FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:
Forefeast of the Transfiguration of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
Eusignius the Martyr of Antioch
Our Righteous Father Eugene of Aitola
Τά Προεόρτια τῆς Θ. Μεταμορφώσεως τοῦ Κυρίου καί Θεοῦ καί Σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.
Τοῦ Ἁγίου Μάρτυρος Εὐσιγνίου καί τοῦ Ὁσίου Πατρός ἡμῶν Εὐγενίου τοῦ Αἰτωλοῦ καί τοῦ ἐν Ἁγίοις Πατρός ἡμῶν Εὐθυμίου, Πατριάρχου Κωνσταντινουπόλεως.
Τοῦ Ἁγίου Νεομάρτυρος Χρήστου, τοῦ ἐκ Πρεβέζης.
READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:
The Reading is from John 20:19-31
On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them: "Peace be with you." When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you." And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them: "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."
Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him: "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them: "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in His side, I will not believe."
Eight days later, His disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said: "Peace be with you." Then He said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing." Thomas answered Him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to Him: "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe."
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
Κατὰ Ἰωάννην 20.19-31
Οὔσης οὖν ὀψίας τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐκείνῃ τῇ μιᾷ τῶν σαββάτων, καὶ τῶν θυρῶν κεκλεισμένων ὅπου ἦσαν οἱ μαθηταὶ συνηγμένοι διὰ τὸν φόβον τῶν ᾿Ιουδαίων, ἦλθεν ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς καὶ ἔστη εἰς τὸ μέσον, καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς· εἰρήνη ὑμῖν. καὶ τοῦτο εἰπὼν ἔδειξεν αὐτοῖς τὰς χεῖρας καὶ τὴν πλευρὰν αὐτοῦ. ἐχάρησαν οὖν οἱ μαθηταὶ ἰδόντες τὸν Κύριον. εἶπεν οὖν αὐτοῖς ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς πάλιν· εἰρήνη ὑμῖν. καθὼς ἀπέσταλκέ με ὁ πατήρ, κἀγὼ πέμπω ὑμᾶς. καὶ τοῦτο εἰπὼν ἐνεφύσησε καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς· λάβετε Πνεῦμα ῞Αγιον· ἄν τινων ἀφῆτε τὰς ἁμαρτίας, ἀφίενται αὐτοῖς, ἄν τινων κρατῆτε, κεκράτηνται.
Θωμᾶς δὲ εἷς ἐκ τῶν δώδεκα, ὁ λεγόμενος Δίδυμος, οὐκ ἦν μετ᾽ αὐτῶν ὅτε ἦλθεν ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς. ἔλεγον οὖν αὐτῷ οἱ ἄλλοι μαθηταί· ἑωράκαμεν τὸν Κύριον. ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· ἐὰν μὴ ἴδω ἐν ταῖς χερσὶν αὐτοῦ τὸν τύπον τῶν ἥλων, καὶ βάλω τὸν δάκτυλόν μου εἰς τὸν τύπον τῶν ἥλων, καὶ βάλω τὴν χεῖρά μου εἰς τὴν πλευρὰν αὐτοῦ, οὐ μὴ πιστεύσω. Καὶ μεθ᾽ ἡμέρας ὀκτὼ πάλιν ἦσαν ἔσω οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ καὶ Θωμᾶς μετ᾽ αὐτῶν. ἔρχεται ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς τῶν θυρῶν κεκλεισμένων, καὶ ἔστη εἰς τὸ μέσον καὶ εἶπεν· εἰρήνη ὑμῖν. εἶτα λέγει τῷ Θωμᾷ· φέρε τὸν δάκτυλόν σου ὧδε καὶ ἴδε τὰς χεῖράς μου, καὶ φέρε τὴν χεῖρά σου καὶ βάλε εἰς τὴν πλευράν μου, καὶ μὴ γίνου ἄπιστος, ἀλλὰ πιστός. καὶ ἀπεκρίθη Θωμᾶς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· ὁ Κύριός μου καὶ ὁ Θεός μου. λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς· ὅτι ἑώρακάς με, πεπίστευκας· μακάριοι οἱ μὴ ἰδόντες καὶ πιστεύσαντες. Πολλὰ μὲν οὖν καὶ ἄλλα σημεῖα ἐποίησεν ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς ἐνώπιον τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ, ἃ οὐκ ἔστι γεγραμμένα ἐν τῷ βιβλίῳ τούτῳ· ταῦτα δὲ γέγραπται ἵνα πιστεύσητε ὅτι ᾿Ιησοῦς ἐστιν ὁ Χριστὸς ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ, καὶ ἵνα πιστεύοντες ζωὴν ἔχητε ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι αὐτοῦ.
The Reading is from St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians 3:9-17
BRETHREN, we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building. According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder. I laid a foundation, and another man is building upon it. Let each man take care how he builds upon it. For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw - each man's work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If any one destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and that temple you are.
