FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:
Spyridon the Wonderworker of Trymithous
Holy New Martyr Peter the Aleut
Τοῦ ἐν Ἁγίοις Πατρός ἡμῶν Σπυρίδωνος, Ἐπισκόπου Τριμυθοῦντος τοῦ Θαυματουργοῦ.
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 Ephesians 5:8-19
Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is a shame even to speak of the things that they do in secret; but when anything is exposed by the light it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it is said, "Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light." Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart.
Πρὸς Ἐφεσίους 5:8-19
Ἀδελφοί, ὡς τέκνα φωτὸς περιπατεῖτε - ὁ γὰρ καρπὸς τοῦ πνεύματος ἐν πάσῃ ἀγαθωσύνῃ καὶ δικαιοσύνῃ καὶ ἀληθείᾳ - δοκιμάζοντες τί ἐστιν εὐάρεστον τῷ κυρίῳ· καὶ μὴ συγκοινωνεῖτε τοῖς ἔργοις τοῖς ἀκάρποις τοῦ σκότους, μᾶλλον δὲ καὶ ἐλέγχετε· τὰ γὰρ κρυφῆ γινόμενα ὑπʼ αὐτῶν αἰσχρόν ἐστιν καὶ λέγειν. Τὰ δὲ πάντα ἐλεγχόμενα ὑπὸ τοῦ φωτὸς φανεροῦται· πᾶν γὰρ τὸ φανερούμενον φῶς ἐστίν. Διὸ λέγει, Ἔγειρε ὁ καθεύδων καὶ ἀνάστα ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν, καὶ ἐπιφαύσει σοι ὁ χριστός. Βλέπετε οὖν πῶς ἀκριβῶς περιπατεῖτε, μὴ ὡς ἄσοφοι, ἀλλʼ ὡς σοφοί, ἐξαγοραζόμενοι τὸν καιρόν, ὅτι αἱ ἡμέραι πονηραί εἰσιν. Διὰ τοῦτο μὴ γίνεσθε ἄφρονες, ἀλλὰ συνιέντες τί τὸ θέλημα τοῦ κυρίου. Καὶ μὴ μεθύσκεσθε οἴνῳ, ἐν ᾧ ἐστὶν ἀσωτία, ἀλλὰ πληροῦσθε ἐν πνεύματι, λαλοῦντες ἑαυτοῖς ψαλμοῖς καὶ ὕμνοις καὶ ᾠδαῖς πνευματικαῖς, ᾄδοντες καὶ ψάλλοντες ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ ὑμῶν τῷ κυρίῳ.
The Reading is from John 10:9-16
The Lord said, "I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd."
Κατὰ Ἰωάννην 10.9-16
Εἶπεν ὁ Κύριος· 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. ὁ κλέπτης οὐκ ἔρχεται εἰ μὴ ἵνα κλέψῃ καὶ θύσῃ καὶ ἀπολέσῃ· ἐγὼ ἦλθον ἵνα ζωὴν ἔχωσι καὶ περισσὸν ἔχωσιν. ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ποιμὴν ὁ καλός. ὁ ποιμὴν ὁ καλὸς τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ τίθησιν ὑπὲρ τῶν προβάτων· ὁ μισθωτὸς δὲ καὶ οὐκ ὢν ποιμήν, οὗ οὐκ εἰσὶ τὰ πρόβατα ἴδια, θεωρεῖ τὸν λύκον ἐρχόμενον καὶ ἀφίησι τὰ πρόβατα καὶ φεύγει· καὶ ὁ λύκος ἁρπάζει αὐτὰ καὶ σκορπίζει τὰ πρόβατα. ὁ δὲ μισθωτὸς φεύγει, ὅτι μισθωτός ἐστι καὶ οὐ μέλει αὐτῷ περὶ τῶν προβάτων. ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ποιμὴν ὁ καλός, καὶ γινώσκω τὰ ἐμὰ καὶ γινώσκομαι ὑπὸ τῶν ἐμῶν, καθὼς γινώσκει με ὁ πατὴρ κἀγὼ γινώσκω τὸν πατέρα, καὶ τὴν ψυχήν μου τίθημι ὑπὲρ τῶν προβάτων. καὶ ἄλλα πρόβατα ἔχω, ἃ οὐκ ἔστιν ἐκ τῆς αὐλῆς ταύτης· κἀκεῖνά με δεῖ ἀγαγεῖν, καὶ τῆς φωνῆς μου ἀκούσουσι, καὶ γενήσεται μία ποίμνη, εἷς ποιμήν.
READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:
Τῇ ΙΒ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, Μνήμη τοῦ Ὁσίου Πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ θαυματουργοῦ Σπυρίδωνος.
Ὁ θαυματουργὸς κἂν τέθνηκε Σπυρίδων,
Τοῦ θαυματουργεῖν οὐκ ἔληξεν εἰσέτι.
Ἀμφὶ δωδεκάτην Σπυρίδων βίοτον λίπε τόνδε.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ , Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Μάρτυρος Συνετοῦ.
Τὸν Συνετὸν κτείνουσι ἄφρονες ξίφει,
Τὸν εὐσεβῆ τιμῶντα πίστιν ἐμφρόνως.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ , Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Ἀλεξάνδρου Ἀρχιεπισκόπου Ἱεροσολύμων, τοῦ Ἱερομάρτυρος.
