FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:
12th Sunday of Luke
Paul of Thebes
John the Cave Dweller
Pansophios the Martyr of Alexandria
ΙΒ΄ ΛΟΥΚΑ (τῶν Δέκα Λεπρῶν).
Τῶν Ὁσίων Πατέρων ἡμῶν Παύλου τοῦ Θηβαίου καί Ἰωάννου τοῦ Καλυβίτου.
READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:
The Reading is from John 20:19-31
On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them: "Peace be with you." When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you." And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them: "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."
Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him: "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them: "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in His side, I will not believe."
Eight days later, His disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said: "Peace be with you." Then He said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing." Thomas answered Him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to Him: "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe."
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
Κατὰ Ἰωάννην 20.19-31
Οὔσης οὖν ὀψίας τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐκείνῃ τῇ μιᾷ τῶν σαββάτων, καὶ τῶν θυρῶν κεκλεισμένων ὅπου ἦσαν οἱ μαθηταὶ συνηγμένοι διὰ τὸν φόβον τῶν ᾿Ιουδαίων, ἦλθεν ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς καὶ ἔστη εἰς τὸ μέσον, καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς· εἰρήνη ὑμῖν. καὶ τοῦτο εἰπὼν ἔδειξεν αὐτοῖς τὰς χεῖρας καὶ τὴν πλευρὰν αὐτοῦ. ἐχάρησαν οὖν οἱ μαθηταὶ ἰδόντες τὸν Κύριον. εἶπεν οὖν αὐτοῖς ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς πάλιν· εἰρήνη ὑμῖν. καθὼς ἀπέσταλκέ με ὁ πατήρ, κἀγὼ πέμπω ὑμᾶς. καὶ τοῦτο εἰπὼν ἐνεφύσησε καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς· λάβετε Πνεῦμα ῞Αγιον· ἄν τινων ἀφῆτε τὰς ἁμαρτίας, ἀφίενται αὐτοῖς, ἄν τινων κρατῆτε, κεκράτηνται.
Θωμᾶς δὲ εἷς ἐκ τῶν δώδεκα, ὁ λεγόμενος Δίδυμος, οὐκ ἦν μετ᾽ αὐτῶν ὅτε ἦλθεν ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς. ἔλεγον οὖν αὐτῷ οἱ ἄλλοι μαθηταί· ἑωράκαμεν τὸν Κύριον. ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· ἐὰν μὴ ἴδω ἐν ταῖς χερσὶν αὐτοῦ τὸν τύπον τῶν ἥλων, καὶ βάλω τὸν δάκτυλόν μου εἰς τὸν τύπον τῶν ἥλων, καὶ βάλω τὴν χεῖρά μου εἰς τὴν πλευρὰν αὐτοῦ, οὐ μὴ πιστεύσω. Καὶ μεθ᾽ ἡμέρας ὀκτὼ πάλιν ἦσαν ἔσω οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ καὶ Θωμᾶς μετ᾽ αὐτῶν. ἔρχεται ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς τῶν θυρῶν κεκλεισμένων, καὶ ἔστη εἰς τὸ μέσον καὶ εἶπεν· εἰρήνη ὑμῖν. εἶτα λέγει τῷ Θωμᾷ· φέρε τὸν δάκτυλόν σου ὧδε καὶ ἴδε τὰς χεῖράς μου, καὶ φέρε τὴν χεῖρά σου καὶ βάλε εἰς τὴν πλευράν μου, καὶ μὴ γίνου ἄπιστος, ἀλλὰ πιστός. καὶ ἀπεκρίθη Θωμᾶς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· ὁ Κύριός μου καὶ ὁ Θεός μου. λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς· ὅτι ἑώρακάς με, πεπίστευκας· μακάριοι οἱ μὴ ἰδόντες καὶ πιστεύσαντες. Πολλὰ μὲν οὖν καὶ ἄλλα σημεῖα ἐποίησεν ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς ἐνώπιον τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ, ἃ οὐκ ἔστι γεγραμμένα ἐν τῷ βιβλίῳ τούτῳ· ταῦτα δὲ γέγραπται ἵνα πιστεύσητε ὅτι ᾿Ιησοῦς ἐστιν ὁ Χριστὸς ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ, καὶ ἵνα πιστεύοντες ζωὴν ἔχητε ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι αὐτοῦ.
The Reading is from St. Paul's Letter to the Colossians 3:4-11
BRETHREN, when Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience. In these you once walked, when you lived in them. But now put them all away; anger, wrath, malice, slander, and foul talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices and have put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free man, but Christ is all, and in all.
