FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:
Forefeast of the Theophany of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
Sylvester, Pope of Rome
Cosmas, Archbishop of Constantinople
Seraphim the Wonderworker of Sarov
Juliana the Righteous
Theagenes the Hieromartyr, Bishop of Parios
Theodota, the Mother of the Holy Anargyroi
Righteous Mark the Deaf
Basil the Martyr of Ankyra
Theopistos the Martyr
George the New Martyr of Georgia
Nilos the Sanctified
Sylvester of the Kiev Caves
Προεόρτια τῶν Φώτων.
Τῶν ἐν Ἁγίοις Πατέρων ἡμῶν Σιλβέστρου, Πάπα Ρώμης καί Κοσμᾶ, Πατριάρχου Κωνσταντινουπόλεως, τοῦ Ἱεροσολυμίτου.
READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:
The Reading is from St. Paul's Letter to the Hebrews 5:4-10
BRETHREN, one does not take the honor upon himself, but he is called by God, just as Aaron was. So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, "Thou art my Son, today I have begotten thee"; as he says also in another place, "Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek." In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.
Πρὸς Ἑβραίους 5:4-10
Ἀδελφοί, οὐχ ἑαυτῷ τις λαμβάνει τὴν τιμήν͵ ἀλλὰ καλούμενος ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ͵ καθώσπερ καὶ Ἀαρών. Οὕτως καὶ ὁ Χριστὸς οὐχ ἑαυτὸν ἐδόξασεν γενηθῆναι ἀρχιερέα͵ ἀλλ΄ ὁ λαλήσας πρὸς αὐτόν͵ Υἱός μου εἶ σύ͵ ἐγὼ σήμερον γεγέννηκά σε· καθὼς καὶ ἐν ἑτέρῳ λέγει͵ Σὺ ἱερεὺς εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα κατὰ τὴν τάξιν Μελχισεδέκ. Ὃς ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις τῆς σαρκὸς αὐτοῦ͵ δεήσεις τε καὶ ἱκετηρίας πρὸς τὸν δυνάμενον σῴζειν αὐτὸν ἐκ θανάτου μετὰ κραυγῆς ἰσχυρᾶς καὶ δακρύων προσενέγκας καὶ εἰσακουσθεὶς ἀπὸ τῆς εὐλαβείας͵ καίπερ ὢν υἱὸς ἔμαθεν ἀφ΄ ὧν ἔπαθεν τὴν ὑπακοήν· καὶ τελειωθεὶς ἐγένετο πᾶσιν τοῖς ὑπακούουσιν αὐτῷ αἴτιος σωτηρίας αἰωνίου͵ προσαγορευθεὶς ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ ἀρχιερεὺς κατὰ τὴν τάξιν Μελχισεδέκ.
The Reading is from John 3:1-15
At that time, there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nikodemos, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him." Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nikodemos said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born from above.' The Spirit blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, and you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." Nikodemos said to him, "How can this be?" Jesus answered him, "Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand this? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen; but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life."
Κατὰ Ἰωάννην 3.1-15
Τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ, ἄνθρωπος ἐκ τῶν Φαρισαίων, Νικόδημος ὄνομα αὐτῷ, ἄρχων τῶν ᾿Ιουδαίων. οὗτος ἦλθε πρὸς αὐτὸν νυκτὸς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· ῥαββί, οἴδαμεν ὅτι ἀπὸ Θεοῦ ἐλήλυθας διδάσκαλος· οὐδεὶς γὰρ ταῦτα τὰ σημεῖα δύναται ποιεῖν ἃ σὺ ποιεῖς, ἐὰν μὴ ᾖ ὁ Θεὸς μετ᾽αὐτοῦ. ἀπεκρίθη ᾿Ιησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω σοι, ἐὰν μή τις γεννηθῇ ἄνωθεν, οὐ δύναται ἰδεῖν τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ. λέγει πρὸς αὐτὸν ὁ Νικόδημος· πῶς δύναται ἄνθρωπος γεννηθῆναι γέρων ὤν; μὴ δύναται εἰς τὴν κοιλίαν τῆς μητρὸς αὐτοῦ δεύτερον εἰσελθεῖν καὶ γεννηθῆναι; ἀπεκρίθη ᾿Ιησοῦς· ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω σοι, ἐὰν μή τις γεννηθῇ ἐξ ὕδατος καὶ Πνεύματος, οὐ δύναται εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ. τὸ γεγεννημένον ἐκ τῆς σαρκὸς σάρξ ἐστι, καὶ τὸ γεγεννημένον ἐκ τοῦ Πνεύματος πνεῦμά ἐστι. μὴ θαυμάσῃς ὅτι εἶπόν σοι, δεῖ ὑμᾶς γεννηθῆναι ἄνωθεν. τὸ πνεῦμα ὅπου θέλει πνεῖ, καὶ τὴν φωνὴν αὐτοῦ ἀκούεις, ἀλλ᾽ οὐκ οἶδας πόθεν ἔρχεται καὶ ποῦ ὑπάγει· οὕτως ἐστὶ πᾶς ὁ γεγεννημένος ἐκ τοῦ Πνεύματος. ἀπεκρίθη Νικόδημος καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· πῶς δύναται ταῦτα γενέσθαι; ἀπεκρίθη ᾿Ιησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· σὺ εἶ ὁ διδάσκαλος τοῦ ᾿Ισραὴλ καὶ ταῦτα οὐ γινώσκεις; ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω σοι ὅτι ὃ οἴδαμεν λαλοῦμεν καὶ ὃ ἑωράκαμεν μαρτυροῦμεν, καὶ τὴν μαρτυρίαν ἡμῶν οὐ λαμβάνετε. εἰ τὰ ἐπίγεια εἶπον ὑμῖν καὶ οὐ πιστεύετε, πῶς ἐὰν εἴπω ὑμῖν τὰ ἐπουράνια πιστεύσετε; καὶ οὐδεὶς ἀναβέβηκεν εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν εἰ μὴ ὁ ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καταβάς, ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ὁ ὢν ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ. καὶ καθὼς Μωϋσῆς ὕψωσε τὸν ὄφιν ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ, οὕτως ὑψωθῆναι δεῖ τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν μὴ ἀπόληται, ἀλλ᾽ ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον.
READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:
Τῇ Β' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, Μνήμη τοῦ ἐν Ἁγίοις Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Σιλβέστρου Πάπα Ῥώμης.
Ζωοῖ νεκρὸν βοῦν, αἰσχύνων Ζαμβρὴν Μάγον,
Ὁ καὶ νεκρὸς ζῶν, Σίλβεστρος Ῥώμης Πάπας.
Θυμὸν ἀποπνείει Σίλβεστρος δευτέρῃ ἠοῖ.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμῃ τοῦ Ἁγίου Ἱερομάρτυρος Θεαγένους.
Θεάγενες, βλήθητι τοῦ πόντου μέσον,
ᾯ κἂν βυθισθῇς, ἒνδον ἐκνήξῃ πόλου.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, οἱ Ἅγιοι Θεόπεμπτος καὶ Θεοδότη, ἡ μήτηρ τῶν Ἁγίων Ἀναργύρων, ἐν εἰρήνῃ τελειοῦνται.
Τὸν Θεόπεμπτον σαρκικῆς λῦσαι πέδης,
Ἦλθον, Θεοῦ πέμψαντος, ἔμπυροι Νόες.
Νόσῳ παρῆλθε τὸν βίον Θεοδότη,
Νόσων λυτῆρας ἡ τεκοῦσα τῷ βίῳ.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ ὁ Ὅσιος Μᾶρκος ὁ κωφός, ἐν εἰρήνῃ τελειοῦται.
Ὁ Μᾶρκος οὐκ ἤκουσε γηΐνων λόγων,
Καὶ πρὶν λιπεῖν γῆν, ὦτα γῆθεν ἐξάγων.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Μάρτυρος Βασιλείου τοῦ ἐξ Ἀγκύρας.
Βρύχημα, χάσμα, δῆγμα θηρῶν ἀγρίων.
Βασιλείου τὸ πρᾶον οὐ κατεπτόει.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, ὁ Ἅγιος Σέργιος ξίφει τελειοῦται.
