FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:
Floros & Lauros the Monk-martyrs of Illyria
John & George, Patriarchs of Constantinople
Relics of Arsenios the Righteous of Paros
Afterfeast of the Dormition of our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos and Ever Virgin Mary
READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:
The Reading is from St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians 1:3-9
BRETHREN, grace to you and peace from God our Father and Lord Jesus Christ. I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him with all speech and all knowledge - even as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you - so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ; who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Πρὸς Κορινθίους α' 1:3-9
Ἀδελφοί, χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. Εὐχαριστῶ τῷ θεῷ μου πάντοτε περὶ ὑμῶν, ἐπὶ τῇ χάριτι τοῦ θεοῦ τῇ δοθείσῃ ὑμῖν ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ· ὅτι ἐν παντὶ ἐπλουτίσθητε ἐν αὐτῷ, ἐν παντὶ λόγῳ καὶ πάσῃ γνώσει, καθὼς τὸ μαρτύριον τοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐβεβαιώθη ἐν ὑμῖν· ὥστε ὑμᾶς μὴ ὑστερεῖσθαι ἐν μηδενὶ χαρίσματι, ἀπεκδεχομένους τὴν ἀποκάλυψιν τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὃς καὶ βεβαιώσει ὑμᾶς ἕως τέλους, ἀνεγκλήτους ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. Πιστὸς ὁ θεός, διʼ οὗ ἐκλήθητε εἰς κοινωνίαν τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν.
The Reading is from Matthew 19:3-12
At that time, Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, "Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?" He answered, "Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder." They said to him, "Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?" He said to them, "For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery." The disciples said to him, "If such is the case of a man with his wife; it is not expedient to marry." But he said to them, "Not all men can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it."
Κατὰ Ματθαῖον 19.3-12
Τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ, προσῆλθον αὐτῷ οἱ Φαρισαῖοι πειράζοντες αὐτὸν καὶ λέγοντες αὐτῷ· εἰ ἔξεστιν ἀνθρώπῳ ἀπολῦσαι τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ κατὰ πᾶσαν αἰτίαν; ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· οὐκ ἀνέγνωτε ὅτι ὁ ποιήσας ἀπ᾿ ἀρχῆς ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ ἐποίησεν αὐτοὺς καὶ εἶπεν, ἕνεκεν τούτου καταλείψει ἄνθρωπος τὸν πατέρα αὐτοῦ καὶ τὴν μητέρα καὶ κολληθήσεται τῇ γυναικὶ αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἔσονται οἱ δύο εἰς σάρκα μίαν; ὥστε οὐκέτι εἰσὶ δύο, ἀλλὰ σὰρξ μία. ὃ οὖν ὁ Θεὸς συνέζευξεν, ἄνθρωπος μὴ χωριζέτω. λέγουσιν αὐτῷ· τί οὖν Μωσῆς ἐνετείλατο δοῦναι βιβλίον ἀποστασίου καὶ ἀπολῦσαι αὐτήν; λέγει αὐτοῖς· ὅτι Μωσῆς πρὸς τὴν σκληροκαρδίαν ὑμῶν ἐπέτρεψεν ὑμῖν ἀπολῦσαι τὰς γυναῖκας ὑμῶν· ἀπ᾿ ἀρχῆς δὲ οὐ γέγονεν οὕτω. λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν ὅτι ὃς ἂν ἀπολύσῃ τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ μὴ ἐπὶ πορνείᾳ καὶ γαμήσῃ ἄλλην, μοιχᾶται· καὶ ὁ ἀπολελυμένην γαμήσας μοιχᾶται. λέγουσιν αὐτῷ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ· εἰ οὕτως ἐστὶν ἡ αἰτία τοῦ ἀνθρώπου μετὰ τῆς γυναικός, οὐ συμφέρει γαμῆσαι. ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· οὐ πάντες χωροῦσι τὸν λόγον τοῦτον, ἀλλ᾿ οἷς δέδοται· εἰσὶ γὰρ εὐνοῦχοι οἵτινες ἐκ κοιλίας μητρὸς ἐγεννήθησαν οὕτω. καὶ εἰσὶν εὐνοῦχοι οἵτινες εὐνουχίσθησαν ὑπὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων, καὶ εἰσὶν εὐνοῦχοι οἵτινες εὐνούχισαν ἑαυτοὺς διὰ τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν. ὁ δυνάμενος χωρεῖν χωρείτω.
READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:
Τῇ ΙΗ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, μνήμη τῶν Ἁγίων μαρτύρων Φλώρου καὶ Λαύρου.
Δίψει τελευτῆς τῆς ὑπὲρ Θεοῦ Λόγου,
Χωροῦσι Φλῶρος καὶ Λαῦρος πρὸς τὸ φρέαρ
Φλώρῳ ἀμφ' ὀγδοάτῃ δεκάτῃ φρέαρ εἰσέδυ Λαῦρος.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, ἡ Ἁγία τῶν πενήτων πληθύς, ἡ τὰ εἴδωλα συντρίψασα, πυρὶ ἐτελειώθη
Πένητες ἄνδρες πλοῦτον εὗρον ἀθρόον,
Τὸ σύντροφον δός, εἰς τὸ πῦρ λελοιπότες.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, μνήμη τῶν Ἁγίων μαρτύρων Ἕρμου, Σεραπίωνος καὶ Πολυαίνου.
