MONDAY OF THE 5TH WEEK
Hosea the Prophet, Holy Martyrs Cosmas and Damian of Arabia, Andrew the Righteous Monk-martyr of Crete, Removal and Placing of the Sacred Relics of the Holy and Righteous Lazarus
ST. PAUL’S LETTER TO THE ROMANS 9:18-33
Brethren, God has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens the heart of whomever he wills. You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, a man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me thus?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for beauty and another for menial use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the vessels of wrath made for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for the vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? As indeed he says in Hosea, “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people, ‘ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘my beloved.'” “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people, ‘ they will be called ‘sons of the living God.'” And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved; for the Lord will execute his sentence upon the earth with rigor and dispatch.” And as Isaiah predicted, “if the Lord of hosts had not left us children, we would have fared like Sodom and been made like Gomorrah.” What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, righteousness through faith; but that Israel who pursued the righteousness which is based on law did not succeed in fulfilling that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it through faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone that will make men stumble, a rock that will make them fall; and he who believes in him will not be put to shame.”
At that time, it happened that as Jesus was praying alone the disciples were with him; and he asked them, “Who do the people say that I am?” And they answered, “John the Baptist; but others say, Elijah; and others, that one of the old prophets has risen.” And he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.” But he charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, “The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”
The Holy Prophet Hosea the first of the minor prophets, belonged to the tribe of Issachar. He lived during the ninth Century before Christ, in the kingdom of Israel. He was a contemporary of the holy Prophets Isaiah, Micah and Amos. During this time, many of his fellow Israelites had forgotten the true God, and worshipped idols. The holy Prophet Hosea attempted to turn them again to the faith of their Fathers by his wise counsels. Denouncing the iniquities of the people of Israel (i.e. the northern kingdom Israel), the prophet proclaimed to them great misfortunes from a foreign people and their removal into captivity by Assyria.
Almost a thousand years before the coming of the Savior, and through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the prophet foretold the end of sacrificial offerings and of the priesthood of Aaron (Hos. 3:4-5), and that the knowledge of the True God would spread through all the earth (Hos. 2:20-23). Hosea spoke also about Christ, how He would return from out of Egypt (Hos. 11:1; compare Mt. 2:15), that He would be resurrected on the third day (Hos. 6 and especially Hos.6:2; compare with 1 Cor.15:4), and that He would conquer death (Hos.13-14. Compare 1 Cor.15:54-55).
The prophesies of Saint Hosea are included in the book that bears his name. The prophetic service of Saint Hosea continued for more than sixty years. The God-inspired prophet died in deep old age, having devoted all his life to fulfilling the Will of God.
The Hieromartyr Andrew of Crete lived during the reign of the iconoclast emperor Constantine Kopronymos (741-775), who ordered Christians, under penalty of death, to remove the holy icons from their churches and homes. Believers, who fearlessly resisted the impious iconoclast, and held firmly to the traditions of the holy Fathers, were locked in prison. When the venerable Andrew heard that the emperor was throwing virtuous and pious Christians into prison instead of thieves and robbers, he went to the Church of the Great Martyr Mamas (September 2) in Constantinople and in front of everyone, denounced the heretic for persecuting the true Faith.
In an attempt to justify himself the emperor said that it was folly to bestow veneration on wood and paint. To this the monk replied that whoever suffers for holy icons suffers for Christ, but whoever reviles the icon upon which Christ is depicted, offers insult to Christ Himself. The enraged iconoclast gave orders to torture Saint Andrew without mercy.
As he was being dragged through the streets to the place of execution, someone cut off the saint’s feet. As a result, Saint Andrew was freed from his torments by death. A hundred years later a Canon was written to the saint by Saint Joseph the Hymnographer (April 4). The saint heals those afflicted with seizures.
Saint Anthony of Leokhnov, Novgorod, was from the Tver lineage of the Veniaminov nobles. The monk lived as a hermit not far from Novgorod, in the Rublev wilderness at the River Perekhoda. In about the year 1556 he resettled with the wilderness-dweller Tarasius, who lived beyond Lake Ilmen at Leokhnov, near Stara Rus, and received monastic tonsure from him. Thus began the wilderness monastery in honor of the Transfiguration of the Lord, afterwards called the Leokhnov or Ivetsk-Antoniev monastery. Saint Anthony lived to old age, having acquired the gift of clairvoyance.
