Tuesday, July 31, 2012

August 23, 2012 - 12th Thursday After Pentecost


FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:

Apodosis of the Dormition of our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos and Ever Virgin Mary
Our Holy Father Ireneaus, Bishop of Lyons
Our Holy Father Kallinikos, Patriarch of Constantinople
Luppus the Martyr & Slave of St. Demetrios of Thessaloniki
Our Righteous Father Nicholas of Sikelion
38 Martyrs of Thrace

READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:

The Reading is from St. Paul's Letter to the Philippians 2:5-11
BRETHREN, have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Πρὸς Φιλιππησίους 2:5-11
Ἀδελφοί, τοῦτο γὰρ φρονείσθω ἐν ὑμῖν ὃ καὶ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ· ὃς ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ ὑπάρχων, οὐχ ἁρπαγμὸν ἡγήσατο τὸ εἶναι ἶσα θεῷ, ἀλλʼ ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσεν, μορφὴν δούλου λαβών, ἐν ὁμοιώματι ἀνθρώπων γενόμενος· καί σχήματι εὑρεθεὶς ὡς ἄνθρωπος, ἐταπείνωσεν ἑαυτόν, γενόμενος ὑπήκοος μέχρι θανάτου, θανάτου δὲ σταυροῦ. Διὸ καὶ ὁ θεὸς αὐτὸν ὑπερύψωσεν, καὶ ἐχαρίσατο αὐτῷ ὄνομα τὸ ὑπὲρ πᾶν ὄνομα· ἵνα ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ πᾶν γόνυ κάμψῃ ἐπουρανίων καὶ ἐπιγείων καὶ καταχθονίων, καὶ πᾶσα γλῶσσα ἐξομολογήσηται ὅτι κύριος Ἰησοῦς Χριστός, εἰς δόξαν θεοῦ πατρός.

The Reading is from Luke 10:38-42, 11:27-28
At that time, Jesus entered a village; and a woman called Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve you alone? Tell her then to help me." But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her." As he said this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, "Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!" But he said, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!"

Κατὰ Λουκᾶν 10.38-42, 11.2
Τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ, εἰσῆλθεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἰς κώμην τινά· γυνὴ δέ τις ὀνόματι Μάρθα ὑπεδέξατο αὐτὸν εἰς τὸν οἶκον αὐτῆς. καὶ τῇδε ἦν ἀδελφὴ καλουμένη Μαρία, ἣ καὶ παρακαθίσασα παρὰ τοὺς πόδας τοῦ ᾿Ιησοῦ ἤκουε τὸν λόγον αὐτοῦ. ἡ δὲ Μάρθα περιεσπᾶτο περὶ πολλὴν διακονίαν· ἐπιστᾶσα δὲ εἶπε· Κύριε, οὐ μέλει σοι ὅτι ἡ ἀδελφή μου μόνην με κατέλιπε διακονεῖν; εἰπὲ οὖν αὐτῇ ἵνα μοι συναντιλάβηται.ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ εἶπεν αὐτῇ ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς· Μάρθα Μάρθα, μεριμνᾷς καὶ τυρβάζῃ περὶ πολλά· ἑνὸς δέ ἐστι χρεία· Μαρία δὲ τὴν ἀγαθὴν μερίδα ἐξελέξατο, ἥτις οὐκ ἀφαιρεθήσεται ἀπ᾿ αὐτῆς. ᾿Εγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ λέγειν αὐτὸν ταῦτα ἐπάρασά τις γυνὴ φωνὴν ἐκ τοῦ ὄχλου εἶπεν αὐτῷ· μακαρία ἡ κοιλία ἡ βαστάσασά σε καὶ μαστοὶ οὓς ἐθήλασας.αὐτὸς δὲ εἶπε· μενοῦνγε μακάριοι οἱ ἀκούοντες τὸν λόγον τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ φυλάσσοντες αὐτόν.

READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:

Τῇ ΚΓ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Μάρτυρος Λούππου.
Ὑπῆρχε Λοῦππος δοῦλος, ἐκ δὲ τοῦ ξίφους
Ἐλεύθερος προσῆλθε τῷ Χριστῷ φίλος.
Εἰκάδι ἐν τριτάτῃ πέφνε Λοῦππον φασγάνου ἀκμή.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου ἱερομάρτυρος Εἰρηναίου, Ἐπισκόπου Σιρμίου.
Τμηθεὶς μετέσχε νεκρικῶν ὁ Σιρμίου,
Λουτρῶν σχεδίων αἱμάτων ποταμίων.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Ἱερομάρτυρος Εἰρηναίου, Ἐπισκόπου Λουγδούνων.
Σπεύδει λιπεῖν γῆν ἐκ ξίφους Εἰρηναῖος.
Ἐρωτιᾷ γὰρ τῶ πρὸς οὐρανοὺς πόθῳ.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, μνήμη τοῦ ὁσίου Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Καλλινίκου, Πατριάρχου Κωνσταντινουπόλεως.
Καλλίνικος μένουσαν ἡδονὴν μένων,
Πρὸς τὴν τελευτὴν οὐκ ἀηδῶς ἦν ἔχων.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, οἱ Ἅγιοι τριάκοντα ὀκτὼ μάρτυρες, οἱ ἐν Θράκῃ, ξίφει τελειοῦνται.
Ἤνεγκε τριπλῆ μαρτύρων δεκὰς ξίφος,
Ἔχουσα καὶ σύναθλον ἁπλὴν ὀκτάδα.
Ταῖς τῶν Ἁγίων σου πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεός, ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.

Concerning the Dormition of the Theotokos, this is what the Church has received from ancient times from the tradition of the Fathers. When the time drew nigh that our Savior was well-pleased to take His Mother to Himself, He declared unto her through an Angel that three days hence, He would translate her from this temporal life to eternity and bliss. On hearing this, she went up with haste to the Mount of Olives, where she prayed continuously. Giving thanks to God, she returned to her house and prepared whatever was necessary for her burial. While these things were taking place, clouds caught up the Apostles from the ends of the earth, where each one happened to be preaching, and brought them at once to the house of the Mother of God, who informed them of the cause of their sudden gathering. As a mother, she consoled them in their affliction as was meet, and then raised her hands to Heaven and prayed for the peace of the world. She blessed the Apostles, and, reclining upon her bed with seemliness, gave up her all-holy spirit into the hands of her Son and God.
With reverence and many lights, and chanting burial hymns, the Apostles took up that God-receiving body and brought it to the sepulchre, while the Angels from Heaven chanted with them, and sent forth her who is higher than the Cherubim. But one Jew, moved by malice, audaciously stretched forth his hand upon the bed and immediately received from divine judgment the wages of his audacity. Those daring hands were severed by an invisible blow. But when he repented and asked forgiveness, his hands were restored. When they had reached the place called Gethsemane, they buried there with honor the all-immaculate body of the Theotokos, which was the source of Life. But on the third day after the burial, when they were eating together, and raised up the artos (bread) in Jesus' Name, as was their custom, the Theotokos appeared in the air, saying "Rejoice" to them. From this they learned concerning the bodily translation of the Theotokos into the Heavens.
These things has the Church received from the traditions of the Fathers, who have composed many hymns out of reverence, to the glory of the Mother of our God (see Oct. 3 and 4).

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.

Σήμερα η Εκκλησία γιορτάζει την μνήμη του αγίου Καλλινίκου Πατριάρχου Κωνσταντινουπόλεως. Η ιστορία διασώζει το εξής περιστατικό μεταξύ του Πατριάρχου Καλλινίκου και του Αυτοκράτορος. Ο Αυτοκράτωρ ζήτησε από τον Πατριάρχη να διαβάση μια ευχή για να γκρεμίσουν μία εκκλησία, που στον τόπο της ήθελαν να χτίσουν μια βρύση. Ο Πατριάρχης του είπε πως δεν υπάρχουν ευχές για να κρεμίζωνται οι εκκλησίες, παρά μόνο για να χτίζωνται. Ο Αυτοκράτωρ όμως επέμενε και τότε ο Πατριάρχης, αντί για άλλη ευχή, είπε· "Δόξα τω Θεώ ανεχομένω...". Οι άνθρωποι ερχόμαστε σε τούτη τη ζωή για να χτίζουμε και όχι να γκρεμίζουμε, "εις οικοδομήν και ουκ εις καθαίρεσιν", όπως λέει ο Αποστολος Παύλος. Μόνο επειδή ανέχεται ο Θεός, μερικοί γκρεμίζουν τη ζωή των ανθρώπων και ξεθεμελιώνουν το πρόσωπο της γης με τη μάταιη καύχηση πως θα το ξαναχτίσουν καλύτερο. "Δόξα τω Θεώ ανεχομένω..."

Ἀπόδοσις ἑορτῆς Κοιμήσεως Θεοτόκου (καὶ Μαρία ἡ Μαλεβή)

Ὁ Ἅγιος Λοῦππος
Γιὰ τὸν Ἅγιο αὐτὸ δὲν ἀναφέρεται πουθενὰ βιογραφικό του ὑπόμνημα στοὺς Συναξαριστές. Μόνο στὸν Παρισινὸ Κώδικα 1617 ἀναγράφεται ὅτι, ὁ μάρτυρας αὐτὸς ὁμολόγησε μὲ θάρρος τὸν Χριστὸ μπροστὰ στὸν εἰδωλολάτρη ἄρχοντα, ὁ ὁποῖος μὲ διάφορες κολακεῖες προσπάθησε νὰ τὸν πείσει νὰ θυσιάσει στὰ εἴδωλα. Ἀλλ᾿ ἐπειδὴ δὲν τὰ κατάφερε τὸν βασάνισε μὲ τὸν πιὸ φρικιαστικὸ τρόπο καὶ στὸ τέλος τὸν ἀποκεφάλισε.