Ὁ Ἀλέξανδρος, εἷς ὢν τῶν θυηπόλων,
Ἄνευ αἵματος, εἷς ἦν καὶ τῶν Μαρτύρων.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ , Μνήμη τῶν Ὁσίων Πατέρων ἡμῶν Ἀμωναθᾶ καὶ Ἄνθου.
Μισῶ τὰ τῆς γῆς Ἄγγελοι δέξασθέ με,
Ἀμωναθᾶς ὁ θεῖος ἐκλείπων λέγει.
Τὸ τοῦ Προφήτου προσφόρως Δαυΐδ λέγων,
Ὡς ἄνθος ἀγροῦ θεῖος Ἄνθος ἐρρύη.
Ταῖς αὐτῶν ἁγίαις πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεός, ἐλέησον καὶ σῶσον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.
Spyridon, the God-bearing Father of the Church, the great defender of Corfu and the boast of all the Orthodox, had Cyprus as his homeland. He was simple in manner and humble of heart, and was a shepherd of sheep. When he was joined to a wife, he begat of her a daughter whom they named Irene. After his wife's departure from this life, he was appointed Bishop of Trimythus, and thus he became also a shepherd of rational sheep. When the First Ecumenical Council was assembled in Nicaea, he also was present, and by means of his most simple words stopped the mouths of the Arians who were wise in their own conceit. By the divine grace which dwelt in him, he wrought such great wonders that he received the surname 'Wonderworker." So it is that, having tended his flock piously and in a manner pleasing to God, he reposed in the Lord about the year 350, leaving to his country his sacred relics as a consolation and source of healing for the faithful.
About the middle of the seventh century, because of the incursions made by the barbarians at that time, his sacred relics were taken to Constantinople, where they remained, being honoured by the emperors themselves. But before the fall of Constantinople, which took place on May 29, 1453, a certain priest named George Kalokhairetes, the parish priest of the church where the Saint's sacred relics, as well as those of Saint Theodora the Empress, were kept, took them away on account of the impending peril. Travelling by way of Serbia, he came as far as Arta in Epirus, a region in Western Greece opposite to the isle of Corfu. From there, while the misfortunes of the Christian people were increasing with every day, he passed over to Corfu about the year 1460. The relics of Saint Theodora were given to the people of Corfu; but those of Saint Spyridon remain to this day, according to the rights of inheritance, the most precious treasure of the priest's own descendants, and they continue to be a staff for the faithful in Orthodoxy, and a supernatural wonder for those that behold him; for even after the passage of 1,500 years, they have remained incorrupt, and even the flexibility of his flesh has been preserved. Truly wondrous is God in His Saints! (Ps. 67:3 5)
Apolytikion in the First Tone
Τῆς Συνόδου τῆς πρώτης ἀνεδείχθης ὑπέρμαχος, καὶ θαυματουργὸς θεοφόρε, Σπυρίδων Πατὴρ ἠιμῶν, διὸ νεκρὰ σὺ ἐν τάφῳ προσφωνεῖς, καὶ ὄφιν εἷς χρυσοῦν μετέβαλες, καὶ ἐν τῷ μέλπειν τὰς ἁγίας σου εὐχάς, Ἀγγέλους ἔσχες συλλειτουργούντάς σοὶ Ἱερώτατε, Δόξα τῶ σὲ δοξάσαντι, δόξα τῶ σὲ στεφανώσαντι, δόξα τῶ ἐνεργοῦντι διὰ σοῦ πάσιν ἰάματα.
Thou wast shown forth as a champion of the First Council and a wonderworker, O Spyridon, our God-bearing Father. Wherefore, thou didst speak unto one dead in the grave, and didst change a serpent to gold. And while chanting thy holy prayers, thou hadst Angels serving with thee, O most sacred one. Glory to Him that hath glorified thee. Glory to Him that hath crowned thee. Glory to Him that worketh healings for all through thee.
Kontakion in the Second Tone
Τῶ πόθω Χριστοῦ τρωθεὶς Ἱερώτατε, τὸν νοῦν πτερωθείς, τὴ αἴγλη τοῦ Πνεύματος, πρακτικὴ θεωρία, τὴν πρᾶξιν εὗρες θεόληπτε, θυσιαστήριον θεῖον γενόμενος, αἰτούμενος πᾶσι θείαν ἔλλαμψιν.
Pierced through with the love * of Christ, O sacred Spyridon, * thou gavest thy mind * divine wings with the Spirit's light; * in the active vision of God were all thy labours, O inspired of God, * whereby thou becamest the Lord's * divine altar, asking divine light for all.
The holy New Martyr Peter suffered martyrdom in San Francisco at the time that California belonged to Spain. An Aleut from Alaska, he and his companions were captured in California by the Spaniards. When he refused to abandon Orthodoxy to accept Latinism, which they wished to force upon him, the Spaniards submitted him to a martyrdom like that suffered by Saint James the Persian, cutting him apart joint by joint. He died from loss of blood in steadfast confession of the Faith in 1815.
