FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:
Sunday of Orthodoxy
Gerasimos the Righteous of Jordan
Paul & his sister Juliana and their Companions
Daniel, Prince of Moscow
Κυριακή: Α΄ ΤΩΝ ΝΗΣΤΕΙΩΝ (ΤΗΣ ΟΡΘΟΔΟΞΙΑΣ).
Ἐν ᾗ ἀνάμνησιν ποιούμεθα τῆς ἀναστηλώσεως τῶν ἁγίων καί σεπτῶν Εἰκόνων.
Τοῦ Ὁσίου Πατρός ἡμῶν Γερασίμου τοῦ ἐν Ἰορδάνῃ καί τῶν Ἁγίων Μαρτύρων Παύλου καί Ἰουλιανῆς.
READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:
The Reading is from Luke 24:13-35
At that time, two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, "What is this conversation which you are holding with each other as you walk?" And they stood still looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?" And he said to them, "What things?" And they said to him, "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since this happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; and they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb, and found it just as the women had said; but him they did not see." And he said to them, "O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He appeared to be going further, but they constrained him, saying, "Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent." So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight. They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?" And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven gathered together and those who were with them, who said, "The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!" Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Κατὰ Λουκᾶν 24.13-35
Καὶ ἰδοὺ δύο ἐξ αὐτῶν ἦσαν πορευόμενοι ἐν αὐτῇ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ εἰς κώμην ἀπέχουσαν σταδίους ἑξήκοντα ἀπὸ ῾Ιερουσαλήμ, ᾗ ὄνομα ᾿Εμμαούς. καὶ αὐτοὶ ὡμίλουν πρὸς ἀλλήλους περὶ πάντων τῶν συμβεβηκότων τούτων. καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ ὁμιλεῖν αὐτοὺς καὶ συζητεῖν καὶ αὐτὸς ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς ἐγγίσας συνεπορεύετο αὐτοῖς· οἱ δὲ ὀφθαλμοὶ αὐτῶν ἐκρατοῦντο τοῦ μὴ ἐπιγνῶναι αὐτόν.εἶπε δὲ πρὸς αὐτούς· τίνες οἱ λόγοι οὗτοι οὓς ἀντιβάλλετε πρὸς ἀλλήλους περιπατοῦντες καί ἐστε σκυθρωποί; ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ εἷς, ᾧ ὄνομα Κλεόπας, εἶπε πρὸς αὐτόν· σὺ μόνος παροικεῖς ἐν ῾Ιερουσαλὴμ καὶ οὐκ ἔγνως τὰ γενόμενα ἐν αὐτῇ ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ταύταις; καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· ποῖα; οἱ δὲ εἶπον αὐτῷ· τὰ περὶ ᾿Ιησοῦ τοῦ Ναζωραίου, ὃς ἐγένετο ἀνὴρ προφήτης δυνατὸς ἐν ἔργῳ καὶ λόγῳ ἐναντίον τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ παντὸς τοῦ λαοῦ, ὅπως τε παρέδωκαν αὐτὸν οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ οἱ ἄρχοντες ἡμῶν εἰς κρῖμα θανάτου καὶ ἐσταύρωσαν αὐτόν. ἡμεῖς δὲ ἠλπίζομεν ὅτι αὐτός ἐστιν ὁ μέλλων λυτροῦσθαι τὸν ᾿Ισραήλ· ἀλλά γε σὺν πᾶσι τούτοις τρίτην ταύτην ἡμέραν ἄγει σήμερον ἀφ᾿ οὗ ταῦτα ἐγένετο. ἀλλὰ καὶ γυναῖκές τινες ἐξ ἡμῶν ἐξέστησαν ἡμᾶς γενόμεναι ὄρθριαι ἐπὶ τὸ μνημεῖον, καὶ μὴ εὑροῦσαι τὸ σῶμα αὐτοῦ ἦλθον λέγουσαι καὶ ὀπτασίαν ἀγγέλων ἑωρακέναι, οἳ λέγουσιν αὐτὸν ζῆν. καὶ ἀπῆλθόν τινες τῶν σὺν ἡμῖν ἐπὶ τὸ μνημεῖον, καὶ εὗρον οὕτω καθὼς καὶ αἱ γυναῖκες εἶπον, αὐτὸν δὲ οὐκ εἶδον. καὶ αὐτὸς εἶπε πρὸς αὐτούς· ὦ ἀνόητοι καὶ βραδεῖς τῇ καρδίᾳ τοῦ πιστεύειν ἐπὶ πᾶσιν οἷς ἐλάλησαν οἱ προφῆται! οὐχὶ ταῦτα ἔδει παθεῖν τὸν Χριστὸν καὶ εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ; καὶ ἀρξάμενος ἀπὸ Μωϋσέως καὶ ἀπὸ πάντων τῶν προφητῶν διηρμήνευεν αὐτοῖς ἐν πάσαις ταῖς γραφαῖς τὰ περὶ ἑαυτοῦ. Καὶ ἤγγισαν εἰς τὴν κώμην οὗ ἐπορεύοντο, καὶ αὐτὸς προσεποιεῖτο πορρωτέρω πορεύεσθαι· καὶ παρεβιάσαντο αὐτὸν λέγοντες· μεῖνον μεθ᾿ ἡμῶν, ὅτι πρὸς ἑσπέραν ἐστὶ καὶ κέκλικεν ἡ ἡμέρα. καὶ εἰσῆλθε τοῦ μεῖναι σὺν αὐτοῖς. καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ κατακλιθῆναι αὐτὸν μετ᾿ αὐτῶν λαβὼν τὸν ἄρτον εὐλόγησε, καὶ κλάσας ἐπεδίδου αὐτοῖς. αὐτῶν δὲ διηνοίχθησαν οἱ ὀφθαλμοί, καὶ ἐπέγνωσαν αὐτόν· καὶ αὐτὸς ἄφαντος ἐγένετο ἀπ᾿ αὐτῶν. καὶ εἶπον πρὸς ἀλλήλους· οὐχὶ ἡ καρδία ἡμῶν καιομένη ἦν ἐν ἡμῖν, ὡς ἐλάλει ἡμῖν ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ καὶ ὡς διήνοιγεν ἡμῖν τὰς γραφάς; Καὶ ἀναστάντες αὐτῇ τῇ ὥρᾳ ὑπέστρεψαν εἰς ῾Ιερουσαλήμ, καὶ εὗρον συνηθροισμένους τοὺς ἕνδεκα καὶ τοὺς σὺν αὐτοῖς, λέγοντας ὅτι ἠγέρθη ὁ Κύριος ὄντως καὶ ὤφθη Σίμωνι. καὶ αὐτοὶ ἐξηγοῦντο τὰ ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ καὶ ὡς ἐγνώσθη αὐτοῖς ἐν τῇ κλάσει τοῦ ἄρτου.
The Reading is from St. Paul's Letter to the Hebrews 11:24-26, 32-40
Brethren, by faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to share ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.
And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets -- who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, received promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign enemies to flight. Women received their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and scourging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, ill-treated -- of whom the world was not worthy -- wandering over deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
And all these, though well attested by their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had foreseen something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.
Πρὸς Ἑβραίους 11:24-26,32-40
Ἀδελφοί, πίστει Μωϋσῆς μέγας γενόμενος ἠρνήσατο λέγεσθαι υἱὸς θυγατρὸς Φαραώ, μᾶλλον ἑλόμενος συγκακουχεῖσθαι τῷ λαῷ τοῦ θεοῦ ἢ πρόσκαιρον ἔχειν ἁμαρτίας ἀπόλαυσιν· μείζονα πλοῦτον ἡγησάμενος τῶν Αἰγύπτου θησαυρῶν τὸν ὀνειδισμὸν τοῦ Χριστοῦ· ἀπέβλεπεν γὰρ εἰς τὴν μισθαποδοσίαν. Καὶ τί ἔτι λέγω; Ἐπιλείψει γὰρ με διηγούμενον ὁ χρόνος περὶ Γεδεών, Βαράκ τε καὶ Σαμψών καὶ Ἰεφθάε, Δαυίδ τε καὶ Σαμουὴλ καὶ τῶν προφητῶν· οἳ διὰ πίστεως κατηγωνίσαντο βασιλείας, εἰργάσαντο δικαιοσύνην, ἐπέτυχον ἐπαγγελιῶν, ἔφραξαν στόματα λεόντων, ἔσβεσαν δύναμιν πυρός, ἔφυγον στόματα μαχαίρας, ἐνεδυναμώθησαν ἀπὸ ἀσθενείας, ἐγενήθησαν ἰσχυροὶ ἐν πολέμῳ, παρεμβολὰς ἔκλιναν ἀλλοτρίων. Ἔλαβον γυναῖκες ἐξ ἀναστάσεως τοὺς νεκροὺς αὐτῶν· ἄλλοι δὲ ἐτυμπανίσθησαν, οὐ προσδεξάμενοι τὴν ἀπολύτρωσιν, ἵνα κρείττονος ἀναστάσεως τύχωσιν· ἕτεροι δὲ ἐμπαιγμῶν καὶ μαστίγων πεῖραν ἔλαβον, ἔτι δὲ δεσμῶν καὶ φυλακῆς· ἐλιθάσθησαν, ἐπρίσθησαν, ἐπειράσθησαν, ἐν φόνῳ μαχαίρας ἀπέθανον· περιῆλθον ἐν μηλωταῖς, ἐν αἰγείοις δέρμασιν, ὑστερούμενοι, θλιβόμενοι, κακουχούμενοι - ὧν οὐκ ἦν ἄξιος ὁ κόσμος - ἐν ἐρημίαις πλανώμενοι καὶ ὄρεσιν καὶ σπηλαίοις καὶ ταῖς ὀπαῖς τῆς γῆς. Καὶ οὗτοι πάντες, μαρτυρηθέντες διὰ τῆς πίστεως, οὐκ ἐκομίσαντο τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν, τοῦ θεοῦ περὶ ἡμῶν κρεῖττόν τι προβλεψαμένου, ἵνα μὴ χωρὶς ἡμῶν τελειωθῶσιν.
