FIRST FRIDAY OF LENT
ABSTAIN FROM MEAT, FISH, DAIRY, EGGS, WINE, OLIVE OIL
The Holy Martyrs Eutropius, Cleonicus, and Basiliscus, Theodoretos the Holy Martyr of Antioch, Nonnita, mother of Saint David
For, behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, is taking away from Jerusalem and from Judah stay and staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water; the mighty man and the soldier, the judge and the prophet, the diviner and the elder, the captain of fifty and the man of rank, the counselor and the skillful magician and the expert in charms. And I will make boys their princes, and babes shall rule over them. And the people will oppress one another, every man his fellow and every man his neighbor; the youth will be insolent to the elder, and the base fellow to the honorable.
When a man takes hold of his brother in the house of his father, saying: "You have a mantle; you shall be our leader, and this heap of ruins shall be under your rule"; in that day he will speak out, saying: "I will not be a healer; in my house there is neither bread nor mantle; you shall not make me leader of the people." For Jerusalem has stumbled, and Judah has fallen; because their speech and their deeds are against the Lord, defying his glorious presence.
Their partiality witnesses against them; they proclaim their sin like Sodom, they do not hide it. Woe to them! For they have brought evil upon themselves. Tell the righteous that it shall be well with them, for they shall eat the fruit of their deeds. Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him, for what his hands have done shall be done to him. My people — children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, your leaders mislead you, and confuse the course of your paths.
The Lord has taken his place to contend, he stands to judge his people. The Lord enters into judgment with the elders and princes of his people: "It is you who have devoured the vineyard, the spoil of the poor is in your houses.
The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper fit for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh; and the rib which the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.
Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God say, 'You shall not eat of any tree of the garden'?" And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'" But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons.
And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, "Where are you?" And he said, "I heard the sound of thee in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself." He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?" The man said, "The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate." Then the Lord God said to the woman, "What is this that you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent beguiled me, and I ate." The Lord God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, cursed are you above all cattle, and above all wild animals; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." To the woman he said, "I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." And to Adam he said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, 'You shall not eat of it, ' cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.
The man called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.
The Lord by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens; by his knowledge the deeps broke forth, and the clouds drop down the dew.
My son, keep sound wisdom and discretion; let them not escape from your sight, and they will be life for your soul and adornment for your neck. Then you will walk on your way securely and your foot will not stumble. If you sit down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Do not be afraid of sudden panic, or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes; for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught. Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.
Do not say to your neighbor, "Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it" — when you have it with you. Do not plan evil against your neighbor who dwells trustingly beside you. Do not contend with a man for no reason, when he has done you no harm. Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways; for the perverse man is an abomination to the Lord, but the upright are in his confidence. The Lord's curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the abode of the righteous. Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he shows favor.
Martyrs Eutropius, Cleonicus, and Basiliscus of Amasea
The Holy Martyrs Eutropius, Cleonicus and Basiliscus suffered in the city of Pontine Amasea (Asia Minor) in about the year 308.
The brothers Eutropius and Cleonicus, and Basiliscus the nephew of the Great Martyr Theodore the Recruit (February 17), were comrades. After the martyric death of Saint Theodore, they wound up in prison and by their preaching brought many of the pagans in prison with them to the Christian Faith.
When he tortured Saint Theodore, the governor Publius perished shamefully, struck down by divine wrath. Asclepiodotus was chosen as ruler of Amasea, and was more inhumane than his predecessor. Knowing the comrades of Saint Theodore the Recruit were all in prison, the governor commanded that they be brought to him. Saints Eutropius, Cleonicus and Basiliscus thus firmly confessed their faith in Christ before this new governor. They were mercilessly beaten, so that their bodies were entirely bruised.
As he was being tortured Saint Eutropius prayed loudly to the Savior, “Grant us, O Lord, to endure these wounds for the sake of the crown of martyrdom, and help us, as You helped Your servant Theodore.” In answer to the saint’s prayer, the Lord Himself appeared to the martyrs with His angels and the holy Great Martyr Theodore the Recruit, saying to them: “Behold, the Savior has come to help you, that you may know life eternal.”
