THIRD SATURDAY OF LENT
ABSTAIN FROM MEAT, FISH, DAIRY, EGGS
Third Saturday of Lent, Cyril, Patriarch of Jerusalem, Trophimos & Eukarpion, Monk-martyrs of Nicomedea, Edward the Martyr, King of England
ST. PAUL’S LETTER TO THE HEBREWS 10:32-38
Brethren, recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to abuse and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on the prisoners, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that you may do the will of God and receive what is promised. "For yet a little while, and the coming one shall come and shall not tarry; but my righteous one shall live by faith.
At that time, as Jesus passed on, he saw Levi the son of Alphaios sitting at the tax office, and he said to him, "Follow me." And he rose and followed him. And as he sat at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were sitting with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many who followed him. And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, "Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?" And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.
3rd Saturday of Great Lent: Memorial Saturday
Saturday is the day which the Church has set aside for the commemoration of faithful Orthodox Christians departed this life in the hope of resurrection to eternal life. Since the Divine Liturgy cannot be served on weekdays during Great Lent, the second, third, and fourth Saturdays of the Fast are appointed as Soul Saturdays when the departed are remembered at Liturgy.
In addition to the Liturgy, kollyva (wheat or rice cooked with honey and mixed with raisins, figs, nuts, sesame, etc.) is blessed in church on these Saturdays. The kollyva reminds us of the Lord’s words, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24).The kollyva symbolizes the future resurrection of all the dead. As Saint Simeon of Thessalonica (September 15) says, man is also a seed which is planted in the ground after death, and will be raised up again by God’s power. Saint Paul also speaks of this (I Cor. 15:35-49).
It is customary to give alms in memory of the dead in addition to the prayers we offer for their souls. The angel who spoke to Cornelius testifies to the efficacy of almsgiving, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God” (Acts 10:4).
Memorial services for the dead may be traced back to ancient times. Chapter 8 of the Apostolic Constitutions recommends memorial services with Psalms for the dead. It also contains a beautiful prayer for the departed, asking that their voluntary and involuntary sins be pardoned, that they be given rest with the Patriarchs, Prophets, and Apostles in a place where sorrow, suffering, and sighing have fled away (Isaiah 35:10). Saint John Chrysostom mentions the service for the dead in one of his homilies on Philippians, and says that it was established by the Apostles. Saint Cyprian of Carthage (Letter 37) also speaks of our duty to remember the martyrs.
The holy Fathers also testify to the benefit of offering prayers, memorial services, Liturgies, and alms for the dead (Saint John Chrysostom, Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, Saint John of Damascus, etc.). Although both the righteous and those who have not repented and corrected themselves may receive benefit and consolation from the Church’s prayer, it has not been revealed to what extent the unrighteous can receive this solace. It is not possible, however, for the Church’s prayer to transfer a soul from a state of evil and condemnation to a state of holiness and blessedness. Saint Basil the Great points out that the time for repentance and forgiveness of sins is during the present life, while the future life is a time for righteous judgment and retribution (Moralia 1). Saint John Chrysostom, Saint Gregory the Theologian, and other patristic writers concur with Saint Basil’s statement.
By praying for others, we bring benefit to them, and also to ourselves, because “God is not so unjust as to forget your work and the love which you showed for His sake in serving the saints…” (Heb. 6:10).
Repose of Saint Nikolai of Zhicha
Saint Nikolai of Zhicha, “the Serbian Chrysostom,” was born in Lelich in western Serbia on January 4, 1881 (December 23, 1880 O.S.). His parents were Dragomir and Katherine Velimirovich, who lived on a farm where they raised a large family. His pious mother was a major influence on his spiritual development, teaching him by word and especially by example. As a small child, Nikolai often walked three miles to the Chelije Monastery with his mother to attend services there.
Sickly as a child, Nikolai was not physically strong as an adult. He failed his physical requirements when he applied to the military academy, but his excellent academic qualifications allowed him to enter the Saint Savva Seminary in Belgrade, even before he finished preparatory school.
After graduating from the seminary in 1905, he earned doctoral degrees from the University of Berne in 1908, and from King’s College, Oxford in 1909. When he returned home, he fell ill with dysentery. Vowing to serve God for the rest of his life if he recovered, he was tonsured at the Rakovica Monastery on December 20, 1909 and was also ordained to the holy priesthood.
In 1910 he went to study in Russia to prepare himself for a teaching position at the seminary in Belgrade. At the Theological Academy in Saint Petersburg, the Provost asked him why he had come. He replied, “I wanted to be a shepherd. As a child, I tended my father’s sheep. Now that I am a man, I wish to tend the rational flock of my heavenly Father. I believe that is the way that has been shown to me.” The Provost smiled, pleased by this response, then showed the young man to his quarters.