In the year 1611, when the Swedes had laid waste the area around Novgorod, the monk on the invitation of Metropolitan Isidore moved to Novgorod. He died on September 14, 1611 at age 85 and was buried near the church of the holy Evangelist Luke, on the side towards the church of Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia). Before his death, and in the presence of many of the monks, he said that his body would rest in his wilderness-monastery. A disciple of the monk, named Gregory, returned to the site of the monastery that had been laid waste and burned by the Swedes, built a cell and a chapel, and remained there to live.
Saint Anthony appeared to him three times in a dream and said, “Brother Gregory, go to Novgorod, tell Metropolitan Cyprian and the elders of the city that they should put me in the place of my monastery.” After Gregory’s report, the Metropolitan led a church procession to the grave of Saint Anthony. The incorrupt relics were transferred to the Leokhnov monastery on July 13, 1620. At the uncovering of the relics, a blind man named Joseph gained his sight, and many other miracles occurred.
There is a special order of commemorations, celebrated by the churches in the name of Saint Anthony of Leokhnov, both in the village of Leokhnov and in the Rublev wilderness-monastery. On the second Friday after the Feast of the Foremost Apostles Peter and Paul (June 29), we celebrate the Uncovering and Transfer of the Relics of Saint Anthony from Novgorod to the Leokhnov monastery. On the Ascension of the Lord, the coming of Saint Anthony from the Rublev wilderness to Leokhnovo is remembered. On October 17 the Repose of the saint, who died on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, in the ninth hour of the evening, is commemorated. At the Rublev wilderness monastery the memory of the Consecration of the church in the name of the venerable Anthony on August 30 (1873) is also celebrated.
The Martyrs and Unmercenaries Cosmas and Damian in Cilicia (Arabia), and the Martyrs Leontius, Anthimus and Eutropius. The holy brothers Cosmas and Damian were physicians in Arabia, who believed in Christ. They traveled through the cities and the villages, preaching Christ and healing the sick. The saints would not take any sort of payment for the help they rendered. In Cilicia, pagans seized the holy physicians and led them before the governor, Lysias. Since they refused to renounce Christianity, the governor ordered the saints to be brutally beaten, and then cast into the sea.
An angel of God rescued them from the sea and brought them to shore. Then the pagans beheaded the saints and three other Christians: Leontius, Anthimus, and Eutropius.
The Unmercenary Saints Cosmas and Damian of Arabia should not be confused with the Unmercenary Saints Cosmas and Damian of Asia Minor (November 1), or the Unmercenary Saints Cosmas and Damian of Rome (July 1).
The Transfer of the relics of Righteous Lazarus of the Four Days, Bishop of Kiteia on Cyprus, took place in the ninth century. The Righteous Saint Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary, lived in the village of Bethany, not far from Jerusalem. During His earthly life the Lord Jesus Christ often visited the house of Lazarus, whom He much loved and called His friend (John 11:3,11), and when Lazarus had died and lain four days already in the grave, the Lord raised him from the dead (John 11:1-44). (The Church remembers Saint Lazarus on the Saturday of the Sixth Week of Great Lent, “Lazarus Saturday.”)
Many of the Jews, when they heard about this, came to Bethany. Being persuaded of the reality of this most remarkable wonder, they became followers of Christ. Because of this the High Priests also wanted to kill Lazarus. Righteous Lazarus is mentioned in the Holy Gospel once more: when the Lord had come again to Bethany six days before the Passover, Lazarus was also there (John 12:1-2, 12:9-11). After his raising, Saint Lazarus lived another thirty years as a bishop on the island of Cyprus, where he spread Christianity and peacefully fell asleep in the Lord.
The holy relics of Saint Lazarus were discovered in Kiteia. They were within a marble coffin, upon which was inscribed: “Lazarus of the Four-Days, the friend of Christ.” The Byzantine emperor Leo the Wise (886-911) gave orders to transfer the relics of Saint Lazarus to Constantinople in the year 898 and place them within the church of the Righteous Lazarus.
The Icon of the Mother of God “In Giving Birth, You Preserved Your Virginity” (“A Virgin Before Birth and After Birth”) was transferred to the Nikolaev Peshkov monastery of Moscow diocese by the Moscow merchant Alexis Grigorievich Mokeev. Around the year 1780 Alexis joined the brethren of the monastery. He had given all of his wealth to the igumen of the monastery, Archimandrite Macarius, and the holy icon remained in his cell.