Πρὸς Κολοσσαεῖς 3:4-11
Ἀδελφοί, ὅταν ὁ Χριστὸς φανερωθῇ, ἡ ζωὴ ἡμῶν, τότε καὶ ὑμεῖς σὺν αὐτῷ φανερωθήσεσθε ἐν δόξῃ. Νεκρώσατε οὖν τὰ μέλη ὑμῶν τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, πορνείαν, ἀκαθαρσίαν, πάθος, ἐπιθυμίαν κακήν, καὶ τὴν πλεονεξίαν, ἥτις ἐστὶν εἰδωλολατρεία, διʼ ἃ ἔρχεται ἡ ὀργὴ τοῦ θεοῦ ἐπὶ τοὺς υἱοὺς τῆς ἀπειθείας· Ἐν οἷς καὶ ὑμεῖς περιεπατήσατέ ποτε, ὅτε ἐζῆτε ἐν αὐτοῖς. Νυνὶ δὲ ἀπόθεσθε καὶ ὑμεῖς τὰ πάντα, ὀργήν, θυμόν, κακίαν, βλασφημίαν, αἰσχρολογίαν ἐκ τοῦ στόματος ὑμῶν· μὴ ψεύδεσθε εἰς ἀλλήλους, ἀπεκδυσάμενοι τὸν παλαιὸν ἄνθρωπον σὺν ταῖς πράξεσιν αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἐνδυσάμενοι τὸν νέον, τὸν ἀνακαινούμενον εἰς ἐπίγνωσιν κατʼ εἰκόνα τοῦ κτίσαντος αὐτόν· ὅπου οὐκ ἔνι Ἕλλην καὶ Ἰουδαῖος, περιτομὴ καὶ ἀκροβυστία, βάρβαρος, Σκύθης, δοῦλος, ἐλεύθερος· ἀλλὰ τὰ πάντα καὶ ἐν πᾶσιν Χριστός.
The Reading is from Luke 17:12-19
At that time, as Jesus entered a village, He was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices and said: "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us." When He saw them He said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus's feet, giving Him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then said Jesus: "Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" And He said to him: "Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well."
Κατὰ Λουκᾶν 17.12-19
Τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ, εἰσερχομένου αὐτοῦ εἴς τινα κώμην ἀπήντησαν αὐτῷ δέκα λεπροὶ ἄνδρες, οἳ ἔστησαν πόρρωθεν, καὶ αὐτοὶ ἦραν φωνὴν λέγοντες· ᾿Ιησοῦ ἐπιστάτα, ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς. καὶ ἰδὼν εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· πορευθέντες ἐπιδείξατε ἑαυτοὺς τοῖς ἱερεῦσι. καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ ὑπάγειν αὐτοὺς ἐκαθαρίσθησαν. εἷς δὲ ἐξ αὐτῶν, ἰδὼν ὅτι ἰάθη, ὑπέστρεψε μετὰ φωνῆς μεγάλης δοξάζων τὸν Θεόν, καὶ ἔπεσεν ἐπὶ πρόσωπον παρὰ τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ εὐχαριστῶν αὐτῷ· καὶ αὐτὸς ἦν Σαμαρείτης. ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς εἶπεν· οὐχὶ οἱ δέκα ἐκαθαρίσθησαν; οἱ δὲ ἐννέα ποῦ; οὐχ εὑρέθησαν ὑποστρέψαντες δοῦναι δόξαν τῷ Θεῷ εἰ μὴ ὁ ἀλλογενὴς οὗτος; καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· ἀναστὰς πορεύου· ἡ πίστις σου σέσωκέ σε.
READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:
Τῇ ΙΕ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, Μνήμη τοῦ Ὁσίου Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Παύλου τοῦ Θηβαίου.
Εἰ θαῦμα Θήβαις ταῖς παρ᾽ Αἴγυπτον πύλαι,
Πόσον γε Παῦλος, κἄν βίου λίπῃ πύλας;
Βλαστὸς Θηβαΐδος πέμπτῃ δεκάτῃ θάνε Παῦλος
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ὁσίου Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Ἰωάννου, τοῦ διὰ Χριστὸν πτωχοῦ, ὃς καὶ Καλυβίτης ὠνομάσθη.
Ἀρνησίκοσμος παῖς λιπὼν γῆς καλύβην,
Ἐν οὐρανοῖς ἔπηξε καινὴν καλύβην.
Πέμπτῃ Ἰωάννης δεκάτῃ καλύβην μετέπηξεν.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Μάρτυρος Πανσοφίου.
Καὶ Πανσόφιον πλήξατε πλάνοι πλέον.
Οὕτω γὰρ αὐτῷ πλέξε τε πλείω στέφη.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, οἱ Ἅγιοι ἓξ Πατέρες ἐν εἰρήνῃ τελειοῦνται.
Ψυχαὶ διαυγεῖς ἓξ ἀποπτᾶσαι βίου,
Ἑξαπτέρυξι συμπαρίστανται Νόοις.