Soldiers and many of the people standing nearby were also granted to behold the Savior. They urged Asclepiodotus to halt the tortures. Seeing that the people were distraught and ready to believe in the true God, the governor commanded the martyrs to be taken away. The governor then invited Saint Eutropius to supper and urged him to offer public sacrifice to the pagan gods, yet remain a Christian in soul. Eutropius refused this offer.
On the following day they brought the martyrs to a pagan temple, to force them to offer sacrifice. Eutropius entreated the Savior: “Lord, be with us, and destroy the raging of the pagans. Grant that on this place the Bloodless Sacrifice of the Christians be offered to You, the true God.” No sooner had these last words been spoken, than an earthquake began. The walls of the temple collapsed, and the statue of the goddess Artemis was smashed to bits. Everyone fled from the temple to avoid being crushed among the rubble. In the noise of the earthquake a voice was heard from on high: “Your prayer has been heard, and on this place a house of Christian prayer shall be built.”
When the earthquake ended, the governor Asclepiodotus, barely recovered from his fright, gave orders to drive high wooden stakes into the ground, tie the martyrs to them and pour boiling tar over them. The saints began to pray to God, and Eutropius cried out turning to the torturers: “May the Lord turn your deed against you!”
The tar began to flow beside the bodies of the martyrs, like water over marble, scorching the torturers. Those seeing this fled in terror, but the governor in his bitterness gave orders to rake their bodies with iron hooks and to sting their wounds with mustard mixed with salt and vinegar. The saints endured these torments with remarkable firmness.
The night before their execution the saints spent their time at prayer, and again the Lord appeared to them and strengthened them.
On the morning of March 3, Saints Eutropius and Cleonicus were crucified, but Basiliscus was left in prison.
Saint Basiliscus was executed on May 22 in the city of Komana. They beheaded him, and threw his body into a river, but Christians found his relics and buried them in a ploughed field. Later at Komana a church was built and dedicated to Saint Basiliscus.
An account of the life of the holy martyr is found under May 22.
The holy virgin Piamoun (Πιαμούν) was from Egypt, and she lived during the IV century. Her Life is recorded by Palladius in his Lausiac History.
When the Saint was very young her father died, but her Christian mother raised her with discipline and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). When she grew up, she and her mother engaged in works of mercy and compassion. They were not wealthy, but out of their meagre income, they were able to help their poor and weak brethren.
Saint Piamoun would eat a little food in the evening, and at night she kept constant vigil. She also labored at weaving linen, and she was found worthy of the gift of foresight.
One day a certain village in Upper Egypt attacked another village because of a quarrel about sharing the waters of the Nile. They fought so violently that many men were killed. This village then moved stealthily against the Saint's village. Men marched with staves and spears, intending to kill the inhabitants.
An Angel of the Lord appeared to Saint Piamoun and warned her that her village would be attacked by the stronger villagers. Summoning the priests of her church, she said, "Go forth to meet the enemy, for they are coming against you, otherwise you and the village will perish. If you beg them not to attack, then perhaps they will spare the village."
The priests were afraid and told her, "We do not dare to face them, for we know their ferocity and their arrogance. However, if you wish to save the village and your own house, then you go out to meet them."
The holy virgin did not go forth, but instead she went up to her roof and stood all night long in prayer. She made many bows and prayed that God would immobilize the enemy where they stood, three miles from her village. Immediately they became paralyzed and were unable to move from that place. It was revealed to them that it was the prayers of Saint Piamoun which hindered them from moving. Therefore, they sent a message to the villagers that they wished to make peace. They also told them to give thanks to God, for it was the prayers of Saint Piamoun which had prevented them from attacking.
When her mother reposed, the venerable one continued the work of ministering to her suffering brothers and sisters by herself. She visited their homes, comforted them, and strengthened their faith.
When Saint Piamoun reposed in 337, there was widespread mourning in her village.