Ὁ Ἅγιος Εἰρηναῖος ἐπίσκοπος Σιρμίου
Ἡ ζωή του ὑπῆρξε ἀνάλογη μὲ τὴν θερμὴ πίστη του πρὸς τὸ Χριστό. Ἦταν ἐπίσκοπος Σιρμίου, πρωτεύουσας τῆς Παννονίας. Σὰν ποιμενάρχης ἦταν ἁγνός, δραστήριος, γεμάτος εἰλικρινῆ ἀγάπη γιὰ τὸ ποίμνιό του, τὸ ὁποῖο τόσο πολὺ ἀγαποῦσε, ὥστε ἦταν ἀποφασισμένος νὰ δώσει καὶ τὴν ζωή του γι᾿ αὐτό, σὰν γνήσιος μιμητὴς τοῦ ἀρχιποιμένα Χριστοῦ, ποὺ εἶπε: «ὁ ποιμὴν ὁ καλὸς τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ τίθησιν ὑπὲρ τῶν προβάτων». Δηλαδή, ὁ καλὸς ποιμένας παραδίδει τὴν ζωή του γιὰ νὰ ἀπομακρύνει κάθε κίνδυνο ἀπὸ τὰ πρόβατά του καὶ γιὰ νὰ ὑπερασπισθεῖ τὴν ζωή τους. Ἀργότερα, ὁ Εἰρηναῖος καταγγέλθηκε στὸν ἡγεμόνα τῆς πόλης ὅτι παρέσυρε στὴ θρησκεία τοῦ Ἰησοῦ εἰδωλολάτρες. Τότε συνελήφθη καί, ὅταν ὁ ἡγεμόνας Πρόβος τὸν ρώτησε ἂν ἀληθεύει αὐτὸ γιὰ τὸ ὁποῖο τὸν κατηγοροῦν, αὐτὸς ἀντὶ ἄλλης ἀπαντήσεως προσευχήθηκε μπροστά του. Ὁ ἡγεμόνας ἀμέσως τὸν φυλάκισε καὶ ἔπειτα, ἀφοῦ τὸν μαστίγωσε, τὸν ἀποκεφάλισε καὶ ἔριξε τὸ κεφάλι του στὸν ποταμὸ Σαῦο.

Ὁ Ἅγιος Εἰρηναῖος ἐπίσκοπος Λουγδούνου
Ὁ ἔνδοξος αὐτὸς Ἱερομάρτυρας, ἔζησε στὰ χρόνια τοῦ βασιλιᾶ Μάρκου Αὐρηλίου (160). (Πιθανὸν νὰ γεννήθηκε στὴ Σμύρνη, περὶ τὸ 140, διότι σὲ κάποιο ἀπὸ τὰ συγγράμματά του, Ἔλεγχος 3,3 λέει, ὅτι παιδὶ ἀκόμα γνώρισε τὸν ἐπίσκοπο Σμύρνης Πολύκαρπο. Ποιοῦ δασκάλου ὅμως μαθητὴς ὑπῆρξε καὶ πῶς μπῆκε στὸν ἱερὸ κλῆρο δὲν γνωρίζουμε). Ἦταν διάδοχος τῶν ἁγίων ἀποστόλων καὶ ἔκανε ἐπίσκοπος τῆς πόλης Λουγδούνου (σημερινῆς Λυών) τῆς Γαλλίας (μετὰ τὸν μαρτυρικὸ θάνατο τοῦ προκατόχου του Ποθεινοῦ). Αὐτὸς ὅπως λένε, συνέγραψε πολλὰ συγγράμματα κυρίως δογματικά, καὶ μ᾿ αὐτὰ στήριξε πολλοὺς χριστιανοὺς στὴν ὀρθὴ πίστη, καὶ τοὺς γλίτωσε ἀπὸ τὶς πλάνες τῶν διαφόρων αἱρέσεων. Τέλος, ἀποκεφαλίστηκε καὶ αὐτὸς ἀπὸ τὸν βασιλιὰ Σεβῆρο, τὸ ἔτος 202, παίρνοντας ἔτσι τὸ ἀμάραντο στεφάνι τοῦ μαρτυρίου.