Ταῖς αὐτῶν ἁγίαις πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεός, ἐλέησον καὶ σῶσον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.
Saint Paul, first among hermits, was born about 227 in the Thebaid of Egypt. In 250 he fled into the wilderness because of the persecution raging at that time under Decius. Having lived a solitary life in a certain cave for ninety-one years, he reposed in 341, at the age of 114, and was buried by Anthony the Great, who had been directed thither by God several days before the Saint's repose.
Apolytikion in the Third Tone
Θείου Πνεύματος, τή επινεύσει, πρώτος ώκησας, εν τή ερήμω, Ηλιού τόν ζηλωτήν μιμησάμενος, καί δι' ορνέου τραφείς ως ισάγγελος, υπ' Αντωνίου τώ κόσμω εγνώρισαι. Παύλε Όσιε, Χριστόν τόν Θεόν εκέτευε, δωρήσασθαι ημίν τό μέγα έλεος.
With the streams of thy tears, thou didst cultivate the barrenness of the desert; and by thy sighings from the depths,thou didst bear fruit a hundredfold in labours; and thou becamest a luminary, shining with miracles upon the world, O Paul our righteous Father. Intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Τόν φωστήρα άπαντες τόν εν τώ ύψει, αρετών εκλάμψαντα, ανευφημήσωμεν πιστοί, Παύλον τόν θείον κραυγάζοντες, σύ τών Οσίων Χριστέ αγαλλίαμα.
O ye faithful, let us all laud the divine Paul, the bright luminary that shone at the virtues' lofty height; and let us joyously cry aloud: O Christ, Thou art the rejoicing of all the Saints.
Saint John, who was from Constantinople, was the son of illustrious parents -- Eutropius the Senator and Theodora. At twelve years of age he departed secretly from his home and went to the Monastery of the Unsleeping (see Dec. 29). Aflame with longing for his parents, he returned after six years to his father's home in the guise of a pauper and beggar. Living in a small hut at the gates of his parents' house (wherefrom he is called "hut-dweller"), he remained unknown therein for many years, and suffered mockery at the hands of those who had been his own servants. Foreknowing his death, he revealed himself to his parents, and within a few moments reposed, about the year 450.
Kontakion in the Second Tone
Ποθήσας σοφέ, πτωχείαν χριστομίμητον, γονέων τῶν σῶν, τὸν πλοῦτον ἐγκατέλιπες, καὶ τὸ Εὐαγγέλιον ἐν χερσί σου κρατῶν ἠκολούθησας, Ἰωάννη Χριστῷ τῶ Θεῷ, πρεσβεύων ἀπαύστως ὑπὲρ πάντων ἡμῶν.
Since thou didst desire a poverty like unto Christ's, O wise Father John, thou didst forsake thy parents' wealth; and while holding in thy hands the most holy Gospel, O righteous one, thou didst follow after Christ God while ceaselessly praying to Him for us all.
Ο βίος των οσίων Ασκητών διδάσκει πως το έργο της θείας χάριτος είναι έργο σε βάθος κι όχι σε πλάτος. Το ανακαινιστικό έργο της Εκκλησίας είναι προσωπικό· δεν είναι άπλωμα στον κόσμο, είναι συμμάζωμα στην ψυχή μας. Ο όσιος Ιωάννης ο Καλυβίτης, του οποίου η Εκκλησία σήμερα τιμά την μνήμη, "μικρά καλύβη στενούμενος... διεκαρτέρησε προ του πυλώνος" του αρχοντικού του πατέρα του, κακοντυμένος κι άγνωστος. Όποιος μπορεί να στενεύη όλο και περισσότερο τον φυσικό χώρο γύρω του και συγχρόνως να αισθάνεται εντός του όλο και πιο πολύ να απλώνονται οι πνευματικοί ορίζοντες, αυτός βρίσκεται στον δρόμο της σωτηρίας του. Ο άγιος Παύλος έγραψε το "θλιβόμενοι αλλ' ου στενοχωρούμενοι...". Το άπλωμα, με το πρόσχημα της κοινωνικής αλληλεγγύης, είναι πλάνη της εποχής μας· το συμμάζωμα, με τον πόθο της προσωπικής τελειώσεως, είναι αλήθεια από την πείραν των Αγίων.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Παῦλος ὁ Θηβαῖος
