Thursday, November 17, 2011

November 17, 2011 - 23rd Thursday After Pentecost (9th of Luke)

FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:

Gregory the Wonderworker & Bishop of Neo-Caesarea
Gennadios I, Patriarch of Constantinople
Righteous Mother Hilda of Whitby

Τῶν ἐν Ἁγίοις Πατέρων ἡμῶν Γρηγορίου, Ἐπισκόπου Νεοκαισαρείας, τοῦ Θαυματουργοῦ.
Τῶν ἐν Ἁγίοις Πατέρων ἡμῶν Γενναδίου καί Μαξίμου, Πατριαρχῶν Κωνσταντινουπόλεως.

READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:

The Reading is from St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians 12:7-11
BRETHREN, to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are inspired by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

Πρὸς Κορινθίους α' 12:7-11
Ἀδελφοί, ἑκάστῳ δὲ δίδοται ἡ φανέρωσις τοῦ πνεύματος πρὸς τὸ συμφέρον. ᾯ μὲν γὰρ διὰ τοῦ πνεύματος δίδοται λόγος σοφίας, ἄλλῳ δὲ λόγος γνώσεως, κατὰ τὸ αὐτὸ πνεῦμα· ἑτέρῳ δὲ πίστις, ἐν τῷ αὐτῷ πνεύματι· ἄλλῳ δὲ χαρίσματα ἰαμάτων ἐν τῷ αὐτῷ πνεύματι· ἄλλῳ δὲ ἐνεργήματα δυνάμεων, ἄλλῳ δὲ προφητεία, ἄλλῳ δὲ διακρίσεις πνευμάτων, ἑτέρῳ δὲ γένη γλωσσῶν, ἄλλῳ δὲ ἑρμηνεία γλωσσῶν· πάντα δὲ ταῦτα ἐνεργεῖ τὸ ἓν καὶ τὸ αὐτὸ πνεῦμα, διαιροῦν ἰδίᾳ ἑκάστῳ καθὼς βούλεται.

The Reading is from Luke 16:1-9
The Lord said this parable, "There was a rich man who had a steward, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his goods. And he called him and said to him, 'What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.' And the steward said to himself, 'What shall I do, since my master is taking the stewardship away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do, so that people may receive me into their houses when I am put out of the stewardship.' So, summoning his master's debtors one by one, he said to the first, 'How much do you owe my master?' He said, 'A hundred measures of oil.' And he said to him, 'Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.' Then he said to another, 'And how much do you owe?' He said, 'A hundred measures of wheat.' He said to him, 'Take your bill, and write eighty.' The master commended the dishonest steward for his shrewdness; for the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous mammon, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal habitations.

Κατὰ Λουκᾶν 16.1-9
Εἶπεν ὁ Κύριος τήν παραβολὴν ταύτην ·Ἄνθρωπός τις ἦν πλούσιος, ὃς εἶχεν οἰκονόμον, καὶ οὗτος διεβλήθη αὐτῷ ὡς διασκορπίζων τὰ ὑπάρχοντα αὐτοῦ. καὶ φωνήσας αὐτὸν εἶπεν αὐτῷ· τί τοῦτο ἀκούω περὶ σοῦ; ἀπόδος τὸν λόγον τῆς οἰκονομίας σου· οὐ γὰρ δύνῃ ἔτι οἰκονομεῖν. εἶπε δὲ ἐν ἑαυτῷ ὁ οἰκονόμος· τί ποιήσω, ὅτι ὁ κύριός μου ἀφαιρεῖται τὴν οἰκονομίαν ἀπ᾿ ἐμοῦ; σκάπτειν οὐκ ἰσχύω, ἐπαιτεῖν αἰσχύνομαι· ἔγνων τί ποιήσω, ἵνα, ὅταν μετασταθῶ ἐκ τῆς οἰκονομίας, δέξωνταί με εἰς τοὺς οἴκους ἑαυτῶν. καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος ἕνα ἕκαστον τῶν χρεωφειλετῶν τοῦ κυρίου ἑαυτοῦ ἔλεγε τῷ πρώτῳ· πόσον ὀφείλεις σὺ τῷ κυρίῳ μου; ὁ δὲ εἶπεν· ἑκατὸν βάτους ἐλαίου. καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· δέξαι σου τὸ γράμμα καὶ καθίσας ταχέως γράψον πεντήκοντα. ἔπειτα ἑτέρῳ εἶπε· σὺ δὲ πόσον ὀφείλεις; ὁ δὲ εἶπεν· ἑκατὸν κόρους σίτου. καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ· δέξαι σου τὸ γράμμα καὶ γράψον ὀγδοήκοντα. καὶ ἐπῄνεσεν ὁ κύριος τὸν οἰκονόμον τῆς ἀδικίας, ὅτι φρονίμως ἐποίησεν· ὅτι οἱ υἱοὶ τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου φρονιμώτεροι ὑπὲρ τοὺς υἱοὺς τοῦ φωτὸς εἰς τὴν γενεὰν τὴν ἑαυτῶν εἰσι. Κἀγὼ ὑμῖν λέγω· ποιήσατε ἑαυτοῖς φίλους ἐκ τοῦ μαμωνᾶ τῆς ἀδικίας, ἵνα, ὅταν ἐκλίπητε, δέξωνται ὑμᾶς εἰς τὰς αἰωνίους σκηνάς.


READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:

Τῇ ΙΖ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, Μνήμη τοῦ ἐν ἁγίοις Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Γρηγορίου, Ἐπισκόπου Νεοκαισαρείας τοῦ θαυματουργοῦ.
Ὁ Γρηγόριος, θαυματουργῶν καὶ πάλαι,
Θεῷ παραστάς, θαυματουργεῖ τι πλέον.
Ἑβδομάτῃ δεκάτῃ τε μέγας θάνε θαυματουργος.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ὁσίου καὶ Ὁμολογητοῦ Λαζάρου τοῦ Ζωγράφου.
Οὐ ζωγραφεῖ σε Λάζαρος καὶ νῦν Λόγε,
Ἀλλὰ βλέπει σε ζῶντα, μὴ ληπτὸν χρόαις.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ Μνήμη τῶν Ὁσίων Ζαχαρίου τοῦ Σκυτοτόμου, καὶ Ἰωάννου, καὶ διήγησις ὠφέλιμος.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Γεννάδιος, ὁ ἐν τῇ μονῇ τοῦ Βατοπεδίου ἀσκήσας, καὶ δοχειάρης (τροφοδότης) αὐτῆς ὤν, καὶ τὸ θαῦμα τοῦ ἔλαιον ἀναβλύσαντος ἐκ κενοῦ πίθου ἰδών, ἐν εἰρήνῃ τελειοῦται.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, ὁ Ὅσιος Λογγῖνος ἐν εἰρήνῃ τελειοῦται.
Ἔχεις ἀθλητὴν Χριστὲ Λογγῖνον μέγαν.
Ἔχεις δὲ καὶ Λογγῖνον ἀσκητὴν μέγαν.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, ὁ ἅγιος Γεννάδιος, Πατριάρχης Κωνσταντινουπόλεως, ἐν εἰρήνῃ τελειοῦται.
Ὁ Γεννάδιος εὗρε τὴν Ἐδὲμ στέφος,
Φανεὶς νοητὴν πρὸς παλαίστραν γεννάδας.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, ὁ ἅγιος Μάξιμος, Πατριάρχης Κωνσταντινουπόλεως, ἐν εἰρήνῃ τελειοῦται.
Μάξιμος ὠδίνησε, καὶ τεκὼν τέκνα,
Πράξεις ἁγνάς, ἄπεισιν ἁγνὸς ἐκ βίου.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, ὁ Ὅσιος Ἰουστῖνος ἐν εἰρήνῃ τελειοῦται.
Ἀσκητικὸς ἄγρυπνος ὀφθαλμὸς μύει,
Ἰουστῖνος, τὸ θαῦμα τῶν ἠσκηκότων.
Ταῖς τῶν Ἁγίων σου πρεσβείας, ὁ Θεὸς ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.

Saint Gregory was born in Neocaesarea of Pontus to parents who were not Christians. He studied in Athens, in Alexandria, in Beirut, and finally for five years in Caesarea of Palestine under Origen, by whom he was also instructed in the Faith of Christ. Then, in the year 240, he became bishop of his own city, wherein he found only seventeen Christians. By the time the Saint reposed about the year 265, there were only seventeen unbelievers left there. Virtually the whole duration of his episcopacy was a time of continual, marvellous wonders worked by him. Because of this, he received the surname "Wonderworker"; even the enemies of the truth called him a second Moses (see Saint Basil the Great's On the Holy Spirit, ch. 29).

Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Εν προσευχαίς γρηγορών, ταίς τών θαυμάτων εργασίαις εγκαρτερών, επωνυμίαν εκτήσω τά κατορθώματα, αλλά πρέσβευε Χριστώ τώ Θεώ, Πάτερ Γρηγόριε, φωτίσαι τάς ψυχάς ημών, μή ποτε υπνώσωμεν, εν αμαρτίαις εις θάνατον.
By vigilance in prayer, and continuance in the working of wonders, thou didst acquire thine achievements as a surname; wherefore, intercede with Christ our God, O Father Gregory, to enlighten our souls, lest we sleep in sin unto death.

Kontakion in the Second Tone
Θαυμάτων πολλών, δεξάμενος ενέργειαν, σημείοις φρικτοίς, τούς δαίμονας επτόησας, καί τάς νόσους ήλασας τών ανθρώπων, πάνσοφε Γρηγόριε, διό καλή θαυματουργός, τήν κλήσιν εξ έργων κομισάμενος.
Since thou hadst received the power to work miracles, thou dravest from men diseases, O wise Gregory, and with fearful signs thou madest the demons tremble; hence, thou art called Wonderworker, O man of God; for thou hast received thy surname from thy works.

Our righteous Mother Hilda was of noble birth, being a kinswoman of Saint Edwin, King of Northumbria (celebrated Oct. 12). At the age of thirty-three she renounced the world, and lived another thirty-three years as a nun and abbess. The last six years of her life she suffered a burning fever with patience and nobility, and reposed in peace in the year 680.

Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Εν σοί Μήτερ 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, οσία Χίλδε τό πνεύμά σου.
In thee the image was preserved with exactness, O Mother; 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 Hilda, thy spirit rejoiceth with the Angels.

Kontakion in the First Tone
For three and thirty years in the world, chaste and modest, for three and thirty years as a righteous monastic, thou camest, O Hilda, unto Christ's stature, and perfect man; and on being cleansed through grievous bodily sickness, thou wast taken up in light and glory to Heaven, Where thou dost pray God for us.

Μέσα στη μεγάλη χορεία των Πατέρων της Εκκλησίας πρωτεύουσα θέση έχει ο άγιος Γρηγόριος, Επίσκοπος Νεοκαισαρείας ο θαυματουργός, του οποίου η Εκκλησία σήμερα γιορτάζει και τιμά την μνήμη. Υπήρξε μαθητής του Ωριγένη στην Αλεξάνδρεια και είναι ονομαστός ο αποχαιρετιστήριος λόγος του μετά το πέρας των σπουδών του. Εκεί φαίνεται η μεγάλη αξία του Ωριγένη, σαν διδασκάλου και η βαθειά ευγνωμοσύνη του Γρηγορίου, σαν μαθητού. "Άπασαν προσήγε την παρ' αυτού τέχνην και επιμέλειαν και κατειργάσατο ημάς", γράφει για το διδάσκαλό του. Τον βίο του αγίου Γρηγορίου του θαυματουργού συνέγραψε ο άγιος Γρηγόριος ο Επίσκοπος Νύσσης, αδελφός του Μεγάλου Βασιλείου. Αλλά και ο Μ. Βασίλειος σ' ένα του λόγο λέει για τον Γρηγόριο τον θαυματουργό, ότι για τα πνευματικά του χαρίσματα και την χάρη των θαυμάτων "δεύτερος Μωϋσής παρ' αυτών των εχθρών της αλήθειας προσηγορεύετο".

Ὁ Ἅγιος Γρηγόριος Νεοκαισαρείας, ὁ Θαυματουργός
Γεννήθηκε περίπου τὸ 210 μὲ 215 μ.Χ. Οἱ γονεῖς του ἦταν εἰδωλολάτρες καὶ εἶχαν μεγάλη κοινωνικὴ θέση στὴ Νεοκαισάρεια τοῦ Πόντου. Μετὰ τὴν στοιχειώδη ἐκπαίδευσή του, ὁ Γρηγόριος μαζὶ μὲ τὸν ἀδελφό του Ἀθηνόδωρο πῆγαν στὴ Βηρυττὸ γιὰ νὰ σπουδάσουν νομικά. Ὁ Θεὸς ὅμως εἶχε ἄλλα σχέδια γιὰ τὸ Γρηγόριο. Ὅταν περνοῦσε ἀπὸ τὴν Καισαρεία, ἄκουσε τὸ δεινὸ ἑρμηνευτῆ τῶν Γραφῶν, Ὠριγένη. Ὁ Γρηγόριος τόσο πολὺ ἐνθουσιάστηκε μαζί του, ὥστε ἄφησε τὰ νομικὰ καὶ διετέλεσε ἐπὶ χρόνια μαθητής του. Κατόπιν πῆγε στὴν Ἀλεξάνδρεια, καὶ ἀπὸ ἐκεῖ ἐπέστρεψε στὴ Νεοκαισάρεια μὲ πλήρη θεολογικὴ μόρφωση καὶ ἅγιο ζῆλο. Τότε ὁ Μητροπολίτης Ἀμάσειας Φαίδημος διέκρινε τὰ χαρίσματά του καὶ τὸν ἔκανε ἐπίσκοπο Νεοκαισαρείας. Ἡ ἐπισκοπὴ αὐτὴ εἶχε μόνο 17 χριστιανούς! Ὁ Γρηγόριος, ὅμως, δὲν τὸ θεώρησε ὑποτιμητικό. Βασιζόταν πολὺ στὴ δύναμη τῆς θείας χάριτος καὶ πάντα εἶχε στὸ μυαλό του τὰ ἐνθαῤῥυντικὰ λόγια του θείου Παύλου: «Ἐνδυναμοῦ ἐν τῇ χάριτι τῇ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ». Νὰ ἐνδυναμώνεσαι μὲ τὴ χάρη ποὺ μᾶς δίνεται ἀπὸ τὴν σχέση καὶ τὴν ἕνωσή μας μὲ τὸν Ἰησοῦ Χριστό. Πράγματι, μὲ τὴν χάρη τοῦ Θεοῦ, ὁ Γρηγόριος ἔκανε καταπληκτικὸ ἀγῶνα καὶ ἐκχριστιάνισε σχεδὸν ὅλη τὴν πόλη. Καὶ ἐνῷ εἶχε παραλάβει 17 χριστιανούς, ὅταν πέθανε εἰρηνικὰ στὰ τέλη τοῦ 270 μ.Χ. εἶχαν ἀπομείνει στὴν ἐπισκοπική του περιφέρεια μόνο 17 εἰδωλολάτρες! Ὑπῆρξε δὲ τόσο ἐγκρατὴς στὴ γλῶσσα του, ὥστε δὲν βγῆκε ἀπ᾿ αὐτὴν κανένας κακός, περιττὸς ἢ ἀργὸς λόγος. Γι᾿ αὐτὸ καὶ ὁ Θεὸς τὸν κόσμησε καὶ μὲ τὸ χάρισμα τῆς θαυματουργίας.