Apolytikion in the First Tone
O Peter, upon the rock of thy faith hath Christ built His Church, and in the streams of thy blood hath He hallowed our land. In thee thy people hath been sanctified, O Aleut; from the farthest islands of the west hath He raised thee, a light unto all. Glory to Him that hath glorified thee. Glory to Him that worketh healings for all through thee.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
As a skilful fisherman, the Martyr Peter was not harmed when he was caught by adversaries of the Faith; but in a sea of martyric blood, he gained the Kingdom and drowned bitter heresy.
"Μακάριοι οι πραείς, ότι αυτοί κληρονομήσουσι την γην", είπε ο Χριστός στην "επί του όρους" ομιλία. Τα λόγια αυτά βρίσκουν τελεία εφαρμογή στο πρόσωπο του αγίου Σπυρίδωνος, του οποίου η Εκκλησία σήμερα γιορτάζει την μνήμη και τον οποίο στους ιερούς ύμνους ονομάζει "πράον και κληρονόμον της γης". Όπως και σε πολλούς άλλους Αγίους έτσι και στον άγιο Σπυρίδωνα, η Εκκλησία έδωκε την προσωνυμία του θαυματουργού. Πραγματικά είναι πολλά τα θαύματα, που ετέλεσε και τελεί και όταν ζούσε κι όταν εξεδήμησε ο Άγιος του Θεού. Το ιερό λείψανο του Αγίου Σπυρίδωνος, που σώζεται και φυλάγεται ολόσωμο στην Κέρκυρα, είναι και σήμερα πηγή θαυμάτων για τους πιστούς. Χωρίς όπλα και χωρίς πόλεμο, παρά μόνο με την πραότητα και την ταπεινοφροσύνη οι Άγιοι κατάκτησαν τον κόσμο. Όχι τις χώρες, αλλά τις συνειδήσεις των ανθρώπων. Αυτή είναι η μεγάλη κατάκτηση.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Σπυρίδων ὁ Θαυματουργός, ἐπίσκοπος Τριμυθοῦντος Κύπρου
Γεννήθηκε ἀπὸ οἰκογένεια βοσκῶν, ποὺ ἦταν κάπως εὔπορη, τὸ 270. Ἂν καὶ μορφώθηκε ἀρκετὰ στὴν πατρίδα του Κύπρο, ὅμως δὲν ἄλλαξε ἐπάγγελμα. Συνέχισε καὶ αὐτὸς νὰ εἶναι βοσκός.Ἦταν χαρακτῆρας ἁπλός, ἀγαθός, γεμάτος ἀγάπη γιὰ τὸν πλησίον του. Τὶς Κυριακὲς καὶ τὶς γιορτές, συχνὰ ἔπαιρνε τοὺς βοσκοὺς καὶ τοὺς ὁδηγοῦσε στοὺς ἱεροὺς ναούς, καὶ κατόπιν τοὺς ἐξηγοῦσε τὴν εὐαγγελικὴ ἢ τὴν ἀποστολικὴ περικοπή. Ὁ Θεὸς τὸν εὐλόγησε νὰ γίνεται συχνὰ προστάτης χηρῶν καὶ ὀρφανῶν. Νυμφεύθηκε εὐσεβῆ σύζυγο καὶ ἀπέκτησε μία κόρη, τὴν Εἰρήνη. Γρήγορα ὅμως, ἡ σύζυγός του πέθανε. Γιὰ νὰ ἐπουλώσει τὸ τραῦμα του ὁ Σπυρίδων ἀφοσιώθηκε ἀκόμα περισσότερο στὴ διδαχὴ τοῦ θείου λόγου. Μετὰ ἀπὸ πολλὲς πιέσεις χειροτονήθηκε ἱερέας. Καὶ πράγματι, ὑπῆρξε ἀληθινὸς ἱερέας τοῦ Εὐαγγελίου, ἔτσι ὅπως τὸν θέλει ὁ θεῖος Παῦλος: «Ἀνεπίληπτον, νηφάλιον, σώφρονα, κόσμιον, φιλόξενον, διδακτικόν, τέκνα ἔχοντα ἐν ὑποταγῇ μετὰ πάσης σεμνότητας». Δηλαδὴ ἀκατηγόρητο, προσεκτικό, ἐγκρατῆ, σεμνό, φιλόξενο, διδακτικὸ καὶ νὰ ἔχει παιδιὰ ποὺ νὰ ὑποτάσσονται μὲ κάθε σεμνότητα.Ἔτσι καὶ ὁ Σπυρίδων, τόσο σωστὸς ὑπῆρξε σὰν ἱερέας, ὥστε ὅταν χήρεψε ἡ ἐπισκοπὴ Τριμυθοῦντος στὴν Κύπρο, διὰ βοῆς λαὸς καὶ κλῆρος, τὸν ἐξέλεξαν ἐπίσκοπο. Ἀπὸ τὴν θέση αὐτὴ ὁ Σπυρίδων προχώρησε τόσο πολὺ στὴν ἀρετή, ὥστε τὸν ἀξίωσε ὁ Θεὸς νὰ κάνει πολλὰ θαύματα. Νὰ σημειώσουμε ἐδῶ ὅτι ὁ Ἅγιος Σπυρίδων μὲ τὸ κῦρος τῆς ἁγίας καὶ ἠθικῆς ζωῆς του στὴν Α´ Οἰκουμενικὴ σύνοδο, ποὺ ἔγινε στὴ Νίκαια τῆς Βιθυνίας (Μ. Ἀσία) καὶ στὴν ὁποία συμμετεῖχε, κατατρόπωσε τοὺς Ἀρειανοὺς καὶ ἀναδείχτηκε ἀπὸ τοὺς λαμπροὺς ὑπερασπιστὲς τῆς Ὀρθόδοξης πίστης. Μάλιστα, ὅπως ἀναφέρει ἡ παράδοση, ἀφοῦ μίλησε γιὰ λίγο, κατόπιν ἔκανε τὸ σημεῖο τοῦ Σταυροῦ καὶ μὲ τὸ ἀριστερὸ χέρι, ποὺ κρατοῦσε ἕνα κεραμίδι, εἰς τύπον τῆς Ἁγίας Τριάδος εἶπε:«εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ Πατρός» καὶ ἔκανε νὰ φανεῖ πρὸς τὰ ἐπάνω ἀπ᾿ τὸ κεραμίδι φωτιά, διὰ τῆς ὁποίας εἶχε ψηθεῖ αὐτό.