FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:
Gregory the Theologian, Archbishop of Constantinople
Τῶν ἐν Ἁγίοις Πατέρων ἡμῶν Γρηγορίου τοῦ Θεολόγου καί Καστίνου, Ἀρχιεπισκόπων Κωνσταντινουπόλεως.
READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:
The Reading is from St. Paul's Letter to the Hebrews 7:26-28; 8:1-2
Brethren, it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, unstained, separated from sinners, exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people; he did this once for all when he offered up himself. Indeed, the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect for ever. Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the sanctuary and the true tent which is set up not by man but by the Lord.
Πρὸς Ἑβραίους 7:26-28; 8:1-2
Ἀδελφοί, τοιοῦτος γὰρ ἡμῖν ἔπρεπεν ἀρχιερεύς, ὅσιος, ἄκακος, ἀμίαντος, κεχωρισμένος ἀπὸ τῶν ἁμαρτωλῶν, καὶ ὑψηλότερος τῶν οὐρανῶν γενόμενος· ὃς οὐκ ἔχει καθʼ ἡμέραν ἀνάγκην, ὥσπερ οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς, πρότερον ὑπὲρ τῶν ἰδίων ἁμαρτιῶν θυσίας ἀναφέρειν, ἔπειτα τῶν τοῦ λαοῦ· τοῦτο γὰρ ἐποίησεν ἐφάπαξ, ἑαυτὸν ἀνενέγκας. Ὁ νόμος γὰρ ἀνθρώπους καθίστησιν ἀρχιερεῖς, ἔχοντας ἀσθένειαν· ὁ λόγος δὲ τῆς ὁρκωμοσίας τῆς μετὰ τὸν νόμον, υἱὸν εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα τετελειωμένον. Κεφάλαιον δὲ ἐπὶ τοῖς λεγομένοις· τοιοῦτον ἔχομεν ἀρχιερέα, ὃς ἐκάθισεν ἐν δεξιᾷ τοῦ θρόνου τῆς μεγαλωσύνης ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς, τῶν ἁγίων λειτουργός, καὶ τῆς σκηνῆς τῆς ἀληθινῆς, ἣν ἔπηξεν ὁ κύριος, καὶ οὐκ ἄνθρωπος·
The Reading is from John 10:9-16
The Lord said, "I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd."
Κατὰ Ἰωάννην 10.9-16
Εἶπεν ὁ Κύριος· 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. ὁ κλέπτης οὐκ ἔρχεται εἰ μὴ ἵνα κλέψῃ καὶ θύσῃ καὶ ἀπολέσῃ· ἐγὼ ἦλθον ἵνα ζωὴν ἔχωσι καὶ περισσὸν ἔχωσιν. ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ποιμὴν ὁ καλός. ὁ ποιμὴν ὁ καλὸς τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ τίθησιν ὑπὲρ τῶν προβάτων· ὁ μισθωτὸς δὲ καὶ οὐκ ὢν ποιμήν, οὗ οὐκ εἰσὶ τὰ πρόβατα ἴδια, θεωρεῖ τὸν λύκον ἐρχόμενον καὶ ἀφίησι τὰ πρόβατα καὶ φεύγει· καὶ ὁ λύκος ἁρπάζει αὐτὰ καὶ σκορπίζει τὰ πρόβατα. ὁ δὲ μισθωτὸς φεύγει, ὅτι μισθωτός ἐστι καὶ οὐ μέλει αὐτῷ περὶ τῶν προβάτων. ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ποιμὴν ὁ καλός, καὶ γινώσκω τὰ ἐμὰ καὶ γινώσκομαι ὑπὸ τῶν ἐμῶν, καθὼς γινώσκει με ὁ πατὴρ κἀγὼ γινώσκω τὸν πατέρα, καὶ τὴν ψυχήν μου τίθημι ὑπὲρ τῶν προβάτων. καὶ ἄλλα πρόβατα ἔχω, ἃ οὐκ ἔστιν ἐκ τῆς αὐλῆς ταύτης· κἀκεῖνά με δεῖ ἀγαγεῖν, καὶ τῆς φωνῆς μου ἀκούσουσι, καὶ γενήσεται μία ποίμνη, εἷς ποιμήν.
READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:
Τῇ ΚΕ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, Μνήμη τοῦ ἐν ἁγίοις Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Γρηγορίου Ἀρχιεπισκόπου Κωνσταντινουπόλεως τοῦ Θεολόγου.
Θεοῦ γινώσκειν ὀρθοδόξως οὐσίαν,
Χριστιανοῖς λεγάτον ἐκ Γρηγορίου.
Εἰκάδι Γρηγόριος Θεορήμων ἔκθανε πέμπτῃ.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ὁσίου Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Πουπλίου.
Ζωὴν ἔνυλον Πούπλιος καταστρέφει
Καὶ τὴν ἄϋλον καὶ νοητὴν λαμβάνει.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ὁσίου Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Μάρη.
Πάσης ἀποστὰς ἀγάπης κόσμου Μάρης
Εἰ θεῖον ὕψος ἧκε θείας ἀγάπης.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἡ ἁγία Μεδούλη, σὺν τῇ συνοδίᾳ αὐτῆς, πυρὶ τελειοῦται.
Σεπτὴ Μεδούλη, τοῦ Θεοῦ Λόγου δούλη,
Δούλοις Θεοῦ σύναθλος εἰς πῦρ ὡράθη.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ὁσίου Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Δημητρίου τοῦ σκευοφύλακος.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, ὁ Ὅσιος Ἀπολλὼς ἐν εἰρήνῃ τελειοῦται.
Χριστὸν βιώσας μέχρι καὶ τέλους βίον,
Θραύει πονηροῦ πᾶν Ἀπολλὼς τὸ θράσος.
Ταῖς αὐτῶν ἁγίαις πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεός, ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.
This great Father and Teacher of the Church was born in 329 in Arianzus, a village of the second district of Cappadocia, not far from Nazianzus. His father, who later became Bishop of Nazianzus, was named Gregory (commemorated Jan. 1), and his mother was named Nonna (Aug. 5); both are among the Saints, and so are his brother Caesarius (Mar. 9) and his sister Gorgona (Feb. 23). At first he studied in Caesarea of Palestine, then in Alexandria, and finally in Athens. As he was sailing from Alexandria to Athens, a violent sea storm put in peril not only his life but also his salvation, since he had not yet been baptized. With tears and fervour he besought God to spare him, vowing to dedicate his whole self to Him, and the tempest gave way to calm. At Athens Saint Gregory was later joined by Saint Basil the Great, whom he already knew; but now their acquaintanceship grew into a lifelong brotherly love. Another fellow student of theirs in Athens was the young Prince Julian, who later as Emperor was called the Apostate because he denied Christ and did all in his power to restore paganism. Even in Athens, before Julian had thrown off the mask of piety; Saint Gregory saw what an unsettled mind he had, and said, "What an evil the Roman State is nourishing" (Orat. V, 24, PG 35:693).
