FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:
Sunday of St. Gregory Palamas
Sophronios, Patriarch of Jerusalem
Theodora the Righteous
Pionios the Presbyter
George the New Wonderworker of Constantinople
Γρηγορίου ἀρχιεπισκόπου Θεσσαλονίκης τοῦ Παλαμᾶ».
Σωφρονίου πατρ. Ἰεροσολύμων (†638‐ 44).
Τροφίμου καὶ Θαλλοῦ τῶν μαρτύρων, Πιονίου πρεσβυτέρου (†250) τῆς ἐν Σμύρνῃ ἐκκλησίας, Θεοδώρας ὁσίας (τῆς ἐκ Σερβίων Κοζάνης) βασιλίσσης Ἄρτης.
READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:
The Reading is from Luke 24:36-53
At that time, Jesus, having risen from the dead, stood in the midst of his disciples and said to them, "Peace to you." But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit. And he said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do questionings rise in your hearts? See my hands and feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have." And when he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered, he said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them.
Then he said to them, "These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled. Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high."
Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and they returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God.
Κατὰ Λουκᾶν 24.36-53
Τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ,ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς ἔστη ἐν μέσῳ αὐτῶν καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς· εἰρήνη ὑμῖν. πτοηθέντες δὲ καὶ ἔμφοβοι γενόμενοι ἐδόκουν πνεῦμα θεωρεῖν. καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· τί τεταραγμένοι ἐστέ, καὶ διατί διαλογισμοὶ ἀναβαίνουσιν ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν; ἴδετε τὰς χεῖράς μου καὶ τοὺς πόδας μου, ὅτι αὐτὸς ἐγώ εἰμι· ψηλαφήσατέ με καὶ ἴδετε, ὅτι πνεῦμα σάρκα καὶ ὀστέα οὐκ ἔχει καθὼς ἐμὲ θεωρεῖτε ἔχοντα. καὶ τοῦτο εἰπὼν ἐπέδειξεν αὐτοῖς τὰς χεῖρας καὶ τοὺς πόδας. ἔτι δὲ ἀπιστούντων αὐτῶν ἀπὸ τῆς χαρᾶς καὶ θαυμαζόντων εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· ἔχετέ τι βρώσιμον ἐνθάδε; οἱ δὲ ἐπέδωκαν αὐτῷ ἰχθύος ὀπτοῦ μέρος καὶ ἀπὸ μελισσίου κηρίου, καὶ λαβὼν ἐνώπιον αὐτῶν ἔφαγεν. εἶπε δὲ αὐτοῖς· οὗτοι οἱ λόγοι οὓς ἐλάλησα πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἔτι ὢν σὺν ὑμῖν, ὅτι δεῖ πληρωθῆναι πάντα τὰ γεγραμμένα ἐν τῷ νόμῳ Μωϋσέως καὶ προφήταις καὶ ψαλμοῖς περὶ ἐμοῦ. τότε διήνοιξεν αὐτῶν τὸν νοῦν τοῦ συνιέναι τὰς γραφάς, καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς ὅτι οὕτω γέγραπται καὶ οὕτως ἔδει παθεῖν τὸν Χριστὸν καὶ ἀναστῆναι ἐκ νεκρῶν τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ, καὶ κηρυχθῆναι ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματι αὐτοῦ μετάνοιαν καὶ ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν εἰς πάντα τὰ ἔθνη, ἀρξάμενον ἀπὸ ῾Ιερουσαλήμ. ὑμεῖς δέ ἐστε μάρτυρες τούτων. καὶ ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ ἀποστέλλω τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν τοῦ πατρός μου ἐφ᾿ ὑμᾶς· ὑμεῖς δὲ καθίσατε ἐν τῇ πόλει ῾Ιερουσαλὴμ ἕως οὗ ἐνδύσησθε δύναμιν ἐξ ὕψους.
᾿Εξήγαγε δὲ αὐτοὺς ἔξω ἕως εἰς Βηθανίαν, καὶ ἐπάρας τὰς χεῖρας αὐτοῦ εὐλόγησεν αὐτούς. καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ εὐλογεῖν αὐτὸν αὐτοὺς διέστη ἀπ᾿ αὐτῶν καὶ ἀνεφέρετο εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν. καὶ αὐτοὶ προσκυνήσαντες αὐτὸν ὑπέστρεψαν εἰς ῾Ιερουσαλὴμ μετὰ χαρᾶς μεγάλης, καὶ ἦσαν διὰ παντὸς ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ αἰνοῦντες καὶ εὐλογοῦντες τὸν Θεόν. ἀμήν.
The Reading is from St. Paul's Letter to the Hebrews 1:10-14; 2:1-3
"IN THE BEGINNING, you O Lord, didst found the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy hands; they will perish, but thou remainest; they will all grow old like a garment, like a mantle thou wilt roll them up, and they will be changed. But thou art the same, and thy years will never end." But to what angel has he ever said, "Sit at my right hand, till I make thy enemies a stool for thy feet?" Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation? Therefore we must pay closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For if the message declared by angels was valid and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard him.
Πρὸς Ἑβραίους 1:10-14; 2:1-3
Κατʼ ἀρχάς, Κύριε, τὴν γῆν ἐθεμελίωσας, καὶ ἔργα τῶν χειρῶν σού εἰσιν οἱ οὐρανοί· αὐτοὶ ἀπολοῦνται, σὺ δὲ διαμένεις· καὶ πάντες ὡς ἱμάτιον παλαιωθήσονται, καὶ ὡσεὶ περιβόλαιον ἑλίξεις αὐτοὺς, καὶ ἀλλαγήσονται· σὺ δὲ ὁ αὐτὸς εἶ, καὶ τὰ ἔτη σου οὐκ ἐκλείψουσιν. Πρὸς τίνα δὲ τῶν ἀγγέλων εἴρηκέν ποτε, Κάθου ἐκ δεξιῶν μου, ἕως ἂν θῶ τοὺς ἐχθρούς σου ὑποπόδιον τῶν ποδῶν σου; Οὐχὶ πάντες εἰσὶν λειτουργικὰ πνεύματα, εἰς διακονίαν ἀποστελλόμενα διὰ τοὺς μέλλοντας κληρονομεῖν σωτηρίαν; Διὰ τοῦτο δεῖ περισσοτέρως ἡμᾶς προσέχειν τοῖς ἀκουσθεῖσιν, μήποτε παραρρυῶμεν. Εἰ γὰρ ὁ διʼ ἀγγέλων λαληθεὶς λόγος ἐγένετο βέβαιος, καὶ πᾶσα παράβασις καὶ παρακοὴ ἔλαβεν ἔνδικον μισθαποδοσίαν, πῶς ἡμεῖς ἐκφευξόμεθα τηλικαύτης ἀμελήσαντες σωτηρίας; Ἥτις, ἀρχὴν λαβοῦσα λαλεῖσθαι διὰ τοῦ κυρίου, ὑπὸ τῶν ἀκουσάντων εἰς ἡμᾶς ἐβεβαιώθη.
The Reading is from Mark 2:1-12
At that time, Jesus entered Capernaum and it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room for them, not even about the door; and he was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and when they had made an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "My son, your sins are forgiven." Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, "Why does this man speak thus? It is a blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?" And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, "Why do you question thus in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise, take up your pallet and walk? But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins"-he said to the paralytic-"I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home." And he rose, and immediately took up the pallet and went out before them all; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, "We never saw anything like this!"
