FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:
Polyeuctos the Martyr of Meletine in Armenia
Eustratios the Wonderworker
Peter, Bishop of Sebaste, brother of Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa
Afterfeast of the Theophany of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
Ο ΑΓΙΟΣ ΠΟΛΥΕΥΚΤΟΣ
Ο ΟΣΙΟΣ ΕΥΣΤΡΑΤΙΟΣ ο θαυματουργός
Ο ΟΣΙΟΣ ΠΕΤΡΟΣ επίσκοπος Σεβαστείας
Η ΑΓΙΑ ΑΝΤΩΝΙΝΑ που μαρτύρησε στη Νικομήδεια
Ο ΑΓΙΟΣ ΛΑΥΡΕΝΤΙΟΣ
Ο ΑΓΙΟΣ ΦΙΛΙΠΠΟΣ Μητροπολίτης Μόσχας και πάσης Ρωσίας
Ο ΑΓΙΟΣ ΑDRΙΑΝ, ηγούμενος Καντουαρίας
Ο ΑΓΙΟΣ ΒRITHWALD, αρχιεπίσκοπος Καντουαρίας
READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:
The Reading is from St. Paul's Second Letter to Timothy 2:1-10
TIMOTHY, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier on service gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to satisfy the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hardworking farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will grant you understanding in everything.
Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descended from David, as preached in my gospel, the gospel for which I am suffering and wearing fetters like a criminal. But the word of God is not fettered. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain salvation in Christ Jesus with its eternal glory.
Πρὸς Τιμόθεον β' 2:1-10
Τέκνον Τιμόθεε, ἐνδυναμοῦ ἐν τῇ χάριτι τῇ ἐν χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ. Καὶ ἃ ἤκουσας παρʼ ἐμοῦ διὰ πολλῶν μαρτύρων, ταῦτα παράθου πιστοῖς ἀνθρώποις, οἵτινες ἱκανοὶ ἔσονται καὶ ἑτέρους διδάξαι. Σὺ οὖν κακοπάθησον ὡς καλὸς στρατιώτης Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ. Οὐδεὶς στρατευόμενος ἐμπλέκεται ταῖς τοῦ βίου πραγματείαις, ἵνα τῷ στρατολογήσαντι ἀρέσῃ. Ἐὰν δὲ καὶ ἀθλῇ τις, οὐ στεφανοῦται ἐὰν μὴ νομίμως ἀθλήσῃ. Τὸν κοπιῶντα γεωργὸν δεῖ πρῶτον τῶν καρπῶν μεταλαμβάνειν. Νόει ἃ λέγω· δῴη γάρ σοι ὁ κύριος σύνεσιν ἐν πᾶσιν. 8 Μνημόνευε Ἰησοῦν χριστὸν ἐγηγερμένον ἐκ νεκρῶν, ἐκ σπέρματος Δαυίδ, κατὰ τὸ εὐαγγέλιόν μου· ἐν ᾧ κακοπαθῶ μέχρι δεσμῶν, ὡς κακοῦργος· ἀλλʼ ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ οὐ δέδεται. Διὰ τοῦτο πάντα ὑπομένω διὰ τοὺς ἐκλεκτούς, ἵνα καὶ αὐτοὶ σωτηρίας τύχωσιν τῆς ἐν χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, μετὰ δόξης αἰωνίου.
The Reading is from Mark 1:9-15
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when He came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased." The Spirit immediately drove Him out into the wilderness. And He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to Him. Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel."
Κατὰ Μᾶρκον 1.9-15
Ἐν ἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις ἦλθεν ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς ἀπὸ Ναζαρὲτ τῆς Γαλιλαίας καὶ ἐβαπτίσθη ὑπὸ ᾿Ιωάννου εἰς τὸν ᾿Ιορδάνην.καὶ εὐθέως ἀναβαίνων ἀπὸ τοῦ ὕδατος εἶδε σχιζομένους τοὺς οὐρανοὺς καὶ τὸ Πνεῦμα ὡς περιστερὰν καταβαῖνον ἐπ᾿ αὐτόν·καὶ φωνὴ ἐγένετο ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν· σὺ εἶ ὁ υἱός μου ὁ ἀγαπητός, ἐν σοὶ ηὐδόκησα. Καὶ εὐθέως τὸ Πνεῦμα αὐτὸν ἐκβάλλει εἰς τὴν ἔρημον·καὶ ἦν ἐκεῖ ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ ἡμέρας τεσσαράκοντα πειραζόμενος ὑπὸ τοῦ σατανᾶ, καὶ ἦν μετὰ τῶν θηρίων, καὶ οἱ ἄγγελοι διηκόνουν αὐτῷ. Μετὰ δὲ τὸ παραδοθῆναι ᾿Ιωάννην ἦλθεν ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν κηρύσσων τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς βασιλείας τοῦ Θεοῦκαὶ λέγων ὅτι πεπλήρωται ὁ καιρὸς καὶ ἤγγικεν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ· μετανοεῖτε καὶ πιστεύετε ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ.
READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:
Τῇ Θ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Μάρτυρος Πολυεύκτου.
Ὁ Πολύευκτος, οὗ πάθος τομὴ Λόγε,
Πολλῆς δι᾽ εὐχῆς, εἶχε σοῦ παθεῖν χάριν.
Ἀμφ' ἐνάτην Πολύευκτε τομὴ μέγα δῶκέ σου εὖχος.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ ὁσίου Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Εὐστρατίου τοῦ θαυματουργοῦ.
Κἂν Εὐστρατίου πνεῦμα λαμβάνῃ πόλος,
Τὸ σῶμα τῇ γῇ θαυμάτων βλύζει χάριν.
Ταῖς αὐτῶν ἁγίαις πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεός, ἐλέησον καὶ σῶσον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.