After their studies at Athens, Gregory became Basil's fellow ascetic, living the monastic life together with him for a time in the hermitages of Pontus. His father ordained him presbyter of the Church of Nazianzus, and Saint Basil consecrated him Bishop of Sasima (or Zansima), which was in the archdiocese of Caesarea. This consecration was a source of great sorrow to Gregory, and a cause of misunderstanding between him and Basil; but his love for Basil remained unchanged, as can be plainly seen from his Funeral Oration on Saint Basil (Orat. XLIII).
About the Year 379, Saint Gregory came to the assistance of the Church of Constantinople, which had already been troubled for forty years by the Arians; by his supremely wise words and many labours he freed it from the corruption of heresy, and was elected Archbishop of that city by the Second Ecumenical Council, which assembled there in 381, and condemned Macedonius, Archbishop of Constantinople, the enemy of the Holy Spirit. When Saint Gregory came to Constantinople, the Arians had taken all the churches and he was forced to serve in a house chapel dedicated to Saint Anastasia the Martyr. From there he began to preach his famous five sermons on the Trinity, called the Triadica. When he left Constantinople two years later, the Arians did not have one church left to them in the city. Saint Meletius of Antioch (see Feb. 12), who was presiding over the Second Ecumenical Council, died in the course of it, and Saint Gregory was chosen in his stead; there he distinguished himself in his expositions of dogmatic theology.
Having governed the Church until 382, he delivered his farewell speech - the Syntacterion, in which he demonstrated the Divinity of the Son - before 150 bishops and the Emperor Theodosius the Great; in this speech he requested, and received from all, permission to retire from the see of Constantinople. He returned to Nazianzus, where he lived to the end of his life, and reposed in the Lord in 391, having lived some sixty-two years.
His extant writings, both prose and poems in every type of metre, demonstrate his lofty eloquence and his wondrous breadth of learning. In the beauty of his writings, he is considered to have surpassed the Greek writers of antiquity, and because of his God-inspired theological thought, he received the surname "Theologian." Although he is sometimes called Gregory of Nazianzus, this title belongs properly to his father; he himself is known by the Church only as Gregory the Theologian. He is especially called "Trinitarian Theologian," since in virtually every homily he refers to the Trinity and the one essence and nature of the Godhead. Hence, Alexius Anthorus dedicated the following verses to him:
Like an unwandering star beaming with splendour,
Thou bringest us by mystic teachings, O Father,
To the Trinity's sunlike illumination,
O mouth breathing with fire, Gregory most mighty.
Apolytikion in the First Tone
Ὁ ποιμενικὸς αὐλὸς τῆς θεολογίας σου, τὰς τῶν ῥητόρων ἐνίκησε σάλπιγγας, ὡς γὰρ τὰ βάθη τοῦ Πνεύματος ἐκζητήσαντι, καὶ τὰ κάλλη τοῦ φθέγματος προσετέθη σοί. Ἀλλὰ πρέσβευε Χριστῷ τῶ Θεῷ, Πάτερ Γρηγόριε, σωθῆναι τὰς ψυχὰς ἡμῶν.
The shepherd's pipe of thy theology conquered the trumpets of the philosophers; for since thou didst search out the depths of the Spirit, beauty of speech was added to thee. But intercede with Christ God, O Father Gregory, that our souls be saved.
Kontakion in the Third Tone
Θεολόγω γλώττη σου, τὰς συμπλοκὰς τῶν ῥητόρων, διαλύσας ἔνδοξε, ὀρθοδοξίας χιτῶνα, ἄνωθεν ἐξυφανθέντα τὴν Ἐκκλησίαν, ἐστόλισας, ὃν καὶ φοροῦσα, ἰσὺν ἡμῖν κράζει, τοὶς σοὶς τέκνοις. Χαίροις Πάτερ, θεολογίας ὁ νοὺς ὁ ἀκρότατος.
O Glorious One, you dispelled the complexities of orators with the words of your theology. You have adorned the Church with the vesture of Orthodoxy woven from on high. Clothed in this, the Church now cries out to your children, with us, "Hail Father, the consummate theological mind."
Σήμερα η Εκκλησία γιορτάζει την μνήμη ενός από τους τρείς μεγάλους Ιεράρχας και Οικουμενικούς Διδασκάλους, του αγίου Γρηγορίου του Θεολόγου. Ο άγιος Γρηγόριος είναι ο πνευματικός άνθρωπος, ο θεωρητικός νους, που πάντα εξαίρεται πάνω από τα ανθρώπινα. Είναι ο θεολόγος, ο ρήτορας, ο ποιητής, που αντι δια τον κοσμικό θόρυβο και την αίγλη των αξιωμάτων προτιμά την ησυχία της ερήμου και την απλότητα του ιδιωτικού βίου. Οι αγώνες του για την επικράτηση της ορθοδόξου πίστεως τον ανέβασαν αρχιεπισκοπικό θρόνο της Νέας Ρώμης. Μα εκείνος αφήνοντας τις μικρότητες των ανθρώπων και χαιρετίζοντας συγκινητικά το ποίμνιό του, έφυγε για ν' αφιερωθή στις πνευματικές του θεωρήσεις. Ίδε ο άνθρωπος του Θεού· "Ηγνόουν γαρ ότι προς υπάτους ημιν και υπάρχους η άμιλλα και στρατηγών τους ευδοκιμωτάτους, οι μη έχουσιν όποι τα εαυτών ρίψουσι".
