Daily Readings for Tuesday, November 15, 2022



Nativity Fast Begins, Guria, Shamuna, and Habib, Martyrs and Confessors of Edessa, Thomas II the New, Archbishop of Constantinople


Brethren, you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit; so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us what a welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

LUKE 14:25-35

At that time, great multitudes accompanied Jesus; and he turned and said to them, "If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, 'This man began to build, and was not able to finish.' Or what king, going to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends an embassy and asks terms of peace. So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored? It is fit neither for the land nor for the dunghill; men throw it away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

Holy Martyrs and Confessors Gurias, Samonas, and Abibus, of Edessa

The Holy Martyrs and Confessors Gurias, Samonas and Habibus: during the persecution against Christians under the emperors Diocletian (284-305) and Maximian (305-311). The two friends Gurias and Samonas, preachers of the Word of God, were arrested in the city of Edessa.

The saints refused to offer sacrifice to the gods, and boldly confessed their faith in Christ. For this they were subjected to cruel tortures: they were beaten, hung up by their hands, heavy weights were tied to their feet, and they were cast into a stifling prison.

The martyrs endured everything with firmness and Samonas uttered a prayer to the Lord, which one of the witnesses to their death wrote down: “O Lord my God, against Whose will not a single sparrow falls into the snare. It was You Who made room for David in his sorrow (Ps. 4:1), Who proved the Prophet Daniel stronger than lions (Dan. 6:16-24), and granted a child of Abraham to be victor over torture and flames (Dan. ch. 3, ch. 14). You know also, Lord, the infirmity of our nature, You see the struggle set before us. Our foe strives to snatch us, the work of Your right hand, away from You and to deprive us of the glory which is in You. With Your compassionate eye watching over us, preserve in us the inextinguishable light of Your Commandments. Guide our steps by Your light, and make us worthy of Your Kingdom, for You are blessed unto ages of ages.” By night, they took the martyrs out beyond the city and beheaded them (+ 299-306). Christians buried their holy bodies with reverence.

After some years, the last pagan emperor, Licinius (311-324), began a persecution against Christians. Habibus, a deacon of the Church of Edessa whom the emperor ordered to be arrested for his zealous spreading of the true Faith, presented himself before the executioners when he learned they were searching for him. The saint confessed his faith in Christ and was sentenced to be burned alive. The martyr went willingly into the fire and with a prayer surrendered his soul to the Lord. When the fire went out, the mother and relatives of the saint found his body unharmed. They buried the martyr next to Saints Gurias and Samonas.

After the death of the saints, numerous miracles were wrought by them for those who entreated their help with faith and love. Once, a certain Gothic soldier, sent to serve at Edessa, took the pious virgin Euphemia as his wife. Before this the barbarian vowed to her mother Sophia at the graves of the Martyrs Gurias, Samonas and Habibus that he would do his spouse no harm, and would never insult her, but would always love and cherish her.

At the completion of his service in Edessa, he took Euphemia with him back to his native land. It turned out that he had deceived her, for he already had a wife at home, and Euphemia became her slave. Her evil husband threatened to kill her if she revealed to anyone that they were married. Euphemia suffered much abuse and humiliation. When she gave birth to a son, the jealous Gothic woman poisoned him. Euphemia turned with prayer to the holy Martyrs Gurias, Samonas and Habibus, the witnesses to the perjurer’s oath, and the Lord delivered Euphemia from her suffering and miraculously returned her to Edessa, where she was welcomed by her mother.

After a certain while the Goth was again sent to serve in Edessa. The whole city learned of his misdeeds after he was denounced by Sophia. The Goth was executed by order of the prefect of the city.

In an Akathist, the Holy Church addresses the martyrs: “Rejoice, Gurias, Samonas and Habibus, Heavenly Patrons of honorable marriage.” We pray to them for deliverance from family turmoil, and from marital difficulties, especially where one spouse hates the other without cause.

Martyrs Elpidius, Marcellus, and Eustochius, who suffered under Julian the Apostate

The Holy Martyrs Elpidius, Marcellus and Eustochius suffered under the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363). Saint Elpidius was a senator. They tried him before the imperial judge on charges of being a Christian.

The martyrs endured many terrible torments, and they died after being thrown into a fire. At the place where Christians buried the relics of the saints, Christ appeared with an host of angels and resurrected Elpidius. Then the emperor gave orders to arrest the holy martyr again.

