ECCLESIASTICAL NEW YEAR
Ecclesiastical New Year, Symeon the Stylite, Synaxis of the Recovery of the Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos of Miasenae , The 40 Holy Ascetic Virgin Martyrs of Thrace and their Teacher Ammon the Deacon, Holy Martyrs Calliste and Siblings: Euodus and Hermogenes, Righteous Meletius, The Struggler of the Muioupolis Mountain, Jesus (Joshua) of Navi, Nicholas of Kourtaliotis
ST. PAUL’S FIRST LETTER TO TIMOTHY 2:1-7
Timothy, my son, first of all, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, the testimony to which was borne at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.
At that time, Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and he went to the synagogue, as his custom was, on the sabbath day. And he stood up to read; and there was given to him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the place where it was written, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." And all spoke well of him, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth.
The first day of the Church New Year is also called the beginning of the Indiction. The term Indiction comes from a Latin word meaning, “to impose.” It was originally applied to the imposition of taxes in Egypt. The first worldwide Indiction was in 312 when the Emperor Constantine (May 21) saw a miraculous vision of the Cross in the sky. Before the introduction of the Julian calendar, Rome began the New Year on September 1.
According to Holy Tradition, Christ entered the synagogue on September 1 to announce His mission to mankind (Luke 4:16-22). Quoting Isaiah 61:1-2, the Savior proclaimed, “The spirit of the Lord is upon Me; because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to proclaim release to captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord…” This scene is depicted in a Vatican manuscript (Vatican, Biblioteca. Cod. Gr. 1613, p.1).
Tradition says that the Hebrews entered the Promised Land in September.
Saint Simeon the Stylite was born in the Cappadocian village of Sisan of Christian parents, Sisotian and Martha. At thirteen years of age he began to tend his father’s flock of sheep. He devoted himself attentively and with love to this, his first obedience.
Once, after he heard the Beatitudes in church, he was struck by their profundity. Not trusting to his own immature judgment, he turned therefore with his questions to an experienced Elder. The Elder readily explained to the boy the meaning of what he had heard. The seed fell on good soil, and it strengthened his resolve to serve God.
When Simeon was eighteen, he received monastic tonsure and devoted himself to feats of the strictest abstinence and unceasing prayer. His zeal, beyond the strength of the other monastic brethren, so alarmed the igumen that he told Simeon that to either moderate his ascetic deeds or leave the monastery.
Saint Simeon then withdrew from the monastery and lived in an empty well in the nearby mountains, where he was able to carry out his austere struggles unhindered. After some time, angels appeared in a dream to the igumen, who commanded him to bring back Simeon to the monastery.
The monk, however, did not long remain at the monastery. After a short while he settled into a stony cave, situated not far from the village of Galanissa, and he dwelt there for three years, all the while perfecting himself in monastic feats. Once, he decided to spend the entire forty days of Great Lent without food or drink. With the help of God, the monk endured this strict fast. From that time he abstained from food completely during the entire period of the Great Lent, even from bread and water. For twenty days he prayed while standing, and for twenty days while sitting, so as not to permit the corporeal powers to relax.
A whole crowd of people began to throng to the place of his efforts, wanting to receive healing from sickness and to hear a word of Christian edification. Shunning worldly glory and striving again to find his lost solitude, the monk chose a previously unknown mode of asceticism. He went up a pillar six to eight feet high, and settled upon it in a little cell, devoting himself to intense prayer and fasting.
Reports of Saint Simeon reached the highest church hierarchy and the imperial court. Patriarch Domninos II (441-448) of Antioch visited the monk, celebrated Divine Liturgy on the pillar and communed the ascetic with the Holy Mysteries.
Elders living in the desert heard about Saint Simeon, who had chosen a new and strange form of ascetic striving. Wanting to test the new ascetic and determine whether his extreme ascetic feats were pleasing to God, they sent messengers to him, who in the name of these desert fathers were to bid Saint Simeon to come down from the pillar.
In the case of disobedience they were to forcibly drag him to the ground. But if he was willing to submit, they were to leave him on his pillar. Saint Simeon displayed complete obedience and deep Christian humility. The monks told him to stay where he was, asking God to be his helper.
Saint Simeon endured many temptations, and he invariably gained the victory over them. He relied not on his own weak powers, but on the Lord Himself, Who always came to help him. The monk gradually increased the height of the pillar on which he stood. His final pillar was 80 feet in height. Around him a double wall was raised, which hindered the unruly crowd of people from coming too close and disturbing his prayerful concentration.