Ὁ ἐρημικὸς καὶ ἥσυχος τόπος εἶναι ἀπὸ τοὺς βασικοὺς παράγοντες ἀνάπτυξης τῆς αὐτοσυγκέντρωσης καὶ προσευχῆς πρὸς τὸ Θεό. Αὐτὸ φαίνεται καθαρὰ στὴ ζωὴ τοῦ Ἁγίου Παύλου τοῦ Θηβαίου. Ἀνῆκε σὲ πλούσια οἰκογένεια τῆς Κάτω Θηβαΐδας τῆς Αἰγύπτου. Ὅταν ὁ Δέκιος (249-251) κήρυξε τὸν τρομερὸ διωγμὸ κατὰ τῶν χριστιανῶν, ὁ Παῦλος, μόλις 15 χρονῶν, χάνει τοὺς γονεῖς του. Μὲ ἐσωτερικὴ παρακίνηση τοῦ Ἁγίου Πνεύματος (κατ᾿ ἄλλους φοβούμενος μὴ παραδοθεῖ στοὺς διῶκτες τῶν χριστιανῶν ἀπὸ τὸν ἐπ᾿ ἀδελφῇ γαμπρό του, ποὺ τοῦ ζητοῦσε τὴν περιουσία) φεύγει καὶ ζητᾷ καταφυγὴ σωτηρίας στὴν ἔρημο. Ἐκεῖ, μέσα στὴν ἡσυχία τῆς φύσης, βρῆκε καιρὸ γιὰ συστηματικὴ μελέτη καὶ προσευχή. Ὅταν πέρασε ὁ διωγμὸς τοῦ Δεκίου καὶ ἐπανῆλθε ἡ γαλήνη, ὁ Παῦλος ἐξακολουθεῖ νὰ μένει στὴν ἔρημο καί, μάλιστα, ἀποφασίζει νὰ μείνει μόνιμα. Τόσο δὲ ὁλοφάνερη εἶχε γίνει μέσα στὴν ἔρημο ἡ πνευματικὴ ὑπεροχή του καὶ ἡ ταπεινοφροσύνη του, ὥστε, ὅπως κάποτε στὸν Κύριό μας, ἔρχονταν πλήθη λαοῦ νὰ Τὸν ἀκούσουν, ἔτσι καὶ στὸν Παῦλο ἔρχονταν πολλοὶ ἀναχωρητὲς νὰ τὸν ἀκούσουν καὶ νὰ τὸν συμβουλευθοῦν. Ἡ φήμη του εἶχε φθάσει καὶ στὴν ἀκοὴ τοῦ μεγάλου Ἀντωνίου, ποὺ κίνησε καὶ τὸν συνάντησε μέσα σὲ ἀτμόσφαιρα ἀνέκφραστης χαρᾶς. Ὅταν μετὰ ἀπὸ λίγους μῆνες ἐπανῆλθε ὁ Ἅγιος Ἀντώνιος, βρῆκε τὸν ὅσιο Παῦλο πεθαμένο, καὶ δυὸ λιοντάρια ἔστεκαν κοντὰ στὸν τάφο του, τὸν ὁποῖο εἶχαν σκάψει μὲ τὰ νύχια τους. Ὁ μεγάλος ἐρημίτης ἦταν τότε 113 χρονῶν.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Ἰωάννης ὁ Καλυβίτης
Ἔζησε στὰ μέσα του 5ου μ.Χ. αἰῶνα (κατ᾿ ἄλλους γεννήθηκε στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη στὶς ἀρχὲς τοῦ 5ου μ.Χ. αἰῶνα) καὶ ἦταν γιὸς τοῦ Εὐτροπίου, συγκλητικοῦ στὸ ἀξίωμα, καὶ τῆς Θεοδώρας. Ὁ Ἰωάννης δὲν θέλησε ν᾿ ἀκολουθήσει τὸ δρόμο τῶν δυὸ μεγαλυτέρων ἀδελφῶν του, ποὺ κατέλαβαν λαμπρὰ ἀξιώματα. Ἀλλὰ προτιμοῦσε νὰ ἀφιερωθεῖ στὴν ὑπηρεσία τῆς πίστης. Ἐπειδὴ ὅμως οἱ γονεῖς του ἐπέμεναν, ἔφυγε ἀπὸ τὸ πατρικό του σπίτι στὴ Μονὴ τῶν Ἀκοιμήτων, ὅπου καὶ ἔγινε μοναχός. Ἀλλά, μετὰ ἀπὸ καιρό, ἡ ἀγάπη γιὰ τοὺς γονεῖς του ἄναψε θερμὴ στὴν καρδιά του. Ὅταν μάλιστα πληροφορήθηκε, ὅτι ἡ μητέρα του ἦταν ἀπαρηγόρητη γιὰ τὴν ἐξαφάνισή του, καὶ ὁ πατέρας του ἀκολουθοῦσε ζωὴ ἐντελῶς κοσμική. Ἀποφάσισε λοιπὸν νὰ ἀναχωρήσει ἀπὸ τὴ Μονὴ Ἀκοιμήτων με τὴν συγκατάθεση τοῦ ἡγουμένου. Παρουσιάσθηκε στοὺς γονεῖς του ὡς ἕνας ἄγνωστος μοναχός. Αὐτοὶ δὲν τὸν γνώρισαν. Ἀλλ᾿ ἦταν τόση μεγάλη ἡ εὐγένεια τῆς φυσιογνωμίας καὶ τῶν λόγων του, ποὺ τὸν παρακάλεσαν νὰ ἔρχεται καθημερινὰ στὸ σπίτι. Δέχθηκε μὲ τὴν συμφωνία νὰ τοῦ κατασκευάσουν μία καλύβα στὸ βάθος τοῦ περιβολιοῦ τῆς πατρικῆς του οἰκίας. Ἐκεῖ ὁ Ἰωάννης ἔστησε τὴν κατοικία του, καὶ μέσα σὲ τρία χρόνια κατάφερε, μὲ τὴν χάρη τοῦ Θεοῦ, νὰ φέρει στὸ σωστὸ δρόμο τοὺς γονεῖς του. Τὴν ἡμέρα ὅμως ποὺ ἀποκάλυψε πὼς ἦταν γιός τους, ὁ Θεὸς παρέλαβε τὴν μακάρια ψυχή του.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Πανσόφιος
