FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:
Afterfeast of the Theophany of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
Hermylos & Stratonikos the Martyrs at Belgrade
Maximos the Righteous of Kapsokalyvia, Mount Athos
Τῶν Ἁγίων Μαρτύρων Ἑρμύλου καί Στρατονίκου.
Τῆς Ὑπεραγίας Θεοτόκου τῆς Μεσοπαντητίσσης.
READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:
The Reading is from St. Paul's Letter to the Hebrews 10:32-38
Brethren, recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to abuse and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on the prisoners, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that you may do the will of God and receive what is promised. "For yet a little while, and the coming one shall come and shall not tarry; but my righteous one shall live by faith."
Πρὸς Ἑβραίους 10:32-38
Ἀδελφοί, ἀναμιμνῄσκεσθε δὲ τὰς πρότερον ἡμέρας, ἐν αἷς φωτισθέντες πολλὴν ἄθλησιν ὑπεμείνατε παθημάτων· τοῦτο μέν, ὀνειδισμοῖς τε καὶ θλίψεσιν θεατριζόμενοι· τοῦτο δέ, κοινωνοὶ τῶν οὕτως ἀναστρεφομένων γενηθέντες. Καὶ γὰρ τοῖς δεσμοῖς μου συνεπαθήσατε, καὶ τὴν ἁρπαγὴν τῶν ὑπαρχόντων ὑμῶν μετὰ χαρᾶς προσεδέξασθε, γινώσκοντες ἔχειν ἑαυτοῖς κρείττονα ὕπαρξιν ἐν οὐρανοῖς καὶ μένουσαν. Μὴ ἀποβάλητε οὖν τὴν παρρησίαν ὑμῶν, ἥτις ἔχει μισθαποδοσίαν μεγάλην. Ὑπομονῆς γὰρ ἔχετε χρείαν, ἵνα τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ ποιήσαντες κομίσησθε τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν. Ἔτι γὰρ μικρὸν ὅσον ὅσον, Ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἥξει, καὶ οὐ χρονιεῖ. Ὁ δὲ δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεως ζήσεται· καὶ ἐὰν ὑποστείληται, οὐκ εὐδοκεῖ ἡ ψυχή μου ἐν αὐτῷ.
The Reading is from Luke 12:32-40
The Lord said, "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms; provide yourselves with purses that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the marriage feast, so that they may open to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes; truly, I say to you, he will gird himself and have them sit at table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those servants! But know this, that if the householder had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. You also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an unexpected hour."
Κατὰ Λουκᾶν 12.32-40
Εἶπεν ὁ Κύριος· Μὴ φοβοῦ τὸ μικρὸν ποίμνιον· ὅτι εὐδόκησεν ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν δοῦναι ὑμῖν τὴν βασιλείαν. πωλήσατε τὰ ὑπάρχοντα ὑμῶν καὶ δότε ἐλεημοσύνην. ποιήσατε ἑαυτοῖς βαλλάντια μὴ παλαιούμενα, θησαυρὸν ἀνέκλειπτον ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς, ὅπου κλέπτης οὐκ ἐγγίζει οὐδὲ σὴς διαφθείρει· ὅπου γάρ ἐστιν ὁ θησαυρὸς ὑμῶν, ἐκεῖ καὶ ἡ καρδία ὑμῶν ἔσται. ῎Εστωσαν ὑμῶν αἱ ὀσφύες περιεζωσμέναι καὶ οἱ λύχνοι καιόμενοι· καὶ ὑμεῖς ὅμοιοι ἀνθρώποις προσδεχομένοις τὸν κύριον ἑαυτῶν, πότε ἀναλύσει ἐκ τῶν γάμων, ἵνα ἐλθόντος καὶ κρούσαντος εὐθέως ἀνοίξωσιν αὐτῷ.μακάριοι οἱ δοῦλοι ἐκεῖνοι, οὓς ἐλθὼν ὁ κύριος εὑρήσει γρηγοροῦντας. ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι περιζώσεται καὶ ἀνακλινεῖ αὐτούς, καὶ παρελθὼν διακονήσει αὐτοῖς. καὶ ἐὰν ἔλθῃ ἐν τῇ δευτέρᾳ φυλακῇ καὶ ἐν τῇ τρίτῃ φυλακῇ ἔλθῃ καὶ εὕρῃ οὕτω, μακάριοί εἰσιν οἱ δοῦλοι ἐκεῖνοι. τοῦτο δὲ γινώσκετε ὅτι εἰ ᾔδει ὁ οἰκοδεσπότης ποίᾳ ὥρᾳ ὁ κλέπτης ἔρχεται, ἐγρηγόρησεν ἂν καὶ οὐκ ἂν ἀφῆκε διορυγῆναι τὸν οἶκον αὐτοῦ. καὶ ὑμεῖς οὖν γίνεσθε ἕτοιμοι· ὅτι ᾗ ὥρᾳ οὐ δοκεῖτε ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἔρχεται.
READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:
Τῇ ΙΓ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, Μνήμη τῶν Ἁγίων Μαρτύρων Ἑρμύλου καὶ Στρατονίκου.