During the torture, idols standing nearby crumbled into dust through the prayer of the saint. More than six thousand pagans witnessed this miracle and were converted to Christ. Saint Elpidius was burned again.

Martyr Dēmḗtrios of Thrace

Saint Dēmḗtrios was a Slav from the village of Davoudio (Dabuda) in Thrace, which was near the town of Amapasos. He was arrested in the time of Emperor Maximian and the Archon Publius, about the year 298 (some sources say 307). After suffering many tortures for Christ, he was finally beheaded.

Venerable Paϊsios Velichkovsky

Saint Paϊsios Velichkovsky was born in Poltava in Little Russia on December 21, 1722, and was the eleventh of twelve children. His father John was a priest, who named him Peter at his Baptism, in honor of Saint Peter the Metropolitan of Moscow, on whose Feast he was born.

After the children’s father died, their mother Irene raised them in piety. Peter was sent to study at the Moghila Academy in Kiev in 1735. After four years, Peter decided to leave the world and become a monk. At the age of seventeen, he went in search of a monastery and a good Spiritual Father. For seven years Peter visited various monasteries, including the Kiev Caves Lavra, but he did not feel drawn to any of the monasteries of Ukraine.

After being made a rassophore monk (one blessed to wear the rasson, but not yet tonsured “into the mantya”) at the Saint Nicholas Medvedevsky Monastery with the name Platon, he found that there was no experienced Elder there who could teach him obedience, or give him spiritual direction. Not wishing to begin his monastic life without such guidance, he left the monastery a week afterward with the blessing of his Elder.

At first, he went to Kiev, where he happened to meet his sister-in-law, the widow of his older brother Archpriest John. She informed him of his mother’s sorrow when he left Kiev, and her mind seemed to be affected by her grief. Then one day an Angel appeared to her and told her that instead of loving the Creator with all her heart and soul, she loved His creation (her son) more. Because of this excessive love, the Angel continued, she was thinking of starving herself to death, which would result in her eternal condemnation. The Angel said that by God’s grace, her son would become a monk, and that she should also renounce the world and become a nun. After this, she became calm and accepted God’s will. She entered a convent and was tonsured with the name Juliana. After ten years or so, she departed to the Lord.

While at Kiev, Father Platon met two monks from Romania who were about to return to their country. After crossing the border into Moldavia, they came to Vlachia and the Skete of Saint Nicholas, which is called Trăisteni, around 1745. The Elder of the Skete, Hieroschema-monk Michael, was away on business in Ukraine, so Father Platon and his companions were welcomed by the Superior, Father Dēmḗtrios. Father Platon was placed under a general obedience and was given a cell near the Skete, from which the church was visible.

As he was sleeping one night, the semantron was sounded calling the monks to Sunday Matins, but Father Platon did not hear it. He woke up and ran to the church, only to find that the Gospel had already been read, and the Canon was being sung. In his grief and shame, he did not enter the church, but returned to his cell, weeping bitter tears. After the Liturgy, when it was time for the meal, the Superior and the Elder were surprised that Father Platon had not been seen at the Services. The Elder ordered that the meal be delayed while he sent Father Athanasios to find out what had happened to the absent monk.. Father Athanasios found him and asked why he was weeping. With difficulty, Father Platon was able to tell him the reason for his sorrow. Father Athanasios tried to console him and urged him to come to the Skete, where the others were waiting for him. Finally, he was persuaded to go.

Seeing the brethren at table but not eating, Father Platon fell down before them weeping and asking their forgiveness. The Elder and the Superior lraised him up and heard from Father Athanasios the reason for his sorrow. The Elder told Father Platon not to grieve so over something that had happened involuntarily, and did his best to console him. From that time, however, the Saint would not sleep lying down in bed, but sitting up on a bench.

One day the Elder Onuphrios of Kyrkoul visited the Skete and spoke about his Skete at Kyrkoul. Father Platon longed to see Kyrkoul, and so he returned there with Father Onuphrios. He remained there for a time, conversing with Father Onuphrius about overcoming the passions, the struggle with demons, unceasing prayer, and other soul-profiting topics. This seed fell on good ground, and later produced spiritual fruit a hundredfold (Luke 8:8).

The time came when Father Platon was filled with longing to visit Mount Athos. He asked the brethren of the Skete, and those of other Sketes, for their forgiveness and blessing for the journey. He also thanked them for their kindness and their paternal instruction. They blessed him and let him go in peace. At that time, he was just twenty-four years old.

