WEDNESDAY OF THE 1ST WEEK
ABSTAIN FROM MEAT, FISH, DAIRY, EGGS, WINE, OLIVE OIL
Apodosis of the Elevation of the Venerable and Life-Giving Cross, Quadratus the Apostle, Jonah the Prophet, Isaakios & Meletios, Bishops of Cyprus
ST. PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIANS 3:15-22
Brethren, to give a human example: no one annuls even a man’s covenant, or adds to it, once it has been ratified. Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to your offsprings, ” referring to many; but, referring to one, “And to your offspring, ” which is Christ. This is what I mean: the law, which came four hundred and thirty years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. For if the inheritance is by the law, it is no longer by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise. Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made; and it was ordained by angels through an intermediary. Now an intermediary implies more than one; but God is one. Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not; for if a law had been given which could make alive, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. But the scripture consigned all things to sin, that what was promised to faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
At that time Jesus returned from the Jordan, and was led by the Spirit for forty days in the wilderness, tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing in those days; and when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread." And Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone.'" And the devil took him up, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, "To you I will give all this authority and their glory; for it has been delivered to me, and I will give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it shall all be yours." And Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.'
And he took him to Jerusalem, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here; for it is written, 'He will give his angels charge of you, to guard you, ' and 'On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'" And Jesus answered him, "It is said, 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'" And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time. And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee, and a report concerning him went out through all the surrounding country. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.
Leavetaking of the Elevation of the Cross
Because of the Leavetaking of the Elevation of the Cross, the service to Saint Quadratus of the Seventy is sung on September 22.
At the end of Liturgy, the priest comes out from the altar with a censer, preceded by a deacon with a candle. Going to the center of the church, he censes three times around the Cross. He takes the tray with the Cross and places it on his head to carry it into the altar. The deacon goes before him, censing the Cross. After placing the Cross on the altar, the priest censes the four sides of the Holy Table.
Apostle Quadratus of the Seventy
Saint Quadratus, Apostle of the Seventy preached the Word of God at Athens and at Magnesia (eastern peninsula of Thessaly), and was Bishop of Athens. His biographer called him “a morning star” among the clouds of paganism. He converted many pagans to the true faith in Christ the Savior, and his preaching aroused the hatred of the pagans. Once, an angry mob fell upon the saint to pelt him with stones. Preserved by God, Saint Quadratus remained alive, and they threw him into prison, where he died of starvation. His holy body was buried in Magnesia.
In the year 126, Saint Quadratus wrote an Apologia in defence of Christianity. Presented to the emperor Hadrian (117-138), the Apologia affected the persecution of Christians, since the emperor issued a decree saying that no one should be convicted without just cause. This Apologia was known to the historian Eusebius in the fourth century. At the present time, only part of this Apologia survives, quoted by Eusebius: “The deeds of our Savior were always witnessed, because they were true. His healings and raising people from the dead were visible not only when they were healed and raised, but always. They lived not only during the existence of the Savior upon the earth, but they also remained alive long after His departure. Some, indeed, have survived to our own time.”
Saint Quadratus is also commemorated on January 4.
Uncovering of the relics of Saint Demetrius (Dmitri), Metropolitan of Rostov
In 1702, Saint Demetrios, Metropolitan of Rostov, arrived at the Rostov cathedral and also visited the monastery of Saint James, Bishop of Rostov (November 27 and May 23).
He served the Divine Liturgy at the cathedral church of the Conception of the Most Holy Theotokos, after which he indicated to those present the site of his future burial on the right side of the temple. “Behold my resting place,” he said, “here I will settle for eternity.” Saint Demetrios reposed on October 28, 1709.
Contrary to the Saint's wishes, which he had expressed in his will, the clergy and people of Rostov asked the locum tenens of the patriarchal throne, Metropolitan Stephen Yavorsky of Ryazan, who had come for the funeral, to conduct the burial at the city's cathedral church.
Metropolitan Stephen insisted on burying the body of his deceased friend beside Saint Joasaph, who was Saint Demetrios's predecessor. However, a grave was not prepared until the arrival of Metropolitan Stephen, even though about a month had passed since the Saint's death.
