FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:
Anastasia the Martyr of Rome
Avramios the Recluse & his niece Maria of Mesopotamia
Αγία Αναστασία η Ρωμαία, η Οσιομάρτυς
Όσιος Αβράμιος και Μαρία η ανεψιά του
Άγιοι Κύριλλος, Μίνης και Μιναίος
Άγιος Σάββας ο στρατηλάτης
Οσία Άννα η μετονομασθείσα Eυφημιανός
READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:
The Reading is from St. Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians 1:8-11
BRETHREN, we do not want you to be ignorant of the affliction we experienced in Asia; for we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself, Why, we felt that we had received the sentence of death; but that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead; he delivered us from so deadly a peril, and he will deliver us; on him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us in answer to many prayers.
Πρὸς Κορινθίους β' 1:8-11
Ἀδελφοί, oὐ θέλομεν ὑμᾶς ἀγνοεῖν, ἀδελφοί, ὑπὲρ τῆς θλίψεως ἡμῶν τῆς γενομένης ἡμῖν ἐν τῇ Ἀσίᾳ, ὅτι καθʼ ὑπερβολὴν ἐβαρήθημεν ὑπὲρ δύναμιν, ὥστε ἐξαπορηθῆναι ἡμᾶς καὶ τοῦ ζῇν. Ἀλλὰ αὐτοὶ ἐν ἑαυτοῖς τὸ ἀπόκριμα τοῦ θανάτου ἐσχήκαμεν, ἵνα μὴ πεποιθότες ὦμεν ἐφʼ ἑαυτοῖς ἀλλʼ ἐπὶ τῷ θεῷ τῷ ἐγείροντι τοὺς νεκρούς· ὃς ἐκ τηλικούτου θανάτου ἐρρύσατο ἡμᾶς καὶ ῥύεται, εἰς ὃν ἠλπίκαμεν ὅτι καὶ ἔτι ῥύσεται, συνυπουργούντων καὶ ὑμῶν ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν τῇ δεήσει, ἵνα ἐκ πολλῶν προσώπων τὸ εἰς ἡμᾶς χάρισμα διὰ πολλῶν εὐχαριστηθῇ ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν.
The Reading is from Luke 8:16-21
The Lord said, "No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a vessel, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hid that shall not be made manifest, nor anything secret that shall not be known and come to light. Take heed then how you hear; for to him who has will more be given, and from him who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away."
Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him for the crowd. And he was told, "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you." But he said to them, "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it."
Κατὰ Λουκᾶν 8.16-21
Εἶπεν ὁ Κύριος· Οὐδεὶς δὲ λύχνον ἅψας καλύπτει αὐτὸν σκεύει ἢ ὑποκάτω κλίνης τίθησιν, ἀλλ᾿ ἐπὶ λυχνίας ἐπιτίθησιν, ἵνα οἱ εἰσπορευόμενοι βλέπωσι τὸ φῶς.οὐ γάρ ἐστι κρυπτὸν ὃ οὐ φανερὸν γενήσεται, οὐδὲ ἀπόκρυφον ὃ οὐ γνωσθήσεται καὶ εἰς φανερὸν ἔλθῃ.βλέπετε οὖν πῶς ἀκούετε· ὃς γὰρ ἐὰν ἔχῃ, δοθήσεται αὐτῷ, καὶ ὃς ἐὰν μὴ ἔχῃ, καὶ ὃ δοκεῖ ἔχειν ἀρθήσεται ἀπ᾿ αὐτοῦ. Παρεγένοντο δὲ πρὸς αὐτὸν ἡ μήτηρ καὶ οἱ ἀδελφοὶ αὐτοῦ, καὶ οὐκ ἠδύναντο συντυχεῖν αὐτῷ διὰ τὸν ὄχλον.καὶ ἀπηγγέλη αὐτῷ λεγόντων· ἡ μήτηρ σου καὶ οἱ ἀδελφοί σου ἑστήκασιν ἔξω ἰδεῖν σε θέλοντες.ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπε πρὸς αὐτούς· μήτηρ μου καὶ ἀδελφοί μου οὗτοί εἰσιν οἱ τὸν λόγον τοῦ Θεοῦ ἀκούοντες καὶ ποιοῦντες αὐτόν.
READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:
Τῇ ΚΘ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, Μνήμη τῆς Ἁγίας Ὁσιομάρτυρος Ἀναστασίας τῆς Ῥωμαίας.
Κάρας τομὴν ἤνεγκε ῥώμῃ καρδίας,
Βλάστημα Ῥώμης, Μάρτυς Ἀναστασία.
Τλῆ δὲ Ἀναστασίη ἐνάτη ξίφος εἰκάδι ὀξύ.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη του Ὁσίου Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Ἀβραμίου, καὶ Μαρίας τῆς ἀνεψιᾶς αὐτοῦ.
Σαρκὸς νεκρώσας Ἀβράμιε πᾶν μέλος,
Θανὼν συνοικεῖς τοῖς ἀσάρκοις Ἀγγέλοις.
Ἀφεῖσα σαρκὸς τοὺς ἐραστὰς Μαρία,
Ψυχῶν ἐραστῇ μυστικῶς περιπλέκῃ.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Μάρτυρος Κυρίλλου.
Ὑπόσχεσιν μέλλοντος οὖσάν μοι στέφους,
Κύριλλος οἶδα τὴν ἀπειλὴν τοῦ ξίφους.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, ὁ Ἅγιος Σάββας ὁ Στρατηλάτης ἔνθεν κἀκεῖθεν κεντηθείς, τελειοῦται.
Σάββας κατ' ἄμφω κλήσεως μέρη Σάββας,
Ὅθεν κατ' ἄμφω νύττεται λόγχαις μέρη.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τῆς ὁσίας Μητρὸς ἡμῶν Ἄννης, τῆς μετονομασθείσης Εὐφημιανός.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τῆς Ἁγίας Μάρτυρος Μελιτηνῆς.
Ταῖς αὐτῶν ἁγίαις πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεός, ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.
Saint Anastasia, who was young in age and lived in a convent, was seized by the impious. Confessing Christ openly and with boldness and enduring manifold torments, she was beheaded in the year 256, during the reign of Valerian.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Ἡ ἀμνάς σου Ἰησοῦ, κράζει μεγάλῃ τῇ φωνῇ, Σὲ Νυμφίε μου ποθῶ, καὶ σὲ ζητοῦσα ἀθλῶ, καὶ συσταυροῦμαι, καὶ συνθάπτομαι τῷ βαπτισμῷ σου, καὶ πάσχω διὰ σέ, ὡς βασιλεύσω σὺν σοί, καὶ θνῄσκω ὑπὲρ σοῦ, ἵνα καὶ ζήσω ἐν σοί, ἀλλ' ὡς θυσίαν ἄμωμον, προσδέχου τὴν μετὰ πόθου τυθεῖσάν σοι· Αὐτῆς πρεσβείαις, ὡς ἐλεήμων, σῶσον τὰς ψυχὰς ἡμῶν.
O LORD Jesus, unto Thee Thy lamb doth cry with a great voice: O my Bridegroom, Thee I love; and seeking Thee, I now contest, and with Thy baptism am crucified and buried. I suffer for Thy sake, that I may reign with Thee; for Thy sake I die, that I may live in Thee: accept me offered out of longing to Thee as a spotless sacrifice. Lord, save our souls through her intercessions, since Thou art great in mercy.
Kontakion in the Third Tone
Παρθενίας vάμασι, καθηγvισμέvη οσία, μαρτυρίου αίμασιν, Αvαστασία πλυθείσα, παρέχεις τοίς εν ανάγκαις τών νοσημάτων, ίασιν καί σωτηρίαν τοίς προσιούσιν, εκ καρδίας, ισχύν γάρ νέμει, Χριστός ο βρύωv, χάριν αέναοv.
Made most pure, O righteous one, with chaste virginity's waters, and washed in martyric blood, O Anastasia, thou grantest unto those in need the healing of every illness, and to those who come with love thou grantest salvation; for the well-spring of unfailing grace, even Christ God, bestoweth power on thee.
