FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:
Joel the Prophet
The Righteous Cleopatra
St. Varys the Martyr
Holy Hieromartyr Sadoth (Shahdost) and his 128 companions
Felix the Hieromartyr & Eusebius the Deacon
John the Wonderworker of Kronstadt
St. John of Rilas
Άγιος Σαδώθ ο επίσκοπος και οι Εκατόν είκοσι Μάρτυρες από την Περσία
Άγιοι Έξι Οσιομάρτυρες οι ερημίτες
Άγιος Λεόντιος ο φιλόσοφος
Άγιοι Φήλιξ ο Πρεσβύτερος και Ευσέβιος ο Διάκονος
Όσιος Ιωάννης ο θαυματουργός που ασκήτευσε στο όρος του Ρίλα
READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:
The Reading is from Acts of the Apostles 2:14-21
IN THOSE DAYS, standing with the eleven, Peter lifted up his voice and addressed them, "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 'And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; yea, and on my menservants and my maid servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth beneath, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and manifest day. And it shall be that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.' "
Πράξεις Ἀποστόλων 2:14-21
Ἐν ταῖς ἡμεραῖς ἐκείναις, σταθεὶς δὲ Πέτρος σὺν τοῖς ἕνδεκα, ἐπῆρεν τὴν φωνὴν αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἀπεφθέγξατο αὐτοῖς, Ἄνδρες Ἰουδαῖοι, καὶ οἱ κατοικοῦντες Ἱερουσαλὴμ ἅπαντες, τοῦτο ὑμῖν γνωστὸν ἔστω, καὶ ἐνωτίσασθε τὰ ῥήματά μου. Οὐ γάρ, ὡς ὑμεῖς ὑπολαμβάνετε, οὗτοι μεθύουσιν· ἔστιν γὰρ ὥρα τρίτη τῆς ἡμέρας· ἀλλὰ τοῦτό ἐστιν τὸ εἰρημένον διὰ τοῦ προφήτου Ἰωήλ, Καὶ ἔσται ἐν ταῖς ἐσχάταις ἡμέραις, λέγει ὁ θεός, ἐκχεῶ ἀπὸ τοῦ πνεύματός μου ἐπὶ πᾶσαν σάρκα· καὶ προφητεύσουσιν οἱ υἱοὶ ὑμῶν καὶ αἱ θυγατέρες ὑμῶν, καὶ οἱ νεανίσκοι ὑμῶν ὁράσεις ὄψονται, καὶ οἱ πρεσβύτεροι ὑμῶν ἐνύπνια ἐνυπνιασθήσονται· καί γε ἐπὶ τοὺς δούλους μου καί ἐπὶ τὰς δούλας μου ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις ἐκχεῶ ἀπὸ τοῦ πνεύματός μου, καὶ προφητεύσουσιν. Καὶ δώσω τέρατα ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ ἄνω, καὶ σημεῖα ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς κάτω, αἷμα καὶ πῦρ καὶ ἀτμίδα καπνοῦ· ὁ ἥλιος μεταστραφήσεται εἰς σκότος, καὶ ἡ σελήνη εἰς αἷμα, πρὶν ἢ ἐλθεῖν τὴν ἡμέραν κυρίου τὴν μεγάλην καὶ ἐπιφανῆ· καὶ ἔσται, πᾶς ὃς ἂν ἐπικαλέσηται τὸ ὄνομα κυρίου σωθήσεται.
The Reading is from Luke 9:44-50
The Lord said to his disciples, "Let these words sink into your ears; for the Son of man is to be delivered in to the hands of men." But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, that they should not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask him about this saying. And an argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. But when Jesus perceived the thought of their hearts, he took a child and put him by his side, and said to them, "Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me; for he who is least among you all is the one who is great." John answered, "Master, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he does not follow with us." But Jesus said to him, "Do not forbid him; for he that is not against you is for you."
