovered on an eleventh century crypt: “Lord, preserve Thy servants Theodosius and Theophilus. Many Years.” “The Grave of the Cave-Dweller John. Here John the sinner lived and is now.” On an oak board: “John the Cave-Dweller.” Thus the names of the new Kiev Caves Fathers: Theophilus, Theodosius and John were revealed.

There is also a general commemoration of the Monks of the Near Caves together with the Monks of the Far Caves on the second Sunday of Great Lent, when the Synaxis of all the Monastic Fathers of Kiev Caves is celebrated. The Canon of the Hieromonk Meletius the Orphan enters into the Service of that feastday (the Service to the Kiev Caves Monastic Fathers, and to all the Saints who shone forth in Little Russia, inscribed from Akathists with a Canon). The service was printed by the Kiev Caves Dormition Lavra in 1866.

Without doubt, not all the names of the Fathers of the Kiev Caves are known. In the Synaxis, all the Fathers illumined by ascetic deeds in the Caves are glorified. In the Oikos of the Service of September 28 we sing: “Who can praise Your Saints, O Good One? I try to count their number, but they are multiplied more than the sands of the sea. O Master Christ, Who have numbered the stars and named them all, grant their petitions for us…”

Venerable Chariton of Syanzhemsk, Vologda

Saint Euthymius and his disciple Saint Chariton lived at the River Syanzhema during the close of the fifteenth and the beginning of the sixteenth centuries. Saint Euthymius came to the Spasokamensk monastery from the outskirts of Volokolamsk. For a long time he continued as a novice at the monastery, but later he settled on the eastern shore of Lake Kuben near the mouth of the River Kushta.

The saint built a small cell in the impenetrable swamps and dense woods, where he struggled in total solitude. After a while, Saint Alexander of Kushta (June 9) came to him. He also had set out from the Spasokamensk monastery and at first settled at the River Syanzhema. Saint Alexander entreated Saint Euthymius to switch cells with him, since he was seeking a place of complete quiet.

Moving over to the River Syanzhema, Saint Euthymius did not refuse the local people his spiritual counsel and guidance. And there Saint Chariton also came to him.

Saint Euthymius built a church in honor of the Ascension of Christ and founded a monastery next to it. At Rostov, under the holy Archbishop Dionysius (1418-1425), he received the permission to build. Evidently, he was also ordained to the holy priesthood, and was made igumen of the monastery he established.

Both monks were an example to the brethren in prayer, and in the works of construction and supervision. They made do with food and clothing that even the brethren regarded as worthless. In church, Saint Euthymius stood in fear and trembling, and the brethren often saw tears of tenderness upon his face. While working at handicrafts, the saint always sang Psalms. Saint Euthymius died around the year 1465, though the actual day of his death is unknown.

His successor as igumen was his beloved disciple Saint Chariton. For more than forty years he continued the work at the monastery, and he died in old age on April 11, 1509. Both monks were buried at the Ascension church.

The memory of Saint Euthymius is celebrated also on January 20, and that of Saint Chariton on September 28, when their patron saints are commemorated.

Venerable Herodion, Abbot of Iloezersk

Saint Herodion of Elias Lake and Novgorod, was a disciple of Saint Cornelius of Komel (May 19, 1537). After the death of his mentor, he settled at Elias Lake, 20 kilometers from White Lake, and there on a peninsula he built himself a cell and established a church in honor of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos, marking the beginning of the Elias Lake Ozadsk monastery.

The monk was strict at fasting, he spent the nights at prayer and he received the Holy Mysteries every Saturday. An angel told the monk of his approaching end. He died as a schemamonk on September 28, 1541 and was buried in the chapel he had built.

The first icon of Saint Herodion was painted after his appearance to a certain Sophonios. Sophonios impiously thrust his staff into the grave of Saint Herodion and was struck blind, but after praying to the saint, he recovered his sight.

With the blessing of Metropolitan (afterwards Patriarch) Nikon, a short Life of Saint Herodion was written by Archimandrite Metrophanes of White Lake monastery, who in 1653 witnessed a miracle worked from the relics of Saint Herodion. Then an annual commemoration of the saint was established. At the place of the chapel of Saint Herodion a church was built in honor of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos together with a chapel dedicated to Saint Herodion of Elias Lake.

Prophet Baruch

The Holy Prophet Baruch (his name means "blessed"), that courageous lover of truth, lived in the VII century B.C. He was the son of Nerias and the devoted follower and divinely-inspired secretary of the Prophet Jeremiah (May 1).

When Jeremiah was imprisoned, Baruch wrote down the prophecies which he dictated (Jeremiah 36:4), ordering him to read them to the people. When King Joachim was informed of this, instead of benefitting from the Prophet's admonitions, he threw the scroll into the fire. Baruch was also imprisoned because the Jews hated him for loving truth, and for his courageous language. When the Jews fled to Egypt in fear, because of their stand against the king of Babylon, Baruch accompanied Jeremiah. Rabbinic tradition suggests that Baruch returned to Babylon after he witnessed Jeremiah's death by stoning and buried his body.

In his prophetic book, Baruch clearly foresaw the Incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ. The section from 3:9 to 4:4 is a beautiful description of the Divine Wisdom "Who showed Himself upon earth and conversed with men."

Here is what he said: "This is our God, and no other shall be compared to Him. He has found out all the way of knowledge, and has given it unto Jacob His servant, and unto Israel His beloved. Afterward He showed Himself upon earth, and conversed with men" (Baruch 3:36-38).

These words are read on the eve of the Nativity of Christ at the Third Hour, and are ascribed to the Prophet Jeremiah.

Saint John Chrysostom says, in the sixth of his Baptismal Instructions, "Here the Prophet is speaking about the Son. Of Whom does the Prophet speak? He does not say this about the Father, does He? Of course not." Saint John goes on to explain that Baruch was the first to say that God would become Man, yet remain as God. Christ is not only the Law-giver of the Old Testament, but also the Divine Wisdom, Word, and Power of God.

