6TH WEDNESDAY OF LENT
ABSTAIN FROM MEAT, FISH, DAIRY, EGGS, WINE, OLIVE OIL
Monk-Martyrs Claudius, Diodore, Victor, Victorinus, Pappias, Nicephorus, and Serapion, Theodora the Righteous of Thessaloniki, Agathopodes and Theodulos the Martyrs, George the new Martyr
Thus says the LORD: "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet; declare to my people their transgression, to the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that did righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments, they delight to draw near to God. 'Why have we fasted, and thou seest it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and thou takest no knowledge of it?' Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers. Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high. Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a man to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a rush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the LORD? "Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you, the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, "Here I am." "If you take away from the midst of you the yoke, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your desire with good things, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.
GENESIS 43:26-31; 45:1-16
When Joseph came home, they brought into the house to him the present which they had with them, and bowed down to him to the ground. And he inquired about their welfare, and said, “Is your father well, the old man of whom you spoke? Is he still alive?” They said, “Your servant our father is well, he is still alive.” And they bowed their heads and made obeisance. And he lifted up his eyes, and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother’s son, and said, “Is this your youngest brother, of whom you spoke to me? God be gracious to you, my son!” Then Joseph made haste, for his heart yearned for his brother, and he sought a place to weep. And he entered his chamber and wept there. Then he washed his face and came out; and controlling himself he said, “Let food be served.” (Chapter 45:1-16) Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him; and he cried, “Make every one go out from me.” So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he wept aloud, so that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it. And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph; is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence. So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, I pray you.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years; and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God; and he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. Make haste and go up to my father and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not tarry; you shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children, and your flocks, your herds, and all that you have; and there I will provide for you, for there are yet five years of famine to come; lest you and your household, and all that you have, come to poverty.’ And now your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see, that it is my mouth that speaks to you. You must tell my father of all my splendor in Egypt, and of all that you have seen. Make haste and bring my father down here.” Then he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept; and Benjamin wept upon his neck. And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them; and after that his brothers talked with him. When the report was heard in Pharaoh’s house, “Joseph’s brothers have come, ” it pleased Pharaoh and his servants well.
He who keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble. "Scoffer" is the name of the proud, haughty man who acts with arrogant pride. The desire of the sluggard kills him for his hands refuse to labor. All day long the wicked covets, but the righteous gives and does not hold back. The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination; how much more when he brings it with evil intent. A false witness will perish, but the word of a man who hears will endure. A wicked man puts on a bold face, but an upright man considers his ways. No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel, can avail against the LORD. The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD. A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold. The rich and the poor meet together; the LORD is the maker of them all. A prudent man sees danger and hides himself; but the simple go on, and suffer for it. The reward for humility and fear of the LORD is riches and honor and life.
Martyrs Agathopodes the Deacon and Theodulus the Reader at Thessalonica
The Holy Martyrs Agathopodes the Deacon and Theodulus the Reader lived in Thessalonica during the reign of the emperor Diocletian (284-305) and Maximian (284-305) and were among the church clergy. The holy Deacon Agathopodes was very old, and Saint Theodulus very young.
Both distinguished themselves by righteous life and piety. Once, Saint Theodulus had a vision in his sleep, in which an unknown person in radiant garb placed some object in his hand. When he awoke, he saw in his hand a beautiful ring with the image of the Cross and he realized that this was a sign of his future martyrdom. By the power of the Cross depicted on the ring, the saint healed many of the sick and converted pagans to faith in Christ the Savior.
When the emperor Diocletian issued an edict of a persecution against Christians (303), many attempted to hide themselves from pursuit, but Saints Agathopodes and Theodulus fearlessly continued to proclaim the Gospel.
Governor Faustinus of Thessalonica heard of this, and gave orders to bring them to him for trial. Seeing the youth and excellence of Saint Theodulus, Faustinus attempted flattery to persuade him to renounce Christianity and to offer sacrifice. Saint Theodulus replied that he had long ago renounced error and that he pitied Faustinus, who by embracing paganism had condemned himself to eternal death. The governor offered the martyr a choice: the fortunes of life, or immediate death. The saint said that he would certainly choose life, but life eternal, and that he did not fear death.
When Faustinus saw that he would not persuade Theodulus, he began to talk with Saint Agathopodes. The governor attempted to deceive him and said that Saint Theodulus had already agreed to offer sacrifice to the gods. But Agathopodes did not believe this. He was convinced that Saint Theodulus was prepared to offer his life for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Not having any success, Faustinus commanded the martyrs to be taken to prison. The holy martyrs prayed fervently and boldly preached the Word of God to the imprisoned, so that many were converted to Christianity. Eutinios, the head of the prison, reported this to the governor.