Κατὰ Λουκᾶν 9.44-50
Εἶπεν ὁ Κὐριος τοῖς ἑαυτοῦ μαθηταῖς· θέσθε ὑμεῖς εἰς τὰ ὦτα ὑμῶν τοὺς λόγους τούτους· ὁ γὰρ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου μέλλει παραδίδοσθαι εἰς χεῖρας ἀνθρώπων. οἱ δὲ ἠγνόουν τὸ ῥῆμα τοῦτο, καὶ ἦν παρακεκαλυμμένον ἀπ᾿ αὐτῶν ἵνα μὴ αἴσθωνται αὐτό, καὶ ἐφοβοῦντο ἐρωτῆσαι αὐτὸν περὶ τοῦ ῥήματος τούτου. Εἰσῆλθε δὲ διαλογισμὸς ἐν αὐτοῖς, τὸ τίς ἂν εἴη μείζων αὐτῶν. ὁ δὲ ᾿Ιησοῦς ἰδὼν τὸν διαλογισμὸν τῆς καρδίας αὐτῶν, ἐπιλαβόμενος παιδίου ἔστησεν αὐτὸ παρ᾿ ἑαυτῷ καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· ὃς ἐὰν δέξηται τοῦτο τὸ παιδίον ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί μου, ἐμὲ δέχεται, καὶ ὃς ἐὰν ἐμὲ δέξηται, δέχεται τὸν ἀποστείλαντά με. ὁ γὰρ μικρότερος ἐν πᾶσιν ὑμῖν ὑπάρχων, οὗτός ἐστι μέγας. ᾿Αποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ ᾿Ιωάννης εἶπεν· ἐπιστάτα, εἴδομέν τινα ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί σου ἐκβάλλοντα δαιμόνια, καὶ ἐκωλύσαμεν αὐτόν, ὅτι οὐκ ἀκολουθεῖ μεθ᾿ ἡμῶν. καὶ εἶπε πρὸς αὐτὸν ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς· μὴ κωλύετε· οὐ γάρ ἐστι καθ᾿ ὑμῶν· ὃς γὰρ οὐκ ἔστι καθ᾿ ὑμῶν, ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν ἐστιν.
READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:
Τῇ ΙΘ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Προφήτου Ἰωήλ.
Ὁ γῆς Ἰωὴλ ἐκτραγῳδήσας πάθη,
Μετῆλθεν ἐκ γῆς εἰς τόπον κρείττω πάθους.
Ἐννεακαιδεκάτῃ μόρος ἀμφ' ἐκάλυψεν Ἰωήλ.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Μάρτυρος Οὐάρου καὶ τῶν σὺν αὐτῷ.
Ξεσμοὺς ἀπείρους καρτεροῦντος Οὐάρου,
Σατὰν πλάνης ἔξαρχος Οὐαὶ μοι! λέγει.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Μάρτυρος Σαδώθ, καὶ τῶν σὺν αὐτῷ εἴκοσι καὶ ἑκατὸν Μαρτύρων, ἐν Περσίδι τελειωθέντων.
Σαδὼθ ὁ θεῖος τὴν κάραν τμηθεὶς ξίφει,
Θεοῦ Σαβαὼθ νῦν παρίσταται θρόνῳ.
Δεκὰς δεκαπλῆ Μαρτύρων συμμαρτύρων,
Καὶ δὶς δέκα θνῄσκουσι πληγέντες ξίφει.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Λεόντιος ὁ φιλόσοφος, ἐν εἰρήνῃ τελειοῦται.
Οἱ Ἅγιοι Φῆλιξ πρεσβύτερος καὶ Εὐσέβιος Διάκονος ξίφει τελειοῦνται.
Ὁ Ὅσιος πατὴρ ἡμῶν Ἰωάννης ὁ θαυματουργός, ὁ κατὰ τὸ ὄρος τοῦ Ῥίλα ἀσκήσας, καὶ τὴν ἐκεῖσε μονὴν οἰκοδομήσας, ἐν εἰρήνῃ τελειοῦται.
Ταῖς τῶν Ἁγίων σου πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεός, ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.
Τέταρτος στη σειρά των δώδεκα "ελασσό-νων" προφητών της Παλαιάς Διαθήκης είναι ο Προφήτης Ιωήλ, του οποίου η Εκκλησία σήμερα γιορτάζει την μνήμη. Ο Ιωήλ είναι ο Προφήτης, που μαζί με άλλα επροφήτεψε για την ημέρα της Πεντηκοστής με αυτά τα λόγια· "Εκχεώ από του πνεύματός μου επί πάσαν σάρκα και προφητεύσουσιν οι υιοί υμών και αι θυγατέρες υμών, και οι πρεσβύτεροι ενύπνια ενυπνιασθήσονται και οι νεανίσκοι υμών οράσεις όψονται". Αυτή την προφητεία χρησιμοποίησε ο Απόστολος Πέτρος κατά την ημέρα της Πεντηκοστής, όταν μετά την επιφοίτηση του Αγίου Πνεύματος έκαμε την πρώτη του ομιλία κι επίστεψαν τρεις χιλιάδες λαός. Το Άγιον Πνεύμα είναι ο ποταμός, που αρδεύει την Εκκλησία, όπως ακριβώς το επροφήτεψε ο Προφήτης Ιωήλ· "εκχεώ από του πνεύματός μου επί πάσαν σάρκα". Το Άγιον Πνεύμα πλημμυρίζει "άπασαν την κτίσιν προς ζωογονίαν", όπως ψάλλει η Εκκλησία.
