FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:
Nektarios the Wonderworker, Bishop of Pentapolis
Onesiphoros and Porphyrios of Ephesus
Matrona, Abbess of Constantinople
Theoktisti of the Isle of Lesbos
Symeon the Translator
Τοῦ ἐν Ἁγίοις Πατρός ἡμῶν Νεκταρίου, Ἐπισκόπου Πενταπόλεως τοῦ Θαυματουργοῦ
Τῶν Ἁγίων Μαρτύρων Ὀνησιφόρου καί Πορφυρίου
Τῆς Ὁσίας Μητρός ἡμῶν Ματρώνης
Τῆς Ὁσίας Μητρός ἡμῶν Θεοκτίστης τῆς Λεσβίας
READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:
The Reading is from John 10:1-9
The Lord said to the Jews who had come to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber; but he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens; the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers." This figure Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. So Jesus again said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not heed them. I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture."
Κατὰ Ἰωάννην 10.1-9
Εἶπεν ὁ Κύριος πρὸς τοὺς ἐληλυθότας πρὸς αὐτὸν Ἰουδαίους· Ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ὁ μὴ εἰσερχόμενος διὰ τῆς θύρας εἰς τὴν αὐλὴν τῶν προβάτων, ἀλλὰ ἀναβαίνων ἀλλαχόθεν, ἐκεῖνος κλέπτης ἐστὶ καὶ λῃστής· ὁ δὲ εἰσερχόμενος διὰ τῆς θύρας ποιμήν ἐστι τῶν προβάτων. τούτῳ ὁ θυρωρὸς ἀνοίγει, καὶ τὰ πρόβατα τῆς φωνῆς αὐτοῦ ἀκούει, καὶ τὰ ἴδια πρόβατα καλεῖ κατ᾽ ὄνομα καὶ ἐξάγει αὐτά. καὶ ὅταν τὰ ἴδια πρόβατα ἐκβάλῃ, ἔμπροσθεν αὐτῶν πορεύεται, καὶ τὰ πρόβατα αὐτῷ ἀκολουθεῖ, ὅτι οἴδασι τὴν φωνὴν αὐτοῦ· ἀλλοτρίῳ δὲ οὐ μὴ ἀκολουθήσωσιν, ἀλλὰ φεύξονται ἀπ᾽ αὐτοῦ, ὅτι οὐκ οἴδασι τῶν ἀλλοτρίων τὴν φωνήν. Ταύτην τὴν παροιμίαν εἶπεν αὐτοῖς ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς· ἐκεῖνοι δὲ οὐκ ἔγνωσαν τίνα ἦν ἃ ἐλάλει αὐτοῖς. Εἶπεν οὖν πάλιν αὐτοῖς ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς· ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ θύρα τῶν προβάτων. πάντες ὅσοι ἦλθον πρὸ ἐμοῦ, κλέπται εἰσὶ καὶ λῃσταί· ἀλλ᾽ οὐκ ἤκουσαν αὐτῶν τὰ πρόβατα. ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ θύρα· δι᾽ ἐμοῦ ἐάν τις εἰσέλθῃ, σωθήσεται, καὶ εἰσελεύσεται καὶ ἐξελεύσεται, καὶ νομὴν εὑρήσει.
The Reading is from St. Paul's Letter to the Colossians 3:17-25; 4:1
BRETHREN, whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality. Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.
Πρὸς Κολοσσαεῖς 3:17-25;4:1
Ἀδελφοί, πᾶν ὅ τι ἂν ποιῆτε, ἐν λόγῳ ἢ ἐν ἔργῳ, πάντα ἐν ὀνόματι κυρίου Ἰησοῦ, εὐχαριστοῦντες τῷ θεῷ καὶ πατρὶ διʼ αὐτοῦ. Αἱ γυναῖκες, ὑποτάσσεσθε τοῖς ἰδίοις ἀνδράσιν, ὡς ἀνῆκεν ἐν κυρίῳ. Οἱ ἄνδρες, ἀγαπᾶτε τὰς γυναῖκας, καὶ μὴ πικραίνεσθε πρὸς αὐτάς. Τὰ τέκνα, ὑπακούετε τοῖς γονεῦσιν κατὰ πάντα· τοῦτο γὰρ ἐστιν εὐάρεστόν ἐν κυρίῳ. Οἱ πατέρες, μὴ ἐρεθίζετε τὰ τέκνα ὑμῶν, ἵνα μὴ ἀθυμῶσιν. Οἱ δοῦλοι, ὑπακούετε κατὰ πάντα τοῖς κατὰ σάρκα κυρίοις, μὴ ἐν ὀφθαλμοδουλείαις ὡς ἀνθρωπάρεσκοι, ἀλλʼ ἐν ἁπλότητι καρδίας, φοβούμενοι τὸν θεόν· καὶ πᾶν ὃ τι ἐὰν ποιῆτε, ἐκ ψυχῆς ἐργάζεσθε, ὡς τῷ κυρίῳ καὶ οὐκ ἀνθρώποις· εἰδότες ὅτι ἀπὸ κυρίου λήψεσθε τὴν ἀνταπόδοσιν τῆς κληρονομίας· τῷ γὰρ κυρίῳ χριστῷ δουλεύετε. Ὁ δὲ ἀδικῶν κομιεῖται ὃ ἠδίκησεν· καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν προσωποληψία. Οἱ κύριοι, τὸ δίκαιον καὶ τὴν ἰσότητα τοῖς δούλοις παρέχεσθε, εἰδότες ὅτι καὶ ὑμεῖς ἔχετε κύριον ἐν οὐρανοῖς.
The Reading is from Luke 12:48-59
The Lord said, "Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more. I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am constrained until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division; for henceforth in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against her mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."
He also said to the multitudes, "When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, 'A shower is coming'; and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, 'There will be scorching heat'; and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky; but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?
And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison. I tell you, you will never get out till you have paid the very last copper."
Κατὰ Λουκᾶν 12.48-59
Εἶπεν ὁ Κύριος· Παντὶ δὲ ᾧ ἐδόθη πολύ, πολὺ ζητηθήσεται παρ᾿ αὐτοῦ, καὶ ᾧ παρέθεντο πολύ, περισσότερον αἰτήσουσιν αὐτόν. Πῦρ ἦλθον βαλεῖν ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν, καὶ τί θέλω εἰ ἤδη ἀνήφθη! βάπτισμα δὲ ἔχω βαπτισθῆναι, καὶ πῶς συνέχομαι ἕως οὗ τελεσθῇ! δοκεῖτε ὅτι εἰρήνην παρεγενόμην δοῦναι ἐν τῇ γῇ; οὐχί, λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀλλ᾿ ἢ διαμερισμόν.ἔσονται γὰρ ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν πέντε ἐν οἴκῳ ἑνὶ διαμεμερισμένοι, τρεῖς ἐπὶ δυσὶ καὶ δύο ἐπὶ τρισί· διαμερισθήσονται πατὴρ ἐπὶ υἱῷ καὶ υἱὸς ἐπὶ πατρί, μήτηρ ἐπὶ θυγατρὶ καὶ θυγάτηρ ἐπὶ μητρί, πενθερὰ ἐπὶ τὴν νύμφην αὐτῆς καὶ νύμφη ἐπὶ τὴν πενθερὰν αὐτῆς. ῎Ελεγε δὲ καὶ τοῖς ὄχλοις· ὅταν ἴδητε τὴν νεφέλην ἀνατέλλουσαν ἀπὸ δυσμῶν, εὐθέως λέγετε, ὄμβρος ἔρχεται, καὶ γίνεται οὕτω· καὶ ὅταν νότον πνέοντα, λέγετε ὅτι καύσων ἔσται, καὶ γίνεται. ὑποκριταί, τὸ πρόσωπον τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καὶ τῆς γῆς οἴδατε δοκιμάζειν, τὸν δὲ καιρὸν τοῦτον πῶς οὐ δοκιμάζετε; Τί δὲ καὶ ἀφ᾿ ἑαυτῶν οὐ κρίνετε τὸ δίκαιον; ὡς γὰρ ὑπάγεις μετὰ τοῦ ἀντιδίκου σου ἐπ᾿ ἄρχοντα, ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ δὸς ἐργασίαν ἀπηλλάχθαι ἀπ᾿ αὐτοῦ, μήποτε κατασύρῃ σε πρὸς τὸν κριτήν, καὶ ὁ κριτής σε παραδῷ τῷ πράκτορι, καὶ ὁ πράκτωρ σε βαλεῖ εἰς φυλακήν. λέγω σοι, οὐ μὴ ἐξέλθῃς ἐκεῖθεν ἕως οὗ καὶ τὸ ἔσχατον λεπτὸν ἀποδῷς.
READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:
Τῇ Θ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, Μνήμη τοῦ ἐν Ἁγίοις Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Νεκταρίου Μητροπολίτου Πενταπόλεως τῆς ἐν Αἰγύπτῳ, τοῦ θαυματουργοῦ καὶ κτίτορος τῆς ἐν Αἰγίνῃ Ἱεράς Μονῆς τῆς Ἁγίας Τριάδος τῶν Μοναζουσῶν, κοιμηθέντος ὁσίως κατὰ τὸ ἔτος 1920.
Νέκταρ τῆς ζωῆς τῆς αἰωνίου πίνων,
Νᾶμα Νεκτάριε ἰάσεων βλύζεις.
Ἀμφ' ἐνάτῃ Νεκταρίοιο ἐκ ῥεθέων θυμὸς ἤρθη.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ. μνήμη τῶν Ἁγίων Μαρτύρων Ὀνησιφόρου καὶ Πορφυρίου.
Ἵπποις πρὸς Θεὸν Ὀνησιφόρε τρέχων
Ἔχεις συνιππεύοντα καὶ τὸν οἰκέτην.
Νύσσης οὐρανίης ἐπέβητ᾽ ἐνάτῃ ὦ Ἀθληταί.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, μνήμη τῆς Ὁσίας Μητρὸς ἡμῶν Ματρώνης.
Ζωῆς μελλούσης ἀξιοῦται Ματρῶνα
Ὡς ἐν βίῳ ζήσασα ταύτης ἀξίως.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, μνήμη τῆς Ὁσίας Μητρὸς ἡμῶν Θεοκτίστης τῆς Λεσβίας.
Λέσβου τὸ θρέμμα παρθένος Θεοκτίστη
Κτίστῃ Θεῷ πρόσεισι πάγκαλος νύμφη.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, μνήμη τῶν Ὁσίων Μητέρων ἡμῶν Εὐστολίας καὶ Σωπάτρας.
Ὅλη καλὴ σὺ πρὸς Θεὸν χωρεῖς Λόγον
Στολαῖς σταλεῖσα ψυχικαῖς Εὐστολία.
Σωπάτρα Πατρός, Πνεύματός τε καὶ Λόγου
Θρόνῳ παρέστη δοῦσα γῆ τὸ σαρκίον.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Μάρτυρος Ἀντωνίου.
Ἀντώνιον κτείνουσι τὸν θεῖον ξύλοις
Οἱ τὸ ξύλον τιμῶντες ὡς θεὸν πλάνοι.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, οἱ Ἅγιοι Μάρτυρες Χριστοφόρος καὶ Μαῦρα ξίφει τελειοῦνται.
Πλάνην ἀμαυροῖ Μαῦρα κοπεῖσα ξίφει,
Χριστοῦ δὲ τμηθεὶς φῶς ὁρᾷ Χριστοφόρος.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, μνήμη τῶν Ἁγίων Μαρτύρων Ναρσῆ καὶ Ἀρτέμονος.
Ναρσῆς σὺν Ἀρτέμονι ἐκκοπεὶς ξίφει,
Σὺν Ἀρτέμονι λαμβάνει καὶ τὰ στέφη.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, ὁ Ὅσιος Πατὴρ ἡμῶν Ἰωάννης, ὁ διὰ τὸ βραχὺ τῆς ἡλικίας (ἀναστήματος) ὀνομασθεὶς Κολοβός, ἐν εἰρήνῃ τελειοῦται.
Ἰωάννην ἔκρυψε γῆς βραχὺς τόπος,
'Ὃς κἂν βραχὺς τὸ σῶμα, τὴν πρᾶξιν μέγας.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, ὁ Ὅσιος Πατὴρ ἡμῶν Ἑλλάδιος ἐν εἰρήνῃ τελειοῦται.
Εἰ καὶ μετέστης Ἑλλάδιε τοῦ βίου,
Πίναξ ἔμεινας ἀρετῶν τοῖς ἐν βίῳ.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, ὁ Ὅσιος Πατὴρ ἡμῶν Συμεὼν ὁ Μεταφραστὴς ἐν εἰρήνῃ τελειοῦται.
Ἐκκλησία σοι Συμεὼν ὄφλει χάριν
Ὑπὲρ μεταφράσιος Ἁγίων βίων.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, οἱ Ὅσιοι καὶ θεοφόροι Πατέρες ἡμῶν Εὐθύμιος καὶ Νεόφυτος οἱ κτίτορες τῆς ἐν Ἄθῳ ἱερᾶς σεβασμίας Μονῆς τοῦ Διοχειαρίου, ἐν εἰρήνῃ τελειοῦνται.
Εὐθύμιον συνάμα τῷ Νεοφύτῳ
Τιμῶ κτίσαντας τὴν Μονὴν Ἀρχαγγέλων.
Ταῖς αὐτῶν πρεσβείαις Χριστὲ ὁ Θεός, ἐλέησον καὶ σῶσον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.
Saint Nektarios was born in Selyvria of Thrace on October 1, 1846. After putting himself through school in Constantinople with much hard labour, he became a monk on Chios in 1876, receiving the monastic name of Lazarus; because of his virtue, a year later he was ordained deacon, receiving the new name of Nektarios. Under the patronage of Patriarch Sophronius of Alexandria, Nektarios went to Athens to study in 1882; completing his theological studies in 1885, he went to Alexandria, where Patriarch Sophronius ordained him priest on March 23, 1886 in the Cathedral of Saint Sabbas, and in August of the same year, in the Church of Saint Nicholas in Cairo, made him Archimandrite. Archimandrite Nektarios showed much zeal both for preaching the word of God, and for the beauty of God's house. He greatly beautified the Church of Saint Nicholas in Cairo, and years later, when Nektarios was in Athens, Saint Nicholas appeared to him in a dream, embracing him and telling him he was going to exalt him very high.
On January 15, 1889, in the same Church of Saint Nicholas, Nektarios was consecrated Metropolitan of the Pentapolis in eastern Libya, which was under the jurisdiction of Alexandria. Although Nektarios' swift ascent through the degrees of ecclesiastical office did not affect his modesty and childlike innocence, it aroused the envy of lesser men, who convinced the elderly Sophronius that Nektarios had it in his heart to become Patriarch. Since the people loved Nektarios, the Patriarch was troubled by the slanders. On May 3, 1890, Sophronius relieved Metropolitan Nektarios of his duties; in July of the same year, he commanded Nektarios to leave Egypt.