Ὁ Ἅγιος Ποθεινὸς Ἱερομάρτυρας, ἐπίσκοπος Λουγδούνου
Ὑπῆρξε ἐπίσκοπος Λουγδούνου (σημερινῆς Λυὼν τῆς Γαλλίας) πρὶν τὸν πιὸ πάνω Ἅγιο Εἰρηναῖο. Ἔζησε μᾶλλον στὶς ἀρχὲς τοῦ 2ου αἰῶνα καὶ μαρτύρησε γιὰ τὸν Χριστὸ κατὰ τὸ δεύτερο μισὸ τοῦ 2ου αἰῶνα.

Ὁ Ὅσιος Καλλίνικος Πατριάρχης Κωνσταντινουπόλεως
Πρόκειται γιὰ τὸν Πατριάρχη Καλλίνικο τὸν Α´, ποὺ διαδέχτηκε τὸν Παῦλο τὸν Γ´. Ἦταν προηγουμένως πρεσβύτερος τῆς Ἐκκλησίας Κωνσταντινουπόλεως, καὶ σκευοφύλακας τοῦ ναοῦ τῶν Βλαχερνῶν. Ὁ Καλλίνικος ὁ Α´, εἶχε μεγάλα πλεονεκτήματα λόγου καὶ ἤθους, καὶ γι᾿ αὐτὸν ὁ Ἐφραίμιος λέει ὅτι ἦταν «ἀνὴρ λόγῳ βίῳ τε καὶ καλῶς ἐμπρέπων». Στὰ χρόνια ὅμως τῆς πατριαρχίας του βασίλευε ἕνας ἀσύνετος αὐτοκράτορας ὁ Ἰουστινιανὸς ὁ Β´. Αὐτὸς λοιπόν, γιὰ νὰ κάνει μία πολυτελῆ βρύση κοντὰ στ᾿ ἀνάκτορά του, διάλεξε σὰν τόπο τὸ χῶρο ποὺ βρισκόταν ὁ ναὸς τῆς Θεοτόκου καὶ ἀπαίτησε ἀπὸ τὸν Καλλίνικο, νὰ δώσει εὐχὴ νὰ γκρεμίσουν τὸν ναό! Ὁ Καλλίνικος ἀπάντησε ὅτι, ἡ Ἐκκλησία ἔχει εὐχὲς γιὰ τὴν ἀνέγερση ναῶν καὶ ὄχι γιὰ τὸν κρημνισμό. Στὴν πίεση ὅμως τοῦ αὐτοκράτορα, ὁ Καλλίνικος ἐξεφώνησε: «Ἂς εἶναι δόξα εἰς σὲ Χριστέ μου, ὅτι πάντοτε ἀνέχεσαι καὶ ὑπομένεις». Ἦταν δηλαδὴ μία εὐχὴ εἰς βάρος τοῦ αὐτοκράτορα. Πράγματι τὸ 695 ὁ Ἰουστινιανὸς Β´ ἔπεσε ἀπὸ τὸν στρατηγὸ Λεόντιο, καὶ μέσα στὸν Ἱππόδρομο τοῦ ἔκοψαν τὴν μύτη καὶ τὸν ἐξόρισαν στὴ Χερσώνα. Ἀργότερα τὸ 705, ὅταν μὲ προδοσία μαζὶ μὲ τοὺς Βουλγάρους καὶ Σλαύους, μπῆκε στὴ Κωνσταντινούπολη, τὸ πρῶτο του θῦμα ἦταν ὁ Πατριάρχης Καλλίνικος. Δηλαδὴ τὸν καταδίκασε χωρὶς δίκη, τὸν τύφλωσε καὶ τὸν ἐξόρισε στὴ Ρώμη. Ὁ Πατριάρχης Καλλίνικος ὁ Α´, πατριάρχευσε ἀπὸ τὸ 693 ὡς τὸ 705 μ.Χ.

Οἱ Ἅγιοι 38 Μάρτυρες ποὺ μαρτύρησαν στὴ Θρᾴκη
Ὅλοι μαρτύρησαν διὰ ξίφους. Ἴσως εἶναι οἱ ἴδιοι με αὐτοὺς τῆς 20ης Αὐγούστου.