The Reading is from John 1:43-51
At that time, Jesus decided to go to Galilee. And he found Philip and said to him, "Follow me." Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael, and he said to him, "We have found him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!" Nathanael said to him, "How do you know me?" Jesus answered him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you." Nathanael answered him, "Rabbi, you are the son of God! You are the King of Israel!" Jesus answered him, "Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these." And he said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man."
Κατὰ Ἰωάννην 1.44-52
Τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ, ἠθέλησεν ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς ἐξελθεῖν εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν· καὶ εὑρίσκει Φίλιππον καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ· ἀκολούθει μοι. ἦν δὲ ὁ Φίλιππος ἀπὸ Βηθσαϊδά, ἐκ τῆς πόλεως ᾿Ανδρέου καὶ Πέτρου.εὑρίσκει Φίλιππος τὸν Ναθαναὴλ καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ· ὃν ἔγραψε Μωϋσῆς ἐν τῷ νόμῳ καὶ οἱ προφῆται, εὑρήκαμεν, ᾿Ιησοῦν τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ᾿Ιωσὴφ τὸν ἀπὸ Ναζαρέτ. καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ Ναθαναήλ· ἐκ Ναζαρὲτ δύναταί τι ἀγαθὸν εἶναι; λέγει αὐτῷ Φίλιππος· ἔρχου καὶ ἴδε. εἶδεν ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς τὸν Ναθαναὴλ ἐρχόμενον πρὸς αὐτὸν καὶ λέγει περὶ αὐτοῦ· ἴδε ἀληθῶς ᾿Ισραηλίτης, ἐν ᾧ δόλος οὐκ ἔστι. λέγει αὐτῷ Ναθαναήλ· πόθεν με γινώσκεις; ἀπεκρίθη ᾿Ιησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· πρὸ τοῦ σε Φίλιππον φωνῆσαι, ὄντα ὑπὸ τὴν συκῆν εἶδόν σε. ἀπεκρίθη Ναθαναὴλ καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ· ῥαββί, σὺ εἶ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ, σὺ εἶ ὁ βασιλεὺς τοῦ ᾿Ισραήλ. ἀπεκρίθη ᾿Ιησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· ὅτι εἶπόν σοι, εἶδόν σε ὑποκάτω τῆς συκῆς, πιστεύεις; μείζω τούτων ὄψει. καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ· ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀπ᾽ ἄρτι ὄψεσθε τὸν οὐρανὸν ἀνεῳγότα, καὶ τοὺς ἀγγέλους τοῦ Θεοῦ ἀναβαίνοντας καὶ καταβαίνοντας ἐπὶ τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου.
READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:
Τῇ Δ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, Μνήμη τοῦ Ὁσίου Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Γερασίμου τοῦ ἐν τῷ Ἰορδάνῃ.
Ὑπηρέτης θὴρ τῷ Γερασίμῳ γέρας,
Θῆρας παθῶν κτείναντι πρὶν λῆξαι βίου.
Τῇ δὲ τετάρτῃ Γεράσιμος βιότοιο ἀπέπτη.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τῶν Ἁγίων Μαρτύρων Παύλου καὶ Ἰουλιανῆς τῆς αὐτοῦ ἀδελφῆς.
Ὁ κείμενος μὲν Παῦλος, ἡ δὲ κειμένη
Ἰουλιανή, σύγγονοι τετμημένοι.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, οἱ ἀνωτέρω, Κοδρᾶτος, Ἀκάκιος καὶ Στρατόνικος οἱ ἀπὸ δημίων, ξίφει τελειοῦνται.
Τρεῖς ἐκχέαντες αἷμα πολλῶν ὡς ὕδωρ,
Σοφῶν αἷμα, Χριστὲ σοὶ χέουσιν ἐκ ξίφους.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, ὁ Ἅγιος Γρηγόριος Κύπρου, ἐν εἰρήνῃ τελειοῦται.
Ἐλαφος ὥσπερ ἐκ βρόχου ῥυσθεὶς βίου,
Ἄνεισι Γρηγόριος, ἔνθα ζῶν ὕδωρ.
Ταῖς τῶν σῶν Ἁγίων πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεός, ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.
For more than one hundred years the Church of Christ was troubled by the persecution of the Iconoclasts of evil belief, beginning in the reign of Leo the Isaurian (717-741) and ending in the reign of Theophilus (829-842). After Theophilus's death, his widow the Empress Theodora (celebrated Feb. 11), together with the Patriarch Methodius (June 14), established Orthodoxy anew. This ever-memorable Queen venerated the icon of the Mother of God in the presence of the Patriarch Methodius and the other confessors and righteous men, and openly cried out these holy words: "If anyone does not offer relative worship to the holy icons, not adoring them as though they were gods, but venerating them out of love as images of the archetype, let him be anathema." Then with common prayer and fasting during the whole first week of the Forty-day Fast, she asked God's forgiveness for her husband. After this, on the first Sunday of the Fast, she and her son, Michael the Emperor, made a procession with all the clergy and people and restored the holy icons, and again adorned the Church of Christ with them. This is the holy deed that all we the Orthodox commemorate today, and we call this radiant and venerable day the Sunday of Orthodoxy, that is, the triumph of true doctrine over heresy.
Resurrectional Apolytikion in the Plagal of the First Tone
Τὸν συνάναρχον Λόγον Πατρὶ καὶ Πνεύματι, τὸν ἐκ Παρθένου τεχθέντα εἰς σωτηρίαν ἡμῶν, ἀνυμνήσωμεν πιστοὶ καὶ προσκυνήσωμεν, ὅτι ηὐδόκησε σαρκί, ἀνελθεῖν ἐν τῷ σταυρῷ, καὶ θάνατον ὑπομεῖναι, καὶ ἐγεῖραι τοὺς τεθνεῶτας, ἐν τῇ ἐνδόξῳ Ἀναστάσει αὐτοῦ.
Let us worship the Word who is unoriginate * with the Father and the Spirit, and from a Virgin was born * for our salvation, O believers, and let us sing His praise. * For in His goodness He was pleased * to ascend the Cross in the flesh, and to undergo death, * and to raise up those who had died, * by His glorious Resurrection.
Apolytikion in the Second Tone
Τὴν ἄχραντον Εἰκόνα σου προσκυνοῦμεν Ἀγαθέ, αἰτούμενοι συγχώρησιν τῶν πταισμάτων ἡμῶν, Χριστὲ ὁ Θεός· βουλήσει γὰρ ηὐδόκησας σαρκὶ ἀνελθεῖν ἐν τῷ Σταυρῷ, ἵνα ῥύσῃ οὓς ἔπλασας ἐκ τῆς δουλείας τοῦ ἐχθροῦ· ὅθεν εὐχαρίστως βοῶμέν σοι· Χαρᾶς ἐπλήρωσας τὰ πάντα, ὁ Σωτὴρ ἡμῶν, παραγενόμενος εἰς τὸ σῶσαι τὸν Κόσμον.
We worship Thine immaculate icon, O Good One, asking the forgiveness of our failings, O Christ our God; for of Thine own will Thou wast well-pleased to ascend the Cross in the flesh, that Thou mightest deliver from slavery to the enemy those whom Thou hadst fashioned. Wherefore, we cry to Thee thankfully: Thou didst fill all things with joy, O our Saviour, when Thou camest to save the world.