Ὁ Ἅγιος Λάζαρος ὁ ζωγράφος
Ἁγιογράφος στὸ ἐπάγγελμα, ποὺ κατόπιν δέχτηκε τὴν ἱερωσύνη, μὲ τὴν πανοπλία τῆς ὁποίας ἀγωνίστηκε συνέχεια καὶ ἔντιμα στὸ στάδιο τῆς πίστης. Ὄχι μόνο ζηλωτής, ἀλλὰ καὶ γραμματισμένος, ἔλεγχε τὶς πλάνες τῶν ὀπαδῶν τοῦ Νεστορίου, τοῦ Εὐτυχοῦς, τοῦ Διοσκόρου, καὶ δυὸ φορὲς πῆγε σὰν ἀπεσταλμένος στὴ Ῥώμη γιὰ συνεννόηση, χάριν τοῦ κοινοῦ ἀγῶνα τῆς Ἀνατολικῆς καὶ Δυτικῆς Ἐκκλησίας ἐναντίον τῶν Εἰκονομάχων. σ᾿ ἕνα ἀπὸ τὰ δρομολόγιά του ὅμως, λόγω ἀντίξοων καιρικῶν συνθηκῶν, ἀῤῥώστησε καὶ ἀπεβίωσε (τὸ 867 μ.Χ.). Τὸ τίμιο σῶμα του, ἀργότερα κατατέθηκε στὸ Μοναστήρι τοῦ Εὐάνδρου.

Οἱ Ἅγιοι Ζαχαρίας ὁ Σκυτοτόμος καὶ Ἰωάννης
Οἱ δυὸ αὐτοὶ Ὅσιοι ἀναφέρονται σὲ κάποια διήγηση, κατὰ τὴν ὁποία ὁ Ἰωάννης εἶδε τὸν Ζαχαρία νὰ βγαίνει ἀπὸ τὸν Ναὸ τῆς ἁγίας Σοφίας συνοδευμένο ἀπὸ θεῖο φῶς. Τὸν ἀκολούθησε στὸ σπίτι του καὶ ἔμαθε ὅτι, ἂν καὶ ἦταν παντρεμένος, ζοῦσε μὲ παρθενία καὶ σωφροσύνη, ὅσα κέρδιζε ἀπὸ τὴν τέχνη του τὰ μισὰ τὰ ἔδινε στοὺς φτωχοὺς καὶ ὅτι ἔζησε ζωὴ θεοφιλῆ (7ος αἰ. μ.Χ.). Γιὰ τὸν Ἰωάννη λέγεται, ὅτι ἦταν πλούσιος καὶ ἀξιωματοῦχος. Περιφρόνησε ὅμως τὰ ἐγκόσμια καὶ ζοῦσε ζωὴ ἁπλὴ καὶ ἀσκητική, συχνάζοντας κάθε μέρα στοὺς ναούς, ὅπου ἔτυχε νὰ συναντήσει καὶ τὸν πιὸ πάνω σκυτοτόμο Ζαχαρία.

1. Σκυτοτόμος: σανδαλοποιός, ῥάπτῃς δερμάτων, κάτι παρόμοιο καὶ μεταξὺ σημερινοῦ τσαγκάρη καὶ τεχνίτη κατεργασίας καὶ μεταποίησης δερματίνων εἰδῶν.

Ὁ Ὅσιος Λογγῖνος
Ἦταν ἕνας ἀπὸ τοὺς λόγιους καὶ σοφοὺς τῆς ἐρήμου ἀσκητές. Κάποια σοφὰ ἀποφθέγματά του, περιλαμβάνονται στὸν Εὐεργετινό, ὅπου ὁ Λογγίνος ῥωτᾷ τὸν Ἀββᾶ Λούκια γιὰ διάφορα ζητήματα. Ὁ Ὅσιος Λογγίνος ἀπεβίωσε εἰρηνικά.

