FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:
Athanasios & Cyril, Patriarchs of Alexandria
Zenia the Martyr
Τῶν ἐν Ἁγίοις Πατέρων ἡμῶν Ἀθανασίου καί Κυρίλλου, Πατριαρχῶν Ἀλεξανδρείας.
READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:
The Reading is from John 10:1-9
The Lord said to the Jews who had come to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber; but he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens; the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers." This figure Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. So Jesus again said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not heed them. I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture."
Κατὰ Ἰωάννην 10.1-9
Εἶπεν ὁ Κύριος πρὸς τοὺς ἐληλυθότας πρὸς αὐτὸν Ἰουδαίους· Ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ὁ μὴ εἰσερχόμενος διὰ τῆς θύρας εἰς τὴν αὐλὴν τῶν προβάτων, ἀλλὰ ἀναβαίνων ἀλλαχόθεν, ἐκεῖνος κλέπτης ἐστὶ καὶ λῃστής· ὁ δὲ εἰσερχόμενος διὰ τῆς θύρας ποιμήν ἐστι τῶν προβάτων. τούτῳ ὁ θυρωρὸς ἀνοίγει, καὶ τὰ πρόβατα τῆς φωνῆς αὐτοῦ ἀκούει, καὶ τὰ ἴδια πρόβατα καλεῖ κατ᾽ ὄνομα καὶ ἐξάγει αὐτά. καὶ ὅταν τὰ ἴδια πρόβατα ἐκβάλῃ, ἔμπροσθεν αὐτῶν πορεύεται, καὶ τὰ πρόβατα αὐτῷ ἀκολουθεῖ, ὅτι οἴδασι τὴν φωνὴν αὐτοῦ· ἀλλοτρίῳ δὲ οὐ μὴ ἀκολουθήσωσιν, ἀλλὰ φεύξονται ἀπ᾽ αὐτοῦ, ὅτι οὐκ οἴδασι τῶν ἀλλοτρίων τὴν φωνήν. Ταύτην τὴν παροιμίαν εἶπεν αὐτοῖς ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς· ἐκεῖνοι δὲ οὐκ ἔγνωσαν τίνα ἦν ἃ ἐλάλει αὐτοῖς. Εἶπεν οὖν πάλιν αὐτοῖς ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς· ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ θύρα τῶν προβάτων. πάντες ὅσοι ἦλθον πρὸ ἐμοῦ, κλέπται εἰσὶ καὶ λῃσταί· ἀλλ᾽ οὐκ ἤκουσαν αὐτῶν τὰ πρόβατα. ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ θύρα· δι᾽ ἐμοῦ ἐάν τις εἰσέλθῃ, σωθήσεται, καὶ εἰσελεύσεται καὶ ἐξελεύσεται, καὶ νομὴν εὑρήσει.
The Reading is from St. Paul's Letter to the Hebrews 13:7-16
Brethren, remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God; consider the outcome of their lives, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings; for it is well that the heart be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited their adherents. We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go forth to him outside the camp and bear the abuse he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
Πρὸς Ἑβραίους 13:7-16
Ἀδελφοί, μνημονεύετε τῶν ἡγουμένων ὑμῶν, οἵτινες ἐλάλησαν ὑμῖν τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ· ὧν ἀναθεωροῦντες τὴν ἔκβασιν τῆς ἀναστροφῆς, μιμεῖσθε τὴν πίστιν. Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς χθὲς καὶ σήμερον ὁ αὐτός, καὶ εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας. Διδαχαῖς ποικίλαις καὶ ξέναις μὴ παραφέρεσθε· καλὸν γὰρ χάριτι βεβαιοῦσθαι τὴν καρδίαν, οὐ βρώμασιν, ἐν οἷς οὐκ ὠφελήθησαν οἱ περιπατήσαντες. Ἔχομεν θυσιαστήριον, ἐξ οὗ φαγεῖν οὐκ ἔχουσιν ἐξουσίαν οἱ τῇ σκηνῇ λατρεύοντες. Ὧν γὰρ εἰσφέρεται ζῴων τὸ αἷμα περὶ ἁμαρτίας εἰς τὰ ἅγια διὰ τοῦ ἀρχιερέως, τούτων τὰ σώματα κατακαίεται ἔξω τῆς παρεμβολῆς. Διὸ καὶ Ἰησοῦς, ἵνα ἁγιάσῃ διὰ τοῦ ἰδίου αἵματος τὸν λαόν, ἔξω τῆς πύλης ἔπαθεν. Τοίνυν ἐξερχώμεθα πρὸς αὐτὸν ἔξω τῆς παρεμβολῆς, τὸν ὀνειδισμὸν αὐτοῦ φέροντες. Οὐ γὰρ ἔχομεν ὧδε μένουσαν πόλιν, ἀλλὰ τὴν μέλλουσαν ἐπιζητοῦμεν. Διʼ αὐτοῦ οὖν ἀναφέρωμεν θυσίαν αἰνέσεως διὰ παντὸς τῷ θεῷ, τοῦτʼ ἔστιν, καρπὸν χειλέων ὁμολογούντων τῷ ὀνόματι αὐτοῦ. Τῆς δὲ εὐποιΐας καὶ κοινωνίας μὴ ἐπιλανθάνεσθε· τοιαύταις γὰρ θυσίαις εὐαρεστεῖται ὁ θεός.