Οὐχ οἷον εἰπεῖν, οὐδὲ γνῶσιν φέρειν,
Ὅση χαρὰ Σέργιος ἐτμήθη κάραν.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, ὁ Ἅγιος Θεόπιστος, λιθοβοληθεὶς τελειοῦται.
Κτείνει σε Θεόπιστε πιστὲ τοῖς λίθοις,
Ἡ τῶν ἀπίστων πληθὺς ἐκ δυσβουλίας.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμῃ τοῦ Ὁσίου Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Κοσμᾶ, Ἀρχιεπισκόπου Κωνσταντινουπόλεως τοῦ θαυματουργοῦ, τοῦ ἐν τῇ σεβασμίᾳ Μονῇ τῆς Χώρας.
Ταῖς αὐτῶν ἁγίαις πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεός, ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Ἑτοιμάζου Ζαβουλῶν, καὶ εὐτρεπίζου Νεφθαλείμ. Ἰορδάνη ποταμέ, στήθι ὑπόδεξαι σκιρτῶν, τοῦ βαπτισθῆναι ἐρχόμενον τὸν Δεσπότην. Ἀγάλλου ὁ Ἀδὰμ σὺν τὴ Προμήτορι, μὴ κρύπτετε ἑαυτούς, ὡς ἐν Παραδείσῳ τὸ πρίν, καὶ γὰρ γυμνοὺς ἰδὼν ὑμᾶς ἐπέφανεν, ἵνα ἐνδύσῃ τὴν πρώτην στολήν, Χριστὸς ἐφάνη, τὴν πᾶσαν κτίσιν, θέλων ἀνακαινίσαι.
Be thou ready, Zabulon; prepare thyself, O Nephthalim. River Jordan, stay thy course and skip for gladness to receive the Sovereign Master, Who cometh now to be baptized. O Adam, be thou glad with our first mother, Eve; hide not as ye did of old in Paradise. Seeing you naked, He hath appeared now to clothe you in the first robe again. Christ hath appeared, for He truly willeth to renew all creation.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Ἐν τοῖς ῥείθροις σήμερον τοῦ Ἰορδάνου, γεγονῶς ὁ Κύριος, τῶ Ἰωάννη ἐκβοᾷ. Μὴ δειλιάσης βαπτίσαι με, σῶσαι γὰρ ἥκω, Ἀδὰμ τὸν πρωτόπλαστον.
In the running waters of the Jordan River, on this day the Lord of all crieth to John: Be not afraid and hesitate not to baptize Me, for I am come to save Adam, the first-formed man.
Saint Sylvester was a native of Rome. Because of his exceeding virtue, he succeeded Saint Miltiades as Pope in 314. Since he himself was unable to be present at the First Ecumenical Council in 325, he sent delegates of his own Roman clergy to represent him in Nicaea. He reposed in the year 325.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Κανόνα πίστεως καί εικόνα πραότητος, εγκρατείας Διδάσκαλον, ανέδειξέ σε τή ποίμνη σου, η τών πραγμάτων αλήθεια, διά τούτο εκτήσω τή ταπεινώσει τά υψηλά, τή πτωχεία τά πλούσια, Πάτερ Ιεράρχα Σιλβέστρου, πρέσβευε Χριστώ τώ Θεώ, σωθήναι τάς ψυχάς ημών.
The truth of things hath revealed thee to thy flock as a rule of faith, an icon of meekness, and a teacher of temperance; for this cause, thou hast achieved the heights by humility, riches by poverty. O Father and Hierarch Sylvester, intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.
Kontakion in the Second Tone
Σοφίας Θεού, εμπλήσας τό στόμα σου, Τριάδος ημίν, τήν γνώσιν ετράνωσας, καί τήν αθεότητα τών τυράννων, κατέβαλες Σίλβεστρε, τή σφεδόνι τών λόγων σου, διό υπέρ ημών δυσώπει τόν Κύριον.
As a companion of the holy ascetics, thou O God-bearer, hast been worthily shown forth as a true priest of priests before our King and God. Wherefore, thou rejoicest now with the choirs of the Angels, filled with gladness and delight in the Heavens, O Father. Renowned Sylvester, famed shepherd of Rome, save them that honour with love thy memorial.
Saint Seraphim was born in the town of Kursk in 1759. From tender childhood he was under the protection of the most holy Mother of God, who, when he was nine years old, appeared to him in a vision, and through her icon of Kursk, healed him from a grave sickness from which he had not been expected to recover. At the age of nineteen he entered the monastery of Sarov, where he amazed all with his obedience, his lofty asceticism, and his great humility. In 1780 the Saint was stricken with a sickness which he manfully endured for three years, until our Lady the Theotokos healed him, appearing to him with the Apostles Peter and John. He was tonsured a monk in 1786, being named for the holy Hieromartyr Seraphim, Bishop of Phanarion (Dec. 4), and was ordained deacon a year later. In his unquenchable love for God, he continually added labours to labours, increasing in virtue and prayer with titan strides. Once, during the Divine Liturgy of Holy and Great Thursday, he was counted worthy of a vision of the Lord Jesus Christ, Who appeared encompassed by the heavenly hosts. After this dread vision, he gave himself over to greater labours.
In 1794, Saint Seraphim took up the solitary life in a cell in the forest. This period of extreme asceticism lasted some fifteen years, until 1810. It was at this time that he took upon himself one of the greatest feats of his life. Assailed with despondency and a storm of contrary thoughts raised by the enemy of our salvation, the Saint passed a thousand nights on a rock, continuing in prayer until God gave him complete victory over the enemy. On another occasion, he was assaulted by robbers, who broke his chest and his head with their blows, leaving him almost dead. Here again, he began to recover after an appearance of the most holy Theotokos, who came to him with the Apostles Peter and John, and pointing to Saint Seraphim, uttered those awesome words, "This is one of my kind."
In 1810, at the age of fifty; weakened with his more than human struggles, Saint Seraphim returned to the monastery for the third part of his ascetical labours, in which he lived as a recluse until 1825. For the first five years of his reclusion, he spoke to no one at all, and little is known of this period. After five years, he began receiving visitors little by little, giving counsel and consolation to ailing souls. In 1825, the most holy Theotokos appeared to the Saint and revealed to him that it was pleasing to God that he fully end his seclusion; from this time the number of people who came to see him grew daily. It was also at the command of the holy Virgin that he undertook the spiritual direction of the Diveyevo Convent. He healed bodily ailments, foretold things to come, brought hardened sinners to repentance, and saw clearly the secrets of the heart of those who came to him. Through his utter humility and childlike simplicity, his unrivalled ascetical travails, and his angel-like love for God, he ascended to the holiness and greatness of the ancient God-bearing Fathers and became like Anthony for Egypt, the physician for the whole Russian land. In all, the most holy Theotokos appeared to him twelve times in his life. The last was on Annunciation, 1831, to announce to him that he would soon, enter into his rest. She appeared to him accompanied by twelve virgins-martyrs and monastic saints-with Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Theologian. With a body ailing and broken from innumerable hardships, and an unspotted soul shining with the light of Heaven, the Saint lived less than two years after this, falling asleep in peace on January 2, 1833, chanting Paschal hymns. On the night of his repose, the righteous Philaret of the Glinsk Hermitage beheld his soul ascending to Heaven in light. Because of the universal testimony to the singular holiness of his life, and the seas of miracles that he performed both in life and after death, his veneration quickly spread beyond the boundaries of the Russian Empire to every corner of the earth. See also July 19.
Kontakion in the Second Tone
Having left the beauty of the world and what is corrupt therein, O Saint, thou didst settle in the Monastery of Sarov. And having lived there an angelic life, thou wast for many the way unto salvation. Wherefore, Christ hath glorified thee, O Father Seraphim, and hath enriched thee with the gift of healing and miracles. And so we cry to thee: Rejoice, O Seraphim, our holy Father.