The Prophet Joel, whose name means "Yah is God," was of the tribe of Reuben, the son of Bathuel, and lived from 810 to 750 B.C. (but some say in the 7th century B.C.). His book is divided into three chapters, and is the second in order of the minor Prophets. He foretold the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Joel 2:28, and quoted by the Apostle Peter in Acts 2:17), and the saving power of the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Joel 2:32).
Apolytikion in the Second Tone
Τού Προφήτου σου Ιωήλ τήν μνήμην, Κύριε, εορτάζοντες, δι' αυτού σε δυσωπούμεν, Σώσον τάς ψυχάς ημών.
As we celebrate the memory of Thy Prophet Joel, O Lord, through him we beseech Thee to save our souls.
Kontakion in the First Tone
Τήν δόξαν τού Θεού, νοητώς θεωρήσας, εδέξω Ιωήλ, τών μελλόντων τήν γνώσιν, τό Πνεύμα γάρ τό Άγιον, ώσπερ έφης εκκέχυται, κατ' ενέργειαν, εις πάσαν σάρκα Προφήτα, τήν πιστεύσασαν, τώ επί γής κενωθέντι, καί σέ θαυμαστώσαντι.
Since thou hadst seen the glory of God in the spirit, thou truly didst foreknow His divine dispensation; for as thou didst say, God's Spirit is poured forth upon all flesh that believeth in Him Who appeared to the earthborn in a servant's form and made thee wondrous for ever, O Joel, thou seer of God.
Saint Varys contested for the sake of Christ during the reign of Maximian, in the year 304. He was a soldier in the service of the Emperor Maximian, and held in honour for his courage. While in Egypt, he visited the Christians held in prison and comforted them. Among them, he visited seven monks imprisoned together; when one of them died from his torments' Saint Varys took his place. When this became known to the governor, Saint Varys was arrested and tortured to death.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Ο Μάρτυς σου Κύριε, έν τή αθλήσει αυτού, τό στέφος εκομίσατο τής αφθαρσίας, εκ σού τού Θεού ημών, έχων γάρ τήν ισχύν σου, τούς τυράννους καθείλεν, έθραυσε καί δαιμόνων, τά ανίσχυρα θράση, αυτού ταίς ικεσίαις Χριστέ, σώσον τάς ψυχάς ημών.
Thy Martyr, O Lord, in his courageous contest for Thee received the prize of the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since he possessed Thy strength, he cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons' strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by his prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.
Kontakion in the Third Tone
Τόν Σταυρόν ως θώρακα, ενδεδυμένος παμμάκαρ, τών τυράννων ήμβλυνας, τάς πονηράς μεθοδείας, ήνεγκας, τάς ανυποίστους σαρκός βασάνους, ήνυσας, τούς θείους άθλους γενναιοφρόνως, διά τούτο εκοσμήθης, θείω στεφάνω θεόθεν Ούαρε.
Since thou hadst put on thyself thy Master's Cross as a breastplate, thou didst blunt and bring to nought the tyrants' wicked devices. Thou didst bear most savage tortures upon thy body; valiantly didst thou then finish thy godly contest. Hence from God, O noble Varys, thou wast adorned in a crown august and divine.
Saint John of Rilas founded the renowned monastery of that name in Bulgaria in the tenth century. Over the centuries, great and wondrous healings have flowed from his holy relics.
Apolytikion in the First Tone
Thy life was a foundation of repentance, a model of compunction, an image of consolation and spiritual perfection equal to the Angels, O Saint; for thou didst persevere in prayer, fasting, and tears. O Father John, intercede with Christ our God for our souls.
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Emulating the life of the Angels, O Saint, and leaving behind all earthly things, thou didst run unto Christ. And protecting thyself with His commandments, thou wast shown to be a pillar that no attacks of the enemy could shake. Wherefore, we cry to thee: Rejoice, O Father John, most brilliant light.
Saint John of Kronstadt was a married priest, who lived with his wife in virginity. Through his untiring labours in his priestly duties and love for the poor and sinners, he was granted by our Lord great gifts of clairvoyance and miracle-working, to such a degree that in the last years of his life miracles of healing--both of body and soul--were performed countless times each day through his prayers, often for people who had only written to him asking his help. During his lifetime he was known throughout Russia, as well as in the Western world. He has left us his diary My Life in Christ as a spiritual treasure for Christians of every age; simple in language, it expounds the deepest mysteries of our Faith with that wisdom which is given only to a heart purified by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Foreseeing as a true prophet the Revolution of 1917, he unsparingly rebuked the growing apostasy among the people; he foretold that the very name of Russia would be changed. As the darkness of unbelief grew thicker, he shone forth as a beacon of unquenchable piety, comforting the faithful through the many miracles that he worked and the fatherly love and simplicity with which he received all. Saint John reposed in peace in 1908.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
O Wonderworker living in Christ for ever, with love have mercy on them that are in danger; hear thy children who call upon thee with faith; be thou compassionate unto them that hope for aid from thee, O Father John of Kronstadt, our beloved shepherd.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
O Thou who from infancy wast chosen by God, and in childhood didst miraculously receive from Him the gift of learning, and wast gloriously called to the priesthood in a vision during sleep: Thou didst prove to be a wondrous shepherd of the Church of Christ, O Father John, namesake
Righteous John, Wonderworker of Kronstadt (1908).