Women, in general, were not permitted beyond the wall. The saint did not make an exception even for his own mother, who after long and unsuccessful searches finally succeeded in finding her lost son. He would not see her, saying, “If we are worthy, we shall see one another in the life to come.” Saint Martha submitted to this, remaining at the foot of the pillar in silence and prayer, where she finally died. Saint Simeon asked that her coffin be brought to him. He reverently bid farewell to his dead mother, and a joyful smile appeared on her face.
Saint Simeon spent 80 years in arduous monastic feats, 47 years of which he stood upon the pillar. Many pagans accepted Baptism, struck by the moral staunchness and bodily strength which the Lord bestowed upon His servant.
The first one to learn of the death of the saint was his close disciple Anthony. Concerned that his teacher had not appeared to the people for three days, he went up on the pillar and found the dead body stooped over at prayer. Patriarch Martyrius of Antioch performed the funeral before a huge throng of clergy and people. They buried him near his pillar. At the place of his ascetic deeds, Anthony established a monastery, upon which rested the special blessing of Saint Simeon.
We pray to Saint Simeon for the return to the Church of those who have forsaken Her, or have been separated from Her.
Saint Martha lived in Cilicia of Asia Minor during the fourth and fifth centuries, and came from a poor family. She and her husband Sisotion were the parents of Saint Simeon the Stylite.
At the age of eighteen, Simeon received the monastic tonsure without his parents’ knowledge. Many years later, Martha came to the saint’s pillar in order to see him. Simeon sent word to her not to come, for if they were worthy, they would see each other in the life to come. Martha insisted on seeing him, and he had someone tell her to wait for a while in silence. Saint Martha agreed to this, and waited at the foot of the hill where her son’s pillar stood. There she departed to the Lord.
When he heard that his mother had died, Saint Simeon ordered that her body be brought to the foot of his pillar. He prayed over his mother’s body for some time shedding many tears, and witnesses said that a smile appeared on Saint Martha’s face.
The Holy Martyr Aithalas the Deacon, by order of the Persian emperor Sapor II, was put to death by stoning in the year 380 for confessing Christ.
The 40 Holy Virgins and Saint Ammoun the Deacon, were from Adrianopolis in Macedonia. Deacon Ammoun was their guide in Christian Faith. They were captured by Baudos the governor, and were tortured because they would not offer sacrifice to idols.
The holy martyrs endured many cruel torments, which were intended to force them to renounce Christ and worship idols. Later, they were sent to Heraclea in Thrace to appear before the tyrant Licinius. The valiant martyrs remained unshakeable, however.
Saint Ammoun and eight of the virgins were beheaded, ten virgins were burned, six of them died after heated metal balls were put into their mouths, six were stabbed with knives, and the rest were struck in the mouth and stabbed in the heart with swords.
The Holy Martyrs Callista and her brothers Evodus and Hermogenes, with other Christians of Nicomedia, were brought to trial before the pagan governor for confessing their faith in Christ. Refusing to offer sacrifice to idols, they were cut down by the sword.
Saint Joshua (Jesus), the son of Navi, was leader of the Israelites after the death of the Prophet Moses. He was born in Egypt around 1654 B.C. and succeeded Moses when he was eighty-five. He ruled the Israelites for twenty-five years.
Joshua conquered the Promised Land, and led the Hebrew nation into it. The Lord worked a great miracle through Joshua. He stopped the Jordan from flowing, allowing the Israelites to cross over on foot as if on dry land (Joshua 3). Saint Michael, the Leader of the Heavenly Hosts, appeared to Joshua (Joshua 5:13-15).
The walls of Jericho fell down by themselves after the Ark of the Covenant was carried around the city for seven days (Joshua 6:20). Finally, during a battle with the enemy, Joshua, by God’s will, halted the motion of the sun (Joshua 10:13) and prolonged the day until victory was won.
After the end of the war, Joshua divided the Promised Land among the Twelve Tribes of Israel. He died at 110 years of age (1544 B.C.), commanding the nation to preserve the Law of Moses. All these events are recounted in the Book of Joshua, the sixth book of the Old Testament.
The Miasena Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos was thrown into Lake Zagura in the ninth century in an effort to save it from the iconoclasts. After a long time, the wonderworking icon emerged from the water unharmed and was brought to the Miasena Monastery.
The Chernigov-Gethsemane Icon of the Mother of God is a copy of the famed Ilyin-Chernigov Icon of the Mother of God (April 16), which was to be found at the Trinity-Ilyin monastery near Chernigov on Mount Boldina, and where in the eleventh century Saint Anthony of the Kiev Caves struggled in asceticism.
Saint Demetrius of Rostov described the miracles of this icon in his book THE BEDEWED FLEECE. He wrote in conclusion: “The end of the booklet, but not of the miracles of the Most Holy Theotokos, for who can count them?” The grace-bearing power of this icon is manifest also in its copies.
The Chernigov-Gethsemane Icon of the Mother of God was painted in the mid-eighteenth century and was passed on to the Trinity Sergiev Lavra in 1852 by Alexandra Grigorievna Philippova, who piously kept it for a quarter century. (This icon was given to her by the priest John Alekseev, who received it in turn from one of the monks of the Trinity Sergiev Lavra.)
On the advice of the head of the Lavra, Archimandrite Anthony (+ May 1, 1877), the icon was placed in the newly-consecrated cave church named for Saint Michael, Leader of the Heavenly Hosts, which was consecrated on October 27, 1851 by Saint Philaret, Metropolitan of Moscow (November 19), who assumed an active role in the building of the Gethsemane skete.
In this manner, the icon took in the currents of grace of all the history of the Russian Church, it acquired the blessing of Saint Anthony of the Caves, of Saint Sergius of Radonezh and of his parents Saints Cyril and Maria (September 28), and finally, of the ascetics of the nineteenth century. These spiritual connections providentially come forth through the Chernigov-Gethsemane Icon of the Mother of God.
It is remarkable that the first miracle of this icon was witnessed on the day of the Church New Year, September 1, 1869, when the twenty-eight-year-old peasant of Tula governance, Thekla Adrianova, was healed, after being completely crippled for nine years.
Living at the hostel by the caves, and then at the Lavra during the celebration of the Repose of Saint Sergius (September 25), Thekla recovered completely. Saint Innocent the Metropolitan of Moscow (October 6 and March 31), learned of the miracle from his daughter the nun Polyxeni, treasurer of the Borisov wilderness monastery. On the feast of Saint Sergius, he himself met with Thekla and asked her about the details of the healing. On September 26, 1869 Saint Innocent arrived at the Gethsemane skete and gave the blessing for a Molieben to be served before the glorified icon, while he himself prayed with tears.
By September 26 three healings had occurred already, and a whole series of miracles in November of that same year. The fame of the icon of the Mother of God spread with unusual swiftness. Exhausted by suffering and sickness, thirsting for bodily and spiritual healing, people from every class of society came with firm faith to the wonderworking icon, and the mercy of God did not forsake them.
By the beginning of the twentieth century, more than 100 miracles had been recorded. By its great esteem the icon benefited the ascetics of the Gethsemane skete: the schemamonk Philip (+ May 18, 1868), the founder of the cave monastery, and his three sons, the hieroschemamonks Ignatius (+ 1900), Porphyrius (+ 1905 ?) and Basil (+ April 1, 1915). They preserved accounts of the deep love, which the hieromonk Elder Isidore (+ February 3, 1908) displayed for the Chernigov-Gethsemane Icon.
The initial celebration of the icon was established on April 16, on the day when Ilyin-Cherigov icon was celebrated. Later, it was transferred to September 1, the day of its glorification. At the present time there are copies of the Chernigov-Gethsemane icon at Trinity-Sergiev Lavra. They are found in the temple of Saint Sergius, in the monastery trapeza, and in the portico of the Trinity cathedral, painted by Elders of the Gethsemane skete and the Zosimov wilderness monastery.
Saint Meletius the New was born in Cappadocia in 1035. Many people regarded him as an imbecile, but God “hath made foolish the wisdom of this world” (I Cor. 1:20), and it has also pleased Him “by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (I Cor. 1:21). So the Lord used the saint to draw many souls to Himself.
Saint Meletius was given the gift of prophecy, and performed many miracles. He built a monastery on Mt. Cytheron in Boeotia in central Greece, which was named for him.
After living as a hermit for many years, Saint Meletius fell asleep in the Lord on Mt. Cytheron in 1105.
(New Monastery of the Transfiguration of the Savior) The original “All Blessed” (Pammakaristos) Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos is in Constantinople in the patriarchal cathedral. It is a mosaic icon dating from the middle of the eleventh century.
In 1905, Patriarch Joachim III presented a copy of the icon to the city of Kazan in Russia.
No information available at this time.