Ὅταν δὲ εἶπε: «καὶ τοῦ Υἱοῦ», ἔῤῥευσε κάτω νερό, διὰ τοῦ ὁποίου ζυμώθηκε τὸ χῶμα τοῦ κεραμιδιοῦ. Καὶ ὅταν πρόσθεσε «καὶ τοῦ Ἁγίου Πνεύματος», ἔδειξε μέσα στὴ χοῦφτα του μόνο τὸ χῶμα ποὺ ἀπέμεινε. Στὶς 12 Δεκεμβρίου τὸ 350 μ.Χ. ἀπεβίωσε. Τὸ λείψανο τοῦ ἁγίου πῆγε στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη, στὸν Ναὸ τῶν Ἁγίων Ἀποστόλων, ἀπ᾿ ὅπου, μετὰ τὴν ἅλωση τῆς Πόλης, κάποιος ἱερέας τοῦ ναοῦ αὐτοῦ, ὀνόματι Γεώργιος Καλοχαιρέτος, μαζὶ μὲ ἄλλα ἱερὰ λείψανα, μετέφερε τὸ λείψανο τοῦ Ἁγίου στὴν Πάργα τῆς Ἠπείρου καὶ ἀπὸ ἐκεῖ στὴν Κέρκυρα κατὰ τὸ 1456 καὶ στὴν ὁποία βρίσκεται μέχρι σήμερα καὶ γιορτάζεται μεγαλοπρεπῶς στὸν ὁμώνυμο Ἱερὸ Ναό.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Συνετός
Μαρτύρησε τὸν 3ο αἰῶνα μ.Χ. στὴ Ῥώμη, ὅταν αὐτοκράτορας ἦταν ὁ Αὐρηλιανός. Ὁ Συνετὸς τοποθετήθηκε ὡς ἀναγνώστης τῆς ἐκκλησίας τῆς Ῥώμης ἀπὸ τὸν Ἅγιο Πάπα Σίξτο. Συνελήφθη καὶ διατάχθηκε νὰ θυσιάσει στὰ εἴδωλα. Ἀρνήθηκε ὅμως καὶ βασανίστηκε σκληρὰ μὲ μαστίγια ἀπὸ νεῦρα βοδιῶν καὶ ἔπειτα φυλακίστηκε. Παρ᾿ ὅλα αὐτά, παρέμεινε στὴ χριστιανική του ὁμολογία καὶ ἔβαλαν στὸ σῶμα του πυρακτωμένα σίδερα. Ἐπειδὴ ὅμως δὲν κατάφεραν τίποτα, τελικὰ τὸν ἀποκεφάλισαν.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Ἀλέξανδρος Ἱερομάρτυρας Ἀρχιεπίσκοπος Ἱεροσολύμων
Ἕνωνε μὲ τὴν εὐσέβεια, ἰσχυρὴ θέληση γιὰ ἀνώτερη μάθηση. Ὁ Ἀλέξανδρος ἔζησε στὰ τέλη τοῦ 2ου μ.Χ. αἰῶνα μέχρι τὰ μέσα τοῦ 3ου καὶ ἔκανε μαθητὴς τοῦ Κλήμεντος τοῦ Ἀλεξανδρέως. Διέπρεψε στὶς σπουδές του καὶ διακρίθηκε στὸ κήρυγμα τοῦ Εὐαγγελίου. Ἀργότερα ἀποδείχτηκε ἐπίσκοπός της Φλανιάδος στὴν Καππαδοκία. Ἡ ἐκεῖ δράση του, τὸν λάμπρυνε ἀκόμα περισσότερο. Καὶ ἐπειδὴ ὁ ἐπίσκοπος Ἱεροσολύμων Νάρκισσος ἦταν ὑπέργηρος (116 ἐτῶν), προσέλαβε βοηθὸ ἐπίσκοπο τὸν Ἀλέξανδρο καὶ συγχρόνως διάδοχό του. Ὅταν λοιπὸν ὁ Νάρκισσος πέθανε μαρτυρικά, ὁ Ἀλέξανδρος ἀνέλαβε τὸν ἐπισκοπικὸ θρόνο Ἱεροσολύμων. Ἀπὸ τὴν θέση αὐτὴ ὁ Ἀλέξανδρος ἀγωνίστηκε γιὰ τὴν πίστη, φώτισε καὶ οἰκοδόμησε τὸ λαό, μερίμνησε συγχρόνως γιὰ τὴν ἵδρυση βιβλιοθήκης στὴν Ἱερουσαλήμ, στὴν ὁποία μάζεψε πολλὰ ἐκκλησιαστικὰ καὶ θεολογικὰ συγγράμματα, γιὰ νὰ βοηθήσει τὶς μελέτες τῶν νεοτέρων κληρικῶν. Κατὰ τὸν διωγμὸ τῆς Ἐκκλησίας ἐπὶ Δεκίου, συνελήφθη ἀπὸ τὸν ἄρχοντα τῆς Παλαιστίνης στὴν Καισαρεία. Αὐτὸς ἀξίωσε ἀπὸ τὸν πιστὸ ἐπίσκοπο ν᾿ ἀρνηθεῖ τὸν Χριστό. Ἐκεῖνος ὄχι μόνο δὲν δέχτηκε, ἀλλὰ καὶ παρατήρησε μὲ θάῤῥος καὶ δύναμη τὴν εἰδωλολατρικὴ πλάνη. Παραδόθηκε τότε τροφὴ στὰ θηρία, ἀφοῦ προηγούμενα ὑπέστη σκληρὰ βασανιστήρια. Τὰ λιοντάρια τὸν πλησίασαν χωρὶς νὰ τὸν βλάψουν καθόλου, πέθανε ὅμως ἀπὸ τὶς πληγὲς τῶν βασανιστηρίων.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Ἰωάννης (ἢ Ἰωακείμ) ἐπίσκοπος Ζιχνῶν