Without seeking to avenge or even to defend himself, the innocent Metropolitan left for Athens, where he found that accusations of immorality had arrived before him. Because his good name had been soiled, he was unable to find a position worthy of a bishop, and in February of 1891 accepted the position of provincial preacher in Euboia; then, in 1894, he was appointed dean of the Rizarios Ecclesiastical School in Athens. Through his eloquent sermons his unwearying labours to educate fitting men for the priesthood, his generous alms deeds despite his own poverty, and the holiness, meekness, and fatherly love that were manifest in him, he became a shining light and a spiritual guide to many. At the request of certain pious women, in 1904 he began the building of his convent of the Holy Trinity on the island of Aegina while yet dean of the Rizarios School; finding later that his presence there was needed, he took up his residence on Aegina in 1908, where he spent the last years of his life, devoting himself to the direction of his convent and to very intense prayer; he was sometimes seen lifted above the ground while rapt in prayer. He became the protector of all Aegina, through his prayers delivering the island from drought, healing the sick, and casting out demons. Here also he endured wicked slanders with singular patience, forgiving his false accusers and not seeking to avenge himself. Although he had already worked wonders in life, an innumerable multitude of miracles have been wrought after his repose in 1920 through his holy relics, which for many years remained incorrupt. There is hardly a malady that has not been cured through his prayers; but Saint Nektarios is especially renowned for his healings of cancer for sufferers in all parts of the world.
Apolytikion in the First Tone
Σηλυβρίας τον γόνον και Αιγίνης τον έφορον, τον εσχάτοις χρόνοις φανέντα, αρετής φίλον γνήσιον, Νεκτάριον τιμήσωμεν πιστοί, ως ένθεον θεράποντα Χριστού, αναβλύζεις γαρ ιάσεις παντοδαπάς, τοίς ευλαβώς κραυγάζουσι, δόξα τώ σέ δοξάσαντι Χριστώ, δόξα τώ σε θαυμαστώσαντι, δόξα τώ ενεργούντι διά σού, πάσιν ιάματα.
The offspring of Selyvria and the guardian of Aegina, the true friend of virtue who didst appear in the last years, O Nectarius, we faithful honour thee as a godly servant of Christ, for thou pourest forth healings of every kind for those who piously cry out: Glory to Christ Who hath glorified thee. Glory to Him Who hath made thee wondrous. Glory to Him Who worketh healings for all through thee.
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Ορθοδοξίας τον αστέρα τον νεόφωτον, καί Εκκλησίας το νεόδμητον προτείχισμα Ανυμνήσωμεν καρδίας εν ευφροσύνη. Δοξασθείς γάρ ενεργεία τή τού Πνεύματος. Ιαμάτων αναβλύζει χάριν άφθονον τοίς κραυγάζουσι. χαιροις Πάτερ Νεκτάριε.
In joy, let our hearts praise the latest shining star of the Orthodox, the newly erected rampart of the Church. For, glorified by the work of the Spirit, he abundantly pours forth the grace of healing to those who cry out, "Hail, Father Nektarios".
During the persecution of Diocletian and Maximian, about the year 290, Saints Onesiphoros and Porphyrios were betrayed as Christians to the persecutors. After many torments through which they stood fast in confessing their faith, they were bound by the feet to wild horses and dragged to death.
Kontakion in the Second Tone
Μαρτύρων δυάς, αθλήσαντες στερρότατα, εχθρού τήν οφρύν, εις γήν κατηδάφισαν, ελλαμφθέντες χάριτι, τής ακτίστου Τριάδος οι ένδοξοι, καί νύν μετ' Αγγέλων αυτή, πρεσβεύουσιν απαύστως υπέρ πάντων ημών.
The martyric pair contested with great steadfastness and dashed to the earth the boasting of the enemy and were made to shine with the grace of the uncreated Trinity, and now with the angelic Hosts the glorious Martyrs pray to God for us.
Saint Matrona was from Perga in Pamphylia, and lived in the fifth century; she was wedded to a husband and bore him a daughter. After her husband's death, she entrusted her daughter to a certain woman she knew, and then passed her life in asceticism in Constantinople, living almost one hundred years.
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 Ματρώνα 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 Matrona, thy spirit rejoiceth with the Angels.
Kontakion in the Second Tone
Τό σώμα τό σόν, νηστείαις Κατατήξασα, εν μέσω ανδρών, Ματρώνα κατοικήσασα, προσευχαίς σχολάζουσα, τόν Δεσπότην ενθέως εθεράπευσας, δι' δν πάντα κατέλιπες, οσίως τόν βίον διανύσασα.
While dwelling 'midst men, with fasting thou didst waste thy flesh, and thou didst devote thyself unto unceasing prayers; thus, Matrona, thou didst piously serve the Master in Whose behalf thou forsookest all things, O Saint, and broughtest thy life to its end righteously.
"Εμοί δε λίαν ετιμήθησαν οι φίλοι σου ο Θεός", είναι γραμμένο στο Ψαλτήριο, ένας δε από τους φίλους του Θεού και των Αγίων, που θα μπορούσε να επαναλάβη αυτά τα λόγια, είναι ο άγιος Συμεών ο Μεταφραστής, του οποίου η Εκκλησία σήμερα γιορτάζει την μνήμη. Χαρακτηριστικά γράφονται στον βίο του αγίου Συμεών τα εξής λόγια· "Εκκλησία σοι, Συμεών, όφλει χάριν υπέρ μεταφράσεως αγίων βίων". Δηλαδή, η Εκκλησία, Συμεών, σε ευγνωμονεί, γιατί έγραψες τους βίους των Αγίων. Μεγάλος πολιτικός και διπλωμάτης του Κράτους ο Συμεών, αφήκε τ' αξιώματα κι ασχολήθηκε να συγγράψη τους βίους των Αγίων της Εκκλησίας. Δεν έχει, αλήθεια, να προσφέρει κανείς μεγαλύτερη ευεργεσία στους ανθρώπους, παρά όταν φέρνη εμπρός στα μάτια τους ζωντανή την αρετή και την αγιότητα στα πρόσωπα και τους βίους των φίλων του Θεού. Των Αγίων τα κατορθώματα "ορώμενα και επαινούμενα αξιόκτητά τε φαίνεται και αξιέραστα γίνεται".