After Alexis’s death, the icon was brought to the archimandrite, who observed that the icon was painted in oil on canvas and not according to the prescribed rules of iconography (using egg tempera on wood), and he installed it over the exit door of the chapel of Saint Methodius, which was on a street not far from the monastery.
The glorification of the holy icon began in 1827, when Captain Platon Osipovich Shabashev, going past the chapel at night, saw an extraordinary light coming from the icon of the Most Holy Theotokos. Another time he had a vision of the icon at a time when he found himself in difficult circumstances. In a dream, Platon beheld the radiant icon of the Mother of God in the clouds above the chapel of Saint Methodius and heard a voice say, “If you wish to be delivered from temptation, pray before this icon.” Platon obeyed the guidance of the Mother of God, and the sorrow passed him by.
The pious Platon told the Superior of the monastery about the miracles. He then transfered the holy image into the monastery. When they went to put the icon in a ornamental case, the image of the Most Holy Virgin, painted on canvas, stiffened taut upon a board, on which was concealed a depiction of the Mother of God of finest quality. Numerous miracles are recorded to have taken place from this icon in 1848 during an outbreak of cholera, when many praying before it were healed.
This icon of the Mother of God is of the Hodēgḗtria type.
At the beginning of the XIX century the remarkable ascetic Constantine Theodoulos was a monk on Mount Athos. This Elder had a wonderworking Icon of the Theotokos, which had been painted about 150 years before. After this ascetic's repose, the Icon was passed on to Constantine's disciple, Schema-monk Martinian, who arrived on Mount Athos from Greece in 1821.
Early in 1841 Father Martinian left the Holy Mountain and went to the town of Mavrovonē in the diocese of Sparta, where many miracles were about to take place.
The residents of that place were afflicted by a terrible disaster: their fields, forests and almost all the vegetation was devastated by locusts. Moving forward in a solid mass, they destroyed everything in their path. Their flight took them right to the city of Marathon. The local authorities drove the residents out of their homes into the fields, forcing them to collect the destructive insects, dump them into pits, and then burn them, but all these measures were ineffective. It seemed that the more locusts they killed, the more their numbers increased.
People lost all hope for human assistance, so they chanted a Moleben, but the disaster did not end. Terrified, the villagers turned to Father Alexis, a man of God, who lived in a monastery near that unfortunate district. Taking some holy relics, this God-pleaser advised them to have a Moleben with a Cross Procession to their fields. The locusts, as if irritated by such actions, focused their attention on the worshippers. Countless insects attacked people, especially in their eyes. Both the residents and priests fled to their homes in horror.
Elder Martinian also learned about this disaster. After serving a Moleben, he spoke to the villagers: "Is our faith so weak that we cannot ask the Lord to help us? Let us intensify our prayers; at least let us gather the old men, and we will resort to the powerful intercession of the Queen of Heaven and Earth. Let us take her holy Icon and pray together, trusting in the Lord. He will not reject our humble prayer to Him, and, through the intercessions of His Mother, He will save this district from a great calamity."
The inhabitants followed the pious Elder's suggestion, with confidence in the merciful intercession of the Mother of God, they gathered not only old men, but also husbands, wives and even children. There were also four priests. The Cross Procession followed the Elder, who carried the holy Icon, and went into the field. There Father Martinian placed the Icon on the ground, and all the villagers bowed before it in supplication. The Sovereign Lady did not reject the prayers of the faithful servants of her Son and our God. She drove the locusts away. Suddenly, a great flock of birds appeared, rushing swiftly at the insects. The locusts rose from the fields and flew in such a thick mass that they obscured the sunlight.
Later, in the village of Mavrovonē there was a boy who was very sick, and his illness was getting worse. His parents asked the priest to bring him Communion. For some reason, however, the visiting priest did not hurry, and he did not arrive for a long time. He took the Holy Gifts and went to the boy's house. He had invited Elder Martinian to come with him. When they arrived at the house, they were shocked by the news that boy was already dead. The priest was filled with deep remorse, since his procrastination had deprived the child of his final spiritual consolation. The only hope left to them was to trust in God's mercy.
The priest asked Father Martinian to bring his Icon so they could pray to the Queen of Heaven for the boy. The Elder, seeing the deep faith of the priest and the devastated parents, took out the holy Icon which he always kept with him and placed it over the child's bed. Confident that nothing is impossible for the Sovereign Lady, the Elder, the priest, and parents bowed before the Icon, begging her to restore the child to life. After praying for a time, the Elder touched the dying boy three times with the Icon, and suddenly the child opened his eyes. At Father Martinian's request, the boy was given Holy Communion, and then got up perfectly well. The next day he went to school, where he had been sent shortly before this for his primary education. Later, the boy who returned to life was tonsured in a foreign country with the name Alexis, and for a long time he lived an ascetical life on Mount Athos.