Our Righteous Father Avramios, born in Edessa in Mesopotamia in 296, took up the monastic life and brought many pagans to Christ. Mary, his niece, upon the death of her parents, joined Avramios at his hermitage and under his guidance advanced swiftly in the love of God. Through the wiles of the evil one, however, she fell into sin, and falling from them into despair, she left her uncle and became a harlot. When he learned where his niece was, Avramios put on the clothes of a man of the world and went to visit her in disguise. Through his exhortations, Mary returned to her first hope in the mercy of God, was rescued from the life of harlotry, and ended her life in great holiness. He himself reposed in the year 366. Saints Avramios and Mary were friends of Saint Ephraim the Syrian, and it was he who wrote their account.
Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Εν σοί Πάτερ ακριβώς διεσώθη τό κατ' εικόνα, λαβών γάρ τόν σταυρόν, ηκολούθησας τώ Χριστώ καί πράττων εδίδασκες, υπεροράν μέν σαρκός, παρέρχεται γάρ, επιμελείσθαι δέ ψυχής πράγματος αθανάτου. Διό καί μετά Αγγέλων συναγάλλεται, Όσιε Αβράμιε τό πνεύμά σου.
In thee the image was preserved with exactness, O Father; for taking up thy cross, thou didst follow Christ, and by thy deeds thou didst teach us to overlook the flesh, for it passeth away, but to attend to the soul since it is immortal. Wherefore, O righteous Avramios , thy spirit rejoiceth with the Angels.
Kontakion in the Third Tone
Thou, while living in the flesh, wast as an angel upon earth; and through thine ascetic pains, thou didst become like a great tree planted by the streams of temp'rance, increasing greatly; with the rivers of thy tears, thou didst cleanse away stains. O Avramios, for this cause, a godly vessel of the Good Spirit art thou.
Πριν από την πτώση τους, οι Πρωτόπλαστοι ήσαν γυμνοί στον Παράδεισο "και ουκ ησχύνοντο". Μετά την παρακοή και την πτώση, ανοίχθηκαν τα μάτια τους και κατάλαβαν πως ήσαν γυμνοί. Τότε "έρραψαν φύλλα συκής και εποίησαν εαυτοίς περιζώματα". Μετά την ετυμηγορία του κατά των Πρωτοπλάστων, "εποίησε Κύριος ο Θεός τω Αδάμ και τη γυναικί αυτού χιτώνας δερματίνους και ενέδυσεν αυτούς". Από τότε, όσο περισσότερο γυμνώνεται ο άνθρωπος, τόσο περισσότερο δείχνει πως του λείπει η ντροπή. Σε παλαιότερη εποχή, που οι άνθρωποι δεν γυμνώνονταν μόνοι τους, για να πομπέψουν κάποιον, τον γύμνωναν και τον εξέθεταν σε κοινή θέα. Γυμνός υψώθηκε στο Σταυρό ο Σωτήρας του κόσμου και γυμνή υποχρεώθηκε να σταθή εμπρός στα μάτια του όχλου και η αγία Μελιτινή, της οποίας την μνήμη γιορτάζει σήμερα η Εκκλησία. Γυμνώθηκαν οι Άγιοι για καταισχύνη από τους ανθρώπους, κι ενδύθηκαν από τον Θεό με τιμή και δόξα.
Holy Virgin Martyr Anastasia of Rome (256)
She lived in Rome during the reigns of the Emperors Decius and Valerian. At an early age she left all to embrace a life of unceasing prayer, entering a small monastery in Rome, directed by a nun named Sophia. For her Christian faith, she was seized and brought before the governor Probus and, when she boldly confessed Christ and refused to honor the idols, was subjected to a series of vicious tortures, under which she died. An angel led Sophia to retrieve her holy relics, which are now venerated at the monastery of Grigoriou on Mt Athos.
We are sometimes told that monasticism developed in the Church after Christianity became accepted and grew more worldly. The story of St Anastasia is one of many evidences in the lives of the Saints that what we now call monasticism was present from the earliest days of the Church.