Apolytikion in the First Tone
Ἐν Ἰορδάνῃ βαπτιζομένου σου Κύριε, ἡ τῆς Τριάδος ἐφανερώθη προσκύνησις, τοῦ γὰρ Γεννήτορος ἡ φωνὴ προσεμαρτύρει σοί, ἀγαπητὸν σὲ Υἱὸν ὀνομάζουσα, καὶ τὸ Πνεῦμα ἐν εἴδει περιστεράς, ἐβεβαίου τοῦ λόγου τὸ ἀσφαλές. Ὁ ἐπιφανεῖς Χριστὲ ὁ Θεός, καὶ τὸν κόσμον φωτίσας δόξα σοί.
When Thou wast baptized in the Jordan, O Lord, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest; for the voice of the Father bare witness to Thee, calling Thee His beloved Son. And the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the certainty of the word. O Christ our God, Who hast appeared and hast enlightened the world, glory be to Thee.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Ἐπεφάνης σήμερον τὴ οἰκουμένη, καὶ τὸ φῶς σου Κύριε, ἐσημειώθη ἐφ' ἡμᾶς, ἓν ἐπιγνώσει ὑμνούντάς σε. Ἦλθες ἐφάνης τὸ Φῶς τὸ ἀπρόσιτον.
You appeared to the world today, and Your light, O Lord, has left its mark upon us. With fuller understanding we sing to You: "You came, You were made manifest, the unapproachable light."
Saint Polyeuctos, a soldier in rank, contested during the reign of Valerian, in the year 255. He was from Melitene, a city in Armenia.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Ο Μάρτυς σου Κύριε, έν τή αθλήσει αυτού, τό στέφος εκομίσατο τής αφθαρσίας, εκ σού τού Θεού ημών, έχων γάρ τήν ισχύν σου, τούς τυράννους καθείλεν, έθραυσε καί δαιμόνων, τά ανίσχυρα θράση, αυτού ταίς ικεσίαις Χριστέ, σώσον τάς ψυχάς ημών.
Thy Martyr, O Lord, in his courageous contest for Thee received the prize of the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since he possessed Thy strength, he cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons' strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by his prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Ὁ Δεσπότης κλῖνας μὲν ἐν Ἰορδάνῃ, κεφαλὴν συνέτριψε, τὰς τῶν δρακόντων κεφαλάς, τοῦ Ἀθλοφόρου ἡ κάρα δέ, ἀποτμηθεῖσα τὸν δόλιον ἤσχυνεν.
When the Saviour bowed His head within the Jordan, there He crushed the dragons' heads; as for His trophy-bearing Saint, when Polyeuctos's head was cut off, he put to shame the deceiver and wily foe.
"Τίμιος εναντίον Κυρίου ο θάνατος των οσίων αυτού". Είναι λόγια του Ψαλτηρίου, που έχουν πλήρη την εφαρμογή τους στον Όσιο Ευστράτιο τον θαυματουργό, του οποίου σήμερα η Εκκλησία επιτελεί την μνήμη. Ο όσιος Ευστράτιος στρατεύθηκε στον βίο του "την καλήν στρατείαν" και σε ηλικία ενενήνταπέντε χρόνων κοιμήθηκε ήρεμος και γαλήνιος, όπως ταιριάζει στους οσίους του Θεού. Τα τελευταία του λόγια προς τους συμμοναστάς του είναι καταστάλαγμα της πείρας και της αγιωσύνης του. Αλλοίμονο σ' όποιον έζησε και γέρασε και δεν απέκτησε μια τέτοια πείρα έφυγε για το μεγάλο ταξίδι χωρίς αποσκευές - άγευστος παιδείας. "Αδελφοί, ο χρόνος της εμής ζωής πέρας είληφε λοιπόν, τέκνα αγαπητά, ην παρελάβετε παρακαταθήκην φυλάξατε, γινώσκοντες ότι τα μεν παρόντα πρόσκαιρα, τα δε μέλλοντα αιώνια. Σπουδάσατε ουν της των σωζομένων μερίδος γενέσθαι".
Ὁ Ἅγιος Πολύευκτος