Ἔζησε στὰ χρόνια τῶν αὐτοκρατόρων Ἀνδρόνικου Β´ Παλαιολόγου (1282-1328) καὶ Ἀνδρόνικου Γ´ (1328-1341). Δυὸ χρόνων ἔμεινε ὀρφανὸς ἀπὸ γονεῖς καὶ τὸν πῆρε ὁ θεῖος του, μοναχός, ὀνόματι Ἰωαννίκιος καὶ τὸν ἀνέθρεψε σύμφωνα μὲ τὶς ἐπιταγὲς τοῦ Εὐαγγελίου. Ὅταν ἦλθε σὲ κατάλληλη ἡλικία, ἔγινε ἱερέας καί, λόγω τῆς μεγάλης του ἀρετῆς, ἐκλέχτηκε ἐπίσκοπος Ζιχνῶν. Ὅταν πέθανε ὁ θεῖος του, παραιτήθηκε ἀπὸ τὴν ἐπισκοπὴ καὶ ἔμεινε στὴν Ἱερὰ Μονὴ Τιμίου Προδρόμου. Ἐπεξέτεινε τὴν Μονὴ αὐτή, ποὺ βρισκόταν κοντὰ στὸ Μενοίκιο ὄρος τῆς Ἀνατολικῆς Μακεδονίας, βορειανατολικᾶ τῶν Σεῤῥῶν καὶ ἔκτισε μεγαλοπρεπῆ Ναὸ στὸ ὄνομα τοῦ Βαπτιστῆ Ἰωάννη. Ἐκεῖ θεάρεστα ἀφοῦ ἔζησε καὶ πρόσφερε πολλὰ στὴν περιοχή, ἀπεβίωσε εἰρηνικὰ τὴν 12η Δεκεμβρίου 1333.
Our Holy Godbearing Father Spyridon the Wonderworker (348).
He was a humble shepherd who lived on the island of Cyprus with his wife and his one child, a daughter named Irene. Though he was poor himself, his house and table were always open to travelers and those in need. He kept his money in a box which he left open and available to all, not concerning himself with who took from it or whether they were deserving or not. In time, his wife died and, with less worldly cares, he redoubled his prayers and his almsgiving.
He became so well-loved on the island that, when the bishop of the town of Tremithos died, the faithful unanimously chose Spyridon to succeed him, and he thus became a shepherd of rational sheep as well as the beasts he had tended. Despite his sudden elevation in rank, he kept to his former manner of life, traveling everywhere on foot, tending his animals as before, while fulfilling all the duties of a bishop as well. (To portray this godly humility, his icon shows him wearing bishop's vestments and a peasant's woven straw hat.)
His compassion for others was boundless. Though he was very strict with himself, he would always break a fast to give comfort to a traveler. Once a band of robbers broke into his sheepfold by night, but found themselves confined there by an invisible force. When Spyridon found them in the morning, he freed them, admonished them to live honestly, and gave them two sheep in compensation, he said, for their keeping an all-night vigil.
Pages could be filled with stories of the miracles wrought by the holy bishop for the good of his flock: by his prayers he ended a drought, turned a snake to gold to help a poor man, and even raised the dead son of a poor widow. His radiant virtue touched the consciences of those he met so that many would spontaneously fall at his feet and confess their sins.
When the Emperor Constantine summoned the First Ecumenical Council in 325, Spyridon attended, dressed in his simple peasant's garb. At one of the sessions, a proud Arian philosopher challenged the Orthodox to a debate about the Holy Trinity, and was amazed when the simple Spyridon stepped forward to accept the challenge. He and all the other bishops were far more amazed when the uneducated peasant bishop confounded all the Arian's arguments with his eloquent, Spirit-inspired words. The humbled philosopher admitted that he was convinced, embraced the Orthodox faith, and called upon the other Arians to abandon their human wisdom and embrace the true and life-giving Faith.