Ἡ σαργάνη ναῦς, Ἑρμύλῳ Στρατονίκῳ,
Κοινὸν κατάπλουν εἰς βυθὸν ποιουμένοις
Ἕρμυλον ἠδ᾿ ἑτάρον δεκάτῃ πνίξε τρίτῃ Ἴστρος.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ὁσίου Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Ἰακώβου, τοῦ ἀπὸ τῆς Νισίβεως.
Τὸν Ἰάκωβον θνητὸν ὄντα τῇ φύσει,
Θνητοῖς ὁμοίως μὴ θανεῖν οὐκ ἦν πρέπον.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Ὁ Ἅγιος Μάρτυς Ἀθανάσιος ῥαβδιζόμενος τελειοῦται.
Ῥάβδοις Ἀθανάσιε σαυτὸν ἐκδίδως,
Σπεύδων θανεῖν μέν, ζῆν δὲ πολλῷ κρειττόνως.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, ὁ Ἅγιος Παχώμιος καὶ Παπυρῖνος ἐν ποταμῷ τελειοῦνται.
Τοιοῦτον εὗρε καὶ Παπυρῖνος τέλος,
Οἷον σὺ Παχώμιε, βληθεὶς εἰς ὕδωρ.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Τὰ ἐγκαίνια τῆς Μονῆς τοῦ Προφήτου Ἠλιού, τῆς καλουμένης τοῦ Βαθέος Ῥύακος.
Ταῖς αὐτῶν ἁγίαις πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεός, ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.
Apolytikion in the First Tone
Ἐν Ἰορδάνῃ βαπτιζομένου σου Κύριε, ἡ τῆς Τριάδος ἐφανερώθη προσκύνησις, τοῦ γὰρ Γεννήτορος ἡ φωνὴ προσεμαρτύρει σοί, ἀγαπητὸν σὲ Υἱὸν ὀνομάζουσα, καὶ τὸ Πνεῦμα ἐν εἴδει περιστεράς, ἐβεβαίου τοῦ λόγου τὸ ἀσφαλές. Ὁ ἐπιφανεῖς Χριστὲ ὁ Θεός, καὶ τὸν κόσμον φωτίσας δόξα σοί.
When Thou wast baptized in the Jordan, O Lord, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest; for the voice of the Father bare witness to Thee, calling Thee His beloved Son. And the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the certainty of the word. O Christ our God, Who hast appeared and hast enlightened the world, glory be to Thee.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Ἐπεφάνης σήμερον τὴ οἰκουμένη, καὶ τὸ φῶς σου Κύριε, ἐσημειώθη ἐφ' ἡμᾶς, ἓν ἐπιγνώσει ὑμνούντάς σε. Ἦλθες ἐφάνης τὸ Φῶς τὸ ἀπρόσιτον.
You appeared to the world today, and Your light, O Lord, has left its mark upon us. With fuller understanding we sing to You: "You came, You were made manifest, the unapproachable light."
Saints Hermylos and Stratonikos contested for piety's sake during the reign of Licinius, in the year 314. Saint Hermylos was a deacon, and Stratonikos was his friend. For his confession of Christ, Hermylos was beaten so fiercely that his whole body was covered with wounds. Stratonikos, seeing him endure this and other torments that left him half dead, wept with grief for his friend. From this he was discovered to be a Christian, and when he had openly professed his Faith and had been beaten, he and Hermylus were cast into the Danube River, receiving the crown of martyrdom.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Οι Μάρτυρές σου, Κύριε, εν τή αθλήσει αυτών, στεφάνους εκομίσαντο τής αφθαρσίας, εκ σού τού Θεού ημών, σχόντες γάρ τήν ισχύν σου, τούς τυράννους καθείλον, έθραυσαν καί δαιμόνων, τά ανίσχυρα θράση. Αυτών ταίς ικεσίαις, Χριστέ ο Θεός, σώσον τάς ψυχάς ημών.
Thy Martyrs, O Lord, in their courageous contest for Thee received as the prize the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since they possessed Thy strength, they cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons' strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by their prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.
Kontakion in the Second Tone
Ἐκ τῆς κοσμικῆς, συγχύσεως ἐφύγετε, καὶ πρὸς γαληνήν, κατάστασιν μετέστητε, μαρτυρίου αἵμασι, καὶ ἀσκήσεως πόνοις στεφόμενοι, ὅθεν καὶ ἀνεδείχθητε, μαρτύρων καί. Ὁσίων ὁμόσκηνοι.
When ye received your death in the streams of the river, ye drowned the ruthless foe in the deep of your contest, O far-famed Stratonikos and Hermylos, thou men of God; wherefore, in your struggles ye were worthily guided to the water of true incorruption and glory, by Christ God, Who set your course.
Ο Θεοδώρητος ο Επίσκοπος Κύρου, στην Προθεωρία του συγγράμματός του "Ελληνικών παθημάτων θεραπευτική", γράφει για τις κατηγορίες των εθνικών εναντίον των χριστιανών. Μέσα στα άλλα "και το γεραίρειν δε τους μάρτυρας καταγέλαστον έφασκον και λίαν ανόητον το πειράσθαι τους ζώντας παρά των τεθνεώτων ωφέλειαν πορίζεσθαι". Είναι η ίδια κατηγορία, που την ανανέωσε στα νεώτερα χρόνια και την επαναλαμβάνει ο Προτεσταντισμός. Όμως η Εκκλησία του Θεού από την πρώτη αρχή ετίμησε τους αγίους Μάρτυρας, μέσα στους οποίους είναι ο διάκονος Έρμυλος και ο φίλος του Στρατόνικος, των οποίων επιτελούμε σήμερα τη μνήμη - ο Στρατόνικος θανατώθηκε, επειδή συμπόνεσε κι έκλαψε βλέποντας να βασανίζεται ο φίλος του. "Τους μάρτυρας ως μιμητάς του Κυρίου αγαπώμεν αξίως... ων γένοιτο και ημάς κοινωνούς τούτων και συμμαθητάς γενέσθαι", γράφει η Ορθόδοξος Ομολογία.