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 First Tone
Μιμητής υπάρχων Πρός τόν Άδην Σωτήρ μου συγκαταβέβηκας, καί τάς πύλας συντρίψας ως παντοδύναμος, τούς θανόντας ως Κτίστης συνεξανέστησας, καί θανάτου τό κέντρον Χριστέ συνέτριψας, καί Αδάμ τής κατάρας ερρύσω Φιλάνθρωπε, διό πάντες σοί κράζομεν. Σώσον ημάς Κύριε
You descended to Hades, my Savior, and shattered its gates, as the Almighty. As Creator, You raised the dead with yourself, and smashed the sting of death, O Christ. You freed Adam from the curse, O Lover of humanity. Therefore we all cry out to You, Save us, O Lord.
Venerable Gerasimos lived during the reign of king Constantine Pogonatos in 670, as Sophronios of Jerusalem, who wrote his life, attests. He had fear of God since childhood and, after he became a monk, he went to the deepest parts of the desert of Thebais. He reached such a height of virtue and was graced with such intimacy with God, because he had preserved his image and likeness so pure, that he even had authority over wild beasts. A lion used to attend upon him and among other things this lion used to graze the donkey which fetched water to the saint. Once some merchants passed from that place. When they saw the donkey, they stole it. The lion was sleeping and did not feel a thing. So, in the evening he returned to the saint without having the donkey with him, as usual.
When the saint's servant saw the lion alone, he told the elder that the lion had eaten the donkey. So, the poor lion was condemned to carry the pitchers on his back and fetch water from the river instead of the donkey, for as long as the merchants kept it. However, the same merchants happened to pass from that place again and they had the donkey with them. As soon as the lion saw the donkey, he recognised it and rushed at the merchants with a loud roar. The people got scared and left. Together with the donkey the lion brought to St. Gerasimos' cell the camels which were tied on it. Knocking with his tail on the door of the saint's cell, he acted as if to show that he was offering them to the elder as game.
When the saint saw this thing, he smiled a bit and said to his disciple: "We wrongly accused the innocent lion that he had eaten the donkey. So, now we have to liberate him from his labour and allow him to go and graze at his usual place." Then the lion bowed his head, as if he had reason, and taking his leave from the saint he went to the wilderness. Once every week he used to come and bow before the saint. After the saint had died, the lion came, as his habit was, and asked to venerate him. However, when he did not find him, he seemed to be sad and angry. With many signs the saint's disciple helped him feel that the elder had died. The lion lamented the elder's death with a fine roar and seemed to be looking for the saint's grave. When the disciple led him to it, the lion fell on it and with a loud roar he breathed his last due to his extreme pain which he suffered from his love for the saint. This is how God glorifies those who glorify Him and makes wild beasts submit to those who keep His image and likeness pure.
Apolytikion in the First Tone
Τής ερήμου πολίτης, καί εν σώματι Άγγελος, καί θαυματουργός ανεδείχθης, θεοφόρε Πατήρ ημών Γεράσιμε, νηστεία, αγρυπνία, προσευχή, ουράνια χαρίσματα λαβών, θεραπεύεις τούς νοσούντας, καί τάς ψυχάς τών πίστει προστρεχόντων σοι, Δόξα τώ δεδωκότι σοι ισχύν, δόξα τώ σέ στεφανώσαντι, δόξα τώ ενεργούντι διά σού πάσιν ιάματα.
Thou didst prove to be a citizen of the desert, an angel in the flesh, and a wonderworker, O Gerasimos, our God-bearing Father. By fasting, vigil, and prayer thou didst obtain heavenly gifts, and thou healest the sick and the souls of them that have recourse to thee with faith. Glory to Him that hath given thee strength. Glory to Him that hath crowned thee. Glory to Him that worketh healings for all through thee.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Ὡς ἀστήρ οὐράνιος ἐξανατείλας, ἱερῶς ἐφαίδρυνας, τῶν ἀρετῶν σου τῷ φωτί, τοῦ Ἰορδάνου τήν ἔρημον, Ὅσιε Πάτερ, θεόφρον Γεράσιμε.
As a star resplendent with the light of virtues, thou didst make the wilderness of Jordan radiantly shine with beams of sacred celestial light, O righteous Father, God-bearing Gerasimos.
Πολύ συγκινητικός και διδακτικός είναι ο βίος του οσίου Γερασίμου του Ιορδανίτη, του οποίου την μνήμη τιμά σήμερα η Εκκλησία. Τόσο είχε προαχθεί ο ασκητής σε τελειότητα και αγιωσύνη, που και τα άγρια θηρία να τον αγαπούν και να'ναι στη δούλευσή του. Η αγάπη προς τα ζώα είναι δείγμα της καλωσύνης των ανθρώπων και η εμπιστοσύνη των ζώων προς τους ανθρώπους μας φέρνει στη σκέψη την πρώτη εκείνη εποχή στον παράδεισο προ της πτώσεως, που οι άνθρωποι και τα ζώα ήσαν φίλοι, τότε που ο Θεός "ήγαγεν αυτά προς τον Αδάμ ιδείν τι καλέσει αυτά". Δεν είναι άγνωστα κι έπειτα στην ιστορία παραδείγματα πιστών ζώων, που απέθαναν επάνω στον τάφο των κυρίων τους. Το λιοντάρι, που από ευγνωμοσύνη ήταν στη δούλευση του αγίου Γερασίμου, όταν είδε που απέθανεν ο κύριός του πήγε κι αφήκε την πνοή του με βαρύ βογγητό επάνω στον τάφο του Αγίου.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Γεράσιμος ὁ Ἰορδανίτης
Γεννήθηκε ἀπὸ εὐσεβεῖς γονεῖς στὴ Λυκία, τὸν 7ο μετὰ Χριστὸν αἰῶνα. Ὁ σατανάς, ὅμως, τοῦ ἔπαιξε πονηρὸ παιγνίδι. Κατάφερε καὶ τὸν παρέσυρε στὴν αἵρεση τῶν Μονοφυσιτῶν. Ἀλλ᾿ ὁ Θεός, ποὺ γνώριζε τὶς ἀγαθές του προθέσεις, εὐδόκησε νὰ λάμψει στὸ πνεῦμα του ἡ ἀλήθεια. Ὅταν κάποτε ἐπισκέφθηκε τὸν Ἅγιο Εὐθύμιο, ποὺ ἦταν βαθὺς γνώστης τῶν Γραφῶν, καὶ τὸν ἄκουσε μὲ ταπεινὸ φρόνημα, κατάφερε καὶ ἀναγνώρισε τὴν ὀρθόδοξη ἀλήθεια. Σὰν χαρακτῆρας, ὁ Γεράσιμος ἦταν πολὺ αὐστηρός με τὸν ἑαυτό του. Ἔτρωγε καὶ κοιμόταν τόσο, ὅσο χρειαζόταν. Ἔλεγε, μάλιστα, ὅτι ὁποῖος θέλει νὰ ζήσει περισσότερο, πρέπει νὰ κοιμᾶται λιγότερο. Ὄχι μόνο διότι ὁ πολὺς ὕπνος κάνει τρυφηλό, ἄρα ἀνίσχυρο στοὺς κόπους τὸ σῶμα, καὶ πολὺ εὐάλωτο στὶς ἀσθένειες, ἀλλὰ καὶ διότι ζωὴ εἶναι κυρίως τὸ μέρος τοῦ χρόνου ποὺ ἔχουμε συνείδηση. Πότε αὐτὸ συμβαίνει; Ὅταν εἴμαστε ξύπνιοι. Καὶ πρόσθετε: «Εἶπαν οἱ σοφοὶ τὸν ὕπνο ἀδελφὸ τοῦ θανάτου. Θέλεις λοιπὸν νὰ βρίσκεσαι περισσότερα χρόνια στὴ ζωή; Μεῖνε λιγότερες ὧρες στὸ κρεβάτι σου. Διότι αὐτὸ εἶναι ἕνα εἶδος φερέτρου καὶ ἐμποδίζει ἀπὸ τὴν ἐνέργεια, ποὺ εἶναι ἡ θεμελιώδης βάση τῆς ζωῆς». Ἀργότερα ὁ Γεράσιμος, κοντὰ στὸν Ἰορδάνη, ἵδρυσε κοινοβιακὴ ἀδελφότητα, ὅπου ὅλοι μαζὶ ἦταν μία ψυχὴ καὶ μία καρδιά. (Νὰ σημειώσουμε ἐδῶ, ὅτι τὰ στοιχεῖα, ἀπὸ τοὺς Συναξαριστές, γιὰ τὸν χρόνο ποὺ ἔζησε ὁ Ἅγιος Γεράσιμος, στεροῦνται ἱστορικῆς βάσεως, διότι ὁ Μέγας Εὐθύμιος μὲ τὸν ὁποῖο συναντήθηκε ὁ Ἅγιος Γεράσιμος, ἔζησε τὸν 5ο αἰῶνα μ.Χ. καὶ ὄχι τὸν 7ο ποὺ ὑποτίθεται ὅτι γεννήθηκε ὁ Ἅγιος Γεράσιμος. Ἑπομένως ὁ χρόνος τῆς ζωῆς τοῦ Ἁγίου Γερασίμου, παρατίθεται ἐδῶ μὲ ἐπιφύλαξη).