Ἕρμῳ βιαίως ἐν πέτραις συρομένῳ,
Ὑπῆρξε πέτρα προσφυγὴ λαγῷ πόλος.
Τὸν ἐκ πέτρας πάνδεινον ἑλκυσμὸν φέρει,
Καὶ Σεραπίων, ὁ πλέον στερρὸς πέτρας.
Ὁ Πολύαινος αἷμα χεῖ συρεὶς πέτραις,
Ὑπὲρ Χριστοῦ, χέαντος ἐκ πέτρας ὕδωρ.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, μνήμη τῆς ἁγίας μάρτυρος Ἰουλιανῆς πλησίον τοῦ Στροβίλου, καὶ τοῦ Ἁγίου μάρτυρος Λέοντος, ὃς ἤθλησε παρὰ τὴν θάλασσαν, πλησίον Μύρων τῆς Λυκίας.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, οἱ ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ τέσσαρες ἀσκηταὶ ἐν εἰρήνῃ τελειοῦνται.
Ἀδελφότης τέθνηκεν ἀνδρῶν τεσσάρων,
Τὰ κῶλα θέντες εἰς ἐρημίαν μίαν.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, μνήμη τῶν ἐν Ἁγίοις Πατέρων ἡμῶν, Πατριαρχῶν Κωνσταντινουπόλεως, Ἰωάννου καὶ Γεωργίου.
Ὁ Γεώργιος «Ὡς κελεύεις Χριστέ μου»,
Ἔφασκε θνῄσκων «ἔρχομαι κληθεὶς ἄνω».
Σκυθρωπὰ τὰ πρόσωπα τῆς Ἐκκλησίας. Στέρησιν οὐ φέροντα τὴν Ἰωάννου.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ μνήμη τοῦ Ὁσίου καὶ θεοφόρου Πατρός ἡμῶν Ἀρσενίου τοῦ ἐξ Ἰωαννίνων.
Ἁγίων Ἀρσένιε τὸν βίον ζήσας,
Σὺν Ἁγίοις Ἅγιος νῦν συναγάλλῃ
Ταῖς αὐτῶν ἁγίαις πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεός, ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.
These Martyrs were twin brothers, and stonemasons. After the martyrdom of their teachers Proclus and Maximus, they left Byzantium and came to the city of Ulpiana in Illyricum, where a certain Licinius hired them to build a temple for the idols. The wages he gave them, they distributed to the poor, and when the temple was built, Floros and Lauros gathered the paupers, and with their help put ropes about the necks of the idols, pulled them to the ground, and furnished the temple as a church. When Licinius learned of this, he had the paupers burned alive in a furnace. Floros and Lauros were tormented, then cast into a deep well, where they gave up their souls to the Lord. When their holy relics were recovered years later, they poured forth myrrh and worked many miracles; they were enshrined in Constantinople.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Οι Μάρτυρές σου, Κύριε, εν τή αθλήσει αυτών, στεφάνους εκομίσαντο τής αφθαρσίας, εκ σού τού Θεού ημών, σχόντες γάρ τήν ισχύν σου, τούς τυράννους καθείλον, έθραυσαν καί δαιμόνων, τά ανίσχυρα θράση. Αυτών ταίς ικεσίαις, Χριστέ ο Θεός, σώσον τάς ψυχάς ημών.
Thy Martyrs, O Lord, in their courageous contest for Thee received as the prize the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since they possessed Thy strength, they cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons' strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by their prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.
Apolytikion in the First Tone
Εν τή Γεννήσει τήν παρθενίαν εφύλαξας, έν τή Κοιμήσει τόν κόσμον ού κατέλιπες Θεοτόκε, Μετέστης πρός τήν ζωήν, μήτηρ υπάρχουσα τής ζωής, καί ταίς πρεσβείαις ταίς σαίς λυτρουμένη, εκ θανάτου τάς ψυχάς ημών.
In birth, you preserved your virginity; in death, you did not abandon the world, O Theotokos. As mother of life, you departed to the source of life, delivering our souls from death by your intercessions.
Και σήμερα την μνήμη δύο αδελφών αγίων Μαρτύρων γιορτάζει η Εκκλησία, του Φλώρου και του Λαύρου. Ήσαν όχι μονάχα αδελφοί,αλλά και δίδυμοι. Όπως μαζί κυοφορήθηκαν και μαζί είδαν το φως του κόσμου, έτσι μαζί ερρίχθηκαν σε ένα ξεροπήγαδο και μαζί αντίκρυσαν το φως της ανέσπερης ημέρας της αιωνιότητος. Πολλές φορές στα παιδικά μας χρόνια ελυπηθήκαμε στη σκέψη πως κάποτε τα αδέλφια θα χωρίσουμε και δεν θάχωμε τη χαρά - τη χαρά των παιδικών μας χρόνων - να μένωμε κάτω από την κοινή στέγη και να καθώμαστε γύρω στο ίδιο τραπέζι. Μα να μια περίπτωση από τις μοναδικές, αν δεν είναι και η μόνη, που δύο αδελφοί δεν χωρίσθησαν ποτέ, μήτε στη ζωή από την ώρα που συνελήφθησαν στην κοιλία της μητέρας των μήτε στον θάνατο, την ώρα που πέρασαν το κατώφλι της θύρας από τούτη τη ζωή προς την άλλη, από τη γη στον ουρανό, "... μίαν ζωής οδόν ειδότες", καθώς λέει για τους Μακκαβαίους ο άγιος Γρηγόριος ο Θεολόγος.