Οἱ Ἅγιοι Ἑρμύλος καὶ Στρατόνικος
Ὁ αὐτοκράτορας Λικίνιος τὸ 320-22 γιὰ νὰ εὐχαριστήσει τοὺς εἰδωλολάτρες, ποὺ ἀντιπαθοῦσαν τὸ Μ. Κωνσταντῖνο, διέταξε διωγμοὺς κατὰ τῶν χριστιανῶν. Μεταξὺ ἄλλων βιαίων μέτρων, ἔκλεινε καὶ γκρέμιζε τὶς ἐκκλησίες τους καὶ ἐμπόδιζε τὸν ἐκκλησιασμό τους. Ποιός, ὅμως, θὰ τολμήσει νὰ διαμαρτυρηθεῖ φανερά; ὁ διάκονος Ἑρμύλος, - σύμφωνα με τὴν προτροπὴ τοῦ Κυρίου μας: «Ἔχετε θάῤῥος, ἐγὼ νίκησα τὸν κόσμο» καθὼς καὶ τὴν διαβεβαίωση τοῦ Ἀποστόλου Παύλου: «ὁ Θεὸς δέ μας ἔδωσε πνεῦμα δειλίας, ὥστε νὰ μᾶς φοβίζουν οἱ ἀπειλὲς καὶ οἱ διωγμοί, ἀλλά μας ἔδωσε πνεῦμα καὶ χάρισμα δυνάμεως γιὰ νὰ ἀντέχουμε στοὺς πειρασμούς»- ἀντιδρᾷ φανερὰ καὶ ἔντονα. Αὐτὸ ἀμέσως καταγγέλλεται καὶ διατάζεται ὁ βασανισμός του. Πρῶτα μαστιγώνεται μὲ ἀκανθωτὰ μαστίγια καὶ μετὰ ῥίχνεται στὴ φυλακή. Τὸ μαρτύριο δὲ φέρνει τὸ ζητούμενο ἀποτέλεσμα, καὶ μετὰ ἀπὸ λίγες μέρες ξανὰ βασανίζεται μὲ φρικτότερο τρόπο. Ἐκεῖ κοντά, ἦταν καὶ ἕνας στενός του φίλος, ὁ Στρατόνικος, ποὺ δὲν μπόρεσε νὰ συγκρατήσει τὰ δάκρυά του βλέποντας τὸ μαρτύριο τοῦ Ἑρμύλου.Ὅμως, ἦταν ἔγκλημα νὰ δακρύσει κανεὶς γιὰ ἕνα χριστιανὸ μάρτυρα, ὁπότε θανατώνουν καὶ τοὺς δυὸ μαζί. Ἔτσι, ἀπὸ κοινοῦ ἀξιώθηκαν νὰ πάρουν τὸ στεφάνι τοῦ μαρτυρίου.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Ἰάκωβος Ἐπίσκοπος Νισίβεως
Ὁ Ὅσιος Ἰάκωβος ἔζησε στὰ χρόνια του Μ. Κωνσταντίνου. Καταγόταν ἀπὸ τὴν Νίσιβιν τῆς Μεσοποταμίας, τῆς ὁποίας ἔγινε καὶ Ἐπίσκοπος. Ἦταν ἄριστος γνώστης τῶν ἁγίων Γραφῶν, καὶ συγχρόνως ἀσκητικὸς στὴν προσωπική του ζωή. Ὁ Ἰάκωβος πίστευε, ὅτι ὁ Ἐπίσκοπος πρέπει νὰ φαίνεται ἀπὸ τὰ ἔργα του καὶ ὄχι ἀπὸ τὴν ἐξωτερικὴ ἐμφάνιση καὶ ἐπίδειξη. Ὁ Ἰάκωβος εἶχε πάρει μέρος καὶ στὴν Α´ Οἰκουμενικὴ Σύνοδο (325) στὴ Νίκαια τῆς Βιθυνίας. Ἀλλ᾿ ἐκτὸς ἀπὸ εὐσέβεια, διακατεχόταν καὶ ἀπὸ ἔνθερμη φιλοπατρία. Ὅταν κάποτε οἱ Πέρσες πολιόρκησαν τὴν Νίσιβιν, ὁ ἐπίσκοπος Ἰάκωβος ὑπῆρξε ὁ κύριος συντελεστὴς - μὲ τὴν δύναμη τῆς πίστης του καὶ τὴν ἠθικὴ ἐπιῤῥοή του - τῆς ἀπόκρουσης τῶν ἐχθρῶν καὶ τῆς διάλυσης τῆς πολιορκίας. Πέθανε σὲ βαθειὰ γεράματα. Ἀλλὰ ὁ ζῆλος του δὲν εἶχε γεράσει καθόλου. Διατηρήθηκε ζωηρὸς καὶ ἀκμαῖος μέχρι τέλους (ἡ μνήμη του ἐπαναλαμβάνεται καὶ τὴν 31η Ὀκτωβρίου).
