13TH SUNDAY OF LUKE
ABSTAIN FROM MEAT, DAIRY, EGGS
13th Sunday of Luke, James the Great Martyr of Persia, Nathaniel of Nitria & Pinouphrios of Egypt, the Righteous, Gregory of Sinai and his disciple Gerasimos, Arsenios of Rhaxos, James the Wonderworker, Bishop of Rostov
ST. PAUL’S LETTER TO THE EPHESIANS 2:14-22
Brethren, Christ is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby bringing the hostility to an end. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
At that time, a ruler came to Jesus and asked him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.' " And he said, "All these I have observed from my youth." And when Jesus heard it, he said to him, "One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." But when he heard this he became sad, for he was very rich. Jesus looking at him said, "How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." Those who heard it said, "Then who can be saved?" But he said, "What is impossible with men is possible with God.
The Holy Great Martyr James the Persian (the Sawn-Asunder) was born in the fourth century into a pious Christian family, both wealthy and illustrious. His wife was also a Christian, and the couple raised their children in piety, inspiring in them a love for prayer and the Holy Scriptures. James occupied a high position at the court of the Persian emperor Izdegerd (399-420) and his successor Barakhranes (420-438). But on one of the military campaigns James, seduced by the emperor’s beneficence, was afraid to acknowledge himself a Christian, and so he offered sacrifice to idols with the emperor.
Learning of this, James’ mother and wife wrote him a letter, in which they rebuked him and urged him to repent. Receiving the letter, James realized the gravity of his sin. Faced with the horror of being cut off not only from his family, but also from God Himself, he began to weep loudly, imploring the Lord for forgiveness.
His fellow-soldiers, hearing him pray to the Lord Jesus Christ, reported this to the emperor. Under interrogation, Saint James bravely confessed his faith in the one True God. No amount of urging by the emperor could make him renounce Christ. The emperor then ordered the saint to be put to death.
They began to cut off his fingers and his toes one by one, then his hands and his feet, and then his arms and legs. During the prolonged torture Saint James offered prayers of thanksgiving to the Lord, Who had granted him the possibility of redemption from his sins by enduring these terrible torments. Finally, the martyr was beheaded. Christians gathered up the pieces of his body and buried them with great reverence.
Born in Thessaloniki, he contended in asceticism in Alexandria at the end of the VI and the beginning of the VII century. His Service is sung at Compline.
This Saint should not be confused with the fourth century Saint Palladius of Galatia (January 28), the author of the Lausiac History, which contains the Lives of the Egyptian ascetics.
According to a local tradition, Saint James received monastic tonsure at Kopyrsk monastery on the River Ukhtoma, 80 kilometers from Rostov. For a long time he was igumen of this monastery, and in the year 1385 he was made Bishop of Rostov when Pimen was Metropolitan and Demetrius of the Don was Great Prince.
In defending a woman condemned to execution, the saint followed the example of the Savior, inviting whoever considered himself to be without sin to cast the first stone at her (John 8:7), and he then sent the woman forth to repentance. The Prince and the Rostov nobles, disgruntled over the bishop’s judgment, threw Saint James out of Rostov.
Leaving the city, the saint proceeded to Lake Nero, spread his bishop’s mantiya on the water, and having signed himself with the Sign of the Cross, he sailed off on it as if on a boat, guided by the grace of God. Traveling one and a half versts from the city, Saint James emerged on shore at the site of his future monastery. The prince and the people, repenting their actions, besought the saint’s forgiveness. The gentle bishop forgave them, but he did not return again.
On the shore of Lake Nero he made himself a cell and built a small church in honor of the Conception of the Most Holy Theotokos by Righteous Anna, marking the beginning of the Conception-Saint James monastery. Saint James died there on November 27, 1392.
There is a story that Saint James fought against the Iconoclast heresy of a certain fellow named Markian, who appeared in Rostov toward the end of the fourteenth century. The more ancient Lives of our saint do not mention this, and even the great hagiographer Saint Demetrius of Rostov was unaware of it. More recent hagiographers were wont to draw material from the Service to Saint James of Rostov. But the Service itself, preserved in copies from the sixteenth-seventeenth centuries, was compiled by borrowing from the Service to Saint Bucolus (February 6), who struggled against the first century heretic Marcian, and from the Service to Saint Stephen of Surozh (December 15), who contended against the emperor Constantine Kopronymos (741-775).
Saint James is also commemorated on May 23.
No information available at this time.
These Christian monks are mentioned in The Lives of Saints Barlaam and Ioasaph (November 19), by Saint John of Damascus (December 4). They suffered in the IV century when King Abenner ruled India. He hated Christians because they were converting his people to Christ, and some of them even became monks. The King issued a decree ordering all Christians to renounce their Faith at once, threatening to torture and kill them if they did not comply. He had a special hatred for the monks, and persecuted them without mercy. Some Christians, unable to endure the torments, submitted to the King's decree, but the monks rebuked him for his wickedness. Some of them fled into the deserts and mountains, while others chose martyrdom.