Due to the urgent departure of Metropolitan Stephen from Rostov, a hastily constructed wooden frame was placed into the grave, in which the body of the Saint was buried on November 25. This circumstance, foreseen by the Providence of God, led to a quick uncovering of the relics.
In 1752 repairs were being made in the cathedral church of the monastery, and on September 21, the incorrupt body of Saint Demetrios was discovered. The place of burial had been affected by dampness, the oaken coffin and the writing on it were decayed, but the body of the Saint, and even his omophorion, sakkos, mitre and silken prayer rope were preserved undamaged.
After the discovery of his relics, Saint Demetrios began to heal many illnesses, and performed many miracles. When the Holy Synod was informed of these facts, it sent a Commitee: Metropolitan Sylvester of Suzdal and Archimandrite Gabriel of Simonov Monastery, to examine the relics of Bishop Demetrios and to verify the miraculous cures.
Upon the Committee's recommendation, a decree was issued by the Holy Synod on April 29, 1757 numbering Saint Demetrios, Metropolitan of Rostov among the saints, and designating the dates of his commemoration as October 28 (the day of his repose) and September 21 (the uncovering of his relics).
The Church of Russia also commemorates the Hierarchs Demetrios of Rostov, Metrophanes and Tikhon of Voronezh on July 19.
Venerable Daniel, Abbot of Shuzhgorsk, Novgorod
Saint Daniel of Shugh Hill was born in the Moscow dominion in the sixteenth century. He performed his ascetic labors in northern Rus, where he became a monk at the Komel monastery, founded by Saint Cornelius of Komel in 1498.
Saint Daniel left the monastery and continued a solitary ascetic life in the unpopulated and forested White Lake hinterland, on a mountain named Shugh Hill. Here the holy ascetic founded his monastery in honor of the Transfiguration of the Lord. Saint Daniel was buried at a temple in honor of the Transfiguration of the Lord at the monastery that he founded. In 1764, the monastery was turned into a parish.
Venerable Joseph of Zaonikiev Monastery, Vologda
Saint Joseph of Zaonikiev, was named Hilarion in the world, a pious peasant from the village of Obukhovo Kubensk in the region of the Vologda gubernia. For a long time he suffered a disease of the eyes and he fervently prayed for the help of the Lord, to the Most Holy Theotokos, and to the Saints, in particular the holy Unmercenaries Cosmas and Damian.
His prayer was heard, and in 1588, by a revelation of Saint Cosmas, Hilarion went into the forest into a swampy place, to an icon of the Mother of God, from which he received healing. In gratitude the monk cleared a forest thicket at the place of the appearance of the wonderworking icon and built a chapel, in which he placed the icon. He himself settled close by, taking the monastic schema with the name of Joseph.
Afterwards, with the blessing of Saint Anthony, Bishop of Vologda, on the place of Joseph’s ascetic exploits the Zaonikiev monastery emerged, so named from the brigand Anikios who once dwelt in this forest. When the monastery expanded and the number of monks grew, upon the advice of Saint Joseph, Anthony was chosen as igumen. Joseph did not accept the leadership himself out of humility. Since he concealed his own strict exploits from the others, he was perceived as a fool-for-Christ. He stood on his feet at prayer in his chapel, and he went about barefoot in the fierce cold.
Saint Joseph reposed on September 21, 1612 at age 83, and was buried in the monastery founded by him.
Hieromartyr Hypatius, Bishop of Ephesus, and his Presbyter, Andrew
Hieromartyr Hypatius, Bishop of Ephesus, and the Priest Andrew suffered in the eighth century under the iconoclast emperor Leo the Isaurian (717-741). As young men, they studied together in one of the monasteries. Saint Hypatius accepted monasticism, and Saint Andrew became a clergyman and zealously instructed people in the Christian Faith.
When the emperor Leo the Isaurian began to persecute those who venerated holy icons, and the holy icons were thrown out of the churches, to be trampled underfoot and burned, Saints Hypatius and Andrew rose up in defence of icon veneration, urging their flock to maintain faithfulness to Orthodoxy.
