FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:
Leavetaking of the Theophany of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
The Holy Fathers slain at Sinai and Raitho
Agnes the Virgin-martyr
Savas I, Archbishop of Serbia
Ἀπόδοσις τῆς Ἑορτῆς τῶν Θεοφανείων.
Τῶν ἐν Σινᾷ καί Ραϊθῷ ἀναιρεθέντων Ἁγίων Ἀββάδων.
Τῶν Ἁγίων Ἱερομαρτύρων Πλάτωνος, Ἐπισκόπου Ταλλίνης καί πάσης Ἐσθονίας καί τῶν σύν αὐτῷ Πρεσβυτέρων Μιχαήλ καί Νικολάου.
READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:
The Reading is from St. Paul's Letter to the Ephesians 6:10-17
Brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand, therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Πρὸς Ἐφεσίους 6:10-17
Ἀδελφοί, ἐνδυναμοῦσθε ἐν κυρίῳ, καὶ ἐν τῷ κράτει τῆς ἰσχύος αὐτοῦ. Ἐνδύσασθε τὴν πανοπλίαν τοῦ θεοῦ, πρὸς τὸ δύνασθαι ὑμᾶς στῆναι πρὸς τὰς μεθοδείας τοῦ διαβόλου. Ὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν ἡμῖν ἡ πάλη πρὸς αἷμα καὶ σάρκα, ἀλλὰ πρὸς τὰς ἀρχάς, πρὸς τὰς ἐξουσίας, πρὸς τοὺς κοσμοκράτορας τοῦ σκότους τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου, πρὸς τὰ πνευματικὰ τῆς πονηρίας ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις. Διὰ τοῦτο ἀναλάβετε τὴν πανοπλίαν τοῦ θεοῦ, ἵνα δυνηθῆτε ἀντιστῆναι ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ πονηρᾷ, καὶ ἅπαντα κατεργασάμενοι στῆναι. Στῆτε οὖν περιζωσάμενοι τὴν ὀσφὺν ὑμῶν ἐν ἀληθείᾳ, καὶ ἐνδυσάμενοι τὸν θώρακα τῆς δικαιοσύνης, καὶ ὑποδησάμενοι τοὺς πόδας ἐν ἑτοιμασίᾳ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου τῆς εἰρήνης· ἐπὶ πᾶσιν ἀναλαβόντες τὸν θυρεὸν τῆς πίστεως, ἐν ᾧ δυνήσεσθε πάντα τὰ βέλη τοῦ πονηροῦ τὰ πεπυρωμένα σβέσαι. Καὶ τὴν περικεφαλαίαν τοῦ σωτηρίου δέξασθαι, καὶ τὴν μάχαιραν τοῦ πνεύματος, ὅ ἐστιν ῥῆμα θεοῦ·
The Reading is from Matthew 4:1-11
At that time, Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterward He was hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread." But He answered, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'" Then the devil took Him to the holy city, and set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, 'He will give His angels charge of you,' and 'On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'" Jesus said to him, "Again, it is written, 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'" Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them; and he said to Him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me." Then Jesus said to him, "Be gone, Satan! for it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.'" Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.
Κατὰ Ματθαῖον 4.1-11
Τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ, ἀνήχθη ὁ ᾽Ιησοῦς εἰς τὴν ἔρημον ὑπὸ τοῦ Πνεύματος πειρασθῆναι ὑπὸ τοῦ διαβόλου,καὶ νηστεύσας ἡμέρας τεσσαράκοντα καὶ νύκτας τεσσαράκοντα ὕστερον ἐπείνασε.καὶ προσελθὼν αὐτῷ ὁ πειράζων εἶπεν· εἰ υἱὸς εἶ τοῦ Θεοῦ, εἰπὲ ἵνα οἱ λίθοι οὗτοι ἄρτοι γένωνται.ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπε· γέγραπται, οὐκ ἐπ᾿ ἄρτῳ μόνῳ ζήσεται ἄνθρωπος, ἀλλ᾿ ἐπὶ παντὶ ρήματι ἐκπορευομένῳ διὰ στόματος Θεοῦ.Τότε παραλαμβάνει αὐτὸν ὁ διάβολος εἰς τὴν ἁγίαν πόλιν, καὶ ἵστησιν αὐτὸν ἐπὶ τὸ πτερύγιον τοῦ ἱεροῦκαὶ λέγει αὐτῷ· εἰ υἱὸς εἶ τοῦ Θεοῦ, βάλε σεαυτὸν κάτω· γέγραπται γὰρ ὅτι τοῖς ἀγγέλοις αὐτοῦ ἐντελεῖται περὶ σοῦ,καὶ ἐπὶ χειρῶν ἀροῦσί σε,μήποτε προσκόψῃς πρὸς λίθον τὸν πόδα σου. ἔφη αὐτῷ ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς· πάλιν γέγραπται, οὐκ ἐκπειράσεις Κύριον τὸν Θεόν σου.Πάλιν παραλαμβάνει αὐτὸν ὁ διάβολος εἰς ὄρος ὑψηλὸν λίαν, καὶ δείκνυσιν αὐτῷ πάσας τὰς βασιλείας τοῦ κόσμου καὶ τὴν δόξαν αὐτῶνκαὶ λέγει αὐτῷ· ταῦτα πάντα σοι δώσω, ἐὰν πεσὼν προσκυνήσῃς μοι.τότε λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς· ὕπαγε ὀπίσω μου, σατανᾶ· γέγραπται γάρ, Κύριον τὸν Θεόν σου προσκυνήσεις καὶ αὐτῷ μόνῳ λατρεύσεις.Τότε ἀφίησιν αὐτὸν ὁ διάβολος, καὶ ἰδοὺ ἄγγελοι προσῆλθον καὶ διηκόνουν αὐτῷ.
READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:
Τῇ ΙΔ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, Μνήμη τῶν Ἁγίων Ἀββάδων, τῶν ἐν Σινᾷ ὄρει ἀναιρεθέντων.
Σπάθαι τὸ πράξαν ὧδε τοὺς πολλοὺς φόνους,
Τὸ δ' αὖ πεπονθός, ἄνδρες ἀρετῆς φίλοι.
Ἀββάδας ἀμφὶ τετάρτῃ καὶ δεκάτῃ κτάνε χαλκός.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τῶν Ἁγίων τριάκοντα τριῶν Πατέρων, τῶν ἐν τῇ Ῥαϊθὼ ἀναιρεθέντων.
Ὡς πρὶν Ῥαχὴλ τὰ τέκνα, νῦν τοὺς Ἀββάδας,
Κλαίει Ῥαϊθώ, συγκεκομμένους σπάθαις.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ ὁσίου Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Θεοδούλου, υἱοῦ Νείλου τοῦ σοφοῦ.
Ὁ Θεόδουλος ἀρεταῖς ὤφθη μέγας,
Μιμούμενος μάλιστα πατρὸς τὸν βίον.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ὁσίου πατρὸς ἡμῶν Στεφάνου, τοῦ κτίσαντος τὴν Μονὴν τοῦ Χηνολάκκου.
Τῷ Χηνολάκκου τὴν Μονὴν δειμαμένῳ.
Θείῳ Στεφάνῳ, λάκκος ὠρύχθη τάφου.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, ἡ ἁγία Μάρτυς Ἁγνή, ἐν σκοτεινῇ φρουρᾷ βληθεῖσα, τελειοῦται.
Ἁγνὴν ἄναγνοι θέντες εἰς οἶκον σκότους,
Πάμφωτον αὐτῇ προύξένησαν οἰκίαν.
Ταῖς τῶν ἁγίων σου 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."
As for the holy Martyrs of Sinai and Raithu, those of Sinai contested during the reign of Diocletian, about the year 296; those of Raithu were slain about the middle of the fifth century. On both occasions, the perpetrators of these massacres were a barbarian tribe called Blemmyes, from parts of Arabia and Egypt.
Kontakion in the Second Tone
Εκ τής κοσμικής, συγχύσεως εφύγετε, καί πρός γαλανήν, κατάστασιν μετέστητε, μαρτυρίου αίμασι, καί ασκήσεως πόνοις στεφόμενοι, όθεν ανεδείχθητε, Μαρτύρων καί Οσίων ομόσκηνοι.
Ye fled from the world's confusion and wild turbulence and passed over to a state of great tranquillity, crowned with blood of martyrdom and the pains of valiant ascetic deeds. Hence ye dwell together with all the Martyrs and righteous Fathers in the heights.
"Άθλησις των οσίων Πατέρων ημών των εν Σινά τελειωθέντων". Έτσι αρχίζει το Συναξάριο σήμερα, στην μνήμη των τριανταοκτώ μοναχών του Σινά. Λησταί πάτησαν κάποτε το Μοναστήτρι για να βρούν χρήματα, "ως δε ουδέν εύρον ει μη ψιάθια μόνα και τους αγίους τρίχινα φορούντας, εμάνησαν και κατέσφαξαν αυτούς μηδέν αδικούντας". Ο άγιος Παύλος έγραψε στην προς Φιλιππησίους επιστολή το "μεγαλυνθήσεται Χριστός εν τώ σώματί μου είτε δια ζωής είτε δια θανάτου" κι έγινε το συναμφότερο στους οσίους Πατέρας του Σινά. Σαν να μην ήταν αρκετή η τελείωση της ασκήσεως, γεύθηκαν πικρό θάνατο και βρέθηκαν ακόμα πιο τέλειοι στην έξοδό τους. Εδόξασαν πρώτα τον Θεό "δια ζωής", τον δόξασαν στο τέλος και "δια θανάτου". Καλά είπε ο άγιος Γρηγόριος ο Νύσσης, ότι "η τελειότης όροις ου διαλαμβάνεται". Όριο δεν υπάρχει στην ηθική τελείωση· ο πιστός "τελειούται", είτε "ξίφει" είτε "εν ειρήνη", στον θάνατό του.
Οἱ Ἅγιοι 38 Πατέρες ἐν Σινᾷ ἀναιρεθέντες καὶ Ἀπόδοσις ἑορτῆς τῶν Θεοφανείων
Αὐτοὶ ζοῦσαν μέσα στὶς σπηλιὲς τοῦ ὄρους Σινᾶ τὴν ἁγία μοναχικὴ ζωὴ (κατὰ τὸν 5ο αἰῶνα μ.Χ.). Ἀλλὰ ἡ εὐσεβὴς ζωή τους ταράζεται ξαφνικὰ μία μέρα, μὲ τρόπο ἄγριο καὶ αἱματηρό. Στίφη βαρβάρων, ποὺ λυσσοῦσαν κατὰ τῆς χριστιανικῆς πίστης, φάνηκαν στὶς κατοικίες τῶν χριστιανῶν ἀναχωρητῶν. Στὴν ἐμφάνιση αὐτὴ οἱ Ἅγιοι ταράζονται στὴν ἀρχή. Συνέρχονται, ὅμως, ἀμέσως καὶ μπροστὰ στὴ σφαγὴ καὶ τὸ θάνατο δείχνουν θαυμαστὴ ἀνδρεία καὶ ἀφοβία. Δὲν ἀρνεῖται κανένας τὴν πίστη του. Οἱ βάρβαροι τοὺς σφάζουν μέσα στὶς καλύβες καὶ τοὺς κήπους τους καὶ αὐτοὶ πεθαίνουν προσευχόμενοι, ψάλλοντας ὕμνους, δοξολογίες καὶ εὐχαριστίες στὸ Θεό. Καὶ ὅπως θὰ ἔλεγε ὁ θεοκίνητος Ἀπόστολος Παῦλος, «τὸν καλὸ ἀγῶνα τῆς πίστης ἀγωνίστηκαν, τὸ δρόμο τους τελείωσαν καὶ τὴν πίστη τους μέχρι θανάτου ἐτήρησαν». Ἀπ᾿ ὅλους τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς λίγοι σώθηκαν. Αὐτοί, ἀφοῦ οἱ βάρβαροι ἔφυγαν, μάζεψαν τὰ λείψανα τῶν σφαγιασθέντων καὶ τὰ ἔθαψαν μὲ μεγάλη σεμνότητα. (Ἀρκετὰ ἀπὸ τὰ ὀνόματα τῶν πιὸ πάνω Ὁσιομαρτύρων Πατέρων βλέπε καὶ 4η Διακαινησίμου στὸ Συναξάρι τοῦ Πεντηκοσταρίου).