Ὁ Ἅγιος Γρηγόριος ὁ Θεολόγος
Ἀπὸ τὰ μεγαλύτερα πνεύματα τοῦ χριστιανισμοῦ καὶ ἀπὸ τοὺς λαμπρότερους ἀθλητὲς τῆς ὀρθόδοξης πίστης. Γεννήθηκε τὸ 329 στὴν Ἀριανζό, κωμόπολη τῆς Καππαδοκίας, ἀπὸ τὸν Γρηγόριο, ἐπίσκοπο Ναζιανζοῦ (1 Ἰανουαρίου) καὶ τὴν Νόννα (5 Αὐγούστου). Στὴ Ναζιανζὸ διδάσκεται τὴν στοιχειώδη ἐκπαίδευση, ἐνῷ τὴν μέση στὴν Καισάρεια, ὅπου γνωρίζεται μὲ τὸ συμμαθητή του Μ. Βασίλειο. Ἔπειτα, πηγαίνει κοντὰ σὲ περίφημους διδασκάλους τῆς ῥητορικῆς καί, τέλος, στὰ πανεπιστήμια τῆς Ἀθήνας, ὅπου βρίσκει, συμφοιτητὴ τώρα, τὸ Μ. Βασίλειο. Ὅταν ἐπιστρέφει στὴν πατρίδα του, ὁ πατέρας του, ἐπίσκοπος Ναζιανζοῦ, τὸν χειροτονεῖ πρεσβύτερο. Ἀλλ᾿ αὐτὸς προτίμα τὴν ἡσυχία τοῦ ἀναχωρητηρίου στὸν Πόντο, κοντὰ στὸ φίλο του Βασίλειο, γιὰ περισσότερη ἄσκηση στὴν πνευματικὴ ζωή. Μετά, ὅμως, ἀπὸ θερμὲς παρακλήσεις τῶν δικῶν του, ἐπιστρέφει στὴν πατρίδα του καὶ μπαίνει στὴν ἐνεργὸ δράση τῆς Ἐκκλησίας. Ὅμως, τὸ δρεπάνι τοῦ θανάτου ἔρχεται νὰ πληγώσει τὴν ψυχή του, μὲ ἀλλεπάλληλους θανάτους συγγενικῶν του προσώπων. Πρῶτα του ἀδελφοῦ του Καισαρείου, ἔπειτα τῆς ἀδελφῆς του Γοργονίας, μετὰ τοῦ πατέρα του καί, τέλος, τῆς μητέρας του Νόννας. Μετὰ ἀπ᾿ αὐτὲς τὶς θλίψεις, ἡ θεία Πρόνοια τὸν φέρνει στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη (378), ὅπου ὑπερασπίζεται μὲ καταπληκτικὸ τρόπο τὴν Ὀρθοδοξία καὶ χτυπᾷ καίρια τοὺς Ἀρειανούς, ποὺ εἶχαν πλημμυρίσει τὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη. Μετὰ τὸ σκληρὸ αὐτὸ ἀγῶνα, ὁ Μ. Θεοδόσιος τὸν ἀναδεικνύει Πατριάρχη Κωνσταντινουπόλεως (381). Στὴ Β´ Οἰκουμ. Σύνοδο, μία μερίδα ἐπισκόπων τὸν ἀντιπολιτεύεται γιὰ εὐτελὴ λόγο. Τότε ὁ Γρηγόριος, ἀηδιασμένος, δηλώνει τὴν παραίτησή του, ἀναχωρεῖ στὴ γενέτειρά του Ἀριανζὸ καὶ τελειώνει μὲ εἰρήνη τὴν ζωή του, τὸ 390. Ἄφησε μεγάλο συγγραφικὸ ἔργο. Ἰδιαίτερο ἐνδιαφέρον παρουσιάζουν τὰ φιλοσοφημένα ποιήματά του.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Πούπλιος
Καταγόταν ἀπὸ τὰ μέρη τοῦ ποταμοῦ Εὐφράτη καὶ ἦταν βουλευτῆς. Ὁ Πούπλιος, ψυχὴ ἐμπνεόμενη ἀπὸ τὴν φιλάνθρωπη αὐταπάρνηση τῶν πρώτων χριστιανῶν, μοίρασε τὰ ὑπάρχοντα τοῦ ὅλα στοὺς φτωχοὺς καὶ ἀποσύρθηκε σ᾿ ἕνα μικρὸ ἀναχωρητήριο. Ἐκεῖ, δὲν ἄργησε νὰ σχηματισθεῖ γύρω τοῦ μικρὴ κοινωνία ἀδελφῶν ἐρημιτῶν, τῆς ὁποίας αὐτὸς ἦταν ὁ ὁδηγὸς καὶ ὁ διδάσκαλος. Τοὺς κατάρτιζε στὴν εὐσέβεια καὶ ἐγκράτεια, καὶ ἀνέδειξε ἀπ᾿ αὐτοὺς πνευματικοὺς ἄνδρες οἱ ὁποῖοι πολλὲς φορὲς χρησίμευσαν στὴν προστασία τῶν Χριστιανῶν καὶ στὴν ὑπεράσπιση τῆς Ἐκκλησίας. Ἀφοῦ λοιπὸν ἔτσι καλὰ ἀγωνίστηκε ὁ ἀοίδιμος Πούπλιος, παρέδωσε τὴν μακάρια ψυχή του στὰ χέρια τοῦ Θεοῦ.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Μαρής
Τὴ βιογραφία του ἔγραψε ὁ Κύρου Θεοδώρητος. Ὁ Ὅσιος Μαρὴς ἦταν ἀπὸ τὴν πόλη Κύρου καὶ ἦταν ὡραῖος στὴν ὄψη καὶ καλλίφωνος. Ἔψαλλε στοὺς ναοὺς καὶ ζοῦσε μὲ ἐγκράτεια καὶ σεμνότητα. Ὅταν ἀποφάσισε νὰ ἐγκαταλείψει τὰ ἐγκόσμια, ἦλθε σ᾿ ἕνα χωριὸ ποὺ ὀνομαζόταν Ὅμηρου ἡ Νήτις καὶ ἔκτισε σπίτι, ὅπου βιέμεινε γιὰ τριάντα ἑπτὰ (37) ὁλόκληρα χρόνια, μὲ νηστεία καὶ προσευχή. Ἔζησε συνολικὰ ἐνενήντα (90) χρόνια καὶ ἀπεβίωσε εἰρηνικά.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Ἀπολλώς
Ὁ ὅσιος Ἀπολλὼς βρέφος ἀκόμα ἀπαρνήθηκε τὸν κόσμο καὶ σὲ ἡλικία δέκα πέντε χρονῶν πῆγε στὴν ἔρημο, ὅπου ἀπόκτησε πολλὲς καὶ μεγάλες ἀρετές. Ἔζησε στὰ χρόνια τοῦ Ἰουλιανοῦ τοῦ Παραβάτη. Ὁ Θεὸς τὸν ἀξίωσε μεγάλων χαρισμάτων, ὅπως τὸ προορατικὸ καὶ τὸ θαυματουργικό. Ἔτσι ὥστε ἀπὸ τὰ μεγάλα θαύματα ποὺ ἐπετέλεσε, πίστεψε σχεδὸν ὅλη ἡ Αἴγυπτος στὸν Χριστό. Ἔτσι, λοιπόν, καλὰ ἀγωνιζόμενος, παρέδωσε εἰρηνικὰ τὴν ἁγία του ψυχὴ στὸν Κύριο.