"Saint John of Kronstadt was a married priest, who lived with his wife in virginity. Through his untiring labours in his priestly duties and love for the poor and sinners, he was granted by our Lord great gifts of clairvoyance and miracle-working, to such a degree that in the last years of his life miracles of healings — both of body and of soul — were performed countless times each day through his prayers, often for people who had only written to him asking his help. During his lifetime he was known throughout Russia, as well as in the Western world. He has left us his diary My Life in Christ as a spiritual treasure for Christians of every age; simple in language, it expounds the deepest mysteries of our Faith with that wisdom which is given only to a heart purified by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Foreseeing as a true prophet the Revolution of 1917, he unsparingly rebuked the growing apostasy among the people; he foretold that the very name of Russia would be changed. As the darkness of unbelief grew thicker, he shone forth as a beacon of unquenchable piety, comforting the faithful through the many miracles that he worked and the fatherly love and simplicity with which he received all. Saint John reposed in peace in 1908." (Great Horologion)
Holy Prophet Joel (8th c. BC)
His name means "The Lord is God." He is counted second among the "minor Prophets." The Old Testament book of his prophecies, which bears his name, includes his prophecy of the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Joel 2:28), which was quoted by the Apostle Peter (Acts 2:17).
Holy Martyr Varus and those with him (304)
"He was a Roman officer in Egypt and a secret Christian. When seven Christian teachers were thrown into prison, Varus kept visiting them there, supplying their needs and serving them with great devotion. He marvelled at the martyrs, and grieved that fear would not let him stand up as a martyr for Christ. These men of God gave him courage, and Varus made up his mind to go and be tortured with them. One of these godly men died in prison, and, when the wicked governor had the martyrs brought before him and saw that there were only six of them, he asked where the seventh was. 'I am the seventh!', cried Varus. The furious governor had him tortured first. He ordered that he be flogged with dry thongs, then that he be tied to a tree and hacked to pieces bit by bit with knives until he gave his holy soul to God. His body was then thrown onto a dung-heap. A woman of Palestinian birth, Cleopatra, the widow of an officer, was there with her son John. She secretly took the relics of the holy martyr off the dung-heap and buried them in her house. She then asked the governor's permission to take the body of her dead husband back from Egypt to Palestine. As she was an officer's widow, the governor at once gave her permission. This blessed Christian woman, Cleopatra, however, took the body, not of her husband but of the holy martyr Varus, taking it to her village of Edra, near Tabor, and burying it there. She then built a church dedicated to St Varus, and he appeared to her often from the other world, resplendent as an angel of God." (Prologue)
Holy Hieromartyr Sadoth (Shahdost) and his 128 companions (342)
During the fierce persecution of Christians by the Persian King Shapur II, Saint Sadoth succeeded the Martyr Symeon (April 17) as Bishop of Seleucia. His name in Persian, Shah-dost, means 'Friend of the King'; but the earthly Shah saw him as no friend, and the holy bishop knew that his days on earth were numbered. One night in a dream, Sadoth saw a ladder reaching from earth to heaven. At the top stood Bishop Symeon, who called joyfully to him: 'Climb up, Sadoth, and do not be afraid! I climbed up yesterday; you will climb up today.' Waking, Sadoth knew that he would soon be called to martyrdom. He immediately set out to encourage his flock and to exhort them to stand firm for Christ in the coming day of persecution.
A few days later the persecutors came in the King's name to arrest the holy Bishop; with him they seized 128 priests, deacons, monks and simple believers. All were held in prison for five months, being brought forth repeatedly and tortured in ways too cruel to describe; but not a single one could be brought to worship the sun. Finally, all were condemned to die by the sword. The 128 martyrs, chained together, sang joyous hymns as they went to the place of execution. They did not cease to sing until the death of the last Martyr. Sadoth himself, however, was taken in chains to the city of Beit Lapat, where he was beheaded a few days later.