Father Platon went to Mount Athos in 1746, arriving at the Greatest Lavra on July 4, the eve of the Feast of Saint Athanasios of Athos. His traveling companion, Hieromonk Tryphon fell ill and reposed after four days. Father Platon would have died from the same illness, if not for the care of the Russian monks. He recovered and lived in solitude in a cell called Kaparis near the Pantokrator Monastery. He went around visiting many ascetics and solitaries, seeking a Spiritual Father, but was unable to find anyone suitable.

In 1750 Saint Basil of Poiana Mărului (April 15) visited the Holy Mountain and spent some time with Father Platon, who asked him for monastic tonsure. Elder Basil granted his request, giving him the name Paϊsios. Then Father Basil returned to his Skete at Vlachia. About three months later, a young monk named Bessarion came to the Holy Mountain from Vlachia. He went around to the monasteries searching for an instructor, but did not find one. He also came to Father Paϊsios and asked him to tell him something about saving his soul. Father Paϊsios sighed and told him that he himself had been looking for an instructor without success. Yet, feeling compassion for Father Bessarion, he talked to him a little about the qualifications necessary for a true instructor, and about the Jesus Prayer. After hearing him, Father Bessarion said, “Why should I seek any further?" He fell down at the feet of Father Paϊsios, entreating him to be his Elder. Father Paϊsios did not wish to be anyone’s Elder, preferring to be one under the authority of an Elder. Father Bessarion wept for three days until Father Paϊsios finally agreed to accept him as a friend, but not as a disciple. They lived together for about four years, fulfilling God’s commandments, cutting off their own will, and obeying one another as equals.

Other disciples began to join them, and their number continued to increase. Since they needed a priest and a confessor, they pleaded with Father Paϊsios to accept ordination. He did not want to hear of this, and repeatedly refused to consent. They did not give up, however. They asked him how he could expect to teach the brethren obedience and cutting off their own will, when he disobeyed the tearful entreaties of those who wished him to accept. Finally, he said, “May God's will be done.”

In 1754 Father Paϊsios was ordained to the holy priesthood and was given the Skete of the Prophet Elias, where he began to accept even more disciples. Saint Paϊsios remained on Mount Athos for seventeen years, copying Greek patristic books and translating them into Slavonic.

In 1763 Father Paϊsios went to Moldavia with sixty-four disciples, and was given the Dragomίrna Monastery near the city of Sochava, on the border between Bukovina and Moldavia. Here he remained for twelve years, and the number of monks increased to three hundred and fifty. His friend Hieromonk Alexius came to visit him from Vlachia, and Father Paϊsios asked to be tonsured into the Schema. Father Alexius did so, but without changing his name. While at Dragomίrna, Elder Paϊsios corrected the Slavonic translations of patristic books by comparing them to the Greek manuscripts he had copied on Mount Athos.

The Russo-Turkish War broke out in 1768, and Moldavia and Vlachia saw many battles. Dragomίrna and the forests around it became filled with refugees from the villages near the battlegrounds. Another catastrophe followed in 1771 with an outbreak of the plague. When Dragomίrna and Bukovina came under the control of Austrian Catholics, so Saint Paϊsios and his flock fled to Moldavia. In October of 1775, the Holy Elder and many of his monks went to Secu Monastery, which is dedicated to the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist.

Secu was too small for the number of brethren, who were crowded with three to five monks in a cell. In the spring, more brethren were due to arrive from Dragomίrna, so new cells had to be built. After three years of labor one hundred cells were completed, and everyone had a place. Still, the numbers continued to increase, and they had to look for a larger monastery.

Prince Constantine Muruz wrote to the Elder saying that there was no larger monastery than Neamţ, about two hours from Secu. On August 14, 1779, Saint Paϊsios moved to Neamţ Monastery, where he spent the last fifteen years of his life translating the writings of the Holy Fathers. He also introduced the the Typikon (Rule) of Mount Athos in that community. He gathered about a thousand monks in the monastery, instructing them in the unceasing prayer of the heart.

Archbishop Ambrose visited Saint Paϊsios at Neamţ in 1790, remaining for two days to converse with the Elder. During the Sunday Liturgy, he raised Saint Paϊsios to the rank of Archimandrite. He stayed for two more days, then departed after blessing everyone.