Στον βίο του Αγίου Σιλβέστρου Πάπα Ρώμης, του οποίου η Εκκλησία σήμερα τιμά την μνήμη, διαβάζομε τα εξής "Τόσην χάριν είχεν από τον Θεόν ο Σίλβεστρος, που όχι μόνον οι ευσεβείς, αλλά και οι ειδωλολάτραι τον αγαπούσαν δια την αρετήν του και του είχον ευλάβειαν". Η αρετή - η αγιότης και η καλωσύνη - είναι το γνώρισμα και το στόλισμα του χριστιανού. Το Ευαγγέλιο δεν ενίκησε τον κόσμο με την φωτιά ούτε με το μαχαίρι, αλλά με τον άγιο βίο και την καλωσύνη. Έτσι ορίζει ο Απόστολος την διαγωγή και την αναστροφή των χριστιανών στον κόσμο, "ίνα γένησθε άμεμπτοι εν μέσω γενεάς σκολιάς". Τότε οι άνθρωποι - κι εκείνοι που είν' έξω από την Εκκλησία - "εκ των καλών έργων επο-πτεύσαντες δοξάσωσι τον Θεόν". Το αδύνατο σημείο της πίστεως είναι ο κακός βίος των χριστιανών, παντοδύναμη όμως και αήττητη είναι η αγιότης και η καλωσύνη.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Σίλβεστρος Πάπας Ῥώμης
Μὲ τὴν Δυτικὴ Ἐκκλησία ἔχουμε κοινοὺς ἀρκετοὺς ἁγίους, μέχρι τὸ χωρισμό της ἀπὸ τὴν Ἀνατολικὴ Ὀρθόδοξη Ἐκκλησία. Ἕνας ἀπ᾿ αὐτοὺς εἶναι καὶ ὁ Σίλβεστρος. Ὁ Ἅγιος αὐτὸς ἦταν γιὸς τοῦ Ῥουφίνου, γεννημένος στὴ Ῥώμη. Ἀπὸ μικρὴ ἡλικία εἰσχωρεῖ στοὺς κόλπους τῆς Ἐκκλησίας. Σὲ ἡλικία δὲ τριάντα χρόνων χειροτονεῖται ἀπὸ τὸν Πάπα Μαρκελῖνο· γίνεται Πάπας τὸ 314 καὶ διαδέχεται τὸν Ἅγιο Μελχιάδη ἢ Μιλτιάδη. Ἐνδιαφέρθηκε καὶ πολέμησε πολὺ τὴν αἵρεση τοῦ Ἀρείου καὶ θέσπισε τοὺς λειτουργικοὺς κανόνες γιὰ τὸν καθαγιασμὸ τοῦ μύρου τοῦ ἁγίου χρίσματος. Ἀλλὰ μεταξὺ τῶν καλύτερων ἔργων τοῦ πάπα Σιλβέστρου, ξεχωρίζει τὸ ἔργο τῆς μέριμνας γιὰ τὴν βιοτικὴ συντήρηση τῶν φτωχότερων κληρικῶν καὶ τῶν μοναχῶν γυναικῶν, ὥστε οἱ ἄνθρωποι αὐτοὶ τῆς πνευματικῆς διακονίας καὶ προσευχῆς νὰ μὴν ἀποσπῶνται ἀπὸ τὸ κυρίως ἔργο τους. Ὁ Ἅγιος Σίλβεστρος πέθανε εἰρηνικὰ σὲ βαθιὰ γεράματα τὴν 31η Δεκεμβρίου τοῦ 335 μ.Χ.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Θεαγένης ἱερομάρτυρας
Ὁ ἅγιος Ἱερομάρτυρας Θεαγένης ἦταν ἐπίσκοπος τῆς πόλεως Πάριο· τὴν ὀνομασία της πῆρε ἐπειδὴ εἶχε κτισθεῖ ἀπὸ τοὺς Πάριους, κατοίκους τῆς νήσου Πάρου. Ἡ πόλη αὐτὴ βρισκόταν μεταξὺ τῆς Κυζίκου καὶ τῆς Λαμψάκου. Αὐτὸς λοιπὸν ὁδηγήθηκε στὸν Τριβοῦνο Ζηλικίνθιο καὶ ὁμολόγησε τὸν Χριστὸ Θεὸ ἀληθινό. Ὁπότε τὸν ἔδειραν ἀνελέητα καὶ ἀφοῦ τὸν ἔδεσαν χειροπόδαρα τὸν ἔῤῥιξαν στὸ βυθὸ τῆς θάλασσας. Ἔτσι τελείωσε τὸ δρόμο τοῦ μαρτυρίου καὶ πῆρε ἀπὸ τὸν Κύριο τὸ ἀμάραντο στεφάνι τῆς αἰώνιας δόξας.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Θεόπεμπτος
Ἡ Ἁγία Θεοδότη μητέρα τῶν Ἁγ. Ἀναργύρων
Ἦταν μητέρα τῶν Ἁγίων Ἀναργύρων Κοσμᾶ καὶ Δαμιανοῦ (βλ. 1 Νοεμβρίου). Ἀπεβίωσε εἰρηνικά.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Μᾶρκος ὁ κωφός
Ἦταν ἀσκητὴς καὶ ἔζησε ζωὴ ὅσια. Ἀπεβίωσε εἰρηνικά.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Βασίλειος μάρτυρας ἐξ Ἀγκύρας
Ὁ Ἅγιος αὐτὸς μαρτύρησε στὰ χρόνια του αὐτοκράτορα Ἰουλιανοῦ του Παραβάτη (360-363 μ.Χ.). Κατηγορήθηκε ὅτι πίστευε στὸν Χριστὸ καὶ προσπαθοῦσε νὰ παρασύρει στὴ χριστιανικὴ πίστη εἰδωλολάτρες. Βασανίστηκε ἀπὸ τὸν διοικητὴ τῆς Ἄγκυρας Σατουρνίνο, καὶ τὰ βασανιστήρια ἐπαναλήφθηκαν στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη. Ἀπὸ ἐκεῖ τὸν ἔστειλαν δέσμιο στὴν Καισαρεία, ὅπου τὸν καταδίκασαν σὲ θηριομαχία. Σὲ κάποια ἐθνικὴ (εἰδωλολατρική) γιορτὴ λοιπόν, ἔστησαν ἀπέναντί του ἕνα κλουβί, ἀπ᾿ ὅπου ἐξόρμησε μία πεινασμένη λέαινα. Ὁ μάρτυρας δὲν θηριομάχησε. Σὲ στάση θερμῆς προσευχῆς κατασπαράχθηκε ἀπὸ τὸ θηρίο. Οἱ συγγενεῖς του παρέλαβαν τὰ λίγα ἐναπομείναντα λείψανά του καὶ τὰ ἔθαψαν μὲ τιμές. Μετὰ ἀπὸ λίγο καιρὸ στὴν πόλη τοῦ μαρτυρίου του, κτίσθηκε ἐκκλησία στὸ ἅγιο ὄνομά του.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Σέργιος
Μαρτύρησε διὰ ξίφους.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Θεόπιστος
Μαρτύρησε διὰ λιθοβολισμοῦ.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Κοσμᾶς ὁ Α´ Ἀρχιεπίσκοπος Κωνσταντινουπόλεως
Καταγόταν ἀπὸ τὴν Ἀντιόχεια· ἐπωνομάσθηκε Ἱεροσολυμίτης, ἐπειδὴ ἔμεινε ἀρκετὸ καιρὸ στὴν ἁγία Πόλη. Ἀπὸ ἐκεῖ ἦλθε καὶ μόνασε στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη. Ὑστεροῦσε σὲ γραμματικὴ μόρφωση. Τὸν στόλιζε ὅμως ἄδολη εὐσέβεια καὶ βαθειὰ καὶ εἰλικρινὴς ἀρετή, καὶ τὸν ἀγαποῦσαν γιὰ τὴν εὐθύτητα τοῦ χαρακτῆρα του καὶ τὴν ἁπλότητα τῶν ἠθῶν του. Ὅταν στὶς 2 Αὐγούστου 1075 πέθανε ὁ Πατριάρχης Ἰωάννης ὁ Η´, ὁ αὐτοκράτωρ Μιχαὴλ Δούκας ἔφερε στὸ θρόνο τὸν Κοσμᾶ, ἂν καὶ ἦταν ἤδη πολὺ γέρος. Ἐπὶ τῆς πατριαρχείας του ἡ ἀρχιεπισκοπὴ Πατρῶν προήχθη σὲ Μητρόπολη μὲ τρεῖς ἐπισκοπὲς στὴ δικαιοδοσία της. Ἐπίσης ὁ ἴδιος - ὁ Κοσμᾶς - χειροτόνησε καὶ ἔστειλε τὸ 1080 Μητροπολίτη Ῥωσίας τὸν Ἕλληνα Ἰωάννη, ἄνδρα κάτοχο μεγάλης μόρφωσης καὶ πολλῶν ἀρετῶν. Οἱ δυσκολίες ὅμως τῆς διοίκησης τῆς πατριαρχείας, ἔκαναν τὸν ἁπλοϊκο χαρακτῆρα τοῦ Κοσμᾶ, νὰ ἐπιθυμήση τὴν ἡσυχία καὶ τὴν γαλήνη τῆς πρώην μοναχικῆς του ζωῆς. Γι᾿ αὐτὸ λοιπόν, στὶς 8 Μαΐου τοῦ 1081, ἀφοῦ λειτούργησε στὸ ναὸ τοῦ ἁγίου Ἰωάννου τοῦ Θεολόγου, ἔφυγε μαζὶ μὲ τὸν ὑπηρέτη του καὶ ἀποσύρθηκε στὴ Μονὴ Καλλίου στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη. Μάταια τὸν παρακάλεσαν νὰ ἐπιστρέψει. Αὐτὸς ἔμενε ἀμετάπειστος καὶ πέθανε στὴ Μονὴ ἐκείνη.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Γεώργιος ἢ Ζώρζης ἢ Γκιουρτζὴς ὁ Ἴβηρ