Καταπληκτικὰ μηνύματα μᾶς δίνει ὁ στρατιωτικὸς Ἅγιος Πολύευκτος. Ἦταν ἀπὸ τὴν Μελιτηνὴ τῆς Μεσοποταμίας. Στὰ χρόνια 253-256 ὁ αὐτοκράτορας Ῥώμης Οὐαλεριανὸς διέταξε σκληρὸ διωγμὸ κατὰ τῆς Ἐκκλησίας. Ὁ Πολύευκτος δὲν κρύβει τὴν πίστη του στὸ Χριστὸ μέσα στὸ στράτευμα. Αὐτό, βέβαια, ἀναφέρεται στὸν αὐτοκράτορα, ποὺ τὸν καλεῖ νὰ ἀπολογηθεῖ. Τότε, ὁ πεθερὸς τοῦ Πολύευκτου τὸν συμβουλεύει νὰ πειθαρχήσει σὰν στρατιωτικὸς στὸ αὐτοκρατορικὸ πρόσταγμα. Ὁ Πολύευκτος, χρησιμοποιῶντας τὰ λόγια τοῦ Ἀποστόλου Πέτρου σὰν ἀποστομωτικὴ ἀπάντηση, ὑπενθυμίζει στὸν πεθερό του ὅτι «ὑποχρέωση καὶ καθῆκον ἔχουμε νὰ πειθαρχοῦμε περισσότερο στὸ Θεό, παρὰ στοὺς ἀνθρώπους», καθὼς ἐπίσης καὶ τὰ λόγια τοῦ Κυρίου μας, ποὺ εἶπε: «Θὰ σᾶς σύρουν μπροστὰ σὲ ἡγεμόνες καὶ βασιλεῖς σὰν κατηγορουμένους νὰ μαρτυρήσετε γιὰ μένα, [...] καὶ ὁποῖος μὲ ὁμολογήσει μπροστὰ στοὺς ἀνθρώπους, θὰ τὸν ὁμολογήσω καὶ ἐγὼ μπροστὰ στὸν Πατέρα μου, ποὺ εἶναι στοὺς οὐρανούς». Ἡ νεαρὴ σύζυγός του τὸν ἱκετεύει νὰ σώσει μὲ κάθε τρόπο τὴν ζωή του καὶ νὰ μὴν τὴν ἀφήσει χήρα. Ὁ Πολύευκτος στὰ δάκρυα τῆς γυναίκας του ἀντιτάσσει καὶ πάλι τὰ λόγια τοῦ Κυρίου μας, ὅτι «ὅποιος ἀγαπᾷ πατέρα ἢ μητέρα ἢ γυναῖκα περισσότερο ἀπὸ μένα, δὲν εἶναι ἄξιός μου». Ἔπειτα, τὴν ἐξορκίζει νὰ μὴ θελήσει νὰ ἔχει σύζυγο ἕναν ἐξωμότη καὶ προδότη τοῦ Σωτῆρα μας καὶ Θεοῦ μας. Καὶ πράγματι, στέρεος καὶ ἀμετασάλευτος στὴν πίστη, ἀποκεφαλίζεται καὶ παραδίδει τὴν ψυχή του στὸ Χριστό.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Εὐστράτιος ὁ θαυματουργός
Γεννήθηκε στὸ χωριὸ Βιτζινιανή, ἀπὸ γονεῖς εὐσεβεῖς τὸν Γεώργιο καὶ τὴν Μεγέθη. Σὲ ἡλικία 20 χρονῶν ὁ Εὐστράτιος, ἔφυγε ἀπὸ τὴν πατρίδα του καὶ πῆγε στὸ ὄρος Ὄλυμπος τῆς Βιθυνίας, στὴ μονὴ Αὐγάρων, ὅπου ἐκεῖ ἦταν μοναχοὶ οἱ θεῖοι του δηλαδὴ τ᾿ ἀδέλφια τῆς μητέρας του Γρηγόριος καὶ Βασίλειος. Ἀφοῦ παιδαγωγήθηκε ἀπ᾿ αὐτοὺς στὰ ἀσκητικὰ πράγματα, ἔκαρη μοναχὸς καὶ ἀναδείχθηκε μὲ τὴν αὐστηρὴ ζωή του, ἕνας ἀπὸ τοὺς ὁσιότερους ἄνδρες τῆς ἐποχῆς του. Τόσο μάλιστα, ποὺ στὴ συνέχεια οἱ μοναχοί του ἐμπιστεύτηκαν καὶ τὴν διοίκηση τῆς μονῆς, ἀναδεικνύοντας αὐτὸν ἡγούμενο. Ὅταν ὅμως αὐτοκράτωρ ἦταν ὁ εἰκονομάχος Λέων ὁ Ἴσαυρος, ὁ Εὐστράτιος μὲ προτροπὴ τοῦ Ἴωαννικίου τοῦ μεγάλου, ἀπομακρύνθηκε ἀπὸ τὴν μονή του καὶ ἔφυγε στὴν πατρίδα του. Ἐπανῆλθε μὲ τὴν ἀναστήλωση τῶν ἁγίων εἰκόνων, καὶ πέρασε τὸ ὑπόλοιπο τῆς ζωῆς του μὲ ἄσκηση, προσευχὴ καὶ μελέτη. Πέθανε δὲ εἰρηνικά, ἀφοῦ ἐπετέλεσε πολλὰ θαύματα, σὲ ἡλικία 95 ἐτῶν. Χαρακτηριστικὰ εἶναι τὰ λόγια τῶν τελευταίων του ὡρῶν: «Ἀδελφοὶ καὶ πατέρες, ὁ καιρὸς τῆς ζωῆς μου ἔλαβε τέλος. Παιδιά μου ἀγαπητά, φυλάξατε τὴν παρακαταθήκην τοῦ ἁγίου σχήματος ποὺ παραλάβατε, καὶ νὰ ξέρετε ὅτι τὰ μὲν παρόντα πράγματα εἶναι πρόσκαιρα καὶ μάταια, τὰ δὲ μέλλοντα εἶναι αἰώνια καὶ παντοτινά».
Ὁ Ὅσιος Πέτρος ἐπίσκοπος Σεβαστείας
Ὁ Ὅσιος Πέτρος, ὑπῆρξε ἀδελφὸς τοῦ Μ. Βασιλείου καὶ τοῦ Γρηγορίου Νύσσης (349-392). Καθοδηγήθηκε ἀπὸ τὴν ἀδελφή του Μακρίνα στὴν αὐστηρὴ ἀσκητικὴ ζωὴ καὶ ἔγινε μοναχὸς καὶ ἡγούμενος τοῦ Κοινοβίου ποὺ ἵδρυσε ὁ Μέγας Βασίλειος, ὁ ὁποῖος τὸ 370 τὸν χειροτόνησε πρεσβύτερο καὶ τὸ 380 ἐπίσκοπο Σεβαστείας στὴ Μ. Ἀρμενία. Ἔλαβε μέρος στὴ Β´ Οἰκουμενικὴ Σύνοδο (Κωνσταντινούπολη 381). Ἀπεβίωσε εἰρηνικά.
Ἡ Ἁγία Ἀντωνίνα ποὺ μαρτύρησε στὴ Νικομήδεια
Σῴζεται μόνο ἡ φράση: « ἡ ἁγία Ἀντωνίνα ἡ ἐν Νικομήδειᾳ ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ».
