3RD SUNDAY OF LUKE
3rd Sunday of Luke, James the Apostle, son of Alphaeus, Andronicus & his wife Athanasia of Egypt, Poplia the Confessor of Antioch, The Righteous Patriarch Abraham and his nephew Lot
ST. PAUL’S SECOND LETTER TO THE CORINTHIANS 6:16-18; 7:1
Brethren, you are the temple of the living God; as God said, "I will live in them and move among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore come out from them, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch nothing unclean; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.
Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, and make holiness perfect in the fear of God.
At that time, Jesus went to a city called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. As he drew near to the gate of the city, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a large crowd from the city was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, "Do not weep." And he came and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, "Young man, I say to you, arise." And the dead man sat up, and began to speak. And he gave him to his mother. Fear seized them all; and they glorified God, saying, "A great prophet has arisen among us!" and "God has visited his people!
Commemoration of the Holy Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council
Today the Church remembers the 350 holy Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council under the holy Patriarch Tarasius (February 25).
The Synod of 787, the second to meet at Nicea, refuted the Iconoclast heresy during the reign of Empress Irene and her son Constantine VI.
The Council decreed that the veneration of icons was not idolatry (Exodus 20:4-5), because the honor shown to them is not directed to the wood or paint, but passes to the prototype (the person depicted). It also upheld the possibility of depicting Christ, Who became man and took flesh at His Incarnation. The Father, on the other hand, cannot be represented in His eternal nature, because “no man has seen God at any time” (John 1:18).
In Greek practice, the holy God-bearing Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council are commemorated on October 11 (if it is a Sunday), or on the Sunday which follows October 11. According to the Slavic menaion, however, if the eleventh falls on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, the service is moved to the preceding Sunday.
Glorification of Saint Tikhon, Apostle to America
Saint Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and Apostle to America was born as Vasily Ivanovich Belavin on January 19, 1865 into the family of Ioann Belavin, a rural priest of the Toropetz district of the Pskov diocese. His childhood and adolescence were spent in the village in direct contact with peasants and their labor. From his early years he displayed a particular religious disposition, love for the Church as well as rare meekness and humility.
When Vasily was still a boy, his father had a revelation about each of his children. One night, when he and his three sons slept in the hayloft, he suddenly woke up and roused them. He had seen his dead mother in a dream, who foretold to him his imminent death, and the fate of his three sons. She said that one would be unfortunate throughout his entire life, another would die young, while the third, Vasily, would be a great man. The prophecy of the dead woman proved to be entirely accurate in regard to all three brothers.
From 1878 to 1883, Vasily studied at the Pskov Theological Seminary. The modest seminarian was tender and affectionate by nature. He was fair-haired and tall of stature. His fellow students liked and respected him for his piety, brilliant progress in studies, and constant readiness to help comrades, who often turned to him for explanations of lessons, especially for help in drawing up and correcting numerous compositions. Vasily was called “bishop” and “patriarch” by his classmates.
In 1888, at the age of 23, Vasily Belavin graduated from the Saint Petersburg Theological Academy as a layman, and returned to the Pskov Seminary as an instructor of Moral and Dogmatic Theology. The whole seminary and the town of Pskov became very fond of him. He led an austere and chaste life, and in 1891, when he turned 26, he took monastic vows. Nearly the whole town gathered for the ceremony. He embarked on this new way of life consciously and deliberately, desiring to dedicate himself entirely to the service of the Church. The meek and humble young man was given the name Tikhon in honor of Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk.
He was transferred from the Pskov Seminary to the Kholm Theological Seminary in 1892, and was raised to the rank of archimandrite. Archimandrite Tikhon was consecrated Bishop of Lublin on October 19, 1897, and returned to Kholm for a year as Vicar Bishop of the Kholm Diocese. Bishop Tikhon zealously devoted his energy to the establishment of the new vicariate. His attractive moral make-up won the general affection, of not only the Russian population, but also of the Lithuanians and Poles. On September 14, 1898, Bishop Tikhon was made Bishop of the Aleutians and Alaska. As head of the Orthodox Church in America, Bishop Tikhon was a zealous laborer in the Lord’s vineyard.
He did much to promote the spread of Orthodoxy, and to improve his vast diocese. He reorganized the diocesan structure, and changed its name from “Diocese of the Aleutians and Alaska” to “Diocese of the Aleutians and North America” in 1900. Both clergy and laity loved their archpastor, and held him in such esteem that the Americans made Archbishop Tikhon an honorary citizen of the United States.