Κατὰ Μᾶρκον 2.1-12
Τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ, εἰσῆλθεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἰς εἰς Καπερναοὺμ δι᾿ ἡμερῶν καὶ ἠκούσθη ὅτι εἰς οἶκόν ἐστι. καὶ εὐθέως συνήχθησαν πολλοί, ὥστε μηκέτι χωρεῖν μηδὲ τὰ πρὸς τὴν θύραν· καὶ ἐλάλει αὐτοῖς τὸν λόγον. καὶ ἔρχονται πρὸς αὐτὸν παραλυτικὸν φέροντες, αἰρόμενον ὑπὸ τεσσάρων· καὶ μὴ δυνάμενοι προσεγγίσαι αὐτῷ διὰ τὸν ὄχλον, ἀπεστέγασαν τὴν στέγην ὅπου ἦν, καὶ ἐξορύξαντες χαλῶσι τὸν κράβαττον, ἐφ᾿ ᾧ ὁ παραλυτικὸς κατέκειτο. ἰδὼν δὲ ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς τὴν πίστιν αὐτῶν λέγει τῷ παραλυτικῷ· τέκνον, ἀφέωνταί σοι αἱ ἁμαρτίαι σου. ἦσαν δέ τινες τῶν γραμματέων ἐκεῖ καθήμενοι καὶ διαλογιζόμενοι ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις αὐτῶν· τί οὗτος οὕτω λαλεῖ βλασφημίας; τίς δύναται ἀφιέναι ἁμαρτίας εἰ μὴ εἷς ὁ Θεός; καὶ εὐθέως ἐπιγνοὺς ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς τῷ πνεύματι αὐτοῦ ὅτι οὕτως αὐτοὶ διαλογίζονται ἐν ἑαυτοῖς, εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· τί ταῦτα διαλογίζεσθε ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν; τί ἐστιν εὐκοπώτερον, εἰπεῖν τῷ παραλυτικῷ, ἀφέωνταί σου αἱ ἁμαρτίαι, ἢ εἰπεῖν, ἔγειρε καὶ ἆρον τὸν κράβαττόν σου καὶ περιπάτει; ἵνα δὲ εἰδῆτε ὅτι ἐξουσίαν ἔχει ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἀφιέναι ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἁμαρτίας - λέγει τῷ παραλυτικῷ· σοὶ λέγω, ἔγειρε καὶ ἆρον τὸν κράβαττόν σου καὶ ὕπαγε εἰς τὸν οἶκόν σου. καὶ ἠγέρθη εὐθέως, καὶ ἄρας τὸν κράβαττον ἐξῆλθεν ἐναντίον πάντων, ὥστε ἐξίστασθαι πάντας καὶ δοξάζειν τὸν Θεὸν λέγοντας ὅτι οὐδέποτε οὕτως εἴδομεν.
READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:
Τῇ ΙΑ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, μνήμη τοῦ Ὁσίου Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Σωφρονίου, Ἀρχιεπισκόπου Ἱεροσολύμων.
Ἔσπευδε τηρεῖν καὶ κεραίαν τοῦ νόμου,
Ὁ Σωφρόνιος, οὗ παρ᾽ οὐρανοῖς κέρας.
Ἑνδεκάτῃ σαόφρων ἔδυ Σωφρόνιος παρὰ τύμβον.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Ἱερομάρτυρος Πιονίου, Πρεσβυτέρου τῆς ἐν Σμύρνῃ Ἁγίας Ἐκκλησίας.
Ὡς ἐγκρυφίας ἄρτος ἐξωπτημένος,
Καυθεὶς προσήχθη Πιόνιος Κυρίῳ.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ὁσίου Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Γεωργίου Θεοφόρου καὶ θαυματουργοῦ, τοῦ ἐν τῷ Διϊππείῳ λεγομένῳ, τοῦ Νεοφανοῦς.
Ἐκ γειτόνων εἶ, Γεώργιε, κἀνθάδε,
Κἀκεῖθεν, οἶμαι, Χριστομύστη, Παρθένῳ.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τῶν Ἁγίων Μαρτύρων, Τροφίμου καὶ Θαλλοῦ, τῶν ἐν Λαοδικείᾳ μαρτυρησάντων.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Ἡ εἰς τὴν Κωνσταντινούπολιν ἀνακομιδὴ τῶν Λειψάνων τοῦ Ἁγίου Μάρτυρος Ἐπιμάχου.
Κομίζεταί σοι ὄλβος, ὀλβία Πόλις,
Ἐπιμάχου τὸ σῶμα τοῦ τρισολβίου.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ὁσίου Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Γεωργίου τοῦ Σιναΐτου.
Πῶς ἂν διῆλθες πλέθρα γῆς τάχος τόσα;
Εἰ μὴ ἄσαρκος, ὥς τις ἦς, πάτερ, βίῳ;
Ταῖς αὐτῶν ἁγίαις πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεός, ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς.
This divine Father, who was from Asia Minor, was from childhood reared in the royal court of Constantinople, where he was instructed in both religious and secular wisdom. Later, while still a youth, he left the imperial court and struggled in asceticism on Mount Athos, and in the Skete at Beroea. He spent some time in Thessalonica being treated for an illness that came from his harsh manner of life. He was present in Constantinople at the Council that was convened in 1341 against Barlaam of Calabria, and at the Council of 1347 against Acindynus, who was of like mind with Barlaam; Barlaam and Acindynus claimed that the grace of God is created. At both these Councils, the Saint contended courageously for the true dogmas of the Church of Christ, teaching in particular that divine grace is not created, but is the uncreated energies of God which are poured forth throughout creation: otherwise it would be impossible, if grace were created, for man to have genuine communion with the uncreated God. In 1347 he was appointed Metropolitan of Thessalonica. He tended his flock in an apostolic manner for some twelve years, and wrote many books and treatises on the most exalted doctrines of our Faith; and having lived for a total of sixty-three years, he reposed in the Lord in 1359.
His holy relics are kept in the Cathedral of Thessalonica. A full service was composed for his feast day by the Patriarch Philotheus in 1368, when it was established that his feast be celebrated on this day. Since works without right faith avail nothing, we set Orthodoxy of faith as the foundation of all that we accomplish during the Fast, by celebrating the Triumph of Orthodoxy the Sunday before, and the great defender of the teachings of the holy Fathers today.
Resurrectional Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Second Tone
Ἀγγελικαὶ Δυνάμεις ἐπὶ τὸ μνῆμά σου, καὶ οἱ φυλάσσοντες ἀπενεκρώθησαν, καὶ ἵστατο Μαρία ἐν τῷ τάφῳ, ζητοῦσα τὸ ἄχραντόν σου σῶμα. Ἐσκύλευσας τὸν ᾍδην, μὴ πειρασθεὶς ὑπ' αὐτοῦ, ὑπήντησας τῇ Παρθένῳ, δωρούμενος τὴν ζωήν, ὁ ἀναστὰς ἐκ των νεκρῶν, Κύριε δόξα σοι.
