FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:
Philip the Apostle
Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessaloniki
Holy Great New Martyr Constantine of Hydra
Τοῦ Ἁγίου ἐνδόξου καί πανευφήμου Ἀποστόλου Φιλίππου,
τοῦ ἐν Ἁγίοις Πατρός ἡμῶν Γρηγορίου, Ἀρχιεπισκόπου Θεσσαλονίκης, τοῦ Παλαμᾶ.
Τοῦ Ἁγίου ἐνδόξου Νεομάρτυρος Κωνσταντίνου τοῦ Ὑδραίου.
READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:
The Reading is from St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians 4:9-16
BRETHREN, God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are ill-clad and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become, and are now, as the refuse of the world, the off-scouring of all things. I do not write this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me.
Πρὸς Κορινθίους α' 4:9-16
Ἀδελφοί, ὁ θεὸς ἡμᾶς τοὺς ἀποστόλους ἐσχάτους ἀπέδειξεν ὡς ἐπιθανατίους· ὅτι θέατρον ἐγενήθημεν τῷ κόσμῳ, καὶ ἀγγέλοις, καὶ ἀνθρώποις. Ἡμεῖς μωροὶ διὰ χριστόν, ὑμεῖς δὲ φρόνιμοι ἐν χριστῷ· ἡμεῖς ἀσθενεῖς, ὑμεῖς δὲ ἰσχυροί· ὑμεῖς ἔνδοξοι, ἡμεῖς δὲ ἄτιμοι. Ἄχρι τῆς ἄρτι ὥρας καὶ πεινῶμεν, καὶ διψῶμεν, καὶ γυμνητεύομεν, καὶ κολαφιζόμεθα, καὶ ἀστατοῦμεν, καὶ κοπιῶμεν ἐργαζόμενοι ταῖς ἰδίαις χερσίν· λοιδορούμενοι εὐλογοῦμεν· διωκόμενοι ἀνεχόμεθα· βλασφημούμενοι παρακαλοῦμεν· ὡς περικαθάρματα τοῦ κόσμου ἐγενήθημεν, πάντων περίψημα ἕως ἄρτι. Οὐκ ἐντρέπων ὑμᾶς γράφω ταῦτα, ἀλλʼ ὡς τέκνα μου ἀγαπητὰ νουθετῶ. Ἐὰν γὰρ μυρίους παιδαγωγοὺς ἔχητε ἐν χριστῷ, ἀλλʼ οὐ πολλοὺς πατέρας· ἐν γὰρ χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ διὰ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου ἐγὼ ὑμᾶς ἐγέννησα. Παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς, μιμηταί μου γίνεσθε.
The Reading is from John 1:43-51
At that time, Jesus decided to go to Galilee. And he found Philip and said to him, "Follow me." Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael, and he said to him, "We have found him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!" Nathanael said to him, "How do you know me?" Jesus answered him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you." Nathanael answered him, "Rabbi, you are the son of God! You are the King of Israel!" Jesus answered him, "Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these." And he said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man."
Κατὰ Ἰωάννην 1.44-52
Τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ, ἠθέλησεν ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς ἐξελθεῖν εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν· καὶ εὑρίσκει Φίλιππον καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ· ἀκολούθει μοι. ἦν δὲ ὁ Φίλιππος ἀπὸ Βηθσαϊδά, ἐκ τῆς πόλεως ᾿Ανδρέου καὶ Πέτρου.εὑρίσκει Φίλιππος τὸν Ναθαναὴλ καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ· ὃν ἔγραψε Μωϋσῆς ἐν τῷ νόμῳ καὶ οἱ προφῆται, εὑρήκαμεν, ᾿Ιησοῦν τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ᾿Ιωσὴφ τὸν ἀπὸ Ναζαρέτ. καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ Ναθαναήλ· ἐκ Ναζαρὲτ δύναταί τι ἀγαθὸν εἶναι; λέγει αὐτῷ Φίλιππος· ἔρχου καὶ ἴδε. εἶδεν ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς τὸν Ναθαναὴλ ἐρχόμενον πρὸς αὐτὸν καὶ λέγει περὶ αὐτοῦ· ἴδε ἀληθῶς ᾿Ισραηλίτης, ἐν ᾧ δόλος οὐκ ἔστι. λέγει αὐτῷ Ναθαναήλ· πόθεν με γινώσκεις; ἀπεκρίθη ᾿Ιησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· πρὸ τοῦ σε Φίλιππον φωνῆσαι, ὄντα ὑπὸ τὴν συκῆν εἶδόν σε. ἀπεκρίθη Ναθαναὴλ καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ· ῥαββί, σὺ εἶ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ, σὺ εἶ ὁ βασιλεὺς τοῦ ᾿Ισραήλ. ἀπεκρίθη ᾿Ιησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· ὅτι εἶπόν σοι, εἶδόν σε ὑποκάτω τῆς συκῆς, πιστεύεις; μείζω τούτων ὄψει. καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ· ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀπ᾽ ἄρτι ὄψεσθε τὸν οὐρανὸν ἀνεῳγότα, καὶ τοὺς ἀγγέλους τοῦ Θεοῦ ἀναβαίνοντας καὶ καταβαίνοντας ἐπὶ τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου.
READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:
Τῇ ΙΔ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου ἐνδόξου καὶ πανευφήμου Ἀποστολου Φιλίππου, ἑνὸς τῆς πρώτης χορείας τῶν δώδεκα.
Ἀρθεὶς Φίλιππος ἐκ ποδῶν ἐπὶ ξύλου,
Τὰ τῶν ποδῶν σοι νίπτρα Σῶτερ ἐκτίνει.
Ἤρθης κἀκκεφαλῆς δεκάτῃ Φίλιππε τετάρτῃ.
τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου ἐνδόξου Μεγαλομάρτυρος Κωνσταντίνου τοῦ ἐξ' Ὕδρας, τοῦ ἀθλήσαντος ἐν ἔτει 1800 ἐν τῇ νήσῳ τῆς Ῥόδου.
Ταῖς αὐτῶν ἁγίαις πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεὸς ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.
This Apostle, one of the Twelve, was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and was a compatriot of Andrew and Peter. He was instructed in the teachings of the Law, and devoted himself to the study of the prophetic books. Therefore, when the Lord Jesus called him to the dignity of apostleship, he immediately sought out and found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found Him of Whom Moses in the Law and the Prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph" (John 1.45). Having preached Jesus the God-man throughout many parts of Asia Minor, and having suffered many things for His Name's sake, he was finally crucified upside down in Hierapolis of Phrygia.
Apolytikion in the Third Tone
Απόστολε Άγιε Φίλιππε, πρέσβευε τώ ελεήμονι Θεώ ίνα πταισμάτων άφεσιν, παράσχη ταίς ψυχάς ημών.
O Holy Apostle Philip, intercede with the merciful God that He grant unto our souls forgiveness of offences.
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Ο μαθητής καί φίλος σου, καί μιμητής τού πάθους σου, τή οικουμένη Θεόν σε εκήρυξεν, ο θεηγόρος Φίλιππος, Ταίς αυτού ικεσίαις, εξ εχθρών παρανόμων, τήν Εκκλησίαν σου, διά τής Θεοτόκου συντήρησον Πολυέλεε.
Your disciple and friend, emulator of Your passion, the divinely eloquent Philip, proclaimed You to the world as God. By his entreaties, and through the Theotokos, keep Your Church from lawless enemies, O most merciful.
"Ον έγραψε Μωϋσής εν τω νόμω και οι προφήται, ευρήκαμεν, Ιησούν τον υιόν του Ιωσήφ τον από Ναζαρέτ". Με αυτά τα λόγια και με αυτόν τον ενθουσιασμό ανάγγειλε τον Ιησού Χριστό στο Ναθαναήλ ο Φίλιππος, του οποίου σήμερα γιορτάζομε την μνήμη. Όσο κι αν μας κάνη εντύπωση, ότι ο Ιησούς Χριστός διάλεξε ανθρώπους ιδιώτας, για να τους αναδείξη Αποστόλους, πρέπει πάντως να προσέξουμε πως οι άνθρωποι αυτοί, αν δεν είχαν τίποτ' άλλο, είχαν όμως μίαν αγαθότητα και μία καλήν διάθεση. Τα άλλα τα αναπλήρωσε το Άγιο Πνεύμα. Εκείνο ανέδειξε τους αλιείς Αποστόλους και τους τελώνας Ευαγγελιστάς, εκείνο συγκροτεί τον θεσμό της Εκκλησίας. Έτσι που ο Φίλιππος τρέχει να αναγγείλη στο Ναθαναήλ τον Χριστό, φαίνεται άνθρωπος με διαφέροντα, πληροφορημένος για τον Μεσσία και περιμένοντας την έλευσή του. Αυτή την διάθεση εννοούσεν ο Ιησούς Χριστός, όταν κάποτε είπε: "παντί τω έχοντι δοθήσεται και περισσευθήσεται...".
Ὁ Ἅγιος Φίλιππος ὁ Ἀπόστολος
Ἦταν ἕνας ἀπὸ τοὺς δώδεκα μαθητὲς τοῦ Κυρίου. Καταγόταν ἀπὸ τὴν Βηθσαϊδᾶ τῆς Γαλιλαίας, ἀπ᾿ ὅπου καὶ ὁ Ἀνδρέας μὲ τὸν Πέτρο. Τὸν κάλεσε μαθητή Του ὁ ἴδιος ὁ Κύριος, καὶ κατόπιν ὁ Φίλιππος ἔφερε στὸν Κύριο τὸ Ναθαναήλ. Παραθέτουμε ὁρισμένα χωρία τῆς Καινῆς Διαθήκης, στὰ ὁποῖα ὁ ἀναγνώστης μπορεῖ νὰ μάθει περισσότερα γιὰ τὸ Φίλιππο, σχετικά με τὴ ζωή του κοντὰ στὸ Χριστό: Ματθ. ι´ -3, Μαρκ. γ´ -18, Λουκ. στ´ -14, Ἰω. α´ 44-49, Ἰω. ιΒ´ 20-23, Πράξ. α´ 13. Ἀξίζει, ὅμως, νὰ ἀναφέρουμε ἕνα διάλογο ποὺ εἶχε ὁ Φίλιππος μὲ τὸν Κύριο, ὅπου δίνει ἀφορμὴ στὸν Κύριο νὰ φανερώσει ὁ ἴδιος ὅτι εἶναι ὁμοούσιος με τὸν Πατέρα Θεό. Εἶπε λοιπὸν ὁ Φίλιππος: «Κύριε, δεῖξον ἡμῖν τὸν πατέρα καὶ ἀρκεῖ ἡμῖν». Κύριε, ἀποκάλυψέ μας, δεῖξε μας τὸν Πατέρα, καὶ αὐτὸ μᾶς ἀρκεῖ. Καὶ ὁ Κύριος μεταξὺ ἄλλων τοῦ ἀπάντησε: «Οὐ πιστεύεις ὅτι ἐγὼ ἐν τῷ πατρὶ καὶ ὁ πατὴρ ἐν ἐμοί ἐστι; τὰ ῥήματα ἃ ἐγὼ λαλῶ ὑμῖν, ἀπ᾿ ἑμαυτοῦ οὐ λαλῶ· ὁ δὲ πατὴρ ὁ ἐν ἐμοὶ μένων αὐτὸς ποιεῖ τὰ ἔργα». Δὲν πιστεύεις, Φίλιππε, ὅτι ἐγὼ εἶμαι ἀχώριστα συνδεδεμένος μὲ τὸν Πατέρα, ὥστε ἐγὼ νὰ εἶμαι καὶ νὰ μένω μέσα στὸν Πατέρα καὶ ὁ Πατέρας νὰ εἶναι καὶ νὰ μένει μέσα μου; Εἶμαι δὲ τόσο πολὺ ἑνωμένος, ὥστε αὐτὰ ποὺ σᾶς διδάσκω δὲν εἶναι ἀπὸ τὸν ἑαυτό μου. Ἀλλὰ ὁ Πατέρας μου ποὺ μένει μέσα μου, αὐτὸς ἐνεργεῖ τὰ ὑπερφυσικὰ ἔργα. Ἡ παράδοση ἀναφέρει ὅτι ὁ Φίλιππος κήρυξε τὸ Εὐαγγέλιο στοὺς Πάρθους καὶ πέθανε μαρτυρικὰ στὴν Ἱεράπολη τῆς Συρίας.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Γρηγόριος ὁ Παλαμᾶς Ἀρχιεπίσκοπος Θεσσαλονίκης, ὁ Θαυματουργός