Οἱ Ἅγιοι Τριάκοντα Τρεῖς (33) Πατέρες ἐν Ῥαϊθῷ ἀναιρεθέντες
Δυὸ μέρες μακριὰ ἀπὸ τὸ ὄρος Σινᾶ, πρὸς τὴν Ἐρυθρὰ θάλασσα, ἦταν ἡ ἔρημος τῆς Ῥαϊθῶ, στὸ ἐσωτερικὸ τῆς ὁποίας ζοῦσαν χριστιανοὶ ἀναχωρητές. Ἦταν δὲ συγκεντρωμένοι πάνω σ᾿ ἕνα ὄρος. Ἀλλὰ τὴν ἴδια μέρα (κατ᾿ ἄλλους τὴν 22α Δεκεμβρίου), ποὺ ἔγινε ἡ σφαγὴ τῶν πατέρων στὸ ὄρος Σινᾶ, οἱ βάρβαροι ἀποφάσισαν νὰ ἐξολοθρεύσουν καὶ τοὺς πατέρες ποὺ βρίσκονταν στὴν ἔρημο τῆς Ῥαϊθῶ. Ὁ ἡγούμενος τῆς Μονῆς, Παῦλος, μόλις εἶδε τὸν κίνδυνο, συγκέντρωσε τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς ὅλους μέσα στὸ ναὸ καὶ τοὺς ἀπηύθυνε λόγια γενναῖα καὶ συγκινητικά. Τοὺς θύμισε ὅτι σκοπὸς τῆς ζωῆς τους εἶναι ὁ Χριστὸς καὶ ἡ Βασιλεία Του. Ὅτι γι᾿ αὐτὴν ἦταν ὅλες οἱ προσευχές, οἱ μελέτες, οἱ πόθοι καὶ τὰ ἔργα τους. Καὶ ὅτι τώρα τοὺς παρουσιάζεται λαμπρότατη εὐκαιρία ν᾿ ἀποκτήσουν τὰ ὡραιότερα στεφάνια, χύνοντας καὶ αὐτὸ τὸ αἷμα τους γιὰ τὸν μισθαποδότη Κύριό τους. Τοὺς παρεκίνησε ἐπίσης νὰ εὐχηθοῦν, ἀκόμα καὶ γι᾿ αὐτοὺς τοὺς δυστυχισμένους ποὺ θὰ τοὺς σκότωναν. Οἱ πατέρες συμφώνησαν μὲ τὰ λόγια αὐτά, καὶ ὅλοι μαζὶ προσευχήθηκαν. Μόλις τελείωσαν τὴν προσευχή τους, μπῆκαν στὸ μοναστήρι οἱ βάρβαροι καὶ ἔσπειραν παντοῦ τὸ θάνατο. Ἡ δὲ Ἐκκλησία κατέταξε στοὺς Ἁγίους της καὶ τοὺς ἐργάτες αὐτοὺς τοῦ Εὐαγγελίου, ποὺ σφράγισαν τὴν πίστη τους μὲ τὸ αἷμα τους.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Θεόδουλος υἱὸς τοῦ ὁσίου Νείλου
Ὁ Ὅσιος αὐτός, νέος στὴν ἡλικία, ἦταν ἀπὸ τοὺς ἀναχωρητὲς τοῦ Ὄρους Σινᾶ, ποὺ τὴν σφαγὴ τοὺς ἀναφέραμε προηγουμένως. Αὐτὸς ὅμως αἰχμαλωτίσθηκε ἀπὸ τοὺς βαρβάρους καὶ σύρθηκε δέσμιος στὶς σκηνές τους. Στὴν ἀρχὴ θέλησαν νὰ τὸν σκοτώσουν. Ἀλλὰ κατόπιν τὸν πούλησαν καὶ τὸν ἀγόρασε ὁ ἐπίτροπος τῆς Λούζης, ὁ ὁποῖος καὶ τοῦ ἀπέδωσε τὴν ἐλευθερία του. Κατόπιν ὁ Θεόδουλος συναντήθηκε μὲ τὸν πατέρα του ὅσιο Νεῖλο, ποὺ εἶχε διαφύγει ἀπὸ τὴν σφαγὴ τῶν πατέρων τοῦ Σινᾶ, καὶ πῆγε μαζί του σὲ ἐρημικὸ ἀναχωρητήριο. Ἐκεῖ χρησιμοποίησαν τὴν ζωή τους, ὄχι μόνο γιὰ τὴν ἀτομική τους σωτηρία, ἀλλὰ καὶ γιὰ τὴν συγγραφὴ λόγων καὶ ἐπιστολῶν, ὅπου βρίσκονται θησαυρισμένες πολύτιμες συμβουλὲς γιὰ τὸν τρόπο, μὲ τὸν ὁποῖο ὀφείλουν νὰ ζοῦν οἱ χριστιανοὶ ἀναχωρητές, γιὰ νὰ πετύχουν τὸν ἅγιο σκοπό τους. Ἀπεβίωσαν καὶ οἱ δυὸ εἰρηνικά. Τὰ ἁγία λείψανά τους, ὅταν αὐτοκράτορας ἦταν ὁ Ἰουστινιανός, τὰ ἔφεραν στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη, ὅπου καὶ τὰ κατέθεσαν στὸν Ναὸ τῶν Ἁγίων Ἀποστόλων.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Στέφανος, κτήτωρ τῆς Μονῆς Χηνολάκκου