On May 22, 1901, he blessed the cornerstone for Saint Nicholas Cathedral in New York, and was also involved in establishing other churches. On November 9, 1902, he consecrated the church of Saint Nicholas in Brooklyn for the Syrian Orthodox immigrants. Two weeks later, he consecrated Saint Nicholas Cathedral in NY.
In 1905, the American Mission was made an Archdiocese, and Saint Tikhon was elevated to the rank of Archbishop. He had two vicar bishops: Bishop Innocent (Pustynsky) in Alaska, and Saint Raphael (Hawaweeny) in Brooklyn to assist him in administering his large, ethnically diverse diocese. In June of 1905, Saint Tikhon gave his blessing for the establishment of Saint Tikhon’s Monastery.
In 1907, he returned to Russia, and was appointed to Yaroslavl, where he quickly won the affection of his flock. They came to love him as a friendly, communicative, and wise archpastor. He spoke simply to his subordinates, never resorting to a peremptory or overbearing tone. When he had to reprimand someone, he did so in a good-natured, sometimes joking manner, which encouraged the person to correct his mistakes.
When Saint Tikhon was transferred to Lithuania on December 22, 1913, the people of Yaroslavl voted him an honorary citizen of their town. After his transfer to Vilnius, he did much in terms of material support for various charitable institutions. There too, his generous soul and love of people clearly manifested themselves. World War I broke out when His Eminence was in Vilnius. He spared no effort to help the poor residents of the Vilnius region who were left without a roof over their heads or means of subsistence as a result of the war with the Germans, and who flocked to their archpastor in droves.
After the February Revolution and formation of a new Synod, Saint Tikhon became one of its members. On June 21, 1917, the Moscow Diocesan Congress of clergy and laity elected him as their ruling bishop. He was a zealous and educated archpastor, widely known even outside his country.
On August 15, 1917, a local council was opened in Moscow, and Archbishop Tikhon was raised to the dignity of Metropolitan, and then elected as chairman of the council. The council had as its aim to restore the life of Russian Orthodox Church on strictly canonical principles, and its primary concern was the restoration of the Patriarchate. All council members would select three candidates, and then a lot would reveal the will of God. The council members chose three candidates: Archbishop Anthony of Kharkov, the wisest, Archbishop Arseny of Novgorod, the strictest, and Metropolitan Tikhon of Moscow, the kindest of the Russian hierarchs.
On November 5, following the Divine Liturgy and a Molieben in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, a monk removed one of the three ballots from the ballot box, which stood before the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God. Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev announced Metropolitan Tikhon as the newly elected Patriarch. Saint Tikhon did not change after becoming the primate of the Russian Orthodox Church. In accepting the will of the council, Patriarch Tikhon referred to the scroll that the Prophet Ezekiel had to eat, on which was written, “Lamentations, mourning, and woe.” He foresaw that his ministry would be filled with affliction and tears, but through all his suffering, he remained the same accessible, unassuming, and kindly person.
All who met Saint Tikhon were surprised by his accessibility, simplicity and modesty. His gentle disposition did not prevent him from showing firmness in Church matters, however, particularly when he had to defend the Church from her enemies. He bore a very heavy cross. He had to administer and direct the Church amidst wholesale church disorganization, without auxiliary administrative bodies, in conditions of internal schisms and upheavals by various adherents of the Living Church, renovationists, and autocephalists.
The situation was complicated by external circumstances: the change of the political system, by the accession to power of the godless regime, by hunger, and civil war. This was a time when Church property was being confiscated, when clergy were subjected to court trials and persecutions, and Christ’s Church endured repression. News of this came to the Patriarch from all ends of Russia. His exceptionally high moral and religious authority helped him to unite the scattered and enfeebled flock. At a crucial time for the church, his unblemished name was a bright beacon pointing the way to the truth of Orthodoxy. In his messages, he called on people to fulfill the commandments of Christ, and to attain spiritual rebirth through repentance. His irreproachable life was an example to all.
In order to save thousands of lives and to improve the general position of the church, the Patriarch took measures to prevent clergy from making purely political statements. On September 25, 1919, when the civil war was at its height, he issued a message to the clergy urging them to stay away from political struggle.