Δεινὸς θεολόγος καὶ διαπρεπέστατος ῥήτορας καὶ φιλόσοφος ὁ Γρηγόριος, δὲν γνωρίζουμε τὸ χρόνο καὶ τὸν τόπο τῆς γέννησής του. (Ὁ Σ. Εὐστρατιάδης ὅμως, στὸ ἁγιολόγιό του, ἀναφέρει ὅτι ὁ Ἅγιος Γρηγόριος γεννήθηκε τὸ 1296 στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη, ἀπὸ τὸν Κωνσταντῖνο τὸν Συγκλητικὸ καὶ τὴν εὐσεβέστατη Καλλονή). Ξέρουμε ὅμως, ὅτι κατὰ τὸ πρῶτο μισὸ τοῦ 14ου αἰῶνα ἦταν στὴν αὐτοκρατορικὴ αὐλὴ τῆς Κωνσταντινουπόλεως, ἀπ᾿ ὅπου καὶ ἀποσύρθηκε στὸ Ἅγιον Ὄρος χάριν ἡσυχότερης ζωῆς, καὶ ἀφιερώθηκε στὴν ἠθική του τελειοποίηση καὶ σὲ διάφορες μελέτες. Ὅταν ὅμως ξέσπασε ἡ περίφημη διχόνοια γιὰ τοὺς ἁγιορεῖτες Ἡσυχαστές, κατὰ τῶν ὁποίων ἐπετέθη ὁ μοναχὸς Βαρλαὰμ ὁ Καλαβρός, ὁ Γρηγόριος πῆγε στὴ Θεσσαλονίκη καὶ ἀναδείχτηκε ὁ ὀρθόδοξος ἡγέτης στὴ μεγάλη ἐκείνη θεολογικὴ πάλη. Τὸ ζητούμενο τῆς πάλης αὐτῆς ἦταν κυρίως τὸ μεθεκτικὸν ἢ ἀμέθεκτον τῆς θείας οὐσίας. Ὁ Γρηγόριος, ὁπλισμένος μὲ μεγάλη πολυμάθεια καὶ ἰσχυρὴ κριτικὴ γιὰ θέματα ἁγίων Γραφῶν, διέκρινε μεταξὺ θείας οὐσίας ἀμεθέκτου καὶ θείας ἐνεργείας μεθεκτῆς. Καὶ αὐτὸ τὸ στήριξε σύμφωνα μὲ τὸ πνεῦμα τῶν Πατέρων καὶ ἡ Ἐκκλησία ἐπικύρωσε τὴν ἑρμηνεία του μὲ τέσσερις Συνόδους. Στὴν τελευταία, ποὺ ἔγινε στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη τὸ 1351, ἦταν καὶ ὁ ἴδιος ὁ Παλαμᾶς. Ἀλλ᾿ ὁ Γρηγόριος ἔγραψε πολλὰ καὶ διάφορα θεολογικὰ ἔργα, περίπου 60. Ἀργότερα ὁ Πατριάρχης Ἰσίδωρος, τὸν ἐξέλεξε ἀρχικὰ ἐπίσκοπο Θεσσαλονίκης. Λόγω ὅμως τῶν τότε ζητημάτων, ἀποχώρησε πρόσκαιρα στὴ Λῆμνο, ἀλλὰ κατόπιν ἀνέλαβε τὰ καθήκοντά του. Πέθανε τὸ 1360 καὶ τιμήθηκε ἀμέσως σὰν Ἅγιος. Ὁ Πατριάρχης Φιλόθεος ὁ Κόκκινος, ἔγραψε τὸ 1376 ἐγκωμιαστικὸ λόγο στὸ Γρηγόριο Παλαμᾶ, μαζὶ καὶ ἀκολουθία. Καὶ ὅρισε τὴν ἐκκλησιαστικὴ μνήμη του στὴ Β´ Κυριακὴ τῆς Μεγάλης Τεσσαρακοστῆς.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Κωνσταντῖνος ὁ Ὑδραῖος Νεομάρτυρας
Γεννήθηκε στὴν Ὕδρα καὶ ὁ πατέρας του ὀνομαζόταν Μιχαήλ, ἡ δὲ μητέρα του Μαρίνα. Δεκαοκτὼ χρονῶν ἔφυγε ἀπὸ τὴν Ὕδρα καὶ πῆγε στὴ Ῥόδο, κοντὰ στὸν Τοῦρκο ἡγεμόνα Χασᾶν Καπετάν. Ἐκεῖ ὁ Κωνσταντῖνος παρασύρθηκε καὶ ἐξισλαμίστηκε, μὲ τὸ ὄνομα Χασᾶν, καὶ γιὰ τρία χρόνια ἀπολάμβανε μεγάλες τιμές. Ἀργότερα ὅμως, συναισθάνθηκε τὸ ὀλίσθημά του καὶ ἄρχισε νὰ μετανοεῖ. Ἔκανε ἐλεημοσύνες καὶ ἔκλαψε πικρά. Τελικά, γιὰ νὰ ἐξιλεωθεῖ ἀποφάσισε νὰ μαρτυρήσει. Βρῆκε λοιπὸν κάποιο πνευματικό, ἐξομολογήθηκε καὶ ζήτησε τὴν εὐχή του νὰ μαρτυρήσει. Ὁ πνευματικός του ὅμως τὸν ἀπέτρεψε, διότι φοβήθηκε τὸ νεαρὸ τῆς ἡλικίας του. Ὁ Κωνσταντῖνος ἔκανε ὑπακοή, ἐγκατέλειψε τὴν Ῥόδο καὶ πῆγε στὴν πόλη Κρίμι, κατόπιν στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη καὶ ἀπὸ ἐκεῖ στὸ Ἅγιον Ὄρος. Στὴν Μονὴ Ἰβήρων, προετοιμάστηκε γιὰ τὸ μαρτύριο καὶ ἀφοῦ πῆρε τὴν εὐχὴ τῶν πατέρων ἦλθε στὴ Ῥόδο. Ἐκεῖ, παρουσιάστηκε στὸν ἡγεμόνα καὶ μὲ θάῤῥος ὁμολόγησε τὸν Χριστό. Τὰ βασανιστήρια ποὺ ἀκολούθησαν ἦταν φρικτά. Τελικὰ τὸν ἀπαγχόνισαν στὶς 14 Νοεμβρίου 1800. Σήμερα, στὴ γενέτειρά του τὴν Ὕδρα, ὑπάρχει λαμπρότατος Ναὸς στὸ ὄνομά του, ὅπου βρίσκεται καὶ τὸ ἱερό του λείψανο.
Holy Apostle Philip