Ὁ Ἅγιος αὐτὸς ἦταν ἀπὸ τὴν Ἀλεξάνδρεια στὰ χρόνια του βασιλιᾶ Δεκίου (250). Ὁ πατέρας του ὀνομαζόταν Νεῖλος καὶ εἶχε τὸ ἀξίωμα τοῦ ἀνθυπάτου. Ὁ Πανσόφιος σπούδασε σὲ μεγάλο βαθμὸ τὰ Ἑλληνικὰ γράμματα, καθὼς ἐπίσης καὶ τὴν Ἁγία Γραφή. Ὅταν πέθανε ὁ πατέρας του, μοίρασε τὴν περιουσία του στοὺς φτωχοὺς καὶ ἀποσύρθηκε στὴν ἔρημο. Ἐκεῖ ἔζησε 27 ὁλόκληρα χρόνια ἀσκούμενος στὴν ἀρετὴ καὶ τὴν ἡσυχία. Καταγγέλθηκε ὅμως στὸν Αὐγουσταλιό της Ἀλεξανδρείας, ὁ ὁποῖος διέταξε καὶ τὸν ἔφεραν μπροστά του. Ἐκεῖ ὁ Πανσόφιος μὲ τὴν ἀρετὴ καὶ τὴν μεγάλη γνώση ποὺ τὸν διέκρινε, συνέτριψε μία πρὸς μία τὶς πλάνες τῶν εἰδώλων. Ἐξευτελισμένος ὁ τύραννος διέταξε καὶ τὸν ἔδειραν μέχρι θανάτου. Ἔτσι ἔνδοξα ἔλαβε τὸ στεφάνι τοῦ μαρτυρίου.
Οἱ Ἅγιοι ἕξι Μάρτυρες
Ἀπεβίωσαν εἰρηνικά. (Γιατί ἀναφέρονται σὰν μάρτυρες, δὲ γνωρίζουμε).
Our Holy Father Paul of Thebes (342)
He was born in Egypt in the reign of the Emperor Decius. Though his parents left him a large inheritance, he abandoned it and fled into the desert around the year 250 to escape the bloody persecution of Christians raging at that time. After walking for several days, he found an isolated cave with a large palm tree and a spring of fresh water nearby. Settling here in solitude, he gave himself up to constant prayer.
Many years passed. Saint Anthony the Great, having reached the age of ninety (in about the year 342) was tempted by the thought that no one else had ever lived a life so dedicated to God as his. That night, he was told in a dream that there was another hermit in the desert more perfect than himself, who had reached the age of 113 years. Anthony rose, took up his staff, and walked straight into the desert, trusting God to lead him where he should go. He was threatened by various beasts sent by the Devil, but he tamed them with the sign of the Cross, and they showed him the way he should go. Finally a wolf brought him to St Paul's cave. They embraced as brothers in Christ and spent the night in prayer. The next day Paul confided to Anthony that he was about to die, and that God had brought Anthony thence to give him honorable burial. As he had said, St Paul reposed the next day and, with many tears, St Anthony buried him in a cloak given him by St Athanasius the Great, assisted by two lions who dug out the grave with their paws.
Our Holy Father John Kalyvites (the hut-dweller) (~450)
He was the son of Eutropius, a prominent senator, and Theodora, who lived in Constantinople. At the age of twelve, he secretly fled his home, taking nothing but a Gospel book with him. Entering the Monastery of the Unsleeping Ones in the City, he gave himself up with fervor to a life of prayer, self-denial and obedience. For three years he ate only on Sundays after taking communion, and became so thin and haggard that he bore no resemblance to the young nobleman who had entered the monastery.