The holy bishop always celebrated the Divine Liturgy with joy. Once, serving in a remote, almost empty church, he turned to the invisible congregation and said "Peace be unto all!", and his disciple heard a choir of angels respond "And with thy spirit!"
Saint Spyridon reposed in peace in 348 at the age of seventy-eight. His incorrupt and wonder-working relics poured forth miracles for the people of Cyprus until the seventh century, when they were moved to Constantinople to escape the Arab invasion; when the City fell to the Turks, the relics were again moved to Corfu, where they are venerated to this day. Even after 1,500 years, the holy relics remain incorrupt and work many life-giving wonders. Saint Spyridon is venerated as the Patron of Corfu.
St Finian of Clonard (549)
"St Finian, known as the 'Tutor of the Saints of Ireland,' stands with St Enda of Aran at the head of the patriarchs of Irish monasticism. He showed great zeal and piety for God from his youth. He had already founded three churches before he set off for Wales to study at the feet of St Cadoc at Llancarfan (September 25, †577). In Llancarfan he became close friends with St Gildas (January 29, †570), another of St Cadoc's disciples. Upon his return to Ireland, he founded the great Monastery of Clonard during the same year the great St Enda (March 21, †530) reposed in Aran. A multitude of illustrious and holy men studied under St Finian, including the famous 'Twelve Apostles of Ireland.' St Finian founded many other monasteries during his lifetime, including the famous island monastery of Skellig Michael off the southwest coast of Ireland." (Saint Herman Calendar 2003)
Sainted Spyridon of Trimyphunteia was born towards the end of the III Century on the island of Cyprus. The accounts have preserved little about his life. But it is known, that he was a shepherd, and had a wife and children. He used all his substance for the needs of his neighbours and the homeless, for which the Lord rewarded him with a gift of wonderworking: he healed the incurably sick and cast out devils. After the death of his wife, during the reign of Constantine the Great (306-337), they ordained him bishop of the Cypriot city of Trimyphunteia. Even with the dignity of bishop the saint did not change his manner of life, combining pastoral service with deeds of charity. According to the witness of Church historians, Saint Spyridon in the year 325 participated in the sessions of the First OEcumenical Council. At the Council, the saint entered into a dispute with a Greek philosopher, who was defending the Arian heresy. The plain direct speaking of Saint Spyridon showed everyone the impotence of human wisdom afront Divine Wisdom: "Listen, philosopher, to what I tell thee: we believe, that the Almighty God from out of nothing did create by His Word and His Spirit both heaven and earth, and all the world both visible and invisible. The Word is the Son of God, Who didst come down upon the earth on account of our sins; he wast born of a Virgin, He lived amongst mankind, and suffered and died for our salvation, and then He arose, having redeemed by His sufferings the Original Sin, and He hath resurrected with Him the human race. We believe, that He is One in Essence and Equal-in-Dignity with the Father, and we believe this without any sly rationalisations, since it is impossible to grasp this mystery by human reason". As a result of their discussion, the opponent of Christianity became the saint's zealous defender and later accepted holy Baptism. And after his conversation with Saint Spyridon, turning towards his companions, the philosopher said: "Listen! While the disputation with me was conducted by means of argued proofs, I could set forth to certain proofs other proofs, and by the very art of debate I could refute anything, that others might propose. But when, instead of proofs from reason, there began to issue forth from the mouth of this elder some sort of especial power, and the rational proofs became powerless against it, since it is impossible that man can withstand God. If any of you should come to think as I now indeed do, let him believe in Christ and together with me follow this elder, from whose lips doth speak God Himself". At this Council, Saint Spyridon displayed a proof in evidence of the Oneness within the Holy Trinity. He took in his hand a brick and he grasped it -- for an instant fire emerged from it upwards, water flowed downwards, and there remained clay in the hands of the wonderworker. "There are these three elements, but one tile (brick), -- and Saint Spyridon then said, -- suchlike also the Holy Trinity: Three Persons, but One God".
The saint concerned himself about his flock with great love. Through his prayer, drought was replaced by abundant life-producing rains, and otherwise incessant rains were replaced by fair weather. And likewise through his prayer the sick were healed and demons cast out. One time a woman came up to him with a dead child in her arms, imploring the intercession of the saint. He prayed, and the infant was restored to life. The mother, overcome with joy, collapsed lifeless. Through the prayer of the saint of God the mother was restored to life. Another time, hastening to save his friend, falsely-accused and sentenced to death, the saint was hindered on his way by the unanticipated flooding of a watery brook. The saint commanded the freshet: "Halt! For thus biddeth thee the Lord of all the world, that I might cross over and a man be saved, on account of whom be my haste". The will of the saint was fulfilled, and he crossed over happily to the other shore. The judge, apprised of the miracle that had occurred, received Saint Spyridon with esteem and set free his friend.
Similar instances are known from the life of the saint. One time he went into an empty church, he gave orders to light up the lampadas and candles, and then he began the Divine-services. Intoning the "Peace be unto all", both he and the deacon heard in reply from above the resounding of "a great multitude of voices, proclaiming: "And with thine spirit". This choir was majestic and more sweetly melodious than any human choir. To each ectenia-petition of the litanies, the invisible choir sang "Lord, have mercy". Attracted by the church singing wafting forth, the people situated nearby hastened towards it. And as they got closer and closer to the church, the wondrous singing all more and more filled the ears and gladdened their hearts. But when they entered into the church, they saw no one besides the bishop and several church servers, nor did they hear any moreso the church singing, by which they were greatly astonished".