The summer of 1921 brought a severe famine to the Volga region. In August, Patriarch Tikhon issued a message to the Russian people and to the people of the world, calling them to help famine victims. He gave his blessing for voluntary donations of church valuables, which were not directly used in liturgical services. However, on February 23, 1922, the All-Russian Central Executive Committee published a decree making all valuables subject to confiscation.
According to the 73rd Apostolic Canon, such actions were regarded as sacrilege, and the Patriarch could not approve such total confiscation, especially since many doubted that the valuables would be used to combat famine. This forcible confiscation aroused popular indignation everywhere. Nearly two thousand trials were staged all over Russia, and more than ten thousand believers were shot. The Patriarch’s message was viewed as sabotage, for which he was imprisoned from April 1922 until June 1923.
His Holiness, Patriarch Tikhon did much on behalf of the Russian Orthodox Church during the crucial time of the so-called Renovationist schism. He showed himself to be a faithful servant and custodian of the undistorted precepts of the true Orthodox Church. He was the living embodiment of Orthodoxy, which was unconsciously recognized even by enemies of the church, who called its members “Tikhonites.”
When Renovationist priests and hierarchs repented and returned to the church, they were met with tenderness and love by Saint Tikhon. This, however, did not represent any deviation from his strictly Orthodox policy. “I ask you to believe me that I will not come to agreement or make concessions which could lead to the loss of the purity and strength of Orthodoxy,” the Patriarch said in 1924.
Being a good pastor, who devoted himself entirely to the church’s cause, he called upon the clergy to do the same: “Devote all your energy to preaching the word of God and the truth of Christ, especially today, when unbelief and atheism are audaciously attacking the Church of Christ. May the God of peace and love be with all of you!”
It was extremely painful and hard for the Patriarch’s loving, responsive heart to endure all the Church’s misfortunes. Upheavals in and outside the church, the Renovationist schism, his primatial labors, his concern for the organization and tranquility of Church life, sleepless nights and heavy thoughts, his confinement that lasted more than a year, the spiteful and wicked baiting of his enemies, and the unrelenting criticism sometimes even from the Orthodox, combined to undermine his strength and health.
In 1924, Patriarch Tikhon began to feel unwell. He checked into a hospital, but would leave it on Sundays and Feast Days in order to conduct services. On Sunday, April 5, 1925, he served his last Liturgy, and died two days later. On March 25/April 7, 1925 the Patriarch received Metropolitan Peter and had a long talk with him. In the evening, the Patriarch slept a little, then he woke up and asked what time it was. When he was told it was 11:45 P.M., he made the Sign of the Cross twice and said, “Glory to Thee, O Lord, glory to Thee.” He did not have time to cross himself a third time.
Almost a million people came to say farewell to the Patriarch. The large cathedral of the Donskoy Monastery in Moscow could not contain the crowd, which overflowed the monastery property into the square and adjacent streets. Saint Tikhon, the eleventh Patriarch of Moscow, was primate of the Russian Church for seven and a half years.
On September 26/October 9, 1989, the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church glorified Patriarch Tikhon and numbered him among the saints. For nearly seventy years, Saint Tikhon’s relics were believed lost, but in February 1992, they were discovered in a concealed place in the Donskoy Monastery.
It would be difficult to imagine the Russian Orthodox Church without Patriarch Tikhon during those years. He did so much for the Church and for the strengthening of the Faith itself during those difficult years of trial. Perhaps the saint’s own words can best sum up his life: “May God teach every one of us to strive for His truth, and for the good of the Holy Church, rather than something for our own sake.”
Apostle James, son of Alphaeus
Holy Apostle James the son of Alphaeus one of the Twelve Apostles, was the brother of the holy Evangelist Matthew. He heard the Lord’s words and witnessed His miracles. After the Descent of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle James Alphaeus and the Apostle Andrew the First-Called (November 30), made missionary journeys preaching in Judea, Edessa, Gaza, Eleutheropolis, proclaiming the Gospel, healing all sorts of sickness and disease, and converting many to the path of salvation. Saint James finished his apostolic work In the Egyptian city of Ostrachina, where he was crucified by the pagans.
Venerable Andronicus, and his wife Athanasia, of Egypt
Saint Andronicus and his wife Athanasia of Egypt lived in Antioch in the fifth century. Saint Andronicus was a craftsman who divided his earnings into three portions. One part he gave to the Church, the second to the poor, and the third he used for his family. When the Lord took the son and daughter of Andronicus and Athanasia, the pious couple decided to devote themselves fully to the service of God, helping the poor and the sick. Soon the saintly spouses set out for Alexandria, where Andronicus entered a skete monastery, and Athanasia entered the women’s Tabennisiota monastery.