Πρὸς Κορινθίους α' 3:9-17
Ἀδελφοί, Θεοῦ γάρ ἐσμεν συνεργοί· θεοῦ γεώργιον, θεοῦ οἰκοδομή ἐστε. Κατὰ τὴν χάριν τοῦ θεοῦ τὴν δοθεῖσάν μοι, ὡς σοφὸς ἀρχιτέκτων θεμέλιον τέθεικα, ἄλλος δὲ ἐποικοδομεῖ. Ἕκαστος δὲ βλεπέτω πῶς ἐποικοδομεῖ. Θεμέλιον γὰρ ἄλλον οὐδεὶς δύναται θεῖναι παρὰ τὸν κείμενον, ὅς ἐστιν Ἰησοῦς Χριστός. Εἰ δέ τις ἐποικοδομεῖ ἐπὶ τὸν θεμέλιον τοῦτον χρυσόν, ἄργυρον, λίθους τιμίους, ξύλα, χόρτον, καλάμην, ἑκάστου τὸ ἔργον φανερὸν γενήσεται· ἡ γὰρ ἡμέρα δηλώσει, ὅτι ἐν πυρὶ ἀποκαλύπτεται· καὶ ἑκάστου τὸ ἔργον ὁποῖόν ἐστιν τὸ πῦρ δοκιμάσει. Εἴ τινος τὸ ἔργον μένει ὃ ἐποικοδόμησεν, μισθὸν λήψεται. Εἴ τινος τὸ ἔργον κατακαήσεται, ζημιωθήσεται· αὐτὸς δὲ σωθήσεται, οὕτως δὲ ὡς διὰ πυρός. Οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι ναὸς θεοῦ ἐστε, καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ θεοῦ οἰκεῖ ἐν ὑμῖν; Εἴ τις τὸν ναὸν τοῦ θεοῦ φθείρει, φθερεῖ τοῦτον ὁ θεός· ὁ γὰρ ναὸς τοῦ θεοῦ ἅγιός ἐστιν, οἵτινές ἐστε ὑμεῖς.
The Reading is from Matthew 14:22-34
At that time, Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was many furlongs distant from the land, beaten by the waves; for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out for fear. But immediately he spoke to them, saying "Take heart, it is I; have no fear."
And Peter answered him, "Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water." He said, "Come." So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus; but when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, "Lord, save me." Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, "O man of little faith, why did you doubt?" And when they entered the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God." And when they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret.
Κατὰ Ματθαῖον 14.22-34
Τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ, ἠνάγκασεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς τοὺς μαθητὰς ἐμβῆναι εἰς τὸ πλοῖον καὶ προάγειν αὐτὸν εἰς τὸ πέραν, ἕως οὗ ἀπολύσῃ τοὺς ὄχλους. Καὶ ἀπολύσας τοὺς ὄχλους ἀνέβη εἰς τὸ ὄρος κατ᾽ ἰδίαν προσεύξασθαι. ὀψίας δὲ γενομένης μόνος ἦν ἐκεῖ. Τὸ δὲ πλοῖον ἤδη σταδίους πολλοὺς ἀπὸ τῆς γῆς ἀπεῖχεν, βασανιζόμενον ὑπὸ τῶν κυμάτων, ἦν γὰρ ἐναντίος ὁ ἄνεμος. Τετάρτῃ δὲ φυλακῇ τῆς νυκτὸς ἦλθεν πρὸς αὐτοὺς περιπατῶν ἐπὶ τὴν θάλασσαν. Οἱ δὲ μαθηταὶ ἰδόντες αὐτὸν ἐπὶ τῆς θαλάσσης περιπατοῦντα ἐταράχθησαν λέγοντες ὅτι Φάντασμά ἐστιν, καὶ ἀπὸ τοῦ φόβου ἔκραξαν. Εὐθὺς δὲ ἐλάλησεν [ὁ ᾽Ιησοῦς] αὐτοῖς λέγων, Θαρσεῖτε, ἐγώ εἰμι· μὴ φοβεῖσθε. Ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ αὐτῷ ὁ Πέτρος εἶπεν, Κύριε, εἰ σὺ εἶ, κέλευσόν με ἐλθεῖν πρὸς σὲ ἐπὶ τὰ ὕδατα·ὁ δὲ εἶπεν, ᾽Ελθέ. καὶ καταβὰς ἀπὸ τοῦ πλοίου ὁ Πέτρος περιεπάτησεν ἐπὶ τὰ ὕδατα καὶ ἦλθεν πρὸς τὸν ᾽Ιησοῦν. Βλέπων δὲ τὸν ἄνεμον ἐφοβήθη, καὶ ἀρξάμενος καταποντίζεσθαι ἔκραξεν λέγων, Κύριε, σῶσόν με. Εὐθέως δὲ ὁ ᾽Ιησοῦς ἐκτείνας τὴν χεῖρα ἐπελάβετο αὐτοῦ καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ, ᾽Ολιγόπιστε, εἰς τί ἐδίστασας;καὶ ἀναβάντων αὐτῶν εἰς τὸ πλοῖον ἐκόπασεν ὁ ἄνεμος. Οἱ δὲ ἐν τῷ πλοίῳ προσεκύνησαν αὐτῷ λέγοντες, ᾽Αληθῶς Θεοῦ υἱὸς εἶ. Καὶ διαπεράσαντες ἦλθον ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν εἰς Γεννησαρέτ.
READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:
Τῇ Ε´τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, προεόρτια τῆς Ἁγίας Μεταμορφώσεως τοῦ Κυρίου καὶ Θεοῦ καὶ Σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, καὶ μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Μάρτυρος Εὐσιγνίου.
Εὐσίγνιον τέμνουσι τὸν Χριστοῦ φίλον,
Τομῆς μέχρι κράζοντα, Χριστὸς μοι σέβας.
Πέμπτῃ Εὐσιγνίοιο κάρη κονίῃσιν ἐμίχθη.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, οἱ Ἅγιοι δύο Μάρτυρες καὶ αὐτάδελφοι, Καττίδιος καὶ Καττιδιανός, λιθοβολιθέντες τελειοῦνται.