Οἱ Ἅγιοι Γεννάδιος καὶ Μάξιμος Πατριάρχες Κωνσταντινουπόλεως
Ἄξιοι κατὰ πάντα καὶ οἱ δυὸ ποιμενάρχες τῆς Ἐκκλησίας. Ὁ Γεννάδιος Α´, διαδέχτηκε τὸ ἔτος 458 τὸν Πατριάρχη Κωνσταντινουπόλεως Ἀνατόλιο. Προηγούμενα ἦταν πρεσβύτερος στὴν ἴδια Ἐκκλησία. Ὁ Πατριάρχης αὐτός, ἐργάστηκε καρποφόρα γιὰ τὴν ἐπιστροφὴ πολλῶν αἱρετικῶν στὴν Ὀρθοδοξία. Μεταξὺ αὐτῶν, ἐπέστρεψε μέσῳ τοῦ Γενναδίου καὶ ὁ ἀσπαζόμενος τὶς πλάνες τῶν Ναβατιανῶν Μαρκιανός, τὸν ὁποῖο καὶ ἔκανε οἰκονόμο τῆς Μεγάλης Ἐκκλησίας. Ἐπίσης ὁ Γεννάδιος Α´, ἔπεισε τὸν αὐτοκράτορα Λέοντα τὸν Θράκα, νὰ ἐξορίσει τὸν αἱρετικὸ Πέτρο τὸν Κναφέα, ὅταν αὐτὸς ἅρπαξε τὸ θρόνο τῆς Ἀντιοχείας ἀπὸ τὸν ὀρθόδοξο Πατριάρχη Μαρτύριο. Ἀλλὰ ἐπὶ Γενναδίου ὁ αὐτοκράτορας Λέων ὁ Μακέλλης, νομοθέτησε τὸν ἁγιασμὸ τῆς Κυριακῆς. Ὁ Γεννάδιος κανένα δὲν χειροτονοῦσε ἱερέα, ἂν αὐτὸς δὲν γνώριζε καλὰ τὴν ἑρμηνεία τῶν Ψαλμῶν. Ἐπίσης συγκάλεσε Σύνοδο στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη, ὅπου ἐκδόθηκε ἐγκύκλιος «κατὰ τῆς χρηματολογίας πρὸς χειροτονίαν». Μετὰ ἀπὸ αὐτὴ τὴν εὐσυνείδητη καὶ ἱεροπρεπῆ πολιτεία, ὁ Γεννάδιος Α´ πέθανε τὸ 471. Τώρα ὡς πρὸς τὸν Πατριάρχη Μάξιμο, δὲν εἶναι ἐπαρκῶς καθορισμένο ποιὸς ἀπὸ τοὺς Πατριάρχες Κωνσταντινουπόλεως, ποὺ φέρουν τὸ ὄνομα αὐτὸ εἶναι ὁ Ἅγιος. Κατὰ πᾶσα πιθανότητα ὅμως, πρόκειται γιὰ τὸν Μάξιμο Γ (1476 -1482). Αὐτὸς καταγόταν ἀπὸ τὴν Πελοπόννησο καὶ ἐργάστηκε μὲ πολλοὺς τρόπους γιὰ τὴν βελτίωση τῶν ἠθῶν. Ὁ ἴδιος μάλιστα, ἀκούραστα κάθε Κυριακὴ δίδασκε στὸ λαὸ τὸν θεῖο λόγο. (Ἡ μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου αὐτοῦ, περιττῶς ἐπαναλαμβάνεται σ᾿ ὁρισμένους Συναξαριστὲς καὶ τὴν 20ή Νοεμβρίου).

Our Venerable Father Gregory the Wonderworker, Bishop of Neocaesarea (~275)
He was born to a prominent pagan family in Neocaesarea, where Christianity was at the time almost unknown. Nonetheless, Gregory found and embraced the faith of Christ at an early age. His parents educated him at the finest schools of the day in Athens, Alexandria, and Beirut; he and his brother spent five years studying under the great Origen, though, the Synaxarion is quick to note, "They possessed enough discernment, however, to avoid certain errors into which Origen was led by the excessive boldness of his speculations about the mysteries of God."
  Refusing many tempting offers of worldly position, Gregory withdrew to the wilderness to live in ascesis. However, the Archbishop of Amesia, familiar with his holiness and ability, consecrated him Bishop of Neocaesarea against his will, and Gregory in obedience took up his see at about the age of thirty.
  When he entered the city as bishop, it contained only seventeen Christians. Through the Saint's tireless and grace-filled preaching, and through the steady stream of miracles that he wrought there, he brought so many to the faith that when he died, only seventeen of the city's inhabitants were still pagans.
  Bishop Gregory's countless miracles were so famed that he became known to all as the Wonderworker. Once, the Most Holy Mother of God appeared to him with Saint John the Theologian and revealed divine mysteries to him directly, a grace granted to very few. Even his detractors called him a second Moses. He reposed in peace in 275.

Our Holy Father Longinus (4th or 5th c.)
"Our holy Father Longinus lived in the Egyptian deserts during the fourth or fifth century. Among other sayings of his, are the following: A dead man judges no one, and it is just the same with the man who is humble. To someone who wanted to go to live in exile, he replied: Unless you guard your tongue, you will not be able to live in exile wherever you go. To someone else who wanted to live in solitude, he said: If you do not exercise the virtues in the midst of men, still less will you be able to do so in solitude. By his life and his words he taught love of humility as superior to all the works of ascesis, saying: Fasting humbles the body, vigil purifies the intellect and stillness leads to the affliction that baptizes man anew and cleanses him of all sin.
  We also owe to him the famous saying: Shed your blood and receive the Spirit." (Synaxarion)