Saints Zenon and Zoilus
It is not known just when or where Saint Zenon and Saint Zoilos lived, but according to the Byzantine verse Synaxarion, they died while living in the world (Paris. Coislin. 223, from the year 1301).1
The names of Saint Zenon and Saint Zoilos and a couplet composed for them were included in the Greek Menaion (printed in Venice in 1596) and in the Synaxaristis. When the Greek Synaxaria were translated into Slavonic, their names and the couplet in their honor were included in the various Prologs. From there, they were incorporated into the Great Reading Menaion (Великие Минеи Четии) for March, and into the modern calendar of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The couplet reads: "Released from this life, Zenon and Zoilos went forth to a better life" (literally "existence").
1 Le fonds Coislin is a collection of Greek manuscripts acquired by Pierre Séguier, but named for Henri-Charles de Coislin, its second owner. It is now held in the National Library of France.
Icon of the Mother of God of Volokolamsk
The Volokolamsk Icon of the Mother of God is a copy of the Vladimir Icon of the Moscow Dormition cathedral. The icon was brought from Zvenigorod to the Dormition monastery of Saint Joseph of Volokolamsk on March 2, 1572, during the second week of Great Lent and was solemnly met by Igumen Leonid (1563-1566; 1568-1573) and all the monastic brethren.
It is distinguished by its particular depiction on the margins of Saint Cyprian (right) and Saint Gerontius (left), Metropolitans of Moscow.
The name of Metropolitan Cyprian is associated with the first arrival of the ancient Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God from Constantinople to Moscow in the year 1395, and under Metropolitan Gerontius in 1480 the Vladimir Icon came finally to Moscow.
In the year 1588 the Volokolamsk Icon was dedicated atop the gate in the church at the south gates of the Saint Joseph of Volokolamsk monastery in honor of the Meeting of the Vladimir Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos (August 26).
At the end of the seventeenth century, when a church of the same name was built in Moscow at Staraya Basmanna, the church atop the gate of Saint Joseph of Volokolamsk was rededicated in honor of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul. The Volokolamsk Icon was transferred to its proper place on the iconostasis of the new cathedral Dormition church of the monastery of Saint Joseph of Volokolamsk.
In 1578, the icon was recognized as wonderworking.
Saint John (Chrysostom) IV, Catholicos of Georgia
The Holy Catholicos John IV (Chrysostom) led the Apostolic Church of Georgia from approximately 980 to 1001.
Catholicos Basil III’s “Story of Saint Shio’s Miracles” describes how the hitherto childless parents of Saint John prayed at length to Saint Shio of Mgvime. After the birth of John, his God-fearing parents sent him to be raised at Shio-Mgvime Monastery.
There he acquired the sanctity and wisdom for which he would later be called “Chrysostom,” meaning “golden mouth” in Greek. By this name he has been known throughout the history of the Georgian Church.
There is yet another John called “Chrysostom” who was also a Catholicos, from 1033 to 1049. This John was a disciple of Holy Catholicos-Patriarch Melchizedek I and his successor as chief shepherd of the Georgian Church.
His life and labors were full of the same holiness as those of the holy catholicos John who is commemorated on this day. For this reason John IV and John V are often erroneously believed to be one and the same person.
Venerable Shio Mgvime
The Georgian Orthodox Church commemorates Saint Shio of Mgvime several times throughout the year. Saint John of Zedazeni and his twelve disciples, among whom was Saint Shio of Mgvime, are commemorated on May 7; the repose of Saint Shio is celebrated on May 9; and on Cheese-fare Thursday the Church celebrates the miracle that, for centuries, occurred every year at Saint Shio’s grave.
The 19th-century historian Marie Brosset wrote that every year prior to the 18th century, on Cheese-fare Thursday, the relics of Saint Shio rose up out of the ground from the place of their burial. Those who approached them in faith and reverence received healing of their afflictions.
In the 18th century the Persian shah Nadir (1736-1747) invaded Georgia. Hearing about this miracle and becoming convinced of its truth, the enraged shah assailed the monastery and destroyed the shrine containing the saint’s holy relics. A group of Christians later gathered Saint Shio’s holy relics and reburied them in their former place, but to this day they have never risen again.