Βουνοὺς λίθων ἔστησαν ὑψηλοὺς Λόγε,
Δι' ὧν ἀνῆλθον πρὸς σὲ σύγγονοι δύο.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, ἡ Ἁγία Νόννα, ἡ μήτηρ τοῦ Ἁγίου Γρηγορίου τοῦ Θεολόγου, ἐν εἰρήνῃ τελειοῦται.
Νόννῃ θανούσῃ τῇ καλῇ καλὸς γόνος,
Καλὸν δίδωσιν ἐντάφιον τοὺς λόγους.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ ὁ Ἅγιος Μάρτυς Σόλεβ ὁ Αἰγύπτιος, βέλει τοξευθείς, τελειοῦται.
Ἄν συλλαβισθῇς ἐξόπισθεν ὦ Σόλεβ,
Βέλος συνάξεις ὄργανον τοῦ σοῦ τέλους.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, ὁ Ἅγιος Φάβιος, Ἀρχιεπίσκοπος Ῥώμης, ξίφει τελειοῦται.
Κεῖται Φάβιος νεκρὸς ὁ Χριστοῦ θύτης,
Χριστῷ προσαχθεὶς θῦμα καινὸν ἐκ ξίφους.
Ταῖς τῶν Ἁγίων σου πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεός, ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.
Tone of the week: Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Resurrectional Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Ἐξ ὕψους κατῆλθες ὁ εὔσπλαγχνος, ταφὴν καταδέξω τριήμερον, ἵνα ἡμᾶς ἐλευθερώσῃς τῶν παθῶν. Ἡ ζωὴ καὶ ἡ Ἀνάστασις ἡμῶν, Κύριε δόξα σοι.
You descended from on high, O compassionate One, and condescended to be buried for three days, so that from the passions You might set us free. Our life and resurrection, O Lord, glory be to You.
Seasonal Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Εν τή θεία σήμερον Μεταμορφώσει, η βροτεία άπασα, φύσις προλάμπει θεϊκώς, εν ευφροσύνη κραυγάζουσα, Μεταμορφούται Χριστός, σώζων άπαντας.
All of mortal nature now divinely shineth on this day with the divine Transfiguration ere the time; and in great gladness, she crieth out: Christ is transfigured, and saveth the race of man.
Resurrectional Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Εξαναστάς τού μνήματος, τούς τεθνεώτας ήγειρας, καί τόν Αδάμ ανέστησας, καί η Εύα χορεύει εν τή σή Αναστάσει, καί κόσμου τά πέρατα πανηγυρίζουσι, τή εκ νεκρών Εγέρσει σου Πολυέλεε.
Arising from the tomb, O mighty Saviour, Thou didst rouse the dead; Thou didst raise Adam; while Eve danceth in her joy at Thy blest Resurrection, O Lord. And the world's farthest regions keep the festival on Thine arising from the dead with gladness and thanksgiving, O Thou Who art greatly merciful.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Χριστού τήν Μεταμόρφωσιν προϋπαντήσωμεν, φαιδρώς πανηγυρίζοντες τά προεόρτια, πιστοί καί βοήσωμεν, Ήγγικεν η ημέρα τής ενθέου ευφροσύνης, άνεισιν εις τό όρος τό Θαβώρ ο Δεσπότης, τής θεότητος αυτού απαστράψαι τήν ωραιότητα.
Come, let us all welcome the Transfiguration of Christ, and joyously celebrate the bright prefestival, O ye faithful, and let us cry: Nigh at hand now is the day of God-given gladness, as the Sovereign Master goeth up on Mount Tabor to flash forth with the beautiful light of His Divinity.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Εν τή θεία σήμερον Μεταμορφώσει, η βροτεία άπασα, φύσις προλάμπει θεϊκώς, εν ευφροσύνη κραυγάζουσα, Μεταμορφούται Χριστός, σώζων άπαντας.
All of mortal nature now divinely shineth on this day with the divine Transfiguration ere the time; and in great gladness, she crieth out: Christ is transfigured, and saveth the race of man.
This Martyr was from Antioch, and had been a soldier from the time of the reign of Constantius Chlorus (the father of Saint Constantine the Great) to that of Julian the Apostate. He censured Julian's ungodliness and reminded him that he was the nephew of Saint Constantine the Great, the first Christian Emperor. He reminded him further, that from his tender youth he had been nourished on the milk of piety and instructed in the Faith of Christ, had been a fellow student of Basil the Great and Gregory the Theologian, had been a reader of the Church of Nicomedia, and that he had set all these things at nought and become a transgressor of the promises made in his divine Baptism, and had offered to the idols the adoration that is due to God alone. Reminding the Apostate of all these things and reproving him, he was beheaded in the year 361, having lived altogether 110 years, and been a soldier for more than sixty.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Ο Μάρτυς σου Κύριε, έν τή αθλήσει αυτού, τό στέφος εκομίσατο τής αφθαρσίας, εκ σού τού Θεού ημών, έχων γάρ τήν ισχύν σου, τούς τυράννους καθείλεν, έθραυσε καί δαιμόνων, τά ανίσχυρα θράση, αυτού ταίς ικεσίαις Χριστέ, σώσον τάς ψυχάς ημών.
Thy Martyr, O Lord, in his courageous contest for Thee received the prize of the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since he possessed Thy strength, he cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons' strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by his prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Ως ευσεβείας μάρτυρα, καί αληθή θεόφρονα, η Εκκλησία γεραίρει δοξάζουσα, τούς θείους άθλους σήμερον, τού σοφού Ευσιγνίου, ακαταπαύστως βοώσα, Ταίς αυτού ικεσίαις, τούς δούλους σου συντήρησον Πολυέλεε.