Καταγόταν ἀπὸ εὐγενικὴ οἰκογένεια (ἴσως ἀπὸ τὴν Καππαδοκία), ποὺ τὸν ἀνέθρεψε μὲ μεγάλη εὐσέβεια. Ὅταν μεγάλωσε, θέλησε νὰ περιηγηθεῖ τὰ φημισμένα μοναστηριακὰ κέντρα, γιὰ νὰ δεῖ ἀπὸ κοντὰ τὴν ζωή τους καὶ νὰ συμπληρώσει ἐκεῖ τὶς ἐκκλησιαστικὲς καὶ θεολογικὲς μελέτες του. Πῆγε λοιπὸν στὰ Μοναστήρια κοντὰ στὸν Ἰορδάνη καὶ στὰ ἐρημητήρια τοῦ ἁγίου Εὐθυμίου, τοῦ ἁγίου Σάββα καὶ Θεοδοσίου. Ἀργότερα ἀναχώρησε γιὰ τὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη (710) στὰ χρόνια του Λέοντα Ἰσαύρου, τοῦ εἰκονομάχου. Ὁ τότε Πατριάρχης Γερμανός, ἐκτίμησε πολὺ τὸν Στέφανο καὶ τὸν παρακίνησε νὰ κτίσει Μοναστήρι καὶ νὰ ἐφαρμόσει τὴν μοναχικὴ τάξη καὶ ζωή, σύμφωνα μὲ τὰ σπουδαῖα διδάγματα ποὺ τοῦ ἔδωσε ἡ πολύχρονη πεῖρα του. Πράγματι ὁ Στέφανος ἵδρυσε τὴν Μονὴ τοῦ Χηνολάκκου λεγομένη, ποὺ βρισκόταν βορειοανατολικὰ τῆς Τρίγλιας (κοντὰ στὰ Μουδανιὰ τῆς Μ. Ἀσίας) ὅπου προσῆλθαν πολλοὶ μοναχοὶ ἑλκόμενοι ἀπὸ τὴν ἀρετή του. Ἐκεῖ λοιπὸν ὁ Ὅσιος Στέφανος διακρίθηκε γιὰ τὴν πατρική του διοίκηση καὶ γιὰ τὴν ἠθικὴ ἐπιβολή του στοὺς μοναχούς. Ἔτσι ἅγια ἀφοῦ κυβέρνησε τὸ Μοναστήρι, εἰρηνικὰ ἀπεβίωσε.
Ἡ Ἁγία Ἁγνή
Μαρτύρησε ἀφοῦ κλείστηκε μέσα σὲ σκοτεινὴ ἀπομόνωση φυλακῆς.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Σάββας πρῶτος Ἀρχιεπίσκοπος Σερβίας κτήτωρ ἱερᾶς Μονῆς Χιλιανδαρίου
Ἔζησε στὰ τέλη τοῦ 12ου αἰῶνα καὶ στὶς ἀρχὲς τοῦ 13ου αἰῶνα μ.Χ. Ἦταν δευτερότοκος γιὸς τοῦ βασιλιᾶ τῆς Σερβίας Συμεών. Ἀπὸ μικρὸ παιδὶ εἶχε μεγάλη συμπάθεια στὶς χριστιανικὲς ἀρετὲς καὶ σὲ ἡλικία 17 χρονῶν πῆγε στὸ Ἅγιον Ὄρος, ὅπου μὲ συγκατάθεση τοῦ βασιλιᾶ πατέρα του ἔγινε μοναχὸς στὴ Μονὴ Βατοπεδίου καὶ μετονομάστηκε Σάββας. Ἀργότερα, μετὰ τὸν θάνατο τῆς γυναίκας του, ἦλθε ἐκεῖ καὶ ὁ βασιλιὰς πατέρας του, Συμεών. Τὸ βασιλικὸ παράδειγμα ἀκολούθησαν καὶ ἄλλοι Σέρβοι ἰδιῶτες. Ἔτσι κτίστηκε ἡ Σερβικὴ Μονὴ Χιλανδαρίου, μὲ πρωτοβουλία τοῦ ὁσίου Σάββα. Στὴν ἐποχὴ τοῦ βασιλιᾶ Θεοδώρου Λασκάρεως, ὁ Ὅσιος Σάββας ἐστάλη ἀπὸ τὴν Ἱερὰ Κοινότητα τοῦ Ἁγίου Ὄρους στὴ Νίκαια γιὰ σπουδαῖες ὑποθέσεις της. Τὰ προσωπικὰ ὅμως χαρίσματα τοῦ Ὁσίου ἔκαναν μεγάλη ἐντύπωση στὸν βασιλέα καὶ τὸν Πατριάρχη, καὶ τὸν ἀνάγκασαν νὰ δεχτεῖ τὸ ἀξίωμα τοῦ Ἀρχιεπισκόπου Σερβίας. Οἱ Σέρβοι τὸν ὑποδέχτηκαν μὲ μεγάλη χαρά. Πράγματι ὁ Ὅσιος Σάββας, ἐκτέλεσε τὴν διακονία του μὲ θαυμαστὸ ζῆλο. Ὑπῆρξε ἐλεήμονας, ἀφιλοχρήματος καὶ ἀνακούφιζε τοὺς φτωχούς. Ἀργότερα ξαναπῆγε στὸ Ἅγιον Ὄρος, ἀπὸ κεῖ γιὰ προσκύνημα στοὺς Ἁγίους Τόπους, καὶ ἐπέστρεψε στὴ Σερβία γιὰ νὰ στηρίξει τὴν πίστη τῶν ὁμοεθνῶν του. Ἔτσι ἅγια τελείωσε τὸ θεάρεστο ἔργο του καὶ εἰρηνικὰ παρέδωσε τὸ πνεῦμα του στὸν Θεό.