Ὁ Ἅγιος Λαυρέντιος
Ἄγνωστος στοὺς Συναξαριστὲς καὶ τὰ Μηναῖα. Μνημονεύεται στὸν Λαυριωτικὸ Κώδικα Γ 74 φ. 112α, ὅπου ὑπάρχουν καὶ δυὸ ἰδιόμελα σ᾿ αὐτόν, στὰ ὁποῖα λέγεται ὅτι «ἐν σταδίῳ ἐτέλεσε τὸν καλὸν ἀγῶνα, καὶ ἐκ τῶν ἑσπερίων ὡς ἄστρον ἀνέτειλε καταφωτίζων τὴν σύμπασαν, ὅτι ἔστη ἐν μέσῳ τῶν διωκτῶν εἰδωλολατρῶν καὶ καθεῖλε τὴν σφενδόνη τῶν θείων λόγων αὐτῶν τὸ ἀνίσχυρον, διὸ καὶ κοσμηθεὶς τῷ στεφάνῳ τῆς νίκης καθορᾶ τὸ ἀμήχανον κάλλος Χριστοῦ».
Κατὰ τὸν Συναξαριστὴ τοῦ Delehaye, αὐτὴ τὴν μέρα ἔγινε σεισμὸς ἐπὶ βασιλείας Βασιλείου (867) καὶ κατέπεσε ὁ μεγάλος ναὸς τῆς Ὑπεραγίας Θεοτόκου «ἐν τῷ Σίγματι», καθὼς καὶ πολλὲς ἄλλες ἐκκλησίες. Τὸ γεγονὸς αὐτὸ ἀναφέρεται καὶ στὸν Παρισινὸ Κώδικα 1578, ἀλλὰ στὶς 10 Ἰανουαρίου.
Holy Martyr Polyeuctus (~250)
Polyeuctus and Nearchus were fellow-officers and close friends, serving in the Roman army at Miletene in Armenia. Nearchus was a Christian. Polyeuctus, though abundant in virtues, was still imprisoned in idol- worship. When the Emperor Decius' persecution broke out (239-251), an edict was issued requiring all soldiers to show their loyalty by making public sacrifice to the gods. Nearchus sadly told Polyeuctus that because of the decree they would soon be parted. But Polyeuctus, who had learned about the Christian faith from his friend, answered that Christ had appeared to him in a vision, exchanging his military uniform for a shining garment and giving him a winged horse. Polyeuctus took the vision as a sign that he was to embrace the Faith, and that he, with Nearchus, would soon be lifted up to heaven. Almost immediately, he first tore down the Emperor's edict in front of a startled crowd, then smashed the idols being carried in a pagan procession. He was quickly arrested and subjected to beating and scourging for sacrilege, but he only proclaimed more forcefully that he was a Christian. When the persecutors saw that Polyeuctus' patient endurance was bringing other idolaters to the faith, they condemned him to death.
Polyeuctus walked to the place of execution with the expression of a slave walking toward freedom, calling encouragement to the Christians who accompanied him. Fearlessly extending his neck to receive the sword, he received baptism in his own blood and received the martyr's crown.
Saint Peter II, Bishop of Sebaste (4th c.)
He was the tenth and youngest child of a family of saints, the brother of St Basil the Great, St Macrina and St Gregory of Nyssa. His father died shortly after his birth in 319, and he was reared mostly by his sister St Macrina. He was ordained to the priesthood by his brother St Basil in 370, and consecrated Bishop of Sebaste at the opening of the Second Ecumenical Council (381). Saint Peter took an active part in the Council, oversaw his flock wisely, and reposed in peace.
Venerable Eustratius the Wonderworker (9th c.)
He was born to pious parents in Tarsia in Bithynia. At the age of twenty he entered monastic life at the Monastery of Agaures near his home. There he became a model of prayer, ascesis and zeal for holiness — he possessed nothing but the cloak he wore, and did not even have his own cell, choosing instead to sleep on the bare ground. When he slept he would not lie on his back or his left side, but always on his right side. In church, he stood repeating 'Lord, have mercy!' to himself throughout the services. He was ordained to the priesthood, and in time was made abbot of the community. But just at that time, Leo the Armenian became Emperor and revived the iconoclast heresy. The monks of Agaures, who held to the Orthodox Faith, scattered to caves and forests to escape persecution. Eustratius himself was imprisoned for a time, and was only able to re-gather the community and resume its direction when Leo died and Orthodoxy was restored in 842.
As abbot, Eustratius continued to live as the humblest of the brethren, spending the day sharing in their manual labor, and most of the night in prayer and prostrations. He often traveled among the dependencies of his large monastery to offer counsel and encouragement to the brethren. While traveling he would often give his coat or even his horse to anyone in need whom he met on the way. Once he gave the monastery's only ox to a peasant who had lost his own. Once, on a visit to Constantinople, he was given a large sum of money by the Emperor for the monastery; on the way back he distributed all of it to the poor. Once, on the road, he met a man who had despaired because of his sins and was about to hang himself. The Saint took the man's hand and said 'My child, may the weight of your sins lie on me from now on. On the day of Judgment, I will answer for them instead of you. Only throw away this rope and hope in God.'
During his own life, Saint Eustratius performed countless miracles by his prayers: healing the sick, quenching fires, raising the dead. He reposed in peace in Constantinople at the age of ninety-five, having spent seventy-five years in monastic life.
Saint Philip, Metropolitan of Moscow (1569)
He was born in 1507 to a noble family, and served briefly in the royal court. At the age of thirteen he entered the Solovki Monastery on the White Sea, within the Arctic circle. Here he lived in great austerity and eventually became Abbot. Through his labors and prayers the monastery soon became a center of spirituality and culture throughout the region. His fame reached the attention of Tsar Ivan IV ("the Terrible"), who in 1566 made him Metropolitan of Moscow, much against the Abbot's desire.
Tsar Ivan revered Philip ("even as Herod had revered Saint John the Baptist," says the Great Horologion), and had been a generous benefactor of Solovki Monastery.