When the angelic powers appeared at Your grave, the soldiers guarding it feared and became as dead. And standing by the sepulcher was Mary who was seeking Your immaculate body. You devastated Hades, not afflicted by it. You went to meet the virgin, and granted eternal life. You resurrected from the dead. O Lord, glory to You.
Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Ὀρθοδοξίας ὁ φωστὴρ, Ἐκκλησίας τὸ στήριγμα καὶ διδάσκαλε, τῶν μοναστῶν ἡ καλλονὴ, τῶν θεολόγων ὑπέρμαχος ἀπροσμάχητος· Γρηγόριε θαυματουργὲ Θεσσαλονίκης τὸ καύχημα κήρυξ τῆς χάριτος· ἱκέτευε διὰ παντός, σωθῆναι τὰς ψυχὰς ἡμῶν.
Light of Orthdoxy, pillar and teacher of the Church, adornment of monastics, invincible champion of theologians, O Gregory thou wonderworker, boast of Thessalonica, herald of grace: ever pray that our souls be saved.
Seasonal Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Τῇ ὑπερμάχῳ Στρατηγῷ τὰ νικητήρια, Ὡς λυτρωθεῖσα τῶν δεινῶν εὐχαριστήρια, Ἀναγράφω σοι ἡ Πόλις σου Θεοτόκε. Ἀλλ᾿ ὡς ἔχουσα τὸ κράτος ἀπροσμάχητον, Ἐκ παντοίων με κινδύνων ἐλευθέρωσον, Ἵνα κράζω σοι· Χαῖρε, Νύμφη ἀνύμφευτε.
To you, Theotokos, invincible Defender, having been delivered from peril, I, your city, dedicate the victory festival as a thank offering. In your irresistible might, keep me safe from all trials, that I may call out to you: "Hail, unwedded bride!"
Resurrectional Kontakion in the Plagal of the Second Tone
Τήν υπέρ ημών Τή ζωαρχική παλάμη τούς τεθνεώτας, εκ τών ζοφερών κευθμώνων ο Ζωοδότης, αναστήσας άπαντας Χριστός ο Θεός, τήν ανάστασιν εβράβευσε, τώ βροτείω φυράματι, υπάρχει γάρ πάντων Σωτήρ, ανάστασις καί ζωή, καί Θεός τού παντός.
When the Life-bestower Christ God had resurrected * with His vivifying hand, from the dismal caverns, * all the dead from eternity, He freely bestowed * resurrection on the substance of our mortal humanity. * For He is the Savior of all, resurrection and life, and the God of all things.
This Saint was born in Damascus. As a young man he became a monk at the Monastery of Saint Theodosius the Cenobiarch in Palestine, where he met John Moschus and became his close friend. Having a common desire to search out ascetics from whom they could receive further spiritual instruction, they journeyed together through Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor, and Egypt, where they met the Patriarch of Alexandria, Saint John the Almsgiver, with whom they remained until 614, when Persians captured Jerusalem (see also Saint Anastasius the Persian, Jan. 22). Saint Sophronios and John Moschus departed Alexandria for Rome, where they remained until 619, the year of John Moschus' death. Saint Sophronios returned to the Monastery of Saint Theodosius the Cenobiarch, and there buried the body of his friend. He laboured much in defence of the Holy Fourth Council of Chalcedon, and traveled to Constantinople to remonstrate with Patriarch Sergius and the Emperor Heraclius for changing the Orthodox Faith with their Monothelite teachings. After the death of Patriarch Modestus in December of 634, Sophronios was elected Patriarch of Jerusalem. Although no longer in the hands of the Persians, the Holy Land was now besieged by the armies of the newly-appeared religion of Mohammed, which had already taken Bethlehem; in the Saint's sermon for the Nativity of our Lord in 634, he laments that he could not celebrate the feast in Bethlehem. In 637, for the sins of the people, to the uttermost grief of Saint Sophronius, the Caliph Omar captured Jerusalem. Having tended the flock of his Master for three years and three months, Saint Sophronios departed in peace unto Him Whom he loved on March 11, 638.
Saint Sophronios has left to the Church many writings, including the life of Saint Mary of Egypt. The hymn "O Joyous Light," which is wrongly ascribed to him, is more ancient than Saint Basil the Great, as the Saint himself confirms in his work "On the Holy Spirit" (ch. 29). However, it seems that this hymn, which was chanted at the lighting of the lamps and was formerly called "The Triadic Hymn," was later supplemented somewhat by Saint Sophronius, bringing it into the form in which we now have it. Hence, some have ascribed it to him.
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 Σωφρόνιε, 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 Sophronios, intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.
Στο πρόσωπο του αγίου Σωφρονίου Πατριάρχου Ιεροσολύμων, του οποίου σήμερα η Εκκλησία τιμά την μνήμη, συνδυάζεται το καθαρό χριστιανικό φρόνημα κι ο αληθινός πατριωτισμός. Ο άγιος Σωφρόνιος και την ορθόδοξη πίστη κατά των αιρετικών και την πόλη των Ιεροσολύμων κατα των Αράβων υπεράσπισε με την ίδια ανδρεία. Και δεν είν' ο πρώτος μήτε ο τελευταίος κληρικός και Επίσκοπος της Εκκλησίας, που συγχρόνως υπήρξε άγιος άνθρωπος και φλογερός πατριώτης. Η αγάπη προς την πατρίδα είναι ιερή έννοια και σαν τέτοια πηγαίνει κοντά με την πίστη και την αγάπη προς τον Θεό. Οι αληθινοί χριστιανοί είναι και χρηστοί πολίτες και καλοί πατριώτες· όπως ομολογούν την πίστη τους, υπερασπίζουν και την πατρίδα τους. Ο άγιος Γρηγόριος ο Θεολόγος γράφει σε μία του επιστολή. "Μητέρα τιμάν, των οσίων. Μήτηρ δε άλλη μεν άλλου· κοινή δε πάντων πατρίς".
Ὁ Ἅγιος Σωφρόνιος Ἀρχιεπίσκοπος Ἱεροσολύμων
Γεννήθηκε στὴ Δαμασκὸ τῆς Συρίας, περίπου τὸ 575, ἀπὸ γονεῖς εὐσεβεῖς, τὸν Πλινθὰ καὶ τὴν Μυρῶ (κατὰ τοὺς Συναξαριστές). Δὲν ἄργησε, ὅμως, νὰ ἐπικρατήσει μέσα του ἡ θεολογικὴ καὶ ἐκκλησιαστικὴ κλίση. Πῆγε στὴν Ἱερουσαλήμ, ὅπου μόνασε στὴ Μονὴ τοῦ Ἁγίου Θεοδοσίου. Ἐκεῖ ἐπιδόθηκε στὶς θεολογικὲς καὶ ἐκκλησιαστικὲς μελέτες. μαζὶ μὲ τὸ συμμοναστή του Ἰωάννη Μόσχο, ἐπισκέφθηκε διάφορα ἀσκητικὰ καὶ μοναχικὰ κέντρα τῆς Παλαιστίνης. Πολέμιος τῆς αἵρεσης τοῦ Μονοθελητισμοῦ, ἀγωνίστηκε σκληρὰ ἐναντίον του στὶς πόλεις - κέντρα Ἀλεξάνδρεια καὶ Κωνσταντινούπολη. Τὸ 634 ἐκλέγεται Πατριάρχης Ἱεροσολύμων, σὲ διαδοχὴ τοῦ ἀποθανόντος Μοδέστου. Ἀπὸ τὴν θέση αὐτή, ὁ Σωφρόνιος ἐξακολουθεῖ τὸν ἀγῶνα του κατὰ τοῦ Μονοθελητισμοῦ. Γράφει πολλοὺς ὕμνους καὶ λόγους ποὺ τοὺς διακρίνει ἀξιόλογη λογοτεχνικὴ ἀξία. Σὰν Πατριάρχης, εἶχε τὴν ἀτυχία νὰ πολιορκηθεῖ ἡ Ἱερουσαλὴμ ἀπὸ τὸ χαλίφη τῶν Ἀράβων Ὀμάρ. Ὅταν παραδόθηκε ἡ πόλη (637), ἡ πολλή του θλίψη μετριάσθηκε λίγο ἀπὸ τὸ ὅτι πῆρε ἀπὸ τὰ χέρια τοῦ κατακτητῆ τὸν ἱστορικὸ Ἀκτίναμε, μὲ τὸ ὁποῖο προστατεύθηκαν ὑπὲρ τῶν Ὀρθόδοξων τὰ ἱερὰ χριστιανικὰ προσκυνήματα. Ἡ ψυχή του, ὅμως, εἶχε πάθει βαθὺ τραῦμα, καὶ μετὰ ἕνα χρόνο ἀπεβίωσε (638).