Our Holy Mother Hilda, Abbess of Whitby (680)
A noble kinswoman of St Edwin, king of Northumbria (commemorated October 12), Hilda was baptized at a young age through the preaching of St Paulinus, one of the first missionaries sent from Rome to British Isles. At the age of thirty-three she renounced the world and entered monastic life. At first, she sought to enter a monastery near Paris in Gaul, but she was called back to her homeland by St Aidan, Bishop of Lindisfarne (August 31), who, discerning her already-apparent spiritual gifts, set her as Abbess of a small monastery. As her gifts of discernment and spiritual guidance became more widely-known, she led larger monasteries, finally establishing the Monastery of Whitby in 657. The Saint spent the next thirty-three years directing the Monastery, which became a beacon of Christian life throughout the British Isles and beyond. The Monastery was unusual by modern standards in that it comprised both a women's and a men's monastic house, with Mother Hilda as spiritual head of both. The community became a training-ground for priests and bishops who went on to spread the Gospel of Christ throughout Britain.
  Commoners, kings and Bishop Aidan himself came regularly to her for spiritual counsel, and she was in her own lifetime regarded as the Mother of her country. For the last six years of her life she was afflicted with an unremitting burning fever, but she continued her holy work undeterred until her repose in 680. At the moment of her death, Saint Begu, in a different monastery, was awakened by a vision of Hilda's soul being borne up to heaven by a company of angels.
  The Synaxarion concludes, "Saint Hilda, like her contemporaries Saint Etheldreda (23 June) and Saint Ebba (25 Aug.), belongs to that monastic company of women of royal birth who exercised a formative influence in the English Church of the seventh century, but she is also a rare example of a spiritual Mother, who received from God the gift of directing not only nuns but monks and bishops as well; for in the Lord Jesus there is neither male nor female, but a new creation (Gal. 3:28)."

Our Holy Father Nikon of Radonezh (1426)
He was born in 1350 in the town of Yuriev-in-the-fields, between Rostov and Radonezh. At a very young age he sought out St Sergius of Radonezh, seeking to be his disciple; but the Saint placed him in another monastery, where he soon became known as the 'lover of obedience' for his humility and selflessness. At last, when he was about thirty and had been ordained to the priesthood, he was able to go to Radonezh, where St Sergius, discerning his advanced spiritual state, made Nikon his cell-attendant. At the death of St Sergius, the brethren unanimously elected Nikon as their Abbot. In 1408, St Nikon was warned in an apparition that the monastery would be sacked by Tatars, so he and his monks fled with the monastery's books and sacred vessels. When they returned they found that the monastery had been burned to the ground. Setting to work immediately, they built a new monastery over the next few years. In 1422 the relics of St Sergius, which had been miraculously preserved in the Tatar attack, were installed in the new monastery church.
  The Synaxarion concludes: "Full of years and already transported in spirit to the Kingdom of Heaven, Saint Nikon said to his disciples, 'Take me from here to the bright church prepared for me by the prayers of my spiritual father. I do not want to stay any longer here below!' When he had communicated in the holy Mysteries and blessed his brethren one by one, he cried out, 'O my soul, draw near with joy to the place that has been prepared for thy rest. Draw near with joy because Christ is calling thee!' Then he fell asleep in peace. He was laid to rest opposite the tomb of Saint Sergius. Since then he has often appeared with Saint Sergius in order to heal the sick or to protect the Holy Trinity Lavra in times of danger."