Ὁ Ἅγιος Ἀντώνιος ἐπίσκοπος Σάρδης
Ἄγνωστος στοὺς Συναξαριστὲς καὶ τὰ Μηναῖα. Ἡ μνήμη του ἀναφέρεται, μαζὶ μὲ τὸν Μάρτυρα Λοῦπο, στὸν Σιναϊτικὸ Κώδικα 631. Ὁ Ἀντώνιος αὐτὸς ἦταν ἐπὶ ἐποχῆς Νικολάου τοῦ Μυστικοῦ Πατριάρχου Κωνσταντινουπόλεως, ὁ ὁποῖος κατὰ τὴ δεύτερη πατριαρχία του (912-925), ἔστειλε στὸν Ἀντώνιο θερμὴ φιλικὴ ἐπιστολή, ποὺ ἀναδημοσίευσε ὁ Σεβ. Μητροπολίτης Σάρδεων Γερμανὸς στὸ Παράρτημα τῆς μελέτης του, περὶ τῆς Ἐκκλησίας τῶν Σάρδεων σ. 106. Στὸν προαναφερθέντα Σιναϊτικὸ Κώδικα, ὑπάρχει κοινὸς Κανόνας Παρακλητικὸς στὸν Μάρτυρα Λοῦπο καὶ τὸν Ἀντώνιο ἐπίσκοπο Σάρδεων.

Leavetaking of Dormition
On the Holy Mountain, the Feast of the Dormition is extended to August 28, thus consecrating almost the entire month of August to the Most Holy Theotokos.

Hieromartyr Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons (202)
He was born in Asia Minor around the year 120, and was a disciple of Saint Polycarp, who was in turn a disciple of St John the Evangelist. He succeeded the martyred St Pothinus as Bishop of Lyons in Gaul (now France). He produced many writings contesting not only against paganism but against Gnostic heresies that were then troubling the Church. When Victor, Bishop of Rome, planned to excommunicate the Christians of Asia Minor for celebrating Pascha on a different date than the Church of Rome, Irenaeus persuaded him to stay his hand and maintain unity and peace in the Church. (This was before the date of Pascha had been set by the Ecumenical Councils). By his efforts Lyons became for centuries a center and bastion of Orthodoxy in the West.

Martyr Lupus (306), slave of St Demetrios of Thessalonica
He was the servant of the Great Martyr Demetrius, and was present at his martyrdom. He dipped the hem of his garment in the martyr's blood, and later worked many miracles with the garment, healing many illnesses. At the order of the Emperor Maximian, he was then himself arrested, tortured and, like his earthly master, beheaded for Christ. It is said that, as his death approached, he prayed to be baptized before his death, for, though a believer in Christ, he had never been able to be baptized. A cloud suddenly poured down a torrent of water upon him, answering his prayer.

Hieromartyr Pothinos, Bishop of Lyons (177)
The Holy Polycarp (February 23) sent Pothinus from Asia Minor to spread the Gospel in Gaul. He brought many there to faith in Christ, and became the first bishop of Lyons. During a persecution of Christians Pothinus, who was then ninety years old, was brought before the proconsul, who asked him 'Who is the Christian God?' Pothinus answered 'You will find out, if you are worthy.' He was beaten fiercely with staves and stones, then thrown in prison, where he died of his injuries.

Menologion 3.0
The Martyr Luppos lived at the end of the III Century - beginning II Century, and was a faithful servant of the holy GreatMartyr Demetrios of Soluneia (Thessalonika, Comm. 26 October). Being present at the death of his master, he soaked his own clothing with his blood and took a ring from his hand. With this clothing, and likewise with the ring and the name of the GreatMartyr Demetrios, Saint Luppos worked at Soluneia many miracles. He destroyed pagan idols, for which he was subjected to persecution by the pagans, but by the power of God he was preserved unharmed. Saint Luppos voluntarily delivered himself over into the hands of the torturers and by order of the emperor Maximian Galerius he was beheaded by the sword (+ post 306).