Οἱ Ἅγιοι Παῦλος καὶ Ἰουλιανή
Ἔζησαν στὰ χρόνια του αὐτοκράτορα Αὐρηλιανοῦ. Πατρίδα τους ἦταν ἡ Πτολεμαΐδα, καὶ εἶχαν εὐσεβεῖς γονεῖς, ποὺ τοὺς ἀνέθρεψαν μὲ πολλὴ εὐσέβεια καὶ ἔνθερμη ἀφοσίωση πρὸς τὴν στρατευόμενη Ἐκκλησία τοῦ Χριστοῦ. Ὁ Παῦλος, μεγαλύτερος τῆς ἀδελφῆς του Ἰουλιανῆς, ὅταν καταρτίστηκε καλὰ γύρω ἀπὸ τὴν χριστιανικὴ ἀλήθεια, ἐπεδίωκε συναναστροφὲς εἰδωλολατρῶν συνομηλίκων του, μὲ τὴν προοπτικὴ νὰ τοὺς φέρει πρὸς τὸ χριστιανικὸ φῶς. Τὸ παράδειγμά του ἀκολούθησε καὶ ἡ ἀδελφή του.Ὅταν ὅμως ὁ αὐτοκράτωρ Αὐρηλιανὸς ἦλθε στὴν Πτολεμαΐδα, οἱ ἐκεῖ εἰδωλολάτρες, κατήγγειλαν τοὺς δυὸ χριστιανοὺς ἀδελφούς, ὅτι ἦταν πολὺ θρασεῖς καὶ προσβλητικοὶ ἐναντίον τῶν εἰδώλων. Ὁ αὐτοκράτωρ τοὺς συνέλαβε καὶ τοὺς διέταξε ν᾿ ἀπαρνηθοῦν τὸ Χριστό. Τὰ δυὸ ἀδέλφια ἀπάντησαν, ὅτι ἡ ψυχή τους καὶ ἡ θρησκευτική τους συνείδηση ἀνήκουν στὸ Χριστό, καὶ ὅτι μόνο ἀπ᾿ Αὐτὸν μποροῦσαν νὰ παίρνουν τέτοιου εἴδους διαταγές. Ἀκολούθησε τότε ἐναντίον τους, σειρὰ ἀνεκδιήγητων σκληρῶν βασανισμῶν. Ὑπέμειναν ὅμως μὲ καταπληκτικὸ θάῤῥος καὶ ἀλύγιστη καρτερία, τόση, ὥστε καὶ αὐτοὶ οἱ δήμιοί τους Κοδρᾶτος, Ἀκάκιος καὶ Στρατόνικος, ἀφοῦ πέταξαν τὰ βασανιστικὰ ὄργανα, ἔπεσαν στὰ πόδια τοὺς ὁμολογώντας τὸ Χριστό. Ὅμως, νέοι δήμιοι ξέσχισαν τὰ σώματα τῶν μαρτύρων μὲ σιδερένια ὄργανα καὶ ἔτσι ἔλαβαν μαρτυρικὸ θάνατο. (Ἡ μνήμη τους περιττῶς ἐπαναλαμβάνεται τὴν 17η Αὐγούστου καὶ τὴν 27η ἢ 28η Μαΐου ἀπὸ ὁρισμένους Συναξαριστές).
Οἱ Ἅγιοι Κοδρᾶτος, Ἀκάκιος καὶ Στρατόνικος
Αὐτοὶ ἦταν δήμιοι στὰ χρόνια του βασιλιᾶ Αὐρηλιανοῦ (270-275). Πίστεψαν στὸν Χριστὸ κατὰ τὸ μαρτύριο τῶν Ἁγίων Παύλου καὶ Ἰουλιανῆς στὴν Πτολεμαΐδα, μὲ ἀποτέλεσμα νὰ ἀποκεφαλιστοῦν.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Γρηγόριος ἐπίσκοπος Κύπρου
Στὸν Πατμιακὸ κώδικα 266 ἡ μνήμη του συνοδεύεται μὲ αὐτὴ τοῦ Ἀδριανοῦ, καὶ λέγεται ἐπίσκοπος Κωνσταντίας τῆς Κύπρου. Ἴσως καὶ ὁ Ἀδριανὸς αὐτός, ποὺ δὲν μνημονεύεται πουθενὰ ἀλλοῦ, νὰ ἦταν καὶ αὐτὸς ἐπίσκοπος Κύπρου. Ὁ ἅγιος Γρηγόριος ἀπεβίωσε εἰρηνικὰ (κατὰ τὸν DeΙ. 5 Μαρτίου).
Ὁ Ἅγιος Γρηγόριος ἐπίσκοπος Ἀσσου τῆς Ἀνατολῆς
Καταγόταν ἀπὸ τὴν Μυτιλήνη, ἀπὸ τὸ χωριὸ Ἀκόρνη (1150μ.Χ.), ποῦ βρίσκεται κοντὰ στὴν Ἱερὰ (ἀρχαία πόλη τῆς Λέσβου, ποὺ ἐρείπιά της βρίσκονται στὸ βόρειο ἄκρο τῆς δυτικῆς πλευρᾶς τοῦ στομίου τοῦ κόλπου τῆς Γέρας). Εἶχε γονεῖς εὐσεβεῖς τὸν Γεώργιο καὶ τὴν Μαρία, ποὺ παρακαλοῦσαν τὸν Θεὸ μὲ δάκρυα νὰ τοὺς δώσει παιδί. Ὁ Θεὸς εἰσάκουσε τὶς προσευχές τους καὶ τοὺς ἔδωσε ἕνα ἀγοράκι ποὺ τὸ ὀνόμασαν Γεώργιο (τὸν μετέπειτα Γρηγόριο). Καὶ τὸ μεγάλωναν μὲ μεγάλη ἐπιμέλεια, μαθαίνοντάς του τὰ θεῖα καὶ ἱερὰ γράμματα. Κατόπιν γιὰ νὰ συμπληρώσει τὶς σπουδές του πῆγε στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη, ὅπου γνωρίστηκε μὲ τὸν Ἱερομόναχο Ἀγάθωνα, ἡγούμενο σ᾿ ἕνα ἀπὸ τὰ μοναστήρια τῆς Ἀνατολῆς. Ἀργότερα ὁ Γρηγόριος πῆγε στὸ μοναστήρι τοῦ Ἀγάθωνα καὶ ἔμεινε κοντά του τρία χρόνια, ἀσκούμενος στὴν ἀρετή. Ἔπειτα ἐπέστρεψε στὴν πατρίδα του καὶ ἀπὸ ἐκεῖ πῆγε γιὰ προσκύνημα στὰ Ἱεροσόλυμα, καὶ προχώρησε στὰ ἡσυχαστήρια τοῦ Ἰορδάνη, ὅπου ἔγινε μοναχὸς καὶ ἀργότερα Ἱερομόναχος. Μὲ τὶς συστάσεις τοῦ Ἀγάθωνα, ἔγινε ἐπίσκοπός της Ἄσσου τῆς Μυσίας, ποὺ ἀπεῖχε ἕνα χιλιόμετρο ἀπὸ τὴν ἀκτὴ τοῦ Ἀδραμυτηνοῦ κόλπου. Ἐκεῖ ὁ Γρηγόριος ἔδωσε ὅλο του τὸν ἑαυτό, γιὰ τὴν πνευματικὴ ἀναβάθμιση τῆς ἐπισκοπῆς του. Ἀλλ᾿ οἱ κακομαθημένοι καὶ φθονεροὶ πρόκριτοι τῆς πόλης, τὸν ἀνάγκασαν νὰ παραιτηθεῖ. Στὴν ἀρχὴ πῆγε στὴν Τένεδο, ὅπου ἡσύχασε γιὰ ἀρκετὸ καιρὸ σὲ μία Μονή. Ἀργότερα ἀφοῦ πέρασε ἀπὸ τὴν πατρίδα του, κατέληξε στὸ ὄρος Πρηῶν τῆς Δ. Μικρᾶς Ἀσίας, ὅπου ἵδρυσε ἡσυχαστήριο καὶ κατόπιν ναὸ στὸ ὄνομα τῆς Θεοτόκου. Ἐκεῖ λοιπόν, μὲ μία μικρὴ συνοδεία περνοῦσε τὸν καιρό του μὲ προσευχὴ καὶ λατρεία. Κάποτε- κάποτε κατέβαινε στὶς πόλεις καὶ κήρυττε τὸ λόγο τοῦ Θεοῦ. Ἔτσι παρέδωσε τὸ πνεῦμα του στὸν Κύριο ὁ ταπεινόφρων Γρηγόριος.