Οἱ Ἅγιοι Φλῶρος καὶ Λαῦρος
Ἦταν δίδυμα ἀδέλφια καὶ ἦταν ἄρρηκτα ἑνωμένοι διὰ τῆς θερμῆς πίστεως καὶ ἀγάπης ποὺ εἶχαν πρὸς τὸ Χριστό. Κατάγονταν ἀπὸ τὸ Βυζάντιο καὶ εἶχαν διδαχθεῖ τὸ χριστιανισμὸ καὶ τὴν τέχνη τοῦ λιθοξόου ἀπὸ τοὺς Ἁγίους Πρόκλο (καὶ ὄχι Πάτροκλο, ὅπως λανθασμένα γράφεται ἀπὸ ὁρισμένους Συναξαριστές, καὶ ἡ μνήμη του ἔτσι λανθασμένα ἐπαναλαμβάνεται καὶ τὴν 21η Ἰανουαρίου) καὶ Μάξιμο, οἱ ὁποῖοι ὑπέστησαν καὶ μαρτυρικὸ θάνατο γιὰ τὸ Χριστό. Μετὰ τὸ θάνατο τῶν διδασκάλων τους, ὁ Φλῶρος καὶ ὁ Λαῦρος ἀναχώρησαν στὴν Ἰλλυρία καὶ διάλεξαν σὰν τόπο διαμονῆς τους τὴν πόλη Οὐλπιάνα. Στὴν πόλη αὐτὴ ἐργάζονταν τὴν τέχνη τους, ἀλλὰ συγχρόνως μέσῳ αὐτῆς προσπαθοῦσαν γιὰ τὴν ἐξάπλωση τοῦ Εὐαγγελίου. Ἐκεῖ ὑπῆρχε καὶ κάποιος ἱερέας εἰδώλων, ὀνομαζόμενος Μερέντιος. Ὁ γιὸς αὐτοῦ Ἀθανάσιος ἀπὸ τὸ ἕνα του μάτι ἔπαθε τύφλωση, ποὺ ἀπὸ τὴν ἰατρικὴ ἐπιστήμη δὲ βρῆκε θεραπεία. Τότε πλησίασε τοὺς δυὸ τεχνῖτες ἀδελφούς, οἱ ὁποῖοι μὲ τὴν ἐπίκληση τοῦ ὀνόματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ θεράπευσαν τὸ μάτι τοῦ γιοῦ τοῦ εἰδωλολάτρη ἱερέα, μὲ ἀποτέλεσμα νὰ πιστέψουν καὶ οἱ δυὸ στὸ Χριστό. Αὐτὸ μόλις τὸ ἔμαθε ὁ ἔπαρχος Λύκων, συνέλαβε τοὺς δυὸ ἀδελφοὺς καί, ἀφοῦ τοὺς βασάνισε φρικτά, τοὺς ἔριξε μέσα σὲ ἕνα πηγάδι, ὅπου καὶ παρέδωσαν τὸ πνεῦμα τους. Ἔτσι, οἱ δυὸ τεχνῖτες ἀδελφοὶ μπῆκαν στὴν αἰώνια πόλη, «ἣς τεχνίτης καὶ δημιουργὸς ὁ Θεός», τῆς ὁποίας, δηλαδή, τεχνίτης καὶ κτίστης εἶναι αὐτὸς ὁ Θεός.
Τὸ Ἅγιο πλῆθος τῶν πενήτων (φτωχῶν)
Θανατώθηκαν ἀπὸ τὸν Λικίνιο διὰ πυρός, ἐπειδὴ κατέστρεψαν τὰ εἴδωλα τοῦ ναοῦ. Τὸ ναὸ αὐτὸ ἔκτισαν οἱ Ἅγιοι Φλῶρος καὶ Λαῦρος. Τὰ χρήματα ὅμως ποὺ τοὺς ἔδωσε ὁ βασιλιὰς αὐτὸς γιὰ τὴν ἀνέγερση τοῦ ναοῦ, οἱ ἅγιοι τὰ ἔδωσαν στὸ πλῆθος αὐτὸ τῶν φτωχῶν, οἱ ὁποῖοι, κατόπιν, μὲ προτροπὴ τῶν Ἁγίων Φλώρου καὶ Λούρου, κατέστρεψαν τὰ εἴδωλα τοῦ ναοῦ καὶ τὸν μετέτρεψαν, τρόπον τινά, σὲ χριστιανικό.