Ὁ Προφήτης Ἰωήλ
Εἶναι ἕνας ἀπὸ τοὺς δώδεκα μικροὺς λεγόμενους προφῆτες. Ἦταν γιὸς τοῦ Βαθουήλ, ἀπὸ τὴν φυλὴ Ῥουβὴμ (αὐτὸ ὅμως δὲν εἶναι σαφές, διότι ἄλλοι τὸν θέλουν καταγόμενο ἀπὸ τὴν φυλὴ Γάδ), καὶ προφήτευσε ὅταν βασιλιὰς στὴ φυλὴ τοῦ Ἰούδα ἦταν ὁ Ἰώας (878-838 π.Χ). Τὸ προφητικό του βιβλίο, ἔχει λεχθεῖ ὅτι τὸ διακρίνει ὕφος ποιητικότατο, περίκομψο, ζωηρὸ καὶ ἀποτελεῖ κόσμημα τῆς ἐβραϊκῆς φιλολογίας. Νὰ τί λέει περὶ μετανοίας: «Καὶ νῦν λέγει Κύριος ὁ Θεὸς ὑμῶν ἐπιστράφητε πρός με ἐξ ὅλης τῆς καρδίας ὑμῶν καὶ ἐν νηστείᾳ καὶ ἐν κλαυθμῷ καὶ ἐν κοπετῷ καὶ διαῤῥήξατε τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν καὶ μὴ τὰ ἱμάτια ὑμῶν καὶ ἐπιστράφητε πρὸς Κύριον τὸν Θεὸν ὑμῶν, ὅτι ἐλεήμων καὶ οἰκτίρμων ἐστι, μακρόθυμος καὶ πολυέλεος». Καὶ τώρα, λέει ὁ Κύριος καὶ Θεός σας: «Ἐπιστρέψτε μὲ μετάνοια σ᾿ ἐμένα μὲ ὅλη σας τὴν καρδιά, μὲ νηστεία καὶ μὲ δάκρυα μετανοίας. Σχίστε τὶς καρδιές σας ἀπὸ πόνο μετανοίας καὶ συναίσθηση τῆς ἐνοχῆς σας, καὶ ὄχι τὰ ἐνδύματά σας. Ἐπιστρέψτε στὸν Κύριο καὶ Θεό σας, διότι αὐτὸς εἶναι ἐλεήμων καὶ οἰκτίρμων, μακρόθυμος καὶ πολυέλεος». Μποροῦμε νὰ ποῦμε ὅτι τὸ προφητικὸ βιβλίο τοῦ Ἰωήλ, ἀποτελεῖται ἀπὸ τρία κεφάλαια, ποὺ ἐκεῖ μέσα προφηεύει τὴν ἔκχυση τῶν δωρεῶν τοῦ Ἁγίου Πνεύματος (Πράξ. στ´ 17) στὴ χριστιανικὴ ἐκκλησία, καθὼς ἐπίσης καὶ τὰ σημεῖα, ποὺ θὰ προηγηθοῦν τῆς δευτέρας παρουσίας τοῦ Κυρίου. Ὁ προφήτης Ἴωηλ ἀπεβίωσε εἰρηνικά. (Ὁρισμένοι Συναξαριστές, περιττῶς ἐπαναλαμβάνουν τὴν μνήμη του καὶ τὴν 31η Μαρτίου).
Ὁ Ἅγιος Οὐάρος
Μέτοχος τῆς θερμῆς καὶ γενναίας πίστης, ποὺ ἀνθίζει καὶ θαυματουργεῖ στοὺς μεγάλους ἀγῶνες καὶ στὶς σκληρὲς δοκιμασίες τῆς Ἐκκλησίας, ὁ Οὐάρος, ἦταν στρατιώτης ἀπὸ τὰ Τύανα στὰ χρόνια τῶν διωγμῶν ἐπὶ Διοκλητιανοῦ. Ἐκτελοῦσε καθήκοντα φρουροῦ στὶς φυλακές, ὅπου ἔκλειναν χριστιανοῦς. Τὰ παθήματά τους τὸν ἔθλιβαν καὶ ἡ γενναιότητά τους ἄναβε περισσότερο τὴν πίστη του. Ἦταν καὶ αὐτὸς χριστιανός, ἀλλὰ οἱ ἀνώτεροί του καὶ οἱ συστρατιῶτες του δὲν τὸ ἤξεραν. Ἑπομένως δὲν ὑπῆρχε ἐναντίον του καμία ὑποψία καὶ ἐπωφελούμενος ἀπ᾿ αὐτὸ κατόρθωνε νὰ φέρνει τροφὲς στοὺς μάρτυρες, νὰ τοὺς ἐνισχύει καὶ νὰ τοὺς παρηγορεῖ. Κάποτε ἔφεραν στὴν φυλακὴ ἕξι πιστοὺς σεβάσμιους ἀσκητές. Ἦταν καὶ ἕβδομος, ἀλλὰ πέθανε στὸ δρόμο λόγω γήρατος ἀπὸ τὶς κακουχίες. Οἱ ἔγκλειστοι αὐτοί, μὲ τὴν φυσιογνωμία τῶν λόγων καὶ τῶν τρόπων τους, ἐπηρέασαν πολὺ τὴν ψυχὴ τοῦ Οὐάρου, ὥστε θέλησε νὰ πεθάνει μαζί τους. Ὅταν λοιπὸν τοὺς ῥώτησε ὁ δικαστὴς ποὺ εἶναι ὁ ἕβδομος σύντροφός τους, ὁ Οὐάρος φώναξε «ἰδοὺ ἐγώ». Καὶ συγχρόνως ἄρχισε νὰ διακηρύττει ὅτι εἶναι Χριστιανός. Μάταια προσπάθησαν οἱ ἀξιωματικοί του νὰ τὸν μεταπείσουν. Αὐτὸς παρακαλοῦσε τοὺς ἀσκητές, νὰ προσευχηθοῦν στὸ Θεὸ νὰ τοῦ δώσει δύναμη ν᾿ ἀντέξει στὰ βασανιστήρια ποὺ ἦταν πολὺ ἄγρια. Τελικὰ νίκησε. Πέθανε χωρὶς ν᾿ ἀλλαξοπιστήσει. Τὴν ἑπομένη κόπηκαν καὶ τὰ κεφάλια τῶν ἀσκητῶν. Τὴ νύχτα χριστιανικὰ χέρια, ἔθαψαν εὐλαβικὰ τοὺς ἑπτὰ μάρτυρες τῆς πίστης.
Οἱ Ἅγιοι ἕξι Ὁσιομάρτυρες οἱ ἐρημῖτες
Μαρτύρησαν διὰ ξίφους, μαζὶ μὲ τὸν Ἅγιο Οὐάρο.
Ἡ Ὁσία Κλεοπάτρα
Η Οσία Κλεοπάτρα απεβίωσε ειρηνικά. Περιποιήθηκε τον Άγιο Ούαρο (βλέπε την ίδια ημέρα), όταν τον βασάνιζαν. Μετά τον θάνατο του Αγίου Ούαρου, η Κλεοπάτρα πήρε τα λείψανα του, τα έθαψε στην Παλαιστίνη και έκτισε μεγαλοπρεπή Ναό αφιερωμένο στον Άγιο.
Η Κλεοπάτρα είχε έναν μονάκριβο γιο ο οποίος ήταν αξιωματούχος στην αυλή του βασιλιά. Κάποτε όμως αρρώστησε βαριά και πέθανε. Τότε η Κλεοπάτρα έτρεξε στον Ναό του Αγίου Ούαρου και τον παρακάλεσε είτε να αναστήσει τον γιο της είτε να πάρει και αυτή μαζί με εκείνον. Η Κλεοπάτρα, εξαντλημένη πλέον, κοιμήθηκε και είδε στον ύπνο της τον Άγιο Ούαρο μαζί με τον γιο της στολισμένους με λαμπρά ενδύματα να της λένε παρηγορητικά λόγια. Όταν ξύπνησε, γέμισε από χαρά διότι κατάλαβε ότι ο γιος της ήταν στον Παράδεισο. Πήρε, λοιπόν, το νεκρό σώμα του γιου της και το έθαψε κοντά στον τάφο του Αγίου Ούαρου. Αφού διαμοίρασε την περιουσία της στους φτωχούς, έμεινε κοντά στον Ναό και έκανε πολλές αγαθοεργίες και αφού πέρασαν επτά χρόνια, κοιμήθηκε εν ειρήνη.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Σαδὼθ (ἢ Σαδὼκ ἢ Σαδώχ) ὁ ἐπίσκοπος καὶ οἱ 120 Μάρτυρες ἀπὸ τὴν Περσία
Ὁ Σαδὼθ ἦταν ἐπίσκοπος τῆς μικρῆς χριστιανικῆς ποίμνης στὴν πρωτεύουσα τῆς Περσίας, ὅταν βασίλευε σ᾿ αὐτὴν ὁ Σαπὼρ ὁ Β´ (330). Ὁ Σαδὼθ διακρινόταν γιὰ τὴν εὐσέβεια καὶ τὴν φιλανθρωπία του, ποὺ ἐξασκοῦσε μὲ ἀγαθοεργίες ὄχι μόνο στοὺς δικούς του ἀλλὰ καὶ στοὺς ἀλλόδοξους. Οἱ ἱερεῖς ὅμως τῶν Περσῶν, ἡ τάξη δηλαδὴ τῶν λεγόμενων Μάγων, δὲν ἀνέχονταν τὸ ἔργο τοῦ Σαδὼθ καὶ ἔτσι τὸν συκοφάντησαν στὸν βασιλέα, ὅτι δῆθεν τὸν εἰρωνεύεται. Ὁ βασιλιὰς διέταξε τὸν Σαδὼθ νὰ ἀρνηθεῖ τὸν Χριστὸ γιὰ νὰ σώσει τὴ ζωή του, ἀλλ᾿ ὁ Ἅγιος ἀρνήθηκε σθεναρά. Τότε ὁ βασιλιάς, ἔδωσε διαταγὴ καὶ ἀποκεφάλισαν τὸν Σαδώθ, μαζὶ μὲ ἄλλους 120 Χριστιανούς. (Ἡ μνήμη τῶν Ἅγιων αὐτῶν ἐπαναλαμβάνεται καὶ τὴν 20ή Φεβρουαρίου).