St Gerasimos of the Jordan (475)
He was from Lycia in Asia Minor. After living there as a hermit for many years, he traveled to the Egyptian Thebaid and lived among the Desert Fathers. He then went to Palestine, where he founded the great Lavra, a community of about seventy monks, that remains to this day. The monastery's rule was simple and strict: During the five weekdays, the monks would stay in their cells, praying and weaving baskets and mats. On these days they ate only a little dry bread and some dates. On Saturdays and Sundays the monks gathered for worship and ate boiled vegetables with a little wine. Each monk owned only one garment; if he left his cell he was required to leave it open so that anyone else could take whatever he needed from it. Saint Gerasimos himself was an example to all of them, exceeding even the rule that he laid upon them: during the Great Fast, he would eat nothing but what he received in Holy Communion.
In the desert, the Saint once saw a lion in great pain from a thorn in its paw. Moved by compassion, Gerasim approached it, made the sign of the Cross and pulled the thorn out. The lion followed the elder back to the monastery and remained there until the Saint's death. When Gerasimos died, the lion, overcome by grief, soon died also, lying upon the Saint's grave.
Saint Gerasimos was present at the Fourth Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon, where he proved a strong champion of Orthodoxy, though he had inclined toward the Monophysite heresy in his youth. He reposed in peace in 475.
St James the Faster of Phoenecia (6th c.)
"He lived in the sixth century. He was so perfected in godliness that he was able to heal the gravest illnesses by his prayers. But the enemy of the human race brought a heavy temptation on him. There was once sent to him a woman who had been corrupted by some mockers. She pretended to weep before him, but enticed him to sin. Seeing that he would fall into sin, James put his left hand into the fire and held it there until it was completely burned. Seeing this, the woman was filled with fear and horror, repented and reformed her life.
"But on a second occasion he did not resist and fell with a young girl whom her parents had brought to him to be healed of her madness. He indeed healed her, but then sinned with her and, in order to conceal the sin, killed her and threw her into a river. As always, the path from lust to murder was not very long. James spent ten years after that as a penitent, living in a grave. He learned after that that God had forgiven him, because, when he at one time prayed for rain in a time of great drought from which both men and cattle were suffering, it fell.
"Here is an example, similar to that of David, of how wicked the evil demon is; how, bu the permission of God, the greatest spiritual giants can topple, and how again, by sincere repentance, God in His compasion will forgive the greatest sins and does not punish those who punish themselves." (Prologue)
The Monk Gerasimos was a native of Lycia (Asia Minor). From his early years he was distinguished for his piety. Having then accepted monasticism, the monk withdrew into the depths of the Thebaid wilderness (in Egypt). Thereafter, in about the year 450, the monk arrived in Palestine and settled at the Jordan, where he founded a monastery.
For a certain while Saint Gerasimos was tempted by the heresy of Eutykhios and Dioskoros, which acknowledged in Jesus Christ only the Divine nature, but not His human nature (i.e. the Monophysite heresy). The Monk Euthymios the Great (Comm. 20 January) helped him to return to the true faith.
At the monastery the Monk Gerasimos established a strict monastic rule. He spent five days of the week in solitude, occupying himself with handicrafts and prayer. On these days the wilderness dwellers did not eat cooked food, nor even kindle a fire, but rather ate only dry bread, roots and water. On Saturday and Sunday all gathered at the monastery for Divine Liturgy and to commune the Holy Mysteries of Christ. In the afternoon, taking with them a supply of bread, tubers, water and an armload of date-palm branches for weaving into baskets, the wilderness dwellers returned to their own cells. Each had only old clothes and a mat, upon which he slept. In exiting their cells, the door was never secured, so that anyone coming by could enter, and rest, or take along necessities.
The Monk Gerasimos himself attained an high level of asceticism. During Great Lent he ate nothing until the very day of the All-Radiant Resurrection of Christ, when he communed the Holy Mysteries. Going out into the wilderness for the whole of Great Lent, the Monk Gerasimos took along with him his beloved disciple Blessed Kyriakos (Comm. 29 September), whom the Monk Euthymios had sent off to him.
At the time of the death of Saint Euthymios the Great, the Monk Gerasimos saw how Angels carried up the soul of the departed off to Heaven. Taking Kyriakos with him, the monk immediately set off to the monastery of Saint Euthymios and consigned his body to earth.
The Monk Gerasimos himself died peacefully, wept over by brethren and disciples. Before his death, a lion had aided the Monk Gerasimos in his tasks, and upon the death of the elder it too died at his grave and was buried nearby. And therefore the lion is depicted on icons of the saint, at his feet.
The Monk Gerasim, First Vologda Wonderworker, accepted monastic tonsure on the day of 4 March at the Kiev Gniletsk Uspenie monastery, having been attracted to the place of the caves, where the Monk Theodosii (Feodosii, Comm. 3 May) secluded himself during the time of Great Lent.
Out of obedience to the brethren, the Monk Gerasim accepted the dignity of priestmonk. In imitation of the exploits of the fathers of old, the monk felt the pull to Northern Rus' and he arrived at the River Vologda (19 August 1147), on the right bank of which he blessed the emerging settlement, "foretelling that here would be a great city". The saint chose for his dwelling place the dense virgin forest, separated from the settlement by the not large Kaisarova creek. There the monk built himself an hut and in the tranquil solitude he gave himself over to contemplation of God, unceasing prayer and work. He built a church in the Name of the MostHoly Trinity, and under him there came to be the first monastery in the North, named for the MostHoly Trinity. The monastery served in the spiritual enlightening of the surrounding peoples.
The monk reposed peacefully to the Lord on 4 March 1178, on the same day as his monastic tonsure and his monastic name-day in common with the Monk Gerasimos.
The Holy MonkMartyrs Vasilii of Mirozhsk and Joasaph of Snetnogorsk suffered under the Germans at two of the most ancient of the Pskov monasteries, during the XIII Century. The Monk Vasilii directed the Saviour-Transfiguration Mirozhsk monastery, co-founded in about the year 1156 by Sainted Nyphontii, Bishop of Novgorod (Comm. 8 April), and by the Monk Avraamii (Abraham) of Mirozhsk (Comm. 24 September). The Monk Joasaph was hegumen (and according also to some Pskov Saint-accounts, the founder) of the monastery in honour of the Nativity of the MostHoly Mother of God on Mount Snatna. Much work and worry had been exerted by the ascetics for both the outer and inner welfare of the monasteries. In accord with the strict rule of monastic common-life, introduced into his monastery by the Monk Joasaph, the life of the monks was filled with prayer, abstinence and work. (Almost 90 years after the death of the Monk Joasaph, his monastic rule was re-introduced in the new monastic ustav (rule) of the Snetnogorsk monastery by the Suzdal' archbishop Dionysii). The Snetnogorsk monastery traced its origins from the efforts of the Monk Evphrosyn of Pskovsk (Comm. 15 May) and the Monk Savva of Krypetsk (Comm. 28 August).
Both these monasteries were situated outside the city walls and did not have any defenses. On 4 March 1299, the Germans fell upon Pskov and burned the Mirozhsk and Snetnogorsk monasteries. During the time of the conflagration of the churches, the Monks Vasilii and Joasaph accepted an agonising death together with the other monks. There was then at that time much suffering in the city and for the monks of other monasteries, and also for the women and children, -- remarks the chronicler, -- but "through the prayers of the holy monk-martyrs, the Lord preserved the fighting-men". Under the lead of the Pskov prince, Saint Dovmont-Timothei (Comm. 20 May), they came out against the enemy and at the banks of the Pskova River, near the church of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, they defeated the invaders.
The Monks Vasilii and Joasaph were buried with their co-ascetics beneathe crypts at the churches of their monasteries. The venerable head and part of the relics of the Monk Joasaph were preserved in the open in a special reliquary in the temple of the Snetnogorsk monastery. Holy Prince Dovmont "from his rightful inheritance" built at the Snetnogorsk monastery a stone church in place of the one that had burned, and he much facilitated the restoration of monastic life at the ruined monasteries.
Soon after the martyrs end of the Monks Vasilii and Joasaph followed their churchly glorification at Pskov. On the parchment Pskov Prologue of the XIV-XV Centuries, their memory is set under 5 March. But in the Pskov Chronicle and old Pskov synodikons (Saint-lists), the day of the blessed death of the holy monk-martyrs is indicated as 4 March, and on this day is made their memory at present. Suffering together with them, the chronicle names also the presbyter Joseph, and the Prologue -- the presbyter Konstantin.