The emperor, wanting to persuade the saints, summoned them to him and arranged a debate about the veneration of icons, at which Saints Hypatius and Andrew were consistently able to defend the Orthodox veneration of icons.
They threw the martyrs into prison and for a long time they held them there, hoping that this would force the saints to renounce their convictions, but the saints remained steadfast. Then the emperor gave orders to torture the martyrs. They beat them, flayed the skin and hair from their heads, smeared their beards with tar and set it afire, and they burned holy icons upon the heads of the martyrs.
The saints bore all their tortures patiently and remained alive. The emperor gave orders to drag the saints through the city to be mocked by the people, and only after this to kill them. They threw the bodies of Saints Hypatius and Andrew to be eaten by dogs, but believers reverently gave them burial.
Saint Isaac of Cyprus
No information available at this time.
Saint Meletius, Bishop of Cyprus
No information available at this time.
Martyr Eusebius of Phoenicia
No information available at this time.
Martyr Priscus of Phrygia
No information available at this time.
26 Monastic Martyrs of Zographou, Mount Athos
In July of 1274, the Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII accepted a union with the Roman Church at Lyons, France. Faced with dangers from Charles of Anjou, the Ottoman Turks, and other enemies, the emperor found such an alliance with Rome expedient. The Union of Lyons required the Orthodox to recognize the authority of the Pope, the use of the Filioque in the Creed, and the use of azymes (unleavened bread) in the Liturgy. Patriarch Joseph was deposed because he would not agree to these conditions. The monastic clergy and many of the laity, both at home and in other Orthodox countries, vigorously opposed the Union, denouncing the emperor for his political schemes and for his betrayal of Orthodoxy.
On January 9, 1275 a Liturgy was celebrated in Constantinople in which the Pope was commemorated as “Gregory, the chief pontiff of the Apostolic Church, and Ecumenical Pope.” The emperor’s sister remarked, “It is better that my brother’s empire should perish, rather than the purity of the Orthodox Faith.” Recalling the infamous Crusade of 1204 when Latin crusaders sacked Constantinople, many of the people also preferred to submit to the infidels than to abandon the Orthodox Faith.
Twenty-six martyrs of Zographou Monastery on Mt. Athos were among those who were persecuted by Emperor Michael VIII Paleologos (1261-1282) and Patriarch John Bekkos (1275-1282) because they would not obey the imperial command to recognize the Union of Lyons. They steadfastly kept the teachings of the Fathers of the Church, and fearlessly censured those who accepted Catholic doctrines.
When the authorities came to Mt. Athos to enforce the imperial policy, the monks of Zographou shut themselves up in their monastery. From the tower they reproached those in favor of the Union, calling them lawless men and heretics. The attackers set the monastery on fire and burned the twenty-six martyrs alive.
The names of the martyrs are: Igumen Thomas, the monks Barsanuphius, Cyril, Micah, Simon, Hilarion, James, Job, Cyprian, Savva, James, Martinian, Cosmas, Sergius, Menas, Joasaph, Joannicius, Paul, Anthony, Euthymius, Dometian, Parthenius, and four laymen who died with them.
These holy martyrs are also commemorated on October 10.
Venerable Cosmas the Bulgarian of Zographou, Mount Athos
Saint Cosmas was born in Bulgaria toward the end of the thirteenth century, and entered the Zographou Monastery when he was young.
Distinguishing himself by his ascetical life, he also acquired the virtues of humility and obedience. After a time, Saint Cosmas satisfied his superiors that he had attained a level of experience and perfection in monasticism which would permit him to live in solitude without danger. Saint John of the Ladder (Step 8:18) describes the type of person who should not be permitted to live alone following his own will, and the pitfalls of such a life for those who have not cleansed themselves of the passions. With the blessing of his spiritual Father, Saint Cosmas left the monastery in order to begin even more intense spiritual struggles.