The Prophet Baruch is quoted or paraphrased several times in the Divine Services of the Church. On Palm Sunday we sing: "This is our God, and there is no other like Him…. He has shown Himself upon earth and lived among men. Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord our Savior" (Canon at Matins Tone 4, Ode 9).

On the Great Feast of Theophany we hear: "The Godhead has appeared in the flesh to the dwellers upon earth" (Matins of the Forefeast, Aposticha Tone 2).

On the Feast of the Lord's Transfiguration we sing this hymn to the Most Holy Theotokos: "Your giving birth was undefiled; God came forth from your womb, and He appeared upon earth wearing flesh and made His dwelling among men; therefore, we all magnify you, O Theotokos" (Canon at Matins Tone 4, Ode 9).

Again, on the Transfiguration, we extol the All-Holy Virgin: "Every ear trembled with fear at hearing of the ineffable condescension of God: how the Most High of His own will came down even unto the flesh, and was made Man from a virginal womb. Therefore, we faithful magnify the undefiled Theotokos" (Second Canon at Matins Ode 8, Irmos).

The Prophet Baruch also prophesied the return of the Jews from the Babylonian Captivity, and Babylon's desolation. He is depicted in iconography as an old man with a rounded beard.

The Book traditionally ascribed to Baruch is regarded by Protestants as non-canonical, but is accepted by the Orthodox Church, and also by Roman Catholics.

Martyr Alexander and 30 others in Pisidia and Phrygia

The Holy Martyrs Alexander, Alpheius, Zosimus, Mark the Shepherd, Nikon, Neon, Heliodorus and others suffered for confessing the Christian Faith in various places of Asia Minor during the reign of Diocletian (284-305).

Saint Mark, a shepherd, was arrested for his open confession of the Christian Faith in Pisidian Antioch. The thirty soldiers guarding him were converted by Saint Mark, and they were beheaded at Nicea, but Saint Mark was sentenced to tortures.

The brothers Saints Alexander, Alpheius and Zosimus were blacksmiths from the settlement of Katalitea, or Kalitea. They were summoned to forge the instruments of torture which would be used on Saint Mark the Shepherd. The iron did not melt and fuse, however, and the hands of the blacksmiths grew numb. Hearing a voice summoning them to suffer with Saint Mark, the brothers believed in Christ. After fierce torture, the torturers poured molten tin down their throats.

After enduring many tortures, Saint Mark was beheaded at Claudiopolis. When they carried the head of the holy martyr into the pagan temple of Artemis, all the idols fell down and were smashed. The witnesses of this miracle, Nikon, Neon, Heliodorus and other young men and women, believed in Christ, confessed their faith and died martyrs at Maromilium.

Martyr Wenceslaus, Prince of the Czechs

The Holy Prince Wenceslaus (Vyacheslav) of the Czechs was a grandson of the holy Martyr and Princess Ludmilla (September 16), and he was raised by her in deep piety. He began to rule at age eighteen after the death of his father Prince Bratislav (+ 920).

In spite of his youthful age, he ruled wisely and justly and concerned himself much about the Christian enlightenment of the people. The holy prince was a widely educated man, and he studied in the Latin and Greek languages.

Saint Wenceslaus was peace-loving. He built and embellished churches, and in Prague, the Czech capital, he raised up a magnificent church in the name of Saint Vitus, and he had respect for the clergy. Envious nobles decided to murder the saint and, at first, to incite his mother against him, and later to urge his younger brother, Boleslav, to occupy the princely throne.

Boleslav invited his brother to the dedication of a church, and then asked him to stay another day. In spite of the warnings of his servants, the holy prince refused to believe in a conspiracy and exposed his life to the will of God. On the following day, September 28, 935, when Wenceslaus went to Matins, he was wickedly murdered at the doors of the church by his own brother and his brother’s servants. His body was stabbed and discarded without burial.

The mother, hearing of the murder of her son, found and placed his body in a recently consecrated church at the princely court. They were not able to wash off the blood splashed on the church doors, but after three days it disappeared by itself.

After repenting of his sin, the murderer transferred the relics of Saint Wenceslaus to Prague, where they were placed in the church of Saint Vitus, which the martyr himself had constructed (the transfer of the relics of Saint Wenceslaus is celebrated on March 4). The memory of Prince Wenceslaus has been honored from of old in the Russian Orthodox Church.

Schema-monk Cyril and Schema-nun Maria, the parents of Saint Sergius of Radonezh

Saint Cyril and his wife Maria were the parents of Saint Sergius of Radonezh (September 25). They belonged to the nobility, but more importantly, they were pious and faithful Christians who were adorned with every virtue.

People were astonished when the child in Maria’s womb cried out three times in church during the Divine Liturgy; before the reading of the Holy Gospel, during the Cherubic hymn, and when the priest said: “Holy Things are for the Holy.” Although she was frightened at first, Maria came to see this event as a sign from God that her child would become a chosen vessel of divine grace. She and her husband agreed that if the child was a boy, they would bring him to church and dedicate him to God. This child, the second of their three sons, was born around 1314, and was named Bartholomew in Holy Baptism.

Because of civil strife, Saint Cyril moved his family from Rostov to Radonezh when Bartholomew was still a boy.

Later, when their son expressed his desire to enter the monastic life, his parents asked him to wait and take care of them until they passed away, because his brothers Stephen and Peter were both married and had their own family responsibilities. The young Bartholomew obeyed his parents, and did everything he could to please them. Later they decided to retire to separate monasteries, and departed to the Lord after a few years. It is believed that Saints Cyril and Maria reposed in 1337.

Forty days after burying his parents, Bartholomew settled their estate, giving his share to his brother Peter. Then he went to the monastery at the age of twenty-three, and was tonsured on October 7 with the name Sergius (in honor of the martyr Saint Sergius, who is commemorated on that day). As everyone knows, Saint Sergius of Radonezh became one of Russia’s greatest and most revered saints.