He was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and a diligent student of the Law and the Prophets. When he first met Jesus, he followed Him right away and told Nathanael, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote" (John 1) After Christ's Ascension, Philip was chosen to proclaim the Gospel in Asia (the western province of Asia Minor). He traveled with Bartholomew (commemorated June 11) and his sister Mariamne, all of them joyfully enduring great sufferings and persecutions in the Lord's service. In Hierapolis in Phrygia, they healed the Governor's wife of an eye affliction, and she believed in the Lord. The Governor was so infuriated by this that he had Philip crucified upside-down. At the moment he gave up his soul to God, the ground opened, swallowing up a great many pagan priests and the Governor. Many of the surviving pagans, terrified, believed in Christ and were baptized by Bartholomew. Saint Bartholomew went on to preach the Gospel in many places; Mariamne traveled to the Jordan River, where she reposed in peace.
Among the Slavic peoples, the Nativity Fast is often called Filipovka since it commences immediately after this feast.
St Gregory Palamas (1359)
The teaching of St Gregory is so fundamental to Orthodoxy that he is especially commemorated each year in Great Lent on the Sunday following the Sunday of Orthodoxy (as well as on Nov. 14); Bishop Kallistos observes in the English edition of the Philokalia, "his successful defence of the divine and uncreated character of the light of Tabor...[is] seen as a direct continuation of the preceding celebration, as nothing less than a renewed Triumph of Orthodoxy."
The son of a prominent family, St Gregory was born (1296) and raised in Constantinople. At about age twenty, he abandoned a promising secular career to become a monk on Mt Athos. (His family joined him en masse: two of his brothers went with him to the Holy Mountain; at the same time his widowed mother, two of his sisters, and many of the household servants also entered monastic life.) He spent the next twenty years living as a hermit, spending five days a week in complete solitude, then joining the brethren on weekends for the Divine Liturgy and its accompanying services.
Around 1335 he was called to live a much more public life in defense of the faith and spirituality of the Church. A Greek living in Italy, Barlaam the Calabrian, had launched an attack on the hesychastic spirituality of the Church. Fundamentally, Barlaam denied that man can attain to a true vision of God Himself, or true union with Him, in this life. Gregory, recognizing in this an attack on the Christian faith itself, responded. He even left the Holy Mountain and re-settled in Constantinople so as better to wage the struggle, which had become so public that a Church Council was called to settle the issue. St Gregory's views were affirmed, and Barlaam's condemned, at the Council of Constantinople of 1341.
Though Barlaam himself returned to Italy, a series of his followers continued the attack, eventually resulting in two more Councils in 1347 and 1351, both of which affirmed the hesychasts' position. Metropolitan Hierotheos (The Mind of the Orthodox Church) writes that these councils have "all the marks of an Ecumenical Council;" This, along with the fact that St Gregory's views are affirmed in the Synodikon of Orthodoxy (appointed to be read in churches every Sunday of Orthodoxy), and his commemoration every second Sunday of Great Lent, makes clear that his teaching is a basic and indispensable part of the Orthodox Faith.
In 1347 St Gregory was consecrated Metropolitan of Thessaloniki, where he served until his repose. (He spent a year of this period as the prisoner of Turkish pirates). Despite (or due to?) his austere monastic background, he was revered by his flock: immediately after his repose in 1359, popular veneration of him sprang up in Thessaloniki, Constantinople and Mt Athos and, in 1368, only nine years after his death, the Church officially glorified him as a saint.