Ἡ Ἁγία Μεδούλη μὲ τὴν συνοδεία της
Μαρτύρησαν ἀφοῦ τὶς ἔριξαν μέσα στὴ φωτιά.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Καστῖνος ἐπίσκοπος Βυζαντίου
Καταγόταν ἀπὸ τὴν Ῥώμη, εἶχε ἀξίωμα συγκλητικοῦ καὶ ἦταν στὴν ἀρχὴ εἰδωλολάτρης. Στὸν χριστιανισμὸ τὸν προσείλκυσε ὁ ἐπίσκοπος Ἀργυρουπόλεως Κυριλλιανός. Ἀμέσως τότε ὁ Καστῖνος μοίρασε τὰ ὑπάρχοντά του στοὺς φτωχοὺς καὶ ἀφοσιώθηκε ὁλοκληρωτικὰ στὴν ὑπηρεσία τῆς Ἐκκλησίας. Ἐπίσκοπος Βυζαντίου ἔκανε τὸ 230 μὲ 237. Μέχρι τῆς ἐποχῆς του ὁ καθεδρικὸς ναὸς ἦταν στὰ παραθαλάσσια τοῦ σημερινοῦ Γαλατᾶ. Πρῶτος δὲ αὐτὸς ἔκτισε ναὸ στὸ Βυζάντιο, στὸ ὄνομα τῆς Ἁγίας Εὐφημίας. Ὁ Νικηφόρος Κάλλιστος τὸν γράφει: Κωνσταντῖνον.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Δημήτριος ὁ Σκευοφύλακας
Ὁ Ἅγιος Αὐξέντιος ὁ Νεομάρτυρας
Γεννήθηκε στὴν ἐπαρχία Βελλᾶς τῶν Ἰωαννίνων τὸ 1600, ἀπὸ γονεῖς εὐσεβεῖς. Νεαρὸς ἀκόμα, πῆγε στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη καὶ δούλευε τὴν τέχνη τῶν γουναράδων στὸ χάνι, τὸ λεγόμενο Μαχμούτ-Πασᾶ. Ἀργότερα ὅμως, ἐπεθύμησε τέρψεις καὶ ἡδονές, ἐγκατέλειψε τὴν τέχνη του καὶ προσλήφθηκε στὰ βασιλικὰ καράβια, ὅπου ξεφάντωνε μὲ τοὺς Τούρκους φίλους του. Αὐτοὶ οἱ φίλοι του ὅμως, τὸν συκοφάντησαν ὅτι ἀρνήθηκε τὸν Χριστὸ καὶ ὁμολόγησε τὴ θρησκεία τους. Φοβισμένος ὁ Αὐξέντιος ἐγκατέλειψε τὰ καράβια καὶ ἀφοῦ ἀγόρασε μία βάρκα, ἔκανε τὸν βαρκάρη. Μετανιωμένος ὅμως γιὰ τὰ προηγούμενα σφάλματά του, θέλησε νὰ μαρτυρήσει γιὰ τὸν Χριστό. Τυχαία τότε, συνάντησε τὸν Σύγκελλο τῆς Μεγάλης Ἐκκλησίας Γρηγόριο Ξηροποταμηνὸ καὶ ἐξομολογήθηκε τὸν πόθο του. Ἀργότερα, τὸν συνάντησαν στὸν δρόμο ναυτικοί του στόλου, τὸν ἀναγνώρισαν καὶ τὸν ὁδήγησαν στὸν κριτή. Στὸ κριτήριο ὁ Αὐξέντιος, παρὰ τὰ σκληρὰ βασανιστήρια, ὁμολόγησε πὼς εἶναι χριστιανός. Ἔτσι τὸν φυλάκισαν στὸ Πασά - Καπισί. Στὴ φυλακὴ αὐτή, ὁ Σύγκελλος Γρηγόριος τὸν ἐπισκέφθηκε καὶ τὸν ἐνθάῤῥυνε νὰ σταθεῖ ἀνδρεῖος μπροστὰ στοὺς ἀπίστους. Ἀνακρινόμενος καὶ πάλι ὁ Αὐξέντιος ἐπέμενε λέγοντας: «Ἐγὼ χριστιανὸς γεννήθηκα καὶ χριστιανὸς θέλω ν᾿ ἀποθάνω». Τότε τὸν καταδίκασαν σὲ θάνατο μὲ ἀποκεφαλισμό. Τὸν ἀποκεφάλισαν στὶς 25 Ἰανουαρίου 1720 στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη. Ἡ κάρα τοῦ Ἁγίου σῴζεται στὴ Μονὴ Ξηροποτάμου.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Θεόδοτος ἡγούμενος Μονῆς Πουπλίου
Τὸν ὅσιο αὐτὸ ἀναφέρει ὁ Θεοδώρητος Κύρου. Σύμφωνα λοιπὸν μὲ τὰ γραφόμενά του, ὁ Ὅσιος αὐτός, ἀφοῦ ἔγινε ἡγούμενος τῆς Μονῆς Πουπλίου (βλ. σχετικῶς γιὰ τὸν ὅσιο Πούπλιο, αὐτὴ τὴν μέρα, πιὸ πάνω), καὶ ἀφοῦ ἔζησε ὁσιακά, ἀπεβίωσε εἰρηνικά.
Our Father among the Saints Gregory the Theologian, Archbishop of Constantinople (389)
This light of the Church is one of only three holy Fathers whom the Church has honored with the name "the Theologian" (the others are St John the Evangelist and Theologian, and St Symeon the New Theologian).
He was born in 329 in Arianzus in Cappadocia to a pious and holy family: both his father Gregory, mother Nonna, brother Caesarius and sister Gorgonia are all counted among the Saints of the Church. His father later became Bishop of Nazianzus. He studied in Palestine, then in Alexandria, then in Athens. On the way to Athens, his ship was almost sunk in a violent storm; Gregory, who had not yet been baptized, prayed to the Lord to preserve him, and promised that henceforth he would dedicate his entire life to God. Immediately the storm ceased.
In Athens, Gregory's fellow students included St Basil the Great and the future Emperor Julian the Apostate. The friendship between Gregory and Basil blossomed into a true spiritual friendship; they were loving brothers in Christ for the rest of their lives. After completing their studies, Sts Gregory and Basil lived together as monks in hermitage at Pontus. Much against St Gregory's will, his father ordained him a priest, and St Basil consecrated him Bishop of Sasima (in the Archdiocese of Caesarea, over which St Basil was Archbishop).