After completing his studies, he returned to Belgrade and taught philosophy, logic, history, and foreign languages at the seminary. He spoke seven languages, and this ability proved very useful to him throughout his life.
Saint Nikolai was renowned for his sermons, which never lasted more than twenty minutes, and focused on just three main points. He taught people the theology of the Church in a language they could understand, and inspired them to repentance.
At the start of World War I, Archimandrite Nikolai was sent to England on a diplomatic mission to seek help in the struggle of the Serbs against Austria. His doctorate from Oxford gained him an invitation to speak at Westminster Abbey. He remained in England for three short months, but Saint Nikolai left a lasting impression on those who heard him. His writings “The Lord’s Commandments,” and “Meditations on the Lord’s Prayer” impressed many in the Church of England.
Archimandrite Nikolai left England and went to America, where he proved to be a good ambassador for his nation and his Church.
The future saint returned to Serbia in 1919, where he was consecrated as Bishop of Zhicha, and was later transferred to Ochrid. The new hierarch assisted those who were suffering from the ravages of war by establishing orphanages and helping the poor.
Bishop Nikolai took over as leader of Bogomljcki Pokret, a popular movement for spiritual revival which encouraged people to pray and read the Bible. Under the bishop’s direction, it also contributed to a renewal of monasticism. Monasteries were restored and reopened, and this in turn revitalized the spiritual life of the Serbian people.
In 1921, Bishop Nikolai was invited to visit America again and spent two years as a missionary bishop. He gave more than a hundred talks in less than six months, raising funds for his orphanages. Over the next twenty years, he lectured in various churches and universities.
When Germany invaded Yugoslavia on April 6, 1941, Bishop Nikolai, a fearless critic of the Nazis, was arrested and confined in Ljubostir Vojlovici Monastery. In 1944, he and Patriarch Gavrilo were sent to the death camp at Dachau. There he witnessed many atrocities and was tortured himself. When American troops liberated the prisoners in May 1945, the patriarch returned to Yugoslavia, but Bishop Nikolai went to England.
The Communist leader Tito was just coming to power in Yugoslavia, where he persecuted the Church and crushed those who opposed him. Therefore, Bishop Nikolai believed he could serve the Serbian people more effectively by remaining abroad. He went to America in 1946, following a hectic schedule in spite of his health problems which were exacerbated by his time in Dachau. He taught for three years at Saint Savva’s Seminary in Libertyville, IL before he settled at Saint Tikhon’s Monastery in South Canaan, PA in 1951.
He taught at Saint Tikhon’s and also served as the seminary’s Dean and Rector. He was also a guest lecturer at Saint Vladimir’s Seminary in NY, and at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY.
On Saturday March 17, 1956 Bishop Nikolai served his last Liturgy. After the service he went to the trapeza and gave a short talk. As he was leaving, he bowed low and said, “Forgive me, brothers.” This was something unusual which he had not done before.
On March 18, 1956 Saint Nikolai fell asleep in the Lord Whom he had served throughout his life. He was found in his room kneeling in an attitude of prayer. Though he was buried at Saint Savva’s Monastery in Libertyville, IL, he had always expressed a desire to be buried in his homeland. In April of 1991 his relics were transferred to the Chetinje Monastery in Lelich. There he was buried next to his friend and disciple Father Justin Popovich (+ 1979).
English readers are familiar with Saint Nikolai’s Prologue from Ochrid, The Life of Saint Savva, A Treasury of Serbian Spirituality, and other writings which are of great benefit for the whole Church. He thought of his writings as silent sermons addressed to people who would never hear him preach. In his life and writings, the grace of the Holy Spirit shone forth for all to see, but in his humility he considered himself the least of men.
Though he was a native of Serbia, Saint Nikolai has a universal significance for Orthodox Christians in all countries. He was like a candle set upon a candlestick giving light to all (MT 5:15). A spiritual guide and teacher with a magnetic personality, he attracted many people to himself. He also loved them, seeing the image of God in each person he met. He had a special love for children, who hastened to receive his blessing whenever they saw him in the street.
He was a man of compunctionate prayer, and possessesed the gift of tears which purify the soul (Saint John Climacus, LADDER, Step 7). He was a true pastor to his flock protecting them from spiritual wolves, and guiding them on the path to salvation. He has left behind many soul-profiting writings which proclaim the truth of Christ to modern man. In them he exhorts people to love God, and to live a life of virtue and holiness. May we also be found worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven through the prayers of Saint Nikolai, and by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory forever. Amen.