Faustinus again summoned them to trial and again he urged them to renounce Christ. Before the eyes of Saint Theodulus they brought forth some who had been Christians, but betrayed the Faith. “You have conquered the weak, but you will never conquer the strong warriors of Christ, even if you invent greater torments,” exclaimed Saint Theodulus. The governor commanded the martyr to produce the Christian books. “Here, is my body given for torture,” he answered, “do with it what you wish; torture me fiercely, but I shall not hand over the sacred writings to be mocked by the impious!”
Faustinus gave orders to bring Saint Theodulus to the place of execution, where an executioner readied a sword in order to cut off his head. The martyr bravely and with joy cried out, “Glory to You, O God, the Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, Who deigned to suffer for us. Here, by His grace, I am coming to You, and with joy I die for You!”
Then Faustinus halted the execution and again locked up the martyrs in prison. There the holy martyrs prayed fervently and both had the same dream. They were sailing in a ship, which was in danger of being wrecked in a storm. The waves cast them up on shore, arrayed in radiant white clothing. The saints told each other about the vision, and they gave thanks to God for their impending martyrdom.
In the morning, when the martyrs were again brought to Faustinus, they declared to him: “We are Christians and we are prepared to undergo any suffering for Christ.” Faustinus gave orders to cast them into the sea. The waves carried Saint Agathopodes to the rocks, and he loudly exclaimed, “This shall be for us a second Baptism, which will wash away our sins, and we shall come to Christ in purity.” Saint Theodulus was also cast into the sea (+ 303).
The bodies of the saints were washed up on shore. They were dressed in radiant garb, but the ropes and stones used to weight them down were gone. Christians took their holy bodies and gave them reverent burial.
Venerable Publius of Egypt
Saint Publius lived a life of asceticism in the Egyptian desert during the reign of the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363). Before a military campaign against the Persians, the emperor sent a devil to explore the way for the army to go. The venerable Publius foresaw the intent of the emperor. He stood in prayer with upraised hands, praying day and night, and blocked the path of the devil.
For ten days the evil spirit waited until the monk concluded his prayer. Unable to proceed, he returned to the emperor and reported that he had been thwarted. In a rage against Saint Publius, Julian the Apostate vowed to avenge himself on the saint upon his return from the campaign. He did not fulfill this oath, since he soon perished.
After the death of Julian, one of his military commanders distributed his effects and received monastic tonsure at the hand of Saint Publius.
Saint Theonas of Egypt
No information available at this time.
Saint Simeon of Egypt
No information available at this time.
Saint Phorbinus of Egypt
No information available at this time.
Venerable Mark the Anchorite of Athens
Saint Mark was born in Athens. He related his life to Abba Serapion who, by the will of God, visited him before his death.
He had studied philosophy in his youth. After the death of his parents, Saint Mark withdrew into Egypt and settled into a cave of Mount Trache (in Ethiopia). He spent ninety-five years in seclusion and during this time not only did he not see a human face, but not even a beast or bird.
The first thirty years were the most difficult for Saint Mark. Barefoot and bedraggled, he suffered from the cold in winter, and from the heat in summer. The desert plants served him for food, and sometimes he had to eat the dust and drink bitter sea water. Unclean spirits chased after Saint Mark, promising to drown him in the sea, or to drag him down from the mountain, shouting, “Depart from our land! From the beginning of the world no one has come here. Why have you dared to come?”
After thirty years of tribulation, divine grace came upon the ascetic. Angels brought him food, and long hair grew on his body, protecting him from the cold and heat. He told Abba Serapion, “I saw the likeness of the divine Paradise, and in it the prophets of God Elias and Enoch. The Lord sent me everything that I sought.”
During his conversation with Abba Serapion, Saint Mark inquired how things stood in the world. He asked about the Church of Christ, and whether persecutions against Christians still continued. Hearing that idol worship had ceased long ago, the saint rejoiced and asked, “Are there now in the world saints working miracles, as the Lord spoke of in His Gospel, ‘If ye have faith even as a grain of mustard seed, ye will say to this mountain, move from that place, and it will move, and nothing shall be impossible for you’ (Mt.17:20)?”