Στὴν καταγωγὴ ἦταν Ἴβηρ. Σὲ νεαρὴ ἡλικία τὸν ἀγόρασε κάποιος Τοῦρκος σὰ σκλάβο καὶ ἀφοῦ τοῦ ἔκανε περιτομή, τοῦ ἔδωσε τὸ ὄνομα Σαλής. Μετὰ τὸν θάνατο τοῦ ἀφέντη του παρέμεινε στὴ Μυτιλήνη, ἄγαμος, καὶ ζοῦσε εἰρηνικὰ σὲ κάποιο ἐργαστήρι, πουλώντας καὶ ἀγοράζοντας διάφορα εἴδη. Κάποια μέρα, καὶ σὲ ἡλικία πάνω ἀπὸ 70 χρονῶν, ὁ Γεώργιος παρουσιάστηκε αὐθόρμητα μπροστὰ στὸν κριτὴ καὶ πέταξε μπροστὰ τοῦ τὸ σαρίκι ποὺ φοροῦσε στὸ κεφάλι του, καὶ ὁμολόγησε τὸν Χριστό. Παρὰ τὶς κολακεῖες καὶ τοὺς φοβερισμούς, τὴ διαπόμπευση μέσα στοὺς δρόμους καὶ τὰ χτυπήματα μὲ ξύλα καὶ μαχαίρια, ὁ Γεώργιος παρέμεινε ἀμετάθετος, ὁμολογώντας τὴν πίστη τῶν πατέρων του. Τέλος, ὁδηγήθηκε ἀπὸ τοὺς δήμιούς του στὴν τοποθεσία Παρμὰ-κάπου, ὅπου καὶ ἔλαβε μαρτυρικὸ τέλος δι᾿ ἀγχόνης. Ἦταν 2 Ἰανουαρίου 1770. Ὁ δὲ Χρυσόστομος Παπαδόπουλος, τοποθετεῖ τὸ μαρτύριο τοῦ Ζώρζη τὸ ἔτος 1777.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Σεραφεὶμ τοῦ Σάρωφ
Ὁ Ὅσιος Σεραφείμ, ὁ στάρετς τοῦ Σάρωφ, γεννήθηκε στὴν πόλη Κοὺρκ τῆς Ῥωσίας ἀπὸ θεοσεβεῖς καὶ εὔπορους γονεῖς, τὸν Ἰσίδωρο, ποὺ ἦταν ἔμπορος καὶ τὴν Ἀγάθη Μοσνίν, στὶς 19 Ἰουλίου 1759. Τὸ πρῶτο του ὄνομα ἦταν Πρόχορος. Σὲ ἡλικία τριῶν ἐτῶν ἔχασε τὸν πατέρα του, καὶ ἡ εὐλαβικὴ μητέρα του, τοῦ μετέδωσε τὴν χριστιανικὴ εὐσέβεια καὶ τὴν ἀγάπη στὴ λειτουργικὴ ζωή. Σὲ ἡλικία 10 ἐτῶν μελετοῦσε τὶς θεῖες Γραφὲς καὶ ἔδειχνε ἐξαίσια προσωπικότητα. Ὑπέφερε ἀπὸ ἐπικίνδυνη ἀῤῥώστια, ποὺ θαυματουργικὰ θεραπεύτηκε ἀπὸ τὴν Παναγία. Δέκα ἑπτὰ ἐτῶν ἐγκατέλειψε τὸν κόσμο καὶ κατέληξε σὲ μία Μονὴ στὴν ἔρημο τοῦ Σάρωφ. Στὸ 27ο ἔτος τῆς ἡλικίας του, στὶς 18-8-1786, ἀξιώθηκε νὰ καρεῖ μοναχός με τὸ ὄνομα Σεραφείμ. Μετὰ ἑνάμιση χρόνο ἔγινε ἱεροδιάκονος καὶ τὸ 1793, 35 χρονῶν, χειροτονήθηκε ἱερομόναχος. Λίγο ἀργότερα ἐγκατέλειψε τὸ κοινόβιο καὶ ἄρχισε αὐστηρὴ πνευματικὴ ἀσκητικὴ ζωή, σὲ ἀσκητήριο βαθιὰ στὴν ἔρημο τοῦ Σάρωφ. Γιὰ τοὺς ὑψηλούς του ἀγῶνες καὶ τὴν θεάρεστη ζωή του, ἀξιώθηκε ἀπὸ τὸν Θεὸ τὸ χάρισμα τῆς διορατικότητας καὶ τῆς θαυματουργίας. Ἡ ὑπερόσια ζωή του ἄφησε ἐποχή, ἰδιαίτερα στὴ Ῥωσία. Δίδαξε καὶ ἔφερε στὸ δρόμο τῆς σωτηρίας πολλούς. Ἰδιαίτερο χαρακτηριστικό του, ἡ ἀπέραντη ἀγάπη ποὺ ἔτρεφε στὰ πλάσματα τοῦ Θεοῦ, καὶ ἰδιαίτερα στὸν ἄνθρωπο, καθὼς ἐπίσης καὶ ἡ χωρὶς ὅρια ταπεινοφροσύνη του. Ἀπεβίωσε εἰρηνικὰ τὴν Δευτέρα 2 Ἰανουαρίου 1833, σὲ ἡλικία 74 ἐτῶν. Καὶ μετὰ τὴν μακάρια κοίμησή του ὁ Ὅσιος Σεραφεὶμ ἐπιτελοῦσε θαύματα καὶ θεράπευε ὅλους, ὅσοι μὲ πίστη ἀπευθύνονταν σ᾿ αὐτόν. Στὶς 19 Ἰουλίου 1903, ἔγινε πανηγυρικὴ ἀνακήρυξή του σὲ Ἅγιο, παρουσία τοῦ τότε Τσάρου, τῆς Τσαρίνας, πολλῶν μελῶν τῆς τσαρικῆς οἰκογένειας καὶ χιλιάδων λαοῦ. Τὴν ἡμέρα αὐτὴ ἔγιναν πολυάριθμες θεραπεῖες.
St Seraphim of Sarov (1833)
"Saint Seraphim was born in the town of Kursk in 1759. From tender childhood he was under the protection of the most holy Mother of God, who, when he was nine years old, appeared to him in a vision, and through her icon of Kursk, healed him from a grave sickness from which he had not been expected to recover. At the age of nineteen he entered the monastery of Sarov, where he amazed all with his obedience, his lofty asceticism, and his great humility. In 1780 the Saint was stricken with a sickness which he manfully endured for three years, until our Lady the Theotokos healed him, appearing to him with the Apostles Peter and John. He was tonsured a monk in 1786, being named for the holy Hieromartyr Seraphim, Bishop of Phanarion (Dec. 4), and was ordained deacon a year later. In his unquenchable love for God, he continually added labours to labours, increasing in virtue and prayer with titan strides. Once, during the Divine Liturgy of Holy and Great Thursday he was counted worthy of a vision of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who appeared encompassed by the heavenly hosts. After this dread vision, he gave himself over to greater labours.