Our Holy Father Abramius (366) and his niece Mary (371) of Mesopotamia
Abramius was a Christian of noble birth who, early in life, left all (including a young bride) to live as a solitary monk. This he did for fifty years. When Abramius' brother died, leaving his seven-year-old daughter Mary orphaned and alone, The Saint took her under his care, giving her a monastic cell near his own. Though Mary devoted herself joyfully to the monastic life, when she was about twenty she fell into sin with a corrupt monk who visited the hermitage. Far worse, she then fell into despair, thinking that she had cast away her salvation, and fled the hermitage to become a harlot in a nearby town. Abramius, unaware of what had happened or where she had gone, prayed constantly for her safety and to be shown where she had fled.
One day a traveler told Abramius what had become of his niece. Immediately he rose up, dressed himself as a soldier and went to the brothel where Mary worked, "for the salvation of a soul meant more to him than hermitage, Habit, ascesis or prayer itself" (Synaxarion). Still disguised, he ordered a meal, his first wine and meat for fifty years, then went with Mary to her room. Only then did he reveal himself, and with tears, not accusing her at all, pleaded with her to leave that place and return with him. "Let us go, my child; let us return to our hermitage. Let your fault be mine. I will answer for it before Christ on the day of judgment." She returned with him and, with repentance, prayed so ardently that she was soon granted not only assurance of forgiveness but the power to work miracles. St Abramius reposed in peace in great old age; Mary followed him into eternal joy five years later.
Ἡ Ἁγία Ἀναστασία ἡ Ῥωμαία, ἡ Ὁσιομάρτυς
Ἡ Ὁσία Ἀναστασία ἔζησε στὰ χρόνια τοῦ Διοκλητιανοῦ καὶ καταγόταν ἀπὸ τὴν Ῥώμη. Ὅταν πέθαναν οἱ πλούσιοι γονεῖς της, διαμοίρασε τὴν περιουσία ποὺ κληρονόμησε στοὺς φτωχοὺς καὶ ἀποσύρθηκε σὲ μοναστήρι. Ὅταν τὴν συνέλαβε ὁ ἡγεμόνας Πρόβος, ὑπενθύμισε στὴν Ἀναστασία τὴν ἀνθηρὴ νεότητά της, γιὰ τὴν ὁποία θὰ ἔπρεπε νὰ ἀρνηθεῖ τὸ Χριστό. Τότε, δυναμικὴ ὑπῆρξε ἡ ἀπάντηση τῆς Ἀναστασίας: «Ἐγὼ, εἶπε, μία ὡραιότητα καὶ νεότητα γνωρίζω, ἐκείνη ποὺ δίνει ὁ Χριστὸς στὶς πιστὲς καὶ γενναῖες ψυχές, ποὺ προτιμοῦν γι᾿ Αὐτὸν τὸ θάνατο ἀντὶ ἄλλων ἐγκόσμιων ἀγαθῶν, ὅταν αὐτὰ προτείνονται γιὰ τὴν προδοσία τοῦ Θεοῦ τους. Πλούτη εἶχα ἄφθονα. Δὲν τὰ θέλησα. Ἀλλὰ τὸ Χριστό μου τὸν θέλω καὶ ἀπ᾿ Αὐτὸν καμία δύναμη δὲ θὰ μπορέσει νὰ μὲ χωρίσει. Ἂν ἀμφιβάλλεις, δοκίμασε». Ἐξαγριωμένος ἀπὸ τὴν ἀπάντηση ὁ Πρόβος, τὴν μαστίγωσε στὸ πρόσωπο καὶ τὴν ἅπλωσε σὲ ἀναμμένα κάρβουνα. Ἔπειτα, τὴν κρέμασε καὶ τῆς ἔσχισε τὸ σῶμα. Μετὰ ἔκοψε τοὺς μαστούς της, ξερίζωσε τὰ νύχια της καὶ τελικὰ τὴν ἀποκεφάλισε. Ἔτσι, ἡ Ἀναστασία πῆρε τὸν ἁμαράντινο στέφανο τοῦ μαρτυρίου.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Ἀβράμιος καὶ Μαρία ἡ ἀνεψιά του
Ἄριστεύς τῆς ἐγκράτειας καὶ τῶν πνευματικῶν ἀσκήσεων, ὁ Ὅσιος Ἀβράμιος ἄφησε τὴν μεγάλη περιουσία ποὺ κληρονόμησε στοὺς φτωχοὺς καὶ ἀφοσιώθηκε ὁλοκληρωτικὰ στὴ διακονία τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ τοῦ πλησίον. Ζοῦσε σὲ ἐρημικὸ τόπο, ὅπου προσευχόταν καὶ μελετοῦσε τὰ ἱερὰ γράμματα. Ἀπὸ κεῖ πήγαινε σὲ διάφορες πόλεις, γιὰ νὰ κηρύξει τὸ λόγο τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ νὰ διακονήσει τὴν βασιλεία τῆς ἀλήθειας καὶ τῆς εἰρήνης τοῦ Εὐαγγελίου. Ἡ πίστη, ἡ ἀγάπη καὶ ἡ ὑπομονή του κατόρθωσαν πολλὲς φορὲς νὰ καταπραΰνουν βάρβαρες καρδιὲς καὶ νὰ ἑλκύσουν στὸ σταυρὸ ψυχὲς ὑπερβολικὰ ἐξαγριωμένες. Πάνω ἀπὸ 70 ἐτῶν ὁ Ἀβράμιος, διατηροῦσε ὅλη τὴν ζωντάνια τῆς ἱεραποστολικῆς δράσης του. Προστατευόμενος μάλιστα καὶ ἀπὸ τὴν ἡλικία του, μπόρεσε νὰ ἀφοσιωθεῖ στὴ σωτηρία ἁμαρτωλῶν γυναικῶν. Κάποτε εὐτύχησε νὰ ἀνασύρει ἀπὸ τὸ βόρβορο τῆς ἁμαρτίας καὶ τὴν κόρη τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ του, τὴν Μαρία. Τὴν εἶδε σὲ κάποιο πανδοχεῖο, χωρὶς νὰ τὴν γνωρίζει, φορτωμένη μὲ κοσμήματα καὶ συντροφιὰ μὲ ἀκόλαστους νέους. Ἡ παραστρατημένη ὅμως νεαρή, δὲν εἶχε ἀποβάλει ἐντελῶς τὶς εὐσεβεῖς ἀναμνήσεις της. Τὴν ἑπομένη, πῆγε στὸ γέροντα ἀσκητὴ καὶ ζήτησε τὴν εὐλογία του. Ἐκεῖνος τῆς ἀπάντησε ὅτι δὲν ὠφελεῖ σὲ τίποτα ἡ εὐλογία τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ὅταν ὁ Θεὸς εἶναι ἀναγκασμένος νὰ μὴ παρέχει τὴν δική Του. Τὰ λόγια αὐτὰ συντάραξαν τὴν Μαρία, μετανόησε, ἐξομολογήθηκε καὶ ἀπὸ τότε ἔζησε ζωὴ ἅγια. Ὁ δὲ Ἀβράμιος πέθανε ὑπέργηρος, ὑπηρετῶντας πιστὰ μέχρι τέλους τὸ Θεό.
Οἱ Ἅγιοι Κύριλλος, Μίνης καὶ Μιναῖος
Μαρτύρησαν διὰ ξίφους. (Ἡ μνήμη τῶν Ἁγίων Μίνη καὶ Μιναίου, ἐπαναλαμβάνεται καὶ τὴν 1η Αὐγούστου).
Ὁ Ἅγιος Σάββας ὁ στρατηλάτης
Μαρτύρησε, ἀφοῦ τὸν θανάτωσαν τρυπῶντας του τὰ πλευρὰ μὲ λόγχη.