As to a man of godly mind and Martyr for true piety, today the Church doth give honour and glory to the supremely wise Eusignius; and his all-hallowed contests doth she praise, as she ever crieth out: By his prayers, preserve Thy lowly servants, O Thou Who art greatly merciful.
Η Εκκλησία δεν λησμονεί τις άγιες εκείνες χριστιανές γυναίκες, που έγιναν μητέρες κι ανέθρεψαν αγίους άνδρας. Τέτοια είναι η αγία Νόννα η μητέρα του Αγίου Γρηγορίου του Θεολόγου, της οποίας η Εκκλησία σήμερα τιμά την μνήμη. Θησαυρός ατίμητος είναι μια γυναίκα αληθινά χριστιανή, δημιουργός και καλλιτέχνης, που στα χέρια της έχει να πλάση και να σμιλέψη, σαν άγαλμα όχι πηλό και μάρμαρο, μα ζωντανό άνθρωπο και ψυχή του Θεού. Αυτά τα πράγματα δεν τα καταλαβαίνουν δυστυχώς οι άνθρωποι σήμερα και οι γυναίκες παράτησαν το βασίλειό τους, που είναι το σπίτι και η ανατροφή των παιδιών, και βγήκαν να κατακτήσουν δήθεν τη ζωή. Καμμιάς γυναικός τέτοιας το όνομα δεν θα μείνη, η Ιστορία όμως και η Εκκλησία θα μνημονεύουν πάντα με ευλάβεια κι ευγνωμοσύνη τα ονόματα των μητέρων ηρώων κι αγίων. Ένας παιδαγωγός είπε· "Δώστε μου μητέρες και μπορώ να αναμορφώσω τον κόσμο".
Ὁ Ἅγιος Εὐσίγνιος
Γεννήθηκε στὴν Ἀντιόχεια καὶ ἦταν στρατιωτικὸς γιὰ ἑξήντα ὁλόκληρα χρόνια. Στρατεύθηκε ὅταν βασίλευε ὁ Κώνστας ὁ Χλωρός, πατέρας τοῦ Μεγάλου Κωνσταντίνου. Ἔζησε πολλὰ χρόνια καὶ πρόφθασε μέχρι καὶ τὴν βασιλεία τοῦ Ἰουλιανοῦ τοῦ Παραβάτη. Ὅταν κάποτε ὁ βασιλιὰς αὐτὸς ἔφθασε στὴν Ἀντιόχεια, ζήτησε νὰ τὸν δεῖ κάποιος γέροντας στρατιώτης 110 χρονῶν! Ὁ Ἰουλιανὸς ἀπὸ περιέργεια τὸν δέχθηκε, καὶ ἔμεινε ἔκπληκτος ὅταν εἶδε τὸ γέροντα στρατιώτη τόσων χρονῶν νὰ διατηρεῖ ἀλύγιστο τὸ σῶμα του. Διέταξε καὶ τὸν περιποιήθηκαν ὅσο τὸ δυνατὸν καλύτερα. Ἀλλὰ ὁ Εὐσίγνιος δὲν ἱκανοποιήθηκε ἀπ᾿ αὐτὲς τὶς περιποιήσεις τοῦ Ἰουλιανοῦ καὶ τοῦ δήλωσε ὅτι εἶναι χριστιανὸς καὶ ὅτι μάταια προσπαθεῖ νὰ ζωντανέψει ἕνα πτῶμα, ὅπως εἶναι ἡ εἰδωλολατρία. Καὶ ἐπὶ τέλους, νὰ πάψει νὰ διώκει τὸ Χριστό. Ὅταν ἄκουσε αὐτὰ ὁ Ἰουλιανὸς ἐξαγριώθηκε καὶ διέταξε ἀμέσως νὰ τὸν ἀποκεφαλίσουν. Τότε ὁ Εὐσίγνιος, γεμάτος ἀπὸ χαρά, εἶπε: «Εὐχαριστῶ, βασιλιά. Ὁ θάνατος μὲ σεβάστηκε στὸ πεδίο τῶν μαχῶν, γιὰ νὰ μὲ εὕρει τώρα καὶ νὰ μοῦ δώσει τὸ κτύπημα χάριν τοῦ Χριστοῦ. Τέτοιο τέλος εἶναι ἄξιο χριστιανοῦ στρατιώτη, καὶ δοξολογῶ τὸν Ὑψιστο ποὺ εὐδόκησε νὰ μὲ φυλάξει γιὰ τέτοιο τέλος». Ἔτσι ὁ Εὐσίγνιος ἔλαβε τὸν τίμιο θάνατο τοῦ μαρτυρίου μὲ ἀποκεφαλισμό.
Τὰ ἅγια ἀδέλφια Καττίδιος καὶ Καττιδιανός
Μαρτύρησαν διὰ λιθοβολισμοῦ.