The Reading is from Matthew 5:14-19
The Lord said to his disciples, "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
Κατὰ Ματθαῖον 5.14-19
Εἶπεν ὁ Κὐριος τοῖς ἑαυτοῦ μαθηταῖς· ῾Υμεῖς ἐστε τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσμου. οὐ δύναται πόλις κρυβῆναι ἐπάνω ὄρους κειμένη·οὐδὲ καίουσι λύχνον καὶ τιθέασι αὐτὸν ὑπὸ τὸν μόδιον, ἀλλ᾿ ἐπὶ τὴν λυχνίαν, καὶ λάμπει πᾶσι τοῖς ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ.οὕτω λαμψάτω τὸ φῶς ὑμῶν ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ὅπως ἴδωσιν ὑμῶν τὰ καλὰ ἔργα καὶ δοξάσωσι τὸν πατέρα ὑμῶν τὸν ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς. Μὴ νομίσητε ὅτι ἦλθον καταλῦσαι τὸν νόμον ἢ τοὺς προφήτας· οὐκ ἦλθον καταλῦσαι, ἀλλὰ πληρῶσαι.ἀμὴν γὰρ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἕως ἂν παρέλθῃ ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ, ἰῶτα ἓν ἢ μία κεραία οὐ μὴ παρέλθῃ ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου ἕως ἂν πάντα γένηται.ὃς ἐὰν οὖν λύσῃ μίαν τῶν ἐντολῶν τούτων τῶν ἐλαχίστων καὶ διδάξῃ οὕτω τοὺς ἀνθρώπους, ἐλάχιστος κληθήσεται ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τῶν οὐρανῶν· ὃς δ᾿ ἂν ποιήσῃ καὶ διδάξῃ, οὗτος μέγας κληθήσεται ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τῶν οὐρανῶν.
READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:
Τῇ ΙΗ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, Μνήμη τῶν ἐν ἁγίοις Πατέρων ἡμῶν Ἀθανασίου καὶ Κυρίλλου, Πατριαρχῶν Ἀλεξανδρείας.
Ἀθανάσιον καὶ θανόντα ζῆν λέγω.
Οἱ γὰρ δίκαιοι ζῶσι καὶ τεθνηκότες.
Φυγῆς Κυρίλλου σήμερον μνήμην ἄγει,
Ἀλλ' οὐ τελευτῆς τῆς ἀειμνήστου κτίσις.
Τάρχυσαν ὀγδοάτῃ δεκάτῃ νέκυν Ἀθανασίου.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τῆς Ἁγίας Μάρτυρος Θεοδούλης.
Τὴν θεοδούλην ἐκ ξίφους τεθνηκέναι,
Δοῦλοι Θεῶν κρίνουσι τῶν ψευδωνύμων.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, ἡ Ἁγία Ξένη πυρὶ τελειοῦται.
Ὁ Χριστὸς ἦλθεν πῦρ βαλεῖν εἰς τὴν γῆν πάλαι,
Ξένη τρέφουσα καρτερεῖ τὸ πῦρ ξένως.
Ταῖς τῶν ἁγίων σου πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεός, ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.
In the half-century after the First Ecumenical Council held in Nicea in 325, if there was one man whom the Arians feared and hated more intensely than any other, as being able to lay bare the whole error of their teaching, and to marshal, even from exile or hiding, the beleaguered forces of the Orthodox, it was Saint Athanasios the Great. This blazing lamp of Orthodoxy, which imperial power and heretics' plots could not quench when he shone upon the lampstand, nor find when he was hid by the people and monks of Egypt, was born in Alexandria about the year 296. He received an excellent training in Greek letters and especially in the sacred Scriptures, of which he shows an exceptional knowledge in his writings. Even as a young man he had a remarkable depth of theological understanding; he was only about twenty years old when he wrote his treatise "On the Incarnation." Saint Alexander, the Archbishop of Alexandria, brought him up in piety, ordained him his deacon, and after deposing Arius for his blasphemy against the Divinity of the Son of God, took Athanasios to the First Council in Nicea in 325. Saint Athanasios was to spend the remainder of his life laboring in defense of this Holy Council. In 326, before his death, Alexander appointed Athanasios his successor.