Ὁ Ἅγιος Πιόνιος ὁ Πρεσβύτερος καὶ ἡ Ἁγία Σαβίνα
Ἔζησε στὰ χρόνια του αὐτοκράτορα Δεκίου, τοῦ σκληροῦ διώκτη τῶν χριστιανῶν κατὰ τὰ μέσα τοῦ τρίτου αἰῶνα. Ὅταν συνελήφθη ἔμεινε ἀμετακίνητος στὴν ὁμολογία τοῦ Χριστοῦ, καὶ ὅταν συζήτησε μὲ τοὺς ἱερεῖς τῶν εἰδώλων Πολέμονα καὶ Ἐλπίδιο, κατέδειξε τὴν πλάνη τῆς πολυθεϊστικῆς θρησκείας. Μάταια ζήτησε ἔπειτα ὁ ἀνθύπατος Κιντιλιανὸς νὰ τὸν κερδίσει μὲ ὑποσχέσεις, καὶ νὰ τὸν πειθαναγκάσει μὲ ἀπειλές. Ὁ Πιόνιος, ὁ πιστὸς ἱερέας τοῦ Χριστοῦ, ἐξακολουθοῦσε νὰ Τὸν ὁμολογεῖ. Καταδικάστηκε τότε νὰ ριχθεῖ στὴ φωτιὰ καὶ μέσα στὶς φλόγες της βρῆκε τὸ μαρτυρικὸ θάνατο. Γιὰ δὲ τὴν Ἁγία Σαβίνα βλέπε Α.Χ.Ε.Χ. (Ἡ μνήμη τους, ἀπὸ ὁρισμένα Ἁγιολόγια περιττῶς ἐπαναλαμβάνεται στὶς 14 καὶ 15 Μαρτίου).
Ὁ Ὅσιος Γεώργιος ὁ Νεοφανής, ὁ θαυματουργός
Ἔζησε στὴν Ἀνατολὴ στὰ μέσα τοῦ 10ου αἰῶνα. Ἐγκατέλειψε γυναῖκα, παιδιὰ καὶ συγγενεῖς, γιὰ νὰ γίνει μοναχός. Ἀφοῦ ντύθηκε τὸ μοναχικὸ σχῆμα, γύριζε πόλεις, χωριὰ καὶ ἐρήμους, στερούμενος, θλιβόμενος καὶ κακουχούμενος. Ὅταν τοῦ ἀποκάλυψε ὁ Θεὸς τὸν θάνατό του, ἦλθε στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη. Ἐκεῖ, στὸν ναὸ τοῦ Ἁγίου Ἰωάννου τοῦ Θεολόγου, ποὺ βρίσκεται στὴν τοποθεσία Διίπειον, ἀσκήτεψε ἑπτὰ ἡμέρες καὶ ἀναπαύθηκε ἐν Κυρίῳ. Ὅταν οἱ χριστιανοὶ πῆγαν νὰ τὸν θάψουν, εἶδαν ἔκπληκτοι ὅτι ὁ Γεώργιος ἔφερε πάνω του βαρύτατα σίδερα. Ἀφοῦ τὸν ἔβαλαν σὲ μαρμάρινη θήκη τὸν ἔθαψαν στὸν Νάρθηκα τοῦ Ναοῦ τοῦ Ἀποστόλου Ἰωάννου. Ἀπὸ τότε τὸ μέρος ἐκεῖνο ἀνάβλυζε μύρο, ποὺ θεράπευε διάφορες ἀσθένειες καὶ ἔκανε πολλὰ ἄλλα θαύματα.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Γεώργιος ὁ Σιναΐτης
Ἔζησε στὰ χρόνια τοῦ βασιλιᾶ Ἰουστινιανοῦ τοῦ Α´ (527-565) καὶ ὅταν Πατριάρχης Ἱεροσολύμων ἦταν ὁ Πέτρος ὁ Α´ (524-552). Ὁ Γεώργιος μόναζε στὸ ὄρος Σινᾶ καὶ ἦταν νηστευτὴς καὶ πολὺ ἐνάρετος. Λέγεται μάλιστα ὅτι κάποτε ἐπεθύμησε νὰ μεταλάβει στὸ ναὸ τῆς Ἀναστάσεως τοῦ Χριστοῦ στὴν Ἱερουσαλήμ. Τότε, μὲ θαυματουργικὸ τρόπο βρέθηκε ἀμέσως, ἀπὸ τὸ Σινᾶ, στὴ θεία Λειτουργία τοῦ ναοῦ τῆς Ἀναστάσεως, καὶ κοινώνησε τῶν ἀχράντων Μυστηρίων ἀπὸ τὰ χέρια τοῦ Πατριάρχη Πέτρου. Μετὰ τὴν κοινωνία ὁ Πατριάρχης ρώτησε τὸν οἰκονόμο του Μηνᾶ, πότε ἦλθε αὐτὸς ὁ Ἀββᾶς Σιναΐτης, διότι δὲν τὸν εἶχε δεῖ προηγουμένως. Ἀλλὰ καὶ ὁ οἰκονόμος του δὲν γνώριζε. Τότε ὁ Πατριάρχης εἶπε στὸν Μηνὰ νὰ πεῖ στὸν Ἀββᾶ νὰ καθίσει στὸ τραπέζι γιὰ νὰ συμφάγουν. Ὁ οἰκονόμος προσκάλεσε τὸν Γεώργιο, ἀλλὰ αὐτός, ἀφοῦ προσευχήθηκε, βρέθηκε ἀμέσως πάλι στὸ κελλί του στὸ Σινᾶ. Ὁ Πατριάρχης θίχτηκε διότι ὁ Γεώργιος δὲν παρακάθισε στὸ τραπέζι του καὶ ἔστειλε γράμμα στοὺς Πατέρες τοῦ Σινᾶ γιὰ τὸ συμβάν. Ἀλλ᾿ ὅταν πληροφορήθηκε ὅτι ὁ Ἅγιος δὲν βγῆκε ποτὲ ἀπὸ τὸ κελλί του, τότε κατάλαβε ὅτι πρόκειται περὶ ἁγίου ἀνδρὸς καὶ δόξασε τὸν Θεό. Λέγεται ὅτι, ὁ Ὅσιος Γεώργιος καὶ ὁ Πατριάρχης Πέτρος Α´, ἀπεβίωσαν εἰρηνικὰ μαζὶ μετὰ ἀπὸ ἕξι μῆνες, γεγονὸς ποὺ εἶχε προφητέψει ὁ Ὅσιος Γεώργιος.