Ὁ Ἅγιος Λεόντιος ὁ φιλόσοφος
Οἱ Ἅγιοι Φήλιξ ὁ Πρεσβύτερος καὶ Εὐσέβιος ὁ Διάκονος
Μαρτύρησαν διὰ ξίφους. Βλέπε καὶ 7 Ὀκτωβρίου, βιογραφία Ἁγίων Ἰουλιανοῦ πρεσβυτέρου καὶ Καισαρίου Διακόνου.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Ἰωάννης ὁ θαυματουργὸς ποὺ ἀσκήτευσε στὸ ὄρος τοῦ Ῥίλα
Ἦταν Βούλγαρος στὴν καταγωγὴ καὶ γεννήθηκε στὸ χωριὸ Σκρίνο, κοντὰ στὴ Σόφια (Βουλγαρίας), ἐπὶ βασιλείας Πέτρου τοῦ Βούλγαρου. Ἔχοντας μοναχικὴ κλίση, πῆγε πρῶτα σὲ κάποια Μονὴ καὶ κατόπιν ἀνέβηκε στὸ ὄρος Ῥίλα. Ἐκεῖ ἔκτισε πρῶτα μικρὴ καλύβα, ποὺ μὲ τὸ χρόνο ἔγινε καταφύγιο πολλῶν μοναχῶν. Στὴ συνέχεια, ἔκτισε τὴν Μονὴ τοῦ Ῥίλα, στὴν ὁποία ἀσκητικὰ ἀφοῦ ἔζησε, ἀπεβίωσε εἰρηνικά.
THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:
1. The Holy Prophet Joel
Joel is second in the line of the minor prophets. St. Joel was the son of Phanuel, from the tribe of Reuben. He lived eight hundred years before Christ. Joel prophesied the misfortunes of the people of Israel, and the Babylonian Captivity because of the sins they had committed in the sight of God. He called the people to fasting and the priests to tearful penitential prayer, that God would have mercy on them: Sanctify ye a fast … and cry unto the Lord (Joel 1:14); Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar (Joel 2:17). Joel also foretold the Descent of the Spirit of God upon the apostles and the pouring out of the grace of the Spirit of God upon all Christians: Then afterward I will pour out My spirit upon all flesh (Joel 2:28). He prophesied and described the Dread Judgment of God, and also prophesied the glory of God's Holy Church.
2. The Holy Martyr Varus
Varus was a Roman officer in Egypt and also secretly a Christian. When seven Christian teachers were cast into prison, Varus visited them, supplying them with necessities and ministering to them zealously. He was amazed at these martyrs and grieved that because of his fear he could not become a martyr for Christ. The men of God encouraged him, and Varus decided that he would go with them to be tortured. One of these men of God died in prison, so that when the wicked eparch had the martyrs brought before him, there were only six remaining. He inquired as to the seventh. Varus said to him: ``I am the seventh.'' The enraged governor tortured Varus first. He commanded that he be flogged with dry rods naked, and after that had him tied to a tree and sliced apart piece by piece until the saint gave his holy soul to God. His body was thrown on a dung heap. A Palestinian woman named Cleopatra, the widow of an officer, was there with her son John. She secretly took Varus's holy relics from the dung heap and buried them in her house. Then she begged permission from the eparch to take the body of her deceased husband from Egypt to Palestine. As she was the wife of an officer, the eparch immediately gave his permission. However, the blessed Christian Cleopatra did not take the body of her husband but the relics of the Holy Martyr Varus instead. Thus, she brought the martyr's relics to Edras (the village of her birth) near Mount Tabor, and buried them with honor there. Afterward, she built a church to St. Varus and he often appeared to her from the other world, resplendent as an angel of God.