But no sooner was Metropolitan Philip installed than he began to reprimand the Tsar for the brutal reign that he had imposed upon the people. Despite many warnings and threats from the Tsar, the holy bishop refused to be silent in the face of massive injustice, telling Ivan that he had never sought to be Metropolitan, that he had desired only to live quietly in Solovki, but now that he was shepherd of his flock, he was unable to remain silent. "I cannot obey your command rather than God's. I stand for what is true and right and shall continue to do so, even though I be deprived of my office and suffer the worst of torments; otherwise our faith would be vain, and in vain too would be the apostolic office."
Finally the Tsar gathered various false witnesses against the Metropolitan, and called a council against him in 1568. Saint Philip was condemned and imprisoned in Moscow, but soon the Tsar, fearful of the people's love for their bishop, sent him to a monastery in Tver, where he lived confined and in great hardship.
"On December 23, 1569, a royal messenger came, asking the Metropolitan's blessing for the Tsar's expedition to Novgorod. Saint Philip told him to do that which he came to do, then raised his hands in prayer to God. The Tsar's messenger fell upon him and suffocated the holy hierarch with a pillow. In 1591 his relics were transferred to Solovki, and in 1652 to the Dormition Cathedral in Moscow; many miracles were wrought through his holy relics." (Great Horologion)
Saint Polyeuktos was the first martyr in the Armenian city of Meletina. He was a soldier under the emperor Decius (249-251) and he later suffered for Christ under the emperor Valerian (253-259). The saint was friend also of Nearchos, a fellow-soldier and firm Christian, but Polyeutos himself, while yet leading a virtuous life, remained a pagan.
When the persecution against Christians started up, Nearchos said to Polyeuktos: "Friend, we shalt soon be separated from thee, for they wilt take me to torture, and thou alas, wilt renounce friendship with me". Polyeuktos answered him, that in a dream he had seen Christ, Who took from him his garb and clothed him in another and bright attire. "From that moment, -- said he, -- I am prepared to serve the Lord Jesus Christ".
Having become ardent in spirit, Saint Polyeuktos went out onto the city square, tore up the imperial edict hanging there about the duty to worship idols, and then he smashed idols from out of the hands of pagan priests carrying them.
His father-in-law, the governor Felox, to whom had been entrusted the carrying out of the imperial edict, was horrified at the deed of Saint Polyeuktos and declared, that for this he had to die. "Go, make farewell with thine wife and children," -- said Felox. The wife came and with tears began to beseech her husband to renounce Christ, and his father-in-law Felox also wept. But Saint Polyeuktos remained steadfast in his resolve to suffer for Christ. With joy he bent his head beneathe the sword of the executioner and was baptised in his own blood (+ 259). Soon, when the Church of Christ in the time of Equal-to-the-Apostles Constantine had triumphed throughout all the Roman empire, at Meletina there was erected a church in the name of the holy Martyr Polyeuktos. Many a miracle was worked through the prayerful intercession of Saint Polyeuktos. In this very church prayed fervently for the granting of a son the parents of the holy Monk Euthymios the Great (Comm. 20 January). The birth of this great luminary of Orthodoxy in the year 376 thus occurred through the help of the holy Martyr Polyeuktos. His memory was also venerated by Sainted Akakios, Bishop of Meletina, a participant of the Third OEcumenical Council and a great proponent of the Ecumenical Truth. As in the East, so also in the West, the holy Martyr Polyeuktosis venerated as a patron saint of vows and treaty agreements.
Sainted Philip, Metropolitan of Moscow, in the world Feodor (Theodore), was descended from the illustrious boyar-noble lineage of the Kolychevi, occupying a prominent place in the Boyar duma at the court of the Moscow sovereigns. He was born in the year 1507. His father, Stepan Ivanovich, "a man enlightened and filled with military spirit", attentively prepared his son for government service. Pious Varvara (Barbara), the mother of Feodor, who ended her days in monasticism with the name Varsonophia, implanted in the soul of her son a sincere faith and deep piety. Young Feodor Kolychev applied himself diligently to the Holy Scripture and to the books of the holy fathers, upon which the old Russian enlightenment rested, then transpiring within the Church and in the spirit of the Church. The Moscow Greatprince, Vasilii III Ioannovich, the father of Ivan the Terrible, brought young Feodor into the court, but he was not however attracted to court life. Conscious of its vanity and sinfulness, Feodor all the more deeply immersed himself in the reading of books and visiting the churches of God. Life in Moscow repelled the young ascetic. The sincere devotion to him of the young prince Ivan, presaging a great future for him in government service, could not hold in check within the earthly city his searching out of the Heavenly City.
On Sunday, 5 June 1537, in church for Divine Liturgy, Feodor felt intensely in his soul the words of the Saviour: "No one is able to serve two masters" (Mt. 6: 24), which determined his ultimate destiny. Praying fervently to the Moscow wonderworkers, and without bidding farewell to kinsfolk, he secretly in the attire of a common person left Moscow, and for a certain while he hid himself away from the world in the village of Khizna, near Lake Onega, earning his livelihood as a shepherd. His thirst for ascetic deeds led him to the reknown Solovetsk monastery on the White Sea. There he fulfilled quite toilsome obediences: he chopped firewood, dug the ground, and worked in the mill. After a year and an half of testing, the hegumen Aleksei, at the wish of Feodor tonsured him, giving him the monastic name Philip and entrusting him in obedience to the starets-elder Jona Shamina, who conversed with the Monk Alexander Svirsk (+ 1533, Comm. 30 August). Under the guidance of the experienced elders the Monk Philip grew spiritually, and strengthened in fasting and prayer. Hegumen Aleksei sent him in obedience to work at the monastery black-smith forge, where Saint Philip combined the activity of unceasing prayer amidst his working with an heavy hammer. At the beginning of the service in church he always appeared first and was the last to leave. He toiled also in the bakery, where the humble ascetic was comforted with an heavenly Sign. In the monastery afterwards they displayed the "Bakery" image of the Mother of God, through which the heavenly Mediatrix bestowed Her blessing upon the humble baker-monk Philip. With the blessing of the hegumen, Saint Philip spent a certain while in wilderness solitude, attending to himself and to God.