St Gregory was always clear that unceasing mental prayer is not a special calling of monastics, but is possible and desirable for every Christian in every walk of life. See his On the Necessity of Constant Prayer for all Christians, reproduced on this site.
Pious Emperor Justinian and His Wife Theodora (565)
"The pious Emperor Justinian was a fervent Christian and a man of genius in every field. His long reign (527-65) was a decisive period in the history of the Empire from the administrative, diplomatic, military, economic, legal, cultural and ecclesiastical points of view. He was the real founder of the Christian Empire, who brought together again the old Roman Empire that had been torn to pieces by barbarian invaders. He believed that upholding the Orthodox faith and maintaining the symphony of Church and State were essential for the well-being of the Empire. He had a deep knowledge of theology and wrote several treatises on dogmas of the faith. He forbad pagan worship in the Empire, and was unremitting in pursuit of heretics and sectarians. He did all he could to reconcile the Monophysites to the Council of Chalcedon. In 553, he summoned to Constantinople the fifth Ecumentical Council (25 July), which reaffirmed the condemnation of Nestorius and also condemned Origen.
"The splendor of the churches and of everything that testified to the divine glory was brought to a culmination in the Empire of Justinian. He rebuilt the Great Church of Saint Sophia in Constantinople where, it was said, the service of God was so wonderfully ordered that it was as if heaven had come down to earth. He made great gifts to the monasteries of Egypt and of Palestine and built the Monastery of Saint Catherine at Mount Sinai. In all that he did, he had the help and support of his wife, the pious Empress Theodora. Justinian died on 14 November 565, without having been able to restore full unity to the Church, but he had set the Empire on firm foundations that would endure for centuries." (Synaxarion)
It was Justinian who built the great Church of the Holy Wisdom (Agia Sophia), perhaps the most magnificent Christian church. The hymn "Only-begotten Son" was inserted in the Divine Liturgy at his command, and is thought to have been composed by him.
Note: There is some controversy about the inclusion of Justinian in the Synaxaria. His fervent labors to reconcile the Monophysites to the Church have led some writers to conclude that he himself embraced Monophysite errors; others dispute this. Lacking the wisdom to resolve the question, we only note that he is included in Ormylia Monastery's Synaxarion (quoted above), but some Synaxaria have turned his commemoration into that of the Emperor Justin (518-527).
The Holy Apostle Philip, was a native of the city of Bethsaida (or Bethesda, in Galilee). He had a profound depth of knowledge of the Holy Scripture, and rightly discerning the meaning of the Old Testament prophecies, he awaited the coming of the Messiah. Through the summoning of the Saviour (Jn. 1: 43), Philip followed Him. The Apostle Philip is spoken about several times in the Holy Gospel: he brought to Christ the Apostle Nathanael (i.e. Bartholomew, Comm. 22 April, 11 and 30 June, 25 August; Vide Jn. 1: 46); the Lord asks him how much money would be needful to buy bread for five thousand men (Jn. 6: 5-7); he brought certain of the Hellenised Jews wanting to see Jesus (Jn. 12: 21-22); and finally, at the time of the Last Supper he asked Christ about God the Father (Jn. 14: 8).
After the Ascension of the Lord, the Apostle Philip preached the Word of God in Galilee, accompanying his preaching with miracles. Thus, he restored to life a dead infant, in the arms of its mother. From Galilee he set off to Greece, and preached amongst the Jews that had settled there. Certain of them reported in Jerusalem about the preaching of the apostle, in response to which there arrived in Hellas (Greece) from Jerusalem, scribes with the Jewish high-priest at their head, for a persecution against the Apostle Philip. The Apostle Philip exposed the lie of the high-priest, who said that the disciples of Christ had stolen away and hidden the body of Christ, telling instead how the Pharisees had bribed the soldiers on watch, to deliberately spread this rumour. When the Jewish high-priest and his companions began to insult the Lord and lunged at the Apostle Philip, they suddenly were struck blind. By prayer the apostle restored everyone to sight, and in beholding this miracle, many believed in Christ. The Apostle Philip established a bishop for them, by the name of Narcissos (listed within the rank of the Seventy Disciples, -- Comm. 4 January).
From Hellas the Apostle Philip set out to Parthia, and then to the city of Azota, where he healed an eye affliction of the daughter of a local resident named Nikoclides, who had received him into his home, and then baptised with all his whole family.
From Azota the Apostle Philip set out to Syrian Hieropolis where, stirred up by the Pharisees, the Jews burned the house of Heros, who had taken in the Apostle Philip, and they wanted to kill the apostle. But in witnessing miracles wrought by the apostle --the healing of the hand of the city official Aristarchos, withered in attempting to strike the apostle, and also a dead lad restored to life -- they repented and many accepted holy Baptism. Having made Heros bishop at Hieropolis, the Apostle Philip went on to Syria, Asia Minor, Lydia, Emessa, and everywhere preaching the Gospel and undergoing sufferings. Both he and his sister Mariamna accompanying him were pelted with stones, locked up in prison, and thrown out of villages.
Then the Apostle Philip arrived in Phrygia, in the city of Phrygian Hieropolis, where there were many pagan temples, among which was a pagan temple devoted to snake-worship, having within it an enormous serpent. The Apostle Philip by the power of prayer killed the serpent and healed many bitten by the snakes. Among those healed was the wife of the city governor Amphypatos. Having learned that his wife had accepted Christianity, the governor Amphypatos gave orders to arrest Saint Philip, his sister, and the Apostle Bartholomew travelling with them. At the urging of the pagan priests of the temple of the serpent, Amphypatos gave orders to crucify the holy Apostles Philip and Bartholomew. At this time there began an earthquake, and it knocked down to the ground all those present at the judgement-place. Hanging upon the cross at the pagan temple of the serpent, the Apostle Philip prayed for the salvation of those that had crucified him, to save them from the ravages of the earthquake. Seeing this happen, the people believed in Christ and began to demand that the apostles be taken down from the crosses. The Apostle Bartholomew, in being taken down from the cross was still alive, and he baptised all those believing and established a bishop for them.
