MONDAY OF THE 4TH WEEK
Eulampius & Eulampia the Martyrs, Our Righteous Father Theophilus the Confessor, Pinytos, Bishop of Knossos, The 200 Monk-martyrs of Nicomedia, Vassianos the Righteous of Constantinople, The 14 Holy Elders of Optina Monastery, Paulinus, Archbishop of York
ST. PAUL’S LETTER TO THE EPHESIANS 4:25-32
Brethren, putting away falsehood, let every one speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need. Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
At that time, one of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house, and took his place at table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “What is it, Teacher?” “A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he forgave them both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, to whom he forgave more.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house, you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Saints Eulampius and Eulampia were brother and sister. They lived at the beginning of the fourth century in the city of Nicomedia. Eulampius became upset after reading the decree of the emperor Maximian (284-305) sentencing all Christians to execution. Eulampius was horrified that the emperor was taking up arms against his own subjects rather than fighting the enemies of his country.
The youth was brought to trial and commanded to renounce the Christian Faith. When he refused, they first raked him with iron hooks, and then placed him upon a red-hot bed of coals. All of a sudden the sufferer expressed a wish to visit the pagan temple. The judges were delighted, supposing that they had turned him from Christianity. In the pagan temple of Mars the saint approached the idol and cried out, “In the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ I command you to fall to the floor and crumble into dust!” The idol immediately crashed down to the floor and was destroyed.
The people exclaimed, “The Supreme God is the Christian God, Who is great and mighty!” Saint Eulampius was again taken away for torture. This time his sister, Eulampia, appeared before the judges and declared that she also was a Christian. Eulampius told her, “Sister, do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul” (Mt.10:28).
The martyrs were tortured and thrown into a red-hot furnace, but the Lord protected them from the fire. Finally, they beheaded Eulampius, but Eulampia died from her torments before she could be beheaded.
Two hundred martyrs were converted to Christ after seeing the miracles of Saint Eulampius and Saint Eulampia as they were being tortured. They were also put to death and received the crown of martyrdom.
Saint Amphilochius, Bishop of Vladimir-Volhynia was the third bishop of one of the oldest of Russian dioceses, Vladimir-Volhynia, which was established in the time of Saint Vladimir. The first Vladimir-Volhynia bishop was Stephen, elected under Saint Vladimir himself; the next in succession was Igumen Stephen of the Kiev Caves (April 27), who became the igumen after Saint Theodosius (May 3). Saint Amphilochius was consecrated bishop on August 27, 1105 by the Metropolitan of Kiev, Nikēphóros (1103-1121).
For seventeen years Bishop Amphilochius guided the Vladimir-Volhynia flock. Only a couple of generations separate his time from that of the Baptism of Kievan Rus, and the saint toiled tirelessly for the conversion of pagans to Christ. He also worked to root out pagan superstitions among the newly-baptized, while pacifying the strife among the princes of the region.
Resigning as hierarch, he continued his service to God in the Kiev Caves monastery, where he died in the year 1122. The October 10 celebration of his memory, together with the other holy hierarchs of the Volhynia region, was established in the year 1831, after the restoration of the Pochaev Lavra in Volhynia to Orthodoxy.
The Synaxis of the Saints of Volhynia commemorates all the saints of that region, including
Saint Amphilochius, Bishop of Vladimir in Volhynia (October 10)
Saint Job of Pochaev (August 28, October 28)
Saint Juliana Olshanskaya (July 6)
Saint Macarius of Kanev (May 13, September 7)
Saint Stephen, Bishop of Vladimir in Volhynia (April 27)
Saint Theodore (Theodosius, in monasticism) (August 11)
Saint Yaropolk, prince of Vladimir, Volhynia (November 22)
Blessed Andrew of Totma, the Fool-for-Christ was born in the year 1638 in the village of Ust-Totma and chose to leave the world while still a child. With the blessing of Stephen, igumen of the Resurrection monastery in Galich, Andrew took upon himself the arduous calling of fool-for-Christ. He lived at the church of the Resurrection of Christ in the city of Totma on the banks of the River Sukhona.
Walking barefoot in both winter and summer, Andrew wore tattered clothing, and ate only bread and water, and that in such a small quantity that it just barely kept him from starving. He prayed both day and night, and if anyone gave him anything, he would give it away to the poor. For his efforts and toil the Blessed Andrew acquired the gift of wonderworking.
One winter a blind man by the name of Azhibokai came to the blessed fool, asking for healing while offering him a large sum of money. But the fool fled away. Azhibokai then washed his eyes with snow from where the saint had stood. In doing so, he was able to see.