Οἱ Ἅγιοι Ἑρμός (ἢ Ἑρμῆς), Σεραπίων καὶ Πολύαινος
Ἦταν τέκνα τῆς Ρώμης καὶ διακρίνονταν γιὰ τὸ ζῆλο τους στὴ διάδοση τῆς πίστης καὶ ἐναντίον τῆς πολεμικῆς τῶν εἰδωλολατρῶν. Καταγγέλθηκαν στὶς ἀρχὲς καὶ ἔμειναν σταθεροὶ στὴν ὁμολογία τῆς πίστης τους. Τότε, μία σειρὰ ἀπὸ ἄγρια βασανιστήρια τοὺς περίμεναν. Στὴν ἀρχὴ τοὺς ἔδειραν ἀλύπητα καὶ ἔπειτα τοὺς ἔριξαν σὲ μία φυλακὴ σκοτεινὴ καὶ δυσώδη. Ἐκεῖ τοὺς ταλαιπωροῦσαν μὲ πολλὲς στερήσεις καὶ κακοπάθειες. Ἀλλὰ τίποτα δὲν κατάφερε νὰ τοὺς κλονίσει. Τότε τοὺς ἔβγαλαν ἀπὸ κεῖ, καὶ ἀφοῦ τοὺς ἔδεσαν σφιχτὰ μὲ σχοινιά, τοὺς ἔσυραν οἱ ὄχλοι σὲ ἀνώμαλο ἔδαφος, γεμάτο με πολλὲς καὶ κοφτερὲς πέτρες. Ἔτσι οἱ σάρκες τους κομματιάστηκαν καὶ τὰ κεφάλια τους γέμισαν ἀπὸ πληγὲς καὶ αἵματα. Οἱ ψυχές τους ὅμως ἀνέγγιχτες, πέταξαν στὸν Σωτῆρα Χριστὸ γιὰ νὰ ἀναπαυτοῦν αἰώνια κοντά Του.
Ἡ Ἁγία Ἰουλιανὴ πλησίον τοῦ Στροβίλου
Μᾶλλον εἶναι ἡ ἴδια μὲ αὐτὴ τῆς 21ης Δεκεμβρίου, ποὺ μαρτύρησε στὴ Νικομήδεια.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Λέων
Μαρτύρησε στὰ παράλια τῶν Μύρων τῆς Λυκίας. Πιθανῶς νὰ εἶναι ὁ ἴδιος με αὐτὸν τῆς 18ης Φεβρουαρίου.
Οἱ Ἅγιοι τέσσερις Ὅσιοι ἀσκητὲς
Οἱ Ἅγιοι Γεώργιος καὶ Ἰωάννης Πατριάρχες Κωνσταντινουπόλεως
Ὁ Πατριάρχης Ἰωάννης ὁ Ε´ διαδέχτηκε τὸν Θωμᾶ Β´ τὸ ἔτος 668 καὶ πατριάρχευσε μέχρι τὸ 674. Προηγούμενα, πρεσβύτερος τῆς Ἐκκλησίας τῆς Κωνσταντινουπόλεως, εἶχε ὑπηρετήσει σὰν πρωτέκδικος καὶ χαρτοφύλακας τοῦ Πατριαρχείου καὶ σκευοφύλακας τῆς ἁγίας Σοφίας. Διακρίθηκε γιὰ τὸ ὀρθόδοξο φρόνημά του καὶ ποίμανε τὴν ἐκκλησία εἰρηνικὰ ἐπὶ Κων/νου τοῦ Πωγωνάτου. Ὑπῆρξε φιλάνθρωπος, ἀφιλοχρήματος, ζοῦσε μὲ μεγάλη μάλιστα ἁπλότητα καὶ πάντα ἔλεγε, ὅτι κανένα ἄλλο δὲν τιμᾷ τὸν κληρικὸ καὶ μάλιστα τὸν Ἱεράρχη, ὅσο ἡ ἁπλότητα τῆς ζωῆς του καὶ ἡ διάθεση τῶν εἰσοδημάτων του γιὰ τοὺς πεινασμένους καὶ γυμνούς. Ὁ δὲ Πατριάρχης Γεώργιος ὁ Α´ πατριάρχευσε ἀπὸ τὸ 678 μέχρι τὸ 683. Προηγούμενα εἶχε κάνει Σύγκελος τοῦ Πατριαρχίου καὶ σκευοφύλακας τῆς Ἁγίας Σοφίας. Ἐπὶ Γεωργίου Α´ συγκροτήθηκε στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη ἡ ἕκτη Οἰκουμενικὴ Σύνοδος, ποὺ ἀναθεμάτισε τοὺς αἱρετικοὺς μονοθελητές. Γιὰ τὸν χαρακτῆρα τοῦ Πατριάρχη αὐτοῦ γράφτηκε ὅτι ἦταν «Νομεὺς ἀγαθός του Θεοῦ νόμων φύλαξ».