Leavetaking of Theophany
Saint Nina, Equal to the Apostles and Enlightener of Georgia (335)
She is called "Nino" in many accounts. This holy maiden was a Cappadocian, the only daughter of Zabullon, a kinsman of the Great Martyr George. She was captured and enslaved by the Iberians (later called the Georgians) and taken away to their homeland. In captivity, she lived a sober and pious life, devoting every free moment day and night to prayer. Her exceptional virtue attracted the attention of many, especially those hungry for Truth, and she simply and boldly proclaimed the Gospel to all who inquired of her.
Once she healed a woman's sick child by her prayers, and the report of this wonder reached the Queen of Georgia, who was herself suffering from an incurable disease. She asked the slave to come to her, but Nina refused out of humility, so the Queen had her servants take her to Nina's dwelling. The Saint prayed and the Queen was healed instantly. Returning home in joy, the Queen praised Nina and her faith to the King, whose name was Mirian. The king payed her little heed, but later, while hunting, he was suddenly engulfed by a dark cloud, so that he lost his way and was stricken by fear. Remembering his wife's report, he prayed "to the god whom Nina worships," and vowed that if he were delivered he would worship Him alone. Immediately the cloud vanished and the King received the light of faith. Hastening home, he found Nina and, King though he was, cast himself at the feet of the slave and told her that he had resolved that he and his whole nation should be baptized. He sent emissaries to Constantine the Great, who quickly dispatched bishops and priests to the barbarian kingdom.
When the conversion of the country was well under way, Nina, though now freed, determined to stay in Georgia, where she withdrew to the wilderness and prayed fervently that the people would be confirmed in the Faith of Christ. Saint Nina reposed in peace, surrounded by the King, his court and the clergy. Thus did a powerless slave woman, by the power of God, convert an entire nation.
Our Holy Father Sava (Sabbas), Enlightener and first Archbishop of Serbia (1236)
This best-loved Saint of the Serbian people was born in 1169, the son of Stephen Nemanja, Grand Prince of Serbia. He was named Rastko by his parents. At the age of fifteen he was appointed governor of the province of Herzegovina, but worldly power were of no interest to him, and he began to wish to give himself more fully to God. He secretly left home and traveled to Mount Athos, where he became a novice at the Monastery of St Panteleimon. His father learned where he had gone and sent soldiers to bring him back, but before the soldiers could claim him, he was tonsured a monk with the name of
Sabbas (Sava), after St Sabbas the Sanctified (December 5).
In time, under the influence of his son, Stephen Nemanja abdicated his kingship, and in 1196 he became a monk under the name of Symeon, traveling to the Holy Mountain to join his son. Symeon was quite old, and unable to endure all the ascetic labors of long-time monks, so his son redoubled his own ascetical struggle, telling his father, "I am your ascesis." The two monks together founded the Chilander Monastery, which became the center of Serbian piety and culture. Saint Symeon reposed in 1200, and his body soon began to exude a miracle-working myrrh; thus he is commemorated as St
Symeon the Myrrh-streaming (February 13).
Saint Sava retired to a hermit's life in a cell on the Holy Mountain, but was compelled to return to the world: his two brothers were at war with one another, causing much bloodshed in Serbia. The Saint returned home with his father's holy relics, mediated between his brothers, and persuaded them to make peace with one another over their father's tomb, restoring peace the Serbian land. At the pleas of the people, St Sava remained in Serbia thereafter. He persuaded the Emperor and the Patriarch of Constantinople to grant autocephaly to the Church in Serbia. Against his will, he was ordained first Archbishop of his land in 1219. He labored tirelessly to establish the Orthodox Faith, for, though his father had been a Christian, many of the people were still pagan. In old age he resigned the episcopal throne and went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. While returning from his pilgrimage, he fell asleep in peace in 1236.
The Holy Fathers slain at Sinai and Raithu (4th – 5th c.)
The Holy Fathers at Mount Sinai lived in the wilderness around the holy mountain before the Emperor Justinian built the famous Monastery there in 527. The brethren were attacked by a band of Saracen barbarians who massacred Doulas, the superior of the community, and most of the other monks. They only stopped when a pillar of fire rose to the sky from the summit of Sinai, causing them to flee in fear.
The Forty-three Holy Fathers at Raithu were massacred on December 22, but are commemorated together with the fathers of Sinai. They lived the monastic life on the shores of the Red Sea. One day about three hundred Ethiopian barbarians raided the area, killing many Christians and enslaving their wives and children. They attacked the church at Raithu, where forty-three fathers had taken shelter. Their abbot Paul enjoined them to persist in prayer to the end, putting no stock in the passing life of this world, which they had renounced when they came to the desert. No sooner had he finished his prayer than the barbarians broke in, slaughtering all the monks but one, who escaped to bring news of the attack to Mt Sinai. When the barbarians returned to their ships they found that the Christians had run their vessels onto the rocks. Enraged, they killed all their prisoners. They themselves were massacred by a band of armed Christians who arrived soon afterward.
The Monastic Fathers, Murdered at Sinai and Raipha, asceticised at the monasteries and caves of Mount Sinai, where previously the Ten Commandments had been given through Moses; near to it also was the Raipha monastic wilderness (on the shores of the Red Sea). They suffered under the Saracens and under nomadic brigands from among the Arab tribes. The first massacre occurred in about the year 312. It was recorded by Ammon, an Egyptian monk, who witnessed the murder of the 40 holy fathers in Sinai. During this time the Arabs also killed 39 fathers at Raipha. The second period of the massacres occurred nearly an hundred years later, and was likewise recorded by an eye-witness who himself in the process miraculously escaped -- the Monk Nilos the Faster (Comm. 12 November).