Sainted Gregory Thaumatourgos, Bishop of Neocaesarea, was born in the city of Neocaesarea (northern Asia Minor) into a pagan family. Having received a fine education, from his youth he strived for Truth, but the thinkers of antiquity were not able to quench his thirst for knowledge. Truth was revealed to him only in the Holy Gospel, and the youth became a Christian.
For the continuation of his studies Saint Gregory set off to Alexandria, known then as a centre for pagan and Christian learning. The youth, eager for knowledge, went to the Alexandrian Catechetical School, where the presbyter Origen taught. Origen was a famous teacher, possessing a great strength of mind and profound knowledge. Saint Gregory became a student of the presbyter Origen. Afterwards, the saint wrote thus about his mentor: "This man received from God a sublime gift -- to be an interpreter of the Word of God for people, to apprehend the Word of God, as God Himself did use it, and to explain it to people, insofar as they were able to understand it". Saint Gregory studied for eight years with the presbyter Origen and received Baptism from him.
The ascetic life of Saint Gregory, his continence, purity and lack of covetousness aroused envy among his conceited and sin-loving peers -- pagans that they were, and they decided to slander Saint Gregory. One time, when he was conversing with students on the city-square, a seductress notorious throughout the city came up to him and demanded payment, for alleged sinful services rendered. At first Saint Gregory gently took exception with her, that she was mistaken and assumed that he was someone else. But the profligate woman would not be quieted. He then asked a friend to give her the money. Just as the profligate woman took in hand the unjust recompense, she immediately fell to the ground in a demonic fit, and the fraud became evident. Saint Gregory said a prayer over her, and the devil left her.
Having returned to Neocaesarea, the saint renounced the worldly affairs into which influential townsmen persistently sought to push him. He fled into the wilderness, where by fasting and prayer he attained to high spiritual accomplishment and grace-bearing gifts of perspicacity and prophecy. Saint Gregory loved life in the wilderness and wanted to remain in solitude until the end of his days, but the Lord willed otherwise.
The bishop of the Cappadocian city of Amasea, Thedimos, having learned about the ascetic life of Saint Gregory, decided to have him made bishop of Neocaesarea. But having foreseen in spirit the intent of Vladyka Thedimos, the saint hid himself from the messengers of the bishop who were entrusted to find him. Then Bishop Thedimos ordained the out of sight saint as bishop of Neocaesarea, beseeching the Lord, that He Himself would sanctify the unusual ordination. Sainted Gregory perceived the extraordinary event as a manifestation of the will of God and he did not dare to protest. This episode in the life of Saint Gregory was recorded by Sainted Gregory of Nyssa (Comm. 10 January). He relates, that Saint Gregory of Neocaesarea received the highest priestly dignity only after the performing over him of all the sacerdotal requirements by Bishop Thedimos of Amasea.
Before ordination, when it was necessary for him to pronounce the Confession of the Faith, Saint Gregory prayed fervently and diligently imploring God and the Mother of God to reveal to him the true form of worship of the MostHoly Trinity. At the time of prayer the All-Pure Virgin Mary appeared to him, radiant like unto the sun, and together with Her was the Apostle John the Theologian dressed in archbishopal vestments. At the bidding of the Mother of God, the Apostle John taught the saint how to correctly and properly confess the Mystery of the MostHoly Trinity. Saint Gregory wrote down everything that the Apostle John the Theologian revealed to him. The Mystery of the Symbol-Creed of the Faith, written down by Sainted Gregory of Neocaesarea -- is a great Divine Revelation in the history of the Church. On it is based the teaching about the Holy Trinity in Orthodox Theology. Subsequently it was made use of by the holy Fathers of the Church, -- Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and Gregory of Nyssa. The Credal-Symbol of Saint Gregory of Neocaesarea was later examined and affirmed in the year 325 by the First OEcumenical Council, showing his enduring significance for Orthodoxy.
Having become a bishop, Saint Gregory set off to Neocaesarea. Along the way from Amasea he expelled devils from a pagan-temple, the priest of which he converted to Christ. The convert was witness to still another miracle of the saint, -- through his word a large heap of stone shifted from its place. The preaching of the saint was direct, lively and fruitful. He taught and worked miracles in the Name of Christ: he healed the sick, he helped the needy, he settled quarrels and complaints. Two brothers in sharing an inheritance were not able to agree over a lake property of their dead father. Each of the brothers gathered round himself like-minded friends. They were ready to come to blows. Saint Gregory persuaded them to delay the finish of their dispute until the following day, and he himself prayed all night long at the shore of the lake causing the quarrel. When dawn broke, everyone saw that the cause of the dispute was no more -- the lake had gone underground. Through the intense prayer of the saint there now flowed but a stream, and the course of its flow defining the boundary line. Another time, during the construction of a church, he gave command in the Name of Christ for an hill to move and make room at the place of the foundation.
When a persecution against Christians began under the emperor Decius (249-251), Saint Gregory led his flock to a faraway mountain. A certain pagan, knowing about the place of the Christians, told this to the persecutors. Soldiers surrounded the mountain. The saint went out into an open place, raised up his hands to heaven and, having given orders to his deacon on what to do, he began to pray. The soldiers searched the whole mountain, and they went several times right past those praying, but not seeing them, they gave up and went. In the city they reported that on the mountain there was nowhere to hide: no one was there, and only two trees stood alongside each other. The informer was struck with amazement, he repented his ways and became a fervent Christian.
Saint Gregory returned to Neocaesarea after the end of the persecution. By his blessing church feastdays were established in honour of the martyrs that had suffered for Christ. During these times there began to spread about the false-teachings of the heretic Paul of Samosata (Samosata was a city in Syria). This heretic confused together the Essence of the UnDivided Trinity with the Essence of One God the Father, confounding the minds of many Christians by his talks and writings. The heretic Paul of Samosata was condemned at the first Antioch Council, assembled in the year 264. Saint Gregory occupied a prominent place at this Council.
By his saintly life, his effective preaching, working of miracles and graced guiding of his flock, the saint steadily increased the number of converts to Christ. Before his death (c. 266-270) there remained in the city only 17 pagans. But when Sainted Gregory Thaumatourgos, Bishop of Neocaesaea, first entered onto the cathedra, there were in the city only 17 Christians.

THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:

1. Saint Gregory the Wonderworker, Bishop of Neocaesarea
This man of God and powerful wonderworker was called a second Moses. Gregory was born of pagan, but eminent and wealthy, parents. He studied Hellenic and Egyptian philosophy and became aware of the meagerness and insufficiency of pagan philosophy. He then turned to Christian teachers, particularly Origen of Alexandria, with whom he studied for several years and from whom he received baptism. Pure in body and soul, he wanted to dedicate himself solely to Christ God, for which reason he withdrew to the wilderness, where he spent much time in rigorous asceticism. His fame spread everywhere. Bishop Phaedimus of Amasea wanted to consecrate him Bishop of Neocaesarea. The clairvoyant Gregory perceived Phaedimus's intention and hid from the bishop's emissaries in the wilderness. Finally, Phaedimus consecrated him in a strange way, and Gregory had to accept the office of bishop. The Most-holy Theotokos and St. John the Theologian appeared to him in a vision, and St. John, at the command of the Theotokos, gave him the Symbol of Faith that is known by Gregory's name. Who can enumerate all the miracles of this second Moses? He had power over evil spirits, and over mountains and waters, healed every pain and infirmity, could become invisible to his persecutors, and clairvoyantly perceived distant events and men's thoughts. He ended his earthly life in the year 270, in great old age. When he arrived in Neocaesarea as bishop, he found only seventeen Christians in that pagan city. When he departed this life, he left the city Christian, with only seventeen pagans, and received the wreath of glory from his Lord in the Heavenly Kingdom.