Ἡ Ἁγία Νόννα
Ἡ Ἁγία αὐτὴ ἀνήκει στὴ μερίδα τῶν χριστιανῶν γυναικῶν καὶ μητέρων, ποὺ μὲ τὸ φῶς τοῦ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ λάμπρυναν τὸ στερέωμα τῆς χριστιανικῆς Ἱστορίας. Εὐσεβής, ἁγνή, μὲ θερμὴ πίστη, μὲ διαμαντένιο χαρακτῆρα, μὲ πολλὴ μελέτη καὶ ἀκριβὴ γνώση τῶν δογμάτων καὶ τῶν ἐντολῶν τῆς χριστιανικῆς θρησκείας, ἀναδείχτηκε ὁ καλὸς ἄγγελος τοῦ σπιτιοῦ της. Ὁ σύζυγός της Γρηγόριος εἶχε πέσει στὴν αἵρεση τῶν Ὑψισταρίων, ποὺ δεχόταν μονοπρόσωπο τὸν Ὑψιστο καὶ ἀπέρριπτε τὸν Τριαδικὸ Θεό. Ἀλλ᾿ ἡ Νόννα μὲ τὶς προσευχές της καὶ τὴν πειθώ, ποὺ ἐξασκοῦσε μὲ σοφία καὶ στοργή, ἐπανέφερε τὸ σύζυγό της στὸν ὀρθόδοξο δρόμο, γιὰ νὰ ἀναδειχθεῖ στὴ συνέχεια ἕνας ἀπὸ τοὺς πιὸ εὐσεβεῖς ἐπισκόπους της Ἐκκλησίας μας. Ἔπειτα ἡ Νόννα, ἔδειξε τόσο μεγάλη προσοχὴ στὴν ἀνατροφὴ τῶν παιδιῶν της, ὥστε ἀνέδειξε πολύτιμες δυνάμεις καὶ ἔξοχα κοσμήματα τῆς χριστιανικῆς πίστης. Καὶ αὐτὰ ἦταν, ὁ μεγάλος πατέρας τῆς Ἐκκλησίας μας Γρηγόριος ὁ Θεολόγος, ὁ ἄλλος γιός της Καισάριος καὶ ἡ πασίγνωστη -γιὰ τὴν εὐσέβειά της- κόρη της Γοργονία. Ἔτσι ἡ Νόννα ἀποτελεῖ παράδειγμα γιὰ μίμηση στὶς κοινωνίες, ποὺ θέλουν νὰ ἀντλοῦν ἀπὸ τὴν οἰκογένεια χριστιανικὴ τόνωση, καὶ νικηφόρες δυνάμεις κατὰ τῶν ἀσεβῶν δοξασιῶν καὶ τῆς τυραννίας τῶν παθῶν. Ἡ Ἁγία Νόννα ἀπεβίωσε εἰρηνικά.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Σόλεβ ὁ Αἰγύπτιος
Μαρτύρησε διὰ τοξευόμενου βέλους.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Φάβιος (ἢ σωστότερα Φαβιανός) ὁ Ἱερομάρτυρας ἐπίσκοπος Ρώμης
Μαρτύρησε διὰ ξίφους. Στοὺς καταλόγους τῶν παπῶν μεταξὺ τῶν μαρτύρων συγκαταλέγεται ὁ πάπας Φαβιανὸς (236-350), ποὺ μαρτύρησε ἐπὶ Δεκίου τὴν 20η Ἰανουαρίου (Εὐσέβιου Ἐκκλ. Ἱστορία κεφ. κθ´).
Ὁ Ἅγιος Θέρισσος (ἢ Θύρσος) ἐπίσκοπος Καρπασίας
Κύπριος Ἅγιος, ἐπ᾿ ὀνόματι τοῦ ὁποίου σῴζεται καὶ ἀρχαῖος ναὸς κοντὰ στὴ θάλασσα. (Περιττῶς ἐπαναλαμβάνεται ἡ μνήμη του, ἀπὸ ὁρισμένα Ἁγιολόγια, καὶ τὴν 23η Ἰουλίου).
Ὁ Ἅγιος Εὐθύμιος Πατριάρχης Κωνσταντινουπόλεως
Τὴ μνήμη του ἀναγράφει ὁ Γεδεὼν στὸ Ἑορτολόγιό του σελ. 149. Ὁ Εὐθύμιος αὐτὸς εἶναι, ποὺ πατριάρχευσε ἀπὸ τὸ 906-911 καὶ μετὰ τὴν παύση τοῦ Ἀλεξάνδρου, ἀδελφοῦ τοῦ Λέοντος τοῦ Σοφοῦ. Κατόπιν ἀποσύρθηκε στὴ Μονὴ τοῦ Ἀγαθοῦ, ὅπου ἀπεβίωσε εἰρηνικὰ τὴν 5η Αὐγούστου τοῦ 917.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Χρῆστος ἀπὸ τὴν Πρέβεζα
Ὁ ἥρωας αὐτὸς τῆς Ὀρθοδοξίας ἦταν ἀπὸ τὴν Πρέβεζα. Ἂν καὶ ναυτικὸς στὸ ἐπάγγελμα, καθόλου δὲν ἀποξενώθηκε ἀπὸ τὴν χριστιανοπρεπὴ διαγωγή του. Ὅταν κάποτε τὸ πλοῖο στὸ ὁποῖο δούλευε ἔφτασε ἀπὸ τὴν Κρήτη στὸ λιμάνι τῆς Κῶ, ὁ Χρῆστος ἀμέσως ἔτρεξε στὴν Ἐκκλησία, προσευχήθηκε, βρῆκε πνευματικὸ καὶ ἐξομολογήθηκε. Μετὰ ἀπὸ μέρες, ὅταν πήγαινε γιὰ τὸ πλοῖο του, συναντήθηκε μὲ γενίτσαρους, ποὺ ἄρχισαν νὰ τοῦ βρίζουν τὴν πίστη καὶ τὸ ἅγιο βάπτισμα. Ὁ Χρῆστος δὲν φοβήθηκε καὶ ἀπάντησε στοὺς Τούρκους, ὅτι ὁ Μωάμεθ εἶναι ὁ κολασμένος ἀντίχριστος. Γεμάτοι θυμὸ οἱ γενίτσαροι, ὅρμησαν ἐπάνω του καὶ μὲ ἄγρια χτυπήματα τοῦ εἶπαν ν᾿ ἀρνηθεῖ τὴν πίστη του γιὰ νὰ σωθεῖ. Ὁ Χρῆστος ἀπάντησε ἀπαγγέλλοντας τὸ σύμβολο τῆς πίστης. Τότε αὐτοί, τὸν ἔβγαλαν ἔξω ἀπὸ τὴν πόλη καὶ τὸν ἔκαψαν ζωντανό. Οἱ ἄπιστοι ἄφησαν τὸ σῶμα του ἄταφο γιὰ ἕνα μήνα. Ἀλλὰ τὸ λείψανο τοῦ Ἁγίου ἔμεινε ἀναλλοίωτο καὶ στὶς πρῶτες νύχτες τὸ σκέπαζε κάποιο γλυκὸ φῶς, ποὺ προερχόταν ἀπὸ τὸν οὐρανό. Μάλιστα, κατὰ τὸ διάστημα αὐτὸ ἔκανε καὶ πολλὰ θαύματα. Ὅλα αὐτὰ ἔγιναν στὶς 5 Αὐγούστου 1668.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Εὐγένιος ὁ Αἰτωλός