The Chronicle of the Khot'kov Protection Monastery relates how people were healed of their ailments after praying to the Venerable Sergius and his parents. The relics of Schema-monk Cyril and Schema-nun Maria remained in the monastery's Protection Cathedral, even after its numerous reconstructions. As early as the XIV century, Saint Sergius's parents were depicted with haloes. Because Saint Sergius prayed for the repose of his parents at their grave before entering the monastery, pilgrims, on their way to Holy Trinity Lavra, had the custom of visiting Khot'kov Monastery first, in order to pray for his parents.

In the XIX century, the veneration of Schema-monk Cyril and Schema-nun Maria spread throughout Russia, as evidenced by the Menologia of that time. Unfortunately, after 1917, the Khot'kov Monastery was destroyed. Finally, in July of 1981, the Feast of the Synaxis of the Saints of Radonezh was established, and Schema-monk Cyril and Schema-nun Maria were glorified for local veneration. In 1989, the monastery's Protection Cathedral was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church. Services resumed once again, and the relics of the righteous parents of Saint Sergius were transferred there.

Saints Cyril and Maria were glorified for universal veneration by the Orthodox Church of Russia in 1992. They are also commemorated on January 18 (Saint Cyril's Name Day), on June 5 (Synaxis of the Saints of Rostov & Yaroslavl), on July 6 (Synaxis of the Saints of Radonezh), and on the Thursday following the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee.

10/2 announcements

October 2, 2022

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost

II Corinthians 6:1-10: Brethren, since we are fellow workers, we entreat you also not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says, “At an acceptable season I hearkened unto thee, and in a day of salvation I helped thee”; behold, now is “the acceptable season”; behold, now is “the day of salvation”; giving no occasion of stumbling in anything, that the ministry is not blamed, but in everything commending ourselves, as ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in vigils, in fasts, in purity, in knowledge, in longsuffering, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in love unfeigned, in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.

Luke 6:31-36: The Lord said: “As you wish that men would do to you, do so to them. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”

Troparion of the Resurrection: Thou didst shatter death by thy Cross; thou didst open paradise to the thief; thou didst turn the mourning of the ointment-bearing women into joy, and didst bid thine Apostles proclaim warning that thou hast risen, O Christ, granting the world Great Mercy.

Troparion of St. Cyprian the Confessor: By choosing the Apostles’ way of life, thou hast succeeded to their throne. Inspired of God, thou didst find the way to divine contemplation through the practice of virtue. After teaching the Word of Truth without error, thou didst defend the Faith to the very shedding of thy blood, O Hieromartyr Cyprian. Entreat the Lord our God to save our souls.

Troparion of the Chains of St. Peter: O Holy Apostle, Peter, thou dost preside over the Apostles by the precious chains which thou didst bear. We venerate them with faith and beseech thee that by thine intercessions we be granted the great mercy.

Kontakion of the Theotokos: O undisputed intercessor of Christians, O mediatrix, who is unrejected by the Creator, turn not away from the voice of our petitions though we be sinners; come to us in time, who cry to thee in faith, for thou art good. Hasten to us with intercessions, O Theotokos, who didst ever intercede for those who honor thee.

CALENDAR

UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE: All services listed on the calendar will be available through streaming and webcast.

Sunday, October 2 (Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost)

8:50 a.m. — Orthros (webcast)

9:00 a.m. — Christian Education

10:00 a.m. — Divine Liturgy (webcast)

Monday, October 3

Father Herman off

Tuesday, October 4

NO Services

Wednesday, October 5

6:30 p.m. — Daily Vespers

Thursday, October 6 (Apostle Thomas)

NO Services

11:30 a.m. — Men’s Lunch

Friday, October 7

[Knucklehead Family Reunion begins
today, runs until 10/13]

NO Services

Saturday, October 8 (Protection of the Theotokos)

10:00 a.m. — Ladies meet for Akathist


4:45 p.m. — Choir Practice

6:00 p.m. — Great Vespers

Sunday, October 9 (Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost)

8:50 a.m. — Orthros (webcast)

9:00 a.m. — Christian Education

10:00 a.m. — Divine Liturgy (webcast)

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENTS

The Eucharist Bread …was offered by the Algoods for the Divine Liturgy this morning.

Eucharist Bread Schedule:

Eucharist Bread Coffee Hour

October 2 Algood Dansereau/Alaeetawi

October 9 Schelver Lockhart/Karam/Snell

October 16 Morris Lavric/Skirtech/Dabit

October 23 Jones POT LUCK MEAL

Ellis/Zouboukos/Waites

October 30 Davis Meadows/Pacurari/Cooper

October is Teen Month in our Archdiocese. In keeping with that, our teens will be reading the Epistle during the Divine Liturgy that month.

Schedule for Epistle Readers – Page numbers refer to the Apostolos (book of the Epistles) located on the Chanters’ stand at the front of the nave. Please be sure to use this book when you read.

Reader Reading Page#

October 2 Sophie Dansereau II Cor. 6:1-10 168

October 9 Katie Miller II Cor. 6:16-7:1 173

October 16 Virginia Stewart Titus 3:8-15 322

October 23 Luke Habeeb Gal. 1:11-19 188

October 30 Teen Reader Gal. 1:11-19 188

Also, please remember that we still need your tithes and offerings which may be placed in the tray that is passed during the Divine Liturgy, in the tithe box at the back of the nave or be mailed to: St. Peter Orthodox Church, P.O. Box 2084, Madison, MS 39130-2084.

Continue to pray for Metropolitan Paul (who is also the brother of our Patriarch) and the Syriac Archbishop John of Aleppo who were abducted while on a humanitarian mission in Syria.

Please remember Fr. Joseph and Kh. Joanna Bittle, and their daughter Abigail, in your prayers.