The PriestMartyr Ireneius (Ireneios), Bishop of Lyons, was born in the year 130 in the city of Smyrna (Asia Minor). He received there the finest of educations, studying poetics, philosophy, rhetoric, and all the rest of the classical sciences, considered necessary for a young man of the world. His guide in the truths of the Christian faith was a disciple of the Apostle John the Theologian -- Sainted Polycarp of Smyrna (Comm. 23 February). Saint Polycarp baptised the youth, and afterwards ordained him presbyter and sent him off to a city in Gaul then named Lugdunum (the presentday city of Lyons in France) to the dying bishop Pothinus. A commission was soon entrusted Saint Ireneius: to deliver a letter of Christ-confessors to the holy Pope of Rome Eleutherius (177-190). During the time of his absence all the known Christians were thrown into prison. After the martyr's death of Bishop Pothinus, Saint Ireneius was chosen a year later in 178 as bishop of the city of Lugdunum. "During which time, -- Sainted Gregory of Tyre writes concerning him, -- by his preaching he transformed all Lugdunum into a Christian city!" When the persecution against Christians quieted down, the saint expounded upon the Orthodox teachings of faith in one of his fundamental works under the title: "Detection and Refutation of Pretensively Called Gnosis-Knowledge", or in short form "Five Books against Heresy" ("Adversus Haereses"). During these times there had appeared a series of religious-philosophical Gnostic teachings. The Gnostics (from the Greek word "gnosis" meaning "knowledge") taught, that God is not able to be incarnated [i.e. born in human flesh], since matter is imperfect and manifests itself as the bearer of evil. They taught also that the Son of God -- is only an outflowing ("emanation") of Divinity. Together with Him from the Divinity issues forth an hierarchical series of powers ("aeons"), the unity of which comprise the "Pleroma", i.e. "Fullness". The world is not made by God Himself, but by the aeons or the "Demiourgos" ("Demiurge"), which is beneathe the "Pleroma". [trans. note: this Gnostic terminology reflects various attempts at a synthesis of the Neo-Platonic thought of the time with Christianity. But lest the reader be confused and consider all "gnosis" to be heretically Gnostic, there is indeed an Orthodox "Gnosis" theologically deriving from Christ as the "Logos" or "Word" -- "through Whom all things were made" (Jn. 1: 3) underlying the Creation, without which all theology itself would be impossible. Also, our account neglects to point out that the "Adversus Haeresus" was a compendium of the teachings of all the known heresies of the time, publishing "for free" the esoteric salvation "secret teachings" of the Gnostics, who made a business charging money to be "initiated" into the upper level of "knowers" ("illuminati" or "electi"); in doing so he helped put them out of business].
In the refutation of the heresy of Valentinus, Saint Ireneius presents the Orthodox teaching about salvation. "The Word of God, Jesus Christ, through His inexplicable blessedness caused it to be, that we also, should be made that which He is..., -- taught Saint Ireneius, -- Jesus Christ the Son of God through exceedingly great love for His creation condescended to be born of a Virgin, through His own Self having united mankind with God". Through the Incarnation of God creation becomes co-imaged and co-bodied to the Son of God. Salvation consists in the "Filiation" ("Sonship") and "Theosis" ("Divinisation") of mankind.
In the refutation of another heretic, Marcian, who denied the Divine-origin of the Old Testament [trans. note: based on the problem of suffering and evil, i.e. Theodicy, with Marcian giving insufficient consideration to the issue of freedom], the saint presents the teaching about the Same Origin of the Old and the New Testaments: "It is one and the same the Spirit of God, Which through the prophets proclaimed, in what manner precisely would be the coming of the Lord, -- wrote the saint, -- He through the apostles preached, that the fullness of time of the filiation had arrived, and that the Kingdom of Heaven was come nigh".
The truthful veracity of Church teachings was grounded by Sainted Ireneius in the succession of the episcopacy, since the Church is more anciently primary than all the later heretics. "Anyone, that desireth to know the truth, ought to turn to the Church, since through Her alone did the apostles propound the Divine Truth. She is the door to life".
Saint Ireneius exerted also a beneficial influence in a dispute about the celebration of Pascha. In the Church of Asia Minor was preserved an old tradition to celebrate Holy Pascha on the 14th day of the month of Nisan, irregardless of what day of the week this occurred. Holy Pope Victor (190-202) forcefully demanded uniformity, and his harsh demands fomented a schism. In the name of the Christians of Gaul, Saint Ireneius wrote to the Pope, that while it be impossible to allow a schism on account of traditions, yet foremost of all it is necessary to esteem churchly peace.
During the reign of the emperor Severus (193-211), Sainted Ireneius was beheaded by the sword for his confession of faith, in the year 202.
The Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian, Sainted Polycarp of Smyrna, and Sainted Ireneius of Lyons -- here are three links in an unbroken chain of the grace of succession, which connects back to the Original Pastor, our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. In extreme old age, Saint Ireneius wrote to his old friend Florinus: "I was a lad when I saw thee (Florinus) with Polycarp. I remember what then happened better than what now happens. And I can now describe for thee the place, where blessed Polycarp usually sat and conversed. I can describe his mannerisms of life, the appearance of his body and his instructions which he spoke to people. The intimate conversations which, as he said, he had with John and others who had seen the Lord, and everything that he remembered from their words, that he heard from them about the Lord... I heard this then, by the mercy of God, with fervour and did write it down, not upon paper, but upon the heart".