Saint Cyril, Archbishop of Jerusalem
Saint Cyril, Archbishop of Jerusalem, was born in Jerusalem in the year 315 and was raised in strict Christian piety. Upon reaching the age of maturity, he became a monk, and in the year 346 he became a presbyter. In the year 350, upon the death of Archbishop Maximus, he succeeded him on the episcopal throne of Jerusalem.
As Patriarch of Jerusalem, Saint Cyril zealously fought against the heresies of Arius and Macedonius. In so doing, he aroused the animosity of the Arian bishops, who sought to have him deposed and banished from Jerusalem.
There was a miraculous portent in 351 at Jerusalem: at the third hour of the day on the Feast of Pentecost, the Holy Cross appeared in the heavens, shining with a radiant light. It stretched from Golgotha above the Mount of Olives. Saint Cyril reported this portent to the Arian emperor Constantius (351-363), hoping to convert him to Orthodoxy.
The heretic Acacius, deposed by the Council of Sardica, was formerly the Metropolitan of Caesarea, and he collaborated with the emperor to have Saint Cyril removed. An intense famine struck Jerusalem, and Saint Cyril expended all his wealth in charity. But since the famine did not abate, the saint pawned church utensils, and used the money to buy wheat for the starving. The saint’s enemies spread a scandalous rumor that they had seen a woman in the city dancing around in clerical garb. Taking advantage of this rumor, the heretics forcibly expelled the saint.
The saint found shelter with Bishop Silvanus in Tarsus. After this, a local Council was held at Seleucia, at which there were about 150 bishops, and among them Saint Cyril. The heretical Metropolitan Acacius did not want to allow him to take a seat, but the Council would not consent to this. Acacius stormed out of the Council, and before the emperor and the Arian patriarch Eudoxius, he denounced both the Council and Saint Cyril. The emperor had the saint imprisoned.
When the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363) ascended the throne he repealed all the anti-Orthodox decrees of Constantius, seemingly out of piety. Saint Cyril returned to his own flock. But after a certain while, when Julian had become secure upon the throne, he openly apostasized and renounced Christ. He permitted the Jews to start rebuilding the Temple of Jerusalem that had been destroyed by the Romans, and he even provided them part of the funds for the building from the state treasury.
Saint Cyril predicted that the words of the Savior about the destruction of the Temple down to its very stones (Luke. 21:6) would undoubtedly transpire, and the blasphemous intent of Julian would come to naught. Soon there was such a powerful earthquake, that even the solidly set foundation of the ancient Temple of Solomon shifted in its place, and what had been rebuilt fell down and shattered into dust. When the Jews resumed construction, a fire came down from the heavens and destroyed the tools of the workmen. Great terror seized everyone. On the following night, the Sign of the Cross appeared on the clothing of the Jews, which they could not remove by any means.
After this heavenly confirmation of Saint Cyril’s prediction, they banished him again, and the bishop’s throne was occupied by Saint Cyriacus. But Saint Cyriacus soon suffered a martyr’s death (October 28).
After the emperor Julian perished in 363, Saint Cyril returned to his See, but during the reign of the emperor Valens (364-378) he was exiled for a third time. It was only under the holy emperor Saint Theodosius the Great (379-395) that he finally returned to his archpastoral activity. In 381 Saint Cyril participated in the Second Ecumenical Council, which condemned the heresy of Macedonius and affirmed the Nicea-Constantinople Symbol of Faith (Creed).
Saint Cyril’s works include twenty-three Instructions (Eighteen are Catechetical, intended for those preparing for Baptism, and five are for the newly-baptized) and two discourses on Gospel themes: “On the Paralytic,” and “Concerning the Transformation of Water into Wine at Cana.”
At the heart of the Catechetical Instructions is a detailed explanation of the Symbol of Faith. The saint suggests that a Christian should inscribe the Symbol of Faith upon “the tablets of the heart.”
“The articles of the Faith,” Saint Cyril teaches, “were not written through human cleverness, but they contain everything that is most important in all the Scriptures, in a single teaching of faith. Just as the mustard seed contains all its plethora of branches within its small kernel, so also does the Faith in its several declarations combine all the pious teachings of the Old and the New Testaments.”
Saint Cyril, a great ascetic and a champion of Orthodoxy, died in the year 386.
Martyrs Trophimus and Eucarpus of Nicomedia
The Holy Martyrs Trophimus and Eucarpion were soldiers at Nicomedia during the persecution against Christians under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). They distinguished themselves by their great ferocity in carrying out all of the emperor’s decrees.