"In 1794, Saint Seraphim took up the solitary life in a cell in the forest. This period of extreme asceticism lasted some fifteen years, until 1810. It was at this time that he took upon himself one of the greatest feats of his life. Assailed with despondency and a storm of contrary thoughts raised by the enemy of our salvation, the Saint passed a thousand nights on a rock, continuing in prayer until God gave him complete victory over the enemy. On another occasion, he was assaulted by robbers, who broke his chest and his head with their blows, leaving him almost dead. Here again, he began to recover after an appearance of the most Holy Theotokos, who came to him with the Apostles Peter and John, and pointing to Saint Seraphim, uttered these awesome words, 'This is one of my kind.'
"In 1810, at the age of fifty, weakened by his more than human struggles, Saint Seraphim returned to the monastery for the third part of his ascetical labours, in which he lived as a recluse, until 1825. For the first five years of his reclusion, he spoke to no one at all, and little is known of this period. After five years, he began receiving visitors little by little, giving counsel and consolation to ailing souls. In 1825, the most holy Theotokos appeared to the Saint and revealed to him that it was pleasing to God that he fully end his reclusion; from this time the number of people who came to see him grew daily. It was also at the command of the holy Virgin that he undertook the spiritual direction of the Diveyevo Convent. He healed bodily ailments, foretold things to come, brought hardened sinners to repentance, and saw clearly the secrets of the heart of those who came to him. Through his utter humility and childlike simplicity, his unrivalled ascetical travails, and his angel-like love for God, he ascended to the holiness and greatness of the ancient God-bearing Fathers and became, like Anthony for Egypt, the physician for the whole Russian land. In all, the most holy Theotokos appeared to him twelve times in his life. The last was on Annunciation, 1831, to announce to him that he would soon enter into his rest. She appeared to him accompanied by twelve virgins martyrs and monastic saints with Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Theologian. With a body ailing and broken from innumerable hardships, and an unspotted soul shining with the light of Heaven, the Saint lived less than two years after this, falling asleep in peace on January 2, 1833, chanting Paschal hymns. On the night of his repose, the righteous Philaret of the Glinsk Hermitage beheld his soul ascending to Heaven in light. Because of the universal testimony to the singular holiness of his life, and the seas of miracles that he performed both in life and after death, his veneration quickly spread beyond the boundaries of the Russian Empire to every corner of the earth. See also July 19." (Great Horologion)
July 19 is the commemoration of the uncovering of St Seraphim's holy relics, which was attended by Tsar Nicholas II.
Saint Seraphim's life became a perpetual celebration of Pascha: in his later years he dressed in a white garment, greeted everyone, regardless of the season, with "Christ is Risen!" and chanted the Pascha service every day of the year.
St Sylvester, Pope of Rome (335)
He was a native of Rome. Because of his virtue and love for all, the faithful made him Pope against his will upon the death of Pope Miltiades in 314. He was Pope when Constantine the Great ended the persecution of the Church, and personally instructed the Emperor in the Faith. Unable to attend the Council of Nicaea personally, he sent delegates to represent him and uphold the Orthodox faith there. He reposed in peace in 325.
Once, in a debate between the Saint and Zambrius, a Jewish scribe and occultist, Zambrius whispered a magic word in the ear of a bull, upon which the animal fell down dead. Zambrius then challenged the Pope to do as much in the name of Christ. The holy bishop replied, 'My God gives life and resurrection, not death.' Lifting his hands to heaven, he restored the creature to life. The Emperor and the crowd who witnessed the debate cheered the Saint, and many decided to be baptized.
Venerable Juliana of Lazarevskoye (1604)
The daughter of a devout and generous official in the Tsar's court, she was orphaned at the age of six and reared by relatives. At the age of sixteen she was given in marriage to George Ossorguin, a nobleman who lived on an estate at Lavarevskoye, near Murom.
The couple were a model of Christian marriage. When her husband was at home, they would devote much of their time to praying together. When he was away in service to the Tsar, she would devote whole nights to prayer and handiwork. Since she was not free to give away her fortune as she desired, she earned money for almsgiving by the work of her hands, something unheard-of for a lady of her rank. When anyone died in the village she prayed for him at length, and if he were indigent she would pay for his funeral.
When two of the pious couple's sons died, Juliana asked her husband to let her enter a monastery. He refused because they had other young children who needed her care; but he gave her permission to live a monastic life under his roof. From this time forward, she increased her fasts, spent her nights in prayer, and slept on the floor. When her husband died ten years later, her wealth was at her own disposal, and she devoted all of it to works of mercy. When her family criticized her for depriving herself so harshly, especially for her severe fasting, she answered 'Whatever my body loses now won't be food for worms later. What is the point of fattening the flesh only to lose the soul?'
From 1601 to 1603, Russia was struck for three years by the worst famine in its history, so severe that men ate human flesh in their desperation. Saint Juliana sold all her livestock, gave away all the provisions in her barns, and freed all her serfs who wished to leave. Those who remained became her family, with whom she shared all she had. By her prayers, bitter and inedible plants became palatable so that they could be made into bread. The holy woman, despite almost killing privation, never complained, but seemed more cheerful than ever before.
Saint Juliana reposed in peace at the age of seventy in 1604. At the moment of her death a bright halo was seen above her head. Ten years later her body was found incorrupt, and her tomb filled with a fragrant myrrh. She was venerated among the Russian people from that time forward, though it was not until 1988 that she was officially glorified by the Moscow Patriarchate.
Holy New Martyr George the Georgian (1770)
A native of Georgia, he was sold as a slave to a Turk and made a Muslim in his youth. He lived a long life as a Muslim, seemingly having no memory of the faith or language of his parents. Without warning, however, when he had reached the age of seventy, his conscience awakened, he presented himself to the judge and stated that he had been born a Christian and wished to die a Christian. The old man remained immovable under questioning, exhortation, threats and, finally, torture; he would only say 'I am a Christian; I want to die a Christian!' The executioners hanged him, then cut him down to see if this last trial would change his mind. When he assured them once again that he was a Christian, they hanged him again, and he was allowed to claim his martyrdom.
The Holy Pope of Rome Sylvester (314-335) was born at Rome of Christian parents named Rufinus and Justa. His father soon died, and the saint remained in the care of his mother. Sylvester's teacher, the presbyter Quirinus, gave him a fine education and raised him as a true Christian. Having reached the age of maturity, Sylvester set about fulfilling the command of the Lord about service to neighbour, and particularly concerned himself with the taking in of vagrants, offering them in his own house shelter and respite. During a time of persecution against Christians, Sylvester did not hesitate to take in the holy confessor Bishop Timothy, who dwelt with him for more than a year and who by his preaching converted many to Christ. After the Martyr's death of Timothy, Sylvester secretly took up the body of the saint and reverently gave it burial. This however came to the attention of the city-head Tarquinius, and the saint was arrested and brought to trial. Tarquinius demanded him to renounce Christ, threatening him with torture and death. Saint Sylvester was however not intimidated, and he remained steadfast in his confession of faith, and was then thrown into prison. When Tarquinius suddenly died after the trial, the saint was set free and fearlessly he evangelised amongst the pagans, converting many to Christianity. At thirty years of age Saint Sylvester was accepted into the clergy of the Roman Church and was ordained to the dignity of deacon, and then also presbyter, by Pope Marcellinus (296-304). After the death of Pope Militiades (or Melchiades, 311-314), Saint Sylvester was chosen bishop of Rome. He zealously concerned himself about the purity of life in his flock, and he insisted that presbyters strictly fulfill their duty, and not be overwhelmed with worldly matters.
Saint Sylvester became reknown as a profound expert on Holy Scripture and as a staunch defender of the Christian faith. During the reign of the emperor Saint Constantine the Great, when the periods of persecution had ended for the Church, the Jews arranged a debate about the true faith, at which were present the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Emperor Constantine and his mother -- the holy Empress Helen, together with a numerous retinue. On the side of the Christians Pope Sylvester stood forth, and on the side of the Jews -- a number of learned rabbis, headed by Zambrius, a magician and sorcerer. On the basis of the Sacred books of the Old Testament, Saint Sylvester convincingly demonstrated, that all the prophets foretold the Birth of Jesus Christ from the Immaculate Virgin, and also His voluntary Suffering and Death for the Redemption of the fallen race of mankind, and His glorious Resurrection. In this verbal confrontation the saint was declared the victor. Then Zambrius tried to resort to sorcery, but the saint obstructed the evil by calling on the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Zambrius and the other Jews came to believe in Jesus Christ, and they besought that there be made over them the holy Baptism. Pope Saint Sylvester directed the Roman Church for more than twenty years, and earning deep esteem as a Christian. He died peacefully in old age in the year 335.