Ὁ Ὅσιος Εὐγένιος Ἰωαννούλιος ἢ Γιαννούλης ὁ Αἰτωλός, γεννήθηκε τὸ 1595 ἢ 1596 στὸ Μέγα Δένδρο Ἀποκούρου ἀπὸ πτωχοὺς γονεῖς. Χειροτονήθηκε διάκονος τὸ 1616 στὴ Μονὴ Τατάρνας καὶ γιὰ μικρὸ χρονικὸ διάστημα παρέμεινε στὴ Μονὴ Ξηροποτάμου τοῦ Ἁγίου Ὄρους. Τὸ 1619 χειροτονήθηκε πρεσβύτερος στὴ Μονὴ Σινᾶ ἀπὸ τὸν τότε Πατριάρχη Ἀλεξανδρείας Κύριλλο Λούκαρη καὶ κατόπιν Οἰκουμενικὸ Πατριάρχη, μὲ τὸν ὁποῖο ἔζησε πολλὲς ταλαιπωρίες γιὰ τὴν προσήλωσή του στὴν Ὀρθοδοξία καὶ γιὰ τὸ ἀδούλωτο πνεῦμα του. Ὁ Εὐγένιος ἔφτασε στὸ σημεῖο, ἀκόμα καὶ νὰ καθαιρεθεῖ ἀπὸ τὸν Τουρκόφιλο καὶ Λατινόφρονα Πατριάρχη Κύριλλο Κοντάρη, ἀλλὰ ἀργότερα, τὸ 1639, ὁ Πατριάρχης Παρθένιος τὸν ἀποκατέστησε πανηγυρικά. Ὁ Ὅσιος Εὐγένιος ἀπὸ τὸ 1639 ὡς τὸ 1640 διηύθυνε τὴν Σχολὴ τῆς Ἄρτᾳς. Ἀργότερα πῆγε στὸ Καρπενήσι, ὅπου ἀνήγειρε μεγαλύτερο ναὸ τῆς Ἁγίας Τριάδος καὶ στὸν περίβολό του Σχολὴ Ἀνωτέρων Γραμμάτων, ποὺ ἔγινε γιὰ τὴν Εὐρυτανία κέντρο πνευματικῆς ἀναγέννησης καὶ ἀναδείχτηκαν ἀπὸ ἐκεῖ πολλοὶ σπουδαῖοι ἄντρες, ὅπως ἐπίσκοποι, Πατριάρχες κλπ. Ἐπίσης ὁ Ὅσιος ἵδρυσε Σχολὲς στὴ Μονὴ Ἁγίας Παρασκευῆς στὰ Βραγιαννὰ καὶ στὸ Αἰτωλικό. Πέθανε τὸ 1682 καὶ τάφηκε στὸ νάρθηκα τῆς Ἁγίας Παρασκευῆς, ἀφήνοντας ἀξιόλογο συγγραφικὸ ἔργο. Ἀπὸ τὴν Ὀρθόδοξη Ἐκκλησία ἁγιοποιήθηκε τὴν 1η Ἰουλίου 1982. (Ἡ μνήμη του ἀναφέρεται τὴν 6η Αὐγούστου, ἀλλ᾿ ἐπειδὴ συμπίπτει μὲ τὴν μεγάλη ἑορτὴ τῆς Μεταμορφώσεως τοῦ Σωτῆρος ἑορτάζεται τὴν 5η Αὐγούστου).
Martyr Eusignius of Antioch (362)
He was a soldier in the Imperial army beginning under the pagan Emperor Maximian. He was a general under Constantine, and saw the Cross that appeared to the Emperor. After sixty years of military service, he retired to his home town and devoted himself to prayer, fasting and good works. A townsman, angry with a judgment that Eusignius had made to settle a dispute, denounced him to Julian the Apostate as a Christian. Summoned before Julian, he vigorously rebuked the Emperor for his apostasy from the Faith; for this he was beheaded, in advanced old age, in 362.
Holy Hieromartyr Fabian, Pope of Rome (250)
He was born in Rome and became a humble village priest; but when he was attending the election of a new Pope, a white dove was seen to descend on him and he was chosen to be Pope. Though humble and gentle, he was fearless for the faith, gathering the bodies of the martyrs, giving them burial, and building churches and shrines over their relics. According to the Prologue, he baptized the Emperor Philip and his son, also named Philip, as well as the senator Pontius; thus there were Christian emperors before St Constantine the Great. When Decius became Emperor, the persecution of Christians returned with terrible force, and Fabian was beheaded.