In 1546 at Novgorod the Great, archbishop Theodosii consecrated Philip as hegumen of the Solovetsk monastery. The new-made hegumen strove with all his might to exalt the spiritual significance of the monastery and its founders -- the Monk Savvatii and Zosima of Solovetsk (Comm. 27 September, 17 April). He searched out the Hodegetria image of the Mother of God brought to the island by the original first head of Solovetsk, the Monk Savvatii; he located the stone cross which once stood before the cell of the monk. Found also was the Psalter, belonging to the Monk Zosima (+ 1478), the first hegumen of Solovetsk, and his robe, in which from that time hegumens would vest during service on the days of memory of the wonderworker. The monastery was revived spiritually. For regulating life at the monastery, a new ustav (monastic rule) was adopted. Saint Philip built on Solovetsk majestic temples -- a refectory church of the Uspenie (Dormition) of the Mother of God, consecrated in the year 1557, and a church of the Transfiguration (Preobrazhenie) of the Lord. The hegumen himself worked as a simple labourer, helping to lay the walls of the Transfiguration church. Beneathe the north portico he dug himself a grave, alongside that of his guide, the starets Jona. Spiritual life in these years blossomed at the monastery: asceticising amidst the brethren amongst the students of Hegumen Philip were the Monks John and Longin of Yarengsk (Comm. 3 July) and Vassian and Jona of Pertominsk (Comm. 12 July).
For his efforts of secret prayer Saint Philip often withdrew for quiet to a desolate wilderness spot, two versts from the monastery, which received afterwards the name the Philippov wilderness.
But the Lord was preparing the saint for other service and other work. At Moscow Ivan the Terrible remembered fondly about the Solovetsk hermit from the time of his childhood years. The tsar hoped to find in Saint Philip a true companion, confessor and counsellor, who through his exalted monastic life would have nothing in common with the sedition of the boyar-nobles. The holiness of the metropolitan, in the opinion of Ivan the Terrible, ought to be of a certain spiritual meekness to quell the treachery and malice, nesting itself within the Boyar soul. The choice of such an arch-hierarch for the Russian Church seemed to him the best possible.
The saint for a long time refused to take upon himself the great burden of primate of the Russian Church. He did not sense any spiritual affinity with Ivan. He attempted to urge the tsar to abolish the Oprichniki [the tsar internal terror shock troops]. Ivan the Terrible attempted to argue its civil necessity. Finally, the dread tsar and the holy metropolitan came to an agreement, that Saint Philip would not meddle in the affairs of the Oprichniki and the running of the government, he would not resign as metropolitan in case, if the tsar be not able to fulfill his wishes, and that he would be a support and counsellor of the tsar, just as former metropolitans were supports for the Moscow sovereigns. On 25 July 1566 occurred the consecration of Saint Philip to the cathedra-seat of the Moscow sainted-hierarchs, whose number he was soon to join.
Ivan the Terrible, one of the greatest and most contradictory figures in Russian history, lived an intensely busy life, he was a talented writer and bibliophile [i.e. lover of books], he involved himself in the compilation of the Chronicles (and himself suddenly sundered the thread of the Moscow chronicle-writing), he delved into the intricacies of the monastic ustav (rule), and more than once thought about monasticism and abdicating the throne. Every aspect of governmental service, all the abrupt measures undertaken by him for a setting to root restructuring of civil and social life, Ivan the Terrible tried to rationalise as a manifestation of Divine Providence, as the acting of God within history. His beloved spiritual heroes were Saint Michael of Chernigov (Comm. 20 September) and Saint Theodore (Feodor) the Black (Comm. 19 September), military men active with a complex contradictory destiny, moving on towards their sacred ends through whatever the hindrances rising up afront them, and fulfilling their duties to the Rodina (Native-land) and Holy Church. The more the darkness thickened around Ivan the Terrible, the more resolutely he demanded of his soul cleansing and redemption. Journeying on pilgrimage to the Kirillo-Belozersk monastery, he declared his wish to the hegumen and the gathered elders to be made a monk. The haughty autocrat fell on his knees to the hegumen, and that one blessed his intent. All his life from that time, wrote Ivan the Terrible, "it seems to me, an accursed sinner, that halfways I am already black-robed". The Oprichnina was itself conceived of by Ivan the Terrible in the form of a monastic brotherhood: serving God with weapon and military deeds, the Oprichniki were required to dress in monastic garb and go to church service, long and tiring, lasting from 4 to 10 o'clock in the morning. Upon "brethren", not appearing at 4 o'clock in the morning, the tsar imposed a penance. Ivan himself with his sons sought fervently to pray and sing in the church choir. From church they went on to refectory (meal), and while the Oprichniki ate, the tsar stood alongside them. The remaining food the Oprichniki gathered from the table and distributed to the poor at the doorway of their refectory (dining hall). Ivan the Terrible, with tears of repentance and wanting to be an esteemer of the holy ascetics -- the teachers of repentance, he wanted to wash and burn away his own sins and those of his companions, cherishing the assurance, that even the terrible cruel actions would rebound for him to the welfare of Russia and the triumph of Orthodoxy. The most clearly spiritual action and monastic sobriety of Ivan the Terrible is revealed in his "Synodikon": shortly before his death by his orders there were compiled full lists of the people murdered by him and his Oprichniki, which were then distributed throughout all the Russian monasteries. All his sins against the nation Ivan took upon himself and besought the holy monks to pray to God for the forgiveness of his tormented soul.