2. The Venerable Nikon of Radonezh
Nikon was a disciple of St. Sergius of Radonezh, and his successor as abbot. When barbarians attacked Russia, Nikon prayed to God to remove this misfortune from the Russian people. Then St. Sergius appeared to him with St. Peter and St. Alexis (the reposed Metropolitans of Moscow) and told him not to grieve, for the assault was by God's permission and was for their good, but would pass and peace would reign once more. Nikon renovated the Monastery of the Holy Trinity and served as an example to many of asceticism. He entered into rest on November 17, 1426.

3. The Venerable Gennadius of Vatopedi
Gennadius was a monk of Vatopedi on Mount Athos, and had the obedience of being steward. During his time as steward an empty barrel was miraculously filled with oil. This miracle is ascribed to the Most-holy Theotokos, to whom the monastery is dedicated, and especially to her icon, which was nearby.

HYMN OF PRAISE
Saint Gregory the Wonderworker, Bishop of Neocaesarea
St. Gregory, holy and glorious,
A shining light of the Church and an Orthodox hero,
Raised himself up to God by a very narrow path:
Through suffering and tears, he attained holiness.
He saved himself, and helped many.
By his exemplary life, words and miracles,
He helped the unbelievers to belief,
And believers to be pure and true to the Faith.
The heavens were open to him,
And he clearly penetrated the secrets of men.
He received mystical teachings from heaven;
As the heart of that teaching, he taught the Holy Trinity-
The Divine Trinity, one in Essence,
And Christ, the life-giving food and drink.
Just as pure dewdrops are full of sunlight,
Pure hearts are the dwelling place of the heavens.
With God's help, holy Gregory
Overcame the moonless night of idolatry,
And baptized pagans by the thousands;
Then he departed in peace, to stand with his King!
Holy Gregory, implore God
That the Orthodox Church overcome the adversary!

REFLECTION
Let the following examples from the Life of St. Gregory show how God guards and saves the righteous from assaults. While he was still at the school of philosophy in Alexandria, St. Gregory preserved the purity of his soul and his body, as he preserved it to the end of his life. In this, he was an exception among the dissolute youth of that time. This evoked envy and hatred among his companions. In order to debase Gregory, they found a harlot to help them carry out an evil plan. Once, when Gregory was standing in the square with eminent teachers and philosophers, the foul woman approached him and loudly demanded that Gregory pay her the remainder due for impure relations with her. Some of the people present were scandalized, while others were angry at this shameless woman and began to chase her away; but she shouted even louder, demanding money. The innocent Gregory blushed, as any decent man would before such coarse slander, but he displayed neither anger nor hatred, and asked a friend to give her the amount that she sought so she would leave. The friend heeded Gregory, and gave her the money she wanted. But at that moment God let an evil spirit enter the woman and she fell to the ground and began writhing and convulsing, gnashing her teeth, and foaming at the mouth. Seeing this, everyone was terrified. But St. Gregory, innocent as a lamb, prayed to God for her, and the woman was healed and arose. Thus, instead of humiliation, Gregory acquired even greater glory.
Another example: When a bitter persecution of Christians took place, St. Gregory counseled Christians to hide, and he and his deacon hid on a hill. But the imperial soldiers caught sight of them and pursued them. When they were almost upon them, Gregory prayed to God for help, and God rendered them invisible to their pursuers. The soldiers searched for them in vain, and finally left without them.

CONTEMPLATION
Contemplate the creation of the world (Genesis 1):
1. How God created the greater and lesser lights on the fourth day;
2. How He created the sun to shine during the day, and the moon and the stars to shine at night.

HOMILY
on the breadth, length, depth and height
That ye … may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height (Ephesians 3:17-18).
Behold the fruits of faith and love! Behold the royal gifts that Christ the King confers when He dwells in a man's heart: the understanding of salvific mysteries and the understanding of all that is important to a man's life. This understanding is not personal or exceptional, and it is not individual or novel. It is in accordance with the understanding of the saints-for who are the saints, if not those that are rich in faith and love? They were given the understanding of the mysteries of God because of their faith and love. Therefore, test your understanding against their understanding, and if you see a difference, know that it is you who are not in the right. If, however, your understanding is in accordance with theirs, you have attained the measure of their faith and love, and that means that Christ dwells in your heart.
If that is so, then you will comprehend the breadth of God's love, by which He embraced both Jews and pagans in the plan of salvation, and the length of God's providence by which, from time immemorial, He prepared and developed the plan of salvation through the Law, the Prophets and many miracles. You will also comprehend the depth of the humility of Christ, by which He personally descended into hades to save the souls of the righteous, and the height of the glory of Christ, which He received as a man after the completion of His saving work on earth. Breadth and length and depth and height stand like Christ's Cross: embracing all, explaining all, inviting all, showing mercy to all, and exalting all.
O Lord Jesus Christ, our gracious Lord, have mercy on us and save us.
 To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.