Tormented by longing to see his parents, but unwilling to give up the ascetic struggle, he left the monastery with his Abbot's blessing, dressed in beggar's rags, and took up residence in a poor hut near the gate of his parents' house. Here he lived, mocked by those who had once been his servants and despised by his own parents, who no longer recognized him.
After three years, Christ appeared to him and told him that his end was drawing near, and that in three days angels would come to take him home. John sent a message to his parents, asking them to visit his hut. In perplexity, they came, and John, showing them the Gospel book that they had given him as a child, revealed to them that he was their son, and that he was about to die. They embraced him, rejoicing at their reunion but weeping for his departure from this life. Immediately, he gave back his soul to God.
The whole City of Constantinople was stirred by the story, and great crowds came to John's burial service. A church was later built on the site of his hut, and many miracles were wrought there through the Saint's prayers.
Saint Ita of Kileedy, Ireland (570)
The gentle and motherly St. Ita was descended from the high kings of Tara. From her youth she loved God ardently and shone with the radiance of a soul that loves virtue. Because of her purity of heart she was able to hear the voice of God and communicate it to others. Despite her father's opposition she embraced the monastic life in her youth. In obedience to the revelation of an angel she went to the people of Ui Conaill in the southwestern part of Ireland. While there, the foundation of a convent was laid. It soon grew into a monastic school for the education of boys, quickly becoming known for its high level of learning and moral purity. The most famous of her many students was St. Brendan of Clonfert (May 16). She went to the other world in great holiness to dwell forever with the risen Lord in the year 570.
—from the 2003 Saint Herman Calendar
The Monk Paul of Thebes was born in Egypt, in the Thebaid city. Left orphaned, he suffered many things from a greedy kinsman over a parental inheritance. During the time of the persecution against Christians under the emperor Decius (249-251), Saint Paul learned of the insidious plan to deliver him into the hands of the persecutors, and so he fled the city and set out into the wilderness.
Settling into a cave at the bottom of an hill, and known there to no one, the Monk Paul dwelt in it for 91 years, praying incessantly to God both day and night. He sustained himself on dates and bread, which a raven brought him, and he sheltered himself from cold and frost with a garb made of palm leaves. Through the foresight of God, shortly before the end of the Monk Paul, the Lord revealed about him to the Monk Anthony the Great (Comm. 17 January), who also asceticised in the Thebaid wilderness. One time a thought came to Saint Anthony, that scarcely was there another so great a wilderness dweller as he, and then he heard a voice: "Anthony, there is a servant of God more accomplished than thee, and he hath settled here in this wilderness before thee. Go further into the remote area and there find him". Anthony went and came to the cave of Saint Paul. A lesson in humility having been taught Anthony, the Monk Paul came out towards him. The elders greeted each other by name, and having hugged they entered into lengthy discussion. During the time of the conversation the raven flew by and brought them both bread. The Monk Paul disclosed to Saint Anthony that his end time was approaching and gave him instruction to bury him. The Monk Paul then expired during the time of prayer, upright on his knees. The Monk Anthony then beheld, how his soul, amidst Angels and prophets and apostles, ascended up to God. Two lions ran out from the wilderness and with their claws dug out the grave. The Monk Anthony buried the holy elder, and having taken his garb of palm leaves, he set out to his own monastery. The Monk Anthony kept this garb as a great holy reminder and put it out only twice a year -- on Pascha and Pentecost. The Monk Paul of Thebes died in the year 341, when he was 113 years old. He did not establish a single monastery, but soon after his end there appeared many imitators of his life and they filled the wilderness with monasteries. The Monk Paul is considered a father of Orthodox monasticism.
In the XII Century the body of Saint Paul, on orders of the emperor Manuel (1143-1180), was transferred to Constantinople and placed in the Peribleptoi monastery of the Mother of God. Afterwards it was taken to Venice, and finally to Hungary, at Ofa. Part of his head is situated in Rome.
The Monk John the Tent-Dweller was the son of rich and illustrious parents living in Constantinople during the V Century, and he received a fine education. He loved to read spiritual books, and having perceived the vanity of secular life, he preferred "rather than the broad path one that was narrow and infirm and extremely rigorous". Having persuaded his parents to give him a Gospel, he set out secretly to Bithynia. At the monastery "Unceasing Vigilance" he received monastic tonsure. The young monk began to asceticise with zeal, astonishing his brethren with unceasing prayer, humble obedience, strict abstinence and perseverance at work.
After six years he began to undergo temptations: thoughts about his parents, about their love and fondness, about their sorrow -- all this began to overtake the young ascetic.
Saint John disclosed his situation to the hegumen and he asked to be released from the monastery, and he besought the brethren not to forget him in their prayers, hoping that by their prayers he would with the help of God, both see his parents and overcome the snares of the devil. The hegumen gave him his blessing.