In 325, Arius had been condemned by the Council of Nicea; yet through his hypocritical confession of Orthodox belief, Saint Constantine the Great was persuaded by Arius's supporters that he should be received back into the communion of the Church. But Athanasios, knowing well the perverseness of his mind, and the disease of heresy lurking in his heart, refused communion with Arius. The heresiarch's followers then began framing false charges against Athanasios. Finally Saint Constantine the Great, misled by grave charges of the Saint's misconduct (which were completely false), had him exiled to Tiberius (Treves) in Gaul in 336. When Saint Constantine was succeeded by his three sons Constantine II, Constans, and Constantius, in 337, Saint Athanasios returned to Alexandria in triumph. But his enemies found an ally in Constantius, Emperor of the East, and he spent a second exile in Rome. It was ended when Constans prevailed with threats upon his brother Constantius to restore Athanasios (see also Nov. 6). For ten years Saint Athanasios strengthened Orthodoxy throughout Egypt, visiting the whole country and encouraging all: clergy, monastics, and lay folk, being loved by all as a father. After Constans's death in 350, Constantius became sole Emperor, and Athanasios was again in danger. On the evening of February 8, 356, General Syrianus with more than five thousand soldiers surrounded the church in which Athanasios was serving, and broke open the doors. Athanasios's clergy begged him to leave, but the good shepherd commanded that all the flock should withdraw first; and only when he was assured of their safety, he also, protected by divine grace, passed through the midst of the soldiers and disappeared into the deserts of Egypt, where for some six years he eluded the soldiers and spies sent after him.
When Julian the Apostate succeeded Constantius in 361, Athanasios returned again, but only for a few months. Because Athanasios had converted many pagans, and the priests of the idols in Egypt wrote to Julian that if Athanasios remained, idolatry would perish in Egypt, the heathen Emperor ordered not Athanasios's exile, but his death. Athanasios took a ship up the Nile. When he learned that his imperial pursuers were following him, he had his men turn back, and as his boat passed that of his pursuers, they asked him if he had seen Athanasios. "He is not far," he answered. After returning to Alexandria for a while, he fled again to the Thebaid until Julian's death in 363. Saint Athanasios suffered his fifth and last exile under Valens in 365, which only lasted four months because Valens, fearing a sedition among the Egyptians for their beloved Archbishop, revoked his edict in February, 366.
The great Athanasios passed the remaining seven years of his life in peace. Of his fifty-seven years as Patriarch, he had spent some seventeen in exiles. Shining from the height of his throne like a radiant evening star, and enlightening the Orthodox with the brilliance of his words for yet a little while, this much-suffering champion inclined toward the sunset of his life, and in the year 373 took his rest from his lengthy sufferings, but not before another luminary of the truth -- Basil the Great -- had risen in the East, being consecrated Archbishop of Caesarea in 370. Besides all of his other achievements, Saint Athanasios wrote the life of Saint Anthony the Great, with whom he spent time in his youth; ordained Saint Frumentius first Bishop of Ethiopia; and in his Paschal Encyclical for the year 367 set forth the books of the Old and New Testaments accepted by the Church as canonical. Saint Gregory the Theologian, in his "Oration On the Great Athanasios", said that he was "Angelic in appearance, more angelic in mind; ... rebuking with the tenderness of a father, praising with the dignity of a ruler ... Everything was harmonious, as an air upon a single lyre, and in the same key; his life, his teaching, his struggles, his dangers, his return, and his conduct after his return ... he treated so mildly and gently those who had injured him, that even they themselves, if I may say so, did not find his restoration distasteful."
Saint Cyril was also from Alexandria, born about the year 376. He was the nephew of Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria, who also instructed the Saint in his youth. Having first spent much time with the monks in Nitria, he later became the successor to his uncle's throne in 412. In 429, when Cyril heard tidings of the teachings of the new Patriarch of Constantinople, Nestorius, he began attempting through private letters to bring Nestorius to renounce his heretical teaching about the Incarnation. When the heresiarch did not repent, Saint Cyril, together with Pope Celestine of Rome, led the Orthodox opposition to his error. Saint Cyril presided over the Third Ecumenical Council of the 200 Holy Fathers in the year 431, who gathered in Ephesus under Saint Theodosius the Younger. At this Council, by his most wise words, he put to shame and convicted the impious doctrine of Nestorius, who, although he was in town, refused to appear before Cyril. Saint Cyril, besides overthrowing the error of Nestorius, has left to the Church full commentaries on the Gospels of Luke and John. Having shepherded the Church of Christ for thirty-two years, he reposed in 444.
Apolytikion in the Third Tone
Ἔργοις λάμψαντες Ὀρθοδοξίας, πᾶσαν σβέσαντες κακοδοξίαν, νικηταὶ τροπαιοφόροι γεγόνατε, τὴ εὐσεβεία τὰ πάντα πλουτίσαντες, τὴν Ἐκκλησί, ἂν μεγάλως κοσμήσαντες, ἀξίως εὔρατε Χριστὸν τὸν Θεὸν εὐχαὶς ὑμῶν, δωρούμενον πᾶσι τὸ μέγα ἔλεος.
Shining forth with works of Orthodoxy, ye quenched every false belief and teaching and became trophy-bearers and conquerors. And since ye made all things rich and with true piety, greatly adorning the Church with magnificence, Athanasios and wise Cyril, ye both have worthily found Christ God, Who doth grant great mercy unto all.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Ιεράρχαι μέγιστοι τής ευσεβείας, καί γενναίοι πρόμαχοι, τής Εκκλησίας τού Χριστού, πάντας φρουρείτε τούς μέλποντας. Σώσον Οικτίρμον, τούς πίστει τιμώντάς σε.