Once, when these soldiers had caught up with some Christians, they suddenly saw a large fiery cloud which had come down from the sky, thickening in form as it drew close to them. From out of the cloud came forth a Voice: “Why are you so zealous in threatening My servants? Don’t be deluded! No one can suppress those believing in Me through their own strength. It is better to join them and discover the Heavenly Kingdom yourselves.”
The soldiers fell to the ground in fright, not daring to lift up their eyes, and only said to one another, “Truly this is the great God, Who has manifested Himself to us. We would do well to become His servants.” The Lord then spoke saying, “Rise up, repent, for your sins are forgiven.” As they got up, they beheld within the cloud the image of a Radiant Man and a great multitude standing about Him.
The astonished soldiers cried out with one voice, “Receive us, for our sins are inexpressibly wicked. There is no other God but You, the Creator and true God, and we are not yet numbered among Your servants.” But just as they spoke this, the cloud receded and rose up into the sky.
Spiritually reborn after this miracle, the soldiers released all the jailed Christians from the prisons. For this Saints Trophimus and Eucarpion were handed over to terrible torments: they suspended the saints and tore their bodies with iron hooks. They gave thanks unto God, certain that the Lord would forgive them their former sins. When a fire had been lit, the holy martyrs went willingly into the fire and there gave up their souls to God.
Venerable Aninas of the Euphrates
Saint Aninas was born at Chalcedon into a Christian family. After the death of his parents, he withdrew at age fifteen into a monastery, where he received monastic tonsure. In search of complete solitude, he went off into the heart of the desert where the River Euphrates separates Syria from Persia. There he came upon an Elder named Maium and settled there with him. Both ascetics led a very strict life. During the forty days of the Great Fast they ate nothing, taking delight and joy instead in spiritual nourishment.
Every day Saint Aninas carried drinking water from afar. Once, he returned with full water pitchers earlier than usual, since an angel had filled the vessels with water. The Elder Maium realized that his disciple had attained to high level of spiritual accomplishment, and he in turn asked Saint Aninas to become his guide, but the Saint refused out of humility. Later, the Elder went to a monastery, and Saint Aninas remained alone in the wilderness.
By constant struggles the saint conquered the passions within himself, and he was granted gifts of healing and clairvoyance. Even the wild beasts became docile and served him. Wherever the saint went, two lions followed after him, one of which he had healed of a wound on its paw.
Accounts of the saint spread throughout all the surrounding area, and the sick and those afflicted by evil spirits began to come to him, seeking healing. Several disciples also gathered around the saint. Once, in his seventeenth year as an ascetic, several men had come to the saint and asked for something to quench their thirst. Relying on the power of God, the saint sent one of his disciples to a dried-up well. The well miraculously filled up to its very top, and this water remained for many days. When the water ended, the saint did not dare to ask for a miracle for himself, and so he began to carry water from the Euphrates at night.
Bishop Patrick of Neocaesarea repeatedly visited the monk and ordained him presbyter, although the humble ascetic was resolved not to accept the priestly office. When he learned that the saint himself carried water from a distance, Bishop Patrick twice gave him donkeys, but each time Saint Aninas gave them away to the poor and continued to carry the water himself. Then the bishop ordered that a large well be dug, which they filled from time to time, bringing donkeys from the city.
Saint Aninas discerned the desire of a certain stylite monk, who struggled far from him, to come down off his pillar and make a complaint in court against a robber who had hurt him with a stone. Saint Aninas wrote a letter to the stylite, advising him not to carry out his intent. The letter was brought to the stylite by a trusty lion, and it brought him to his senses.
A certain pious woman, who had fallen ill, went to Saint Aninas to ask for his prayers. Along the way a robber chanced upon her. Since the woman had no money, he decided to assault her and force her into sin. The woman called on the saint’s help and cried out, “Saint Aninas, help me!” Terror suddenly overcame the robber, and he let go of the woman.
The woman went to Saint Aninas and told him everything, and she also received healing. The robber also came to the monk in repentance, was baptized, and then tonsured as a monk. A spear which he had thrust into the ground when he attacked the woman, grew into a mighty oak.
At the age of 110 the saint predicted the time of his death, and he directed his successor as igumen to assemble the brethren.
Before his death, Saint Aninas conversed with the holy Prophets Moses, Aaron and Or [or Hur: Ex. 24:14]. He fell asleep in the Lord saying, “ O Lord, receive my soul.”
Saint Cyril of Astrakhan
No information available at this time.