Saint Paϊsios fell asleep in the Lord on November 15, 1794 when he was almost seventy-two. It is possible that God revealed the time of his death to him beforehand, for he stopped translating books. He merely reviewed and corrected what had already been translated.

He was ill for four days, but felt well enough to attend the Liturgy on Sunday. After the service, he asked everyone to come and receive his blessing. Bidding farewell to them all, he returned to his cell and would not receive anyone. A few days later, on November 15, he received the Holy Mysteries once more, and surrendered his soul to God. His funeral was conducted by Bishop Benjamin of Tuma, and was attended by multitudes of priests, monks, laymen, nobles and ordinary people.

The holy relics of Saint Paϊsios were uncovered in 1846, 1853, 1861 and 1872, and were found to be incorrupt.

Saint Paϊsios has had an enormous influence, not only in Romania, but throughout the Orthodox world. His disciples traveled to Russia, sparking the spiritual revival of the XIX century with Slavonic translations of the Philokalia and the tradition of eldership which they had learned from Saint Paϊsios. His influence has been felt even in America, through Saint Herman of Alaska (December 13). Saint Herman had been taught by Elders whose spiritual formation was guided by Saint Paϊsios.

While he was still in Russia, Saint Herman met Saint Nazarius (February 23), who became his Elder at Valaam, at Sarov, then followed him to Sanaxar Monastery when Saint Theodore (February 19) was the Igoumen. One of the books that Saint Herman brought with him to America was the Slavonic Philokalia, printed in 1794. Not only did he absorb the spiritual wisdom that it contained, he also imparted it to others.

Icon of the Mother of God of Kupyatich

The Kupyatich Icon of the Mother of God appeared in the year 1180 near the village of Kupyatich in the area of the former Pinsk district of the Minsk governance. The icon was found in the forest on a tree by the peasant girl Anna, a cattle herder. The image, in the form of a cross, shone with an unusual light.

On the spot of the miraculous appearance of the icon, peasants built a church in the name of the Most Holy Theotokos, and placed the icon within it. After some years, Tatars burned the church. The icon was found a second time after many years by a traveler named Joachim. Peasants transferred the cruciform-icon to the village church. Joachim remained at the church as church attendant, by God’s will.

At the beginning of the seventeenth century, the Kupyatich monastery was built next to the church. The Roman Catholics seized both at the end of the century. Later on, Uniate monks struggled there. Orthodox monks, when they abandoned the monastery, took with them the holy icon of the Kupyatich Mother of God. They transferred the wonderworking icon to the Kiev Sophia cathedral.

The Kupyatich Icon is a small copper cross. On one side of the cross the Mother of God is depicted with the Pre-eternal Infant, and on the other side, the Crucifixion.

Saint Philip of Rabanga

Saint Philip of Rabanga was the founder of the Savior-Transfiguration monastery, near Kadnikov to the northeast of Vologda. He spent the beginning of his monastic life in the monastery of Saint Dionysius of Glushitsa (June 1), and was one of his closest disciples.

Upon the death of his teacher and spiritual Father, Saint Philip left the Glushitsa monastery and settled in a sparsely populated area at the confluence of the Sukhona and Rabanga Rivers. The saint wanted to lead his life in complete solitude. The local inhabitants learned about him, and seeking his guidance to become monks, they began to come to him in the wilderness. Accepting this as a mandate from above, Saint Philip traveled to Rostov to the holy Archbishop Ephraim (March 27) and asked the saint’s blessing to found a monastery and to build a church in honor of the Transfiguration of the Lord (the temple was built in 1447).

Tradition relates that the holy founder of the Savior-Transfiguration monastery was extremely strict with himself, but lenient towards the infirmities of others. Saint Philip died on November 15, 1457 and was buried in the monastery he founded.

“Fragrant Flower” Icon of the Mother of God

This Icon is in the Protection Cathedral at Voronezh. The Theotokos is shown holding her Divine Child on her left arm, with a blossoming branch in her right hand.

The Fragrant Flower Icon resembles the Unfading Flower Icon (April 3). In the older Unfading Flower Icons, the Child is held on the Virgin's right arm, and she holds white lilies in her left hand.

In contemporary iconography both Icons may depict Christ on His Mother's left arm, or on the right. One way to distinguish the two Icons is to remember that the Fragrant Flower Icon shows a branch, and the Unfading Flower Icon shows lilies.