Ὁ Ἅγιος Ἀθανάσιος μάρτυρας
Μαρτύρησε διὰ ῥαβδισμοῦ.
Οἱ Ἅγιοι Παχώμιος καὶ Παπυρῖνος
Μαρτύρησαν ἀφοῦ τους ἔπνιξαν μέσα σὲ ποτάμι.
Τὰ Ἐγκαίνια τῆς Μονῆς Προφήτη Ἠλία τῆς ὀνομαζομένης τοῦ Βαθέος Ῥύακος
Ἡ Μονὴ αὐτὴ βρίσκεται κοντὰ στὴν Τρίγλια δηλαδὴ στὰ Μουδανιὰ τῆς Μ. Ἀσίας.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Μάξιμος ὁ Καυσοκαλυβίτης
Μοναχογιὸς εὐσεβῶν γονέων ἀπὸ τὴν πόλη Λάμψακο. Ὀνομαζόταν προηγουμένως Μανουὴλ καὶ ἀνατράφηκε ἀπὸ παιδὶ στὰ θεῖα, καὶ σωτήρια διδάγματα τοῦ Κυρίου μας Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. Τὸ μοναχικὸ σχῆμα τὸ πῆρε σ᾿ ἕνα Μοναστήρι τοῦ ὄρους Γάνου, ὅπου, κοντὰ σ᾿ ἕναν ἐξαίρετο γέροντα, τὸν Μᾶρκο, ἀναδείχτηκε ἀκούραστος καὶ ἀκατάβλητος στὴ μελέτη, τὴν προσευχή, τὴν κυριαρχία τῆς γλώσσας, τὴν ἀγάπη καὶ στὴν ὁμόνοια. Ἔπειτα πῆγε στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη, ὅπου ἡ ἀρετή του τὸν ἔφερε συνομιλητὴ μὲ τὸν αὐτοκράτορα Ἀνδρόνικο Παλαιολόγο. Κατόπιν πῆγε στὴ Θεσσαλονίκη γιὰ νὰ προσκυνήσει τὸ ἅγιο λείψανο τοῦ ἁγίου Δημητρίου, καὶ ἀπὸ κεῖ τράβηξε γιὰ τὸ Ἅγιον Ὄρος. Ἐκεῖ κατέληξε στὴ Μονὴ τῆς Λαύρας, ἀλλ᾿ ἀργότερα μὲ ἄδεια τοῦ ἡγουμένου λόγω τῆς ἀρετῆς του, γύρισε ὅλο τὸν Ἄθω. Οἱ μεγάλοι ἀσκητικοί του ἀγῶνες συγκρίνονται μὲ αὐτοὺς τῶν μεγάλων ἀσκητῶν τῆς Αἰγύπτου. Ἐπειδὴ ἔκανε συχνὲς μετακινήσεις, κατόπιν ἔκαιγε τὴν καλύβα του, γιὰ νὰ ἀσκεῖται στὴν πλήρη ἀκτημοσύνη. Γι᾿ αὐτὸ καὶ ὀνομάστηκε Καυσοκαλυβίτης. Ἀπεβίωσε εἰρηνικὰ τὸ 1320 σὲ ἡλικία 95 ἐτῶν, διατηρῶντας ὅλη τὴν δύναμη καὶ τὴν διαύγεια τοῦ νοῦ του.
Holy Martyrs Hermylus and Stratonicus (315)
Hermylus was a deacon in Singidunum (modern-day Belgrade) during the reign of Licinius. When he was arrested he joyously welcomed the soldiers who came to seize him. When he confessed Christ before the magistrate, he was beaten tormented, then thrown in jail. There he prayed to be allowed to partake in Christ's saving Passion, and heard a voice assuring him that in three days he would receive a Martyr's crown.
Stratonicus, his jailer, was a kind-hearted man and secretly a Christian, and wept to see the torments to which Hermylus was subjected. Seeing this, the soldiers began to question him; and, seeing that his hour had come, he in turn openly confessed Christ. For this he was seized, flogged and thrown into prison with his brother in Christ. The following day, both were bound, tied in a net and thrown into the Danube, where they received their divinely-promised crowns. Their bodies were washed up a few days later, recovered by Christians and buried with honor.
Our Holy Father Maximos Kavsokalybites (the Hut-burner) (1365)
A native of Lampsacus on the Hellespont, he became a monk at the age of seventeen. When his spiritual Father died, he went on pilgrimage to Constantinople, where he took up the ascesis of folly for Christ, pretending madness in order to conceal his virtues and struggles from the world. He then went to the Great Lavra of St Athanasius on Mount Athos, where he lived as a simple monk in complete obedience. One day, he was told in a dream to go to the summit of Athos to receive (like Moses) the tablets of the spiritual law. He prayed continuously atop the Holy Mountain for three days, after which the Mother of God appeared to him surrounded by angels. She gave him a miraculous loaf for his sustenance and told him to live in solitude on the wild slopes of Mount Athos. Henceforth he lived apart, barefoot in all weather. He would build himself crude shelters of branches and brush; after living in one for a short time he would burn it and move to a new place. Thus he received the name Kavsokalybites "the Hut Burner" from the other monks, who dismissed him as a madman.