Saint Simeon Metaphrastes, the author of his Life, likened Saint Spyridon to the Patriarch Abraham in his virtue of hospitality. "This also mustneeds be known, how he received strangers", -- wrote that insider of the monastic circles, Sozomen, who in his "Church History" offers an amazing example from the life of the saint. One time, at the onset of the Forty-day Great Lent a stranger knocked at his door. Seeing that the traveller was very exhausted, Saint Spyridon said to his daughter: "Wash the feet of this man, that he may recline to dine". But with it being Lent there were none of the necessary provisions, since the saint "partook of food only on set days, and on other days he went without food". His daughter therefore answered, that in the house there was neither bread, nor even flour. Then Saint Spyridon, apologising to his guest, ordered his daughter to roast a salted ham in the food-provisions, and having seated the stranger at table, he began to dine, "urging that man to do likewise. When the latter refused, calling himself a Christian, the saint rejoined: "It be no less proper to refuse this, since the Word of God hath proclaimed: "All is pure to the pure" (Tit. 1: 15)".
Another historical detail, reported by Sozomen, was likewise exceedingly characteristic of the saint: he had the custom to distribute one part of the gathered harvest to the destitute, and another portion to those having need while in debt. For himself personally he did not take a portion, but simply showed the entrance to his supply-room, where each could take as much as was needed, and thereafter make a return in like manner, without controls or accountings.
There is also the tale by Sokrates Scholastikos about how robbers planned to steal the sheep of Saint Spyridon: in the deep of night they broke into the sheepfold, but here by some invisible power they found themselves all tied up. With the onset of morning the saint went to his flock, and seeing the tied-up robbers, he prayed and untied them and for a long while he upbraided them to leave off from their path of iniquity and earn a livelihood by respectable work. "Then, having made them a present of a sheep and sending them off, the saint said kindly: "Be ye not vigilant in vain".
They often likened Saint Spyridon to the Prophet Elias (Elijah or Ilias), since it was through his prayer during the times of drought that frequently threatened the island of Cyprus, that rain occurred: "Let us view the Angelic-equal Spyridon the Wonderworker. Formerly did the land suffer exceedingly from want of rain and drought: there was famine and pestilence and a great many of the people were stricken, but through the prayers of the saint there did descend rain from the heavens upon the earth: wherefore the people delivered from woe gratefully do proclaim: Hail, thou in semblance to the great prophet, in that the rain driving off famine and malady in good time is come down".
All the Vitae (Lives) of the saint are striking in the amazing simplicity and powerful wonderworking, granted him by God. Through a word of the saint the dead were awakened, the elements of nature tamed, the idols smashed. At one point at Alexandria, a Council had been convened by the Patriarch in regard to the idols and pagan temples there, and through the prayers of the fathers of the Council all the idols fell down, except one -- which was very much revered. It was revealed to the Patriarch in a vision that this idol remained to be shattered by Saint Spyridon of Trimyphunteia. Invited by the Council, the saint set sail on a ship, and at the moment the ship touched shore and the saint stepped out on land, the idol in Alexandria with all its offerings turned to dust, which then was announced to the Patriarch and all the bishops gathered round Saint Spyridon.
Saint Spyridon lived his earthly life in righteousness and sanctity, and in prayer he offered up his soul to the Lord (+ c. 348).
In the history of the Church, Sainted Spyridon is venerated together with Sainted Nicholas, Archbishop of Myra in Lycia. His relics repose on the island of Corfu, in a church named after him (except for the right hand, located in Rome). His memory is celebrated a second time on Cheesefare Saturday.
THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:
1. Saint Spyridon the Wonderworker, Bishop of Tremithus
The island of Cyprus was both the birthplace and the place where this glorious saint served the Church. Spyridon was born of simple parents, farmers, and he remained simple and humble until his death. He married in his youth and had children, but when his wife died he devoted himself completely to the service of God. Because of his exceptional piety, he was chosen as bishop of the city of Tremithus. Yet even as a bishop he did not change his simple way of living, handling his livestock and cultivating his land himself. He used very little of the fruits of his labor for himself; instead, he distributed a greater share to the needy. He manifested great miracles by God's power: he brought down rain in time of drought, stopped the flow of a river, raised several people from the dead, healed Emperor Constantius of a grave illness, saw and heard angels of God, foresaw future events, discerned the secrets of men's hearts, converted many to the true Faith, and did much else. He took part in the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea , and he brought many heretics back to Orthodoxy by his simple and clear expositions of the Faith as well as by his mighty miracles. He was so simply dressed that once, when he wanted to enter the imperial court at the invitation of the emperor, a soldier, thinking that he was a beggar, struck him on the face. Meek and guileless, Spyridon turned the other cheek to him. He glorified God through many miracles, and was of benefit, not only to many individuals but also to the whole Church of God. He entered into rest in the Lord in the year 348. His miracle-working relics rest on the island of Corfu, and even today they glorify God with many miracles.