Οἱ Ὅσιοι Βαρνάβας, Σωφρόνιος καὶ Χριστοφόρος
Δὲν ἔχουμε σαφῆ βιογραφικά τους στοιχεῖα. Μόνο ἀπὸ τὸ «Νέον Λειμωνάριον» μαθαίνουμε ὅτι ἀπεβίωσαν εἰρηνικὰ κατὰ τὸ ἔτος 412. Ἀπ᾿ αὐτοὺς ὁ Βαρνάβας ἦταν ἱδρυτὴς τῆς Μονῆς Σουμελᾶ, ὁ Σωφρόνιος ἦταν ἀνεψιός του, καὶ οἱ δυὸ ἦταν στὴν καταγωγὴ Ἀθηναῖοι. Ὁ δὲ Χριστοφόρος καταγόταν ἀπὸ τὴν Τραπεζοῦντα καὶ ὑπῆρξε νέος ἱδρυτὴς τῆς Μονῆς Σουμελᾶ, μετὰ τὴν ἐρήμωσή της.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Σωφρόνιος ὁ Ἁγιορείτης
Γεννήθηκε στὴν Ἤπειρο ἀπὸ γονεῖς εὐσεβεῖς τὸ 18ο αἰῶνα. Ἀπὸ μικρὸς διακρινόταν γιὰ τὴν σεμνὴ ζωή του καὶ τὸν σεβασμό του στὰ θεία. Ὅταν ἦλθε σὲ ἡλικία γάμου, οἱ γονεῖς τοῦ τὸν πάντρεψαν παρὰ τὴν θέλησή του μὲ μία σεμνὴ γυναῖκα. Ἀλλὰ τὴν νύχτα τοῦ γάμου, ἔφυγε στὸ Ἅγιον Ὄρος. Ἐκεῖ, στὴ σκήτη τῆς Ἁγίας Ἄννας δοκιμάστηκε καὶ ἔκαρη μοναχός. Ἀργότερα χειροτονήθηκε Ἱερέας καὶ ἔφτασε σὲ μεγάλα ὕψη ἁγιότητας. Ἡ ζωὴ τοῦ ὑπῆρξε ἐνάρετη καὶ ἀγγελική. Ἡ πνευματική του τελειότητα ἦταν παράδειγμα ὄχι μόνο στοὺς ἀδελφούς της Σκήτης τῆς Ἁγίας Ἄννας, ἀλλὰ καὶ σ᾿ ὅλο τὸ Ἅγιον Ὄρος. Ἔτσι ὁσιακὰ ἀφοῦ ἔζησε, ἀπεβίωσε εἰρηνικά.
Martyrs Florus and Laurus of Illyria (2nd c.)
"Brothers in both the flesh and the spirit, they were both zealous Christians, and stonemasons by craft. They lived in Illyria. Some pagan prince set them to build a pagan temple. It happened during the course of their work that a fragment of stone splintered off and flew into the eye of the pagan priest's son, who was watching the building work with curiosity. Seeing his son blinded and bleeding, the priest shouted at Florus and Laurus and tried to thrash them. Then the holy brothers told him that, if he would believe in the God in whom they believed, his son would be restored to health. The priest promised. Florus and Laurus prayed to the one, living Lord with tears and made the sign of the Cross over the child's stricken eye. The child was healed instantly and his eye became whole as it had been before. Then the priest, Merentius, and his son were baptised, and they both very soon suffered for Christ in the flames. But Florus and Laurus, when they had finished the temple, put a Cross on it, called together all the Christians, and consecrated it in the name of the Lord Jesus with an all-night vigil of hymns. Hearing of this, the governor of Illyria burned many of these Christians by fire and had Florus and Laurus thrown alive into a well, which was then filled with earth. Their relics were later discovered and taken to Constantinople. These two wonderful brothers suffered for Christ, and were glorified by Him, in the second century." (Prologue)
Our Holy Father John, Abbot of Rila (946)
He was born near Sophia in Bulgaria during the reign of the Emperor Boris. When his parents died he withdrew from the world to a cave high in the mountains, where he gave himself to the ascetical struggle. There the Prologue says that he 'endured many assaults both by demons and men, from robbers and from his kinsmen.' In time he moved to the mountain of Rila, where he lived in a hollow tree, eating only the wild herbs and fruits there. On Rila he saw no human being for many years, but was eventually discovered by a shepherd, after which his fame spread quickly: many came to him for counsel and for the healing of diseases, and Peter King of Bulgaria visited him for advice. Many people seeking their salvation settled near him, and soon a church and monastery developed around him. St John reposed in 946 and appeared to his disciples after his death. His relics are venerated at the monastery of Rila, which has for centuries been a lighthouse of Orthodox spirituality in Bulgaria.
The Martyrs Florus and Laurus were brothers by birth not only in flesh but in spirit. They lived in the II Century at Byzantium, and afterwards they settled in Illyria (now Yugoslavia). By occupation they were stone-masons (their teachers in this craft were the christians Proclus and Maximus, from whom also the brothers learned about life pleasing to God). The governor of Illyria Likaion dispatched the brothers to a nearby district for work on the construction of a pagan temple. The saints toiled at the structure, distributing to the poor the money they earned, while themselves keeping strict fast and praying unceasingly. One time the son of the local pagan-priest Mamertin carelessly approached the structure, and a chip of stone hit him in the eye, severely injuring him. Saints Florus and Laurus assured the upset father, that his son would be healed. They brought the youth to consciousness and told him to have faith in Christ. After this, as the youth confessed Jesus Christ as the True God, the brothers prayed for him, and the eye was healed. In view of such a miracle even the father of the youth believed in Christ. When the construction of the temple was completed, the brothers gathered together the Christians, and having gone through the temple, they smashed the idols and in the eastern part of the temple they set up the holy cross. They spent all night in prayer, illumined with heavenly light. Having learned of this, the head of the district condemned to burning the former pagan-priest Mamertin and his son and 300 Christians. The martyrs Florus and Laurus, having been sent back to the governor Likaion, were thrown down an empty well and covered over with ground. After many years the relics of the holy martyrs were uncovered undecayed, and transferred to Constantinople. In the year 1200 the Novgorod pilgrim Antonii saw them; in about the year 1350, Stefan of Novgorod saw the heads of the martyrs in the Almighty monastery.