In 381 the Second Ecumenical Council condemned Macedonius, Archbishop of Constantinople, and appointed St Gregory in his place. When he arrived in the City, he found that the Arians controlled all the churches, and he was forced to "rule" from a small house chapel. From there he preached his five great sermons on the Trinity, the Triadika; these were so powerfully influential that when he left Constantinople two years later, every church in the City had been restored to the Orthodox.
St Gregory was always a theologian and a contemplative, not an administrator, and the duties of Archbishop were agonizing to him. In 382 he received permission from a council of his fellow-bishops and the Emperor to retire from the see of Constantinople. He returned to Nazianzus (for which reason he is sometimes called St Gregory of Nazianzus). There he reposed in peace in 391 at the age of sixty-two.
His writings show a theological depth and a sublimity of expression perhaps unsurpassed in the Church. His teaching on the Holy Trinity is a great bastion of Orthodox Faith; in almost every one of his published homilies he preaches the Trinity undivided and of one essence.
Sainted Gregory (Nazianzus) the Theologian, Archbishop of Constantinople, an ecumenical father and teacher of the Church, was born into a Christian family of eminent lineage in the year 329, at Arianzos (not far from the city of Cappadocian Nazianzos). His father, likewise a Sainted Gregory, was Bishop of Nazianzos (Comm. 1 January); but of these two father and son, the son is the Saint Gregory Nazianzus encountered in Patristic theology. His mother, Saint Nonna (+ 374, Comm. 5 August), prayed God for a son, having given a vow to dedicate him to the Lord. As was revealed to her in a dream, she accordingly named her first-born Gregory. When the son learned to read, his mother presented him with the Holy Scripture. Saint Gregory received a quite complete and extensive education: after working at home with his uncle Saint Amphylokhios, an experienced teacher of rhetoric, he then studied in the schools of Nazianzos, Caesarea Cappadocia and Alexandria. Then for the finishing touches to his education, the saint set off to Athens. On the way from Alexandria to Hellas [Greek name for Greece] (352), during the time of a terrible storm of many days, he was apprehensive only that "the murderous waters would deprive him of the waters of cleansing". "For twenty days and nights, -- relates Saint Gregory, -- I lay at the ship's stern, beseeching the merciful God for salvation, and at this perilous time I gave a vow to dedicate myself to God, being saved through this vow".
The saint spent six years at Athens, and there studied rhetorics, poetics, geometry and astronomy. His teachers were the reknown pagan rhetoricians Gymorias and Proeresias. Together with Saint Gregory, there also studied there Saint Basil, the future Archbishop of Caesarea Cappadocia (+ 379, Comm. 1 January). Their friendship, formed while still back in school in Caesarea, flourished in a deep spiritual closeness. But their acquaintance with Julian, the future emperor (361-363) -- and apostate from the Christian faith, soon turned into implacable enmity.
Upon completing his education, Saint Gregory remained for a certain while at Athens and taught the rhetoric eloquence of speech. He knew well the pre-Christian pagan philosophy and literature.
In the year 358 Saint Gregory quietly quit Athens and returned to his parents at Nazianzos. And here he at almost 30 years of age received Baptism from his father. Since now it was for him "become more significant to be a follower of God, than foremost with the emperor", he vacillated only on which way was to be "the preference: contemplative or practical".
At the suggestion of Saint Basil he withdrew into the wilderness, so as to asceticise alongside him.
But at the demand of his father, Saint Gregory returned to Nazianzos in 361 and received the dignity of presbyter. Sensing however, that solitude and silent prayer were immeasurably closer to his liking than pastoral activity, Saint Gregory again hastened into the wilderness to Saint Basil. There in the wilderness he strengthened in spirit, found the wherewithal to return to his flock and properly do his duty. And there soon befell Saint Gregory the hard task of reconciling the bishop with his flock, which condemned their pastor for signing an ambiguous interpretation of the dogmas of the faith. Saint Gregory gave the flock time for expression of feelings first, and then he convinced his father to openly acknowledge his mistake. After this, and uttering a sermon on the need for reconciliation, Saint Gregory accomplished his intent. Sainted Basil the Great made Saint Gregory bishop of the city of Sasima, but in order to assist his dying father, Saint Gregory remained at Nazianzos, and for a certain while after the death of his father he guided the flock of this city.
Upon the death of the Constantinople patriarch Valentus in the year 378, the Antioch Council invited Saint Gregory to help the Constantinople Church, which at this time moreso than at others was ravaged by heretics. Having received the consent of Saint Basil the Great, Saint Gregory came to Constantinople upon the Patriarchal throne. In the year 379 he began to serve and preach in a not-large house church of his kinsmen. He named this church "Anastasis" ("Voskresenie" or "Resurrection"), believing that in this small church he would begin to resurrect Orthodoxy. Heretics ruled everywhere -- whether they be Arians or Appolinarians. And the more loudly resounded his preaching, the more fully increased the gathering in church, and by this more bitterly grew the opposition of the heretics. On the night of Pascha 21 April 379, when Saint Gregory was making Baptism of the newly-illumined, a mob of armed heretics burst into the church and showered an hail of rocks upon the Orthodox, killing one bishop and wounding Saint Gregory. But the fortitude and mildness of the saint were his best armour, and his words regathered the Orthodox.
The compiled works of Saint Gregory -- discourses, letters, verses -- all show, that he strove to be a worthy preacher of the truth of Christ. A gift of words was bestown him, and the saint sought to offer it in gift to God -- the Word: ""This gift offer I up to my God, this gift I do dedicate to Him: -- this alone, is what I have remaining as my riches; I gave up all else at the command of the Spirit; everything that I had, I gave in exchange for the pearl of great price. Only in words do I master it, as a servant of the Word; never intentionally would I wish to disdain this wealth, I esteem it, I set value by it, I am comforted by it more, than others are comforted by all the treasures of the world. It -- is the companion of all my life, a good counselor and converser; a guide on the way to Heaven and a fervent co-ascetic". In order to worthily preach the Word of God, the saint assiduously prepared and revised his works.