Through humility, the God-pleasing ascetic attained the heights of virtue, regarding all of his own efforts as nothing, and ascribing whatever good he had accomplished to God’s mercy and grace. Therefore, he acquired spiritual gifts from the Lord, including the gift of prophecy.
Saint Cosmas of Zographou fell asleep in the Lord on Mount Athos in 1323.
Saint John of Georgia
Archimandrite John (Basil Maisuradze in the world) was born in the town of Tskhinvali in Samachablo around 1882. He was raised in a peasant family and taught to perform all kinds of handiwork. Basil was barely in his teens when he helped Fr. Spiridon (Ketiladze), the main priest at Betania Monastery, to restore the monastery between 1894 and 1896.
From his youth Basil was eager to enter the monastic life, and in 1903, according to God’s will, he moved to the Skete of Saint John the Theologian at Ivḗron Monastery on Mt. Athos. Among the brothers he was distinguished for his simplicity and obedience. He was tonsured a monk and named John in honor of Saint John the Theologian, whom he revered deeply and sought to emulate.
The monk John was soon ordained to the priesthood. Throughout his life the holy father dedicated himself to serving God and his brothers in Christ in hopes that his own life might be fruitful for them.
Fr. John remained on Mt. Athos for seventeen years. Then, due to the increasingly troubling circumstances there, he left the Holy Mountain with the other Georgian monks sometime between 1920 and 1921. He settled at Armazi Monastery outside of Mtskheta, where the Bolsheviks had left just one monk to labor in solitude. Once a band of armed Chekists broke into the monastery, led both Fr. John and the other monk away, and shot them in the back.
Believing them to be dead, they tossed them in a nearby gorge. A group of people later discovered Fr. John’s nearly lifeless body and brought it to Samtavro Monastery in Mtskheta. The other monk suffered only minor injuries and returned to the monastery on his own.
When his health had been restored, Fr. John went to Betania Monastery, where his first spiritual father was still laboring. He was appointed abbot shortly thereafter. Accustomed to hard work from his childhood, he skillfully administered the agricultural labors of the monastery. When visitors came to the monastery seeking advice or solace, Fr. John welcomed them warmly, spreading a festal meal before them. He enjoyed spending time with his guests, especially with children.
It is said that he always had candy or a special treat to give to the little ones. The children loved him so much that on the feast of Saint John the Theologian, while he was sprinkling the church with holy water, they skipped around him and tried to tousle his hair. The children’s parents were ashamed, but Fr. John cheerfully assured them that it was fitting to be so joyous on a feast day.
Truly Fr. John was endowed with a deep love for young people, and he was also blessed with the divine gifts of prophecy and wonderworking. Once a certain Irakli Ghudushauri, a student at Moscow Theological Seminary, visited him at the monastery. Fr. John received him with exceptional warmth, blessing him with tears of rejoicing. This student would later become Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II, the beloved shepherd who continues to lead the flock of the Georgian faithful to this very day.
Fr. John disciplined himself severely. He worked hard all day and slept on a single piece of wood. He would spend entire nights praying. Many wondered when he rested and where he had acquired such a seemingly infinite supply of energy.
Occasionally thieves would steal food or domestic animals from the monastery. But the monastery also had many protectors, even within the Soviet government. A group of Christians who worked for the government while secretly practicing their faith supported Fr. John and Fr. George (Mkheidze), explaining and justifying them to the government as “guardians of a national cultural monument.”
Many of the miracles performed by Fr. John are known to us today, though he was wary of receiving honor for his deeds. Frs. John and George healed the deaf, and many of the terminally ill were brought to them for healing. After spending several days in the monastery, the infirm would miraculously be cleansed of their diseases. Fr. John bore the heaviest workload in the monastery. He sympathized deeply with Fr. George, who was ailing physically and unfit for strenuous labor. But Fr. John departed this life before Fr. George. Fr. John became ill and reposed in 1957, at the age of seventy-five. He was buried at Betania Monastery.