Righteous Nonna (374), Mother of St Gregory the Theologian
In her own lifetime she was a wonderworker through her holy prayers. She brought her husband back from idolatry to Christian faith; he later became bishop of Nazianzus. Her son Gregory's profound and devout writings bespeak the Christian upbringing she gave him. By her prayers she once saved St Gregory from perishing in a storm. She was a deaconess, and reposed in peace in 374.
The Martyr Eusignios was born at Antioch in the mid III Century. Over the course of sixty years he served in the Roman armies of the emperors Diocletian, Maximian Hercules, Constantius Chlorus, Constantine the Great and his sons. Saint Eusignios was a companion of Saint Basiliskos (Comm. 3 March and 22 May), and he provided an account of his deed of martyrdom (+ c. 308). At the beginning of the reign of Saint Constantine the Great, Saint Eusignios was a witness to the appearance in the sky of the starry Cross, a prediction of victory. Saint Eusignios retired in his old age from military service and returned to his own country. There he spent his time in prayer, fasting, and attending the temple of God. And thus he lived until the reign of Julian the Apostate (361-363), who yearned for a return to paganism. Through the denunciation of one of the Antioch citizens, Saint Eusignios stood trial as a Christian before the emperor Julian in the year 362. He fearlessly accused the emperor of apostacy from Christ, and reproached him with the example of his relative, Constantine the Great, and he described in detail how he himself had been an eyewitness to the appearance in the sky of the sign of the Cross. Julian did not spare the quite old Saint Eusignios, then 110 years old, but rather ordered him beheaded.
The Monk Job of Ushel'sk was a monk of the Solovetsk monastery (his father was named Patrikii Mazovsky). On 10 November 1608 he was ordained to the dignity of priestmonk by the Novgorod metropolitan Isidor. In 1614 the Monk Job was sent to the Mezensk frontier, where at the confluence into the River Mezen' of the Rivers Ezeg and Vazhka he set up a chapel in honour of the Nativity of Christ. The first monks gathering to him lived at the homes of their own lay-kinsmen, so poor was the monastery. After tsar Mikhail Feodorovich (1613-1645) conferred lands with fishing rights, the monk built a church and monastic cells. On 5 August 1628, when all the brethren were off making hay, robbers attacked the monastery. After terrible tortures in their demands for him to open the monastery treasury, the robbers beheaded the Monk Job. Finding nothing at all, they fled. The brethren upon returning buried the body of the monkmartyr with honour. Local reverence of the Monk Job as a saint of God began soon after his death, because of numerous miracles (in the XVII Century about 50 such were known of). The first icon was written in 1658, and his vita-life in the 1660's. And about this time a chapel was built over the relics of the monk, and rebuilt afterwards by blessing of the Kholmogorsk archbishop Athanasii as a church in honour of the same-name saint Righteous Job the Much-Suffering (Comm. 6 May; and on this day the Church has established to also remember the Monk Job of Ushel'sk). On 3 November 1739 the relics of the Monk Job were witnessed to by archbishop Varsonophii, with in evidence the singing of a molieben to the saint. Thus there was made his glorification. The image of the Monk Job is written thus: "Similarly greyed, a beard like Alexander of Svirsk, in the garb of the monastic schemamonk, and in his hands a scroll upon which is written: "Fear not those murdering of the body, the soul they cannot kill"".
The Martyr Pontius lived during the III Century, the son of a pagan Roman senator named Marcus and his wife Julia. While with child, Julia had gone with her husband to the pagan temple of Jupiter. The devil, inhabiting the temple, shouted from the lips of the pagan priest that the boy in Julia's womb would destroy Jupiter and his pagan temple. When the boy was born, his mother wanted to kill him out of fear of the prediction, but his father opposed this and the child was left to live. He was named Pontius, and he grew up sharp of mind and keen for study. On his way to the pagan school Pontius happened to go past an house, where Christians were making the morning Divine-services. Hearing the words of the psalm which the Christians were singing: "pagan idols be silver and gold, the works of the hands of men..." (Ps. 113: 12 [115: 4]). Pontius became very interested in this verse and he paused at the gate. Pope Pontian, who was making the service, invited Pontius and his companion Valerian to come in. After the service, the pope talked for a long while with the youths, revealing to them the Gospel teachings, and after a certain while he baptised them. Saint Pontius in turn likewise converted his father to Christ, whom Pope Pontian also baptised, together with his whole household. And after the death of his father, Saint Pontius, then 20 years old, was appointed by the emperor Alexander Severus (222-235) as a senator, to take the place of his deceased father. In the Senate and the surroundings of the emperor, Saint Pontius enjoyed universal esteem for his good nature, sound sense and fairness. Under the successor to the emperor Alexander Severus -- Maximian (235-238), Pope Saint Pontian finished his life as a martyr (+ 235).
Pope Saint Antherus was elected Bishop of Rome in place of Pope Saint Pontian, and he too soon accepted suffering and death for Christ (+ 236). His successor was Pope Saint Fabian (Fabius), who as a presbyter fearlessly gave burial to the bodies of martyrs. Pope Saint Fabian loved Saint Pontius as though he were his own flesh and blood son. Saint Pontius distributed with Saint Fabian all his substance on the needs of the poor. After the perishing of impious Maximian, the new emperor Gordian (238-244) did not persecute Christians, and thereafter in turn the emperor Philip (244-249) together with his co-regent son Philip was persuaded by the conversations and preaching of Saint Pontius to believe in Christ and to accept Baptism from holy Pope Fabian. With the permission of the emperors, Saints Pontius and Fabian threw down the statue of Jupiter at the pagan temple and on this place built a church. For 4 years the Church of Christ dwelt in peace and tranquility. But then Decius (249-251) ascended the throne, having organised a rebellion and murdered the emperor Philip and his son. And during this time Sainted Fabian, Pope of Rome (+ 250), accepted death for Christ. But Saint Pontius left Rome for the city of Cimelum (on the border of Italy and Gaul-France) and lived there like a stranger. During the time of the emperor Valerian (253-259), cruel torturers were sent out with full authority to all ends to seek out and kill all Christians. And thus Claudius and Anubius arrived in the city of Cimelum for this purpose. Saint Pontius fearlessly confessed himself a Christian and refused to offer sacrifice to idols. They shackled him in irons and threw him in prison. From the very beginning of the torture the saint calmly admonished the torturers, that the Lord would bring to naught the torture and they would see the power of God. And indeed, as soon as the servants attempted to tie Saint Pontius to the rack, it fell apart to pieces, and the torturers fell to the ground as though dead.