But the Apostle Philip, through whose prayers everyone remained alive, except for Amphypatos and the pagan priests, -- died on the cross.
Mariamna his sister buried his body, and together with the Apostle Bartholomew she set out preaching to Armenia, where the Apostle Bartholomew was crucified (Comm. 11 June); Mariamna herself then preached until her own death at Likaoneia (Comm. 17 February).
The Holy Right-Believing Emperor Justinian and Empress Theodora: Saint Justinian, a major figure in the history of the Byzantine state, was also a great champion of Orthodoxy, a builder of churches and a Church writer, and he was of Slavic descent -- born in Bulgaria. During his reign (527-565) Byzantium won glory with military victories in Persia, Africa, Italy, -- as a result of which paganism was decisively rooted amongst the Germanic Vandal and West-Goth tribes. By command of the emperor Justinian the pagan schools in Athens were closed. With the aim of spreading Christianity through the regions of Asia Minor, Justinian sent there the bishop of Ephesus John, who baptised more than 70 thousand pagans. The emperor gave orders to build 90 churches for the newly-converted, and he generously supported church construction within the empire. His finest structures of the time are considered to be the monastery at Sinai, and the church of Saint Sophia at Constantinople. Under Saint Justinian many a church was built in the name of our MostHoly Lady Mother of God. Being a man of quite diverse an education, Saint Justinian assiduously concerned himself over the education of clergy and monks, ordering them to be instructed in rhetorics, in philosophy and in theology.
The tight-believing sovereign devoted much attention and effort into the struggle with the Origenists of his time, who then were reviving the Nestorian heresy. Against their heretical speculations was composed the Church-hymn "Only-Begotten Son and Immortal Word of God, Who for our salvation...", and he commanded its singing as obligatory in the churches. From that time through the present day this hymn is sung in the Divine Liturgy before the Small Entrance [i.e. 2nd Antiphon]. At the command of the sovereign, in the year 553 was convened the Fifth OEcumenical Council, censuring the teachings of Origen and affirming the definitions of the Fourth Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon. The holy Emperor Justinian about orderly rule and law within the realm. Under his guidance and supervision was compiled a complete compendium of Roman laws, which has come down to us as a codex of law known as "the Justinian Codex". The "Novellae" (i.e. "Church-laws") of Justinian find inclusion in all the variants of the Russian Church-law NomoKanon Books.
In his personal life, Saint Justinian was strictly pious, and he zealously fasted quite often. The holy Emperor Justinian died in the year 565.
Together with the emperor was enumerated to the ranks of the Saints his like-minded spouse, the Empress Theodora, who died in the year 548. She was at first a notorious sinner, and an adherent to the Monophysite heresy, but then she repented and led a virtuous life, keeping purity of both soul and body.
Sainted Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessalonika, was born in the year 1296 in Asia Minor. During the time of a Turkish incursion the family fled to Constantinople and found refuge at the court of Andronikos II Paleologos (1282-1328). The father of Saint Gregory became a prominent dignitiary under the emperor, but he soon died, and Andronikos himself took part in the raising and education of the orphaned boy. Endowed with fine abilities and great diligence, Gregory without difficulty mastered all the subjects which then comprised the full course of medieval higher education. The emperor hoped that the youth would devote himself to government work. But Gregory, just barely age 20, withdrew to Holy Mount Athos in the year 1316 (per other sources, 1318) and became a novice in the Batopedeia monastery under the guidance of the monastic-elder, the Monk Nikodemos of Batopedeia (Comm. 11 July), and there he accepted tonsure and began on the path of asceticism. A year later, the holy Evangelist John the Theologian appeared to him in a vision and promised him his spiritual protection. Gregory's mother and sisters likewise became monastics.
After the demise of the monastic-elder Nikodemos, the Monk Gregory spent 8 years of prayerful effort under the guidance of the monastic-elder Nicephoros, and after the death of this latter elder Gregory transferred to the Laura-monastery of the Monk Athanasias. Here he served in the refectory, and then became a church singer. But after three years, striving for a greater degree of spiritual perfection, he re-settled in the small hermit-life monastery of Glossia. The head of this monastery began to teach the youth the manner of concentrated spiritual prayer -- the mental activity, which by degrees gradually was appropriated and cultivated by monastics, beginning with the great wilderness ascetics of the IV Century -- Euagrios (Lat. Evagrius), Pontikos and the Monk Makarios of Egypt (Comm. 19 January). Later on, in the XI Century in the works of Simeon the New Theologian (Comm. 12 March), those praying in outward manner received detailed elucidation on adapting the mental doing, and it was implemented by the Athos ascetics. An experienced useage of mental activity, requiring solitude and quiet, received the name "Hesychiasm" (from the Greek "hesukhia" meaning calm, silence), and those practising it were called "hesychiasts". During the time of his stay at Glossia the future hierarch Gregory became fully embued with the spirit of hesychiasm and adapted it as fundamental to his life. In the year 1326, because of the threat of Turkish invasions, he together with the brethren retreated back to Soluneia (Thessalonika), where he was then ordained to the dignity of priest.