Οἱ Ἅγιοι Τρόφιμος καὶ Θαλλὸς ποὺ μαρτύρησαν στὴ Λαοδικεία
Οἱ Ἅγιοι αὐτοὶ μαρτύρησαν στὰ χρόνια του Διοκλητιανοῦ (284-305). Κατάγονταν ἀπὸ τὴν πόλη Στρατονίκη ἢ Στρατονίκεια, ποὺ βρισκόταν στὴν ἐπαρχία Καριᾶς τῆς Μικρᾶς Ἀσίας καὶ σήμερα τούρκικα ὀνομάζεται Ἀιδενέλλι. Τὸν καιρὸ λοιπὸν ἐκεῖνο, κατὰ τὸν διωγμὸ ἐναντίον τῶν χριστιανῶν, συνελήφθησαν καὶ οἱ Ἅγιοι αὐτοί, ἐπειδὴ ὁμολόγησαν τὸν Χριστό, καὶ λιθοβολήθηκαν γιὰ ἀρκετὴ ὥρα. Μὲ ἐνέργεια τῆς θείας χάριτος ὅμως, ἔμειναν ἀβλαβεῖς. Βλέποντας αὐτὸ ὁ ἡγεμόνας τῆς Λαοδικείας Ἀσκληπιός, τοὺς ἄφησε ἐλεύθερους. Ἀλλ᾿ ἀργότερα καὶ πάλι τοὺς συνέλαβαν καὶ τοὺς πίεζαν ν᾿ ἀρνηθοῦν τὸν Χριστό. Αὐτοὶ ὅμως, μὲ ἀκόμα περισσότερο θάῤῥος ὁμολόγησαν τὴν πίστη τους καὶ μπροστὰ σ᾿ ὅλους ἐνέπαιξαν τὰ εἴδωλα καὶ τοὺς προστάτες τους. Αὐτὸ εἶχε σὰν ἀποτέλεσμα νὰ ἐρεθίσει πολὺ τὸν τύραννο καὶ ἔδωσε διαταγὴ νὰ τοὺς δέσουν γυμνοὺς σὲ ξύλο καὶ νὰ σχίσουν τὶς σάρκες τους. Τελικὰ μαρτύρησαν μὲ σταυρικὸ θάνατο καὶ ἔτσι ἔλαβαν τὰ ἔνδοξα στεφάνια τοῦ μαρτυρίου. Εὐσεβεῖς χριστιανοί, πῆραν τὰ ἅγια λείψανά τους καὶ τὰ ἔθαψαν σὲ τόπο ἱερό. Τότε καὶ ἡ γυναῖκα τοῦ ἄρχοντα Ἀσκληπιοῦ, πῆγε καὶ ράντισε μὲ μύρα τὴν θήκη τῶν ἁγίων λειψάνων καὶ ἅπλωσε πάνω σ᾿ αὐτὸ πολύτιμο σεντόνι. Τέλος, οἱ εὐλαβεῖς καὶ πιστοὶ χριστιανοὶ συμπατριῶτες τῶν Ἁγίων, Ζώσιμος καὶ Ἀρτέμιος, πῆραν τὴν θήκη τῶν ἁγίων λειψάνων καὶ τὴν μετέφεραν στὴν ἰδιαίτερη πατρίδα τους Στρατονίκη, καὶ τὴν ἀποθησαύρισαν ἕνα μίλι ἔξω ἀπὸ τὴν πόλη, στὴν τοποθεσία Λατομεῖα.
Ἀνακομιδὴ Λειψάνων Ἁγίου Ἐπιμάχου στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη
Ἡ κυρίως μνήμη του τελεῖται τὴν 31η Ὀκτωβρίου.
Ἡ Ὁσία Θεοδώρα ἡ Βασίλισσα
Ἦταν θυγατέρα τοῦ Ἰωάννη τοῦ Πετραλίφη, ποὺ ἐπὶ Ἀλεξίου τοῦ Κομνηνοῦ εἶχε διοριστεῖ ἄρχοντας τῆς Θεσσαλονίκης. Ἡ μητέρα της καταγόταν ἀπὸ μία τῶν εὐγενεστέρων οἰκογενειῶν τῆς Κωνσταντινουπόλεως. Ἡ Θεοδώρα ἦταν πολὺ ὄμορφη στὸ σῶμα, ἀλλὰ καὶ στὴν ψυχή. Πῆρε σύζυγο τὸν Μιχαὴλ Δούκα, ποὺ ἀναδείχτηκε ἄρχοντας τῆς Ἠπείρου. Καὶ στὸ ἀξίωμά της αὐτό, ἡ Θεοδώρα, διατήρησε ὅλη τὴν ταπεινοφροσύνη της καὶ τὴν χριστιανικὴ ἁπλότητα. Ἀγαποῦσε νὰ καταγίνεται μὲ φροντίδες γιὰ τοὺς φτωχούς, τοὺς ἀσθενεῖς, τὶς χῆρες καὶ τὰ ὀρφανά. Ἀλλὰ μεγάλη δοκιμασία περίμενε τὴν ἁγία αὐτὴ ψυχή. Ὁ σύζυγός της Μιχαὴλ Δούκας, μπλέχτηκε μὲ μία πόρνη, ποὺ ὀνομαζόταν Γαγρίνη. Τόσο πολὺ ξεμυαλίστηκε ἀπ᾿ αὐτή, ὥστε παραγκώνισε ἐντελῶς τὴν Θεοδώρα καὶ γλεντοκοποῦσε χωρὶς φειδὼ μὲ τὴν Γαγρίνη. Ἡ Θεοδώρα, ἐδῶ ἔδειξε τὸ ψυχικό της μεγαλεῖο καὶ ἔμεινε ἀτάραχη, προσευχομένη στὸν Θεὸ γιὰ τὸν σύζυγό της. Καὶ ὁ Θεὸς εὐλόγησε, ὥστε ὁ Μιχαήλ, κάτω ἀπὸ τὴν πίεση τῆς ἀγανάκτησης τοῦ λαοῦ καὶ τῶν προκρίτων τῆς Ἠπείρου, νὰ συνέλθει καὶ νὰ διώξει τὴν πόρνη ἀπὸ κοντά του. Μὲ δάκρυα ζήτησε συγγνώμη ἀπὸ τὴν Θεοδώρα καὶ ἀπὸ τότε ἔζησαν μὲ πνεῦμα Θεοῦ μέσα στὸ παλάτι. Ὅταν μετὰ ἀπὸ καιρὸ πέθανε ὁ Μιχαήλ, ἡ Θεοδώρα ἀποσύρθηκε στὸ μοναστήρι τοῦ ἁγίου Γεωργίου, ποὺ ἡ ἴδια εἶχε κτίσει, καὶ ἐκεῖ παρέδωσε τὴν ἁγία της ψυχή.