O great Hierarchs of piety and brave champions of the Church of Christ, you watch over all who sing, "Save us who in faith honor you, O Compassionate."
Δύο μεγάλους σοφούς διδασκάλους και Αγίους γιορτάζει σήμερα η Εκκλησία, τον άγιο Αθανάσιο και τον άγιο Κύριλλο, που κι οι δύο έγιναν Επίσκοποι και Πατριάρχαι Αλεξανδρείας. Ο άγιος Αθανάσιος έζησε στα χρόνια του πρώτου χριστιανού Αυτοκράτορα, του Μ. Κωνσταντίνου κι ο άγιος Κύριλλος εκατό περίπου χρόνια πιο έπειτα. Επολέμησαν κι οι δυό με δύναμη και με πίστη τις αιρέσεις και πλούτισαν την εκκλησιαστική φιλολογία με σοφά θεολογικά συγγράμματα. Έχουν κι οι δυό τον τίτλο των Πατέρων και Οικουμενικών Διδασκάλων και με την αγιότητα του βίου και τη σοφία τους διδάσκουν τις γενεές των χριστιανών. Γιατί η Εκκλησία μας - η Ορθόδοξη Εκκλησία - είναι Εκκλησία Πατέρων· διδαχή και παράδοση των Αποστόλων, που φθάνει σε μας με κύρος και αυθεντία, δια μέσου της ερμηνείας - πείρας, αγιότητος και ιεράς σοφίας - των αγίων Πατέρων.
Οἱ Ἅγιοι Ἀθανάσιος καὶ Κύριλλος Ἀρχιεπίσκοποι Ἀλεξανδρείας
«Ὁ ἁγιώτερος τῶν ἡρῴων καὶ ἡρωικώτερος τῶν ἁγίων», «Μέγας Πατήρ», «Στῦλος τῆς Ὀρθοδοξίας». Τίτλοι, ἀπὸ τοὺς πιὸ χαρακτηριστικούς, ποὺ ἀπονεμήθηκαν στὸ «πολύφωτο ἄστρο» τῆς Ἐκκλησίας μας, τὸν Ἅγιο Ἀθανάσιο. Τὸ ἔτος 295 ἢ 296 μ.Χ. γεννήθηκε ἀπὸ γονεῖς φτωχοὺς στὴν Ἀλεξάνδρεια, ἀλλὰ πλούσιους σὲ ἀρετὲς καὶ πίστη. Δὲν εἶχε τὰ μέσα γιὰ ἀνώτερες σπουδές. Ὁ Θεός, ὅμως, τὸν προίκισε μὲ πλούσια διάνοια, καὶ ἀφοῦ παίρνει τὴν στοιχειώδη ἐκπαίδευση, ἔπειτα αὐτοκαλλιεργεῖται καὶ φθάνει σὲ μεγάλα ὕψη οὐράνιας σοφίας. Τὸ 312 καὶ σὲ ἡλικία 25 χρόνων, χειροτονεῖται διάκονος ἀπὸ τὸν Πατριάρχη Ἀλεξανδρείας Ἀλέξανδρο, μαζὶ μὲ τὸν ὁποῖο ὁ Ἀθανάσιος παίρνει μέρος στὴν Α´ Οἰκουμ. Σύνοδο στὴ Νίκαια καὶ συντρίβει τὴν αἵρεση τοῦ Ἀρείου. Τὸ 328 πεθαίνει ὁ Ἀλέξανδρος καὶ γιὰ τὸν Ἀθανάσιο πλησίασε μία μεγάλη ὥρα. Στὸ 33ο χρόνο τῆς ἡλικίας του, κλῆρος καὶ λαὸς τὸν ἐκλέγουν πανηγυρικὰ Πατριάρχη Ἀλεξανδρείας. Ἀπὸ δῶ καὶ πέρα ὁ Ἅγιος θὰ ἀντιμετωπίσει ἕνα φοβερὸ καὶ ἀνελέητο πόλεμο τῶν αἱρετικῶν τοῦ Ἀρείου. Πέντε σκληρὲς ἐξορίες περιλαμβάνει ἡ πολυτάραχη ζωή του ἀπὸ τὸν Ἀρειανὸ αὐτοκράτορα Κωνστάντιο. Ὅμως, μὲ πίστη, θάῤῥος, ἀγωνιστικότητα καὶ ὑπομονή, κατορθώνει νὰ βγεῖ νικητὴς καὶ συντρίβει τοὺς «λύκους» τῆς Ὀρθοδοξίας μας. Καὶ ἔτσι, ὁ λόγος τῆς