Please remember the following in your prayers: Aidan Milnor, the Milnor family; Lamia Dabit and her family; Mary Greene (Lee and Kh. Sharon’s sister); Jay and Joanna Davis; Fr. Leo and Kh. Be’Be’ Schelver and their family; Kathy Willingham; Marilyn (Kyriake) Snell; Jack and Jill Weatherly; Lottie Dabbs (Sh. Charlotte Algood’s mother), Sh. Charlotte and their family; Maria Costas (currently at St. Catherine’s Village); Reader Basil and Brenda Baker and their family; Buddy Cooper.

Calendar Items:

* The men of the parish meet for lunch at 11:30 a.m. on the first Thursday of the month.

* The Ladies meet at the church at 10:00 a.m. on the second Saturday of the month to pray the Akathist to the Mother of God, Nurturer of Children on behalf of our children.

* The Ladies meet for lunch on the last Tuesday of the month.

* His Grace, Bishop NICHOLAS will be at St. Peter for his Arch-pastoral visit October 23-24th. He will be in Vicksburg for the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy and will be coming to St. Peter afterwards.

* Our monthly Pot Luck Meal will be held on Sunday, October 23rd instead of the usual second Sunday of the month.

* The Fall Festival is scheduled for Saturday, October 29th, beginning at 4:00 p.m. There will be no Great Vespers that day. More details will be available at a later date.

Instructions for streaming our services can be found on the parish website.

Fasting Discipline for October

In October, the traditional fasting discipline (no meat, dairy, eggs, fish, wine or oil) is observed on all Wednesdays and Fridays of the month.

Major Commemorations for October

October 1 Protection of the Theotokos

October 6 Apostle Thomas

October 9 Apostle James, Son of Alphaeus

October 16 Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council

October 23 Apostle James, Brother of the Lord

October 26 Great-martyr Demetrios

PARENTS, a problem has arisen due to the nursery room being left messy after Coffee Hour. No food of any kind should be taken into that room. Also, it is necessary for a parent to be in the room whenever their children are in there playing. Thank you for your assistance with this.

Quotable: “Always keep repenting, not because you have necessarily done something, but because our nature is weak. We must repent for what we are. When we repent, we must consider not just what we have done wrong, but all the good we have failed to do.”

Elder Sergei of Vanves

Worship: Sunday, October 9, 2022 (Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost)

Scripture: II Corinthians 6:16-7:1; Luke 7:11-16

Celebrant: Father Herman

Epistle Reader: Katie Miller

Prosphora: Schelver

Coffee Hour: Lockhart/Karam/Snell

Daily Readings for Tuesday, September 27, 2022

TUESDAY OF THE 2ND WEEK

NO FAST

Callistratus the Martyr & his 49 Companions, Mark, Aristarchos, and Zenon, Apostles of the 70, Akylina the New Martyr of Thessaloniki, Gideon the Righteous

ST. PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIANS 5:11-21

Brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? In that case the stumbling block of the cross has been removed. I wish those who unsettle you would mutilate themselves! For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another take heed that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would. But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, murder, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

LUKE 5:12-16

At that time, Jesus was in one of the cities, and there came a man full of leprosy; and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and besought him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And he stretched out his hand, and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him. And he charged him to tell no one; but “go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to the people.” But so much the more the report went abroad concerning him; and great multitudes gathered to hear and to be healed of their infirmities. But he withdrew to the wilderness and prayed.

Martyr Callistratus and 49 companions

Saint Callistratus was a native of Carthage. An ancestor of Saint Callistratus, Neochorus, had served under the emperor Tiberius in Palestine, under the command of Pontius Pilate, the procurator of Judea, and was a witness to the suffering on the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, His voluntary death and glorious Resurrection.

The saint’s father was a Christian, and he raised his son in faith and piety. Also like his father, Saint Callistratus became a soldier and excelled among his pagan military comrades by his good conduct and gentle disposition.

At night when everyone slept, he usually stayed up at prayer. Once, a soldier sleeping nearby heard Saint Callistratus invoking the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and he reported this to the military commander, who in turn summoned Callistratus, interrogated him and wanted to make him offer sacrifice to idols. The saint resolutely refused to do this, so the military commander ordered that the saint be beaten. Then, covered with wounds, the saint was dragged over sharp stones. The beating and the torments did not sway the firm will and brave endurance of the sufferer.

The saint was sewn up in a leather sack and drowned in the sea. By God’s mercy, however, the sack struck a sharp rock and was torn open. Saint Callistratus came to dry land unharmed, carried by dolphins. Viewing such a miracle, forty-nine soldiers came to believe in Christ. Then the military commander threw Saint Callistratus and the believing soldiers into prison. Before this, all of them were subjected to innumerable floggings.

In jail Saint Callistatus continued to preach the Word of God to the soldiers and he bolstered their spirits for martyrdom. Summoned again before the military commander, the sufferers firmly confessed their faith in Christ, after which they were bound hand and foot and thrown into the depths of a great lake behind a dam. But there their bonds broke, and with bright faces the holy martyrs stood in the water, rejoicing in their Baptism, which coincided with the act of martyrdom.

Beautiful bright crowns appeared over their heads, and all heard a voice: “Be brave, Callistratus, with your company, and come rest in the eternal habitations.” At the same time, the earth shuddered and an idol standing nearby fell down and smashed. Seeing this, another 135 soldiers also believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. The military commander, fearing a mutiny in the army, did not put them on trial, but again imprisoned Saint Callistratus with his 49 companions, where they fervently prayed and gave thanks to the Creator for giving them power to endure such sufferings.

At night the martyrs were cut to pieces with swords by order of the military commander. Their holy relics were buried by the 135 soldiers who remained alive. Later, a church was built on the spot of their sufferings, as Saint Callistatus had foretold.

Venerable Sabbatius, Wonderworker of Solovki

Saint Sabbatius of Solovki came to the Saint Cyril of White Lake monastery in the year 1396, where he received the monastic tonsure. He there pursued asceticism for a long time, unquestioningly fulfilling all obediences. His humility, gentle love towards the brethren and his strict life distinguished the monk Sabbatius among his fellow ascetics. He soon became burdened by the attention and esteem of the brethren and laity coming to him, and having learned that on Lake Ladoga is the rocky island of Valaam, he decided to settle there.