After twelve years of ascetic life Saint Andronicus went to Jerusalem to pray at the holy places. He met a co-pilgrim, Saint Athanasia, who, foreseeing the difficulties of the journey, had donned men’s attire. They did not recognize each other, since long ascetic effort had altered their appearance. When they returned from Jerusalem, both monks settled into a single cell and for many years lived the ascetic life in silence. Saint Athanasia wrote a note to be read after her death, revealing her secret.. Saint Andronicus died soon after Saint Athanasia.
Righteous Forefather Abraham
The Righteous Forefather Abraham lived around 2000 B.C. His story is found in the Book of Genesis, Chapters 12-25.
God told Abraham that all the nations of the earth would be blessed in his seed (Genesis 22:18), and ordered him to leave his home and his relatives and go to Canaan, the country between the Mediterranean and Jordan. Because God gave this land to Abraham and his posterity (Genesis 12:7), it became known as “the Promised Land.”
Abraham and Lot are also commemorated with Christ’s ancestors according to the flesh on the Sunday of the Holy Forefathers (between December 11 and 17).
The Righteous Forefather Abraham (“Father of a multitude”) and his nephew Lot (“veil”) lived around 2000 B.C.
The Righteous Lot is regarded as the progenitor of the Moabites and the Ammonites.He lived in Sodom with his wife and two daughters, a righteous man living in the midst of wicked people. The citizens of Sodom despised him as a newcomer, and also hated him for his upright life, hospitality, and obedience to God.
Lot’s efforts to turn them from their wickedness only increased their wrath. As fire consumed the city, Lot and his family were led to safety by an angel.
Abraham and Lot are also commemorated with Christ’s ancestors according to the flesh on the Sunday of the Holy Forefathers (between December 11 and 17).
Martyrs Juventius and Maximus at Antioch
Martyrs Juventinus and Maximus at Antioch were bodyguards of the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363). Having arrived in Antioch, the emperor gave orders to sprinkle all the foodstuffs in the marketplace and the water in the wells with blood offered to idols. Saints Juventinus and Maximus opposed this edict, and Julian ordered them executed.
Saint Publia the Confessor, Deaconess of Antioch
The holy Martyr Publia the Confessor, a deaconess of Antioch, became a widow at a young age and devoted all her strength to raising her son John in the Christian Faith. John became a presbyter, and Publia, for her prudent and ascetic life, was found worthy of becoming a deaconess. She undertook the guidance of widows and young women who wished to devote themselves to the service of God, and she organized a monastery in her home. During the persecution of Christians under the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363), Saint Publia and the sisters denounced the reprobate.
When the emperor made his way to Publia’s house, the sisters loudly sang Psalm 113/114, denouncing idol-worship. The emperor’s soldiers fiercely beat the venerable abbess, but she endured the beating with forbearance.
Saint Publia did not live long after this, but peacefully fell asleep in the Lord.
Venerable Peter of Galatia
Saint Peter lived during the reign of the iconoclast Emperor Theophilos (in 829). He was from the province of Galatia in Asia Minor. He was the son of Theophilos and Eudokia and at first he was named Leo.
Because he was handsome, physically strong, and wise, the Emperor made him a count. After many years of war and being in charge of many things, he gave it all up to become a monk in the monastery of Daphne, with the new name Petros.
He went to Olympus, and from there to Jerusalem, but he did not remain there either. After leaving for Laodicia and Antalya, he had to endure arduous journeys, asceticism, and the fierce anger of the Ismaelites (Moslems), whom he encountered in the street. Finally, he returned to Olympus.
Because of the loftiness of his virtues, he began to be noticed by the Emperors. That is why Emperor Basil the Macedonian convinced him to live in the monastery of Saint Phokas in the year 867. After many spiritual struggles, he departed to the Lord in peace.
This Saint Peter should not be confused with another Saint Peter of Galatia who lived in the V century (February 1).
Hieromartyr Dionysius of Paris, Bishop
Saint Dionysius (or Denis) has, for many centuries, been regarded as the patron saint of France.