Ἁγίας Γραφῆς «Νὰ ἀγωνίζεσαι τὸν καλὸ ἀγῶνα τῆς πίστεως» καὶ «ἂς τρέχουμε μὲ ὑπομονὴ τὸν ἀγῶνα ποὺ προβάλλει μπροστά μας», γίνεται ἀπὸ τὸν Ἅγιο Ἀθανάσιο πραγματικότητα, ἀναμφισβήτητο γεγονός. Ἀπεβίωσε στὶς 2 Μαΐου 373 σὲ ἡλικία περίπου 75 μὲ 77 ἐτῶν. Πρέπει ἐπίσης νὰ ἀναφέρουμε ὅτι, ὁ Μέγας Ἀθανάσιος διακρίθηκε καὶ ὡς συγγραφεὺς πολυγραφότατος καὶ σπουδαιότατος. Διάκονος ἀκόμη ἔγραψε τὶς πραγματεῖες του κατὰ τῶν ἐθνικῶν καὶ περὶ ἐνανθρωπήσεως τοῦ Λόγου. Στὰ «πολεμικά» του κατατάσσονται: «Ἔκθεσις πίστεως», «Ἡ ἐγκύκλιος ἐπιστολή», «Ἡ ἐπιστολὴ πρὸς τοὺς ἐπισκόπους Αἰγύπτου καὶ Λιβύης», «Οἱ Λόγοι κατὰ τῶν Ἀρειανῶν». Ἄφησε δὲ καὶ ἀρκετὲς ἐπιστολές. Νὰ παρατηρήσουμε ὅμως ἐδῶ ὅτι, σύμφωνα μὲ τὸν Κώδικα τῶν Καυσοκαλυβίωνη κυρίως μνήμη του πρέπει νὰ ἑορτάζεται τὴν 2α Μαΐου, ὁπού, καὶ ἱστορικὰ ἀποδεδειγμένη, ἡ κοίμησή του. Γιὰ ποιὸ λόγο ὅμως καθιερώθηκε νὰ γιορτάζεται αὐτὴ τὴν μέρα μαζὶ μὲ τὸν Ἅγ. Κύριλλο δὲν γνωρίζουμε. Τὸ πιθανότερο ὅμως εἶναι, γιὰ τὸ λόγο ποὺ καθιερώθηκε καὶ ἡ γιορτὴ τῶν 3 Ἱεραρχῶν.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Κύριλλος
Ὁ Ἅγιος Νικόδημος ὁ Ἁγιορείτης στὸ Συναξαριστή του ἀναφέρει ὅτι ὁ Ἅγιος Κύριλλος ἔζησε ἐπὶ βασιλείας Θεοδοσίου τοῦ Μικροῦ καὶ γεννήθηκε στὴν Ἀλεξάνδρεια τὸ 370 μ.Χ. Ἀνεψιὸς τοῦ ἀρχιεπισκόπου Ἀλεξανδρείας Θεοφίλου ὁ Κύριλλος, ἔλαβε μεγάλη θεολογικὴ μόρφωση, ὥστε ἔγινε κατόπιν διάδοχος τοῦ θείου του, στὸν ἀρχιεπισκοπικὸ θρόνο Ἀλεξανδρείας. Ὅταν ἔγινε ἡ Γ´ Οἰκουμενικὴ Σύνοδος τὸ 431 μ.Χ. στὴν Ἔφεσο, ὁ Κύριλλος ὑπῆρξε πρόεδρος αὐτῆς καὶ συνετέλεσε νὰ γκρεμιστοῦν οἱ κακοδοξίες τοῦ δυσεβοῦς Νεστορίου, γιὰ τὸ πρόσωπο τῆς Ὑπεραγίας Δεσποίνης ἡμῶν Θεοτόκου. Μὲ πολλὰ πνευματικὰ κατορθώματα στὸ ἐνεργητικό του, ὁ Κύριλλος παρέδωσε εἰρηνικὰ τὸ πνεῦμα του στὸν Κύριο τὴν 27η Ἰουνίου τοῦ 444 μ.Χ., ἀφοῦ πατριάρχευσε γιὰ 32 περίπου χρόνια. Ἐκεῖνο, ὅμως, ποὺ χαρακτήριζε ἰδιαίτερα τὴν ζωὴ τοῦ Ἁγίου Κυρίλλου, ἦταν ἡ ἀρετή του, ποὺ μᾶς θυμίζει τοὺς λόγους τοῦ σοφοῦ Παροιμιαστῆ, ὅτι ἡ «δικαιοσύνη ἀμώμους ὀρθοτομεῖ ὁδούς». Ἡ ἀρετή, δηλαδή, χαράσσει ἄψογο καὶ εὐθὺ τὸ δρόμο τῶν ἀνθρώπων. Καὶ ἔπειτα, «ὁ πεποιθὼς τὴν ἑαυτοῦ ὁσιότητι δίκαιος», ποὺ σημαίνει, ἐκεῖνος ποὺ στηρίζεται στὴν ἀρετὴ καὶ τὴν ἁγνότητα τῆς καρδιᾶς, θὰ εἶναι δίκαιος καὶ εὐλογημένος μπροστὰ στὸ Θεό. Ἡ μνήμη του γιορτάζεται καὶ τὴν 9η Ἰουνίου.