The brethren of the Saint Cyril of White Lake monastery were very sad to be parted from their Elder. At Valaam the worldly fame also began to disquiet the humble Elder. Then the monk learned that in the north was the uninhabited island of Solovki, and he began to ask the igumen’s blessing to settle there in solitude. But the igumen and the brethren did not want to be separated from their holy Elder.

At the command of God Saint Sabbatius left the Valaam monastery by night and set off to the shores of the White Sea. When he learned from the local people that the island was two days distant, that on it were many lakes and that no one lived on the island, he was even more eager to settle there. The astonished local people asked the ascetic, whitened with grey hair, how he would live there and what he would eat. “My Master,” replied the monk, “gives the fresh strength of youth to the frail, and nourishes the hungry to satiety.”

For a certain time Saint Sabbatius remained at the chapel near the mouth of the Vyg River, in the environs of Soroka. There he encountered Saint Germanus pursuing asceticism as a hermit, and together they decided to settle upon the island. In a frail boat, praying to God, the Elders set off upon the harsh sea and after three days they reached Solovki Island.

The ascetics settled by the Sekirna hill, where they raised up a cross and built their cells. In the severe conditions of the north, the Elders hallowed the unpopulated island by their exploits. Here also the Enemy of mankind, the devil, tempted the holy Elders. A certain fisherman with his wife, moved with a sense of envy, came somehow to the island and settled near the ascetics. But the Lord did not permit the laypeople to remain near the monks. Two youths in bright garb appeared to the wife of the fisherman and struck her with rods. The fisherman took fright, quickly gathered his things and he and his wife hastened to return to his former place of residence.

Once, when Saint Germanus had gone for supplies along the Onega River, Saint Sabbatius, alone and sensing his impending end, turned to God and prayed that He would grant him to partake of the Holy Mysteries. The monk sailed for two days to the mainland and at ten versts from the Vyg River encountered the igumen Nathanael, who had come to the distant settlement to commune a sick Christian. Igumen Nathanael rejoiced at meeting the monk, fulfilled his wish and heard the account of his exploits on the island. In parting, they agreed to meet at the church along the Vyg River.

Entering the temple, the holy Elder prayerfully gave thanks to God for Communion. He then enclosed himself in a cell located near the church, and began to prepare himself for death. During this time the Novgorod merchant John came to shore and, having venerated the holy icons in church, he went to the holy Elder. Having received his blessing and guidance, he offered the monk a portion of his wealth and was saddened when he heard a refusal. To comfort the merchant, Saint Sabbatius offered to let him stay over until morning, and promised him prosperity on further journeying. The merchant John, however, hastened to disembark.

Suddenly there was an earthquake, and a storm arose on the sea. Taking fright, the merchant stayed where he was. In the morning when he entered the cell for a blessing, he saw that the Elder was already dead. He and Igumen Nathanael, who had just arrived, buried Saint Sabbatius at the chapel and wrote a manuscript of his Life. This occurred on September 27, 1435. After thirty years, the relics of Saint Sabbatius were transferred to the Transfiguration church by Saint Zosimas (April 17) and the brethren of Solovki Island. In 1566, the relics of Saints Sabbatius and Zosimas were transferred into a church, named in their honor (August 8).

Apostle Mark of the Seventy

The Holy Apostle Mark of the Seventy, also named John, is mentioned by the holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 12:25, 15:37-39) and also by the holy Apostle Paul in both the Epistle to the Colossians (Col 4:10) and the Epistle to Philemon (Philemon 1:23).

The holy Apostle Mark preached the Word of God together with Paul and Barnabas and was made bishop of the Phoenician city of Biblos. The holy Apostle Mark attained great boldness before God, so that his very shadow healed the sick (also January 4 and April 15).

Apostle Aristarchus of the Seventy

Saint Aristarchus was one of the Seventy Apostles, whom the Lord Jesus Christ sent to proclaim the good news of the Gospel (Luke. 10:1-24).

Saint Aristarchus, a co-worker of the holy Apostle Paul, became bishop of the Syrian city of Apamea. His name is repeatedly mentioned in the Acts of the Holy Apostles (Acts 19:29, 20:4, 27:2) and in the Epistles of Saint Paul (Col. 4:10, Philemon 1:24). He accompanied Saint Paul on his travels (Acts 16:29).

Saint Aristarchus is also commemorated on April 15 with Saints Pudens and Trophimus and on January 4 with the Seventy Apostles.

Apostle Zenas of the Seventy

The Holy Apostle Zenas of the Seventy, a disciple and co-worker with the first-ranked Apostle Paul, was called a lawyer, since he was a learned man and led juridical matters in church courts. He is mentioned in the Epistle of the holy Apostle Paul to Titus (Titus 3:13): “Help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; see that they lack nothing.” Afterwards, Saint Zenas became bishop of the city of Diospolis (or Lydda) in Palestine.

Martyr Epicharis of Rome

The Holy Martyr Epicharis lived in Rome during the reign of Diocletian (284-305). For her steadfast confession of Christ as Savior they subjected her to tortures: they suspended her and tore at her body with iron hooks, and then they beat at her with tin threshing rakes. The holy martyr prayed, and an angel of God struck down the torturers. Then Saint Epicharis was beheaded.

Venerable Ignatius, Abbot in Asia Minor

Saint Ignatius lived during the tenth century in Cappadocia, and from his youth he was dedicated by his parents to God. Upon attaining the age of maturity, he accepted monasticism and soon was ordained to the holy priesthood.

Later, Saint Ignatius was made igumen of a monastery of the Savior, called “Deep River,” close to Constantinople. Saint Ignatius concerned himself about the monastery, embellishing the churches and making an enclosure for the monastery. Saint Ignatius died in the city of Amoreia in the year 975. His relics were uncovered after a long period of time and found to be incorrupt.