It is believed that Saint Dionysius was sent to preach the Gospel at Lutetia Parisiorum (modern Paris) in Gaul around 250. He was beheaded in 258 with the priest Rusticus and the deacon Eleutherius at Montmartre (Hill of the Martyrs). A later legend claims that Saint Dionysius carried his severed head from Montmartre to his burial place at Vicus Catulliacus, now known as Saint Denis. The abbey of Saint-Denis, where French kings were interred, was built on the site of their martyrdom.
The identification of this Saint Dionysius with Saint Dionysius the Areopagite (October 3) appears to be an error made by a ninth century writer.
Icon of the Mother of God of Korsun
The Korsun Icon of the Mother of God is believed to be one of those painted by the holy Evangelist Luke, and it had been preserved in Ephesus. On October 9, 988, a copy of this icon was transferred from Korsun to Kiev by the holy Great Prince Vladimir (July 15), and it came to be called the Korsun Icon. Later this icon was transferred to Novgorod, and from there to Moscow to the Dormition cathedral in the Kremlin. Another copy of the Korsun Icon of the Mother of God was brought from Greece to Russia by Saint Euphrosynē of Polotsk (May 23) in 1162.
Saint Euphrosynē founded the Savior monastery at Polotsk. When she learned that there was an icon painted by Saint Luke at Menignus in Greece, she sent rich presents to the Byzantine Emperor and the Patriarch Chrysovergos asking them to send her this icon.
The icon was sent to Rus from Ephesus, and passed through Korsun. At the request of the inhabitants of that city it remained there about a year, thus it became known as the Korsun Icon.
In 1239, Alexandra, the daughter of Prince Bryachislav of Polotsk, brought this icon to the city of Toropets on her way to be married to the holy Great Prince Alexander Nevsky (November 23).
The Korsun Icon is also mentioned in the Life of Saint Dorothy of Kashin (September 24).
“Assuage My Sorrows” Icon of the Mother of God
Today we commemorate a copy of the “Assuage My Sorrows” Icon (January 25) which is treasured in the Saint Nicholas Odrino Monastery in the Orel Diocese, Karachev district.
Until 1784, this icon belonged to Count Nicholas Borisovitch Samoilov, who regarded it as a holy icon. At first, it was at the Count’s home in Moscow, where it was renowned for many miraculous healings. Later, N.B. Samoilov moved it to his estate adjoining the Saint Nicholas Odrino Monastery. He constructed, at his own expense, a heated chapel in honor of the “Assuage My Sorrows” Icon as part of the Saint Nicholas katholikon (main church).The Count later donated the icon to the monastery.
This wonderworking icon is celebrated locally twice a year: on January 25, and on October 9. Many people visit the Saint Nicholas Odrino Monastery on both days.
Saint Stephen of Serbia, “the blind one”
Saint Stephen Brancovich was the son of the Despot George and Queen Irene, and lived in the fifteenth century.
He and his sister Mara lived in the court of Sultan Murat II. Saint Stephen and his brother Gregory were blinded at Jedrene by the Turkish Sultan for some perceived offense. Since he was innocent, he bore his affliction with courage.
Stephen became ruler of Serbia in 1458, but was soon forced to flee to Albania. Saint Stephen was not only Prince George Skenderbeg’s guest, but he was also treated as a member of his family. There he met Saint Angelina (July 1 & 30 and December 10), the daughter of Prince George . Not surprisingly, Stephen and Angelina eventually fell in love. With her parents’ blessing, they were married in church. After a few years, they were blessed with two sons: George and John.
When the boys were grown, Saint Stephen and his family were forced to flee to Italy for their safety, because the Turks invaded Albania and began to slaughter men, women, and even children.
He died as an exile in Italy in 1468. He was buried in Serbia in the monastery of Krushedol in Frushka Gora, which was founded by his son the monk Maximus. After eight years, Saint Steven’s relics were uncovered and were found incorrupt and fragrant. Many miracles took place at his tomb.
Saint Stephen is also commemorated on December 10 with Saint Angelina and Saint John.
John was married, but had no sons. He died in 1503 at a young age, and many miracles took place before his holy relics.
Saint Angelina survived her husband and both of her sons. Mindful of her soul’s salvation, she entered a women’s monastery. She departed to the Lord in peace, and her body was buried in the same tomb as her sons in the monastery of Krushedol.
Saint Angelina is also commemorated on December 10 with her husband Saint Stephen and her son Saint John.