The Sinai and Raipha ascetics lived a particularly strict lifestyle: they spent the whole week in their cells at prayer, on Saturday they gathered for the all-night vigil, and on Sunday they communed the Holy Mysteries. Their only food was dates and water. Many of the wilderness ascetics were glorified by wonderworking -- the elders Moses, Joseph and others. By name, remembered in the service to these monastic fathers are commemorated: Isaiah, Sava, Moses and his student Moses, Jeremiah, Paul, Adam, Sergios, Domnos, Proklos, Ipatios, Isaac, Makarios, Mark, Benjamin, Eusebios and Elias.
Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Nina, Enlightener of Gruzia (Georgia), was born in about the year 280 in the city of Kolastra in Cappadocia, where many of the Gruzian people had gathered. Her father Zabulon happened to be a kinsman to the holy GreatMartyr George (Comm. 23 April). He was descended of illustrious lineage and of pious parentage, and he stood in good favour with the emperor, Maximian (284-305). Zabulon, a Christian, served in the military under the emperor, and he took part in the setting free of Christian captives from Gaul (modern France). Saint Nina's mother, Susanna, was a sister of the Jerusalem Patriarch (some suggest named Juvenalios).
[trans. addendum: in 1996 the parents of Saint Nina were enumerated to the ranks of the Saints; the commemoration of Saints Zabulon and Susanna is 20 May].
At twelve years of age Saint Nina went to Jerusalem together with her parents, who had but only this one daughter. By their mutual consent and with the blessing of the Jerusalem Patriarch, Zabulon devoted his life to the service of God at the Jordan, and Susanna was made deaconness in the church of the Sepulchre of the Lord. The upbringing of Saint Nina was entrusted to the pious woman-elder, Nianphora. Saint Nina displayed diligence and obedience over the space of two years: with the help of the grace of God, she got into the firm habit of fulfilling the rule of faith and she read the Holy Scripture zealously.
One time, while in tears reliving the experience of the Gospel passages describing the Crucifixion of Christ the Saviour, the thought would not leave her mind over the fate of the Chiton (Tunic) of the Lord (Jn. 19: 23-24). To the questioning of Saint Nina as to where the Chiton (Tunic) of the Lord had gone (the account about it may be found under 1 October), the woman-elder Nianphora declared that the undecayed Chiton (Tunic) of the Lord, by tradition, had been carried off by the Mtskheta rabbi Eleazar and taken with him back to a place named Iveria (Gruzia or Georgia), and called the Appanage (i.e. the "allotted portion") of the Mother of God. The All-Pure Virgin Herself during Her earthly lifetime had received the Apostolic allotment for the enlightening of Gruzia, but an Angel of the Lord in appearing to Her foretold, that Gruzia would become Her earthly appanage only afterwards upon Her Repose, and that the Providence of God had prepared for Her Apostolic service too at Athos (likewise called the Appanage of the Mother of God).
And learning further from the woman-elder Nianphora, that Gruzia had not then yet been enlightened by the light of Christianity, Saint Nina both day and night in prayer besought the MostHoly Mother of God, that She might grant her to see Gruzia converted to Christ, and indeed too might enable her to find the Chiton (Tunic) of the Lord.
The Queen of Heaven heard the prayer of the young righteous one. One time, when Saint Nina was taking rest after long prayer, the All-Pure Virgin appeared to her in a dream, and entrusting her a cross plaited together of vineyard sprigs, She said: "Take thou this cross, for it wilt be for thee a shield and protection against all enemies both visible and invisible. Go thou to the land of Iveria, proclaim there the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and spread forth His grace: and I wilt be thine Protectress".
Awakening, Saint Nina saw in her hand the cross (now preserved in a special reliquary in the Tbilisi Zion cathedral church). Rejoicing in spirit, she went to her uncle, the Jerusalem Patriarch, and told him about her vision. The Jerusalem Patriarch thereupon blessed the young virgin in her deed of Apostolic service.
On the way to Gruzia, Saint Nina in miraculous manner escaped a martyr's death under the Armenian emperor Tiridates, which however befell her companions -- the emperor's daughter Ripsimia, her guide Gaiania and 35 virgins (Comm. 30 September), who had fled to Armenia from Rome to escape persecution under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). Bolstered in spirit by visions of an Angel of the Lord, appearing the first time holding a incenser, and the second time a scroll in hand, Saint Nina continued on her way and appeared in Gruzia in the year 319. News about her soon spread through the surroundings of Mtskheta, where she asceticised, with numerous signs accompanying her preaching. Thus on the day of the MostGlorious Transfiguration of the Lord, during the time of a pagan sacrificial offering made by pagan priests in the presence of the emperor Mirian and a multitude of the people, through the prayers of Saint Nina were toppled down from an high mountain the idols -- Armaz, Gatsi and Gaim. This apparition was accompanied by a strong storm.
Having entered Mtskheta, the ancient capital of Gruzia, Saint Nina found shelter in the household of a childless imperial official, the wife of whom -- Anastasia, was delivered from her infertility through the prayers of Saint Nina, and she came to believe in Christ.
Saint Nina healed from grievous infirmity the Gruzinian empress Nana, who upon accepting holy Baptism, ceased with her idol-worship and became instead a zealous Christian (Comm. 1 October). In spite of the miraculous healing of his wife, the emperor Mirian (265-342), in heeding the complaints of the pagans, made ready to subject Saint Nina to fierce tortures. "At that very moment, when they did contrive execution for the holy righteous one, the sun darkened and an impenetrable mist covered the place where the emperor was". The emperor suddenly fell blind, and seized by terror his retainers began to beseech their pagan idols for a return of the light of day. "But Armaz, Gaim and Gatsi were deaf, and the darkness did intensify. Then with one voice the terrified cried out to God, Whom Nina did preach. Instantly the darkness dissipated, and the sun shone in all its radiance". This event occurred on 6 May in the year 319.