Saint Flavian, Archbishop of Antioch

Saint Flavian, Archbishop of Antioch, was a contemporary of Saint John Chrysostom. He attempted to obtain from the emperor Theodosius (379-395) a pardon for the citizens of Antioch, who had angered the emperor by destroying his statue. Saint Flavian’s death was peaceful and without illness. He is also commemorated on February 16.

New Martyr Aquilina

Saint Aquilina (Akylina), the virgin martyr of Christ, was the daughter of pious parents who lived in the village of Zagliberi, Thessalonica in the diocese of Saint Ardamerios.

One day her father quarreled with a Turkish neighbor (for Turks and Christians lived together in that village), and struck the Turk, killing him. The authorities seized him and brought him to the pasha of Thessalonica to be executed for his crime. Fearing death, the unfortunate man converted to Islam in order to save his life. Saint Aquilina was still a babe at her mother’s breast when this happened. The saint’s mother remained a Christian, and she encouraged her daughter to adhere to the Christian Faith, and not to deny Christ.

After some time had passed, the Turks pressured Aquilina’s father to make her become a Moslem, too. He said, “Do not worry about my daughter, I’ll see to her. I will force her to convert to Islam in due course.”

When Saint Aquilina was eighteen, the Turks urged her father to make his daughter convert to their faith. He said to her, “The other Turks tell me that you must become a Moslem sooner or later. Do it one day sooner so that they will stop bothering me. “

She replied with great courage, “I will never deny the Lord Jesus Christ, Who died on the Cross for our sake. I am prepared to endure tortures, and even death, for love of my Christ.”

Seeing that she would not change her mind, her father went to the Turks and said, “I am not able to persuade my daughter to become a Moslem, so you may do as you wish with her.”

Hearing this, the Turks became angry, and sent servants to arrest the girl. When the saint’s mother saw them seize her daughter, she encouraged her to remain firm in confessing Christ, and to be brave in the face of the torments she was about to endure.

Aquilina replied, “That is my intention, Mother. May God help me. Pray for me.”

Then they said farewell with many tears and laments. Servants tied Aquilina with ropes and brought her to the judge. Her mother followed them, but the servants shut the door in her face and left her standing in the courtyard. Saint Aquilina was taken inside to appear before the judge, and her mother returned home to await the outcome.

The judge asked her, “Will you become a Moslem, you fool?”

She replied, “No, I will never deny my Faith or my Master Christ.”

Hearing these things, the judge became angry and ordered the saint to be stripped of her clothes, leaving her in her chemise. Then he ordered them to tie her to a pillar and to beat her with sticks, and it was done. Two servants beat her for a long time, but Saint Aquilina endured her sufferings with great courage.

Then once again the saint was brought before the judge and the other Turks. They began to flatter her, promising her many things. They even offered her gifts, if only she would deny her Christian Faith, but she regarded earthly riches as worthless. A prominent man among them, having more boldness than the others, said to her, “Become a Moslem, Aquilina, and I will marry you to my son.”

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The martyr of Christ replied, “May the devil take you and your son.”

When the Turks heard this, they were enraged and tied the saint up as before, beating her for a long time. Then she was untied and questioned for a third time.

Since Aquilina had received so many lashes, her chemise was torn to shreds, and it no longer covered her. The judge said, “You fool! Aren’t you ashamed to appear naked before so many people? Become a Moslem, or I’ll break your bones one by one.”

The holy virgin replied, “What could I possibly want with your faith? Why should I deny Christ?”

The Turks were furious, and this time they beat the saint so mercilessly that they left her for dead. The earth was saturated with her blood, and pieces of her flesh fell to the ground. Finally, they untied her and gave her to a certain Christian who happened to be at that place, and he brought her to her mother’s house.

When her mother saw that her daughter was almost dead, she embraced her and asked, “What have you done, my child?”

The martyr opened her eyes with difficulty and said, “Behold, I have preserved the confession of my Faith, just as we agreed.”

While she was speaking to her mother, Saint Aquilina gave her pure soul into God’s hands and received the imperishable crown of martyrdom on September 27, 1764.

On the way to the cemetery, Saint Aquilina’s holy relics gave forth a wondrous fragrance which filled the entire road. That night a heavenly light shone upon her tomb like a brilliant star, and the Christians who witnessed this glorified God.

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Saint Anthimus the Georgian

Saint Anthimus was born in Georgia, and his parents were called John and Mary. The child received the name Andrew in Baptism, and his parents raised him as an Orthodox Christian.

Andrew was captured by Turks who invaded Georgia when he was young, and he was one of many who were made slaves in Constantinople. There he learned to speak Greek, Arabic, and Turkish, and also became skilled in woodcarving, embroidery, and painting. After a few years as a slave, Andrew escaped and fled to the Ecumenical Patriarchate for refuge.

Around 1690, Andrew was invited to Wallachia by Prince Constantine Brancoveanu (August 16), who had heard of his talents. After a year or so, he became a monk and received the name Anthimus. Later, he was ordained to the holy priesthood. He was placed in charge of the royal print shop in Bucharest, and later set up a printing house in the Snagov Monastery.The monastery printed sixty-three books in Romanian, Greek, Arabic, and Georgian. Saint Anthimus was the author of thirty-eight of them. He was chosen to be the igumen of Snagov in 1696.

The saint was consecrated as Bishop of Rimnicu-Vilcea in 1705, and three years later he was made Metropolitan of Wallachia. As Metropolitan, he established schools for poor children, and built churches and monasteries. Since he was a woodcarver, he used his talent to beautify many churches.

Saint Anthimus was a zealous pastor who satisfied his flock’s hunger for spiritual knowledge. Preaching in the Romanian language, he taught them the saving truths of Orthodoxy, and offered words of encouragement and consolation. His edifying books and sermons are part of the spiritual legacy of the Romanian Orthodox Church.

Metropolitan Anthimus was arrested by the Turks in 1716 and sentenced to be exiled at Saint Catherine’s Monastery on Mt. Sinai, but he never arrived at his destination. On September 27, 1716, he was killed by the soldiers who were escorting him. They cut his body into little pieces and threw them into the Tungia River, south of the Danube. Thus, the faithful servant of Christ received the crown of martyrdom.