The Monk Seraphim of Sarov, a great ascetic of the Russian Church, was born on 19 July 1754. His parents, Isidor and Agathia Moshnin, were inhabitants of Kursk. Isidor was a merchant involved in the construction of buildings, and towards the end of his life he began construction of a cathedral in Kursk, but he died before the completion of the work. His little son Prokhor -- the future Seraphim, remained in the care of his widowed mother, who raised her son in deep faith.
After the death of her husband, Agathia Moshnina continued with the construction of the cathedral, and one time when she took Prokhor along with her there, he stumbled and fell down from the belfry. But the Lord watched over the life of the future luminary of the Church: the terrified mother, running down, found her son unharmed.
Young Prokhor, endowed with an excellent memory, soon mastered his reading and writing. From the time of his childhood he loved to visit church-services and to read with his fellow students both the Holy Scripture and the Lives of the Saints, but most of all he loved to pray or to read the Holy Gospel in private.
At one point Prokhor fell grievously ill, and his life was in danger. In a dream the boy saw the Mother of God, promising to visit and heal him. Soon through the courtyard of the Moshnin home there came a church procession with the Znamenie (Sign) Icon of the Mother of God; his mother carried out Prokhor in her arms, and he kissed the holy icon, after which he speedily recovered.
While still in his youth Prokhor matured his plans to entirely devote his life to God and to go off to a monastery. His pious mother did not object to this and she blessed him on his monastic path with a cross, which the monk all his life wore on his chest. Prokhor set off on foot with pilgrims going from Kursk to Kiev to venerate the Pechersk Saints.
The starets-elder schema-monk Dosiphei, whom Prokhor visited, blessed him to go off to the Sarovsk wilderness-monastery and there seek his salvation. Returning briefly to his parental home, Prohkor bid a final farewell to his mother and kinsfolk. On 20 November 1778 he arrived at Sarov, where the monastery then was headed by a wise starets-elder, Father Pakhomii. He amiably accepted him and put him under the spiritual guidance of the starets-elder Joseph. And under his direction Prokhor passed through many obediences at the monastery: he was the cell-attendant of the elder, he toiled in the making of bread and prosphora and at carpentry, he did duty as a church-attendant, and he did everything with zeal and fervour, just as though serving the very Lord Himself. By constant work he hedged himself in against boredom -- this being, as he later said, "the most dangerous temptation for newly-become monks, which is doctored by prayer, abstaining from idle chatter, exertive handwork, by reading of the Word of God and by patience, since that it is engendered by pettiness of soul, neglectfulness and idle talk".
Prokhor already in these years, on the example of the other monks that went off into the forest for prayer, besought the blessing of the elder for free time likewise to withdraw into the woods, where in complete isolation he made the Jesus Prayer. After two years as a novice, Prokhor fell ill with dropsy, his body became swollen, and he was beset with suffering. His instructor Father Joseph and the other startsi-elders were fond of Prokhor, and they provided him care. The illness dragged on for about three years, and not once did anyone hear from him a word of complaint. The elders, fearing for his very life, wanted to call a doctor for him, but Prokhor asked that this not be done, in saying to Father Pakhomii: "I have given myself over, holy father, to the True Physician of soul and body -- our Lord Jesus Christ and His All-Pure Mother...", and he besought, that they might commune him with the Holy Mysteries. Prokhor then had a vision: in an inexpressible light there appeared the Mother of God accompanied by the holy Apostles Peter and John the Theologian. Pointing with Her hand towards he that was sick, the MostHoly Virgin said to Saint John: "This one -- is of our lineage". Thereupon with Her staff She touched the side of the sick man, and immediately the fluid that had swelled up his body began to flow through a sort of opening made, and he quickly became well. Soon at the place of the appearance of the Mother of God there was built an infirmary-church for the sick, and one of the side-chapels was dedicated in the name of the Monks Zosima and Savvatii of Solovetsk. The altar-table for the chapel was fashioned by the Monk Seraphim with his own hands from cypress wood, and he always communed the Holy Mysteries in this church.
Being eight years an obedient (novice) at the Sarov monastery, Prokhor accepted monastic tonsure with the name Seraphim, a name so finely expressive of his fiery love for the Lord and the desire zealously to serve Him. After a year, Seraphim was ordained to the dignity of monk-deacon. Earnest in spirit, he daily served in temple, incessantly praying even after the service. The Lord vouchsafed the monk graced visions during the time of church-services: repeatedly he beheld holy Angels, concelebrating with the brethren. The monk was vouchsafed one particularly graced vision during the time of Divine Liturgy on Holy Great Thursday, which was celebrated by the monastery-head Father Pakhomii and by Father Joseph. When after the Little Entrance with the Gospel, the Monk-deacon Seraphim pronounced the words "O Lord, save the God-fearing, and hear us", and standing in the royal doorway, he lifted his orarion (deacon's stole) with the exclamation prayer "And unto ages of ages", suddenly a bright ray of light blinded him. [trans. note: this prayer "O Lord, save the God-fearing..." in Divine Liturgy falls between the priest's exclamation "For holy art Thou..." and the choir's beginning of the "Holy God, Holy Mighty...". To Orthodox believers in the West, this is likely unfamiliar (even though found in Hapgood): its use apparently ceased in Russia after the Revolution, and was restored only recently with the demise of the Soviet Union, with other liturgical changes, such as the adding of Saint Seraphim of Sarov to the commemoration of the 6th rank of saints in Proskomedia, a particle being taken from the third prosphora for the rank of the Monastics.] Looking upwards, the Monk Seraphim beheld the Lord Jesus Christ, coming through the air from the western doors of the temple, surrounded by the Heavenly Bodiless Hosts. Reaching the amvon, the Lord blessed all the praying and entered into His Image located there to the right of the royal doors. The Monk Seraphim, in spiritual rapture viewing this miraculous vision, was able to utter neither a word, nor to move from the spot. They led him by the hand into the altar, where he just stood for another three hours, his face having changed colour from the great grace that shone upon him. After the vision the saint intensified his efforts: by day he toiled at the monastery, and nights he spent at prayer in the forest wilderness cell.
In 1793, at age 39, the Monk Seraphim was ordained to the dignity of priestmonk and he continued at serving in the temple. After the death of the monastery head Father Pakhomii, the Monk Seraphim, -- having before this received deathbed blessing for the new exploit of wilderness-dwelling, and having likewise received blessing of the new monastery-head Father Isaiah, -- went off to a wilderness cell some several kilometers from the monastery, in the deep forest. Here he devoted himself to solitary prayer, arriving at the monastery only on Saturday before the all-night vigil, and returning to his cell after Liturgy, at which he communed the Divine Mysteries. The monk spent his time at severe efforts. His cell rule of prayer he made according to the ustav-rule of the ancient wilderness-monasteries; from the Holy Gospel he never parted, reading through the course of the week all the New Testament, and he read likewise the holy fathers and the Divine-service books. The monk learned by heart many of the Church songs and sang them during his hours at work in the forest. Around his cell he cultivated a garden and set up a bee-hive. Having seen to his subsistence, the monk kept to a very strict fast, he ate only once during the entire day, and on Wednesdays and Fridays he completely abstained from food. On the first Sunday of the Holy Forty-Days (Lent)he did not partake of food at all until Saturday, when he communed the Holy Mysteries.
The holy elder in his solitude was sometimes so immersed in his inner prayer of the heart, that at length he remained without stirring, neither hearing nor seeing anything around him. The schema-monk Mark the Silent and the monk-deacon Aleksandr, also wilderness-dwellers, would visit him every now and then, and finding the saint immersed in suchlike prayer, in reverent quiet they would leave, so as not to disrupt his contemplation.