3. The Venerable Prochorus of Pchinja
St. Prochorus was a contemporary and friend of Saints John of Rila and Gabriel of Lesnov. According to his prayer, God showed him the place where he would live a life of asceticism. This place was a wooded area near the River Pchinja. Here Prochorus labored in asceticism to his old age and repose. Only the One All-seeing God knows the extent of Prochorus's labors and the temptations he endured in the course of his asceticism. But one can judge by his myrrh-gushing relics and his numberless miraculous healings-which have continued up to today-the greatness of his asceticism and the greatness of God's grace which was given to him because of his great labors. St. Prochorus entered into rest and took up his abode in the Kingdom of God in the eleventh century.
HYMN OF PRAISE
The Venerable Prochorus of Pchinja
From his early youth, holy Father Prochorus
Hid from the world and from vanity,
Diligently working with fasting and sweat,
Until his soul was raised up and bound to God.
His companions were beasts of the forest;
Resplendent angels were his protection;
The saints of God were astonished at him,
For St. Prochorus attained all that they had attained.
God gave him abundant grace:
Great and powerful authority over demons,
Power over infirmity and varied sufferings,
Help for the sorrowing by his prayers.
By labors, Prochorus seized heaven,
And of the Heavenly Kingdom he became worthy.
He made himself worthy, and helps others
Who seek to enter into the Kingdom.
The temporal he cast off; the eternal he embraced;
And he paid a small price for the precious treasure.
The wonderworker Prochorus is in Paradise-
In heavenly splendor, now entirely aglow.
And he helps those who pray to him,
Those who believe in and love Christ our God.
An appearance of the Holy Martyr Varus: When the devout widow Cleopatra built a church to him, she summoned the bishop and priests to consecrate it. A large number of Christians gathered for this celebration, for the entire countryside venerated St. Varus as a great healer and miracle-worker. Following the divine services, this pious benefactress went before the relics of St. Varus and prayed: ``I beseech you-you who endured much suffering for Christ-implore God for that which is pleasing to Him; and for me and my only son, ask that which is beneficial.'' Cleopatra's son John was ready for the army. Just as she left the church, John became ill. He was seized with a burning fever that grew steadily worse until, around midnight, John died. The grief-stricken, furious mother came before the tomb of St. Varus and spoke sharply: ``O saint of God! Is this the way you help me?'' and she said much more in her bitter lamentation until, utterly exhausted, she fell into a light sleep. St. Varus appeared to her with her son John. Both were radiant as the sun in garments whiter than snow, bound with golden girdles, and had magnificent wreaths on their heads. God's saint said to her: ``Did you not pray to me to implore God for whatever was pleasing to Him, and beneficial to you and your son? I prayed to God and He, in His unspeakable goodness, took your son into His heavenly army. If you so desire, here he is: take him and place him in the army of the earthly king.'' Hearing this, the young John embraced St. Varus and said: ``No, my Lord, do not listen to my mother and do not send me back into the world-full of unrighteousness and iniquity-from which you have delivered me.'' Awakening from the dream, Cleopatra felt great joy in her heart and left the church. She lived near the church for seven years, and St. Varus often appeared to her with John.
Contemplate Saul's wondrous conversion to the Christian Faith (Acts 9):
1. How Saul set out to persecute Christians in Damascus;
2. How a light shone down from heaven and He heard the voice of Christ.
on the soul's thirst for God
My soul thirsts for God, for the Living God: When shall I come and appear before God? (Psalm 42:2).
When only a spark of love for God shines in the heart of man, he should not extinguish it but let it burn, and he will see a miracle. That spark will flare up into a torch of unseen radiance, and the light and its warmth will be very great. In the light of his love for God, a man will feel his life in this world to be as darkness; and from the warmth of his love for God, he will feel an unquenchable thirst for God, a thirst to be closer to God, a thirst for seeing God. David, the lover of God, compares this thirst to the thirst of a deer who races to springs of water. My soul thirsts for God, for the Living God. Is not everything around us infirm? Does not everything around us quickly decay? We grab at shadows, we embrace corpses. We pay today for tomorrow's stench-we pay with gold and silver, sometimes with our honor and conscience, and at times even with our life-for the stench of tomorrow's decay! This is not love but animal lust. A great soul seeks a subject worthy of love, seeks a subject not susceptible to destruction, decay, decomposition and the filth of transient bodies. That is why King David, the lover of God, emphasizes the Living God. For who, in truth, is mighty and alive save God? God endowed His angels and saints with strength and life: yet all of it is His, and from Him. When shall I come and appear before God? Here is the irresistible yearning of true love for God. Shame on all who say that they believe in God, and love God, while the very thought of death-of leaving this world-drives them wild with fear.
O Lord our God, holy, mighty and living-the Source of holiness, the Source of strength, the Source of life-illumine us and warm us with love for Thee.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.