Ἡ Ἁγία Θεοδούλη καὶ οἱ πιστεύσαντες δι᾿ αὐτῆς Εὐάγριος, Μακάριος, Ἑλλάδιος καὶ Βοηθός
Ἔζησε στὰ χρόνια του Διοκλητιανοῦ καὶ ἦταν ἀπὸ τὴν Διοκαισάρεια τῆς Κιλικίας. Στὴ βία τοῦ ἔπαρχου Πελάγιου ν᾿ ἀρνηθεῖ τὸν Χριστὸ ἀντέτασσε, ὅτι εἶναι καὶ θὰ μείνει χριστιανή. Ὁ Πελάγιος τότε τὴν ὑπέβαλε σὲ μαρτύρια, ἀπὸ τὰ ὁποῖα ὅμως, ἡ γυναικεία φύση της, στάθηκε ἀνώτερη με τὴν δύναμη τῆς θείας χάρης. Καὶ τέτοια ὑπῆρξε ἡ ἐντύπωση τῆς σεμνότατης καὶ ἡρωικῆς διαγωγῆς της, ὥστε καὶ οἱ ἄνθρωποι τοῦ ἐπάρχου, ποὺ ἦταν πρὶν μεταξὺ τῶν βασανιστῶν της, τοῦ δήλωσαν ὅτι παραδέχονται σὰ Θεό τους τὸν Ἰησοῦ Χριστό. Τὴν ἔριξε λοιπόν, μαζὶ μὲ τὸν Εὐάγριο καὶ τὸν Μακάριο στὸ καμίνι. Δυὸ ἄλλοι, ὁ Ἑλλάδιος καὶ ὁ Βοηθός, ἀποκεφαλίστηκαν. Καὶ ἔτσι ὁ περίλαμπρος οὐρανὸς τῶν μαρτύρων τοῦ Χριστοῦ, στολίστηκε καὶ μὲ τοὺς νέους αὐτοὺς ἐξαίσιους ἀστέρες.
Ἡ Ἁγία Ξένη (ἢ ἀλλιῶς Εὐσέβεια)
Μαρτύρησε ἀφοῦ τὴν ἔριξαν μέσα στὴ φωτιά.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Μαρκιανός ὁ ἐν τῇ Κύρῳ
Ἦταν ἀπὸ τοὺς γνήσιους πατριῶτες τῆς πόλης Κύρου, στὴν ὁποία γεννήθηκε καὶ ἀνατράφηκε. Περιφρονητὴς τῶν ἐγκόσμιων, ἀναχώρησε στὴν ἔρημο καὶ κλείστηκε μέσα σ᾿ ἕνα στενὸ κελλί. Ἐκεῖ μὲ τὴν αὐστηρότατη νηστεία καὶ ἄσκηση ποὺ ἔκανε, ἀπόκτησε μεγάλη φήμη στὰ περίχωρα. Ἔτσι ὅσια ἀφοῦ ἔζησε, καὶ ἀφοῦ πολλὰ θαύματα ἔκανε, εἰρηνικὰ παρέδωσε τὴν ψυχή του στὸν Θεό. Βιογραφία του ὑπάρχει ἀπὸ τὸν Κύρου Θεοδώρητο, στὴ Φιλόθεο Ἱστορία του.
Our Holy Fathers Athanasius the Great (373) and Cyril (44), Patriarchs of Alexandria
Saint Athanasius, pillar of Orthodoxy and Father of the Church, was born in Alexandria in275, to pious Christian parents. Even as a child, his piety and devotion to the Faith were so notable that Alexander, the Patriarch of the city, took Athanasius under his protection. As a student, he acquired a thorough education, but was more interested in the things of God than in secular learning, and withdrew for a time into the desert to sit at the feet of Saint Anthony (January 17), whose disciple he became and whose biography he later wrote. On returning to Alexandria, he was ordained to the diaconate and began his public labors for the Church. He wrote his treatise On the Incarnation, when he was only twenty. (It contains a phrase, still often quoted today, that express in a few words some of the depths of the Mystery of the Incarnation: God became man that man might become god.)
Just at this time Arius, a priest in Alexandria, was promoting his enticing view that the Son and Word of God is not of one essence with the Father, but a divine creation of the Father. This view, which (as Athanasius realized) strikes at the very possibility of mankind's salvation, gained wide acceptance and seemed for a time to threaten the Christian Faith itself. In 325, the Emperor Constantine the Great convoked a Council of the Church at Nicaea to settle the turmoil that had the Arian teaching had spread through the Church. Athanasius attended the Council, and defended the Orthodox view so powerfully that he won the admiration of the Orthodox and the undying enmity of the Arians. From that time forth his life was founded on the defense of the true consubstantiality (homoousia) of the Son with the Father.
In 326, not long before his death, Patriarch Alexander appointed Athanasius to be his successor, and Athanasius was duly elevated to the patriarchal throne. He was active in his pastoral role, traveling throughout Egypt, visiting churches and monasteries, and working tirelessly not only to put down the Arian heresy, but to resolve various schisms and moral declines that effected his territory.