Ὁ Ἅγιος Νεκτάριος Μητροπολίτης Πενταπόλεως Αἰγύπτου
Γεννήθηκε στὶς 1 Ὀκτωβρίου τοῦ 1846 στὴ Σηλυβρία τῆς Θρᾴκης ἀπὸ τὸν Δῆμο καὶ τὴν Βασιλικὴ Κεφαλᾶ καὶ ἦταν τὸ πέμπτο ἀπὸ τὰ ἕξι παιδιά τους. Τὸ κοσμικό του ὄνομα ἦταν Ἀναστάσιος. Μικρός, 14 ἐτῶν, πῆγε στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη, ὅπου ἐργάστηκε ὡς ὑπάλληλος καὶ κατόπιν ὡς παιδονόμος στὸ σχολεῖο τοῦ Μετοχίου τοῦ Παναγίου Τάφου. Κατόπιν πῆγε στὴ Χίο, ὅπου, ἀπὸ τὸ 1866 μέχρι τὸ 1876 χρημάτισε δημοδιδάσκαλος στὸ χωριὸ Λίθειο. Τὸ 1876 ἐκάρη μοναχὸς στὴ Νέα Μονὴ Χίου μὲ τὸ ὄνομα Λάζαρος καὶ στὶς 15 Ἰανουαρίου 1877 χειροτονήθηκε διάκονος, ὀνομασθεὶς Νεκτάριος, ἀπὸ τὸν Μητροπολίτη Χίου Γρηγόριο (1860-1877), καὶ ἀνέλαβε τὴν Γραμματεία τῆς Μητροπόλεως. Τὸ 1881 ἦλθε στὴν Ἀθήνα, ὅπου μὲ ἔξοδα τοῦ Πατριάρχη Ἀλεξανδρείας Σωφρονίου Δ´ (1870-1899), σπούδασε Θεολογία καὶ πῆρε τὸ πτυχίο του τὸ 1885. Ἔπειτα, ὁ ἴδιος προαναφερόμενος Πατριάρχης, τὸν χειροτόνησε τὸ 1886 πρεσβύτερο καὶ τοῦ ἔδωσε τὰ καθήκοντα τοῦ γραμματέα καὶ Ἱεροκήρυκα τοῦ Πατριαρχείου Ἀλεξανδρείας. Διετέλεσε ἐπίσης πατριαρχικὸς ἐπίτροπος στὸ Κάιρο. Στὶς 15 Ἰανουαρίου 1889 χειροτονήθηκε Μητροπολίτης Πενταπόλεως. Ἡ δράση του ὡς Μητροπολίτου ἦταν καταπληκτικὴ καὶ ἕνεκα αὐτοῦ θεωρεῖτο ὡς βασικὸς προτεινόμενος ἀπὸ τὸν λαὸ γιὰ τὸν πατριαρχικὸ θρόνο Ἀλεξανδρείας. Λόγω ὅμως φθονερῶν εἰσηγήσεων (αἰσχρῶν συκοφαντιῶν, ὅτι δῆθεν προσποιεῖται τὸν καλό γιὰ νὰ κερδίσει τὴν ἐξουσία) πρὸς τὸν Πατριάρχη Σωφρόνιο, ὁ ταπεινόφρων Νεκτάριος, γιὰ νὰ μὴ λυπήσει τὸν γέροντα Πατριάρχη, ἐπέστρεψε στὴν Ἑλλάδα (1889). Διετέλεσε Ἱεροκήρυκας (Εὐβοίας) (1891-1893), Φθιώτιδος καὶ Φωκίδας (1893-1894) καὶ διευθυντὴς τῆς Ῥιζαρείου Ἐκκλησιαστικῆς Σχολῆς στὴν Ἀθήνα (1894-1904). Μετὰ τὸν θάνατο τοῦ Πατριάρχη Ἀλεξανδρείας Σωφρονίου (1899), ὁ Νεκτάριος ἐκλήθη νὰ τὸν διαδεχθεῖ, ἀλλ᾿ ὁ Ἅγιος ἀρνήθηκε. Στὰ κηρύγματά του, πλῆθος λαοῦ μαζευόταν, γιὰ νὰ «ρουφήξει» τὸ νέκταρ τῶν ἱερῶν λόγων του. Τὸ 1904 ἵδρυσε γυναικεία Μονὴ στὴν Αἴγινα, τῆς ὁποίας ἀνέλαβε προσωπικὰ τὴν διοίκηση, ἀφοῦ ἐγκαταβίωσε ἐκεῖ τὸ 1908, μετὰ τὴν παραίτησή του ἀπὸ τὴν Ῥιζάρειο Σχολή. Ἔγραψε ἀρκετὰ συγγράμματα, κυρίως βοηθητικά του θείου κηρύγματος. Ἡ ταπεινοφροσύνη του καὶ ἡ φιλανθρωπία του ὑπῆρξαν παροιμιώδεις. Πέθανε τὸ ἀπόγευμα τῆς 8ης Νοεμβρίου 1920. Τόση δὲ ἦταν ἡ ἁγιότητά του, ὥστε ἐπετέλεσε πολλὰ θαύματα, πρὶν ἀλλὰ καὶ μετὰ τὸν θάνατό του. Ἐνταφιάστηκε στὴν Ἱ. Μονὴ Ἁγ. Τριάδος στὴν Αἴγινα. Ἡ ἀνακομιδὴ τῶν ἱερῶν λειψάνων του ἔγινε στὶς 3 Σεπτεμβρίου τοῦ 1953 καὶ στὶς 20 Ἀπριλίου τοῦ 1961 μὲ Πράξη τοῦ Οἰκουμενικοῦ Πατριαρχείου, διακηρύχτηκε Ἅγιος τῆς Ὀρθόδοξης Ἐκκλησίας.
Οἱ Ἅγιοι Ὀνησιφόρος καὶ Πορφύριος
Σχίοτηκαν οἱ σάρκες τους καὶ πέθαναν βαπτισμένοι στὰ αἵματά τους, κατὰ τὸ διωγμὸ τοῦ Διοκλητιανοῦ. Καὶ οἱ δυὸ ὑπηρετοῦσαν σὲ διάφορα φιλανθρωπικὰ ἔργα τῆς Ἐκκλησίας. Συγχρόνως, ἀνῆκαν στὴν ὁμάδα ποὺ ἀνίχνευε κατὰ τὴν διάρκεια τῆς νύκτας καὶ ἀνεύρισκε σώματα μαρτύρων, ποὺ ῥίχνονταν στὶς χαράδρες. Τὰ μάζευαν καὶ τὰ παρέδιδαν νὰ ταφοῦν μὲ τὴν ἁρμόζουσα τιμή. Κάποτε, ὅμως, τοὺς ἀνακάλυψαν καὶ τοὺς συνέλαβαν. Κατόπιν τοὺς ἐξεβίασαν νὰ ἀρνηθοῦν τὴν πίστη τους. Ἀλλὰ ἐκεῖνοι ἔμειναν σταθεροὶ στὴν ὁμολογία τῆς ἁγίας πίστης στὸ Χριστό, χωρὶς νὰ φοβηθοῦν τὶς ἀπειλὲς καὶ τὰ ἐπικείμενα μαρτύρια. Τοὺς ἔδεσαν, λοιπόν, πίσω ἀπὸ ἄγρια ἄλογα, τὰ ὁποῖα τοὺς ἔσυραν μὲ δυνατὸ καλπασμό, μέσα ἀπὸ ἀγκάθια καὶ πέτρες. Ὅταν τὰ ἄλογα σταμάτησαν κουρασμένα, μετὰ ἀπὸ ἀρκετὲς ὧρες δρόμου, τὰ σώματα τῶν μαρτύρων βρέθηκαν διαμελισμένα, πνιγμένα στὸ αἷμα. Καὶ ὅπως ἀναφέρει ἡ Ἀποκάλυψη, «εἶδον τὴν γυναῖκα μεθύουσαν ἐκ τοῦ αἵματος τῶν ἁγίων καὶ ἐκ τοῦ αἵματος τῶν μαρτύρων Ἰησοῦ». Εἶδα δηλαδὴ τὴν γυναῖκα, ποὺ εἶναι ἡ διεφθαρμένη εἰδωλολατρικὴ κοινωνία, νὰ μεθάει ἀπὸ τὸ αἷμα τῶν χριστιανῶν, ποὺ καταδίωκε, καὶ ἀπὸ τὸ αἷμα τῶν μαρτύρων τοῦ Ἰησοῦ. Ἀλλὰ ὁ Θεὸς «ἔκρινε τὴν πόρνην... καὶ ἐξεδίκασε τὸ αἷμα τῶν δούλων αὐτοῦ ἐκ χειρὸς αὐτῆς». Ἔπειτα, ὅμως, ὁ Θεός, ἔκρινε καὶ καταδίκασε τὴν πόρνη, τὴν νοητὴ Βαβυλῶνα, καὶ ἐκδικήθηκε τὸ αἷμα τῶν δούλων του, ποὺ χύθηκε ἀπὸ τὰ χέρια της.