Saint Gregory combined his priestly duties with the life of an hermit: five days of the week he spent in silence and prayer, and only on Saturday and Sunday did the pastor emerge to his people -- he celebrated Divine-services and preached sermons. For those present in church, his teaching often evoked both tenderness and tears. Sometimes he visited theological gatherings of the city's educated youth, headed by the future patriarch, Isidor. Having returned from being a certain while at Constantinople, he found near Soluneia the locale of Bereia, a place suitable for solitary life. Soon he gathered here a small community of hermit-monks and guided it over the course of 5 years. In 1331 the saint withdrew to Athos and lived in solitude at the skete-monastery of Saint Savva, near the Laura-monastery of the Monk Athanasias. In 1333 he was appointed hegumen of the Esthygmena monastery in the northern part of the Holy Mountain. In 1336 the saint returned to the skete-monastery of Saint Savva, where he concerned himself with theological works, continuing on with it until the end of his life.
But amidst all this, in the 1330's culminated events in the life of the Eastern Church which put Saint Gregory amongst the most significant universal apologists of Orthodoxy, and brought him reknown as the teacher of hesychiasm.
In about the year 1330 the learned monk Varlaam had arrived in Constantinople from Calabria (in Italy).He was the author of tractates on logic and astronomy, a skilled and sharp-witted orator, and he received an university-chair in the capital city and began to expound on the works of Saint Dionysios the Areopagite (Comm. 3 October), whose "apophatic" ("negative", "via negativa", as contrast to "kataphatic" or "postive") theology was acclaimed in equal measure in both the Eastern and the Western Churches. Soon Varlaam journeyed to Athos, where he became acquainted with the modality of spiritual life of the hesychiasts, and on the basis of the dogma about the incomprehensibility of the essence of God, he declared the mental doing an heretical error. Journeying from Athos to Soluneia (Thessalonika), and from there to Constantinople and later again to Soluneia, Varlaam entered into disputes with the monks and attempted to demonstrate the created creatureliness of the light of Tabor (i.e. at the Transfiguration); in this he reduced to the point of a joke the sayings of the monks about the modes of prayer and about the spiritual light.
Saint Gregory, at the request of the Athonite monks, countered at first with spoken admonitions. But seeing the futility of such efforts, he put in writing his theological argument. Thus appeared the "Triades in Defense of the Holy Hesychiasts" (1338). Towards the year 1340 the Athonite ascetics with the assist of the saint compiled a general reply to the attacks of Varlaam -- the so-called "Svyatogorsk tomos". At the Constantinople Council of 1341 in the church of Saint Sophia there occurred a debate of Saint Gregory Palamas with Varlaam, centering upon the nature of the light on Mount Tabor. On 27 May 1341 the Council accepted the position of Saint Gregory Palamas -- that God, inapproachable in His Essence, reveals Himself in energies, which are directed towards the world and are able to be perceived, like the Tabor light, but which are neither material nor created. The teachings of Varlaam were condemned as heresy, and he himself, anathemised, withdrew to Calabria.
But the dispute between the Palamites and the Varlaamites was far from finished. To these latter belonged a student of Varlaam, the Bulgarian monk Akyndinos, and also the patriarch John XIV Kalekos (1341-1347); to them inclined also the emperor Andronikos III Paleologos (1328-1341). Akyndinos came out with a series of tracts, in which he declared Saint Gregory and the Athonite monks guilty of church disorders. The saint in turn wrote a detailed refutation of Akyndinos' conjectures. The patriarch thereupon excommunicated the saint from the Church (1344) and had him locked up in prison, which lasted for three years. In 1347, when John XIV was succeeded on the patriarchal throne by Isidor (1347-1349), Saint Gregory Palamas was set free and elevated to the dignity of archbishop of Soluneia (Thessalonika). In 1351 the Blakhernae Council solemnly witnessed to the Orthodoxy of his teachings. But the people of Soluneia did not immediately accept Saint Gregory, and he was compelled to live in various places. In one of his travels to Constantinople the Byzantine galley-ship fell into the hands of the Turks. They offered to sell Saint Gregory in various cities as a captive during the course of a year, but he then also incessantly continued to preach the Christian faith.
Only but three years before his death did he return to Soluneia. On the eve of his repose, Saint John Chrysostom appeared to him in a vision. With the words "To Heaven! To Heaven!", -- Saint Gregory Palamas reposed peacefully to God on 14 November 1359. In 1368 he was canonised at a Constantinople Council under Patriarch Philotheos (1354-1355, 1362-1376), who compiled the Life and Services to the saint.
THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:
1. The Holy Apostle Philip
Philip was born in Bethsaida beside the Sea of Galilee, as were Peter and Andrew. Instructed in Holy Scripture from his youth, Philip immediately responded to the call of the Lord Jesus and followed Him (John 1:43). After the descent of the Holy Spirit, Philip zealously preached the Gospel throughout many regions in Asia and Greece. In Greece, the Jews wanted to kill him, but the Lord saved him by His mighty miracles. Thus, a Jewish high priest that rushed at Philip to beat him was suddenly blinded and turned completely black. Then there was a great earthquake, and the earth opened up and swallowed Philip's wicked persecutor. Many other miracles were manifested, especially the healing of the sick, by which many pagans believed in Christ. In the Phrygian town of Hierapolis, St. Philip found himself in common evangelical work with his sister Mariamna, St. John the Theologian, and the Apostle Bartholomew. In this town there was a dangerous snake that the pagans diligently fed and worshiped as a god. God's apostle killed the snake through prayer as though with a spear, but he also incurred the wrath of the unenlightened people. The wicked pagans seized Philip and crucified him upside-down on a tree, and then crucified Bartholomew as well. At that, the earth opened up and swallowed the judge and many other pagans with him. In great fear, the people rushed to rescue the crucified apostles, but only Bartholomew was still alive; Philip had already breathed his last. Bartholomew ordained Stachys as bishop for those whom he and Philip had baptized. Stachys had been blind for forty years, and Bartholomew and Philip had healed and baptized him. The relics of St. Philip were later translated to Rome. This wonderful apostle suffered in the year 86 in the time of Emperor Dometian.