Though the Arian heresy had apparently been condemned once and for all at Nicea, Arius had many powerful allies throughout the Empire, even in the Imperial court, and Athanasius was soon subjected to many kinds of persecution, some local, some coming from the Imperial throne itself. Though he was Patriarch of Alexandria for more than forty years, a large amount of that time was spent in hiding from powerful enemies who threatened him with imprisonment or death. Twice he fled to Rome for protection by the Pope, who in the early centuries of the Church was a consistent champion of Orthodoxy against its various enemies. From his various hiding places, Athanasius issued tracts, treatises and epistles which helped to rally the faithful throughout Christendom to the Orthodox cause.
In 366, the Emperor Valens, fearing a revolt of the Egyptians on behalf of their beloved Archbishop, officially restored Athanasius to favor, and he was able to spend the last seven years of his life in peace. Of his forty-seven years as Patriarch, about seventeen were spent in hiding or exile. He reposed in peace in 373, having given his entire adult life, at great suffering, to the defense of the Faith of Christ.
With St Athanasius, the Church commemorates St Cyril (Kyrillos), also Archbishop of Alexandria (412-44). His lot was to defend the Faith against the heretic Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople, who denied that Christ in his Incarnation truly united the divine with the human nature. Cyril attempted in private correspondence to restore Nestorius to the Christian faith, and when this failed he, along with Pope Celestine of Rome, led the defense of Orthodoxy against Nestorius' teaching. Saint Cyril presided at the Third Ecumenical Council in 431, at which the Nestorian error was officially overthrown. After guiding his flock for thirty-two years, he reposed in 444.
Sainted Athanasias and Cyril, Archbishops of Alexandria, have a conjoined feast established to them in acknowledgement of the profound gratitude of Holy Church for their incessant lengthy labour in affirmation of the dogmas of the Orthodox faith and their zealous defense of such against heretical teachings.
The account about Saint Athanasias is located under 2 May, and about Saint Cyril -- under 9 June.
The Monk Athanasii (Afanasii) of Syadem and Vologda was a disciple of the Monk Alexander of Svir (+ 1533, Comm. 30 August). After the death of his mentor, he established in the forests of Karelia the Dormition (Uspenie) hermitage, not far from the city of Olonets, amidst the islands of Syadem and Roschinsk. The slander and pettiness of the local inhabitants compelled the Monk Athanasii to move back to the Svir monastery, where they chose him as hegumen. Later returning to the Uspenie hermitage, the monk died in about the year 1550 in extreme old age and was buried on one of the promontories of Roschinsk island. Afterwards there was built over his grave a church in the name of Saints Athanasias and Cyril of Alexandria, into which in 1720 were placed the unperished relics of the saint.
Righteous Athanasii (Afanasii) of Navolotsk went at the end of the XVI Century from the Kargopol' region to the Olonets land, where he founded a monastery 78 versts from what later emerged as the city of Petrozavodsk. The saint died near the Verkholedsk suburb not far from Shenkursk.
The Monk Marcian of Syr' asceticised in the wilderness near the city of Syr'. Having built himself a small hut, he settled in it, passing the time at prayer, singing psalms and reading the Divine books. His food was very skimpy. Reports about his holy life attracted to him many zealous ascetics, and the Monk Marcian established a monastery for them.
The blessing of God rested upon the saint, and he possessed the gift of wonderworking. One time a serpent crawled into his cell towards him, and the monk made the sign of the cross and the serpent perished, having been burnt up by flames. At night, when the ascetic read, an Heavenly light shined for him. The monk also worked many other miracles on behalf of the brethren. He died in peace about the year 388.
Sainted Maxim (Maksim) the New, despoton of Serbia, was the son of king Stefan of Serbia (Comm. 10 December), and was Metropolitan of Ugro-Valakhia. He died on 18 January 1516.
THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:
1. SAINT ATHANASIUS THE GREAT, ARCHBISHOP OF ALEXANDRIA
Athanasius was born in Alexandria in the year 296 A.D. and from his early childhood had an inclination to the spiritual life. He was a deacon to Archbishop Alexander and accompanied him to the First Ecumenical Council [Nicaea, 325 A.D.]. It was at this Council that Athanasius became renowned for his learning, devotion to and zeal for Orthodoxy. He contributed greatly to destroy the heresy of Arius and to strengthen Orthodoxy. He wrote the Symbol of Faith [The Creed] which was adopted at the Council. Following the death of Alexander, Athanasius was elected Archbishop of Alexandria. In his calling as Archbishop of Alexandria, he remained for forty years, although not for the entire time on the archepiscopal throne of the archbishopric. With few exceptions, throughout his life he was persecuted by heretics. Of the emperors, he was persecuted mostly by Constantius, Julian and Valens; of the bishops, by Eusebius of Nicomedia and many others; and by the heretic Arius and his followers. Athanasius was forced to hide from his persecutors, even in a well, in a grave, in private homes and in the deserts. Twice he was forced to flee to Rome. Only before his death, did he live peacefully for a while as the good shepherd among his good flock who truly loved him. Few are the saints who were so mercilessly slandered and so criminally persecuted as St. Athanasius. His great soul patiently endured all for the love of Christ and, in the end, emerged victorious from this entire, terrible and long-lasting struggle. For counsel, for comfort and for moral support, Athanasius often visited St. Anthony, whom he respected as his spiritual father. For a man who formulated the greatest truth, Athanasius had much to suffer for that truth until in the year 373 A.D., the Lord gave him repose in His kingdom as His faithful servant.
