Daily Readings for Monday, October 24, 2022



Arethas the Great Martyr and His Fellow Martyrs, Sebastiane the Martyr, Maglorious of Sark


Brethren, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud.

LUKE 10:22-24

The Lord said, "All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." Then turning to the disciples he said privately, "Blessed are the eyes which see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

Martyr Arethas and 4,299 Martyrs with him

The Martyr Arethas and with him 4299 Martyrs suffered for the Lord Jesus Christ in the sixth century. Arethas was prefect of the Christian city of Negran in Arabia. The Arabian (or Omirite) king, Dunaan, who was Jewish, decided to eliminate Christianity from the land. He issued an edict that all followers of Christ were to be put to death.

Because the inhabitants of Negran remained faithful to the Lord, Dunaan came with a large army to destroy the city. At the city walls of Negran the king’s heralds announced that Dunaan would only spare those who renounced Christ and referred to His Cross as a “sign of malediction.”

Not daring to assault the Christian city by force, Dunaan resorted to a ruse. Dunaan swore an oath that he would not force the Christians into Judaism, but would merely collect a tribute from Negran. The inhabitants of the city would not heed the advice of Saint Arethas, and putting their trust in Dunaan, they opened the city gates.

The very next day Dunaan gave orders to light an immense fire and throw all the clergy of the city into it in order to frighten the rest of the Christians. 427 men were burned. He also threw the prefect Arethas and the other chief men into prison. Then the oppressor sent his messengers through the city to convert the Christians to Judaism. Dunaan himself conversed with those inhabitants brought from the prisons, saying, “I do not demand that you should renounce the God of heaven and earth, nor do I want you to worship idols, I want merely that you do not believe in Jesus Christ, since the Crucified One was a man, and not God.”

The holy martyrs replied that Jesus is God the Word, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Who for the salvation of mankind was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary. Those suffering said, “We shall not abjure Christ, since He is Life for us. To die for Him is to find Life.”

More than four thousand Christians, men, women, both the aged and children, from the city of Negran and surrounding villages suffered martyrdom for Christ.

Venerable Arethus the Recluse of the Kiev Near Caves

Saint Arethas (12th century) was a hermit of the Near Caves in Kiev. He struggled at the Kiev Caves monastery and was buried in the Near Caves.

Saint Arethas was from Polotsk. While living at the monastery, he kept many possessions in his cell. One day robbers made off with it. Grieving over his lost riches, Saint Arethas began to murmur against God, for which he was stricken with a serious illness. Being at the very brink of death, he saw how both angels and devils had come for him and were arguing between them. The devils asserted that he ought to be given over to them because of his avarice and complaints against God. Then the angels said to him, “You hapless man, if you had given thanks to God for the pilfered riches, this would have been accounted as charity for you.”

After this vision, the saint recovered. He spent his final days as a hermit, in distress and repentance over his sins, having renounced all earthly possessions. Saint Arethas died not later than 1190. In the Iconographic Manuals, the saint is described in this way: “In appearance stooped over, his beard the same length as Kozmina, dressed in monastic garb.”

The general commemoration of all the Fathers of the Near Caves takes place on September 28 and on the second Sunday of Great Lent.

Venerable Sisoes the Recluse of the Kiev Near Caves

Saint Sisoes (13th century) was a hermit of the Near Caves in Kiev. He struggled at the Kiev Caves monastery and was buried in the Near Caves.

In the general service for the Fathers of the Kiev Caves, Saint Sisoes is called “radiant in fasting.”

The general commemoration of all the Fathers of the Near Caves takes place on September 28 and on the second Sunday of Great Lent.

Venerable Theophilus the Recluse of the Kiev Near Caves

Saint Theophilus (12th-13th century) was a hermit of the Near Caves in Kiev. He struggled at the Kiev Caves monastery and was buried in the Near Caves.

Saint Theophilus, in the general service to the Fathers of the Kiev Caves, is called “resplendent in miracles.”

The general commemoration of all the Fathers of the Near Caves takes place on September 28 and on the second Sunday of Great Lent.

Blessed Elesbaan, King of Ethiopia

Blessed Elesbaan1 was the Emperor of what is now Ethiopia, and lived when Arabia was ruled by Dunaan, an oppressor of Christians. The pious Elesbaan was unable to stand by while those who believed in Christ were being massacred. He declared war on Dunaan, but his first military campaign was not successful.