In the heat of Summer the monk gathered moss in a swamp as fertilizer for his garden; the gnats relentlessly bit at him, but he good-naturedly endured this vexation, saying: "Passions are destroyed by suffering and by sorrow, either arbitrarily or as sent by Providence". For about three years the monk ate only a certain vegetable, which grew about his cell. All the more frequently there began to come not only monks, but also laypeople, -- for advice and blessing. This disrupted his solitude. Having besought the blessing of the monastery head, the monk at first barred the admittance of women to him, and then all the rest, having received a sign that the Lord approved of his intent for complete silence. Through the prayer of the monk, the pathway to his wilderness cell was blocked by huge branches blown down from ancient pine trees. Now only the birds, flocking to him in throngs, and the wild beasts, paid him visit. The monk fed a bear with bread from his hand, when they happened to bring him bread from the monastery.
Seeing the efforts of the Monk Seraphim, the enemy of the race of man roused up against him, and wanting to force the saint to foresake his silence, he decided to frighten him, but the monk shielded himself by prayer and by the power of the Life-Creating Cross. The devil conducted against the saint "mental warfare" -- persistent and continous temptation. For repulsing the onslaughts of the enemy the Monk Seraphim intensified his toil, and took upon himself the exploit of pillar-dwelling. Each night he climbed up upon an immense rock in the forest and he prayed with up-raised hands, crying out: "God, be merciful to me a sinner". By day he prayed in his cell and likewise upon a stone, which he had brought from the forest, coming down from it only for brief rest and to refresh his body with a scant bit of food. The monk prayed thus for 1,000 days and nights. The devil, shamed by the monk, hatched a plan to kill the saint and sent out robbers. Coming upon him while working in his garden, the robbers began to demand money from him. The monk had in his hands at this time an axe, he was physically strong and could have put up a fight, but he did not want to do this, having called to mind the words of the Lord: "Those taking up the sword wilt perish by the sword" (Mt. 26: 52). The monk, dropping his axe to the ground, said: "Do what ye intend to". The robbers began to beat the monk, with the butt-end of the axe they bloodied his head, broke several of his ribs, and then having tied him, they wanted to throw him in the river, but first they searched the cell for money. Having trashed everything in the cell and finding nothing in it besides icons and a few potatoes, they were shamed in their wicked deed and left. The monk, gaining consciousness, got to his cell, and suffering terribly, he lay there all night. In the morning with great difficulty he reached the monastery. The brethren were horrified, seeing the ascetic all bruised with wounds. For eight whole days the monk just lay there, suffering from his wounds; doctors were called for him, who were amazed that after such a beating he even remained alive. But the monk did not receive his healing from the physicians: the Queen of Heaven appeared to him in a subtle dream vision together with the Apostles Peter and John. Touching the head of the monk, the MostHoly Virgin granted him healing. After this instance the Monk Seraphim had to spend about five months at the monastery, and then he again went off to his wilderness cell. Left in posture stooped over always henceforth, the monk walked, leaning upon his staff or small axe, and he indeed forgave his abusers and asked that they not be punished.
After the death of the monastery head, Father Isaiah, -- a friend of the monk since his youth, -- the Monk Seraphim took upon himself the deed of silence, being completely cut off from any worldly ponderings for a most purified being in the presence of God in unceasing prayer. If the saint encountered a man in the forest, he fell face downwards and did not rise up, until the passerby had moved on. In such a manner of silence the starets-elder spent about three years, ceasing even to visit the monastery on Sundays. The fruit of silence for the Monk Seraphim was the acquisition of peace of soul and joy in the Holy Spirit. The great ascetic afterwards spoke thus to one of the monks of the monastery: "...my joy, I pray thee, acquire a spirit at peace, and then a thousand souls wilt be saved around thee".
The new monastery head, Father Nyphont, and the elder brethren of the monastery suggested to Father Seraphim that either as before he show up at the monastery on Sundays for participation in Divine-services and communing the Holy Mysteries at the monastery, or that he return to the monastery. The monk chose the latter course, since it had become difficult for him to walk from the wilderness to the monastery. In Spring of the year 1810 he returned to the monastery after 15 years of living in the wilderness. Not breaking off with his silence, he added onto it also that of hermit enclosure, neither coming out anywhere nor admitting anyone, he dwelt in unceasing prayer and meditation on God. In his hermitage the Monk Seraphim discovered an height of spiritual purity and was vouchsafed of God the special gifts of grace -- perspicacity and wonderworking. Then the Lord sent His chosen one to serve people in an utmost monastic exploit -- "Starchestvo" ("being an elder"). On 25 November 1825 the Mother of God accompanied by the two sainted-hierarchs celebrated this day (i.e. PriestMartyr Clement, Pope of Rome, and Peter, Archbishop of Alexandria), appeared to the elder in a dream-vision and bid him emerge from his hermitage, so as to receive infirm human souls, needful of instruction, consolation, guidance and healing. The monastery head gave blessing to this change in the manner of his life, and the monk opened the doors of his cell to everyone. The starets saw into the hearts of people, and as a spiritual physician, he healed the infirmities of soul and body with a prayer to God and by words of grace. Those coming to the Monk Seraphim sensed his great love and with tenderness they hearkened to his amiable words, with which he turned to people: "my joy, my precious". The starets began to visit his own wilderness cell and water-spring, called Bogoslovsk, around which they built him a small cell. Coming out from the cell, the starets always carried on his shoulders a knapsack with stones. To the question as to why he did this, the saint humbly answered: "I oppress that which oppresseth me".
In the final period of his earthly life the Monk Seraphim especially concerned himself about his spiritual children -- the Diveevo women's monastery. While still in the dignity of monk-deacon he had accompanied the belated monastery head Father Pakhomii to the Diveevo community to its monastic leader, the nun Mother Alexandra -- a great woman ascetic, and then Father Pakhomii blessed the Monk Seraphim to concern himself always for the "Diveevo orphans". He was a genuine father for the sisters, who turned to him with all their spiritual and material difficulties. His students and spiritual friends helped the saint to feed and nourish the Diveevo community: -- Mikhail Vasil'evich Manturov, healed by the monk from grievous illness and on the advice of the elder having taken upon himself the exploit of voluntary poverty; Elena Vasil'evna Manturovna, one of the Diveevo sisters, voluntarily consenting to die out of obedience to the elder for her brother, who was still needed in this life; Nikolai Aleksandrovich Motovilov, who likewise was healed by the monk. N. A. Motovilov recorded in writing the remarkable teachings of the Monk Seraphim about the goals of Christian life. In the last year of the life of the Monk Seraphim, one of those healed by him saw him standing in the air during the time of prayer. The saint strictly forbade this to be told of before his death.
Everyone knew and esteemed the Monk Seraphim as a great ascetic and wonderworker. A year and ten months before his end, on the feast of the Annunciation, the Monk Seraphim was vouchsafed yet once more to have appear the Queen of Heaven in the company of the Baptist of the Lord John, the Apostle John the Theologian and twelve virgins, martyrs and monastics. The MostHoly Virgin conversed at length with the monk, entrusting the Diveevo sisters to him. Concluding the conversation, She said to him: "Soon, My dear one, thou shalt be with us". During this vision with the miraculous visit of the Mother of God, a certain Diveevo eldress was present, through the prayer of the monk for her.
During the final year of his life the Monk Seraphim became noticeably weaker and he spoke much about his approaching end. During this time they often saw him at his grave, set at the approaches to his cell, and which he had prepared for himself. The monk himself had pointed out the place, where finally they would bury him -- near the altar of the Uspenie-Dormition cathedral. On 1 January 1833 the Monk Seraphim one last time came to the Zosimo-Savvatiev church for liturgy and he communed the Holy Mysteries, after which he blessed the brethren and bid farewell, saying: "Ye seeking salvation, be not discouraged, but take heart, the day of crowns is prepared for us". On 2 January, the cell-attendant of the monk, Father Pavel, at six in the morning left his own cell heading for church, and he caught the smell of burning coming from the cell of the Monk Seraphim; in the cell of the monk candles always burned, and he had said: "While I yet live, there wilt be no fire, but when I die, my end shalt reveal itself with a fire". When they opened the doors, it appeared that the books and the other things had burned, but the monk himself remained upright on his knees before an icon of the Mother of God in a position of prayer, but was already lifeless. His pure soul at the time of prayer was taken by the Angels and had flown off to the Throne of the All-Mighty God, to Whom the Monk Seraphim had been a faithful servant all his life.