Holy Nobleborn Prince Vasilii (Vasil'ko) of Rostov belonged in lineage to the Suzdal' Monomashichi, famed in Russian history. The saint's great-grandfather was Yurii Dolgoruky, and his grandfather was Great-prince Vsevolod III "Bol'shoe Gnezdo" ("Big-Nest", + 1212), brother to Saint Andrei Bogoliubsky (+ 1174, Comm. 4 July), who had been heir to and continuer of Saint Andrei Bogoliubsky's work. From Vladimir-on-Klyazma, which became the capital of the old Rostovo-Suzdal' principality, Vsevolod "Big-Nest" single-handedly set the course of affairs of the whole of Great Rus'. The "Lay of Igor's Campaign" ("Slovo o polku Igoreve") says of him, that he could "splash the Volga with oars, and the Don with helmets bail out".
Saint Vasil'ko -- was the oldest of the fledglings of the "Big Nest". The oldest grandson of Vsevolod from his oldest son Konstantin, -- Saint Vasil'ko (Vasilii, Basil) was born on 7 December 1208 in Rostov, where his father ruled as prince. He spent there his childhood, and in 1216, when Konstantin Vsevolodovich became Great-prince of Vladimir, Rostov was apportioned to Vasil'ko (he was then eight years old) as his princely appanage-realm to rule himself.
Military valour, sacred duty of service to country, the sense of justice and the heeding of one's elders -- all these are traditional features of a Russian princely defender of the land, and all were present in Vasil'ko. The saint's father, Great-prince Konstantin, died on 2 February 1218, when Vasil'ko was not yet ten years of age. The guide of the young Rostov prince then became his uncle -- the Vladimir Great-prince Saint Yurii (+ 1238, Comm. 4 February). For twenty years Prince Yurii ruled the Vladimir land, and for all these years Vasil'ko was his closest friend and confidant. The chronicles take note of the vibrantly handsome figure of Vasil'ko, his bright and majestic glance, his daring in the trapping of wild game, his beneficence, his mind and deep studiousness, together with his mildness and good-naturedness in relations with the boyar-nobles: "For whoever occasioned to serve him, whoever ate his bread and drank the cup with him, that one moreover could never be the servant of another prince". In the year 1219 Vasil'ko participated in a campaign of the Vladimir-Suzdal' forces against the Volga Bulgars, and in 1221 -- in a campaign to the mouth of the River Oka, where Nizhni Novgorod then held Saint Yurii hostage.
In 1223 the first Tatars (Mongols) appeared on the Southern steppes, "an unknown people", coming out of the depths of Asia. Their first victims were the Polovetsians allied with Rus'. The Russian princes, conjointly with the Polovetsian khans (many of whom had accepted Holy Baptism), decided to give resistance to the plunderers of the steppes before they reached the Russian Land. Saint Vasil'ko headed an auxiliary detachment, sent by Great-prince Yurii for participation in the All-Russian steppe campaign. The enemy showed up sooner than they expected. And the centuries old division of appenage principalities proved itself incapable of effective conjoint action in large scale war. The detachment of Vasil'ko was not in time for the decisive battle, and from Chernigov came the sad news of the destruction of the Russian forces at the River Kal'ka on 16 June 1223. This was a bad omen, and from the East loomed the storm. Vasil'ko with his company returned to Rostov.
In 1227 (or 1228) Vasil'ko Konstantinovich married, taking as his wife Maria -- daughter of Saint Michael of Chernigov (+ 1246, Comm. 20 September). Vasil'ko's uncle, Saint Yurii, had earlier married the sister of this prince, Saint Michael [i.e. Vasil'ko's uncle Yurii had married Maria's aunt]. In 1231 was born Vasil'ko's oldest son, Boris.
Over Rus' the storm-clouds thickened. On 3 May 1230, wrote the chronicler, "the earth did shake during Liturgy", and famine and pestilence that year came upon Rus'. In 1232 the Tatars made winter camp, having barely just reached the capital of the Volga Bulgars. Life took its course, and Prince Yurii in 1236 married off his sons Vladimir and Mstislav, and Vasil'ko made merry at their weddings. All of them however had little more than a year yet to live -- the Tatars having already taken the Volga-Bulgarian land.
In 1237 the Tatar whirlwind broke upon Rus'. In December Ryazan fell under the blows of Batu. Prince Yurii had decided not to throw his forces over to aid it, since he was faced with the difficult defense of the Vladimir land. The Tatars offered him peace, and he was prepared to negotiate. But the conditions of the peace -- tribute and vassal dependence under the khan, were unacceptable. "A glorious fight, -- decided the prince, -- is better than a shameful peace". The first battle with the Tatars was at Kolomna, and Vsevolod Yur'evich commanded the troops, but they were cut to pieces. The enemy turned then towards Moscow, which they then captured and burned. Another son of Yurii, Vladimir, leading the defense of Moscow, fell captive.
Saint Yurii and his faithful companion Saint Vasil'ko were resolute to fight "for the Orthodox Christian faith" against the "godlessly vile Tatars". Having organised his defenses and leaving at Vladimir his sons Vsevolod and Mstislav, Prince Yurii went off beyond the Volga to gather new troops to replace those annihilated by Batu.
With him were his nephews -- Saint Vasil'ko of Rostov and his company and his brothers, Vsevolod and Vladimir Konstantinovich. The great-prince awaited the arrival of his brothers -- Yaroslav and Svyatoslav with their forces.
On Meatfare Saturday, 3 February 1238, quickly and without hindrance upon the wintry roads, the Tatar army came nigh to Vladimir. Despite heroic defense, the fate of the city was sealed. Bishop Mitrophan for spiritual strength tonsured into the angelic form all the princes and princesses remaining in the city. On 7 February the city fell. The final outpost of the Vladimirites became the Uspenie cathedral, repository of the chief most holy thing in the Russian Land -- the wonderworking Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God. The Tatars piled wood and kindling around the cathedral and made a tremendous blazing bon-fire. In the fire and in the smoke, together with the thousand defenseless women and children, perished also Bishop Mitrophan and all the family of holy Prince Yurii: his wife Agathia, daughter Theodora, daughters-in-law Maria and Christina, and the infant grandson Dimitrii. His sons Vsevolod and Mstislav, together with the earlier captured Vladimir, were subjected to tortures and then slaughtered "before the eyes of the khan". (In several of the old Mesyatseslav Saint-accounts, -- all these are listed among the Saints).
Saint Yurii had been with his forces near Yaroslavl'. Learning about the destruction of the capital and the death of those near and dear to him, in the words of the chronicle, "he did lament in a loud voice with tears, bewailing as becometh the Orthodox Christian faith and Church". "Better were I dead, than to live yet in this world, -- said he, -- since I alone do remain". Saint Vasil'ko, arriving timely with the Rostov company, encouraged him to continue on with the military effort.
On 4 March 1238 occurred the decisive battle at the River Sita. The Tatars managed in an unexpected manner to encircle the Russian army. A slaughter ensued. Few Russian warriors came out alive from this terrible battle, but the enemy paid an expensive price for its victory. Saint Yurii was cut down in distinguished combat, and the wounded Vasil'ko they brought to the headquarters of Batu.
The Tatars demanded that he "follow their vile customs, be subject to their will and fight for them". With anger the holy prince refused the thought of betraying his Rodina ("Native-Country") and Holy Orthodoxy. "In no way can ye take from me the Christian faith", -- said the holy prince, reminiscent of the ancient Christian confessors. "And much they did torture him, and then did kill him, felling him in the Shernsk woods". Thus did holy Prince Vasil'ko commit his soul to God, resembling in death the holy Passion-Bearer Boris, that first of the Rostov princes, whom he had copied in life. And just as with Saint Boris, Saint Vasil'ko was not yet even thirty years of age.
The Rostov bishop Kirill, going out on the field of carnage, gave burial to the fallen Orthodox warriors, and he sought out the body of holy Prince Yurii (they did not succeed in finding his cut-off head in the mass of broken bodies). And he conveyed the venerable remains to Rostov -- to the Uspenie cathedral. The body of Saint Vasil'ko was found in the Shernsk woods by a priest's son and conveyed to Rostov. And there the wife of the prince, his children, bishop Kirill and all the Rostov populace met the body of their beloved prince with bitter wailing, and they buried him beneathe the arches of the cathedral church.
Describing the burial of Prince Vasil'ko, the chronicler characterised him thus: "The multitude of Orthodox people did weep bitterly, in beholding a departed father and nourisher of orphans, a great comforter of the saddened, and for the begloomed -- the setting of a luminous star. For with all the church clergy God did grant him remission in heartfelt eyes, and all the church people, and the poor, and the grieving -- were as with a beloved father... By his martyr's blood was washed away his transgressions together with that of his brethren".
The people saw an especial sign of God's mercy in this, that the two princely comrades-in-arms were buried side by side in the Rostov cathedral church: "For behold the wonder, that in death God hath put together their bodies". (Later on, the relics of holy Prince Yurii were transferred to the restored Vladimir Uspenie cathedral).