Ἡ Ὁσία Ἄννα
Γεννήθηκε στὸ Βυζάντιο ἀπὸ εὐσεβεῖς γονεῖς καὶ ὁ πατέρας της, Ἰωάννης ὀνομαζόμενος, ἦταν Διάκονος στὸν Ναὸ τῆς Θεοτόκου στὶς Βλαχέρνες. Νωρὶς ἔμεινε ὀρφανὴ ἀπὸ γονεῖς καὶ ἡ γιαγιά της τὴν πάντρεψε μὲ κάποιο εὐσεβῆ Διάκονο, μὲ τὸν ὁποῖο ἀπόκτησε δυὸ παιδιά. Ἀλλ᾿ ἀργότερα, ὁ ἄντρας της καὶ τὰ δυό της παιδιὰ πέθαναν καὶ ἔτσι ἡ Ἄννα διαμοίρασε τὰ ὑπάρχοντά της καὶ ἀποσύρθηκε σὲ μοναστήρι. Κατόπιν ὅμως, ὁ εἰκονομάχος Λέων ὁ Ἴσαυρος, διέλυσε τὴν Μονὴ στὴν ὁποία ἀνῆκε ἡ Ἄννα. Στὴν ἀνάγκη αὐτή, ἡ Ὁσία φόρεσε ῥοῦχα ἀνδρικὰ καὶ μπῆκε σὲ ἀνδρικὸ μοναστήρι μὲ τὸ ψευδώνυμο Εὐφημιανός. Ἐκεῖ ἔζησε μὲ μεγάλη προσοχὴ καὶ ἀκρίβεια, καὶ μετὰ τὸν θάνατο τοῦ Λέοντα τοῦ Ἰσαύρου, φόρεσε πάλι γυναικεῖα ῥοῦχα καὶ ἔμεινε σὰν μοναχὴ στὸ Βυζάντιο. Ἐκεῖ ἐπιδόθηκε στὴ διακονία τῶν φτωχῶν καὶ τῶν ἀσθενῶν. Μὲ τέτοια δὲ θεοφιλῆ ἐργασία παρέδωσε τὸ πνεῦμα της στὸν Κύριο.
Ἡ Ἁγία Μελιτινή
Ἀφοῦ βασανίστηκε μὲ τὸν πιὸ φρικτὸ τρόπο, ἐπειδὴ δὲν θυσίαζε στὰ εἴδωλα καὶ ὁμολογοῦσε τὸν Χριστό, τελικὰ μετὰ ἀπὸ πολλὰ χτυπήματα μὲ ξίφος, παρέδωσε τὴν ψυχή της στὸ Θεό.
The MonasticMartyress Anastasia the Roman in infancy lost her parents, and she was then taken under the care of the head of a women's monastery, named Sophia. The hegumeness raised Anastasia in fervent faith, in the fear of God and obedience. During these times there began the persecution against Christians by the emperor Decius (249-251). The city administrator, Probus, on the orders of the emperor commanded that Anastasia be brought to him. Having been blessed by her eldress-mentor for the deed of suffering for the Name of Christ, the young Martyress Anastasia humbly came out to meet the armed soldiers. Seeing her youth and beauty, Probus at first attempted by false flattery to tempt her and lead her into a renunciation of faith in Christ: "Why waste thine years, deprived of pleasure? What is there to gain in giving thyself over to tortures and death for the Crucified? Worship our gods, get thyself some handsome husband, and live in glory and honour". The saint steadfastly replied: "My Bridegroom, my riches, my life and my happiness -- is my Lord Jesus Christ, and with the threat of torments thou canst not part me from the Lord!" Fiercesome tortures were then begun. The holy martyress bravely endured them, glorifying and praising the Lord. In anger the torturers cut out her tongue. The people, seeing the inhuman and disgusting treatment of the saint, became indignant, and the governor of the city was compelled to bring the torture to a close, by beheading the martyress. The body of Saint Anastasia was thrown out beyond the city for devouring by wild animals, but the Lord did not permit that a mockery should be made with the holy remains. Learning of this through the Lord, the hegumeness Sophia found the torn body of the martyress, and with the help of two Christians she consigned it to earth.