In five Sermons -- "Discourses on Theology", dealing with those inclined towards the verbose reasonings of Eunomios, Saint Gregory first of all gives a precise definition, who it is from whom and when that they can theologise. Only those who are experienced can properly reason about God, those successful at contemplation and, foremost of all, pure in soul and body, or in utmost measure cleansed of self. To reason about God properly is possible only for one who enters into it with fervour and reverence. Explaining, that God has concealed His Essence from mankind, Saint Gregory demonstrates, that "by means of flesh it is impossible to view mental objects without admixture of the corporeal". To theologise talking about God in a positive sense is possible only when we become free from the external impressions of things and from their affects, when our guide -- the mind, does not adhere to impure transitory images. Answering the Eunomians, who would presuppose by means of logical speculation to grasp at the Essence of God, the saint declared that man perceives God, when he is commensurate in form with the Divine Principle, i.e. when the mind co-unites with the commensurate Essence. Furthermore, the example of the Old Testament patriarchs and prophets and also the Apostles has demonstrated, that for earthly man the Essence of God is incomprehensible. Saint Gregory cited by way of example the futile sophistry of Eunomios: "God begat the Son either through His will, or contrary to will. If He begat contrary to will, then He underwent constraint. If by His will, then the Son is the Son of His intent".
Confuting suchlike reasoning, Saint Gregory points out the harm done by it to man: "Thou thyself, who speaketh so thoughtlessly, hast thou issued forth by intent or not by the intent of thy father? If not by intent, then also thy father underwent compulsion in it. From whom? To demonstrate this in nature thou cannot: it would favour chasteness. And if by intent, then on account of a few syllables thou dost deprive thyself of thy father; wherein thou dost make thyself a son by self intent, rather than of thy father". Saint Gregory then turns himself to Holy Scripture, with particular attention examining a place, where it points out the Divine Nature of the Son of God. The repetitive interpretations of Saint Gregory on Holy Scripture are devoted to revealing the thought, that the Divine power of the Saviour was actualised even when on account of the Salvation of mankind He took upon Himself an impaired human nature. But another place in these Sermons of Saint Gregory is occupied by polemics against the Eunomians for their blaspheming of the Holy Spirit.
Closely examining everything that is said in the Gospel about the Third Person of the MostHoly Trinity, the saint refutes the heresy of Eunomios, which rejected the Divinity of the Holy Spirit. He comes to two fundamentally posited results. First, in reading Holy Scripture, it is necessary to reject blind literalism and to study so as to perceive its spiritual sense. Second, in the Old Testament the Holy Spirit operated hiddenly. In the New Testament "the Holy Spirit doth reside with us and in most evident form doth disclose Itself before us. As long as they did not acknowledge God the Father, they could not properly preach about the Son, and as long as they did not accept the Son, they could not, expressing it somewhat boldly, additionally burden us with the Holy Spirit. The Divinity of the Holy Spirit -- is a sublime subject. Here before us is a mass of testimony. Christ is born -- the Holy Spirit precedes this; Christ is baptised -- the Spirit witnesses to this; Christ works miracles -- the Spirit collaborates; Christ ascends -- the Spirit comes in place of Him. And what indeed is great and Divine, that He is not capable of? What Name, appertaining to Divinity, does not apply to Him, except for UnBegotten and Begotten?...I am amazed, when I see such a richness of titles, -- I tremble when I consider, which Name it is they do blaspheme, they who do so revolt against the Spirit!"
The content of the Sermons of Saint Gregory does not consist in this alone. He wrote also: five laudatory tracts, ten interpretations of feastdays, two discourses of reproach against Julian the Apostate -- "two pillars, on which is indelibly written the impiety of Julian for posterity", and preachings on other themes. In all, 45 sermons of Saint Gregory have been preserved. The letters of the saint compare with his best theological works. All of them are masterfully elaborated while yet brief, for the most part. In his hymns as in everything, Saint Gregory lived for Christ. "If the lengthy tracts of the heretics, -- be indeed new psalters, at variance with David, and -- the pretty verses they honour be as a third testament: then we also shalt sing psalms, and begin to write much and compose poetic metres", -- said the saint. About his poetic gift the saint wrote thus: "I -- am an organ of the Lord and sweetly by intricacy of song of the MostHigh I do glorify the King: all atremble before Him".
The fame of the Orthodox preacher spread through East and West. But the saint lived in the very capital just as though he lived still in the wilderness -- "his food was food of the wilderness; his clothing -- whatever necessary; his making of rounds was without pretense, and being in proximity of the court -- he sought nothing from the court". During a time of sickness the saint was given a shock. One whom he reckoned as his friend, the philosopher Maximos, was consecrated in place of Saint Gregory at Constantinople. Struck by the ingratitude of Maximos, the saint decided to resign the cathedra, but his faithful flock restrained him from it. The people threw the usurper out of the city. On 24 November 380 the holy emperor Theodosius arrived in the capital and, in enforcing his decree against the heretics, the chief church was returned to the Orthodox, with Saint Gregory solemnly making entrance. Soon an attempt on the life of Saint Gregory was in the offing, but the one who was to be the assassin instead appeared before the saint with tears of repentance.
In the year 381 at the Second OEcumenical Council, Saint Gregory was confirmed in the dignity of Constantinople Patriarch. Upon the death of the Antioch Patriarch Meletios, Saint Gregory presided at the Council. Hoping to reconcile the West with the East, he offered to recognise Paulinos as Antioch Patriarch. But with the arrival of those who earlier had acted against Saint Gregory on the side of Maximos -- particularly Egyptian and Macedonian bishops, they did not want to acknowledge the saint as Patriarch of Constantinople. Saint Gregory decided to sacrifice himself for the peace of the Church: "Let me be as the Prophet Jonah! I was guilty for the storm, but I would sacrifice myself for the salvation of the ship. Grab hold and throw me... I was not happy when I ascended the throne, and gladly would I descend it". Having explained to the emperor about his wish to quit the capital, Saint Gregory appeared again at the Council, in a farewell address asking it to let him depart in peace.
Upon his return to his native region, Saint Gregory concerned himself about the incursion of Appolinarian heretics into the Nazianzos flock, and he established there as bishop the pious Eulalios, while he himself withdrew into the solitude of Arianzos so dear to his heart. Not forsaking the wilderness, the saint with zeal for the truth of Christ continued to affirm Orthodoxy through his letters and verses. In the year 389 he died, on 25 January, being honoured by the Church with the title "Theologian" bestown also on that beloved disciple of Christ -- the holy Evangelist and Apostle John.
"I want to speak boldly and forcefully, so that ye may be made the best, so that ye may turn from flesh to spirit, so that in right manner ye progress in spirit", -- said Saint Gregory the Theologian.
In his works Saint Gregory, just like that other Theologian Saint John, directs everything towards the Praeternal Word. The Monk John Damascene (Comm. 4 December), in the first part of his book "Exposition on the Faith", followed the lead of Saint Gregory the Theologian.