2. Saint Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessalonica
Gregory's father was an eminent official at the court of Emperor Andronicus II Palaeologus. The gifted Gregory, completing his secular studies, did not want to enter the service of the imperial court, but withdrew to the Holy Mountain and was tonsured a monk. He lived a life of asceticism in the Monastery of Vatopedi and the Great Lavra. He led the struggle against the heretic Barlaam and finally defeated him. He was consecrated as Metropolitan of Thessalonica in the year 1347. He is glorified as an ascetic, a theologian, a hierarch and a miracle-worker. The Most-holy Theotokos, St. John the Theologian, St. Demetrius, St. Anthony the Great, St. John Chrysostom and angels of God appeared to him at different times. He governed the Church in Thessalonica for thirteen years, of which he spent one year in slavery under the Saracens in Asia. He entered peacefully into rest in the year 1360, and took up his habitation in the Kingdom of Christ. His relics repose in Thessalonica, where a beautiful church is dedicated to him.
3. Saint Justinian, Emperor of Byzantium
Justinian was a Slav by birth, probably a Serb from the region of Skoplje. His Slavic name was Upravda, meaning ``truth, justice.'' He succeeded to the throne of his uncle Justin in 527. The greatness of this emperor is inseparably bound to his profound faith in Orthodoxy; he believed, and lived according to his faith. During Great Lent, he neither ate bread nor drank wine but ate only vegetables and drank water, and that, just every other day. He waged war against the barbarians of the Danube because they castrated their captives. This reveals his elevated feeling of love for his fellow man. Justinian was fortunate and successful both in wars and in his works. He built many great and beautiful churches, the most beautiful of which was Hagia Sophia [the Church of the Divine Wisdom] in Constantinople. He collected [and revised] and published the Laws of Rome and also personally issued many strict laws against immorality and licentiousness. He composed the Church hymn ``Only-begotten Son and Word of God,'' which has been sung during the Divine Liturgy since the year 536. He convened the Fifth Ecumenical Council (553). He died peacefully at the age of eighty, and took up his abode in the Kingdom of the Heavenly King.
HYMN OF PRAISE
Saint Justinian, Emperor of Byzantium
Justinian, great and glorious,
Knight of the Cross and Orthodox emperor,
Raised a church to the Wisdom of God,
A church to endure to the threshold of eternity:
Another sun to shine on earth,
To warm the generations;
A church in which to worship the Incarnate Word,
And in which to come to know the beauty of Christ,
And the measureless height of the Kingdom of God,
And as in height, measureless depth,
And as in depth, measureless width,
And as in width, measueless length.
Like the sun on a summer's day,
Shone the crown of Emperor Justinian-
Shone the crown of the servant of God-
In his wisdom, the wisest,
In his might, the most powerful,
And in his faith, the most faithful.
O great Orthodox Emperor,
Your churches never grow old,
Your faith still shines upon the world
With the brilliance of the Orthodox Christ.
O holy Emperor, pray to Christ
That this Faith withstand time.
St. Gregory Palamas learned much through heavenly revelations. After he had spent three years in stillness in a cell of the Great Lavra, it was necessary for him to go out among men and benefit them with his accumulated knowledge and experience. God revealed this necessity to him through an extraordinary vision: One day, as though in a light sleep, Gregory saw himself holding a vessel in his hand full to overflowing with milk. Gradually, the milk turned into wine which likewise spilled over the rim, and drenched his hands and garments. Then a radiant youth appeared and said: ``Why would you not give others of this wonderful drink that you are wasting so carelessly, or are you not aware that this is the gift of God's grace?'' To this Gregory replied: ``But if there is no one in our time who feels the need for such a drink, to whom shall I give it?'' Then the youth said: ``Whether there are some or whether there are none thirsty for such a drink, you are obligated to fulfill your debt and not neglect the gift of God.'' Gregory interpreted the milk as the common knowledge (of the masses) of moral life and conduct, and the wine as dogmatic teaching.
The second time Gregory secluded himself in a monastery he was writing his Principles of Orthodoxy. On the eve of the Feast of St. Anthony the Great, the monks summoned him to the all-night vigil service, but he remained at his work in the cell while all the brethren went to church. St. Anthony suddenly appeared to him and said: ``Perfect stillness is good, but sometimes it is necessary to be with the brethren.'' Convinced by this revelation, Gregory immediately went into church to the joy of all the monks.
on Paul, the prisoner
… I, Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles (Ephesians 3:1).
Brethren, this apostle of Christ calls himself the ``prisoner of Christ.'' How is it that an apostle can be a prisoner? Is not a prisoner bound? Yes, and the Apostle is bound-bound by love to the Lord Jesus so strongly that he feels that no comparable bond exists on earth. The Apostle is bound in his mind to the Lord Jesus so strongly that he cannot think of anything except Jesus Christ the Lord. The Apostle is so firmly bound by his will to the Lord Jesus that, in essence, he does not have a will of his own but has submitted his will completely to the Lord Jesus. And so, he loves that which Christ loves, thinks that which Christ thinks, and does that which Christ wills. Is this not imprisonment? O blessed imprisonment, which is not unto shame but glory, and is not unto destruction but salvation! Thus, Christ is the complete Lord of the Apostle's life, both outwardly and inwardly. For outwardly and inwardly, Christ permits him to be tempted; outwardly and inwardly, He reveals to him the wonders of His providence; outwardly and inwardly, He guides him to perfect good for the sake of his salvation, and for the sake of the salvation of many others.
Brethren, let us also commit ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ as did His Apostle, and then we will be in the most secure hands and on the most secure path.
O Lord Jesus Christ, great and wonderful Lord, bind us to Thee, imprison us in Thee forever and ever in both worlds.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.