Saint John returned to Constantinople in the clothes of a beggar, and known to no one. He settled at the gates of his parental home. The parents sent him food from their table, for the sake of Christ. For three years, oppressed and insulted, he lived in a tent (hut), enduring cold and frost, unceasingly conversing with the Lord and the holy Angels. Always with him was the Gospel, given him by his parents, and from which he unceasingly gathered out sayings of life eternal. Before his death the Lord appeared in a vision to the monk, revealing that the end of his sorrows was approaching and that after three days he would be taken up into the Heavenly Kingdom.
Only then did the saint show his parents the Gospel, which they had given him shortly before he had left his parental home. The parents recognised their son. With tears of joy they hugged him simultaneously with tears of sorrow, in that he had endured privation for so long at the very gates of his parental home. Saint John gave final instructions to his parents to bury him on the spot where stood his tent, and to put in the grave the beggar's rags that he wore during life.
The saint died in the mid V Century, when he was not yet 25 years of age. On the place of his burial the parents built a church to God and alongside it an house of hospitality for strangers. In the XII Century the head of the saint was taken by Crusaders to Besacon (in France), and the other relics of the saint were taken to Rome.
The Monk Varlaam of Keretsk served during the XVI Century as a priest in the Keretsk area of the Kol'sk peninsula on the White Sea. He was venerated as the patron of White Sea industrial workers and sea-farers. He was glorified by posthumous miracles, saving the drowning.
The MonkMartyr Pansophias, was a son of the Alexandrian proconsul Nilos. After the death of his father he distributed his inheritance to the poor and settled in the wilderness, where he asceticised for 27 years. During the time of the persecution by Decius (249-251) the Monk Pansophias was brought to trial to the prefect of Alexandria. The monk boldly confessed his faith in Christ and denounced pagan errors, for which he was fiercely beaten with canes, and he died from these beatings, receiving therein a martyr's crown (249-251).
The Monk Prokhor of Pshinsk pursued asceticism in the Bransk wilderness at the River Pshina, and he founded there a monastery. He is reknown as one of the most strict ascetics of monastic life. He died at the end of the X Century. From the relics of the monk occurred miracles. According to the Serbian Chronicles, the pious king Miliutin (1276-1320) built a church in the name of the Monk Prokhor.
The Monk Gabriel, founder of the Lesnovsk monastery near the city of Kratov, having received after the death of his parents a large inheritance, rejected marriage and went out onto the Lesnovsk mountain and became a monk. And there he built a church in the name of the Archangel Michael, and having gathered many monks and established for it an hegumen, he left to the monastery all his inheritance. He then hid himself away in a mine cave, where he asceticised for a period of thirty years, conquering demonic temptations by prayer and fasting. He then returned to the Lesnovsk monastery and there peacefully reposed (XI). After thirty years his relics were uncovered, and healings worked through them. A long while later they were transferred to Ternovo (Tirnova) in Bulgaria.
THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:
1. VENERABLE PAUL OF THEBES
Paul was born of wealthy parents in Lower Thebes in Egypt during the reign of Emperor Decius. Paul, along with his sister, inherited all the property of their parents. But his brother-in-law, an idolater, wanted to confiscate Paul's share of the property and threatened to betray Paul before the judge as a Christian if he did not cede his property to him. On one hand, that misfortune and on the other hand those heroic examples of self-sacrifices of Christian martyrs which Paul saw with his own eyes motivated him to give his share of the property to his sister and he, as a pauper, withdrew into the desert where he lived an ascetical life until his death. To what spiritual heights this ascetical giant reached is witnessed by no less a person than St. Anthony the Great who, at one time, visited Paul and saw how the wild beasts and birds of heaven ministered to him. Returning from this visit, Anthony said to his monks, "Woe is me, my children! A sinful and false monk that I am, a monk only in name. I saw Elijah, I saw John in the wilderness and, in truth, I saw Paul in Paradise!" St. Paul lived one-hundred thirteen years and peacefully died in the Lord in the year 342 A.D.
2. VENERABLE JOHN KUSHCHNIK [KALYVITES - THE HUT DWELLER]
John was born in Constantinople of wealthy and distinguished parents during the reign of Leo I. He was the only child of his parents. Drawn by the inclination for the spiritual life, the young John secretly fled with a monk to a monastery in Asia Minor. In this monastery he remained for six years in the greatest restraint, prayer and obedience toward the abbot. Then the devil assailed him with temptation that he should leave the monastery and return home to his parents and there to live with them as a nobleman. Indeed, he returned to the home of his parents dressed as a beggar. He saw his parents, but did not introduce himself. He took up lodging as a beggar in their courtyard, living, so to say, from the crumbs which the servants threw to him and enduring many ridicules from everyone. As such, John lived for three years constantly praying to God that He save the souls of his father and mother. When John fell ill and sensed death approaching, he made himself known to his parents who recognized him by a precious book of the Gospels which they had given him in his childhood and which he had kept for himself as his only possession. And so, this young man, even though he was very wealthy, defeated the devil and saved his soul and the souls of his parents. He died in the Lord about the year 450 A.D.