The body of Saint Gregory was buried at Nazianzos. In the year 950 the holy relics were transferred to Constantinople into the church of the Holy Apostles. Later on part of the relics were transferred to Rome. Tradition has preserved the features of the saint as: "a face humble, pale, eyebrows standing up thick, a meek glance, beard not long, but thick and broad". His contemporaries already called the archpastor a saint. The Orthodox Church, terming Saint Gregory a second Theologian and mystery-insightful luminous writer of the Holy Trinity, recourses thus to him in the songs of Divine-services: "By the theology of thy tongue rhetoric wrangling is undone, O glorious one, thou hast adorned the Church with the fabric of Orthodoxy woven from on high: rejoice, O father, thou utmost mind Theological". [from Kondak].
Sainted Moses (Moisei), Archbishop of Novgorod (1325-1330, 1352-1359), in the world Mitrophan, was born at Novgorod. In his youth he secretly left his parental home and entered the Tver Christ-Child monastery, where he took monastic vows. His parents found him, and at their insistence he transferred to the Kolmov monastery near Novgorod. At this monastery he was ordained to the dignity of priestmonk, and later at Yur'ev monastery he was elevated to archimandrite. After the death of the Archbishop David, Sainted Peter (+ 1326, Comm. 21 December) consecrated him in 1325 to the dignity of Archbishop of Novgorod. But Saint Moses did not guide the Novgorod flock for long. The quarrels and contentious factions, the conflagrations and other misfortunes weighed heavily on his soul, which sought for monastic solitude. In 1330 the saint withdrew to the Kolmov monastery for tranquillity. But here also he did not long remain. Having searched out a desolate spot at Derevyanitsa, he built there a stone church of the Resurrection of Christ. At this place the monk spent more than twenty years at monastic deeds. Having yielded to the requests of the Novgorod people to be their spiritual head, he returned anew to his flock. The ancient chronicler describes Saint Moses thus: "He shepherded his flock like a good pastor; he defended the downtrodden, and protected destitute widows; having gathered a company of copyists, on his account many a book was written, and he confirmed many things in piety by his guidances".
In the year 1354 the Constantinople Patriarch Philotheos (1354-1355, 1362-1376) in token of deep respect for Saint Moses gave permission for him to make use of an ancient prerogative of Novgorod hierarchs -- to wear the Polystaurion garb ("Krestchataya Riza", meaning "of many crosses"), which also he sent him. He likewise permitted Saint Moses to deal directly without intermediaries with the Constantinople Patriarch. Archbishop Moses continued for seven years the second time around as hierarch, a period marked by the building of many churches in Novgorod and its surroundings. In 1352 a stone church in honour of the Dormition (Uspenie) of the MostHoly Mother of God was built by the saint at Volotova; in 1355 a monastery was built in a locality named Skovorodka, with a stone church in honour of the holy Archistrategos of God Michael; in 1357 also churches were built at three monasteries: at Radogovitsa near the Volotovsk Dormition church, and at the Spirit (Dukhov) monastery and at a women's monastery -- churches in the name of Saint John the Theologian (the first and third of these monasteries were founded by Saint Moses).
In 1359, feeling weak and sick, the saint withdrew into the Skovorodsk monastery founded by him in the name of the holy Archistrategos of God Michael. Saint Moses asceticised here until his death on 25 January 1362. He was buried at the cathedral church.
The archbishop of Novgorod Sergei, in 1484, having come to this cathedra from Moscow, gave orders to a priest to open up the grave of Saint Moses. "I dare not, Vladyka, to be so bold as to open up the relics of the sainted hierarch. It is thy task as hierarch to open the grave of an hierarch", -- answered the priest. "Look what is on this corpse!" -- said the infuriated archbishop, but he was soon punished. Having gone insane, he was not able to govern the cathedra and did not become well, until he took the schema at the Khutynsk monastery (+ 1504 at Trinity Sergeev monastery).
The establishing of a feastday to Sainted Moses on 19 April is connected with a proper opening of his undecayed relics in 1686.
The Holy Martyress Felicita with her Seven Sons: Jannuarius, Felix, Philip, Sylvanus, Alexander, Vitalius and Marcial. Saint Felicita was born of a rich Roman family. Pagan priests made reports of denunciation against her for insulting the gods through spreading the Christian faith. Saint Felicita gave off all her possessions, and together with her sons openly confessed faith in Christ. They were all handed over to torture. Saint Felicita, seeing the suffering of her sons, besought God, that they would stand firm and enter the Heavenly Kingdom before her. All the sons died as martyrs before the eyes of their mother. After them, Saint Felicita herself underwent a martyr's death. The holy family suffered at Rome in about the year 164. Sainted Gregory Dialogus gave a laudatory sermon for the Martyress Felicita in a third talk, preached in a church named for her.
The Monk Poplios of Syria was born in the city of Zeugma on the Euphrates and had the rank of senator. Renouncing the world, he gave off his possessions, took monastic vows and asceticised in a cave on a mountain in the Syrian wilderness, where he founded two monasteries: one for Greeks, and another for Syrians. He died in the year 380. Of his disciples who imitated Saint Poplios -- Saints Theoteknos, Theodotos and Athonios were in particular glorified by sanctity of life. Saint Poplios in guiding the monastery for over 40 years was eventually granted the dignity of archimandrite, but being elevated in rank he changed neither his garb nor his manner of life, remaining instead a strict ascetic.
The Monk Maros -- the Singer asceticised for 37 years in the village of Omir, not far from the city Kyr' in Syria, dwelling in a crude hut. He ate rough food, and wore clothes from the hide of wild goats. For his handsome face, his delicate and pleasing voice, he was called a singer. The monk died peacefully at age 60, in about the year 430.
The Icon of the Mother of God, named "Alleviatrix of my Grief", was glorified at Moscow by many miracles in the second half of the XVIII Century, and particularly during a time of plague in the year 1771. The icon was brought to Moscow by Cossacks in 1640 during the reign Mikhail Feodorovich (1613-1645) and placed in a temple of Sainted Nicholas at Pupyshakh and Sadovnikakh. One time, likely following a conflagration and repeated rebuilding of the temple they forgot about the icon, and it was taken out and put in a bell-tower in great carelessness. But the abundant mercies, manifest through it by the Mother of God, compelled them to recollect their forgetfulness of the holy icon and to remove it into a proper place in the church, in which later a chapel was built in its honour. The celebration of the wonderworking icon, made annually on 25 January, was established in the year 1760 in memory of the healing of a sick woman, who had been granted a vision of the holy image, and was healed after a molieben service before it on 25 January in the church of Saint Nicholas at Pupyshakh street in Moscow. To this period are attributed the compilation to it of services and an akathist. Venerable copies of the Icon of the Mother of God, named "Alleviatrix of my Grief", are found in may of the churches of Moscow and other cities.
THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:
1. ST GREGORY THE THEOLOGIAN, ARCHBISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE
Gregory was born in Nazianzus of a Greek father and a Christian mother. Before his baptism, he studied in Athens along with Basil the Great and Julian the Apostate. Gregory often prophesied that Julian would become an apostate and a persecutor of the Church which actually happened. Gregory was especially influenced greatly by his good mother Nonna. When he completed his studies, Gregory was baptized. St. Basil consecrated him as bishop of Sasima, and Emperor Theodosius the Great summoned him to fill the vacant archepiscopal throne of Constantinople. He wrote numerous works of which his most famous are those concerning theology for which he is called The Theologian. Especially known because of its depth is his work: Homilies on The Holy Trinity. Gregory wrote against the heretic Macedonius who erroneously taught that the Holy Spirit is a creation of God and, Gregory also wrote against Appolinarius who erroneously taught that Christ did not have a human soul but that His divinity was in lieu of His soul. Additionally Gregory wrote against Emperor Julian the Apostate, his one-time colleague in school. In 381 A.D., when a debate began regarding his election as archbishop, he withdrew on his own and issued a statement: "Those, who deprive us of our archepiscopal throne cannot deprive us of God." After that, he left Constantinople and went to Nazianzus and there lived a life of solitude and prayer, writing worthwhile books. Even though he was in poor health throughout his entire life, nevertheless, Gregory lived to be eighty years old. His relics were later transferred to Rome. A reliquary containing his head reposes in the Cathedral Church of the Assumption in Moscow. He was, and remains, a great and wonderful light of the Orthodox Church as much by his meekness and purity of character as well as for the unsurpassable depth of his mind. He died in the Lord in the year 390 A.D.
2. THE VENERABLE PUBLIUS
At first, Publius was a senator. Recognizing the light of Christ, he left his worldly honors, distributed his possessions to the poor and devoted himself to a life of asceticism in the proximity of his town Zeguma on the Euphrates river. He established two monastic communities and died in the year 380 A.D.
3. THE VENERABLE MARES
Mares was distinguished by external beauty and a sweet-sounding voice. He withdrew from the world and lived in a hut for thirty-seven years, in fasting and cleansing the heart of impure thoughts. As a ninety-year old man, Mares died in the Lord in the year 430 A.D.
4. THE HOLY FEMALE MARTYR FELICITAS AND HER SEVEN SONS
As a Christian, Felicitas was condemned to death along with her seven sons during the reign of Emperor Antoninus in the year 164 A.D. She implored God only that she not to be killed before her sons, so that she might be able to encourage them during their torture and death in order that they would not deny Christ. According to God's Providence, it so happened. With joy, this superb mother accompanied her sons one by one until she had witnessed the death of all seven sons. Then, she herself, with gratitude to God, received a martyr's death. She and her sons suffered in Rome where their relics repose.
HYMN OF PRAISE
Felicitas prayed to God;
"I have a crown of seven pearls,
I wish to wrap them in purple,
And, in purple, to present them to You;
O dear Lord, receive these gifts!"
Seven sons; seven pearls,
And purplish-red, the blood of the martyrs,
The prayer of the mother ascended
And as incense reached before God.
The Roman emperor sentenced her sons
To bitter death and bitter tortures;
The mother willingly; all were amazed at her!
Felicitas encouraged her sons:
"This is why I gave birth to you, my children,
This is why I nursed you, my children,
So that I can make a gift of you to God.
For God gave (gifted) you to me."
This, having been said, the executioner began his work:
The first fell, the mother bowed;
The second fell, the mother bowed twice;
The third fell, the mother bowed thrice;
With the fourth, four times she bowed;
The fifth fell, five times she bowed;
The sixth fell, six times she bowed;
The seventh fell, seven times she bowed;
The mother bowing, gave thanks to God;
The eighth time she bowed for herself,
And, on the block, she rested her head,
The sword glistened; her head decapitated -
The mother kissed her children in Paradise.
They deceive themselves who speak self-confidently that they know men well enough and that they do not allow themselves to be deceived. Who can know what kind of spirit is in man except only God, Who knows the secrets of the heart? Even the great saints were mistaken about people. For example: for a long time St. Basil considered a certain hypocritical heretic as a holy man and defended him from many attackers until finally, convinced of the heretic's falseness, Basil was bitterly disappointed. St. Gregory the Theologian had baptized a certain philosopher, Maximus by name, and liked him so much that he kept the philosopher in his home, sharing his table with him. However, this Maximus, was as dangerous and cunning as a serpent. After a period of time, through intrigue and bribes, he obtained recognition of some Constantinopolians as patriarch, in place of St. Gregory. When this temptation, after great confusion, was removed, some rebuked Gregory for keeping his greatest enemy with him. The saint replied: "We are not to blame if we do not discern someone's evil. God alone knows the inner secrets of man. And to us is commanded by law, that with fatherly love, to open our hearts to all who come to us." A non-malevolent man cannot easily understand the malice of a malevolent man.
To contemplate the Lord Jesus as King:
1. As the Lord over nature which He tames and places it [nature] in service to Himself;
2. As the Lord over demons, over disease and over death;
3. As the Lord over the immortal kingdom of angels and saints.
About Who is Christ?
"Who do people saythat I am?" (St. Mark 8:27).
Brethren, it is almost two-thousand years from that day when our Lord Jesus posed this question to His disciples. From then until today, this question is put to every generation of man, every bright day and every dark night: And every generation of man and every bright day and every dark night had to give an answer to this question. This question is the question of life or death and the answer to it is life-bearing or death-bearing. "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God"
(St. Matthew 16:16), the Apostle Peter responded. And that reply was approved and praised by the Lord Jesus.
"Who is Christ?" men say today. Some say, along with the Jews, that He is the destroyer of the Law and the self-styled Messiah. Others say, along with Pilate, that they in general cannot arrive at the truth about this man. The third say, along with the apostles, that He is Christ, the Son of the Living God, Savior, Redeemer of the human race from sin and death, the Resurrected and the Resurrector, the Living-One and the Life-giver. And all of us who are baptized in the Name of the Holy Trinity agree with the apostles and the Holy, Apostolic Church which, with her universal voice, thus confesses Christ the Lord.
O Lord, Only-begotten Son of God, help us, that we may, all the days of our life, believe in You in our hearts and confess You with our lips as our God and our Savior "as the power of God and the wisdom of God" (I Corinthians 1:24).
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.