The time of his own death was revealed to the Blessed Andrew. He made his confession, received the Holy Mysteries and peacefully fell asleep in the Lord in 1673. Over his grave was built the bell-tower church of the holy Martyr Andrew Stratelates (August 19), whose name he bore. Many miracles were witnessed at the grave of the Blessed Andrew.
Saint Theotecnus of Antioch was a renowned military commander at Antioch under the emperor Maximian (305-311). One time the emperor arrived in Antioch, demanding that all the inhabitants offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. As a Christian, Theotecnus refused to fulfill the order. The emperor, scoffing at the Christian Faith, gave orders to dress Theotecnus in women’s clothing and put him among the slave women. Three weeks later the emperor summoned Theoteknos to him, thinking that the humiliation would break his spirit, but again he heard the martyr confess Christ.
“You put your life in peril, if you do not submit”, growled Maximian. Theotecnus was silent. In a fury, the emperor, gave orders to cut the tendons and burn the feet of the martyr, and then throw him in a kettle of boiling tar. But just as soon as Theotecnus went into the kettle, the flames beneath it went out, and the heat of the kettle went cool instantly. Terror seized the emperor. Not wanting to torture the martyr further, he sent him to prison and entrusted his own centurion to deal with the saint.
In prison with Theotecnus was a Christian confessor named Alexander. Theotecnus helped him escape from the prison. Learning of this, the centurion subjected Theotecnus to brutal torments, and eventually gave orders to throw the saint into the sea with a stone about his neck. After a while, the relics of Saint Theotecnus were found, near the city of Rusob on the Cilician seacoast, and given Christian burial.
Saint Bassian of Constantinople was born in eastern Syria and became an ascetic in Constantinople, where the pious emperor Marcian (450-457) ruled. The venerable Bassian was the igumen at a monastery where there were three hundred monks. Among them also was Saint Matrona (November 9), who dressed in men’s attire. Saint Bassian lived in his monastery to an old age, famed for his virtuous life and numerous miracles, and peacefully fell asleep in the Lord.
Saint Theophilus the Confessor of Bulgaria came from the area surrounding Tiberiada. When he was thirteen, the saint secretly left his home to go off to the monastery on Mount Selenteia. There he matured spiritually under the guidance of the Elder, Saint Stephen. After three years Saint Theophilus was tonsured into monasticism. When the parents of the saint learned where their son was, they went to the monastery and asked the igumen to send Theophilus and several of the brethren to establish a new monastery closer to the their home. The igumen bade all the monks to fast and to pray, so that a sign might be received. On the third day a voice was heard in the church giving the blessing for Theophilus to start a new monastery, since he would become renowned for his many spiritual exploits.
During the period of the iconoclast controversy culminating in the reign of the iniquitous iconoclast emperor, Leo the Isaurian (717-741), Saint Theophilus openly revolted against the iconoclast folly. In accord with the emperor’s orders, the saint was subjected to beatings and led through the city tied up like a criminal. The emperor then gave Theophilus over into the charge of the official, Hypatius who tried repeatedly to compel the confessor to renounce holy icons. Theophilus remained steadfast. Instead, he succeeded in converting Hypatius.
As proof of the validity of icons, Theophilus cited the brass serpent set up by Moses (Num 21:9), the corroboration of the Cherubim atop the Ark of the Covenant, and finally how the Savior Himself had given to Abgar, the Prince of Edessa, His Icon Not Made by Hands (August 16). Persuaded by this evidence, Hypatius gained the emperor’s permission to set the saint free. The confessor returned to his monastery. He lived only a short time longer, and in the year 716 Saint Theophilus fell asleep peacefully in the Lord.
Saint Ambrose of Optina
Alexander Michailovich Grenkov was born Nov. 23, 1812 in the Russian province of Tambov. His parents raised him strictly and with fervent piety. Since he was of a priestly family, it was no surprise when he entered the Tambov theological seminary in 1830. He did well in his studies and was ranked among the top students.
About a year before graduation Alexander became seriously ill. He promised that if God healed him, he would become a monk. Although his prayer was answered, Alexander seemed to forget his promise.
After graduation from the seminary he took a position as tutor to the children of a certain landowner and remained with this family for a year and a half. After this he became a teacher at the local parochial school.
One day in 1839 Alexander and a friend visited the famous hermit Father Hilarion to ask him what they should do with their lives. Alexander was surprised when he was told to go to the monastery of Optina Pustin, where they had great need of him. In September of that same year, however, he seemed to be prepared to continue with his teaching career.
One night he was invited to spend a pleasant evening with some friends. His conversation was witty and brilliant, and all his jokes and puns were on the mark. Although his hosts were amused and impressed by him, Alexander was disgusted by his own frivolity. Perhaps his unfulfilled promise to become a monk weighed on his conscience.
The next morning he quit his job and arrived at Optina in October of 1839. After a trial period he decided to remain in the monastery and dedicate his life to God. He received the monastic tonsure in 1842, and was given the name Ambrose in honor of Saint Ambrose of Milan (December 7). Ambrose knew the famous spiritual directors Elder Leonid and Elder Macarius. He was the cell attendant of Elder Macarius, who undoubtedly influenced the young monk’s spiritual development.
Ordained as a priest in 1845, Father Ambrose’s reverence and piety in celebrating the divine services were noticed by the other monks. His health began to decline shortly afterward, and he had to ask to be relieved of all duties. In 1846 he was so ill that the Mystery of Holy Unction was administered to him. He bore his illness without complaint and slowly regained his strength. By 1848 he was able to walk with the aid of a cane.
Father Ambrose began to help Elder Macarius with his correspondence and in preparing the Russian edition of Saint John Climacus’s LADDER OF DIVINE ASCENT, which was published by the monastery.
When Father Macarius had to go to Moscow in 1852, he designated Father Ambrose to take his place until his return. Father Ambrose never gave his personal opinions when he was asked for advice, but always referred people to the writings of the Fathers. If someone did not understand the text he was given to read, Father Ambrose would explain it in simple terms.
Father Macarius died in 1860 without naming anyone to succeed him as Elder. By divine providence, all the other possible candidates either died or were appointed as abbots of other monasteries. This left Father Ambrose as the undisputed spiritual director of the monastery. In his role as Elder, Father Ambrose had to receive many people each day to hear confessions and give advice. He used to say, “The Lord has arranged it so that I would have to talk to people all my life. Now I would be happy to remain silent, but I cannot.”
An average day in Saint Ambrose’s life began at 4 A.M. when his cell attendant came into his cell to read the morning Rule of prayer for him. After this he would wash and have some tea, then he would dictate replies to the many letters he received every day. Visitors would be lining up even as he was having breakfast. Sometimes he would take a break after two hours, but more often he would continue seeing people until noon when he had his lunch.
After lunch he would go out into the next room and greet more visitors. People would call out questions and he would give an appropriate response. He took a short rest at 3 P.M. then talked to people until the evening. At 8 P.M. he had dinner then received more visitors until 11 P.M. At that hour the evening Rule of prayer was read, and Father Ambrose begged forgiveness of the brethren whom he may have offended by thought, word, or deed. After three or four hours of sleep it would all begin again. This routine would fatigue a strong man. It is remarkable that Saint Ambrose, who was often in poor health, was able to keep it up for so many years.
From all over Russia, people flocked to the venerable Elder. The writer Tolstoy visited him on at least three occasions, and left impressed by the wisdom of the holy monk. Fyodor Dostoevsky came to Optina in 1878 after the death of his son Alyosha and was profoundly affected by his meeting with Saint Ambrose. The novelist used Father Ambrose as a model for Starets Zosima in The Brothers Karamazov.
The saint founded Shamordino convent in 1884. This convent, which was near Optina, opened its doors to women who were poor, sickly, or even blind. Most convents were very poor and had to rely on the incomes of women who had a certain personal wealth in order to remain open. Saint Ambrose made it possible for any woman who wished to become a nun to follow this path of salvation.
Shamordino began to decline after the death of the first abbess, Mother Sophia. Saint Ambrose went there in June 1890 to straighten out the convent’s affairs. He was unable to return to Optina due to illness, then winter made it impossible for him to travel. Father Ambrose continued to see visitors at Shamordino, even though his health continued to deteriorate in 1891.
By September, it was clear that he had not long to live. He fell asleep in the Lord at 11:30 A.M. on the morning of October 10 1891. Throngs of people attended his funeral and also his burial at Optina. Fathers Joseph, Anthony, Benedict, and Anatole succeeded him as Elder until the monastery was closed after the Russian Revolution.
The Moscow Patriarchate authorized local veneration of the Optina Elders on June 13,1996. The work of uncovering the relics of Saints Leonid, Macarius, Hilarion, Ambrose, Anatole I, Barsanuphius and Anatole II began on June 24/July 7, 1998 and was concluded the next day. However, because of the church Feasts (Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, etc.) associated with the actual dates of the uncovering of the relics, Patriarch Alexey II designated June 27/July 10 as the date for commemorating this event. The relics of the holy Elders now rest in the new church of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God.