Saint Gregory the Sinaite (April 6), one of the great Hesychasts, heard of St Maximos, and hurried to meet him. When they met, St Maximos put aside his usual silence at St Gregory's pleading, and they discoursed together for many hours. Saint Gregory was astonished at the wonders that God had accomplished in St Maximos, at his depth of spiritual understanding and his eloquence. Returning to the nearby monks, he said "He is an angel and not a man!" He begged St Maximos to give up his nomadic life and his pretended madness, and to live among his fellow monks for their edification. This St Maximos did. He settled in one of his crude huts, living on bread miraculously provided from heaven and on sea-water, which was made sweet by his prayer. He received and counseled any monks who sought him out, and over the years was visited by two Emperors and by the Patriarch of Constantinople. In his last years he returned to a small cell in his Lavra, where he reposed in peace at the age of ninety- five. The monks of Mt Athos immediately venerated him as a Saint.
Our Holy Father Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers (369)
"The holy Hierarch Hilary was born of pagan parents in Gaul, and was trained in philosophy and rhetoric. At a time when paganism was still strong in Gaul, Saint Hilary understood the falsehood of polytheism, and became a Christian, ad a great defender of his new Faith. About theyear 350 he was ordained Bishop of Poitiers, when Arles and Milan were in the hands of the Arians and the Arian Constantius was sole Emperor. Like his contemporary Saint Athanasius, Saint Hilary's episcopate was one long struggle against the Arians. As Bishop of Poitiers, Saint Hilary foresaw the future greatness of Martin(see Nov. 12), and attached him to himself. In 355, when reqired to agree to the condemnation of Saint Athanasius passed by the Council of Milan, Hilary wrote and epistle to Constantius convicting the wrongs done by the Arians and requesting, among other things, the restoration of the Orthodox bishops, including Athanasius. For this, Hilary was banished to Asia Minor, where he wrote his greatest work, On the Trinity. Saint Hilary returned to his see in 360, where Saint Martin sought him out again. It was at this time that Saint Hilary blessed Martin to found a monastery near Poitiers, where Martin remained until being consecrated Bishop of Tours in 371. In his last years, Saint Hilary strove for the deposition of Auxentius, the Arian Bishop of Milan, but by affecting an Orthodox confession Auxentius retained his see. Saint Hilary reposed in peace about the year 368. Auxentius died in 374 and was succeeded by Saint Ambrose, who continued Saint Hilary's battle against Arianism." (Great Horologion)
The Holy Martyrs Ermil and Stratonik, by origin Slavs, lived at the beginning of the IV Century during the time of persecution against Christians by the emperor Licinius (307-324). They were friends. Saint Ermil served as deacon in the city of Singedonum (Belgrade). Condemned by Licinius to imprisonment, he was long and cruelly tortured for the Name of Christ, but he remained unyielding. Saint Stratonik was a superintendent of the prison and a secret christian. Seeing the agonising torments of his friend, he was not able to keep from weeping, and he revealed that he was a christian. They subjected him also to torture. After the torturing, they put the martyrs into a net and threw them into the Danube/Dunai. On the third day, the bodies of the saints were discovered on the bank of the river by christians and buried near Singedonum. Their venerable heads are located in the Church of Saint Sophia, where the Russian pilgrim Antonii saw them in the year 1200.
The Monk Irinarch, Hermit of Rostov, was born into a peasant family in the village of Kondakovo in the Rostov district. In Baptism he received the name Ilia. During his 30th year of life took monastic vows at the Rostov Borisoglebsk monastery. There he began fervently to labour at monastic tasks, he attended church services, and by night he prayed and slept on the ground. Once, taking pity on a vagrant who did not have shoes, Saint Irinarch gave him his own boots and from that time he began to go barefoot through the frost. The hegumen did not fancy such an ascetic behaviour, and he began to humiliate him, compelling him to stand for an hour or nearly two on the frost opposite his cell, or to ring the bells for a long time. The saint endured everything with patience but he did not change his conduct. The hegumen continued to be hard-hearted, and the monk was obliged to transfer to the Abramiev Theophany monastery, where he was accepted into the number of the brethren and he was soon chosen as steward. The monk fulfilled his monastic obediences with zeal, but grieved that the monastic brethren and servants did not look after the property of the monastery, wasting it without measure. One time in a dream he saw the Monk Abraham of Rostov (Comm. 29 October), who comforted him and gave him blessing to distribute necessities to all without consternation. Later, during a time of the singing of the Cherubimic hymn, the monk Irinarch sobbed out loudly. To the question of the archimandrite he answered: "My mother has died!"