The Martyrs Hermas, Serapion and Polienus were Romans, and they suffered for Christ in the II Century. They were thrown into prison, and when under interrogation they firmly confessed their faith in Christ and refused to offer sacrifice to idols, the martyrs were dragged through crowds and impassable places. Struck by stones and other material, they died, taking up their heavenly crowns.
The PriestMartyrs Emilian the Bishop, and with him Ilarion, Dionysius and Hermippus were born and lived in Armenia. After the death of their parents, the PriestMartyrs Emilian, Dionysios and Hermippos (they were brothers), and Ilarion (their teacher) left their native land and arrived in Italy, in the city of Spoleto. Saint Emilian began there to preach the Gospel to the pagans. He won the deep respect of the Christian community for his strict and virtuous life, and he was chosen bishop in the city of Trebium (he received hierarchical ordination from the Pope of Rome Marcellinus). Having moved to Trebium, Saint Emilian converted many pagans to Christ, for which he was brought to trial before the emperor Mamimian (284-305). The saint suggested to the emperor to see for himself the power of prayer to Christ. A man was brought, crippled for a long time. However much the pagan-priests tried to heal him by appealing to the idols, they accomplished nothing. Then Saint Emilian, praying to the Lord, in the Name of Jesus Christ commanded the crippled man to rise up, and that one, getting himself up healthy and rejoicing, went his way home. This miracle was so convincing, that the emperor became inclined to an admission of the truth in Christ, but the pagan-priests suggested to him, that the saint had worked magic. He was subjected to fierce tortures, in which the Lord encouraged him, saying: "Fear not, Emilian, I Myself am with thee". They tied him to a wheel, flung him on hot tin, dunked him in a river, put him in a circus for devouring by wild beasts, but he remained unharmed. In view of all these miracles the people began to shout: "Great is the Christian God! Free His servant!" On this day 1,000 men believed in Christ, and all accepted the crown of martyrdom. In a rage the governor gave orders even to kill the beasts for not tearing apart the saint, who was giving thanks to the Lord, -- so that even the wild beasts accepted death for Christ. They locked up Saint Emilian in prison together with his brothers and teacher, and after fierce tortures the Priestmartyrs Ilarion, Dionysius and Hermippus were beheaded with the sword. They executed Saint Emilian outside the city. When the executioner struck the martyr on the neck with a sword, it became soft like wax, and in no way wounded the saint. Soldiers fell on their knees to him, asking forgiveness and confessing Christ as the True God. Upright on his knees, the saint prayed for them and besought the Lord to grant him a martyr's death. His prayer was heard: another executioner cut off the head of the saint. Seeing a milkiness flowing from his wounds, many of the pagans believed in Christ and with honour they buried the body of the martyr (+ c. 300).
Sainted John V was Patriarch of Constantinople from 669-674, and Sainted George I -- from 678-683. They were both during the reign of the emperor Constantine Pogonatos (668-685).
The Monk Makarios was hegumen of the Pelikites monastery. During the time of the Iconoclast heresy he underwent torture and imprisonment for icon veneration. He died about the year 830.
His memory a second time is 1 April.
The Monk John of Ryl'sk -- a great spiritual ascetic of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and Heavenly Protector of the Bulgarian nation, was born in the year 876 in the village of Skrino in the Sredetsk district (ancient Sredets -- is now Sofia). Early on having been left orphaned, the boy became a cowherd in the avoidance of people. One time the rich man beat him for losing a cow with its calf. The boy cried long and he prayed, that God would help him. When he found the cow with the calf, the water at that time flowed high and strong in the River Struma. The young cowherd prayed, he placed on the water his own tattered shirt, made the sign of the cross over it, took up in his arms the calf and went with it, as though on dry land, -- to the other bank of the river where the cow was situated. The rich man, hidden in the forest, was frightened seeing this miracle and, generously having rewarded the youth, sent him away from his home. Having given away his things, the boy left from his native village. Where and when the saint took monastic vows remains unknown. At the very first he pursued asceticism on an high and barren hill, eating but wild plants. His hut was of brushwood. After a short while robbers fell upon him by night and, having beaten him, drove him off from there. Then he found a deep cave and settled in it. There his nephew Saint Luke also soon settled. The place was quite unpopulated, so that the Monk John at first considered the appearance of Luke a devilish trick, but learning that the youth sought after salvation of soul, he lovingly accepted him. Not for long, however, did they happen to live together: the brother of the Monk John found the ascetics and by force took away his son. Along the way home the youth died from the bite of a snake. Having repented, the brother asked forgiveness of the monk. The wanderer went then frequently to the grave of the righteous youth; his beloved place of rest was there. Twelve years the monk spent in the desolate cave, and then he went into the Ryl'sk wilderness and settled into the hollow of a tree. He fasted and prayed much, incessantly wept, and ate only grass. Seeing such endurance, God had beans grow up, which he ate for a long time. This sort of beans and his exploits made him known to people. One time a flock of sheep from sudden fright ran along the hilly steep paths, and did not stop until the place where the monk lived. The shepherds, following after the flock, with astonishment saw the hermit, who amicably greeted them: "Ye arrive here hungry -- pluck yourself my beans and eat". All ate and were satisfied. One gathered many beans in reserve. Along the way home he offered them to his comrades, but in the pilfered pods there remained no beans. The shepherds turned back penitent, and the starets (elder) stood there, saying with a smile: "See, children, these fruits are appointed by God for subsistence in the wilderness". From that time they began to bring to the monk the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, which he healed by prayer. Fleeing celebrity, the monk went from his beloved tree-hollow and settled on an high and difficult of access rock crag, where he dwelt for 7 years under the open sky. Reports about the great ascetic reached even the Bulgarian king Peter (927-969), who wanted to meet with him; but the Monk John, having written a letter, rejected such meeting through humility. Later on the Monk John accepted under him the nourishing of monks, who built a monastery with a church in the cave, where the Monk John formerly lived. He wisely tended his flock and died on 18 August 946 at 70 years of life. 5 years before his end he wrote by his own hand "A Testament to Disciples", one of the finest creation of Old-Bulgarian literature. The holy life of the ascetic and the remarkable mercies of God through his prayers were very fine a preaching of the Christian faith in the newly-baptised Bulgarian land. In the uneasy time of struggle of Bulgaria with Byzantium, under the west-Bulgarian king Samuel (976-1014), the Monk John appeared to his disciples, commanding them to transfer his relics to Sredets (Sofia), where the Bulgarian Patriarch Damian (927-972) was concealed. It is presumed, that the transfer of relics was in the year 980. Somewhat later the right hand of the Monk John of Ryl'sk was transferred to Russia (presumably to the city of Ryl'sk, at which was constructed a church in the name of the Monk John of Ryl'sk with a chapel dedicated to the martyrs Florus and Laurus, on the day of their memory -- 18 August -- on which he died). The name of the Monk John from deep antiquity was known and loved by the Russian people. Particularly in Russian sources (the Menaion for August in the XII Century, in the Mazurinsk Chronicle) is preserved data about the death of the monk. In the year 1183 the Hungarian king Bela II (1174-1196), during the time of a campaign against the Greeks seized with other booty in Sredets the chest with the relics of the Monk John and took it to the city of Esztergom. In the year 1187, having embellished the reliquary, he sent back the holy relics with great honour. On 19 October 1238 the relics of the Monk John were solemnly transferred to the new capital -- Tirnovo, and put in a church in the name of the saint. On 1 July 1469 the holy relics of the Monk John of Ryl'sk were returned to the Ryl'sk monastery, where they repose to the present day, granting graced help to all the believing.
The Monk Barnabas and his nephew Sophronios were Athenians, saved upon Mount Mela near Trapezund in Asia Minor. They died in the year 412.
The Monk Christopher was born in the locale of Gazara, near Trapezund. He was the head of a monastery on Mount Mela in the second half of the VII Century (641-668).
The Hodegetria Icon of the Mother of God, situated in the Mela monastery near Trapezund was written, by tradition, by the Evangelist Luke.
On this day is the memory of 4 Ascetics in the wilderness whose names are unknown. Also Many Saints (300) burnt in a fire for destroying idols.
THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:
1. THE VENERABLE JOHN OF RILA
This great ascetic and saint of the Orthodox Church was born near Sophia, Bulgaria in the town of Skrino during the reign of King Boris. He was of poor but honorable parents. After the death of his parents, John was tonsured a monk and withdrew to a mountain wilderness and, began to live a life of strict asceticism in a cave. There, he endured many assaults, both from demons and men, from robbers and his relatives. After this, he moved to the Rila mountain and settled in a hollow tree. He fed only on herbs and broad beans, which, according to God's Providence began to grow in the vicinity. For many years, he did not see a man's face until again, by God's Providence, he was discovered by sheepherders who were seeking their lost sheep. Thus, the saint was heard of among the people and they began to come to him seeking help in sickness and in sufferings. The Bulgarian King Peter himself visited John and sought counsel from him. Many who were zealots for the spiritual life settled in the proximity of John. There, a church and monastery was quickly built. St. John rested peacefully in the Lord on August 18, 946 A.D. at the age of seventy. After his death, he appeared to his disciples. At first, his relics were translated to Sophia, then to Hungary, then to Trnovo and finally to the Rila monastery where they repose today. Throughout the centuries, the Rila monastery was a beacon of light, a place of miracle-working power and a spiritual comfort for the Christian people of Bulgaria especially during the difficult times of bondage under the Turks.
2. THE HOLY MARTYRS FLORUS AND LAURUS
Florus and Laurus were brothers in the flesh, and in spirit and in vocation. Both were zealous Christians and, by occupation, stonecutters. They lived in Illyria. A pagan prince hired them for the building of a temple to the idols. It happened that during their work, a piece of stone flew and struck the eye of the pagan priest's son who was observing the work of the builders with curiosity. Seeing his son blind and bloody, the pagan priest began to shout at Florus and Laurus and wanted to beat them. Then, the holy brothers said to him that if he would believe in the God in whom they believed, his son would be healed. The pagan priest promised. Florus and Laurus prayed with tears to the one, living, Lord God and traced the sign of the Cross over the child's injured eye. The child was immediately healed and his eye became whole just as it had been. Then the pagan priest Merentius and his son were baptized and, shortly after that, both suffered for Christ by fire. When they completed the temple, Florus and Laurus placed a cross on it, summoned all Christians and consecrated it in the name of the Lord Jesus with an all-night vigil of hymn singing. Hearing of this, the Illyrian deputy burned many of those Christians and threw Florus and Laurus alive in a well and then filled it with dirt. Later, their relics were revealed and translated to Constantinople. These two wonderful brothers suffered and were martyred for Christ and were glorified by Christ in the second century.