2. SAINT MAXIM, ARCHBISHOP OF WALLACHIA
Maxim was the son of the Serbian Despot [Prince] Stephen and Despotica [Princess] Angelina. He was tonsured a monk in the Monastery Manasija. Pressured by the Turks, he fled to Romania, where he was consecrated to the vacated throne of the Archbishop of Wallachia. He brokered a truce between the warring commanders Radul and Bogdan and averted a war between them. In his later years, he returned to Krusedol where he built a monastery and, after a lengthy ascetical life, died there on January 18, 1546 A.D. His incorrupt and miracle-working relics repose, even now, in this monastery.
HYMN OF PRAISE
CHRIST IS WISDOM
Through Athanasius, wisdom shown,
And the truth of God enlightened men.
Wisdom is not bitter, the people recognized;
But, to everyone who drinks of it to the bottom, it is sweet,
To everyone who suffered for it, it is dear.
To whomever, in the world, all hope is first extinguished,
Who walks throughout the world as over an old cemetery,
Who thinks about men as about weak slavery,
Who thinks about five earthly dry lands [continents] as about five threshing floors,
Who thinks about five puddles, as about five oceans -
To him, Christ is the measure by which eternity is measured'
Adhere to that measure, confirmed in faith;
Whoever recognizes this measure [Christ] will never abandon it,
For the mysteries of the world, he will find no other;
Every other measure, inspite of exertion
Does not reach to the Alpha nor the Omega,
But is as deceiving as the moon which crawls over the water.
But appears that it reaches to the bottom of the water.
Christ surpasses both ends of the world,
Where the drama ends and where it began.
Of all the mysteries, the greatest mystery is He.
From His Nativity to His Crucifixion on the Cross,
From His Crucifixion on the Cross to His Resurrection -
He is the true measure of all God's creation.
By Him, measuring sufferings in the midst of worldly rumbling
The saints of God suffered -- without pain.
To the question: "Why did the Son of God appear on earth in a human body and not in another form of creation?", the brilliant St. Athanasius replied in this manner: "If they ask why did He not appear in some other better form of creation, for example: as the sun or the moon, or the stars or fire, or the wind but just as a man? Let them know that the Lord did not come to show Himself but to heal and teach sufferers. For, to reveal Himself only to amaze the viewers would mean to come for a show. It was necessary for the Healer and the Teacher, not only to come, but to serve for the benefit of the suffering ones and to reveal Himself as such so that this revelation would be bearable for the sufferers. Not one single creature was in error in the eyes of God, except man alone: neither the sun, nor the moon, nor the sky, nor the stars, nor water, nor wind did betray their ranks but, on the contrary, knowing their Creator and their King - The Word [The Logos], they all remained as they were created; only human beings separated themselves from good and replaced truth with deceit, and the honor belonging to God, as well as the knowledge about Him, they transferred to devils and to men carved out of stone [idols]. What is, therefore, so unbelievable in this, that the Logos [The Word - The Son Of God] appeared as a man to save mankind?" Indeed, even as we ask the unbelievers of our day: In what form would you wish God to appear, if not as a man?
To contemplate the Lord Jesus burdened by slander and shame for the sake of our salvation:
1. Burdened by slander and shame from Jewish scribes and elders;
2. Burdened by slander and shame from the many contemporary scribes and elders;
3. Burdened by slander and shame from everyone of us who have been baptized in His Name and who have not fulfilled His law.
"Gird your loins and lightyour lamps" (St. Luke 12:33).
This is the commandment of Him Who knows the weaknesses of our being and Who desires our good more than our father and mother do. This is the commandment of our mankind-loving Lord. When man is ungirded, does not his entire body droop a little? When he girds and harnesses himself, does not the entire body become as erect as a candle? As a candle stands, so must our soul stand erect before God. How will our souls stand erect before God if unrestrained physical earthly passions and lusts weigh them down? Behold, between the loins is the nest of the main physical passions. To gird one's loins means to tighten oneself with restraint and not to give into passions at will. But to gird one's physical loins is not the goal but the means which we utilize to easily gird our mind, our heart and our will. Physical restraint is the primary school of our Christian character; after it, comes a higher school in which we learn restraint of the mind, restraint of the heart and restraint of the will. If we gird our mind, then in its narrowness, lustful thoughts would be unable to find a place in it. If we gird our heart, then lustful desires would be unable to find a place in it. If we gird our will, then the evil, beastly and demonic desires would be unable to find a place in it.
Brethren, by a narrow path can one enter into the Kingdom of God. In the narrowness of the mind, the heart and the will can the candles of all virtues be lighted whose flame rises toward God. Under the lighted candles, we should understand Christian virtues.
O Lord, pure and sinless, the hearth of all virtues, help us to gird ourselves with restraint and to walk the narrow path to You with lighted candles, which You brought into the world.