Saint George (John) of Georgia
Fr. George (Mkheidze) was born in the village of Skhvava in the Racha region around 1877. He received a military education—a highly esteemed commodity among the Georgian aristocracy—but instead of pursuing a military career in defense of the Russian empire, he dedicated himself to Georgia’s national liberation movement. At one point the pious and learned George worked for Saint Ilia the Righteous as his personal secretary. He often met Saint Ilia’s spiritual father, the holy hierarch Alexandre (Okropiridze), and the holy hieromartyr Nazar (Lezhava), and he was acquainted with other important spiritual leaders of the time as well.
Desiring to sacrifice his life to God, George was tonsured into monasticism by the holy hieromartyr Nazar. His rare character combined a nobleman’s deportment with a monk’s humble asceticism. Fr. George was ordained a priest and soon after elevated to the rank of archimandrite.
Filled with divine love and patriotic sentiment, the holy father willingly endured the heavy burdens and spiritual tribulations afflicting his country at that time.
In 1924, while Fr. George was laboring at Khirsa Monastery in Kakheti in eastern Georgia, an armed Chekist mob broke into the monastery. The perpetrators beat him, cut off his hair, shaved his beard, and threatened to take his life. He sought refuge with his family, but to no avail—his brothers, who were atheists, shaved off his beard while he was sleeping. (One of Fr. George’s brothers later committed suicide, and the other, together with his wife, was shot to death by the Chekists.) In the same year, Fr. George visited Betania Monastery and was introduced to Fr. John (Maisuradze), with whom he would labor for the remainder of his life.
Fr. George’s health was poor, and he was able to perform only the lightest of tasks around the monastery. He tended the vegetable garden and took responsibility for raising the bees. He was extremely generous. At times he would give all the monastery’s food to the needy, assuring Fr. John that God Himself would provide their daily bread.
Tall, thin, and with an upright posture, Fr. George was strict in both appearance and demeanor. He spoke very little with other people, and children did not play with him as they did with Fr. John. Knowing his character, they tried to please him by reciting prayers and behaving themselves. Fr. George did not like to leave the monastery, but it was often necessary for him to travel to Tbilisi to visit his spiritual children— among whom were many secret Christians who worked for the government.
Fr. George was endowed with the gifts of prophecy and healing, but he was careful to hide them. When constrained to reveal them, he would pass them off as though they were nothing extraordinary. Once a certain pilgrim arrived at the monastery and was surprised to discover that Fr. George knew him by name. Sensing his great amazement, Fr. George told the pilgrim that he had attended his baptism some thirty years earlier, thus concealing his God-given gift. Fr. George knew in advance when his nephew was bringing his sisters, whom he had not seen in forty-eight years, to visit him at the monastery during Great Lent.
Enlightened with this foreknowledge, Fr. George prepared fish and a festal meal in honor of the occasion.
The prayers of Fr. George and Fr. John healed the former’s nephew, who was afflicted by a deadly strain of meningitis. They restored hearing to a deaf child and healed many others of their bodily infirmities.
In 1957, when Fr. John reposed in the Lord, Fr. George was tonsured into the great schema. He was given the name John in honor of his newly departed spiritual brother. Fr. George-John now bore full responsibility for the affairs of the monastery. His health deteriorated further under the weight of this heavy yoke. His spiritual children began to come from the city to care for him.
Once a twenty-year-old girl arrived at the monastery, complaining of incessant headaches. She had been told that the water from Betania Monastery would heal her. She remained there for one week and was miraculously healed. When she left to return home, Fr. George-John walked five miles to see her off, in spite of his physical frailty.
The Theotokos appeared to Fr. George-John in a vision and relieved his terrible physical pain. The protomartyr Thekla also appeared to him, presenting him with a bunch of grapes. Several days before his repose, the holy father was in the city when an angel appeared to him and announced his imminent repose. The angel told him to return to the monastery to prepare for his departure from this world.
Saint George-John (Mkheidze) reposed in 1960. He was buried at Betania Monastery, next to Fr. John (Maisuradze). These venerable fathers were canonized on September 18, 2003, at a council of the Holy Synod under the spiritual leadership of His Holiness Ilia II, Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia. Frs. John and George-John have been lovingly deemed “one soul in two bodies.”