As the saint spoke these words, the mountain moved from its place 5,000 cubits (approximately 2.5 kilometers) and went toward the sea. When Saint Mark saw that the mountain had moved, he said, “I did not order you to move from your place, but was conversing with a brother. Go back to your place!” After this, the mountain actually returned to its place. Abba Serapion fell down in fright. Saint Mark took him by the hand and asked, “Have you never seen such miracles in your lifetime?”
“No, Father,” Abba Serapion replied. Then Saint Mark wept bitterly and said, “Alas, today there are Christians in name only, but not in deeds.”
After this, Saint Mark invited Abba Serapion to a meal and an angel brought them food. Abba Serapion said that never had he eaten such tasty food nor drunk such sweet water. “Brother Serapion,” answered Saint Mark, “did you see what beneficence God sends His servants? In all my days here God sent me only one loaf of bread and one fish. Now for your sake He has doubled the meal and sent us two loaves and two fishes. The Lord God has nourished me with such meals ever since my first sufferings from evil.”
Before his death, Saint Mark prayed for the salvation of Christians, for the earth and everything in the world living upon it in the love of Christ. He gave final instructions to Abba Serapion to bury him in the cave and to cover the entrance. Abba Serapion was a witness of how the soul of the one-hundred-thirty-year-old Elder Mark was taken to Heaven by angels.
After the burial of the saint, two angels in the form of hermits guided Abba Serapion into the inner desert to the great Elder John. Abba Serapion told the monks of this monastery about the life and death of Saint Mark.
Saint Plato the Confessor of Studion
Saint Plato was born in the year 735 into a pious Christian family of the parents, Sergius and Euphemia. Orphaned early on, the boy was taken to be raised by relatives, who gave him a fine education. When he grew up, he began life on his own. The saint occupied himself in the first years in the management of the property which his parents had left him upon their death. He was very temperate and hard-working and acquired great wealth by his toil. However, the future monk’s heart blazed with love for Christ. He gave away all his property, set his servants free and withdrew into a monastery named Symbolon near Mount Olympos.
His prayerful zeal, love of work and geniality won him the love of the brethren. When he was not praying he copied service books, and compiled anthologies from the works of the holy Fathers.
When the head of the monastery Theoctistus died in 770, the brethren chose Saint Plato as igumen, even though he was only thirty-five years old. After the death of the emperor Constantine Kopronymos (775), Saint Plato went to Constantinople. Patriarch Paul wanted to make him Bishop of Nicomedia, or the Igumen of one of the monasteries in Constantinople; but such was the saint’s humility, that he hastened back to the Symbolon Monastery. In 782, he withdrew to the desolate place of Studion with his nephews Saints Theodore (November 11) and Joseph (January 26). On the mount they built a church in honor of the holy Apostle John the Theologian, and founded a monastery, whose Superior was Saint Plato.
When Saint Tarasius and the empress Irene convened the Seventh Ecumenical Council in Nicea in 787, Saint Plato took an active part in its work. Being learned in Holy Scripture, he successfully unmasked the error in the Iconoclast heresy and defended the veneration of holy icons. When Saint Plato approached old age, he transferred the administration of the monastery to Saint Theodore.
In 795 the emperor Constantine VI (78-797) forced his wife to become a nun, and he married one of his relatives, Theodota.
Even though the holy Patriarch Tarasius condemned this marriage, Joseph, a prominent priest of Constantinople, violated the Patriarch’s prohibition and celebrated the marriage of the emperor.
When they learned of this, Saints Plato and Theodore excommunicated the emperor from the Church and sent a letter about this to all the monks. The enraged emperor gave orders to lock Saint Plato in prison and to banish Saint Theodore to Thessalonica. Only after the death of the emperor in 797 did they receive their freedom. Saint Theodore settled in Constantinople and became igumen of the Studion monastery. Saint Plato lived as a simple monk at this monastery under obedience to his nephew.
When the new emperor Nikēphóros (802-811) returned the excommunicated priest Joseph to the Church on his own authority, Saints Plato and Theodore again came forward denouncing the unlawful activities of the emperor. For this the brave confessors were again subjected to punishment in 807. They were jailed for four years. Saint Plato was freed from imprisonment in 811 after the death of the emperor, and he returned to the Studion monastery.
He lived three more years at work and prayer, and departed to the Lord on Lazarus Saturday at age 79, on April 8, 814. Saint Plato is honored as a Confessor because of his fearless defense of the holy icons.