The Monks Eutychius and Florentius were monks pursuing asceticism in the region of Nursa in Italy during the VI Century. Saint Eutychius by his teaching converted many to God. When the hegumen of a nearby monastery died, they appealed to him to become its head. He consented, but continued to be concerned with the former place of his ascetic activity, where his companion Florentius remained. The Monk Florentius worked many miracles during his lifetime. For example, he tamed a bear, which served him, and it shepherded sheep. carried water and obeyed other commands of the elder. Jealous of the fame of Saint Florentius, four monks killed the bear. The saint predicted the wrath of God upon the murderers. And thus it happened according to his words -- the monks were stricken with illness. But seeing the wrath of God having befallen the monks, the Monk Florentius was grievously saddened and distressed at the occurrence, considering himself the murderer of those monks. Saint Eutychius did not work miracles during his lifetime, but after death his remaining clothing began to produce healings. During a time of drought they went with his clothing along the fields, and God sent rain (this was in the year 1492). The Monk Eutychius died on 23 May 540, and the Monk Florentius, on 1 June 547.

Sainted Kallinikos, Patriarch of Constantinople (693-705), was at first presbyter in the temple of the MostHoly Mother of God at Blakhernae, but in 693 with the death of Patriarch Paul (686-693), he was elevated to the Constantinople throne. During this time reigned the cruel Justinian II (685-695), who undertook the construction of a palace very near the church of the MostHoly Mother of God and decided to demolish it. The emperor ordered Patriarch Kallinikos to give his blessing for tearing it down. The patriarch answered, that he had prayers only for the building of churches, not their destruction. When the church was demolished, with tears he cried out: "Glory to Thee, O Lord, in enduring all things".
Soon the wrath of God befell Justinian. He was toppled from the throne and sent for imprisonment to Chersonessus, where they cut off his nose (from which he received the nickname "Short-nose"). Leontius (695-698) came upon the throne. After 10 years Justinian fled from his imprisonment, gathered an army and advanced on Constantinople. He promised the Patriarch and the emperor that, in entering the city, he would harm no one, and gave his oath on this before the Cross, the Gospel and the Holy Mysteries. But having entered into Constantinople, he immediately broke his oath and began to destroy the citizens and people of importance, and beheaded the emperor. He ordered the holy Patriarch Kallinikos seized, his eyes plucked out, his tongue and nose cut off, and be shut in alive into a stone wall at Rome. After 40 days the walling collapsed and Saint Kallinikos was found alive, although from weakness he hardly breathed and after 4 days he died (+ 705). The Apostles Peter and Paul appeared to the Roman Pope John VI (701-705) in a vivid dream and commanded that Saint Kallinikos be buried in the church of the Apostles at Rome.

THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:

1. THE HOLY MARTYR LUPUS
This holy man Lupus was a servant of St. Demetrius the commander of Thessalonica. When Emperor Maximian beheaded St. Demetrius, Lupus dipped the hem of his garment and his ring in the blood of the martyr. With this garment and ring, Lupus worked many miracles in Thessalonica, healing people of every pain and infirmity. Emperor Maximian, who was then still residing in Thessalonica, discovered this and ordered that Lupus be tortured and killed. However, the soldiers who took up weapons against Lupus turned against one another and severely wounded themselves. As he was not yet baptized, even though he was a Christian, Lupus prayed to God that He would somehow plan his baptism before his death. At that moment, rain unexpectedly fell from the clouds upon this holy martyr and thus he received baptism from on high. After great sufferings, Lupus was beheaded and took up habitation in the Kingdom of Heaven.

2. THE PRIESTLY-MARTYR POTHINUS, THE BISHOP OF LYON
Pothinus was sent by St. Polycarp from Asia Minor to preach in Gaul [France]. He became the first bishop of Lyon and converted many pagans to Christianity. During the time of the persecution of the Christians in the year 177A.D., Pothinus was brought to trial: more correctly, he was carried [in the arms of others] for he was ninety years old. The Pro-consul asked him: "Who is the Christian God?" The aged Pothinus replied: "You will know if you become worthy of that." The pagans attacked him with canes and stones and beat him without mercy. Thrown into prison, St. Pothinus died from the beatings two days later and took up habitation in the Kingdom of Heaven.

3. THE PRIESTLY-MARTYR IRENAEUS, THE BISHOP OF LYON
In his youth, Ireneaus was a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of the apostles, who sent him to preach in Gaul. Following the martyrdom of St. Pothinus, Ireneaus was installed as bishop. In his countless writings, Ireneaus at times defined the Orthodox Faith and, again at times, he defended it from heretics. Ireneaus was martyred and died for Christ at the time of Emperor Severus in the year 202 A.D. along with many thousands of Christians (19,000).

4. SAINT VICTOR
Saint Victor suffered and died in Marseilles [France] in the third century. After prolonged and bitter tortures, he was cast into prison where he converted the guards to the Faith of Christ. He died by crucifixion.

5. SAINT ALBAN
Alban was an English nobleman. At the time of persecution, he concealed a Christian priest in his home and was taught the Faith of Christ by him. Alban gave his clothing to the priest and then he dressed as a priest and gave himself up to the torturers. Sentenced to death, he converted his executioner to the Faith of Christ.