The Church venerates Saints Vasil'ko and Yurii as ascetic Passion-Bearers, and heroic defenders of the Russian Land. Their holy example has inspired Russian soldiers in the fight against hostile invaders. The most detailed account about the life and deeds of holy Princes Vasil'ko and Yurii is preserved in the Lavrent'ev (Laurentian) Chronicle, written by the monk Lavrentii with the blessing of Sainted Dionysii, Archbishop of Suzdal', in the year 1377 -- three years before the Kulikovo Pole battle.
Holy Nobleborn Prince Georgii (Yurii) Vsevolodovich: the account is located under 4 February.
Holy Nobleborn Prince Daniel (Daniil) of Moscow was born at Vladimir in the year 1261. He was the fourth son of Saint Alexander Nevsky (Comm. 30 August and 23 November) and Righteous Vassa. Two years after birth he lost his father. The date of his mother's repose is not indicated in the chronicles; it is known only, that she was buried in the church in honour of the Nativity of Christ at the Vladimir Uspenie monastery (the Princess monastery), and the people in the surroundings venerated her as "Righteous" ("Pravedna").
In 1272 holy Prince Daniel received as his allotted portion the city of Moscow with its adjacent lands. The holy prince built on the banks of the River Moskva (Moscow) a church (and alongside it a monastery) in honour of his same-name patron saint, the Monk Daniel the Pillar-Dweller (Comm. 11 December). The Moscow principality was during this period small and unobtrusive. While growing up, holy Prince Daniel strengthened and expanded it, not in manners unjust or coercive, but instead benevolent and peace-loving. In Rus' it was a time of unrest. Fratricidal strife amongst the appanage princes was rife. And often, thanks to holy Prince Daniel, and his incessant striving for unity and peace in the Russian Land, bloodshed was averted. In 1293 his brother, the Great-prince Alexander Alexandrovich, together with Tatars summoned from the Horde and headed by Diuden ("the Diudenev Host"), laid waste to Russian cities: Murom, Suzdal', Kolomna, Dmitrov, Mozhaisk, Tver'. Prince Daniel decided to adjoin them to Moscow, to save their people from perishing. There was not the strength for resistance. Together with his people, the prince braced himself for terrible destruction and pillaging. Standing up for his rights, Saint Daniel was compelled to come out against his brother near a place, called Yur'evo Tolchische ("Yur'evo Threshing-Mill"), but here also the yearning for peace won out in him, and bloodshed was averted.
In 1300, when the Ryazan prince Konstantin Romanovich, having summoned Tatars to his aid, was occupied in secret preparations for a sudden assault on the lands of the Moscow principality, Prince Daniel went with an army to Ryazan, and beating the enemy, he took captive Konstantin and destroyed a multitude of Tatars. This was a first victory over the Tatars, though not a tremendous victory, but it was noteworthy nonetheless -- as a first push towards freedom. Having beaten the Ryazan prince and scattered his confederates the Tatars, holy Prince Daniel did not take advantage of his victory to seize foreign lands or take booty, as was the accepted custom during these times, but rather he displayed an example of true non-covetousness, love and fraternity. The holy prince never resorted to arms to seize the lands of others, nor did he ever snatch away the property of other princes either by force or by treachery. And for this the Lord saw fit to expand the boundaries of his princely realm. Ioann Dimitrievich, prince of Pereslavl'-Zalessk, a nephew of Daniel, was gentle and pious and benevolent towards the poor, and he esteemed and loved his uncle; dying childless in 1302, he bequeathed his principality to Saint Daniel. The Pereslavlsk lands together with Dmitrov were, after Rostov, foremost in number of inhabitants, with corresponding fortification befitting a major city. Pereslavl'-Zalessk was well protected on all sides. But the holy prince remained faithful to Moscow and did not transfer the capital of his princedom to the stronger and more significant seat of the Pereslavl' of this period. This annexation moved Moscow up to be numbered as the most significant principality. And here was set in place the principle of the unification of the Russian Land into a single powerful realm.
How wondrous over the expanse of ages was clearly manifest the Providential Will of God concerning the Russian Land and its destiny!
Grateful in remembrance of the constant Blessing of the Hodegetria ("Way-Guide Mother of God) both in his personal life, and also in the life of the Russian realm, Saint Daniel's father -- Saint Alexander Nevsky, had expressed it in the words: "God is not in might, but in right!".
In 1303 Saint Daniel fell seriously ill. He assumed the monastic great-schema and commanded that he be buried at the Danilov monastery. Through deep humility he wanted to be buried not within the church, but in the common monastery cemetery. The holy prince died on 4 March.
Within the passage of less than 30 years after the repose of holy Prince Daniel, the Danilov monastery founded by him was transformed into the Moscow Kremlin, the church was transformed into a parish church, and the cemetery became non-monastic. During the time of Great-prince Ivan III (1462-1505), the Monk-prince Daniel gave reminders of himself to his forgetful descendents. As a stranger he appeared to a youth attendant on the great-prince and said: "Be not afraid of me -- I was a Christian and the master of this place, my name is Daniel Prince of Moscow, and by the will of God I am here. Tell about me to Great-prince Ioann (Ivan) saying: thou delightest thyself while yet having forgotten me, but God hath not forgotten me". And after this it was that the great-prince established the singing of cathedral panikhidas for his ancestral princes. During the time tsar Ivan the Terrible, at the grave of Saint Daniel was healed the dying son of a barge merchant. The tsar, struck by the miracle, renovated the ancient Danilov monastery and established a yearly church procession, made by the metropolitan to the place of burial of the holy prince, serving there a panikhida.
In 1652 holy Monk-prince Daniel was glorified with the uncovering of his incorrupt relics, which on 30 August were transferred to the church in honour of the Holy Fathers of the Seventh OEcumenical Council.
The holy relics were placed in a reliquary "to the glorifying of the Holy Trinity and for the healing of the infirm". The Moscow metropolitan Platon (+ 1812), in the Vita of the holy prince compiled by him, writes: "This original founder laid the foundation of present-day majestic Moscow, going about this with quiet steps upon a small foot-path. And thus as with any edifice, built not with extreme haste but the rather instead with great artifice and skill, doth receive a particular solidity and doth stand indestructible for a long time; and just as a tall tree growing for many a century, and having started first of all with a small sprout, and thickeneth little by little, with its branches spreading about far around, so also was it needful for this city to grow from the small, but solid root, in order that its first glimmer not beshadow the eyes of the envious, and that initially it not be disturbed or felled early on, but rather grow up to its true height. Thus did this founder prepare the great city given him; though small, but shining uninterrupted by any wafting of the wind, he did bequeathe the great glory of its rise to his son Great-prince Ioann (Ivan) Danilovich, called Kalita".
The Holy Martyrs Paul and his sister Juliania were executed under the emperor Aurelian (270-275) in the Phoenician city of Ptolemaida. One time the emperor had occasion to journey to Ptolemaida. Among those meeting him was Paul, who signed himself with the Sign of the Cross, and this was noticed. They arrested him and threw him in prison. On the following day, when they brought him to trial, he openly and boldly confessed his faith in Christ, for which he was subjected to fierce tortures. Juliania, seeing the suffering of her brother, began in front of everyone to denounce the emperor for his injustice and cruelty, for which she was likewise subjected to torture. They beat the martyrs, tore at their bodies with iron hooks, scorched them over red-hot grates, but they were not able to break the wondrous endurance of the Lord's confessors. Three soldiers torturing the saints were struck by the magnanimous spirit of the martyrs, and they in turn believed in Christ. These newly chosen of God were named Quadratus, Acacius and Stratonicus, and they were immediately executed. The tormentor tried to seduce Saint Juliania with a promise to take her in marriage, if she were to renounce Christ, but the saint refused the offer of the tempter and remained steadfast. By order of the emperor they gave the martyress over to an house of ill repute for defiling, but the Lord preserved her there also: anyone who tried to touch the saint lost their sight. Then the enraged emperor commanded that they again burn at the bodies of the saints. The people crowding about and seeing the suffering of the saints began to murmur loudly, and Aurelian gave orders to behead the martyrs immediately. With gladdened face the brother and sister went to execution singing: "For Thou (Lord) hath saved us from the vexatious and hath shamed those hating us" (Ps. 43 : 7).