Leaving Abramiev monastery, the monk Irinarch transferred to the Rostov monastery of Saint Lazarus, settled into a solitary cell and dwelt in it for three years in privation and hunger. Here he was visited by Blessed John the Fool, nicknamed the Big Simpleton. The saints encouraged each other by spiritual conversation. The starets / elder, however, had a desire to return to his original monastery -- the Borisogleb monastery. He was accepted back with love by the strict Varlaam and he began even more severely to practise ascetic deeds at the monastery. Having withdrawn into solitude, the monk chained himself with iron chains to a wooden chair, and he placed on himself heavy chains and crosses. For this he endured the mockery and sneers of the monastic brethren. During this time he was visited by his old friend, Blessed John the Fool, predicting the Lithuanian invasion upon Moscow. The Monk Irinarch spent 25 years shackled in chains and fetters at arduous tasks. His ascetic deeds accused those living carelessly at the monastery, and they made up lies to the hegumen, that the starets taught that they should not go to monastic work but rather pursue asceticism like him. The hegumen believed the slander and he banished the holy starets from the monastery. Humbly submitting, the Monk Irinarch again went to Rostov and dwelt in the monastery of Saint Lazarus for one year. Meanwhile the Borisoglebsk hegumen regretted his conduct and sent monks after the monk Irinarch. He returned, blaming himself, that he did not live such as the brethren who underwent righteous work, of which he was lacking. The monk continued to bear his own heavy fetters, and working, he made clothes for the needy, and he knitted hairshirts and klobuks. He slept at night for an hour or two, the remaining time he prayed and beat his body with an iron cane.
Saint Irinarch had a vision that Lithuania would invade Moscow, and that churches there would be destroyed. He began to weep bitterly about the impending disaster, and the hegumen ordered him to go to Moscow and warn tsar Vasilii Ioannovich Shuisky (1606-1610) about the terrible misfortune. The Monk Irinarch carried out the order. He refused the gifts offered him and having returned, he began to pray fervently, that the Lord would show mercy on the Russian land.
Enemies appeared against Russia, they began the conquest of the city, beat up the inhabitants, and robbed churches and monasteries. The False-Dimitrii and a second Pretender sought to conquer Russia for the Polish king. Borisogleb monastery was also overrun by the enemy, who came to the holy hermit and were amazed at the direct and bold talk of the elder, predicting catastrophe for them.
Sapega, remaining at the Borisogleb monastery, wanted to see the elder sitting in chains, and he was amazed at such an ascetic exploit. When the Polish nobles in company with Sapega told him, that the elder prayed for Shuisky, the monk boldly said: "I am born and baptised in Russia, and for the Russian tsar I pray to God". Sapega answered: "The truth in granddad there is great -- in what land one lives, that land also one serves". After this the monk Irinarch began to urge Sapega to leave Russia, predicting death for him otherwise.
The Monk Irinarch paid attention to the course of the war and sent his blessings and a prosphora to prince Dimitrii Pozharsky. He gave an order for him to come nigh Moscow, predicting: "Ye shall see the glory of God". To assist Pozharsky and Minin the monk handed over his cross. With the help of god the Russians vanquished the Lithuanians, prince Pozharsky took possession of the Kremlin, and in the Russian land peace gradually began to return. Starets Irinarch as before incessantly prayed God with tears for the deliverance of Rus' from enemies and, possessing the power to work miracles, he healed the sick and demoniacs.
The day of his death was revealed to him, and summoning his students Alexander and Kornilii he gave them his instructions, After taking leave from all he quietly expired to the Lord into eternal peace (+ 13 January 1616). The holy elder left behind 142 copper crosses, seven shoulder chains, chains in length 20 sazhen which he carried on his neck, iron foot shackles, eighteen hand fetters, "bonds" which he wore on his belt, by weight in poods, and iron canes by which he thrashed his body to drive away demons. In these works, as the elder called them, he spent 38 years, and having lived in the world for 30 years, he died in his 68th year from birth. After the death of the Monk Irinarch many miracles occurred at his grave, especially the healing of the sick and the demoniac by the laying upon them of the crosses and chains of the saintly ascetic.
The Monk Eleazar of Anzersk was born in the city of Kozel'sk into the merchant family Sevriukin. With the blessing of his parents he went off to the Solovetsk monastery, where he took monastic vows from the hegumen Saint Irinarch (+ 1628, Comm. 17 July). At the monastery he displayed an astonishing artistic gift: he learned carving imagery on wood and he took part of the embellishing of the Transfiguration cathedral. With the blessing of the hegumen, he went off in 1612 to the island of Anzersk, where he became an hermit and dwelt constantly in prayer and meditation on God. In order to obtain subsistence for himself on the island wilderness, the Monk Eleazar carved wooden goblets, which he left at the landing place. In the year 1616 the Monk Eleazar was elevated to schema-monk. Monastics, having gathered round the monk, organised a skete with a strict rule of monastic life along the ancient form. Monastic cells were built far away from one another. The hermits gathered together only for Saturday and Sunday Divine-services. Among the disciples of the Monk Eleazar was the priest-monk Nikita -- the future Patriarch Nikon. Tsar Mikhail Feodorovich (1613-1645), learning about the ascetic life of the saint, summoned him to Moscow. The Monk Eleazar there predicted for him the birth of a son, and in return the tsar generously gave him help to build on the island a stone church in the Name of the Holy Trinity and a monastery. The Monk Eleazar was interested in the writing of books. He composed and copied out three books -- "Flower-beds", in which he relates ancient accounts. There belongs to him also a commentary on the order of the rule on monastic cell life. The Monk Eleazar died in extreme old age.