HYMN OF PRAISE
SAINT POLYCARP SAINT IRENAEUS SAINT POTHINUS
Most beautiful is the vine with fruitful branches,
With fragrant fruit, noble fruit;
In his offspring, the parent is wonderful,
Of physical marriage, sons are the glory.
But, more beautiful than the vine and the fruitful marriage
Are the spiritual children of the Holy Spirit.
Polycarp most glorious, had two sons:
Saint Ireneaus and Saint Pothinus,
To him, two children of the spirit and not of the flesh, were they,
With unfading eternal glory crowned.
By the Spirit of God, Polycarp regenerated them,
And for that, more beloved to him were they than if he gave birth to them.
Raised them both, with wisdom he equipped them,
To preach in Gaul, he prepared them both.
Two chosen sacrifices, two pure lambs,
Gave to the slaughter, for the Crucified Christ
Of the New Zion, two wise heralds,
Of baptized Lyon, two courageous bishops
Ireneaus and Pothinus glorified God
And Polycarp, their spiritual father.
Heroically they stood, as martyrs fell,
And, before the benevolent Christ, they stood crowned.

REFLECTION
Mysterious is the power of the Cross no matter how unexplainable, it is true and indisputable. Yet, St. John Chrysostom speaks of the custom of his time that the sign of the cross is attached "on the emperor's diadem, on the accouterments of the soldiers and tracing it on parts of the body: the head, the breast [chest] and the heart and also on the table of oblations and over beds." "If it is necessary to expel demons", says he, "we use the cross and it also helps to heal the sick." 'St. Benedict made the sign of the cross over a glass which contained poison and the glass burst as though it were struck by a stone. St. Julian made the sign of the cross over a glass of poison brought to him and drank the poison, but he did not feel any pain in his body. The Holy Female Martyr Basilissa of Nicomedia enveloped herself with the sign of the cross, stood amidst the flames and remained unharmed. The Holy Martyrs Audon and Senis crossed themselves when the wild beasts were released on them and the beasts became docile and meek as lambs. Among the ascetics of old, as it is today, the sign of the cross was the most powerful weapon against the temptations of the demons. The most horrible fears of the devil vanish into nothing, as smoke, when man traces the sign of the cross over himself. Thus, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself willed to the one time sign of crime and shame, the Cross, following His crucifixion on the wood of the cross, all victorious power and might.

CONTEMPLATION
To contemplate the rapid advancing evil in the soul of Saul from the moment he turned away from God (1 Samuel 22 1 Kings 22):
1. How he hurled a spear at David;
2. How he hurled a spear at his son Jonathan;
3. How he slew eighty-five priests in one day, suspecting that they were aligned with David;
4. How, in every time and with every unrepented sin against God, many other sins are drawn in.

HOMILY
About John the Precursor [the Forerunner] and how Isaiah prophesied concerning him
"The voice of him that cries in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God" (Isaiah 40:3).
When a king wants to visit a certain place, he sends before him in advance his heralds. To an unusual king an unusual herald is appropriate. The herald of Christ the King in the wilderness was Moses; in Jerusalem, the Prophets; in Nazareth, the Archangel; in Bethlehem, the Magi of the East; on the Jordan, John. Not one king in the history of mankind has had such heralds. St. John the Baptist was also as unusual and special as were the other heralds of Christ. He was the voice crying in the two-fold wilderness: in the wilderness of Jordan and in the human wilderness. Just as the wilderness of Jordan was fruitless and dry, so the wilderness of the human spirit, was unfruitful and dry. John was not able to make the human wilderness green and fruitful, but he cleared and plowed it and, in that way, was preparing the earth and leveled it [the earth] for the great Sower Who, by His coming, brings with Him the seed and the rain to sow the seed of knowledge and the rain of grace from on high to make it green and be fruitful. By repentance, John prepared the way and by baptism in water, made the path straight. The way and the paths these are the souls of men. By repentance, the souls of men were prepared to receive the seed of Christ and by baptism in water to bury that seed deep in the earth of their heart. The proud and the lowly when they are immersed naked in the water are all as one, equal in their nothingness before the majesty of the All-glorious Christ the Savior: "Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill shall be made low" (Isaiah 40:4). The word here is not about earthly valleys and hills but of lowly and proud men. As corpses in the grave are all the same before the eyes of a living man, thus all sinners, lowly and proud, slaves and masters are equal before the living God.
Such a wondrous vision was seen by Isaiah, the son of Amos, the prophet of the living God, the one and true God.
O Lord, Heavenly King, to Whom the heavenly hosts worship day and night, look down once again upon our nothingness and because of Your humiliation and passion for us, save us.