St Sophronios, patriarch of Jerusalem (638)
He was born in Damascus to an eminent family, and was well educated in his youth. Discontented with the wisdom of the world, he entered monastic life in the monastery of St Theodosius, where he became the lifelong friend and disciple of John Moschos. Together they visited the monasteries and hermitages of Egypt; they later wrote down their discoveries among the holy monks in the classic Spiritual Meadow. After the death of his teacher, St Sophronius traveled to Jerusalem, which had just been liberated from the Persians. He was there to see the Precious Cross returned from Persia by the Emperor Heraclius, who carried it into Jerusalem on his back. A few years later, in 634, St Sophronius was elected Patriarch of Jerusalem, where he served his flock wisely for three years and three months. He was zealous in the defense of Orthodoxy against the Monothelite heresy: He convoked a Council in Jerusalem which condemned it before it was condemned at the Sixth Ecumenical Council. The holy Patriarch even traveled to Constantinople to rebuke the Patriarch Sergius and Emperor Heraclius, who had embraced the Monothelite error.
The years of peace were few for the Holy Land; for just as the Persian Empire was decisively defeated by Heraclius, the followers of Islam erupted out of Arabia, conquering most of North Africa and the Middle East in a few years. The Saint was so grieved by the capture of Jerusalem in 637 by the Caliph Omar that begged God to take him, so that he might not live to see the desecration of the holy places. His prayer was granted, and he reposed in peace less than a year later.
St Sophronios is the author of the Life of Saint Mary of Egypt, appointed to be read in the churches during every Great Lent. He also wrote the service of the Great Blessing of the Waters. Some have attributed the Vesperal hymn "Gladsome Light" to him, but we know that it dates from before the time of St Basil the Great, who mentions it in his writings. It seems though, that St Sophronios supplemented the hymn, and that its present form is due to him.
St John Moschos, author of the Spiritual Meadow (622)
He is commemorated today along with his disciple and friend St Sophronius (see above).
Holy Martyr Pionius (250)
"A priest of Smyrna, he suffered there in the time of Decius' persecution. They condemned him to be crucified, which was a great joy to him. And as soon as the soldiers assembled the cross and laid it on the ground, Pionius laid himself on it and stretched out his arms, calling to the soldiers to put the nails into his hands. The cross was inserted into the ground upside down, and a fire lit under the martyr's head. There were many bystanders. Pionius closed his eyes and prayed to God within himself. The flames could not succeed in igniting even his hair, and when the fire had at last gone out and everyone thought that he was dead, Pionius opened his eyes and cried out joyfully: 'O Lord, receive my spirit!', and breathed his last. This saint wrote the life of St Polycarp of Smyrna, together with whom he now makes merry in the Kingdom of Christ. He suffered and was glorified in 250." (Prologue)
Sainted Sophronios, Patriarch of Jerusalem, was born in Damascus. From his youthful years he distinguished himself by his piety and his love for the classical sciences. He advanced especially in philosophy, for which they were wont to call him the Wise. But the future hierarch sought out an higher wisdom in the monasteries, and in conversations with the wilderness-dwellers. He arrived in Jerusalem at the monastery of Saint Theodosios, and there he became close with the PriestMonk John Moskhos, becoming his spiritual son and devoting himself to him in obedience. They journeyed together through the monasteries, and they wrote down descriptions of the lives and precepts of the ascetics found there. From these jottings was afterwards compiled their reknown book, the "Leimonarion" or "Spiritual Meadow", which was highly esteemed at the Seventh OEcumenical Council.
To save themselves from the devastating incursions of the Persians, Saints John and Sophronios quit Palestine and withdrew to Antioch, and from there they went to Egypt. In Egypt Saint Sophronios became seriously ill. During this time he also decided to become a monk and so he accepted tonsure from the Monk John Moskhos. After the return to health of Saint Sophronios, they both decided to remain in Alexandria. There they were fondly received by the holy Patriarch John the Merciful (Comm. 12 November), to whom they rendered great aid in the struggle against the Monophysite heresy. At Alexandria Saint Sophronios' eyesight was afflicted, and he recoursed with prayer and faith to the holy UnMercenaries Cyrus and John (Comm. 31 January), and he received healing in a church named for them. In gratitude, Saint Sophronios then wrote the Vita of these holy unmercenaries.
When the barbarians began to threaten Alexandria, the holy Patriarch John, accompanied by Saints Sophronios and John Moskhos, set out for Constantinople, but along the way he died. Saints John Moskhos and Sophronios with eighteen other monks then set out for Rome. At Rome the Monk John Moskhos also died (+ 622). His body was conveyed by Saint Sophronios to Jerusalem and buried at the monastery of Saint Theodosios.
In the year 628 the Jerusalem patriarch Zacharias (609-633) returned from the Persian Captivity. After his death, the patriarchal throne was occupied for a space of two years by Saint Modestos (633-634, Comm. 18 December). After the death of Saint Modestos, Saint Sophronios was chosen patriarch. Sainted Sophronios toiled much for the welfare of the Jerusalem Church as its primate (634-644).
Towards the end of his life, Saint Sophronios with his flock lived through a two year siege of Jerusalem by the Mahometans. Worn down by hunger, the Christians finally consented to open the city gates, on the condition that the enemy spare the holy places. But this condition was not fulfilled, and holy Patriarch Sophronios died in deep grief over the desecration of the Christian holy places.
Written works by Patriarch Sophronios have come down to us in the area of dogmatics, and likewise his "Excursus on the Liturgy", the Vita of the Nun Mary of Egypt (Comm. 1 April), and also about 950 tropars and stikhi-verses from Pascha to the Ascension. While still a priestmonk, Saint Sophronios made review and corrections to the "ustav-rule" of the monastery of the Monk Sava the Sanctified (Comm. 5 December). And the "tri-odic song" of the saint for the Holy Forty Day Great Lent is included in the composition of the contemporary Lenten Triodion.
Sainted Evthymii, in Baptism Ioann (John), was born at the fervent prayers of the presbyter Mikhei and his spouse Anna. For long years they had been childless, and they gave a vow: if a son were born, they would dedicate him to God. The reading of priestly books and frequent visits to Divine-services, which the boy served at with his father -- a priest at a not-large temple named for Saint Theodore, -- all this gave sanctity to the soul of young Ioann. And at the age of fifteen, in the year 1411, he departed his parental home for a monastery.
Twelve versts from Novgorod, in a wilderness spot named Vyazhisch, amidst the forests and the swamps there had settled three monks -- Evphrosyn, Ignatii and Galaktion. There soon joined them the priest Pimen, who accepted tonsure with the name Pakhomii. Here they asceticised in complete solitude at a wooden chapel built by them in the name of Christ's Saint Nicholas, living in unceasing prayer and in the harsh struggle with the severe conditions of nature in the Northern regions.