Desiring to learn the reason for his defeat, Elesbaan, inspired by a revelation from above, visited a recluse named Zenon. He revealed to the Emperor that he had acted unrighteously in his desire to take revenge against Dunaan, for the Lord has said, “Vengeance is mine, I shall repay!” (Hebrews 10:30).

The holy ascetic urged Elesbaan to promise that he would devote the rest of his life to God, if he wished to escape His wrath for his self-willed revenge, and then he would defeat Dunaan. Saint Elesbaan made that vow to the Lord, and in 520 he and his army confronted the enemy. This time, he defeated, captured, and executed Dunaan. According to the Roman Martyrology, after Elesbaan defeated the enemies of Christ, he sent his royal diadem to Jerusalem to be hung near the Life-Giving tomb of Christ, during the reign of Emperor Justin.

Following his victory, the Saint kept his word and abdicated as Emperor, secluding himself in a monastery. For the next fifteen years he lived a life of strict fasting and asceticism.

Emperor Elesbaan reposed around 553-555.

1 His name is given as Kaleb on his coins and inscriptions.

Martyr Syncletica and her two daughters

The Martyr Syncletica and her two daughters suffered under the Arabian king Dunaan. Saint Syncletica was a descendant of an illustrious family. Left widowed while still quite young, she devoted herself to the Christian upbringing of her daughters, and she herself led a life both chaste and virtuous.

Dunaan in the meantime had begun a persecution, intending to eliminate Christians from his realm. He summoned Saint Syncletica and her daughters before him, and in urging her to forsake her “folly,” he promised as reward to take her into the retinue of his wife.

“How can you not be afraid, O King, to speak evil of Him Who has given you both royal crown and life?” replied the holy martyr.

Dunaan gave orders to lead Saint Syncletica and her daughters through the city as though they were criminals. Women, looking on at the disgrace of the saint, started crying, but she told them that this “shame” for her was dearer than any earthly honor.

Again they brought the martyr before Dunaan, and he said, “If you wish to remain alive, you must renounce Christ.”

“If I do, then who will deliver me from eternal death?” the saint asked. In a rage, the tormentor ordered that Saint Syncletica’s daughters be killed first, and then for the mother to be beheaded with a sword.

Saint Athanasius, Patriarch of Constantinople

Saint Athanasius I, Patriarch of Constantinople (1289-1293; 1303-1311), in the world Alexius, was from Adrianopolis. While still in his youth, thriving upon the knowledge of the wisdom of Christ, he left his home and went to Thessalonica, where he was tonsured in one of the monasteries with the name Acacius. He soon withdrew to Mount Athos and joined the brotherhood of the Esphigmenou monastery, where for three years he served in the trapeza. In his works and his ascetic deeds he acquired the gift of tears, and by his virtuous acts he won the overall goodwill of the brethren.

Shunning praise, Acacius humbly left Mt. Athos at first for the holy places in Jerusalem, and then to Mount Patra, where for a long time he lived ascetically as an hermit. From there the ascetic transferred to the Auxention monastery, and then to Mount Galanteia to the monastery of Blessed Lazarus, where he accepted the great angelic schema with the name Athanasius, was ordained a priest and became ecclesiarch (monk in charge of the sacred relics and vessels in the church). Here the saint was granted a divine revelation: he heard the Voice of the Lord from a crucifix, summoning him to pastoral service.

Wishing to strengthen his spirit still more in silence and prayer, Saint Athanasius again settled on Mount Athos after ten years. But because of disorders arising there he returned to Mount Galanteia. Here also he was not long to remain in solitude. Many people thronged to him for pastoral guidance, and so he organized a women’s monastery there.

During this time the throne of the Church of Constantinople fell vacant after the disturbances and disorder of the period of the Patriarch John Bekkos. At the suggestion of the pious emperor Andronicus Paleologos, a council of hierarchs and clergy unanimously chose Saint Athanasius to the Patriarchal throne of the Church in 1289.

Patriarch Athanasius began fervently to fulfill his new obedience and did much for strengthening the Church. His strictness of conviction roused the dissatisfaction of influential clergy, and in 1293 he was compelled to resign the throne and to retire again to his own monastery, where he lived an ascetic life in solitude. In 1303 he was again entrusted with the staff of patriarchal service, which he worthily fulfilled for another seven years. In 1308 Saint Athanasius established Saint Peter as Metropolitan of Kiev and All Rus (December 21).

Again, because of some sort of dissatisfaction, and not wanting to be the cause of church discord, Saint Athanasius resigned the governance of the Church in 1311. He departed to his own monastery, devoting himself fully to monastic deeds.