News of this glorious miracle spread far through the neighborhood. Many people who suffered from physical and spiritual infirmities flocked to the Icon of the Mother of God with faith. The Elder's tiny home was always crowded with people and he decided to hide from them, but they found him again.
Father Martinian would not have minded visiting the sick with the Icon if their reverence for the Mother of God had not been mixed with a desire to glorify the Elder as well. He thought he should retire to a place where no one would find him. Therefore, he went by the sea shore and soon, above the ocean, he found a sheer rock with a cave, which was quite suitable for his ascetical struggles. Father Martinian thought he was completely secluded there. However, the good will of the Most Pure Virgin had arranged things otherwise.
One night the ascetic was praying in the cave. Suddenly, he heard a voice ordering him not to hide the Icon, but to minister to the needs of others. He tried to protest his unworthiness, and his infirmity, but the voice told him even more insistently to be obedient, saying that all this was for the glory of the Mother of God. When the Elder had finished his prayer, he decided to rest for a short time. Suddenly, at that moment, the cave was illumined with an extraordinary light. Surprised, the Elder came out onto the rock, desiring to know the source of such extraordinary radiance. The ascetic beheld a wondrous sight. He saw a pillar of light stretching from the sky to the ground, and in doing so, he heard again the same voice commanding him to leave his solitude and to go serve his neighbors. Thus, the ascetic opened his door to the residents of that vicinity.
There was a possessed woman named Elena, who used to shout all the time that she knew where the Elder was hiding. At the same time, she declared that only his Icon could heal her. The demon who possessed the woman was very fierce. He exposed the secret sins of all those who came to see Elena. One devout priest decided to read the prayers of exorcism over her no matter what happened. For that reason he went to Elena's house. Immediately, the woman attacked the priest and began to vilify the one who served at the altar, saying: "Aha! So you want to expel me? Are you thinking of casting me out? No, you cannot expel me, you will never drive me out. Look to yourself!"
Despite all the demon's words the priest continued to read the prayers, and asked the demon possessing the woman to reveal who could banish him. Against his will, the impure spirit spoke of a solitary Elder with an Icon, calling the ascetic a ragamuffin, an evil monk, and so on. Then the priest asked the demon where he might find this Elder. Then the demon, forced by the priest's prayers and by the power of God, revealed where Father Martinian was hiding.
The morning after the vision the Elder heard the sound of a large crowd of people gathered before the rock and begging him to come down to them to help the suffering. Seeing God's will in all this, the Elder obeyed and went to the homes of the villagers. First of all, he went to see Elena. As he approached her dwelling, she fell down unconscious and began to scream. When the Elder entered the house, he put down the Icon of the Mother of God and bowed before the Icon. At once, the demon came out of the woman with great moaning. She returned to her senses and fervently thanked the Theotokos. After this she felt quite well. Many other demoniacs were also healed by praying before her Icon.
Because of all the miracles taking place before the Icon, people were always in Father Martinian's home. The Elder finally decided to return to his monastery. When the people learned of his departure, they followed him for some distance. With a great cry they parted from the Elder as he walked away from them, carrying the Icon of the Mother of God, who had poured forth so much grace on their district.
In 1884, soon after he arrived on the Holy Mountain and entered the monastery of the Great Martyr Panteleimon, Father Martinian went to the Lord. Then the holy Icon of the Mother of God became the monastery's precious heritage. The revered Icon remained there until July 20, 1889, when Archimandrite Makarios, the Superior of Saint Panteleimon's Monastery, gave the Deliverer Icon as a blessing to the newly-built New Athos Monastery of Saint Simon the Canaanite in the Caucasus The Icon has been there from 1889 until the present day.
The first celebration of the transfer of the Icon to New Athos Monastery took place on October 17, 1889. That is why the Feast Day in honor of this Icon was established on this day. About that time a storm cast more than a ton of fish ashore at the monastery.
In this Icon the Most Holy Theotokos holds the Divine Child on her right arm, and He blesses with His right hand.
The Deliverer Icon of the Mother of God is commemorated on October 17, and on April 4.