The Optina Elders were glorified by the Moscow Patriarchate for universal veneration on August 7, 2000.
Saint Ambrose was glorified in 1988 by the Patriarchate of Moscow as part of the Millennium celebration of the Baptism of Rus.
New Hieromartyr Peter, Metropolitan of Krutitsy was glorified by the Russian Orthodox Church at the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church on February 23, 1997.
Saint Peter was born in the Voronezh region, and studied at the Moscow Theological Academy, graduating in 1892, where he then continued as inspector. After a short stay at the seminary of Zhirovits in Belarus as inspector, he was appointed secretary of the Synodal Education Committee becoming de facto inspector of all the theological schools of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Unlike many of his contemporaries who had graduated from a theological academy, Peter Polyansky did not seek ordination, and for a long time remained a layman. As secretary of the Synodal Education Committee he traveled widely, visiting innumerable theological establishments, meeting and knowing many people. Gifted with an outstanding intellect, a firm character and a sociable nature, he was widely known and made many friends. He exercised a beneficial influence on the religious education of future priests.
In 1917-18, Peter Polyansky took part in the work of the local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church, when Saint Tikhon (April 7) was elected Patriarch. The latter made Peter Polyansky one of his closest aides, and persuaded him to become bishop; the Patriarch wished to consolidate the leadership of the Church in what was fast becoming the darkest time for the Church in many centuries. In 1920 Peter Polyansky was made a monk and auxiliary bishop for the diocese of Moscow; in a matter of months he was appointed Metropolitan of Krutitsy, one of the highest ranking bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Patriarch Tikhon died on April 7, 1925, the day of the Annunciation (March 25). Foreseeing increasing troubles and uncertainty for the Church, thinking that the government would not allow a Church council to assemble and elect the next patriarch, Saint Tikhon took an administrative decision aimed at securing a smooth succession when he died. He nominated three bishops in order of priority, as locum tenens; the third was Metropolitan Peter Polyansky. When the first two choices were found to be in prison and thus unable to assume the leadership of the Church, this heavy task befell Metropolitan Peter.
Persecution against the Church was raging, the government gave its support to the splinter group “The Living Church” in an attempt to discredit and destroy the official Orthodox Church. A great number of bishops had been imprisoned or exiled to remote parts of the country, and were unable to have a clear understanding of the prevailing situation. The whole country was in turmoil; the so-called Living Church energetically tried to replace the true Church.
In the absence of a patriarch, people did not know whom to believe and to whom to give their allegiance. Metropolitan Peter then issued an uncompromisingly firm “Letter to the Russian Church” where he described the position of the Church vis a vis the authorities and vis a vis the “Living Church.” He made no compromises with anybody, and stood firm in the truth of Christ. This letter helped the Church to strengthen itself but caused the Metropolitan to be arrested.
The history of the few months in which a campaign was master-minded by the Commissar for religious affairs, Tuchkov, to compromise and weaken Saint Peter, shows how determined the government was to defeat the head of the Church, but this did not break him. On December 10, 1925, Saint Peter was put under house arrest, and two days later sent to the Lubianka prison; in May 1926 he was transferred to the Suzdal fortress, then back to the Lubianka, and finally, in December, he was sent to Siberia, first to Tobolsk, then to the village of Abalak on the banks of the river Irtysh which he reached in 1927. Many of the other bishops had experienced a similar fate, the dioceses remaining without their shepherds.
In August 1927, Metropolitan Peter was taken to another destination beyond the Arctic Circle, a place called Khe on the mouth of the Ob, in the frozen tundra. For a little while he lived there peacefully, recovering from the arduous journey. However, on August 29, the day of the Beheading of the Saint John the Baptist, he suffered his first attack of angina and had to stay in bed. Two paramedics who came from a far distance by river in a boat manned by a native, advised him to be seen by a doctor and be transferred to a hospital. The Metropolitan wrote to the authorities at the GPU, but never got a reply, or money, or provisions, although he knew that several parcels had arrived in Tobolsk addressed to him.
The damp, cold climate of this northern region was extremely harmful to him in his condition. Eventually, towards the end of September, he was taken back to Tobolsk. Unexpectedly, he had an interview with Tuchkov who offered him freedom if he surrendered his title of locum tenens, but he remained firm and refused to compromise. He was then sent back to Khe for another three years of exile, but he was never granted his freedom. In Moscow in 1936, ten years after his first imprisonment, believers were waiting for his return, counting on the end of his ten-year term of exile. They never saw him again. He may have been moved for the last time to a monastery nearer central Russia where he was a little less constrained, but with no freedom to write or communicate with the world. He was shot by decision of the Soviet authorities after years of prison and exile.