3. THE PRIESTLY-MARTYR EMILIAN, BISHOP OF TREVI
Emilian was born in Armenia. According to his wishes and seeking martyrdom, he traveled to Italy to preach Christ during the reign of Diocletian. He was elected bishop of Trevi. As a result of the many miracles during the time of his torture, approximately one thousand pagans believed in Christ. He was slain by the sword together with Hilarion, his spiritual father and two brothers, Dionysius and Hermippus.
HYMN OF PRAISE
THE HOLY MARTYRS FLORUS AND LAURUS
To two sons, two saints, a mother gave birth,
Blessed is such a mother that pleases God.
Wonderful Florus and Laurus, cut the stones,
Along with that, by the Cross, the souls of men corrected;
What a chisel is to stone, a Cross is to the soul,
By the Cross chisled out, for the Cross they perished.
The pagan priest, the unseen miracle saw:
The eye knocked out - the eye healed!
A miracle unseen! For him, that was enough
And with the Cross was baptized and a martyr became.
Wonderful Florus and Laurus, temple of the idols built,
But, in their heart, glorify Christ the God.
The brothers, a new pagan temple built,
But, on it a Cross placed and behold - a Christian temple!
Still, with hymns of praise to Christ, they filled it
And with the beauty of candles and incense pure.
Man to man resembles it in the same way,
But one is humble and the other is flamboyant.
Behold, very similar are they, in body and attire,
But very different in mind and spirit.
In one is Christ and holiness pure,
In the other is the diabolical suffering and emptiness.
That may our body God grant it
To be temples of the Living God, the Spirit
Through the powerful prayers of God's chosen ones.
The brothers Florus and Laurus, holy martyrs.
It is not a rare occasion, especially in our time, that parents become the culprits for the spiritual death of their children. Whenever a child has an aspiration for the spiritual life, asceticism, monasticism and the parent curtails this aspiration instead of encouraging it, such a parent becomes the murderer of his child. And, such children, as a punishment to their parents, often turn to the opposite side and become perverted. A boy named Luke, the nephew of St. John of Rila, hearing about his uncle and drawn by the desire for the spiritual life, visited his uncle in the mountain. John received Luke with love and began to instruct and to strengthen him in the mortification of asceticism. However, one day Luke's father appeared at the cave of John and furiously began to scold the saint for keeping his son in that wilderness. John's words and counsels were of no avail. The father dragged the son home by force. However, on the way home a serpent bit the boy and Luke died. The cruel father saw in this the punishment of God and repented but it was all too late. He returned to John mourning and condemning himself. But the saint only said to him to bury the child and to return from wherever he came.
To contemplate God's wondrous choosing of David as king (1 Samuel 16 1 King 16):
1. How the Lord instructed Samuel to go to the home of Jesse and anoint one of his sons as king;
2. How the Lord instructed Samuel to anoint David, a herder of sheep, the eighth and youngest son of Jesse;
3. How Samuel anointed David and how the Spirit of God descended upon David.
About peace between the wolf and the lamb
"The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb and the leopard shall lie down with the kid" (Isaiah 11:6).
Thus, the true prophet foretold the truth. And he further added: "The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; …and the lion shall eat straw like the ox" (Isaiah 11:6-7). And the child will place his hand in the hole of a poisonous snake [asp] and the snake will not harm him. Brethren, when will this wonder occur? This has already occurred when Christ the wonder-worker appeared on earth. This is a reality of Paradise, which was restored among men with the coming of the Savior upon earth. The prophet speaks enigmatically but, nevertheless, clearly; enigmatically, for the prophet does not speak about wild beasts but of men; for his prophecy was clearly fulfilled in Christ's Church. Men, who by their habits, were as wolves, wildcats, lions, bears, oxen, lambs, kids and serpents all stand before the Child of Bethlehem equalized by faith, tamed by grace, illumined by hope and softened by love.
The prophet further fortells why this will take place. "For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:9). When viewed physically, every man is earth. The man who believes in Christ and, in truth follows after Christ, becomes full of the knowledge of the Lord as the sea, which is filled with water. Such were many individuals. Such were even entire companies of ascetics in Egypt, on the Holy Mountain [Athos], on Cyprus, in Russia, in Armenia and in other places. But this is not all. The knowledge of the Lord has spread today throughout the earth. Holy Scripture is distributed throughout all nations. There are few corners of the earth where the Gospel of Christ is not read, where the name of God is not known and where the Bloodless Sacrifice of the Lord is not offered. Some deny Christ, others embrace Him, some abandon the true Faith and others embrace the true Faith. And thus continues the one struggle throughout the entire world in the sign of the Lord Jesus. The overly filled waters pour out and flow into empty valleys; the empty valleys become filled and are made equal with the high waters. Everything is not glowing in the world as we Christians wish it to be, but the prophecy of the Prophet Isaiah was gloriously fulfilled most clearly and was accomplished. O how wonderful is the vision of Isaiah, the son of Amos, the true prophet. O, miracle-working Lord, tame the beastly nature of those men and people who are not tamed by the power of Your love. That we all may be fruitful from Your abundance. That we all may be glorious from Your Glory and alive Lord, alive from Your Immortal life.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.