Saint Joseph (Jandierishvili) received his spiritual education at David-Gareji Monastery. He was endowed by the Lord with the gift of wonderworking. His prayers healed the terminally ill and demon-possessed. For his wisdom and virtue, he was consecrated bishop of Rustavi, and in 1755 enthroned as Catholicos-Patriarch. Saint Joseph remained a monk-ascetic in spite of his hierarchical rank.
In 1764 Holy Catholicos Joseph, like Saint Gregory the Theologian, humbly stepped down from the archpastor’s throne and withdrew to Akhmeta in northeastern Georgia. With his own hands he cultivated a vineyard and distributed his harvest to the poor. The climate in that region was capricious—droughts were frequent, and hail would devastate the fragile crops, laying waste to the farmers’ labors. But while Saint Joseph was laboring there, the region suffered neither drought nor hail.
Through Saint Joseph’s prayers, the sick were healed and the blind received sight. Those who dwelt near him loved him deeply and put their hope in him. Saint Gabriel the Lesser remarked joyfully in one of his writings: “Once I saw and two times I kissed the hand of this holy man.”
Having lived in godliness to a ripe old age, Catholicos Joseph reposed peacefully in the year 1770.
The Life of Saint Kozman has not been preserved. In the commemorations for this day it is mentioned only that he died a martyr’s death in the region of Kartli.
Here it is fitting to note that, due to its geopolitical circumstances, Georgia has throughout history been a constant victim of foreign aggression. To give one’s life for his motherland and Faith became so customary for the Georgian people that the Georgian Church is unable to commemorate all of its martyrs by name. Unfortunately, errors of faith and time have erased from the pages of history the lives and virtues of many of the elect. Today, the Church calendar and the prayers with which the faithful honor the martyrs remain the sole means for the Church to acknowledge the lives of these holy men and women.
Saint Shushanik (Susanna) was the wife of the Georgian prince Varsken, the ruler of Hereti (a province of southeastern Georgia). Hereti was under Persian control at that time; Varsken was essentially the viceroy for the Persians. Having been raised in a pious Christian family, she was deeply penetrated with love and the fear of God.
At that time Kartli was under heavy political pressure from Persia, and Prince Varsken visited the Persian king Peroz in hopes of encouraging more friendly relations between the two countries. He willingly denied the true Faith, converted to the worship of fire, and promised the king to convert his wife and children upon his return to Hereti.
Having approached the border of Hereti, Varsken sent messengers to Tsurtavi, the city in which he ruled, to ensure that his subjects met him with due respect. The blessed Shushanik, having learned of her husband’s betrayal, fell to the ground and wept over him with bitter tears. Then she took her four children, deserted the palace, and sought refuge in a nearby church.
That evening Shushanik was visited by her spiritual father, the elder Jacob, who predicted, “Varsken’s cruelty and mercilessness are unmistakable. Know that terrible trials await you. Will you be firm and unbending in your position?”
“I would rather die than unite with him and destroy my soul!” she answered.
Three days later the prince arrived in Tsurtavi. As promised, he tried to persuade his wife to convert, but Saint Shushanik firmly answered, “As you have renounced your Creator, so I am renouncing you. I will no longer take part in your affairs, no matter what suffering I must endure!”
The next time, Varsken sent his younger brother Jojik and Bishop Apots to convince Shushanik to return to the palace. Shushanik refused for some time, but in the end she yielded to their persuasion. She set off for the palace with the Holy Gospel and the Lives of the holy martyrs, and when she arrived she locked herself in a squalid cell. Two days later Varsken returned to the palace and invited Shushanik, his brother Jojik, and his sister-in-law for supper. The queen, however, could not bring herself to share a meal with one who had betrayed Christ: she pushed away the cup that Jojik’s wife had offered her, thus further angering her husband.
The furious Varsken beat his wife mercilessly, fettered her in irons, locked her in prison, and forbade the guards to let anyone in to see her.
Saint Shushanik spent six years in captivity. While she was serving her sentence, she helped the poor that came to her. Through her prayers the sick were healed and children were born to the childless. Before her death, Holy Martyr Shushanik blessed those around her and requested that she be buried at the place from which her unbelieving husband had dragged her out of the palace.
This happened in the year 475. The clergy and people alike wept bitterly over Shushanik’s tragic fate. Her holy relics were buried in accordance with her will.
In 578, with the blessing of Catholicos Kirion I, Saint Shushanik’s holy relics were translated to Tbilisi, where they remain today, in the Metekhi Church of the Most Holy Theotokos.
Saint Susanna of Georgia is also commemorated on August 28.