Venerable Theodora of Thessalonica
Saint Theodora of Thessaloniki was born of Christian parents named Anthony and Chrysánthē, who lived on the island of Aegina. Loving Christ from a young age, she forsook worldly pursuits. When she reached her majority, Saint Theodora was married and soon gave birth to a daughter. During an invasion by the Saracens (in 823), the young couple moved to the city of Thessaloniki. Here Saint Theodora dedicated her daughter to serve God in a monastery. After her husband's death, she herself became a nun in the same monastery.
There she struggled in ascetical contests and adorned her soul with virtues. Regarding the other sisters as being worthy of all honor, she was obedient to all, especially to the Igoumeness. By her labors of obedience, fasting and prayer, she so pleased God that she received the gift of working miracles, not only duriing her lifetime, but also after her death (+ 892). Even after her repose, Saint Theodora remained a model of a pure and blameless life for the nuns.
Years after the Saint’s blessed repose, the Igoumeness also departed to the heavenly habitations. When they dug the grave to bury the Igoumeness, they uncovered the relics of Saint Theodora. Then the nun, as if she were alive, moved over in the grave to make room for her Superior, setting an example of humility even after her death. When those present witnessed this remarkable event they cried: “Lord, have mercy!”
Many miracles were worked by Saint Theodora’s holy relics, which exuded myrrh. Those who came to venerate her were healed of all manner of diseases, or freed from the power of demons. Therefore, the faithful continue to honor her memory.
When the Turks captured Thessaloniki in 1430, they smashed the holy relics of Saint Theodora to pieces.
This Saint Theodora should not be confused with the other Saint Theodora of Thessaloniki who is commemorated on August 29.
Translation of the relics of Saint Job, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia
After his death in 1607, the relics of Patriarch Job were buried by the western doors of the Dormition Church of the monastery in Staritsa. Many miracles took place at his grave.
In 1652, on the recommendation of Metropolitan Nikon of Novgorod, Tsar Alexei ordered that the relics of Saint Job and Saint Philip (January 9) be transferred to Moscow.
Metropolitan Barlaam of Rostov presided at the uncovering of Saint Job’s relics in Staritsa. The Patriarch’s incorrupt and fragrant relics became the source of healing for many who were afflicted by physical and mental illnesses.
On March 27 a procession set off for Moscow with the relics. On Monday of the sixth week of Lent (April 5), the relics of Patriarch Job were brought to the Passions Monastery. From there, the procession proceeded to the Kremlin, and the relics of the saint were placed in the Dormition cathedral. A few days later, Patriarch Joseph died and was buried next to Saint Job.
Saint Job has long been revered as a worker of miracles. The Altar Crosses in the churches of the Staritsa monastery and the Tver cathedral contained particles of his holy relics.
Saint Job is commemorated on June 19, and also (in the Tver diocese) on the first Sunday after the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul.
Icon of the Mother of God of Kasperov
The Kasperov Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos. Tradition says that this holy icon had been brought to Cherson from Transylvania by a Serb at the end of the sixteenth century. Passing down from parent and child, the icon had come to a certain Mrs. Kasperova of Cherson in 1809.
One night in February of 1840 she was praying, seeking consolation in her many sorrows. Looking at the icon of the Virgin, she noticed that the features of the icon, darkened by age, had suddenly become bright. Soon the icon was glorified by many miracles, and people regarded it as wonderworking.
During the Crimean War (1853-1856), the icon was carried in procession through the city of Odessa, which was besieged by enemy forces. On Great and Holy Friday, the city was spared. Since that time, an Akathist has been served before the icon in the Dormition Cathedral of Odessa every Friday.
The icon is painted with oils on a canvas mounted on wood. The Mother of God holds Her Son on her left arm. The Child is holding a scroll. Saint John the Baptist (Janurary 7) is depicted on one border of the icon, and Saint Tatiana (January 12) on the other. These were probably the patron saints of the original owners of the icon.
The Kasperov Icon is commemorated on October 1, June 29, and Bright Wednesday.
Martyr Claudius and those with him
Saints Claudius, Diodoros, Victor, Victorinus, Pappios, Serapion, and Nikephoros are most probably the same saints who are commemorated on January 31. See their Life on that date.
Saint Hypomone (Αγία Υπομονή), who suffered during the pre-Nicene persecutions, is not mentioned in the Synaxaristes of Saint Νikόdēmos (July 14), nor in the printed Menaia, but she is mentioned in Vatican Codex 1104 f. 986, which contains her Service, composed by Saint Theophanes (October 11). The acrostic of the Canon is: "I marvel at your sufferings, Hypomone." Her name means "patience."