The young Ioann in seeking salvation came also to these ascetics. The hegumen Pakhomii accepted him fondly and tonsured him into monasticism with the name Evthymii. Tonsure at so early an age reflects the outstanding spiritual traits of the young ascetic, which were evident to the perspicacious Pakhomii. During this period in time the Novgorod archbishop's cathedra-seat was occupied by archbishop Simeon, a simple monk elevated to archbishop. The virtuous life of the Monk Evthymii became known to the archbishop. Saint Evthymii was summoned to Novgorod and after a long talk with the vladyka he was appointed the archbishop's steward. During these times Novgorod archbishops occupied quite unique a position: independent of princely authority, they were elected directly by the veche-assembly and they assumed a large role in secular matters; moreover, it imposed upon them the administration of vast land-holdings. And an archbishop's steward under these conditions had to combine administrative talent with the utmost non-covetousness and deep Christian humility. Saint Evthymii fervently entreated the archpastor to send him away back again to Vyazhisch, but then he yielded.
In his new duty, Saint Evthymii evoked general astonishment and esteem, in that while occupying so important a position, and being at the centre of business life in a large crowded city, he as a monk asceticised as fervently as he would have in the deep forest. In 1421 archbishop Simeon died. Under the new hierarch, Evthymii I, Saint Evthymii again withdrew to his monastery. Soon however the monks of a monastery on Lisich Hill chose the saint as their hegumen. With the death of the Novgorod archbishop Evthymii I in 1429, the hegumen Saint Evthymii was then chosen archbishop of his native city, and on 29 November he entered into the temple of Saint Sophia. For four years the saint administered the Novgorod diocese, whilst putting off being acclaimed archbishop, and it was only on 24 May 1434 that he was consecrated at Smolensk. The archepiscopal laying on of hands was headed by metropolitan Gerasim.
Saint Evthymii wisely governed his diocese over the course of 29 years, zealous in the fulfilling of his archpastoral duty. Saint Evthymii toiled much at the construction and restoration of churches, especially after the devastating conflagrations of the years 1431 and 1442. The Sophia cathedral was richly embellished by the saint, and in the Novgorod Kremlin there was built several new churches. "If thou dost wish to see, -- writes Pakhomii the Logothete, -- some few from the number of his great works, go to the temple of Saint Sophia. There thou wilt catch glimpse the temples of saints built by him, standing like hillocks. Not by the voice, but in the deed do they bespeak their varied charm. This was bestowed me by archbishop Evthymii, -- proclaims the one church; while another sayeth -- so magnificently hath he adorned me; and yet a third one doth relate -- he did build me up from the very foundations. The temple of great John Chrysostom, tall and beautiful, with the hand of a Chrysostomos he blesses and from its face is proclaimed: "In as thou hast erected me a temple-habitation, I in turn shalt beseech the Creator to prepare thee habitation in Heaven". The cathedral temple of the Wisdom of God, Saint Sophia, answering from over the years in its restoration by him, proclaimeth: "He hath returned me to mine original grandeur, he hath adorned me with holy icons, he -- is my praise and beauty". Saint Evthymii built also a church in honour of his Guardian Angel [i.e. Russian idiom for "patron saint"], and in 1438 he built at Vyazhitsk monastery a stone church in honour of Saint Nicholas; and in the following year -- a stone church in honour of Saint John the Theologian with a refectory and consistory. Zealous for the Glory of God, Saint Evthymii concerned himself over the increase of spiritual books. From this period is found quite many a Divine-service book, transcribed "under authority of archbishop Vladyka Evthymii". Despite his abundant works, the saint always promptly fulfilled the monastic rule: whatever he did not succeed doing by day he accomplished by night. An hour before Matins the saint rose up for cell prayer. Often the whole night he spent without sleep; he wore chains, but no one knew about them until his end. The first week of Great Lent the saint spent at Vyazhitsk monastery in silent prayer, eating nothing.
In 1446 the great-princely throne was usurped by Shemyaka, who entered into relations with Novgorod. The political situation in Novgorod was often quite strained. Sainted Jona (Comm. 31 March) in a special missive in 1451 urged the Novgorod people to cease their rowdiness and to heed their archpastor -- "be ye in everything heedful to our son and brother, your father and teacher, the God-beloved archbishop Evthymii". Saint Evthymii, quite up in age, was troubled in soul that the actions of Shemyaka might cast a pall over his relations with the church primate he so deeply revered, and he dispatched a letter to Saint Jona. Sensing the nearness of his death, Saint Evthymii besought for himself prayers and pardon. Saint Jona in the reply letter -- a grammota of pardon, wrote: "We call to mind for thee, my son, that thou didst comport thyself too simply: one, who was excommunicated for transgressions by our humility, ye did accept unto yourself and find worthy of your blessing. And do thou, my son, offer repentance in this before God". And with this Saint Jona gave orders: if the grammota of pardon should arrive after the blessed end of the Novgorod archpastor, then it should be read over his grave. Sainted Evthymii reposed on 10 March 1458. The priest Evmenii, dispatched by Saint Jona with the grammota of pardon, arrived in Novgorod 16 days after the death of Saint Evthymii, whose grave at his bequest stood at the church of the Vyazhitsk monastery. When they opened the grave so as to read the grammota of pardon, they then saw that no decay had touched the body of the saint. Saint Evthymii lay there as though asleep, and his fingers were positioned in blessing. "God preserve yet Novgorod, for which Sainted Evthymii doth pray", -- loudly exclaimed Evmenii, and reading the grammota of Saint Jona, he placed it into the hand of the deceased hierarch.
Soon after the death of the saint, the Lord glorified him in blessing with grace those, who recoursed to his prayerful intercession. Highly revering the saint, the monks of the Vyazhitsk monastery in gratitude erected a church in honour of Saint Evthymii, which was noted in the census of 1500. The celebration of the memory of Saint Evthymii was established at the Moscow Sobor of 1549. The Vita (Life) of Saint Evthymii was written by Pakhomii the Logothete, having been commissioned by Saint Jona, Archbishop of Novgorod (+ 1470, Comm. 5 November).
The Monk Sophronii the Hermit, of Pechersk, asceticised in the Farther Caves (the Theodosiev Caves), during the XIII Century. The holy ascetic wore an hairshirt and an heavy iron belt. The monk daily read through the whole Psalter.
The PriestMartyrs Pionos and Linos -- Smyrna Presbyters, the Holy Martyresses Sabina and Macedonia, and the Holy Martyr Asclepiades suffered during the time of persecution under the reign of Decius (249-251). They suffered at Smyrna, a mercantile city reknown in antiquity, situated on the Eastern shores of the Aegean Sea. The Smyrna Church was founded by the holy Apostle John the Theologian (Comm. 8 May and 26 September), and it was glorified by the stoic firmness of its confessors in the faith of Christ.
Having learned that a persecution had begun, and preparing themselves for suffering, Saint Pionos together with Sabina and Asclepiades dwelt in strict fasting and intense prayer. Saint Pionos took three lengths of chain and placed them on himself and his companions.
The holy martyrs were arrested on 23 February -- the day of memory of the holy PriestMartyr Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna (+ 167) -- a feastday for the Smyrna Christians. After a brief interrogation the holy confessors were led off to prison. And in prison Saint Pionos with his companions met up with the presbyter of the Smyrna cathedral church, named Linos, together with his wife named Macedonia from the village of Carina. They had likewise been imprisoned for confessing the Name of the Lord. Many believers visited the holy confessors in prison, offering them whatever they could, but the saints distributed it all to the prison guards. There came to Saint Pionos also those, who formerly were Christians, but out of fear of the torturers had consented to offer sacrifice to the idols: these too besought their prayers. Saint Pionos bitterly wept over the faint of heart and he admonished them: "Despair not, brethren, though ye have done a grievous sin, but repent ye truly and turn with all your heart to Christ". After many torments, on 11 March 250 they crucified the holy martyr on a cross. They set kindling around the cross and set it afire. When the bon-fire subsided, everyone saw the body of the saint perfectly unharmed; even the hairs of his head were unburnt. His face was radiant, and it shone with a Divine grace.
THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:
1. SAINT SOPHRONIUS, PATRIARCH OF JERUSALEM
Sophronius was born in Damascus of distinguished parents. Having acquired worldly wisdom, he was, nevertheless, not satisfied but went to seek and acquire spiritual wisdom. In the monastery [Lavra] of St. Theodosius, he found himself in the company of a monk, John Moschus, whom he choose for his teacher, and together with him traveled about and visisted monasteries and those ascetics in Egypt who were practicing the life of asceticism. His watch word was "Each day learn more about spiritual wisdom." All that they had learned they wrote down and later published two books under the title, "Spiritual Meadow." Later on, they traveled to Rome, where Moschus died leaving a testament to Sophronius to have his body taken, either to Sinai or to the Monastery of St. Theodosius. Sophronius fulfilled the desires and wishes of his teacher and translated his body to the Monastery of St. Theodosius and thereafter remained in Jerusalem which, at that time, was liberated from the Persians. He was present at the Translation of the Honorable Cross from Persia which the Emperor Heraclius carried on his shoulders into the Holy City. The aged Patriarch Zacharias, who had also returned from bondage, did not live long thereafter when he took up habitation in the other world. Patriarch Zacharias was replaced by Modestus who died in 634 A.D. Modestus was replaced by Blessed Sophronius. He governed the Church for ten years with exceptional wisdom and zeal. He rose up in defense of Orthodoxy against the heresy of Monotheletism which he condemned at his Council in Jerusalem before it was condemned at the Sixth Ecumenical Council [Constantinople, 680 A.D.]. He wrote The Life of St. Mary the Egyptian, complied The Order of the Greater Blessing of Water, and introduced several new hymns and songs in the various liturgical services. When the Arab Caliph captured Jerusalem, Sophronius begged him to spare the lives of the Christians which Omar insincerely promised. When Omar immediately began to plunder and maltreat the Christians in Jerusalem, Sophronius, with lamentation, prayed to God to take him from among the living on earth, so that he would not witness the desecration of the Holy Shrines. God heard his prayer and took Sophronius to Himself into His heavenly mansion in the year 644 A.D.
2. THE HOLY MARTYR PIONIUS AND OTHERS WITH HIM
Pionius was priest from Syria. He suffered in Smyrna during the time ofpersecution under Decius. He was condemned to be crucified, for which he was exceedingly glad. As soon as the soldiers formed a cross and laid it upon the ground, Pionius freely lay on the cross, stretched out his arms and ordered the soldiers to nail him in the hands with spikes. The cross was inserted in the ground upside down and a fire was ignited under the head of the martyr. Many people gathered around. Pionius closed his eyes and prayed to God within himself. The flames of the fire did not even catch the hairs of his head on fire. When, at last, the fire was extinguished and when everyone thought that Pionius was dead, he opened his eyes and cried out rejoicing, "O God, receive my soul," and expired. This saint wrote " The Life of St. Polycarp of Smyrna," with whom he rejoices in the Kingdom of Christ. He suffered and was glorified in the year 250 A.D.
3. THE VENERABLE GREGORY SINAITES
Gregory was the abbot of Mount Sinai, a great ascetic and a just man. On the vigil of Pascha [the Feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ],an angel of the Lord conveyed him to Jerusalem for the Divine Services and returned him again to Sinai the same day. He died peacefully in the sixth century.
HYMN OF PRAISE
Pionius speaks while being tortured:
O, citizens of famous Smyrna,
Fellow townsmen of Omar, the well known,
I know that which all of you know,
Not one of you know, that, what I know:
The sweet pleasure of dying, I know
And sweeter yet, hoping in Christ.
I know that death will destroy me not
But just the body, to separate from the soul;
For me, I know that the angels are waiting
In the mansions of the Heavenly King,
And angels, prophets and saints,
Many armies of those chosen by God,
And the wonderful martyrs for Christ.
I know that I am returning to my homeland,
From whence I came here.
The goal of my suffering, I do know,
(You know not why you are torturing me!)
Seethe, O malice, and against me rage!
With outstretched arms, the Savior awaits me,
Strike me, all of you, with greater tortures.
The more difficult the suffering, the sooner the dawn,
The quicker the death, the more joyful the soul.
"No good works are accomplished by our efforts alone but by the power and will of God. Nevertheless, God demands effort on our part in conforming to His will." These are the words of Saints Barsanuphius and John. Few words but much said. We are obliged to labor, to cultivate and to prepare every good thing, and if some good will take root, grow and bring forth fruit, that is up to the power and will of God. We plow the furrows and God sows, if He wills it. We cleanse the vessels of the Spirit and God pours the Spirit into these vessels, if He wills it. He can do anything if He wills it. And He will do everything that responds to the highest wisdom and suitability, that is, to His plan of man's salvation. In interpreting the words of our Lord, "So be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves" (St. Matthew 10:16), St. John Chrysostom writes that our Lord gave this commandment to His disciples that "they themselves should cooperate in some way, so that it will not to appear that all effort is of Grace alone and for them not to think that they received the wreaths of glory for nothing." And so, both of them are indispensable for our salvation: our effort and the power of God's Grace.
To contemplate the Lord at judgment before Caiaphas:
1. How the High Priest of the Jews detains our Lord in his home surrounded by men almost as wretched as he himself;
2. How Peter, sitting outside in the courtyard by the fire and how before the servants, denies our Lord Jesus three times;
3. How even today, it happens that some Christians, out of fear of the world, deny the Lord in this manner: How they also purport not to be Christians; that they are not familiar with the commandments of the Lord and are not concerned about the Lord.
About the second coming of Christ
"When the Son of Man comes in His glory and all the angels with Him, He will sit upon His glorious throne" (St. Matthew 25:31).
This is how our Lord spoke just before His most horrible humiliations, before being bound, before being spat upon, before being slapped, and before being ridiculed prior to His crucifixion. In His most darkest hour, He speaks about His most vivid and most glorious hour. Before His most terrible and miserable departure from this world, He speaks about His second coming in His glory. At first, He came from the cave in Bethlehem, humble and unseen, and the second time, He will come on the clouds of His angels. The first time as though He sprouted out of the earth, and the second time He will appear from the heavens. The first time He stood and knelt on the ground, and the second time He will be sitting on His throne of Glory.
When He comes again on His throne of Glory, He will not be unseen by anyone. No one will ask, as did the wise men [the Magi] before his first coming,
"Where is the King?" (St. Matthew 2:2). At this time, everyone will see the King and recognize Him as the King. But this vision and recognition will be for some, their joy and for some, their fear and terror. Just think of the joy of those who have fulfilled His commandments, those who have prayed in His Name, those who have performed good works and especially those who have suffered for His Name! Just think of the fear and terror of all those who have spat on Him, struck Him and crucified Him in Jerusalem.
O, Merciful Lord, forgive all of us who call upon Your Name and who because of our weaknesses, sin against You; forgive us before that great marvelous hour when You begin to appear in Your glory with all Your holy angels.