When his son Ioasaph was born, King Abenner rejoiced and prepared a feast for his people. Among the guests were fifty-five astrologers, who were asked to predict the child's future. They spoke in general terms of great riches and power, saying that he would surpass all who had ruled before him. One of them, the wisest of all, said that the child would not succeed Abenner, but instead he would enter a better and greater kingdom. Moreover, the astrologer said that Ioasaph would become a Christian.
When the King heard this he was angry and sorrowful, and took steps to prevent this from happening. He built a huge palace, and kept his son there. He would not permit anyone to approach the child, except for a few carefully chosen instructors. He charged them not to speak to the Prince about unpleasant topics such as death, old age, sickness, poverty, etc. He wanted them to speak to Ioasaph only about pleasant things. Above all, he did not want his son to hear anything about Christ or His doctrines.
When the King learned that there were still some monks left, he commanded heralds to go into the city and throughout the countryside and to proclaim that after three days, no monk would be allowed to live there. If any monks were discovered after that time, they would be executed.
Some years later, the King sent his chief counsellor Arachḗs into the wilderness to search for Saint Barlaam, who had baptized Prince Ioasaph. They searched the deserts and remote places without finding him. They did happen to encounter seventeen monks, however, walking at the foot of a mountain. They were seized by the soldiers, and Arachḗs questioned them about Barlaam, but the monks refused to reveal where he was. Arachḗs said that if they did not bring Barlaam to him, they would die.
The monks replied that they did not fear death, so he tortured them. When he saw that nothing would make them talk, he decided to bring them to the King. Several days afterward, they appeared before Abenner, who subjected them to further torments.
Seeing that nothing would induce them to betray Barlaam, the King had their eyes gouged out, and then cut off their arms and legs. All the while, the monks exhorted one another to accept death for the sake of Christ, and so they received their unfading crowns of glory from the Lord.
Saint John of Damascus compares the seventeen monastic martyrs to the seven holy Maccabees of the Old Testament (August 1).
Saint Romanós was from the city of Rosón in Cilicia, but he spent his anchoritic life in strict fasting in a cave near Antioch during the V century. There, at the foot of a mountain, he built a small cell, in which he struggled as an ascetic. He wore heavy chains under his hair shirt, and for many years he did not light a fire in his cell.
Because of his most holy life, God granted him the grace of working miracles. Reports of his holiness attracted great crowds of the faithful to him, who asked for his blessing. The Saint healed several persons who suffered from grave illnesses, and through his prayers, many infertile women were able to give birth to healthy children.
The charisma1 of working miracles did not make him proud. Quite the contrary! The Saint often quoted the words of Saint Paul: "Therefore, let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall" (I Corinthians 10:12). He also said that it is no great thing to perform miracles, but rather to do works of righteousness and to keep God's commandments.
Thus, after leading a God-pleasing life, Saint Romanós reposed in peace. He is also commemorated on February 9.
Saint Romanós is one of many Saints whose intercession we seek for deliverance from childlessness and barreness. Some of the others are: Saint Stylianos (November 26), Saint Hypatios the Igoumen of Rufinianus in Chalcedon († March 31, 446), Saints Theodore and John (July 12).
1 χάρισματα = Extraordinary powers given to certain individuals by God, enabling them to serve the Church by the grace of the Holy Spirit.
No information available at this time.
The Icon of the Mother of God “Of the Sign”, depicts the Most Holy Theotokos with prayerfully uplifted hands, and the Divine Infant is at Her bosom in a mandorla (or sphere). This depiction of the Mother of God is regarded as one of the very first of Her iconographic images. In the mausoleum of Saint Agnes at Rome is a depiction of the Mother of God with hands raised in prayer with the Infant Christ sitting upon Her knees. This depiction is ascribed to the fourth century. There is also an ancient Byzantine icon of the Mother of God “Nikopea” from the sixth century, where the Most Holy Theotokos is depicted seated upon a throne and holding in Her hands an oval shield with the image of the Savior Emmanuel.
Icons of the Mother of God, known as “The Sign”, appeared in Russia during the eleventh-twelfth centuries, and were so called because of a miraculous sign from the Novgorod Icon in the year 1170.
In that year the allied forces of Russian appanage princes, headed by a son of Prince Andrew Bogoliubsky of Suzdal, marched to the very walls of Great Novgorod. For the people of Novgorod, their only remaining hope was that God would help them. Day and night they prayed, beseeching the Lord not to forsake them. On the third night Bishop Elias of Novgorod heard a wondrous voice commanding that the icon of the Most Holy Theotokos be taken out of the church of the Savior’s Transfiguration on Ilina street, and carried about on the city walls.
When they carried the icon, the enemy fired a volley of arrows at the procession, and one of them pierced the iconographic face of the Mother of God. Tears trickled from Her eyes, and the icon turned its face towards the city. After this divine Sign an inexpressible terror suddenly fell upon the enemy. They began to strike one another, and taking encouragement from the Lord, the people of Novgorod fearlessly gave battle and won the victory.