3. THE VENERABLE GABRIEL OF LESNOV
Gabriel was a Slav and companion of Prochorus of Pchinja and St. John of Rila. He lived a life of asceticism in the tenth century at Kratov on Mt. Lesnov where he erected a church dedicated to the Holy Archangel Michael. He was a miracle-worker during his life and after his death. The present-day beautiful church located there was built by John Oliver, a duke of Tsar Dushan. St. Gabriel died in the Lord toward the end of the tenth century.
4. THE HOLY MARTYR PANSOPHIUS
Pansophius was the son of the Alexandrian Pro-consul Nilus. He abandoned worldly honor and riches and as a young man was tonsured a monk. For twenty-seven years, he lived a strict life of asceticism, uplifting his spirit to the higher world. During the reign of Decius, he was dragged before the court where he was flogged for the Name of Christ until he gave up his soul to his God in great torment.
HYMN OF PRAISE
VENERABLE JOHN KALYVITES [KUSHCNIK]
John was a young lad,
A young and wealthy lad,
But nothing tempted him -
Neither youth nor gold.
His father was a nobleman royal,
And his mother, a lady fine,
But he left them both
For the sake of the love of the Son of God.
His wealth was Christ,
All riches, all beauty.
Christ the Lord he loved
More than his own life.
And, instead of his parents
Now crying out in Hades,
Behold, their son, through poverty
Himself and them, he saved.
Even today, many people
Who, themselves, choke with riches,
John can shame,
And their sinful souls save.
Do not ever think that God does not hear you when you pray to Him. He hears our thoughts just as we hear the voices and the words of one another. And, if He does not act immediately according to your prayer, i.e., either because you are praying to Him in an unworthy manner or because you ask something of Him which would be detrimental to you, or, because He, in His wisdom and providence delays the fulfillment of your petition until the proper moment. Father John of Kronstadt writes: "As by means of the electric telegraph we speedily communicate with persons who are far away from us, so, likewise, by means of lively faith, as though through the telegraph wires, we speedily communicate with God, with the angels and saints. As we entirely trust to the speed of the electric current and to its reaching its destination, so likewise, we should completely trust to the speed of the prayer of faith and to it reaching its destination. Send your petition to God and the saints by means of the telegraph of faith and you will speedily obtain an answer." And again, in another place St. John writes: "God and the created spirits and the souls of the departed as well as those of the living are thinking beings and thought is rapid and in some sort omnipresent. Think of them with your whole heart and they will be present with you. God will always be with you and necessarily so by the gift and power of God, the others will also be with you."
To contemplate the purity of the Lord Jesus:
1. The purity of His mind;
2. The purity of His heart;
3. The purity of His will;
4. The purity of His tongue;
5. The purity of His appearance and all of His senses.
About the victorious faith
"And the victory thatconquers the world in ourfaith" (I John 5:4).
Christ the Lord conquered the world. That, brethren, is also our victory. The apostles conquered the world and that is our victory. The saints, virgins and martyrs conquered the world and that is our victory. Brethren, there is nothing more powerful in the world than the Christian Faith. The swords that struck this Faith became blunt and broken but the Faith remained. The kings who fought against this Faith were smothered under the anathema of crimes. The kingdoms that waged war against this Faith are destroyed. The towns that rejected this Faith lay demolished in their ruins. The heretics who corrupted this Faith perished in soul and body and under anathema departed from this world, and this Faith remained.
Brethren, when the world pursues us with its temptations: the temptation of external beauty, the temptation of riches, the temptation of pleasure, the temptation of transient glory; with what shall we resist and by what shall we be victorious if not by this Faith? In truth, by nothing except by this invincible Faith which knows about something better than all the wealth of this world.
When all the temptations of this world reveal the opposite side of their faces, when beauty turns into ugliness, health into sickness, riches into poverty, glory into dishonor, authority into humiliation and all blossoming physical life into filth and stench--by what shall we overcome this grief, this decay, this fifth and stench, and to preserve oneself from despair, if not by this Faith? In truth, by nothing except this invincible Faith which teaches us eternal and unchangeable values in the Kingdom of Christ.
When death shows its destructive power over our neighbors, over our relatives and our families, over our flowers, over our crops, over the works of our hands and, when it turns its irresistible teeth even on us, by what shall we conquer the fear of death and by what shall we unlock the doors of life, stronger than death, if not by this Faith? In truth, by nothing except this invincible Faith, which knows about the resurrection and life without death.
O Lord Jesus, the Conqueror of the world, help us also to conquer the world with faith in You.