The Monk James the Faster asceticised not far from the Phoenician city of Porphyrion. For fifteen years he lived in a cave devoting himself to monastic deeds, and he received a gift of wonderworking from the Lord. Under his influence many of the local inhabitants were converted to the Christian faith. News about the ascetic spread everywhere, and then so as not to fall into temptation, the monk went off to another place. Having found himself a new cave, he dwelt at it for thirty years. The devil set terrible traps for the ascetic. James healed a maiden from demonic-possession, but then fell into sin with her. Distraught over this sin, he repented what he had done, and for a long time he hid himself away in the wilderness, bereft of shelter and peace, tormented by the pricks of conscience, and he was on the point of forsaking the monastic life and returning back into the world. But the immeasurable mercy of God, which the sins of this world cannot prevail against and which desireth salvation for all mankind, would not permit the ruin of this soul, sincerely having toiled so many years for its Master. The Lord undid the diabolic intent to destroy the ascetic, and returned him through repentance onto the path of salvation. Wandering about the wilderness, James caught sight of a monastery, and entering it, he confessed his sin in front of the hegumen and the brethren. The hegumen urged him to remain with them, fearing that he would ultimately fall into despair. But James went off and again for a long time he wandered the wilderness. And finally the Omni-Beneficent Providence of God brought upon his path a wilderness-dweller, filled with grace and wisdom. Lifting the repentance from him, the wilderness-dweller suggested that James remain with him. But James would not remain with the elder, though encouraged and given hope by him, and he secluded himself in a cave and there for ten years offered repentance to God, weeping and wailing, and asking forgiveness for the sin committed. The Lord hearkened to the prayers of the penitent monk and returned unto him His mercy: James again found his gift of wonderworking. To his very death he remained in his cave, wherein also he was buried.
The Transfer of the Relics of Holy Nobleborn Prince Vyacheslav of Czechia: the account about him is located under 28 September.
THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:
1. THE VENERABLE GERASIMUS
This remarkable and famous saint first learned about the ascetical lifein the Egyptian Thebaid. He then went to the Jordan and there founded a community in which there were seventy monks. This community still exists today. He instituted a special Constitution [Rule] for his monastery by which the monks spent five days in their cells weaving baskets, reeds and rush mats. They were never allowed to light a fire in their cells. For five days they ate only a little dry bread and dates. The monks were required to keep their cells open so that when they went out, anyone could enter and remove whatever he needed from their cells. On Saturdays and Sundays they gathered in the monastic church. They had a common meal with a few vegetables and a little wine to the glory of God. Each monk would then bring in and place before the feet of the abbot that which he had made during the past five days. Each monk had only one robe. St. Gerasimus was an example to all. During the Great Lenten Fast he did not eat anything except what he received in Holy Communion. On one occasion, he saw a lion roaring from pain because there was a thorn in his paw. Gerasimus drew near to the lion, crossed himself, and removed the thorn in the animal's paw. The lion became so tame that he returned with Gerasimus to the monastery and remained there until the elder's death. When Gerasimus died, the lion succumbed from sorrow for him. Gerasimus attended the Fourth Ecumenical Council [Chalcedon, 451 A.D.] during the reign of Marcian and Plucheria. Even though in the beginning, Gerasimus leaned toward the Monophysite heresy of Eutyches and Dioscorus, he was a great defender and champion of Orthodoxy at the Council. St. Euthymius dissuaded him from this heresy. Of all of the disciples of Gerasimus, the most famous was St. Cyriacus the Recluse. St. Gerasimus died in the year 475 A.D., and was translated into the eternal joy of his Lord.
2. THE HOLY MARTYRS PAUL AND JULIANA
Paul and Juliana were brother and sister from Ptolemais in Phoenicia. They were brutally tortured for the sake of Christ by the Emperor Aurelius and were finally beheaded. Before their martyrdom many of their miracles were manifested, and were witnessed by many pagans. Through these miracles, many of the pagans were converted to the Faith. Several of these were beheaded and received their wreaths in the year 273 A.D.
3. SAINT JAMES THE FASTER
He lived in the sixth century. He was so perfected in pleasing God that Jamescured the most gravely ill through his prayers. But the enemy of mankind lured him into great temptations. At one time, an immoral woman was sent to him by some scoffers. She misrepresented herself to James, pretending to be crying yet all the while luring him into sin. Seeing that he was going to yield to sin, James placed his left hand into the fire and held it there for some time until it was scorched. Seeing this, the woman was filled with fear and terror, repented and amended her life. On another occasion, James did not flee from his temptation, but rather he succumbs to a maiden, who was brought as alunatic by her parents to be cured of her insanity. He, indeed, healed her and after that, sinned with her. Then in order to conceal his sin he killed her and threw her into a river. As is common, the steps from adultery to murder are not too distant. James lived for ten years after that as a penitent in an open grave. At thattime there was a great drought which caused both people and live-stock to suffer. As a result of his prayers, rain fell; James knew that God had forgiven him. Here is an example, similar to that of David, of how twisted is the demon of evil; how by God's permission, the greatest spiritual giants can be overthrown, and through sincere and contrite penance, God, according to His mercy, forgives even the greatest sins and does not punish those when they punish themselves.
HYMN OF PRAISE
SAINT JAMES THE FASTER
Who from the greater height falls, is injured more,
To the heights whoever is lifted, let him cautiously shield himself.
The holy apostle writes: "Whoever thinks that he is standing secure
should take care not to fall," (*) let him fear God.
James the Faster, according to the height of his soul, a giant was he,
But, he, from the heights slipped, and the devil toppled him;
One sin, to the other hastens, adultery rushes to murder,
James the Faster, himself, punishes, and God comforted him.
All virtues, one sin, is able to erode;
One hole in the granary, all the wheat pours out.
A house filled with fragrances, one handful of filth
Empties it of redolence and fills it with stench.
One-hundred victories nor one-hundred celebrations do not help
When in the final battle, the head is lost.
The spiritual life is a struggle against the hordes of the devil,
In this battle, from the beginning the proud are defeated.
Whoever invokes the Name of God with profound humility
That one, in battle, will be protected by God's mercy.
(*) I Corinthians 10:12
If the philosophies of men were able to satisfy man, why did the philosophers Justin and Origen become Christians? Why did Basil, Chrysostom and Gregory, who in Athens studying all the philosophy of the Greeks, receive baptism? And why didBlessed Augustine, who knew the wisdom of both the Greeks and the Romans, throw away all and seek salvation and illumination in the Faith of Christ? And St. Clement of Rome, who was very wealthy and very learned? And St. Catherine, who was from the royal house and knew all the worldly wisdom of the Egyptians? And the young Crown Prince Joasaph in India, to whom was known all the Indian philosophies? And many, many more who primarily sought explanations to the puzzles of the world and illumination for their souls in philosophy and, after that, entered the Church and worshipped the Lord Christ?
To contemplate the Mystery of Communion as the presence of our Lord Jesus in the Church on earth:
1. As the fulfillment of His promise, "And behold, I am with you always until the end of the age" (St. Matthew 28:20).
2. As His constant support of the faithful, to whom He said, "Without me, you can do nothing" (St. John 15:5).
About Pilate's wavering
"Consequently, Pilate tried to release Him, then, hehanded Him over to be crucified" St. John19:12,16).
From where does this contradiction in Pilate stem? From where is this dual will in one and the same man? While he stood under the radiant face of Christ, Pilatefrom all his heart wanted to release the Just Man. But, when the darkness of the Jews overcame him, he agreed to the works of darkness. This is the seed [Jesus Christ], fallen among the thorns. While the face of Christ shown on the seed, the seed took root, but as soon as the seed was left without this light, the darkness of the thorns smothered it. When the Lord Jesus authoritatively spoke to Pilate of the Heavenly Kingdom, saying to him, "You would have no power over Me, if it had not been given to you from above" (St. John 19:11), Pilate then felt overcome by the fear of God. But when the masses of the Jews cried out to Pilate, "If you release Him, you are not a friend of Caesar" (St. John 19:12), then Pilate was overcome with fear from the worldly king. His fear for the body overcame his fear for his soul, as it happens occasionally, even today. Pilate was a disciple of worldly wisdom. Worldly wisdom does not offer strength but instills fear. Worldly wisdom does not sustain the soul but the body. Worldly wisdom does not instill fear for the soul but fear for the body and all that is physical. Here, in Pilate, we see an obvious and a pathetic example of what kind of men worldly wisdom produces and educates, sidestepping God and going against Christ. Pilate's weak character and wavering soul is a picture, not only of pagans, but also of weak Christians. Certain Christians daily, imperceptibly and, more often,unconsciously, would for a while like to eliminate Christ from the darkened and evil instinct of the Jews within themselves. Then, at other times, they would like to abandon Him to that instinct for crucifixion. This always happens when a Christian transgresses some of the commandments of Christ for the sake of fulfilling some of his own physical desires. For a moment, that commandment enlightens the heart of a wavering Christian and again, for a moment, the physical darkness overcomes him so much that he completely succumbs to it. O Lord, long-suffering, do not turn away the radiance of Your face from us even for one twinkling of the eye, so that the darkness does not overcome us.
O Lord help us that we will remain children of the light until the end.