In the XIII century, there was a certain Elder who spent his life in ascetical struggles on Mount Athos. He had the pious custom of reading the Akathist Hymn before the Icon of the Mother of God every day.
One day, while reading the Akathist, and silently repeating the word "rejoice," the Elder suddenly heard a voice coming from the Icon, "Rejoice also, Elder of God!"
The ascetic trembled in horror, but the voice continued: "Do not be afraid, but go to the monastery as soon as possible and announce to the brethren and to the Igoumen that the monastery is in danger from enemies who are already close by. Whoever is weak in patience, let him hide until the temptation passes; but as for those who are seeking crowns, let them stay."
The Elder left the cell right away and hurried to the monastery. As soon as he entered the gate, his eyes beheld the very Icon from his cell, before which he had just read the Akathist. An invisible, miraculous power had brought it there from the ascetic's cell.
The Elder fell down before the Icon with ardent prayer, and then with the Icon in his hands, he went to the Igoumen. The brotherhood, learning of the impending danger, was very worried. The more faint-hearted monks hastened to hide in the mountains, while twenty-six brave monks, including the Igoumen himself, remained in the monastery. The Elder, who received the heavenly revelation, also remained with them, so that he might comfort them during the coming trial.
It did not take long for their enemies to reach the monastery. These were Latins who at that time were trying to convert Orthodox Christians to Catholicism. Arriving at the monastery and approaching the tower in which the monks had locked themselves, they tried to persuade them to renounce Orthodoxy. In an effort to convince them to recognize the pope as the head of the Universal Church, the Latins promised the champions of Orthodoxy all sorts of favors and monetary rewards. But these faithful sons of the Orthodox Church remained adamant.
Then the enemies of Orthodoxy piled wood around the tower and lit it. As they prayed to the Lord, the monks gave thanks to the Almighty for making them worthy of receiving the crown of martyrdom, and then all of them surrendered their spotless souls to the Heavenly Father. Their martyric death occurred on October 10, 1274. The names of the victims were added to the Synodikon of Zographou Monastery, as well as to the official calendar of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.
The wonderworking Icon of the Mother of God, who warned the Elder about the impending disaster, was subsequently found unscathed under the ashes in the ruins of the monastery. Today this Icon is in the monastery, and an unsleeping lampada burns before it.
There is another Icon with the same name "of the Akathist" at Hilandar Monastery on Mount Athos. Information about that Icon may be found under January 12.
26 Monkmartyrs of the Zographou Monastery on Mount Athos In the year 1274 at the Council of Lyons (in France), the Byzantine emperor Michael VIII Paleologos decided to buttress his waning power by forming a union with Catholic Rome. This step evoked universal discontent. In 1278, the emperor issued a decree to introduce the Union at Constantinople by forceful measures, if necessary.
Mt. Athos stood in firm opposition to the Union. The Athonite monks sent a letter to Michael pointing out that the primacy of the Pope, his commemoration in the churches, celebrating the Eucharist with unleavened bread, the insertion of the “filioque” [“and from the Son”] into the Creed, could not be accepted by Orthodox, and they asked the emperor to change his mind. “We clearly see,” the letter said, “that you are becoming a heretic, but we implore you to forsake all this and abide in the teachings that were handed down to you…. Reject the unholy and novel teachings of a false knowledge, speculations, and additions to the Faith.”
The Crusaders pushed out of Palestine and finding refuge in the Byzantine Empire, declared to the emperor their readiness to affirm the power of the Pope by fire and sword, if necessary. In addition, Michael had hired mercenaries, both Turks and Tatars, to enforce his decree.
The emperor despised the monks of Mt. Athos for their opposition. Since he did not want to provoke the Greeks, he decided to vent his spite upon the Athonite Slavs. By Michael’s order, the servants of the Pope descended upon the Bulgarian Zographou monastery. When the demand to accept the Union was presented before the Zographou monks, they refused to listen. They adhered to the doctrines of the Fathers, and fearlessly censured those who accepted the Latin teachings. The majority of the Zographou monks left the monastery, but the most steadfast, twenty-six in number, remained within the monastery tower. These were:Igumen Thomas, and the monks Barsanuphius, Cyril, Michael, Simon, Hilarion, James, Job, Cyprian, Savva, Jacob, Martinian, Cosmas, Sergius, Menas, Joasaph, Joannicius, Paul, Anthony, Euthymius, Dometian, Parthenius, and four laymen.
The holy martyrs for their Orthodox Faith, were burned in the monastery tower on October 10, 1284. (also September 22).