Toward the end of his life, the saint was again found worthy to behold Christ. The Lord reproached him because Athanasius had not carried out his pastoral duty to the end. Weeping, the saint repented of his cowardice and received from the Lord both forgiveness and the gift of wonderworking. Saint Athanasius died at the age of 100.

In Greek usage, Saint Athanasios is commemorated on October 28.

“Joy of All Who Sorrow” Icon of the Mother of God

How much consolation is contained in just the name of this Icon – awakening, strengthening the people's faith in the Mother of God, as a wondrous helper, who hastens everywhere where the groan of human suffering is heard, who wipes away the tears of those who mourn, and in sorrow itself, bestows moments of delight and heavenly joy. Rejoice always, O Heavenly Joy of all who Sorrow.

In accordance with the faith of the people in the loving kindness of the Mother of God toward the human race, it has been customary to depict the Theotokos in a way which conforms to what is heard in the words of the prayer: "O Most Holy Sovereign Lady Theotokos, you are higher than all the Angels and Archangels, and more honorable than all creation. You are the helper of the oppressed, the hope of the hopeless, the aid of the poor, the consolation of the grieving, the nourished of the hungry, the clothing of the naked, the healing of the sick, the salvation of the sinful, the help and succor of all Christians."

Therefore, the Mother of God is depicted in full stature, sometimes with the Divine Child in her arms (as in the Moscow prototype), sometimes without the Child (as in the Icon with coins, which was glorified in St. Petersburg on July 23, 1888. She is surrounded by all sorts of distressed people – the naked, the offended, and the hungry. Around these poor unfortunates Angels are often depicted, sent by the Sovereign Lady to alleviate human suffering. The Angels, coming close to the people, point to the Mother of God, who is depicted on the "Joy of All Who Sorrow" Icons, either in glory, with a crown on her head and in royal vesture, or in the usual garments of her earthly sojourn, and in a white cloth on her head.

In Moscow, in the XVII century, a certain Icon of the Mother of God of this name became famous. The first miracle occurred in 1688 for the ailing Euphemia, the sister of Patriarch Joachim, who lived on Ordynka. She experienced terrible suffering from a wound in her side. This wound was so great that her intestines were visible. The patient was waiting for death, but at the same time, she did not lose hope in Divine help. One day, after asking to partake of the Holy Mysteries, she began to cry out to the Most Holy Theotokos with great faith: "Hear me, All-Merciful Sovereign Lady! The entire world boasts of you, and all receive your abundant mercies. I deserve to be punished for my iniquities, but do not punish me in your wrath. Behold my harsh infirmity, and have mercy on me."

After this prayer, the patient heard a voice: "Euphemia, in your suffering, why do you not resort to the universal Healer of all?"

Astonished by the voice Euphemia replied, "Where may I find such a Healer?"

The answer came: "There is an image of me in the church of my Son's Transfiguration, called "Joy of all who Sorrow." It stands on the left side in the trapeza, where the women usually stand. Summon the priest from that church to come to your house with the Icon, and when he has served a Moleben with the Sanctification of Water, you shall receive healing. Do not forget my mercy toward you, and proclaim it for the glorification of my name."

When Euphemia recovered from the excitement of this vision, she learned from her relatives that in the church of the Transfiguration, on Ordynka, there really was a "Joy of All Who Sorrow" Icon of the Mother of God, so she summoned the priest to come to her house with the Icon. After serving a Moleben with the Sanctification of Water, Euphemia was healed on October 24, 1688. Later, a Feast was established in honor of this Icon in remembrance of her healing which took place on this day.

Some think that the original "Joy of All Who Sorrow" Icon of the Mother of God was brought to St. Petersburg, to Princess Natalia Alekseevna, and that it is precisely the image that stands in the Sorrowful Church, on Shpalerna. However, it is more probable that the original Icon remained in Moscow.

Saint John, Hermit of Pskov

Saint John, Hermit of Pskov (+1616) lived an ascetic life during a terrible time of military troubles. In 1592 the Swedes besieged the city of Pskov. From 1608, for seven years, Polish forces attacked under the leadership of Lisovski. It was only in the week before the death of the monk, through the intercession of the Pskov Caves Icon of the Mother of God and the Pskov Saints, that Pskov was delivered from the besieging army of the Swedish king Gustavus Adolphus.

St John, as the chronicle relates, “lived within the city walls for 23 years; his fish was rancid and he did not eat bread. He lived within the city as though in a wilderness, in great silence,” and he died on October 24, 1616.