Emperor Mirian, healed from his blindness by Saint Nina, accepted holy Baptism together with all his retainers. Over the course of several years, by 324 Christianity had ultimately consolidated itself in Gruzia.
The chronicles relate, that through her prayers it was revealed to Saint Nina, where the Chiton (Tunic) of the Lord was hid. And at this place was built the first Christian temple in Gruzia (at first a wooden church, but now the stone cathedral, in honour of the Twelve Holy Apostles, the "Svetitskhoveli").
During this period at the request of the emperor Mirian, with the assist of the Byzantine emperor Saint Constantine (306-337), there was dispatched to Gruzia the Antioch bishop Eustathios, with two priests and three deacons. Christianity took an definite hold upon the land. The mountain regions of Gruzia however remained without enlightenment. In the company of the presbyter James and one of the deacons, Saint Nina set off to the upper regions of the Aragva and Iori Rivers, where she preached the Gospel to the pagan hill-people. Many of them came to believe in Christ and accepted holy Baptism. From thence Saint Nina proceeded to Kakhetia (Eastern Gruzia) and settled in the village of Bodbe, in a small tent aside a mountain. Here she led an ascetic life, dwelling in constant prayer, and converting to Christ the surrounding inhabitants. Amidst all these was the empress of Kakhetia, named Sodzha (Sophia), who accepted Baptism with all her court and a multitude of the people.
Having completed her Apostolic service in Gruzia, Saint Nina perceived from above about her impending end. In a letter to the emperor Mirian, she requested him to send bishop John, so that he might prepare her for her final journey. But it was not only bishop John that came, but also the emperor together with all the clergy set off to Bodbe, where at the deathbed of Saint Nina were occurrences of many an healing. For the edification of the people that had come, and at the request of her students, Saint Nina told about her origin and life. This narration, written down by Solomia of Udzharm, has served as the basis of the Vita of Saint Nina.
Reverently having communed the Holy Mysteries, Saint Nina gave final instructions that her body be buried at Bodbe, and then she peacefully expired to the Lord in the year 335 (according to other sources, it was in the year 347, at 67 years of age, after 35 years of Apostolic works).
The emperor, together with the clergy and the people -- grieving over the death of Saint Nina, wanted to transfer her remains to the Mtskheta cathedral church, but they were not able to remove the coffin of the ascetic from her chosen place of rest. And on this place in the year 342 emperor Mirian started with the foundations, and his son the emperor Bakur (342-364) completed and dedicated the church in the name of Saint Nina's kinsman, the holy GreatMartyr George. Later on at this place was founded a women's monastery in the name of Saint Nina. The relics of the saint, at her command concealed beneathe a crypt, were glorified by many miracles and healings. The Gruzian (Georgian) Orthodox Church, with the assent of the Antioch Patriarchate, designated Saint Nina the Enlightener of Gruzia as in rank Equal-to-the-Apostles, and having enumerated her to the rank of the Saints, established her memory under 14 January, on the day of her blessed end.
The Monk Joseph the Analytic of Raipha, a strict ascetic, attained to an high degree of perfection in the spiritual life, such that during the time of prayer a flame shone upon him. He foretold the time of his death to his disciple Gelasios, and he died peacefully, before the slaughter of the Sinai fathers.
The Monk Theodoulos was the son of the Monk Nilos the Faster (Comm. 12 November), and he recorded the slaughter of the holy fathers at Raipha in the V Century. While still a lad, the Monk Theodoulos withdrew to Mount Sinai together with his father, leaving behind the world. During the time of the assault of the barbarians against the wilderness dwellers the monk fell into the hands of brigands, who decided to offer the youth in sacrifice to the morning dawn, which they worshipped in place of God. But the Lord saved the lad through the fervent prayer of his father, the Monk Nilos: the barbarians overslept the moment of sunrise, and having given up on making of him a sacrificial offering, they carried off the youth with them. Brought by the brigands to the city of Eluza, the Monk Theodoulos was ransomed by the local bishop, in the house of whom he was later found by his thankful father. Blessed by the bishop and presbyters, the Monks Theodoulos and Nilos returned to Mount Sinai, where they served the Lord til the end of their days. Their incorrupt remains were transferred to Tsargrad (Constantinople) under the emperor Justin the Younger (565-578) and placed in the church named for the holy Apostles at Orphanotropheia.
The Monk Stephen lived during the VIII Century. Impressed by the lives of the great ascetics, he made the rounds of many a monastery in Palestine, and in the wilderness visited also the great fathers -- Euthymios the Great (Comm. 20 January), Sava the Sanctified (Comm. 5 December) and Theodosios the Great (Comm. 11 January). Tonsured into monasticism, the Monk Stephen founded his own monastery in Bithynia, near Mount Oxos nigh unto Chalcedon. At the monastery, which was called "khenolakkos" ("by the goose-pond"), many monks gathered.
The holy ascetic foresaw his own end, and certain of the brethren were granted to behold his glorious departure with the Angels unto the regions on high.
THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:
1. SAINT SAVA [SABAS], ARCHBISHOP OF THE SERBS
Sava was born in 1169 A.D. He was the son of Stephen [Stefan] Nemanja the Grand Zupan of the Serbs. As a young man, Sava yearned for the spiritual life for which he fled to the Holy Mountain [Mt. Athos] where he was tonsured a monk and with rare zeal lived according to the ascetical rule. Stefan Nemanja followed the example of his son and came to the Holy Mountain where he was tonsured a monk and died as Simeon, the monk. Sava obtained the independence of the Serbian Church from the [Byzantine] emperor and patriarch and became the first Archbishop of the Serbs. Together with his father, he built the Monastery Hilendar and, after that, many other monasteries, churches and schools throughout the Serbian lands. On two occasions, he made a pilgrimage to the sacred places in the Holy Land. He restored peace between his two brothers who were estranged because of a struggle for power. He restored peace between the Serbs and their neighbors. In establishing the Serbian Church, he was, through that, establishing the Serbian State and culture. He instilled peace between all the Balkan peoples and worked for the benefit of all for which he was loved and respected by all the Balkan peoples. To the Serbian people he gave a Christian soul which did not perish with the collapse of the Serbian State. Sava died in Trnovo, Bulgaria, during the reign of Emperor Asen, having become ill following the Divine Liturgy on the Feast of the Epiphany on January 12, 1236 A.D. King Vladislav translated his body to the Mileshevo Monastery from which Sinan Pasha removed it and burned it on Vracar in Belgrade, April 27, 1595 A.D.
2. VENERABLE MARTYRS: THE FATHERS OF SINAI AND RAITHU
These holy martyrs, were slain by the Saracens, those fathers of Sinai in the fourth century and those fathers of Raithu in the fifth century.
3. SAINT HILARY, BISHOP OF POITERS
Hilary was an ardent combatant against the heresy of Arius in the west. He suffered much because of his defense of Orthodoxy. Hilary wrote many papers; the most important thesis was about the Holy Trinity. He died in the Lord in the year 362 A.D.
4. SAINT NINA, THE ENLIGHTENER OF THE GEORGIANS
Nina was a relative of St. George the Great Martyr and Juvenal, the Patriarch of Jerusalem. Her parents belonged to the nobility in Cappadocia and since they both were tonsured in the monastic state, Nina was educated under the tutelage of Patriarch Juvenal. Hearing about the people of Georgia, the virgin Nina, from an early age, desired to go to Georgia and to baptize the Georgians. The All-Holy Mother of God appeared to Nina and promised to take her to this land. When our Lord opened the way, the young Nina, indeed, traveled to Georgia where, in a short period of time, she gained the love of the Georgian people. Nina succeeded in baptizing the Georgian Emperor Mirian, his wife Nana and their son Bakar, who, later on, zealously assisted in Nina's missionary work. During her lifetime, Nina traveled throughout Georgia, mainly to convert the entire nation to the Faith of Christ, exactly at the time of the terrible persecution of the Christians at the hands of Emperor Diocletian. Having rested from her many labors, Nina died in the Lord in the year 335 A.D. Her body is entombed in the Cathedral Church in Mtzkheta. She worked many miracles during her life and after her death.
HYMN OF PRAISE
Virgin most beautiful, Nina of noble birth,
By Divine Providence became the Apostle to the Georgians,
In defiance of the persecution by Diocletian, the Emperor,
With the Cross, she baptized Emperor Mirian
His wife Nana and his son Bakar,
Through them, all the people and the elite of the leaders,
With the Cross of the Son of God, baptized them all,
Saint Nina, Apostle to the Georgians.
From her youth, Nina prayed to God
That Djul (the Rose) - Georgia, she baptize.
For that which she prayed to God, the good God granted:
From Nina's hand, the Cross shown
To docile Georgia where it shines even now,
Where Nina's hand blesses even now.
There is Nina's grave, overwhich a church glistens,
Glorifying Saint Nina and the Lord Christ.
If, at times, the dogmas of the Faith seem to be like solid food, first endeavor to fulfill the moral dogmas of Christianity, then the understanding of the dogmas of the Faith will be revealed to you. Inquisitive questioning of higher things without effort regarding the improvement of your life does not bring any benefit. At one time, the monks of Egypt reflected about Melchisedek and not being able to come to a clear understanding about the mysterious personality of this ancient king and high priest, invited Abba Copres to their assembly and asked him about Melchisedek. Upon hearing this, Copres struck himself three times on the mouth and said, "Woe to you Copres! You left that which God commanded you to do and you question that which God does not require of you." Hearing him, the monks were ashamed and dispersed. St. John Chrysostom writes, "And, if we adhere to the true dogmas and are not concerned about our behavior, we will not have any kind of benefit; and in the same way, if we concern ourselves about our behavior and neglect true dogmas, we will receive no benefit for our salvation. If we want to be delivered from Gehenna and to gain the kingdom, we need to be adorned on both sides: correctness of dogmas and honorable living."
To contemplate the mercy of the Lord Jesus:
1. Toward sinners and toward those who are ill;
2. Toward the people who are confused as a flock without a shepherd;
3. Toward mankind in general for whom He allowed Himself to be crucified.
About the visions of the invisible world
"We look not to what is seen but to what is unseen"(2 Corinthians 4:18).
We see this material and transient world, but we look to that spiritual and immortal world.
We see earthly joy, often interrupted by tears and sighs and, in the end, always concluded in death; but we look to spiritual joy among the angels and saints of God in the heavens, to joy uninterrupted and eternal.
We see sufferings and failures of the righteous in this life; but we look at their glory and celebration in that world.
We see many successes, glory and honor of the unrighteous in this life, but we see their defeat, condemnation and indescribable torment in eternity.
We see the Church of God often humiliated and persecuted in this world, but we look to the final victory of the Church over all of her enemies and adversaries both visible and invisible.
Brethren, we often see tyrants and abductors as rulers and wealthy men in this age, and we see saints as poor, dejected and forgotten, but we look at the other kingdom, the Kingdom of God, eternal, sinless and immortal in which the saints will reign without one, no, not one tyrant or abductor.
O Lord, most patient and most merciful, open our spiritual vision that we may see that which awaits us after this short-lived life and that we endeavor to fulfill Your law.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.