Ἡ Ὁσία Ματρώνα
Ἔζησε στὰ χρόνια τῶν βασιλέων Μαρκιανοῦ (450-457) καὶ Λέοντα Θρακὸς ἢ Μακέλλη (457-474). Καταγόταν ἀπὸ τὴν Πέργη τῆς Παμφυλίας καὶ ἀνατράφηκε ἀπὸ γονεῖς πλούσιους καὶ εὐσεβεῖς. Σὲ κατάλληλη ἡλικία παντρεύτηκε μὲ κάποιο Δομέτιο (κατ᾿ ἄλλους Δομετιανό), μὲ τὸν ὁποῖο ἀπόκτησε μία κόρη καὶ κατὰ τὰ χρόνια τοῦ Λέοντα τοῦ Θρακὸς ἦλθαν οἰκογενειακὰ στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη. Ἐκεῖ συνδέθηκε μὲ μία εὐσεβὴ γυναῖκα, τὴν Εὐγενία, καὶ σύχναζε στοὺς ἱεροὺς ναούς, ποθῶντας νὰ ἀφιερωθεῖ ὁλοκληρωτικὰ στὴ λατρεία τοῦ θείου. Ἔτσι ἐγκατέλειψε τὸν σύζυγό της, καὶ τὴν κόρη της ἀφοῦ τὴν ἐμπιστεύθηκε σὲ κάποια Σωσάννα, κατέφυγε στὴ Μονὴ τοῦ Βασιανοῦ, μεταμφιεσμένη μὲ τὸ ὄνομα Βαβύλας. Ἀλλὰ καταζητούμενη ἀπὸ τὸν ἄνδρα της καὶ ἀφοῦ ἀποκαλύφθηκε τὸ φῦλο της, στάλθηκε ἀπὸ τὸν Βασιανὸ σὲ γυναικεία Μονὴ τῶν Ἱεροσολύμων. Κατόπιν ἀναχώρησε καὶ ἀπὸ ἐκεῖ καὶ πολλὰ μέρη ἀφοῦ ἐπισκέφθηκε, γριὰ πλέον, ἐπέστρεψε στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη. Τοποθετήθηκε ἀπὸ τὸν Βασιανὸ σὲ ἰδιαίτερο μέρος (τῆς Ματρώνης ὀνομαζόμενο ἀργότερα), ὅπου ἔκτισε Μονή, στὴν ὁποία μαζεύτηκαν ἀρκετὲς μοναχές. Στὴ Μονὴ αὐτὴ λοιπόν, ἔζησε μὲ μεγάλη ἀρετὴ καὶ πνευματικὴ τελειότητα. Ἀπεβίωσε εἰρηνικὰ σὲ ἡλικία 100 χρονῶν.
Ἡ Ὁσία Θεοκτίστη ἡ Λεσβία
Μοναχὴ ἐνάρετη ἀπὸ τὴν Μήθυμνα τῆς Λέσβου καὶ ἔζησε στὰ χρόνια τοῦ βασιλιᾶ Λέοντα τοῦ Σοφοῦ (816). Παιδὶ ἀκόμα ἔμεινε ὀρφανὴ καὶ ἀνατράφηκε σὲ Παρθενῶνα τῆς πόλης. Κάποια μέρα πῆγε νὰ ἐπισκεφθεῖ τὴν ἀδελφή της, ποὺ ἦταν σὲ μία κοντινὴ κωμόπολη. Τότε συνελήφθη μαζὶ μὲ τοὺς κατοίκους τῆς κωμοπόλεως αὐτῆς ἀπὸ τοὺς πειρατὲς τῆς Κρήτης καὶ μεταφέρθηκε μὲ τοὺς ἄλλους αἰχμαλώτους στὴν Πάρο γιὰ πώληση. Ἐκεῖ κατόρθωσε νὰ δραπετεύσει καὶ νὰ κρυφτεῖ στὰ βουνά, ὅπου καὶ παρέμεινε μόνη 35 χρόνια, τρεφόμενη μὲ χόρτα. Ἀνακαλύφθηκε τυχαῖα ἀπὸ ἕναν κυνηγό, ὁ ὁποῖος, μετὰ ἀπὸ παράκλησή της, ἔφερε σ᾿ αὐτὴν τὰ θεῖα μυστήρια. Ὅταν δὲ κοινώνησε τῶν Ἀχράντων Μυστηρίων, πέθανε καὶ τάφηκε ἐκεῖ ἀπὸ τὸν ἴδιο κυνηγό. Γιὰ τὴν Ὁσία αὐτὴ ὑπάρχει καὶ μία διήγηση τοῦ μοναχοῦ Συμεὼν τοῦ Πάριου, ποὺ μοιάζει πολὺ μὲ αὐτὴν τῆς Ὁσίας Μαρίας τῆς Αἰγύπτιας καὶ εἶναι ἐντελῶς φανταστική.
Οἱ Ὁσίες Εὐστολία καὶ Σωπάτρα
Ἡ Εὐστολία ἔζησε στὰ χρόνια τοῦ βασιλιᾶ Μαυρικίου (584) καὶ ἦταν κόρη γονέων εὐσεβῶν, ποὺ κατοικοῦσαν στὴ Ῥώμη. Ἀπὸ μικρὴ ἡ Εὐστολία πῆγε σὲ μοναστήρι καὶ καταγινόταν μὲ προσευχές, νηστεῖες καὶ ἀγρυπνίες. Κάποτε πῆγε στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη καὶ γνωρίστηκε μὲ τὴν κόρη τοῦ βασιλιᾶ Μαυρικίου Σωπάτρα. Ἡ Σωπάτρα παρακάλεσε τὴν Εὐστολία νὰ τὴν ἔχει πνευματική της μητέρα καὶ φύλακα τῆς ψυχῆς της. Ἄφησε λοιπὸν ἡ Σωπάτρα τὶς τιμὲς καὶ τὶς δόξες τῆς βασιλείας τοῦ πατέρα της καὶ μπῆκε σὲ ἀγῶνες πνευματικούς. Κατόπιν ζήτησε ἀπὸ τὸν πατέρα της τόπο κατάλληλο καὶ ἔκτισε Ναὸ εὐκτήριο μαζὶ μὲ τὴν Ὁσία Εὐστολία. Ὁπότε, πολλὲς γυναῖκες εὐλαβεῖς καὶ παρθένες, ποὺ πῆγαν ἐκεῖ, ἀσκήτευαν στὸν πνευματικὸ μοναχικὸ βίο. Ἡ Ὁσία Εὐστολία, μετὰ ἀπὸ ἀρκετὰ χρόνια ἄσκησης, ἀπεβίωσε εἰρηνικὰ καὶ ἄφησε διάδοχό της τὴν Ὁσία Σωπάτρα. Ἔπειτα, ἀφοῦ καὶ αὐτὴ ἔφτασε σὲ μεγάλα ὕψη ἀρετῆς, παρέδωσε εἰρηνικὰ στὸν Θεὸ τὴν μακάρια ψυχή της.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Συμεὼν ὁ Μεταφραστής
Πατρίδα του ἡ Κωνσταντινούπολη καὶ ἔζησε στὰ χρόνια τοῦ Βασιλιᾶ Λέοντα τοῦ Σοφοῦ (886-912). Νεότερη ὅμως ἐκδοχὴ (1931), λέει ὅτι ὁ Συμεὼν ἔζησε στὰ χρόνια τοῦ Δούκα Παραπινάκη (1071-1078), ποὺ μᾶλλον εἶναι καὶ ἡ ἐπικρατέστερη. Προηγούμενα ὀνομαζόταν Νικήτας Παφλαγῶν καὶ λόγω τῆς μεγάλης του ἀρετῆς καὶ σοφίας πῆρε τὸ ἀξίωμα τοῦ Μαγίστρου καὶ Λογοθέτου. Τὸ κυριότερο ἔργο του ἦταν ἡ ἐκκαθάριση τῶν ἀρχαίων ἁγιολογικῶν ὑπομνημάτων καὶ ἡ παράστασή τους σὲ ὁμαλότερο ὕφος. Ἀπ᾿ αὐτὸ λένε, ὅτι πῆρε τὴν ὀνομασία Μεταφραστής, ποὺ μᾶλλον δὲν φαίνεται καὶ τόσο πιθανό. Ἴσως νὰ ἦταν μεταφραστὴς ξενόγλωσσων ἐγγράφων στὴν ἑλληνικὴ γλῶσσα καὶ τὸ ἀντίθετο. Μερικοὶ νομίζουν, ὅτι στὸ τέλος τῆς ζωῆς του ἔγινε μοναχός, ἀλλὰ ὁ φίλος του Ψελλός, ποὺ ἔγραψε ἐγκώμιο καὶ Ἀκολουθία σ᾿ αὐτόν, δὲν ὑπαινίσσεται κάτι τέτοιο. Ἔζησε ὁσιακὰ καὶ ἔγραψε πολλὰ γιὰ τὴν Ἐκκλησία. Ἀπεβίωσε εἰρηνικὰ καὶ ἡ μνήμη του ἀναφέρεται μόνο στὸν Συναξαριστὴ τοῦ Ἁγίου Νικοδήμου τοῦ Ἁγιορείτη.