2. The Holy Hieromartyr Alexander, Patriarch of Jerusalem
At first Alexander was the Bishop of Cappadocia, but during the persecution under Severus in the year 203 he was cast into prison and then exiled. Afterward he accepted the patriarchal throne of Jerusalem. He founded the famous Jerusalem Library, which Eusebius used when he wrote his Ecclesiastical History. He was tortured in various ways during the reign of Decius and thrown to wild beasts. Remaining alive and untouched by the beasts, he was cast into prison, where he ended his earthly life and went to the Lord in the year 251.
3. The Holy Martyr Synesius
As a young reader in Rome, he boldly preached the truth of Christ and denounced idolaters. For this, he was tortured and beheaded during the reign of Emperor Aurelian.
HYMN OF PRAISE
Saint Spyridon the Wonderworker, Bishop of Tremithus
Star of Cyprus and luminary of the Church,
Holy Spyridon, defender of the Faith,
Simple as a child, innocent as a child-
By his simplicity, he shines on the world.
What need is there for many words when speaking the truth?
Utterly simple is God's truth:
The Creator is One, in the Holy Trinity,
In the Trinity, Father, Son and Spirit.
The Son descended to the sinful earth
And received flesh from the Pure Virgin
In order to save men, because He is the Lover of Mankind.
He performed many miracles
By divine power, for He is Almighty.
To mankind He gave a new rule,
The rule of love and the rule of faith.
Glorified, He now sits in heaven,
And gathers the fruit of His labor.
The sweet fruits of His labor
Are holy men and holy women.
He is the Rock of mankind's salvation;
Outside this Rock there is no salvation.
O Spyridon, O illuminator,
O soldier of Christ, pray for us.
Absolutely nothing will help us if we are not lenient toward the weaknesses of men and forgive them. For how can we hope that God will forgive us if we do not forgive others? St. Spyridon once sold a hundred goats to a merchant at an agreed price, and the saint told the buyer to lay down the money. The buyer, knowing that Spyridon himself never counted money, handed over enough money for ninety-nine goats and hid the money for one. Spyridon then counted out a hundred goats for him. But when the merchant and his servants drove off the goats, one of them returned bleating. He drove it off, but it returned again. And so the goat continually returned to the enclosure, not wanting to go with the other goats. The saint then whispered into the merchant's ear: "Observe, my son: this animal is not doing this in vain. Did you perhaps withhold her price?" The merchant became ashamed and acknowledged his sin. As soon as he paid the amount he had concealed, the goat immediately joined the other goats.
On another occasion, some thieves entered Spyridon's sheepfold. When they had seized as many sheep as they wanted, they tried to leave the sheepfold, but an invisible force nailed them to the ground, and they were unable to move. At dawn, the bishop came to his sheepfold. Seeing the thieves, he reproached them mildly and instructed them to strive in the future to live by their own labors and not by thievery. He then took a sheep and gave it to them, saying, "Take this for your trouble, so that your all-night vigil not be in vain," and he dismissed them in peace.
Contemplate Noah's blessing upon two of his children [Japheth and Shem] and a curse upon the third [Ham] (Genesis 9):
1. How Ham disclosed his father's nakedness, but Shem and Japheth covered it;
2. How Noah pronounced a blessing upon Shem and Japheth, but a curse upon the descendants of Ham.
Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchisedek (Psalm 110:4, Hebrews 7:17, 21).
Oh, how many hidden and faithful servants does the Lord have who serve Him day and night! Oh, how many shining comets are seen by men to cross the starry heavens, which appear unexpectedly, glistening, and then are lost in the vastness of the universe, leaving only tales about them! The righteous Abraham, with his descendants, is known to us like the starry heavens over our heads, but Melchisedek is known to us like a shining comet, which suddenly appeared, was bowed down to us by the starry heavens, and was again hidden in the unknown. Who is this Melchisedek? The King of Salem … the priest of the Most-high God (Genesis 14:18). He brought bread and wine to Abraham; he blessed Abraham, and Abraham gave him one-tenth of all that was his. When Abraham was so greatly blessed by God, how much more blessed was he who blessed Abraham? Oh, how unfathomable are the depths of God's providence! A man's thought extends from today until tomorrow, but the thought of God extends to the very end of time. According to the words of the Holy Apostle Paul, Melchisedek prefigures the Lord Jesus Christ Himself (Hebrews 7:10). For while the forefather Abraham was a wonderful and God-pleasing peasant, this Melchisedek was both a king and priest, as our Lord is King and Priest. Melchisedek offered Abraham bread and wine, and our Lord offered His Body and Blood to the entire human race. Abraham bowed down to Melchisedek and gave him a willing tribute. Abraham's true descendants, the Christians, bow down to the Lord Jesus and offer Him their willing sacrifice, a gift in return for a gift, the gift of His Body and Blood on the Cross. And who shall declare His generation? (Isaiah 53:8). This refers to both Christ and Melchisedek. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day; and he saw it and was glad (John 8:56). Thus spoke the Lord to the Jews. How did Abraham see it? He saw it in the spirit. God revealed it to him, and he also saw the prefiguration of Christ in this glorious and wonderful Melchisedek, king, priest and servant of the Most-high God.
O Lord Jesus, bless us also as Thou didst bless Thy faithful servants, Melchisedek and Abraham.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.