Saint Anthimus was a true shepherd of his flock, and a father to his clergy. He was glorified by the Orthodox Church of Romania in 1992.

Daily Readings for Monday, September 26, 2022

THE FALLING ASLEEP OF ST. JOHN THE EVANGELIST AND THEOLOGIAN

NO FAST

The Falling Asleep of St. John the Evangelist and Theologian, Removal of the Honorable Head of Apostle Andrew the First-Called

ST. JOHN’S FIRST UNIVERSAL LETTER 4:12-19

No man has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his own Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we know and believe the love God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. In this is love perfected with us, that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because he first loved us.

JOHN 19:25-27; 21:24-25

At that time, standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son!" Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!" And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. This is the disciple who is bearing witness to these things, and who has written these things; and we know that his testimony is true. But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

Repose of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian

The Holy, Glorious All-laudable Apostle and Evangelist, Virgin, and Beloved Friend of Christ, John the Theologian was the son of Zebedee and Salome, a daughter of Saint Joseph the Betrothed. He was called by our Lord Jesus Christ to be one of His Apostles at the same time as his elder brother James. This took place at Lake Gennesareth (i.e. the Sea of Galilee). Leaving behind their father, both brothers followed the Lord.

The Apostle John was especially loved by the Savior for his sacrificial love and his virginal purity. After his calling, the Apostle John did not part from the Lord, and he was one of the three apostles who were particularly close to Him. Saint John the Theologian was present when the Lord restored the daughter of Jairus to life, and he was a witness to the Transfiguration of the Lord on Mount Tabor.

During the Last Supper, he reclined next to the Lord, and laid his head upon His breast. He also asked the name of the Savior’s betrayer. The Apostle John followed after the Lord when they led Him bound from the Garden of Gethsemane to the court of the iniquitous High Priests Annas and Caiphas. He was there in the courtyard of the High Priest during the interrogations of his Teacher and he resolutely followed after him on the way to Golgotha, grieving with all his heart.

At the foot of the Cross he stood with the Mother of God and heard the words of the Crucified Lord addressed to Her from the Cross: “Woman, behold Thy son.” Then the Lord said to him, “Behold thy Mother” (John 19:26-27). From that moment the Apostle John, like a loving son, concerned himself over the Most Holy Virgin Mary, and he served Her until Her Dormition.

After the Dormition of the Mother of God the Apostle John went to Ephesus and other cities of Asia Minor to preach the Gospel, taking with him his own disciple Prochorus. They boarded a ship, which floundered during a terrible tempest. All the travellers were cast up upon dry ground, and only the Apostle John remained in the depths of the sea. Prochorus wept bitterly, bereft of his spiritual father and guide, and he went on towards Ephesus alone.

On the fourteenth day of his journey he stood at the shore of the sea and saw that the waves had cast a man ashore. Going up to him, he recognized the Apostle John, whom the Lord had preserved alive for fourteen days in the sea. Teacher and disciple went to Ephesus, where the Apostle John preached incessantly to the pagans about Christ. His preaching was accompanied by such numerous and great miracles, that the number of believers increased with each day.

During this time there had begun a persecution of Christians under the emperor Nero (56-68). They took the Apostle John for trial at Rome. Saint John was sentenced to death for his confession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, but the Lord preserved His chosen one. The apostle drank a cup of deadly poison, but he remained alive. Later, he emerged unharmed from a cauldron of boiling oil into which he had been thrown on orders from the torturer.

After this, they sent the Apostle John off to imprisonment to the island of Patmos, where he spent many years. Proceeding along on his way to the place of exile, Saint John worked many miracles. On the island of Patmos, his preaching and miracles attracted to him all the inhabitants of the island, and he enlightened them with the light of the Gospel. He cast out many devils from the pagan temples, and he healed a great multitude of the sick.

Sorcerers with demonic powers showed great hostility to the preaching of the holy apostle. He especially frightened the chief sorcerer of them all, named Kinops, who boasted that they would destroy the apostle. But the great John, by the grace of God acting through him, destroyed all the demonic artifices to which Kinops resorted, and the haughty sorcerer perished in the depths of the sea.

The Apostle John withdrew with his disciple Prochorus to a desolate height, where he imposed upon himself a three-day fast. As Saint John prayed the earth quaked and thunder rumbled. Prochorus fell to the ground in fright. The Apostle John lifted him up and told him to write down what he was about to say. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, saith the Lord, Who is and Who was and Who is to come, the Almighty” (Rev 1:8), proclaimed the Spirit of God through the Apostle John. Thus in about the year 67 the Book of Revelation was written, known also as the “Apocalypse,” of the holy Apostle John the Theologian. In this Book were predictions of the tribulations of the Church and of the end of the world.

After his prolonged exile, the Apostle John received his freedom and returned to Ephesus, where he continued with his activity, instructing Christians to guard against false teachers and their erroneous teachings. In the year 95, the Apostle John wrote his Gospel at Ephesus. He called for all Christians to love the Lord and one another, and by this to fulfill the commands of Christ. The Church calls Saint John the “Apostle of Love”, since he constantly taught that without love man cannot come near to God.

In his three Epistles, Saint John speaks of the significance of love for God and for neighbor. Already in his old age, he learned of a youth who had strayed from the true path to follow the leader of a band of robbers, so Saint John went out into the wilderness to seek him. Seeing the holy Elder, the guilty one tried to hide himself, but the Apostle John ran after him and besought him to stop. He promised to take the sins of the youth upon himself, if only he would repent and not bring ruin upon his soul. Shaken by the intense love of the holy Elder, the youth actually did repent and turn his life around.

Saint John reposed when he was more than a hundred years old. He far outlived the other eyewitnesses of the Lord, and for a long time he remained the only remaining eyewitness of the earthly life of the Savior.