Our Father among the Saints Nectarius (Nektarios), bishop of Pentapolis, Wonderworker, and founder of the Monastery of the Holy Trinity on Aegina (1920).
"Saint Nectarius was born in Selyvria of Thrace on October 11, 1846. After putting himself through school in Constantinople with much hard labour, he became a monk on Chios in 1876, receiving the monastic name of Lazarus; because of his virtue, a year later he was ordained deacon, receiving the new name of Nectarius. Under the patronage of Patriarch Sophronius of Alexandria, Nectarius went to Athens to study in 1882; completing his theological studies in 1885, he went to Alexandria, where Patriarch Sophronius ordained him priest on March 23, 1886 in the Cathedral of Saint Sabbas, and in August of the same year, in the Church of Saint Nicholas in Cairo, made him Archimandrite. Archimandrite Nectarius showed much zeal both for preaching the word of God, and for the beauty of God's house. He greatly beautified the Church of Saint Nicholas in Cairo, and years later, when Nectarius was in Athens, Saint Nicholas appeared to him in a dream, embracing him and telling him he was going to exalt him very high.
"On January 15, 1889, in the same Church of Saint Nicholas, Nectarius was consecrated Metropolitan of Pentapolis in eastern Libya, which was under the jurisdiction of Alexandria. Although Nectarius' swift ascent through the degrees of ecclesiastical office did not affect his modesty and childlike innocence, it aroused the envy of lesser men, who convinced the elderly Sophronius that Nectarius had it in his heart to become Patriarch. Since the people loved Nectarius, the Patriarch was troubled by the slanders. On May 3, 1890, Sophronius relieved Metropolitan Nectarius of his duties; in July of the same year, he commanded Nectarius to leave Egypt.
"Without seeking to avenge or even to defend himself, the innocent Metropolitan left for Athens, where he found that accusations of immorality had arrived before him. Because his good name had been soiled, he was unable to find a position worthy of a bishop, and in February of 1891 accepted the position of provincial preacher in Euboia; then, in 1894, he was appointed dean of the Rizarios Ecclesiastical School in Athens. Through his eloquent sermons, his unwearying labours to educate fitting men for the priesthood, his generous almsdeeds despite his own poverty, and the holiness, meekness, and fatherly love that were manifest in him, he became a shining light and a spiritual guide to many. At the request of certain pious women, in 1904 he began the building of his convent of the Holy Trinity on the island of Aegina while yet dean of the Rizarios School; finding later that his presence there was needed, he took up his residence on Aegina in 1908, where he spent the last years of his life, devoting himself to the direction of his convent and to very intense prayer; he was sometimes seen lifted above the ground while rapt in prayer. He became the protector of all Aegina, through his prayers delivering the island from drought, healing the sick, and casting out demons. Here also he endured wicked slanders with singular patience, forgiving his false accusers and not seeking to avenge himself. Although he had already worked wonders in life, an innumerable multitude of miracles have been wrought after his repose in 1920 through his holy relics, which for many years remained incorrupt. There is hardly a malady that has not been cured through his prayers; but Saint Nectarius is especially renowned for his healings of cancer for sufferers in all parts of the world." (Great Horologion)
Our Venerable Father John the Dwarf (John the Short) (4th c.)
He lived in the desert of Skete (Scetis) in Egypt during the fourth century, the golden age of the Desert Fathers. Nothing is known of his life in the world. He spent many years as the disciple of Abba Ammoes, who was very severe with him. Once the Elder took a dry stick, stuck it in the sand, and commanded John to water it every day until it bore fruit. Though this was plainly impossible, John performed the task uncomplainingly, walking a great distance to fetch the water, for three years. At the end of that time, the stick bore fruit. Abba Ammoes brought it to church the following Sunday and called out to the brethren, "Come and eat the fruit of obedience!" Though he had never praised or thanked his disciple, before he died Abba Ammoes said of John, "He is an angel, not a man." After his elder's repose, Abba John withdrew further into the desert, devoting all his time to vigil and prayer. As he prayed he would weave baskets, which he sold to meet his few needs. Sometimes he was so rapt in prayer that he would keep weaving until the basket reached an absurd size, filling his cell.
When, after many years, Abba John was delivered from all evil thoughts, Abba Poemen (commemorated August 27) told him to pray to God for another temptation to struggle against, for only in this way does the soul make progress. He rejoiced when he was insulted, was never known to be angry with anyone, and would run away as fast as he could if he ever saw men quarreling. He reposed in peace.
"Pray earnestly with compunction and vigilance. Pay no attention to the faults of others. Do not measure yourself against other people, for you are lower than every creature." — Abba John the Dwarf
Holy Martyrs Onesiphorus and Porphyrius (284)
During the reign of Diocletian and Maximian, these pious Christians were arrested and brought before the judge, where they boldly proclaimed Christ the only true King and God. For this they were viciously tortured, but even when stretched on hot gridiron they gave thanks to God. The holy ones' joy infuriated their tormentors who finally tied them behind wild horses, who were set to gallop over rough countryside, tearing the two innocent martyrs to pieces. Pious Christians retrieved their relics and buried them at a town called Panceanon.
In an early account, Onesiphorus is identified with the companion whom St Paul mentions in 2 Timothy 4:19; this is not impossible, but most accounts do not mention this detail.
Our Holy Mother Matrona (492)
She was from Perga in Pamphylia, and married very young, to a youth named Domitian, to whom she bore a daughter. The couple settled in Constantinople. Matrona became so constant in attending all-night vigils in the city's many churches that her husband suspected her of infidelity and forbade her to go out. This was unbearable to Matrona, who fled the house with her daughter. Determined to embrace monastic life, she gave her daughter into the care of a nun named Susanna, disguised herself as a eunuch, and entered the monastery of St Bassian (October 10) under the name of Babylas. Though she amazed all with her zeal and ascetic labors, Bassian one day discerned that she was a woman. Though he reprimanded her severely because of her zeal, he was unwilling to drive her away from monastic life because of her zeal; so he directed her to go to Emesa in Syria to enter a certain women's monastery there.
Matrona continued to advance in the virtues, and once healed a blind man by anointing his eyes with myrrh from the head of St John the Baptist (which had been miraculously discovered around that time). The miracle became widely-known, and because of it Matrona's husband learned of her whereabouts. When he came to her monastery she escaped to Jerusalem, but he pursued her there too. She fled from place to place, even living for several years in an abandoned pagan temple in Beirut, where she was constantly assaulted by the demons that inhabited the place. In time several pagan women, seeing her struggles, asked to be her disciples, and a small monastic community sprang up in the pagan temple. After a few years she and her disciples made their way back to to Constantinople, where St Bassian received her joyfully and helped her to establish a monastery. There she was visited by the Empress Verina, wife of Leo the Great, and many other noblewomen of the City, some of whom left all to join Matrona in monastic life. Saint Matrona lived to be almost one hundred years old and reposed in peace, having foretold the day of her death.
Saint Symeon Metaphrastes (960)
He was born in Constantinople, and through his exceptional intellect and learning rose to the rank of Logothete (Imperial Counselor), serving under three successive Emperors. He was so successful in negotiating with the Arabs who had occupied Crete that the Emperor Basil II asked him to name his own reward. Symeon asked only that he be allowed to retire from public service and become a monk. The Emperor, though sad to lose such a valuable counselor, let him go, asking that he pray for his sins.