The Monk Abraham the Hermit and Blessed Maria, his niece, asceticised in the village of Chidan, near the city of Edessa. They were contemporaries and of the same country together with the Monk Ephrem the Syrian (Comm. 28 January), who afterwards wrote about their life. The Monk Abraham began his difficult exploit of the solitary life in the prime of youth. He left his parental home and settled in a desolate wilderness place, far off from worldly enticements, and he spent his days in unceasing prayer. After the death of his parents, the saint refused his inheritance and requested his kinsmen to give it away to the poor. By his strict ascetic life, fasting and love for mankind, Abraham attracted to him many, seeking after spiritual light, prayer and blessing. Soon his faith was put to a serious test: he was appointed presbyter in one of the pagan villages of Mesopotamia. For three years, and sparing no efforts, the monk toiled over the enlightenment of the pagans. He tore down a pagan temple and built up a temple of God. Humbly enduring derision and even beating from obstinate idol-worshippers, in prayer he beseeched the Lord: "Look down, O Master, upon Thine servant, hearken unto my prayer, strengthen me and set free Thy servants from diabolical snares and grant them to know Thee, the One True God". The zealous pastor was granted the happiness to see the culmination of his righteous efforts: the pagans came to believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and the monk himself baptised them. Having fulfilled his priestly duty, Abraham again withdrew into his wilderness, where he continued to glorify God, and doing His holy will. The devil, put to shame by the deeds of the monk, tried to entrap him with proud thoughts. One time at midnight, when Saint Abraham was at prayer in his cell, suddenly there shone a light and a voice was heard: "Blessed art thou, blessed as is no one amongst mankind!" Confuting the wiles of the enemy, the saint said: "I -- am a sinful man, but I trust on the help and grace of my God and I fear thee not". Another time the devil appeared before the saint in the form of a youth, lighted a candle and began to sing the Psalm: "Blessed is the undefiled on the way that walketh in the law of the Lord". Perceiving, that this also was a demonic temptation, the elder crossed himself and asked: "If thou knowest, what be the undefiled blessed, then why troublest thou them?" The temptor answered: "I provoke them in order to conquer them and turn them away from every good deed". To this the saint replied: "Thou gainest victory over those fallen away from God through their will, but for those loving God thou dost vanish, like smoke in the wind". After these words the devil vanished. And thus did Saint Abraham defeat the enemy, strengthened by Divine grace. After fifty years of ascetic life he peacefully expired to the Lord (+ c. 360).
THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:
1. The Venerable Martyr Anastasia the Roman
She was born in Rome of noble parents, and was left an orphan at the age of three. As an orphan, she was taken to a convent near Rome where the abbess was Sophia, a nun of the highest level of perfection. After seventeen years, Anastasia was well known-among the Christians as a great ascetic, and among the pagans as a rare beauty. Probus, the pagan governor, heard of Anastasia and sent his soldiers to bring her to him. For two hours, the good Abbess Sophia counseled Anastasia how to keep the Faith, how to resist flattering deceits, and how to endure torture. Anastasia said to her: ``My heart is ready to suffer for Christ; my soul is ready to die for my Sweet Jesus.'' Brought before the governor, Anastasia openly expressed her faith in Christ the Lord, and when the governor tried to turn her away from the Faith-first by promises and then by threats-the martyr said to him: ``I am ready to die for my Lord not only once, but-oh, if it were only possible-a hundred times!'' When they stripped her naked to humiliate her, she cried out to the servants: ``Whip me, cut me up and tear me apart, cover my naked body with wounds and cover my shame with blood!'' She was beaten, torn and cut up. On two occasions she felt a great thirst and asked for water, and a Christian, Cyril, gave her a drink, for which he was blessed by the martyr of Christ and beheaded by the pagans. Anastasia's breasts and tongue were severed, but an angel of God appeared and sustained her. Finally, she was beheaded outside the city. Blessed Sophia found her body and buried it honorably. Anastasia was crowned with the wreath of martyrdom during the reign of Decius.
2. The Venerable Abramius the Recluse and his niece Mary
Forced to do so by his parents, he married, but on the very day of his wedding he left his bride, his parents' home and all that he possessed, and withdrew into solitude to live a life of strict asceticism. He labored thus for fifty years, and left his cell only twice during that time. The first time, he left at the order of his bishop to convert a pagan village to the Christian Faith. The second time he came out to save his licentious niece Mary. He entered peacefully into rest in the year 360, at the age of seventy. (See ``Reflection'' below.)