When it was time for the departure of the Apostle John, he went out beyond the city limits of Ephesus with the families of his disciples. He bade them prepare for him a cross-shaped grave, in which he lay, telling his disciples that they should cover him over with the soil. The disciples tearfully kissed their beloved teacher, but not wanting to be disobedient, they fulfilled his bidding. They covered the face of the saint with a cloth and filled in the grave. Learning of this, other disciples of Saint John came to the place of his burial. When they opened the grave, they found it empty.

Each year from the grave of the holy Apostle John on May 8 came forth a fine dust, which believers gathered up and were healed of sicknesses by it. Therefore, the Church also celebrates the memory of the holy Apostle John the Theologian on May 8.

The Lord bestowed on His beloved disciple John and John’s brother James the name “Sons of Thunder” an awesome messenger accompanied by the cleansing power of heavenly fire. And precisely by this the Savior pointed out the flaming, fiery, sacrificial character of Christian love, the preacher of which was the Apostle John the Theologian. The eagle, symbol of the lofty heights of his theological thought, is the iconographic symbol of the Evangelist John the Theologian. The appellation “Theologian” is bestown by Holy Church only to Saint John among the immediate disciples and Apostles of Christ, as being the seer of the mysterious Judgments of God.

Venerable Ephraim, Abbot of Perekop, Wonderworker of Novgorod

Saint Ephraim of Perekop, Novgorod, was born on September 20, 1412 in the city of Kashin. In Holy Baptism he was named Eustathius. His parents, Stephen and Anna, lived not far from the Kashin women’s monastery named in honor of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos.

Drawn to the solitary life, Eustathius left his parental home while still in his early years and settled in the Kalyazin monastery of the Most Holy Trinity. His parents wanted their son to return home, but he persuaded them to leave the world and accept monasticism. Later, they also finished their earthly paths living as hermits.

After three years in the monastery, Eustathius, through a miraculous revelation, transferred to the monastery of Saint Savva of Vishersk (October 1). It was there in 1437 that he accepted tonsure with the name Ephraim. While in the monastery, Saint Ephraim received a revelation from the Lord, commanding him to withdraw to a desolate place.

Having received the blessing of Saint Savva, in 1450 he went to Lake Ilmen, at the mouth of the River Verenda, and on the banks of the River Cherna he built a cell. After a certain while the Elder Thomas and two monks came to Saint Ephraim, and they settled not far from his cell. From that time, other hermits also began to gather to the new monastery. At their request Saint Ephraim was ordained a priest at Novgorod by Saint Euthymius (March 11).

Returning from Novgorod, Saint Ephraim built a church in honor of the Theophany of the Lord on an island, at the mouth of the River Verenda. To secure a ready supply of water for the monastery, the monk dug a canal to Lake Ilmen, from which the monastery received its name “Perekop” (from “perekopat’” meaning “to dig through”). Later on, Saint Ephraim built a stone church named for Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker. Unable to find sufficient skilled builders, he sent several monks to Great Prince Basil with a request for sending stone-workers. The construction of the temple was completed in 1466.

Saint Ephraim reposed on September 26, 1492 and was buried at the church of Saint Nicholas. In 1509, because of frequent floodings that threatened the monastery with ruin, it was transferred to another location at the shore of Lake Ilmen. Saint Ephraim appeared to the igumen Romanus and pointed to the site of Klinkovo for relocating the monastery.

Over the saint’s tomb a chapel was built, since all the monastery churches were in ruins. On May 16, 1545 the relics of Saint Ephraim were transferred to the site of the new monastery. On this day there is an annual celebration of Saint Ephraim of Perekop at the monastery, confirmed after the glorification of the holy ascetic at the Council of 1549. (The Transfer of the Relics of Saint Ephraim of Perekop is celebrated May 16).

Arrival of the Ivḗron Icon of the Mother of God in Georgia

The Ivḗron Icon of the Mother of God (which is preserved on Mt. Athos) was kept in the home of a certain pious widow, who lived near Nicea. During the reign of the emperor Theophilus, the Iconoclasts came to the house of this Christian, and one of the soldiers struck the image of the Mother of God with a spear. Blood flowed from the place where it was struck.

The widow, fearing its destruction, promised the imperial soldiers money and implored them not to touch the icon until morning. When the soldiers departed, the woman and her son (later an Athonite monk), sent the holy icon away upon the sea to preserve it. The icon, standing upright upon the water, floated to Athos.

For several days, the Athonite monks had seen a fiery pillar on the sea rising up to the heavens. They came down to the shore and found the holy image, standing upon the waters. After a Molieben of thanksgiving, a pious monk of the Ivḗron Monastery, Saint Gabriel (July 12), had a dream in which the Mother of God appeared to him and gave him instructions. So he walked across the water, and taking up the holy icon, he placed it in the church.

On the following day, however, the icon was found not within the church, but on the gates of the monastery. This was repeated several times, until the Most Holy Theotokos revealed to Saint Gabriel Her will, saying that She did not want the icon to be guarded by the monks, but rather She intended to be their Protectress. After this, the icon was installed on the monastery gates. Therefore this icon came to be called “Portaitissa” or “Gate-Keeper” (October 13). This comes from the Akathist to the Mother of God: “Rejoice, O Blessed Gate-Keeper who opens the gates of Paradise to the righteous.”

There is a tradition that the Mother of God promised Saint Gabriel that the grace and mercy of Her Son toward the monks would continue as long as the Icon remained at the monastery. It is also believed that the disappearance of the Ivḗron Icon from Mt. Athos would be a sign of the end of the world.

The Ivḗron Icon is also commemorated on February 12, March 31, October 13 (Its arrival in Moscow in 1648), and Bright Tuesday (Commemorating the appearance of the Icon in a pillar of fire at Mt. Athos and its recovery by Saint Gabriel).

On September 26, 1989, a copy of this famous icon arrived in Tbilisi, Georgia from the Ivḗron Monastery on Mt. Athos. This copy had been painted by the monks on Mt. Athos as a symbol of love and gratitude to the Georgian people.