In monastic life, Symeon continued to apply his gifts of learning: from scattered manuscripts and earlier anthologies, he assembled a collection of Lives of almost 150 Saints, a work which forms the basis of the Synaxaria in use today. He also compiled a Universal Chronicle and edited the treatises of several Fathers of the Church. Because of his skilled and diligent labors, he is called Metaphrastes, meaning 'Translator' or 'editor'. He is the author of many beautiful prayers still in regular use today (one is found in the Prayers of Preparation for Communion). At his repose, a sweet-smelling and healing myrrh flowed from his body.
The Holy Martyrs Onesyphoros and Porphyrios suffered during the time of persecution against Christians by the emperor Diocletian (284-305). They beat them and burned them with fire. After this, they tied the saints to wild horses, which dragged them over the stones, after which the Martyrs Onesyphoros and Porphyrios died. Believers gathered the lacerated remains of the saints and reverently buried them.
The Nun Matrona was born in the city of Pergium Pamphylia (Asia Minor) in the V Century. They gave her in marriage to a well-off man named Dometian. When her daughter Theodotia was born, they resettled in Constantinople. The twenty-five year old Matrona loved to walk to the temple of God. She spent entire days there, ardently praying to the Lord and weeping for her sins.
At the church the saint made the acquaintance of two pious women-elders, Eugenia and Susanna, who from the time of their youth asceticised there in work and prayer. Matrona began to imitate the God-pleasing life of an ascetic, humbling her flesh by abstinence and fasting, for which she had to endure criticism by her husband. Her soul yearned for a full renunciation of the world. After long hesitation Saint Matrona decided to leave her family and besought the Lord to reveal, whether her intent was pleasing to Him. The Lord heard the prayer of His servant. Once during a light sleep she had a dream that she had fled her husband, who was in pursuit of her. The saint concealed herself in a throng of monks approaching her, and her husband did not notice her. Matrona accepted this dream as a Divine directive to enter a men's monastery, where her husband would not guess to look for her. She gave over her daughter for raising to the woman-elder Susanna, and having cut her own hair and disguised herself in men's attire, she went to the monastery of the Monk Bassion (Comm. 10 October). There the Nun Matrona passed herself off as the eunuch Babylos and was accepted into the number of the brethren. Apprehensive lest the monks learn that she was a woman, the saint passed her time in constant quietude and much work. The brethren marveled at the great virtue of Babylos. One time the saint with the other monks was working in the monastery vineyard. The newly-made monk Barnabos noted that her ear-lobe was pierced and asked about it. "It is necessary, brother, to till the soil and not watch other people, which is not proper for a monk", -- answered the saint.
After a certain while it was revealed in a dream to the Monk Bassion, the hegumen of the monastery, that the eunuch Babylos -- was a woman. It was likewise revealed to Blessed Akakios, hegumen of the nearby Abrahamite monastery. The Monk Bassion summoned Saint Matrona and strictly demanded an answer, for what purpose she had infiltrated the monastery, whether to corrupt the monks or shame the monastery. With tears the saint told the hegumen about all her past life, about her pursuing husband, hostile to her efforts and prayers, and about the dream-vision, directing her to go to the men's monastery. Becoming convinced that her intent was pure and chaste, the Monk Bassion sent off Saint Matrona to a women's monastery in the city of Emesa. In this monastery the saint dwelt for many years, inspiring the sisters by her high monastic achievement. When the hegumeness died, by the unanimous wish of the nuns the Nun Matrona became head of the convent.
The fame about her virtuous activities, and about a miraculous gift of healing, which she acquired from the Lord, spread far beyond the walls of the monastery. Dometian also heard about the deeds of the nun. When Saint Matrona learned that her husband was come to the monastery and wanted to see her, she secretly went off to Jerusalem, and then to Mount Sinai, and from there to Beirut, where she settled in an abandoned pagan temple. The local inhabitants learned of her reclusion, and began to come to her. The holy ascetic turned many from their pagan impiety and converted them to Christ. Women and girls began to settle by the dwelling of the nun and soon there emerged a new monastery. Having fulfilled the will of God, revealed to her in a dream, the saint left Beirut and journeyed to Constantinople where she learned, that her husband had died. With the blessing of her spiritual father, the Monk Bassion, the ascetic founded in Constantinople a women's monastery, to which transferred also sisters from the Beirut convent founded by her. The Constantinople monastery of the Nun Matrona was known for its strict monastic rule and the virtuous life of its sisters.
In extreme old age Saint Matrona was deigned a vision of the coelestial paradise and the place prepared for her there after 75 years of monastic work. At the age of one hundred, the Nun Matrona, having blessed the sisters, quietly expired to the Lord (about the year 492).
The Nun Theoktista was born on the island of Lezbia (or Lesbos)in the city of Mithymna (Asia Minor). At an early age she was left a total orphan, and relatives gave her over for raising to a monastery. The girl was happy removed from the world of sin, and she liked the attraction of monastic life, the long Church services, the monastic obedience, the strict fasting and unceasing prayer. She learned by heart much of the singing, prayer and psalmody. In the year 846 when she was already 18 years old, with the blessing of the hegumeness, she set off on the feast of the Resurrection of Christ to a neighbouring village to visit her sister by birth and she remained there for overnight. Arabs invaded the settlement by night, and they took captive all the inhabitants, boarded them on a ship and by morning they were on the sea.
The brigands took the captives to the desolate island of Paros so that, having examined them, they might assign a value to each in conveying them to the slave-market. The Lord helped the young maiden to flee, and the Arabs did not catch her. From that time the Nun Theoktista dwelt on the island for 35 years (+ 881). An old church in the name of the MostHoly Mother of God served as her dwelling, and her food -- was sunflower seeds. All her time she spent in prayer.
One time a group of hunters landed upon the island. One of them, pursuing his prey, went far off from the coast into the forest and suddenly he saw the church. He went into the church so as to offer up a prayer to the Lord. After the prayer the hunter saw in a dim corner, not far from the holy altar-table, through thick cob-webs a certain semblance of an human form. He went closer and heard a voice: "Stay there, fellow, and come no closer to shame me, since I am a naked woman". The hunter gave the woman his outer clothing and she came out from concealment. He beheld a grey-haired woman with worn face, calling herself Theoktista. With a weak voice she told about her life fully devoted to God.
Having finished her story, the saint entreated the hunter, that if only he happened to come upon this island again, that she should bring her a particle of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts. During all her time of living in the wilderness she not once was granted to commune the Holy Mysteries of Christ. A year later the hunter again arrived upon the island and brought a small vessel with a particle of the Holy Mysteries. Saint Theoktista met the Holy Gifts in the church, fell down to the ground and prayed long with tears. Having gotten up, she took the vessel and with reverence and in the fear of God she communed the Body and Blood of Christ. On the following day the hunter beheld within the church the dead body of the Nun Theoktista. Having dug a shallow grave, the hunter placed the venerable body of the nun in it and during this he impudently cut off her hand, so as to take with him part of the relics of the great saint of God. All night the ship sailed upon a tempestuous sea, and in the morning it found itself at the very place from which it began. The man then perceived in taking up the relic that this was not pleasing to God. He returned to the grave and placed the hand with the body of the saint. After this the ship sailed off unhindered. On the journey the hunter told his companions about everything that had happened on the island. Listening to him, they all decided immediately to return to Paros, so as to venerate together the relics of the great ascetic, but they could not find her holy body in the grave.
The Monk John the Short-Statured (Kolobos) asceticised in the Egyptian wilderness in the V Century in the monastery of the Monk Pimen the Great (Comm. 27 August). From the name of this monastery, monastic wilderness monasteries began to be called "sketes", in which monks pursued asceticism in strict solitude and silence. The Monk John was a gentle, humble and work-loving monk. It was to this monastery that the young John came with his brother Daniel. At first John asceticised without spiritual guidance, but the Lord brought him to his senses, in that strict ascetic deeds need to be done under the observation of an elder (starets) experienced in the spiritual life. One time the Monk John told his brother that he did not want to be concerned about clothing and food, and that he wished to live like the Angels. Having removed his clothing, he went out from the cell. At night it was very cold, and the scantily-clad John soon began to tap on the door of the cell. Daniel did not immediately remind his brother the saying that an Angel is not concerned about its body. The Monk John realised, that he relied too much on himself and bitterly he wept. After being brought to his senses the Monk John went to the Monk Pimen, known for his firm and steadfast will, and having asked guidance, he promised to be obedient in all things. Testing the patience of the young monk, Saint Pimen gave him an unusual obedience. For three years the Monk John carried water and poured it on a dried-up tree, and it became covered with leaves and gave abundant fruit, and was given the name "the tree of obedience". The Monk John afterwards himself became a guide of many people on the way of salvation, among which were the Monk Arsenios the Great (Comm. 8 May) and Blessed Taisia (Comm. 10 May).