The Monk Sylvester of Pechersk lived during the XII Century and was hegumen of the Mikhailovsk Vydubitsk monastery at Kiev. He continued the work of the Monk-Chronicler Nestor and he wrote nine Vitae of the Pechersk holy saints. In the service to the Pechersk Fathers venerated in the Nearer Caves, the Monk Sylvester is called blessed and endowed with "a miraculous gift to ward off demonic suggestions (Ode 9 of the Canon). The Monk Sylvester was buried in the Nearer Caves, and his memory is celebrated likewise on 28 September and on the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent.
Righteous Juliania of Lazarev and Muromsk presents an astonishing example of a self-denying Russian Christian woman. She was the daughter of the nobleman Iustin Nediurov. From her early years she lived piously, kept the fasts strictly and set aside much time for prayer. Early on having become orphaned, she was given over into the care of kinsfolk, who did not take to her and laughed at her. Juliania bore everything with patience and without complaint. Her love for people expressed itself in this manner -- she often nursed the sick and sewed clothing for the poor. The pious and virtuous life of the maiden attracted the attention of the Lazarev village owner, Yurii Osor'in, who thereafter soon married her. The husband's parents loved their gentle daughter-in-law and gave over into her hands the running of the household. Domestic concerns did not disrupt the spiritual efforts of Juliania. She always found time for prayer and she was always prepared to feed the orphaned and clothe the poor. During the time of an harsh famine, she herself remained without food, having given away her last morsel to someone begging. When an epidemic started after the famine, Juliania devoted herself completely to the nursing of the sick.
Righteous Juliania had six sons and a daughter. After the death of two of her sons she decided to withdraw to a monastery, but her husband persuaded her to remain in the world, and to continue to raise their children. On the testimony of a son of Juliania -- Kallistrat Osor'in, who wrote her life, at this time she became all the more demanding towards herself: she intensified her fasting and prayer, slept not more than two hours at night, and then laying her head upon a board.
Upon the death of her husband, Juliania distributed to the poor her portion of the inheritance. Living in extreme poverty, she was none the less for it vivacious, cordial, and in everything she thanked the Lord. The saint was vouchsafed a visitation by Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker and guidance by the Mother of God in church. When Righteous Juliania expired to the Lord, she was then buried alongside her husband at the church of Saint Lazarus. Here also was buried her daughter, the schema-nun Theodosia. In the year 1614 the relics of Righteous Juliania were uncovered, exuding a fragrant myrh, from which many received healing.
The PriestMartyr Theogenes was bishop of the Asia Minor city of Pareia at the beginning of the IV Century. During the reign of the emperor Licinius (307-324), -- a co-ruler of Constantine the Great, the tribune Zalicentius demanded him to forsake the priestly dignity, to renounce Christ and to enlist in military service. After his resolute refusal, Saint Theogenes was mercilessly beaten with canes and thrown into prison, where it was forbidden to allow him food. They then sentenced him to be drowned in the sea. Before execution the saint requested time for prayer, during which time an extraordinary light shone on him. The sailors and certain of the soldiers entrusted to drown the saint were struck by the light and were converted to Christ, but other soldiers hastened to cast the saint into the sea. Saint Theogenes accepted a martyr's death in about the year 320. His body was afterwards taken from the waters by Christians and buried at the city walls. And at this spot numerous healings occurred.
THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:
1. SAINT SYLVESTER, BISHOP OF ROME
Sylvester was born in Rome and from his early youth was learned in worldly wisdom and in the Faith of Christ. He always conducted his life according to the Gospel commandments. He benefited much from the instruction of Timothy the priest whose death for the Faith Sylvester himself witnessed and, observing the example of the heroic sacrifice of his teacher, was imbued with such a spirit throughout his entire life. At age thirty, he became the Bishop of Rome. He amended the customs of Christians. For example, he dispensed the fast on Saturdays, which was practiced by many Christians up to that time, and ordered that fasting be observed only on Holy and Great Saturday as well as on those Saturdays that fall within the fasting seasons. By his prayers and miracles Sylvester assisted in bringing Emperor Constantine and his mother Helena into the True Faith. They were later baptized. He participated with the Empress Helena in finding the Honorable Cross. He governed the Church of God for twenty years. His earthly life ended honorably and he was translated into the heavenly Kingdom.
2. THE VENERABLE SERAPHIM OF SAROV
Seraphim was one of the greatest Russian ascetics, discerners and miracle-workers. He was born in 1759 A.D and died in 1833 A.D. Seraphim was distinguished by great humility. When the entire world praised him, he referred to himself as "the wretched Seraphim."
3. SAINT THEODOTA
Theodota was the mother of the brothers Cosmas and Damian, the Unmercenaries and Miracle-workers. Theodota lived a God-pleasing life and in such a life she instructed her sons.
4. THE VENERABLE AMMON
Ammon was a great ascetic of the fifth century. He was the abbot of the Tabennesiote Monastery in Upper Egypt. Three thousand monks lived the ascetical life under his direction. He possessed the abundant gift of miracle-working and discernment. Once when a monk asked him for advice, he said to him, "Be like a convict in prison, as he continually asks: when will the judge come, and so should you ask with trembling."
HYMN OF PRAISE
O Lord, most wonderful, wonderful in Your saints, You are,
Mighty and Merciful, through Your saints, You appear.
As the sun through the stars, You shine through Your saints,
To the humble You give strength; To Paradise You raise them.
To the simple You impart wisdom; through them the wise, You shame,
To the unfortunate; you comfort with kindness; with heaven, You nourish the hungry.
Saints of every type, You have,
Among the saints, from every age, You receive
From every age and from every stock,
Without caste, without mark: the last or the first.
Pure from sin and, in good, fruitful,
Noble souls, kindred to Your Christ,
You call them saints. Everyone You call
To be a saint. Those who respond, You cleanse,
Wash them from sins that white as wool they become,
In such as these, all heaven rejoices with You,
Sylvester was such a one; In him You rejoice, and
Because of him, blessing You impart to us.
How do you respond to those who say that Christ the Miracle-worker cannot fit in our logic? Simply reply: You fit into His logic. In His logic, all eternity fits and all the nobleness of time and, then, if you wish, a place will be found even for you. If a barrel cannot fit into a thimble, you can fit a thimble into a barrel. Blessed Clement of Alexandria says; "Philosophers are children until they become men though Christ. For truth is never thinking only." Christ came to correct man and, therefore, men's logic. He is our Logos and our Logic. That is why we must direct our reason toward Him and not Him toward our reason. He is the corrector of our reason. The sun is not regulated according to our clock, but our clock is regulated according to the sun.
To contemplate the Lord Jesus as the Divine Word [The Logos]:
1. How the Triune God created everything by His Word, i.e., by Christ the Lord;
2. How senseless is every man, who distances himself from Christ, the Word of God, and in whom there is no Christ.
"Pride goes before disaster,and a haughty spirit before a fall" (Proverbs 16:18).
Of all that exists on the four corners of the earth, what, O mortal man, can make us proud except stupidities and demonic illusions. Did we not enter into the world naked and wretched and are we not going to depart this world in the same manner? Everything that we have, did we not borrow it; and by our death, are we not going to return everything? Oh, how many times has this been said and overheard? The wise apostle says, "For we have brought nothing into the world, just as we shall not be able to take anything out of it" (I Timothy 6:7). And, when we offer sacrifice to God of ordinary bread and wine, we say, "Thine own of Thine own, we offer unto Thee" (Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom). For nothing that we have in this world is ours: not even a crumb of bread nor a drop of wine; nothing that is not of God. In truth, pride is the daughter of stupidity, the daughter of a darkened mind, born of evil ties with the demons.
Pride is a broad window through which all of our merits and good works evaporate. Nothing makes us so empty before men and so unworthy before God as does pride. When the Lord is not proud, why should we be proud? Who has more reason to be proud than the Lord, Who created the world and Who sustains it by His power? And behold, He humbles himself as a servant, a servant to the whole world: a servant even to the death, to the death on the Cross!
O humble Lord, burn up within our hearts the devil's sowing of pride with the fire of Your Holy Spirit, and plant within it the noble sowing of humility and meekness.