In remembrance of the miraculous intercession of the Queen of Heaven, Archbishop Elias established a feastday in honor of the Sign of the Mother of God, which the Russian Church celebrates to the present day. The Athonite hieromonk Pachomius the Logothete, who was present at the festal celebration of the Icon in Russia, composed two Canons for this Feast.
On certain Novgorod Icons of the Sign, the miraculous occurrences of the year 1170 were also depicted. For 186 years afterwards, the wonderworking icon remained in the Savior-Transfiguration church on Ilina street. In 1356 it was transferred to a church built in Novgorod in honor of the Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “of the Sign,” which became the cathedral church of the monastery of the Sign.
Numerous copies of the Sign Icon are known throughout Russia. Many of them were also glorified by miracles in their local churches, and were then named for the place of the appearance of the miracle. Similar copies of the Sign Icon are the icons of Dionysievo-Glushets, Abalaka (July 20), Kursk, Seraphim-Ponetaev and others.
The Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God “Of the Sign” is one of the most ancient icons of the Russian Church. In the thirteenth century during the Tatar invasion, when all the Russian realm was put to the extremest tribulation, the city of Kursk, ravaged by the Horde of Batu, fell into desolation.
One day in the environs of the city a hunter noticed the ancient icon, lying on a root face downwards to the ground. The hunter lifted it and saw that the image of the icon was similar to the Novgorod “Znamenie” Icon. With the appearance of this icon immediately there appeared its first miracle. Just as the hunter lifted up the holy icon from the earth, right then, at that place where the icon lay, gushed up strongly a spring of pure water. This occurred on September 8, 1259. The hunter decided not to leave the icon in the forest and settled on as a resting place an ancient small chapel, in which he put the newly-appeared image of the Theotokos. Soon inhabitants of the city of Ryla heard about this, and being in location not far away, they began to visit the place of the appearance for venerating the new holy image.
They transferred the icon to Ryla and put it in a new church in honor of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos. But the icon did not long remain there. It disappeared and returned to its former place of appearance. The inhabitants of Ryla repeatedly took it and carried it to the city, but the icon incomprehensibly returned to its former place. Everyone then realized, that the Theotokos preferred the place of appearance of Her Icon. The special help granted by the Mother of God through this icon is bound up with important events in Russian history: with the war of liberation of the Russian nation during the Polish-Lithuanian incursion in 1612, and the 1812 Fatherland war. From the icon several copies were made, which also were glorified.
The Abalaka Icon of the Mother of God “Of the Sign” was painted by Matthew, a protodeacon of the Tobolsk cathedral, in honor of Sophia (the Wisdom of God), in fulfillment of a vow by a paralytic peasant Euthymius to rebuild the church at the Abalaka monastery of the Mother of God “of the Sign.” This church was built in 1637 after the Mother of God, accompanied by Saint Nicholas and Saint Mary of Egypt, appeared to the pious widow Maria. After the temple’s Icon “of the Sign” was painted, the paralytic Euthymius was completely healed. Many healings took place during the solemn transfer of the icon to the Abalaka church.
In general appearance, the Abalaka Icon resembles the Novgorod Icon of the Sign, but with this distinction: on the Abalaka Icon, Saint Nicholas and Saint Mary of Egypt stand before the Most Holy Theotokos. Saint Basil of Mangazeya (March 23) is also depicted on this icon. Many wonderworking copies of the Abalaka Icon are venerated throughout Siberia.
The Abalaka Icon “Of the Sign” is also commemorated on July 20.
No information available at this time.
The Tsarskoe Selo Sign Icon of the Mother of God an ancient wonderworking icon, was brought by way of a present to Tsar Alexis Mikhailovich by one of the Eastern Patriarchs, supposedly by Saint Athanasius of Constantinople (October 28). Tsar Peter I transferred the icon, together with other sacred items from Moscow, to his new capital city.
In the year 1747, a church was built for the icon at Tsarskoe Selo. Moliebens were served before it during times of national catastrophe, for example, during a plague in 1771, and of cholera in 1831. Through the intercession of the Mother of God, the terrible epidemics only barely touched Tsarskoe Selo. Prayers before the Tsarskoe Selo Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “of the Sign,” were also offered entreating the Mother of God’s help during fires and shipwrecks.
On the icon, Cherubim shade the head of the Mother of God. More recent copies of the icon depict the Apostle Peter, Saints Zachariah, Alexis the Man of God, and Righteous Elizabeth.
The Seraphim-Ponetaevka Icon of the Mother of God “of the Sign” was painted in the year 1879 by the nuns of the Seraphim-Ponetaevka women’s monastery, not far from Arzamas, near the village of Ponetaevka. The monastery was named after Saint Seraphim of Sarov by the founder of the monastery, a sister of the Diveyevo community.
Six years after it was painted, the icon became known for its numerous miracles and became the chief holy item of the monastery. When the sisters were praying during the services, they noticed distinct changes in the countenance of the Mother of God: Her All-Pure face became bright and life-like. Numerous pilgrims thronged to the icon, and many were healed from blindness and crippling. In all, about seventy instances of healing were noted.