The Monk James, Bishop of Niziba, was the son of prince Gefal' (Armenia) and received a fine upbringing. From the time of his youth he loved solitude, and for a long time he lived in the mountains around about the city of Niziba (on the border of the Persian and Roman empires), where he carried out strict ascetic exploits: he lived under the open sky, fed himself with tree fruits and greens, and dressed himself in goat-skins. The monk passed all this time in prayerful conversations with God. During a persecution by the emperor Maximian (305-311) he was glorified by a courageous confession of faith. Because of his strict and pious life the inhabitants of Niziba chose him as their bishop (not later than the year 314). Saint James was glorified by his ardent zeal for the Orthodox faith, by great miracles and by the gift of perspicacity. By his prayers Niziba was saved from an invasion by Sapor, the emperor of Persia. Saint James, amongst the fathers of the I OEcumenical Council, was one of the prominent defenders of the Orthodox faith. A wise and educated pastor, he constructed at Niziba a public school, in which he himself was an instructor. He made a strong impression on the hearts of his listeners by the high morality of his life. Sainted Gregory, bishop of great Armenia, turned to him with a request to write about the faith, and the Nizibite pastor sent to him by way of reply a detailed Discourse (18 Chapters): about the faith, about love, fasting, prayer, spiritual warfare, the resurrection of the dead, the duties of pastors, about circumcision against the Jews, about the choice of foods, about Christ as the Son of God, and so on. His composition distinguishes itself by its persuasive clear exposition and warmth.
Saint James died peacefully in about the year 350.
The Monk Maximos Kausokalibites was educated at the church of the MostHoly Mother of God at Lampsakos. At seventeen years of age he left his parental home, accepted monasticism and passed his obedience under the finest spiritual instructor in Macedonia -- the starets Mark. Upon the death of his instructor, the monk pursued asceticism under the guidance of several desert fathers of extremely strict life. Having arrived in Constantinople, the Monk Maximos was constantly at the Blakhernai church of the MostHoly Mother of God, as though he had taken up his abode at the entrance. In order to conceal his ascetic deeds of fasting and prayer, and to avoid celebrity, the monk conducted himself like a fool. On Athos the Monk Maximos fulfilled his obedience in the Lavra of the Monk Athanasias, and on the summit of the Holy Mountain he was deigned a vision of the Mother of God. The Monk Maximos told about his vision to a certain elder, pursuing asceticism by the church of the holy Prophet of God Elias at Carmel, who declared the monk fascinating. But this disbelief also the monk turned to good, under the appearance of vanity and pride having concealed his prodigious ascetic deeds, and privation, wandering hardship and solitude. For the greater disdain through common gossip about his being a fool, the Monk Maximos did not establish a settled abode, rather he wandered from place to place like a lunatic, having burned his hut -- a grass shelter (kausokalibit' -- signifies "hut-burner"). Those of the Holy Mountain, knowing about the extreme deprivations and sorrows of the Monk Maximos, for a long time regarded him with contempt, even then when the monk had attained the heights and perfections of contemplative life. When the Monk Gregory of Sinai (+ c. 1310, Comm. 8 August) arrived on Athos, having spent his life in mental prayer, he encountered the pretendingly distracted one, and striking up a conversation with him, he began to call him nothing other than an earthly angel. The Monk Gregory persuadingly besought Saint Maximos to leave off from the aspect of fool and to take up an abode in one place, so that others might learn from his spiritual experience. Heeding the words of Saint Gregory and the advice of other elders, the monk selected for himself a permanent dwelling in a cave nearby the reknown elder Isaiah. Knowing about his gift of perspicacity, the Byzantine emperors John Paleologos (1341-1376) and John Kantakeuzenos (1341-1355) visited the monk and were surprised by the fulfilling of his predictions. The hegumen of Batopedeia monastery, Theophanes, wrote about the Monk Maximos: "I invoke God in witness, that I was an eyewitness to several of his miracles: once, for instance, I saw him going through the air from one place to another; I listened, as the monk forecast a prediction concerning me, that first I would be an hegumen, and then Metropolitan of Okhrid; he even revealed to me about my sufferings for the Church". Just only before his death did Saint Maximos abandon his solitude, and settle near the Lavra of the Monk Athanasias, where he offered up his soul to the Lord at 95 years of age (+ 1354). Just as during life, so also in death the Monk Maximos was glorified by many miracles.
THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:
1. THE HOLY MARTYRS HERMYLAS AND STRATONICUS
The Emperor Licinius raised up a persecution against Christians. St. Hermylas, a Christian and a deacon in the Church, was captured and led to court. When Hermylas was informed that he was being led away to be tortured, he greatly rejoiced. In vain did the emperor threaten him. Hermylas openly confessed his faith in Christ and responded to all the threats of the emperor saying, "The Lord is with me; I fear not; What can man do against me?" (Psalm 118:6). Following excruciating tortures, Hermylas was thrown into the dungeon. The guard was Stratonicus, secretly a Christian, who sympathized with the suffering of Hermylas with all his heart. When it was reported to the emperor that Stratonicus was also a Christian, the emperor ordered that both of them be drowned in the Danube river. After that, the executioners tied Hermylas and Stratonicus in a net and both were drowned in the Danube. Three days later, their bodies were washed ashore. Christians discovered their bodies and buried them about eighteen miles from Belgrade. These glorious martyrs suffered for Christ and were glorified in the year 315 A.D.