The self-styled monasticism of Ivan the Terrible, a dark most grievous oppression over Russia, tormented Saint Philip, who considered it impossible to mix together the earthly and the heavenly, serving the cross and serving the sword. Even moreso was it, that Saint Philip saw, how much unrepentant malice and envy was concealed beneathe the black hoods of the Oprichniki. There were among them outright murderers, hardened in lawless bloodletting, and profiteers in it for the rewards, rooted in sin and transgression. By the sufferance of God history often is worked with the hands of the impious, and Ivan the Terrible as it were wanted to whiten before God his black brotherhood, -- the blood, spilled in the name of its thugs and fanatics, cried out to heaven.
Saint Philip decided to oppose Ivan the Terrible. This was connected with a new wave of executions in the years 1567-1568. In the Autumn of 1567, just as the tsar was setting out on a campaign against Livonia, he learned about a boyar conspiracy. The plotters intended to seize the tsar and deliver him over to the Polish king, who already was on the move with an army towards Russian territory. Ivan the Terrible dealt severely with the conspirators and again he shed much blood. It was bitter for Saint Philip, and the conscience of the saint at length compelled him boldly to enter into defense of the executed. The final rift occurred in the Spring of 1568. On the Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross, 2 March 1568, when the tsar with his Oprichniki entered the Uspenie (Dormition) cathedral, as was their custom in monastic garb, Saint Philip refused to bless him, and began openly to denounce the lawless acts committed by the Oprichniki: "Metropolitan Philip did instruct the sovereign of the enmity in Moscow concerning the Oprichnina".The accusations of the Vladyka shattered the harmony of the church service. Ivan the Terrible in a rage said: "Thou wouldst oppose us? We shall see thine firmness! I have been too soft on you", -- retorted the tsar, according to eye-witnesses.
The tsar began to show ever greater cruelty in persecuting all those that opposed him. Executions followed one after the other. The fate of the saintly confessor was sealed. But Ivan the Terrible wanted to observe a canonical semblance of propriety. The Boyar duma obediently carried out the decision to have a trial over the Primate of the Russian Church. A cathedral trial-court was set up over Metropolitan Philip in the presence of a thinned-out Boyar duma. False witnesses were found: and to the deep sorrow of the saint, these were monks of the Solovetsk monastery beloved by him, his former students and novices. They accused Saint Philip of a multitude of transgressions, even including sorcery. "I am come upon the earth, just like all my ancestors, -- humbly answered the saint, -- prepared to suffer for truth". Having refuted all the accusations, the holy sufferer attempted to halt the trial by declaring voluntarily to resign the metropolitan dignity. But his abdication was not accepted. New abuse awaited the martyr. Even after bringing forth a sentence of life imprisonment, they compelled Saint Philip to serve Liturgy in the Uspensk cathedral. This was on 8 November 1568. In the midst of the service the Oprichniki burst into the temple, they publicly read the council sentence of condemnation, and then abused the saint, tearing from him the hierarchical vestments, they dressed him in rags, dragged him out of the church and drove him off on a simple peasant's sledge to the Theophany monastery. For a long while they oppressed the martyr in the cellars of the Moscow monasteries, the feet of the elder they shoved into stocks, they held him in chains, and put an heavy chain upon his neck. Finally, they drove him off to the Tver Otroch monastery. And there a year afterwards, on 23 December 1569, the saint accepted a martyr's death at the hands of Maliuta Skuratov. Only three days before this the holy elder foresaw the finish of his earthly efforts and communed the Holy Mysteries. His relics were committed to earth initially there at the monastery, beyond the church altar. Later on they were transferred to the Solovetsk monastery (11 August 1591) and from there -- to Moscow (3 July 1652).
The memory of Sainted Philip was celebrated by the Russian Church from the year 1591, on the day of his martyr's end -- 23 December. From 1660 the celebration was transferred to 9 January.
The Prophet Samei (Shemaiah) lived under king Solomon and his son Rehoboam, whom the prophet before the face of God forbade to war against the 10 Tribes of Israel, which separated themselves from the offspring of David (3  Kings 12).
Sainted Peter, Bishop of Sebasteia, was a brother of Sainted Basil the Great and Sainted Gregory of Nyssa (Comm. 1 January and 10 January). And in his upbringing a large part was played by his older sister, Saint Macrina (Comm. 19 July).
Sainted Basil the great consecrated Saint Peter as presbyter, and after the death of Saint Basil he was made bishop of Sebasteia (in Armenia). Saint Peter was present at the Second OEcumenical Council in the year 381, convened at Constantinople against the heresy of Macedonias.
The Monk Eustratios hailed from the city of Tarsis. At 20 years of age he secretly left the home of his parents and settled in the Abgarite monastery (on Olympos in Asia Minor). There he lived a strict ascetic life, eating only bread and water, and spending the nights at prayer. After a certain while he was chosen head of the monastery. During the reign of the Iconoclast Leo the Armenian (813-820), the Monk Eustratios in hiding from pursuit roamed the hills and the wilds, and after the death of the emperor he returned to the monastery. Prayer never left his lips, and he incessantly repeated the words: "Lord, have mercy!"
Before his death he gave an instruction to the monks: not to be attracted towards earthly blessings, and constantly to think about the future life. Signing himself with the sign of the Cross, he pronounced the words: "Into Thine hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit" and he died peacefully, at age 95.
THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:
1. THE HOLY MARTYR POLYEUCTUS
The Armenian city of Melitene was drenched with the blood of Christians as was the entire country of Armenia. The first blood shed for Christ in this city was that of Saint Polyeuctus in the year 259 A.D. during the reign of Valerian. In this city [Melitene] were two friends: both Nearchus and Polyeuctus were officers, Nearchus baptized and Polyeuctus unbaptized. When the command of the emperor was sent out concerning the persecution of the Christians, Nearchus prepared for death; but he was in great sorrow because he had not succeeded in converting his friend Polyeuctus to the True Faith. When Polyeuctus learned of the reason for Nearchus' sorrow, he promised to embrace the Faith. The following day Polyeuctus related his dream to Nearchus: the Lord Himself appeared to him in light, removed Polyeuctus' old clothes from him and dressed him in radiant new clothes and sat him in the saddle of a winged horse. After this, Polyeuctus went to town, shredded the emperor's decree concerning the torturing of Christians, and destroyed many statues of the idols. He was tortured and was condemned to death. When he was brought to the place of execution, he looked at Nearchus in the throng of people and joyfully cried out to him: "Save yourself my dear friend! Remember the vow of love confirmed between the two of us!" Later, Saint Nearchus died as a martyr for Christ by fire. The commemoration of the feast of St. Nearchus is April 22.
2. THE VENERABLE EUSTRATIUS
Eustratius was a native of Tarsus. He was a great ascetic and a man of prayer. During the seventy-five years he spent in the monastery, Eustratius never laid down to sleep on his left side but always on his right side. Throughout the Divine Services, from the beginning to the end, he repeated to himself: "Lord have mercy!" He died in his ninety-fifth year.
3. SAINT PHILIP, METROPOLITAN OF MOSCOW
Philip was born February 11, 1507 A.D. Once, while standing in church as a young boy, he heard the priest read from the Gospel: "No one can serve two masters" (St. Matthew 6:24). He became very frightened by these words, as though these words were exclusively spoken to him and at that same time became enlightened by them. He then withdrew to the Solovetsk Monastery where he, after a long and difficult period of probation [Novitiate], was tonsured a monk. In time, Philip became the abbot and shone as the sun and the whole of Russia heard of him. Hence, Emperor Ivan the Terrible summoned Philip to fill the vacant Metropolitan See of Moscow in the year 1566 A.D. However, this holy man could not endure with indifference the awful atrocities of the terrible tsar and, therefore, counseled him and rebuked him without fear. The tsar found some false witnesses against Philip, ousted him from office, and ordered that he be dressed in a simple and tattered monastic cassock and imprisoned him in Tver on December 23, 1569 A.D. Malyuta Skuratov, one of the tsar's confidants, came to Philip's cell and suffocated him with a pillow. Shortly afterwards, all those who were opposed to Philip died evil deaths. After several years, the body of the saint discovered whole, incorrupt, and fragrant, was translated to the Monastery of Solovetsk.
HYMN OF PRAISE
SAINTS NEARCHUS AND POLYEUCTUS
Nearchus and Polyeuctus, soldiers of Caesar,
Became soldiers of the Heavenly King,
One baptized with water, the other by his blood,
The second surpassed the other and became the first.
Oh, blessed be this competition,
This heroic rushing to Christ's' kingdom!
Polyeuctus rejected all by which the earth spoils
Everything, as a wind that comes; as the wind, passes,
And for these urgent sufferings, purchased the everlasting kingdom;
This trade, for him, turned out radiant:
For eternal life, let the grass be mowed!
For transitory suffering, eternal glory!
Pray for us, O soldier of Christ,
That, not one of your souls perish!
The Orthodox Church by teaching men about perfect love, at the same time, also teaches them perfect obedience from which emanates order and harmony among the faithful. Bishops owe their obedience to the Lord. Priests owe their obedience to the bishops. The faithful owe their obedience to both [bishops and priests]. St. Ignatius writes about this: "You are required to obey without hypocrisy; he who would deceive his visible bishop would also scorn the Invisible [Christ]. I pray you, endeavor to fulfill everything in godly unanimity under the presidency of the bishops who occupy the place of Christ and the presbyters who constitute the assembly of the apostles, not thinking that whatever you do alone and apart would be correct."
To contemplate all the virtues in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ:
1. How every virtue in Him is complete and perfect as in no other in the history of the world;
2. How everything is wonderfully complimented, one in the other is developed and one in the other is made radiant.
About the concern for the salvation of our neighbors
"No one should seek hisown advantage, but thatof his neighbor" (I Corinthians 10:24).
This is the principle of the saints of God, both now, at one time, always and forever. This is the principle on which society is built. Upon this principle can be established the most perfect, the most God-pleasing and the most prosperous human society. This is the saving principle for every type of difficulty with which contemporary men struggle, struggle without victory and without hope. The holy soul is concerned with where the homeless will spend the night, how the hungry will be fed, how the naked will be clothed. The soul is concerned and prays to God that their neighbors be saved; that their hearts be filled with love toward God; that their minds be directed toward God; that the wicked turn from the path of wickedness; that those wavering in the Faith be strengthened; that those who are strengthened be sustained; that those who have died see the Face of God; that the living be written in the Book of Life in the Kingdom of Light.
Therefore, be careful brethren, how even in like manner, word for word, can sound the destructive and antisocial principle of the devil. This principle of the devil says: no one should look at their own body to preserve it in purity from sin, but rather everyone should look at the bodies of others in order to ruin and to destroy them. That no one should look at his own soul, how to save it, rather everyone should look at the soul of someone else in order to blacken it, to curse it, to impoverish it and to destroy it. Let no one look at his house, in order to build it, and renew it rather let everyone look at the home of another in order to burn it and demolish it. No one should look at his granaries in order to fill them, rather, one should look at the granaries of others in order to steal from them and to empty them. See, brethren, how this principle can be either a principle of good or a principle of evil; a sharp two-edged sword; an angel or Satan. See how this principle in the satanic spirit and form has taken momentum on all sides today!
O Lord, Holy Spirit, Who has released these holy words in the world through the tongue of the apostle of God as bright rays of the sun to illuminate and not to burn us, help us now to fulfill them in the proper heavenly sense to the glory of the Triune God and for the salvation of our souls.