Saint John was the author of the Life of the Monk Paisias the Great (Comm. 19 June).
THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:
1. The Holy Martyrs Onesiphorus and Porphyrius
These two wonderful men were martyred for the name of Christ during the reign of Emperor Diocletian. They were severely beaten, then burned on an iron grid, then tied to horses' tails and dragged over rocks and thorns. They were thus torn to pieces and gave up their holy souls to God. Their relics are buried in Pentapolis.
2. The Venerable John the Dwarf [Kolobos]
John is numbered among the greatest of the Egyptian ascetics. ``Kolobos'' means ``dwarf,'' for he was of little stature. He came to Scetis with his brother Daniel and, with the greatest zeal, devoted himself to such asceticism that Daniel had to urge him to moderation. John was a disciple of St. Pambo, and was later the teacher of St. Arsenius the Great. His fellow disciple under St. Pambo was St. Paisius the Great. Once, when he and Paisius were discussing what kind of asceticism to undertake, an angel of God appeared to them and commanded John to stay where he was and instruct others, and Paisius to enter the wilderness and live as a hermit. In order to test John's obedience, St. Pambo ordered him to water a dry stick planted in the ground until it turned green. Without hesitation or doubt, John watered this stick daily for three whole years until by the power of God, it grew green sprouts and brought forth fruit. Pambo then gathered the fruit from this tree, brought it to church and distributed it among the brethren saying: ``Draw near and taste of the fruit of obedience!'' John the Dwarf had many disciples. Some of his wise sayings have been preserved. He entered into rest peacefully and took up his habitation in the joy of his Lord.
3. The Venerable Matrona of Constantinople
Matrona was from Perga in Pamphylia. Matrona's marriage to Dometian, a nobleman of Constantinople, soon became unbearable to her. Disguised in men's clothing, she fled and adopted the name Babylas, then entered the Monastery of St. Bassian in Constantinople. Because her husband searched for her constantly, she was forced to move repeatedly. Altogether, she moved to Emesa, Sinai, Jerusalem and Beirut, and finally returned to Constantinople. Matrona was tonsured a nun at age twenty-five, and lived the ascetic life for seventy-five years. In all she lived a hundred years, and died peacefully in the year 492 as abbess of a monastery in Constantinople, taking up her abode in the joy of her Lord.
4. The Venerable Euthymius of Dochiariou and his disciple Neophytus
Euthymius and Neophytus were Serbs by birth and kinsmen of high-ranking aristocrats in Byzantium. Euthymius was a companion of St. Athanasius and the steward of his Lavra, after which he founded the Monastery of Dochiariou. He entered peacefully into rest in the year 990. His nephew Neophytus succeeded him as abbot of Dochiariou, increased the brotherhood and built a large church. He entered into rest at the beginning of the eleventh century.
5. Saint Simeon Metaphrastes [the Translator]
Simeon was a gifted Constantinopolitan. He had both a secular and spiritual education. He attained the rank of imperial logothete [chancellor] and was first among the nobles at the imperial court, yet he lived a pure and blameless life as a true ascetic. He distinguished himself by great military bravery and statesmanly wisdom. For these qualities, Emperor Leo the Wise greatly respected him and sent him to Crete to negotiate a peace with the Arabs who then occupied the island. Successfully completing his mission, he returned to Constantinople and soon thereafter withdrew from the world and worldly affairs. He wrote many lives of saints, compiling 122 new biographies and correcting 539 biographies. He entered into rest in about the year 960, and a fragrant and healing myrrh flowed from his relics.
6. The Venerable Theoctista of Paros
Theoctista was born on the island of Lesbos and was tonsured a nun at the age of seventeen. The savage Saracens attacked the island and enslaved all who fell into their hands, including Theoctista and her sister. When the Saracens brought the slaves to the marketplace on the island of Paros, Theoctista escaped from the crowd and hid in an abandoned church in the middle of the island, where she lived a life of asceticism for thirty-five years. She entered into rest in the year 881.
HYMN OF PRAISE
Saint Simeon Metaphrastes
St. Simeon was called Metaphrastes-
He dedicated his God-given talent to the Church.
He loved the saints, the friends of God,
And wondrously described their struggles:
Struggles in spirit, struggles in the flesh,
Struggles in thought, and struggles in deeds.
He was a true friend to the friends of God,
Who are dearest to God of all the men in the world.
He loved those whom God loves,
And through them he deepened his love for God.
Simeon shone with love for God,
And wrote his Lives like a brilliant tapestry,
For new generations in the four corners of the world,
To nourish their souls with true spiritual integrity,
By having vivid examples of saintly nobility,
By which to follow in the footsteps of patristic teachings.
Wondrous is our God in His saints;
Wondrous is the Lord, the Creator of angels.
After a long separation from his companion Paisius, John the Dwarf visited him. Each asked the other what virtue he had attained in the time they were apart. Paisius said: ``The sun has never seen me eat.'' John the Dwarf said: ``And it has never seen me angry.'' Instructing the brethren in Scetis, John used this story of a repentant human soul: ``In one town there lived a beautiful woman, a harlot who had many lovers. A certain prince told her that he would take her as his wife if she promised that she would live honorably and faithfully in marriage. She promised this and the prince took her to his court and married her. However, her former lovers decided to turn her back to her former ways, and reclaim her for themselves. They dared not face the prince, so they went around the back of the palace and began to whistle. The woman heard the whistling, recognized it, and quickly stopped her ears. She hid in an inner chamber of the palace and locked the door behind her. Thus, she was delivered from new temptations.'' St. John explained this story in the following manner: ``The harlot is the soul; her lovers are the passions; the prince is Christ; the inner chamber is the heavenly habitation; and the lovers who whistle and entice are the demons. If the soul would constantly turn from its passions and flee to God, then the passions and the demons would be frightened and flee from it.''
on saving grace
By grace ye are saved (Ephesians 2:5, 8).
Who can comprehend and acknowledge that we are saved by grace-that we are saved by God's grace, and not by our merits and works? Who can comprehend and acknowledge that? Only he who has comprehended and seen the bottomless pit of death and corruption in which man is engulfed by sin, and has also comprehended and seen the height of honor and glory to which man is raised in the Heavenly Kingdom, in the realm of immortality, in the house of the Living God-only such a one can comprehend and acknowledge that we are saved by grace. A child was traveling by night. He stumbled and fell into hole after hole and pit after pit, until he finally fell into a very deep pit from which he could in no way escape by his own power. When the child gave himself over to the hands of fate and thought his end was near, there was suddenly someone standing over the pit, lowering a rope to him and telling him to grab the rope and hold firmly to it. This was the king's son, who then took the child home, bathed him, clothed him and brought him to his court and set him beside himself. Was this child saved by his own deed? By no means. All he did was to grab the end of the rope, and hold on. By what, then, was the child saved? By the mercy of the king's son. In God's relationship with men, this mercy is called grace. By grace ye are saved. The Apostle Paul repeats these words twice in a short span, that the faithful might recognize and remember them.
Brethren, let us comprehend and remember that we are saved through grace by the Lord Jesus Christ. We were in the jaws of death, but have been given life in the courts of our God.
O Lord Jesus Christ our Savior, by Thee are we saved.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.