2. SAINT JAMES, BISHOP OF NISIBIS
As a hermit, James lived in an open field in the summer and in winter he lived in a cave. On one occasion, he went down to the town of Nisibis to see how the Christian Faith was prospering and to see how Christians live. There, he was elected bishop. He participated in the First Ecumenical Council (Nicaea, 325 A.D.) and protected Orthodoxy against the Arian heresy. It happened once that the infidel Persians with their armies attacked Nisibis. St. James, in a procession with the Cross and banner [Litija] came before the ramparts of the town. Alone he climbed and walked along the rampart not fearing the arrows of the adversary which were aimed at him. Walking along as he did, he prayed to God to preserve the town and the faithful in this manner: "That He [God] would send a plague of flies and mosquitoes on the Persians and by that to cause them to flee from the walls of the town of Nisibis." However, James did not seek the death of his enemies, nor did he seek whatever kind of catastrophe and defeat rather, one small vexation which would cause them to flee from Nisibis. God heard the prayers of His chosen one and sent a plague of flies and mosquitoes upon the Persians, driving them away. Thereby, the town of Nisibis was spared. St. James lived long and honorably. He died peacefully in old age in the year 350 A.D.
3. THE VENERABLE MAXIMUS KAPSOKALIVITOS
In the fourteenth century, Maximus led an ascetical life as a monk on Mt. Athos in his own unique way. That is to say, he pretended to be a little crazy and constantly changed his dwelling place. His place of abode consisted of a hut made from branches. He built these huts one after the other and then burned them, for this he was called Kapsokalivitos, i.e., "hut-burner. He was considered insane until the arrival of St. Gregory Sinaites to Mt. Athos, who discovered in Maximus a unique ascetic, a wonder-working intercessor and "an angel in the flesh." He died in the Lord in the year 1320 A.D.
HYMN OF PRAISE
Prayer in the heart beats as a heart,
Prayer in the heart, together with breathing,
Internal prayer, the light from within,
On Athos, was manifested by Maximus.
As a spirit without a body, Maximus was uplifted,
From prayer, completely radiated with light;
From prayer, was filled with joy
From prayer, was filled with satisfaction
Through prayer, saw the heavens opened.
Through prayer, the human being was glorified,
By prayer, felt the nearness of Christ,
The Holy All-Pure One openly appeared to him.
With heaven the soul of Maximus was sated.
Gregory of Sinai once asked him:
"Tell me, O righteous Maximus, from where do you know
That you have good and not evil visions,
And that all of these are not illusions of the devil,
False temptations and Satan's deceptions?"
"From this, I know," says he, "that they are not lies,
That these visions, the spirit and body console,
That my spirit always yearns after them
That, from the sign of the cross, they will not vanish,
By sweet joy, a temptation, I know it is not,
By blessed joy that warms me completely."
A good deed done in silence is worth more than a good deed done with an explanation and is incomparably worth more than the most spiritual explanation without a good deed. From St. Nicholas of Myra in Lycia, no words have remained, but his deeds have remained. On three occasions without any explanations, he came at night to the home of a poor man and secretly tossed a bag of gold through the window. A certain elder of a Scete in Egypt became very ill and desired to eat a little fresh bread, for the bread that the monks ate, at that time, was dried in the sun and lasted for months. Upon hearing this, one of the monks, not saying anything to anyone, departed the Scete and went to a distant town where he purchased fresh bread for the ailing elder. Learning about the effort of this monk, the elder did not want the bread saying: "That is the blood of my brother!" (That is to say, the brother, provided it with great difficulty, with great effort). Then, the other monks implored the elder to eat, saying to him, "Do not despise the sacrifice of the brother." What kind of explanation and what words of brotherly love are able to replace this simple and silent act of brotherly love?
To contemplate the hunger and thirst of the Lord Jesus for justice:
1. How He comes into the world to restore down-trodden justice;
2. How He proclaims God's justice and unmasks injustice;
3. How He hurriedly does numerous acts of justice in order to leave us an example.
About the Kingdom of God which is within
"The Kingdom of God is within you" (St. Luke 17:21).
All that belongs to God carries the seal of immortality. And, the Kingdom of God is immortal. If we desire to breathe the air of immortality, we must enter within ourselves, within our hearts, within the Kingdom of God. Outside of ourselves is the air of time, the air of transitoriness and decay in which the soul breathes with difficulty. The kingdom of nature is the sensual kingdom; hence, a foreign kingdom in comparison to our soul which represents our inner kingdom. Why do men love to reside for a long, long time in a foreign land? Why do they rarely and reluctantly enter into their own home? Whenever we think about the world, we think about that which is foreign land. Whenever we converse about the sensual world, we converse about a foreign land. Living by the senses, we are similar to a man who rushes around all day to the homes of strangers, and only at night, returns to his own home to sleep. And so, we dedicate our vigilance to death and our sleep to immortality! We come to ourselves; we return to ourselves only in sleep. But, even our sleep is dreaming of our reality, i.e., even when we are in our own home, in an unconscious state, we dream of foreign homes: Our dreams are sensual, for our consciousness is sensual. And so, we are in a foreign land; we are strangers in reality and in dreams. We are constantly outside ourselves. The Lord wants to return us to ourselves, in His home and to His homeland. For us, the Kingdom of God is within us: outside of ourselves is a foreign land. In order to escape from a foreign land and find our true home, in which we directly encounter God, we must enter within ourselves, into our hearts. There is the King, there also is the Kingdom.
O Lord, King of the angels and saints, show us the riches and the light of Your Kingdom within us. That we may love Your kingdom more than we love the foreign land of the sensual, the kingdom of change and transitoriness.