3. The Venerable Martyr Timothy of Esphigmenou
He was from the village of Kessana in Thrace. He was married and had two daughters. His wife was seized by the Turks and became a Moslem. In order to save his wife from the harem, he pretended to become a Moslem. After rescuing his wife, he conducted her to a convent, while he went to the Great Lavra on Mount Athos and then to the Monastery of Esphigmenou. He desired martyrdom for Christ, like Agathangelus of Esphigmenou, and was beheaded in Jedrene on October 29, 1820. His body was thrown into a river, but his clothing was retrieved by Elder Germanus, the spiritual father of Esphigmenou.
HYMN OF PRAISE
The Venerable Abramius the Recluse
St. Abramius left his bride
And dedicated his life to strict asceticism.
By asceticism he worked out his salvation,
And wisely directed others to salvation.
Demonic power attacked the saint,
But in the name of Christ he crushed it.
The demon took on various, horrible guises,
To scare and hinder the man of God.
This man of God did not allow himself to fear,
Or separate his mind from God,
But shone on the world like a candle,
Glorifying the One God, the Most-holy Trinity.
Imprisoned, alone and not wanted by the world,
Abramius became a prisoner for the sake of Christ
For fifty years-fifty years!
Of tears, fasting and struggle-all for the Son of God:
For fifty years-fifty years!
Established on Christ, the firm Foundation.
Glory to Abramius, Christ's soldier,
That, on the mortal earth, he has shown us immortality!
But he that endureth to the end shall be saved (Matthew 10:22), said the Lord. Faith is the only light of endurance, for endurance in and of itself implies unbearable darkness. Faith is the shining star in this darkness; faith eases the sharpness of suffering; it bears on its wings all the weight of endurance. St. Abramius gives us a beautiful example of perseverance in endurance. The vexation that the devil caused him by a multitude of temptations and terrors would have driven lesser men to leave one place for another. But Abramius did not want to move, so as not to give the evil demon a cause to rejoice; he remained in his place and defeated the devil. The bishop of that region sent Abramius to a pagan village to convert the villagers to the Christian Faith. After long hesitation, Abramius set out, saying: ``Let it be as God wills-I will go out of obedience.'' He first built a church in that village. Then he smashed all the idols in plain sight of the villagers. They beat him and whipped him half to death, and drove him from their village. But he prayed to God with tears for them, that the Lord would open the eyes of their hearts to know the truth of Christ. And so the pagans continually beat and abused him over the course of three years, but he constantly prayed to God for them, and was not angered with them, enduring in the Faith as a firm rock. And only after three years of labor, tears, forgiveness and faith, was he rewarded. Suddenly, the consciences of the villagers were awakened and they all came together to Abramius, bowing before him, and receiving the Christian Faith from him.
on the glory of the name of God
And blessed be His glorious name forever! And let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen (Psalm 72:19).
From the grace-filled heart of the prophet flow words full of grace. The prophet speaks of the King and the King's Son, the most unusual King Who has ever appeared on earth. May His name be blessed forever (Psalm 72:17), the prophet said, and then, as if that were not enough, he said it again and added: His glorious name. The Church of Christ is the glory of Christ. Blessed is His Holy Church-the fruit of His labors, the wreath of His humiliation, the work of His hands, and the flower of His blood! Blessed is the very name of His Church-holy and salvific! And with His Church, that is, with His work and with His glory, the whole earth shall be filled. By the words, Forever and ever, the prophet foretold the immortal work of Christ, that is, His Church. She will be built in time and will be revealed in eternity. She will be built until the end of time, and will be revealed whole in eternity.
O my brethren, let us strive that our souls may be built into Christ's Church, into that living and immortal body whose life has no end, and whose beauty is indescribable. Let us strive that we are not rejected as unsuitable and useless stones, to be cast into the abyss of eternal darkness.
O Lord Jesus Christ, King and Son of the King, write us also in the book of immortality, and remember us in Thy Heavenly Kingdom.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.