"Be convinced, O man of little faith, in the power of my Lord", -- said Saint Pontius to Claudius, but on the advice of Anubius he gave Saint Pontius over to be devoured by two bears in the circus. The wild beasts, while not touching the saint, fell instead upon their keepers and tore at them. The spectators began to shout: "God only is the Christian God, in Whom believeth Pontius". By order of the torturers a bon-fire was built, but it burnt out, and the saint remained alive, and even his clothes did not burn. The crowd shouted all the more strongly: "Great is the God of the Christians!" Saint Pontius then was sentenced to beheading by the sword, and the execution was made out beyond the city in the year 257. The body of Saint Pontius was given burial at the place of execution by his comrade and friend Valerian.
Saint Nonna, the mother of Sainted Gregory the Theologian (i.e. Gregory of Nazianzus, + 25 January 389), was the daughter of Christians named Philotatos and Gorgonia. Saint Nonna was also an aunt of Sainted Amphylokhios, Bishop of Iconium (Comm. 23 November). Her parents raised her in Christian piety. Saint Nonna entered into marriage with Gregory of Arianzus, the rich landowner of an estate in the Arianzus and Nazianzus districts. The marriage was advantageous by earthly considerations, but grievous for the pious soul of Nonna. Her husband Gregory of Arianzus was a pagan, a follower of the sect of the Supremists (Hypsistarii), under which he venerated a supreme god and observed certain Jewish rituals, while at the same time he worshipped fire. Pious Nonna prayed much, that her spouse should turn to the holy truth. Saint Nonna's son, Saint Gregory the Theologian, wrote thus about this: "This was something she could not calmly bear, that the one half be conjoined with God, whilst the other part itself -- should remain apart from God. On the contrary, she wanted, that to the fleshly union there should also apply a spiritual union. Wherefore both day and night she recoursed to God, with fasting and many a tear she besought Him to grant the salvation of her husband". Through the prayers of Saint Nonna, her husband Gregory had a dream vision in his sleep. "It seemed to my father, -- writes Saint Gregory, -- as though he (which never before had he done, though many a time his wife had sought and asked it), it seemed as though he was singing the following verse of David: I was glad when they said of me, let us go into the house of the Lord (Ps. 121 : 1). The singing itself was unprecedented, and moreover with the singing was actually the desire to do so! When she heard about this, it was the fulfilling of her wish, and profiting the moment, she explained the vision to good effect, and in which was the complete truth". The elder Gregory went to the First OEcumenical Council at Nicea, where he made known his conversion to Christ. And he was ordained presbyter and then bishop of Nazianzus and devoted himself totally to the Church. At the same time as his ordination to bishop, his spouse Saint Nonna was made a deaconness. With the same zeal with which she had raised her children, she now occupied herself in performing works of charity.
"She knew, -- says Saint Gregory the Theologian, -- one thing to be truly noble -- to be pious and to know, from whence we have come and whither we go; and that there is one innate and trusty wealth -- to use up one's substance on God and on the poor, especially the impoverished kindred.
If one woman be distinguished for frugality, and another for piety, it being difficult to combine both qualities, then she however excelled all both in the one and in the other, and in each she attained the height of perfection, and she had both combined as one in her. In her, the one quality could not suffer impairment without the other, but rather each the other sustained. What time and place of prayer ever eluded her? On this daily was her very first thought. Better it be said, who, in setting about praying, had such trust to receive the besought? But even more amazing is this, that she, although she might be powerfully shaken by sorrows, even those of strangers, yet never did she give herself over to hollow wailing to the extent, that the voice of sorrow should win out over thanksgiving, or that the tears should fall endlessly, secretly sealing their mark, or with the onset of the bright feast to remain in garb of sorrow, though there befell her repeatedly many a sorrow. Wherein for the soul, out of a characteristic love for God, everything human was made subject to the Divine. I refrain from speaking about her deeds more secret, which God alone hath witnessed and about which perhaps knew her faithful servants, being in this her confidants".
The final years brought Saint Nonna many a sorrow. In the year 368 died her younger son Caesarius, a young man, of brilliant expectations; and in the following year died her daughter. The brave old woman bore these losses with a submission to the will of God.
In the year 370 bishop Gregory, then already an old man already up in age, participated in the ordination of Saint Basil the Great as Bishop of Caesarea. Saint Nonna, who was somewhat younger than her husband, was likewise readied to enter into the next life, but through the prayers of her beloved son was prolonged her time on earth. "My mother, -- wrote her son, -- always was strong and brave, all her life she never complained of infirmities; but sickness had befallen her. From many a suffering, not mincing words, the least oppressive -- was an aversion to food, continuing for many days and untreatable by any of the doctors. How then did God sustain her? He did not send down manna, as to Israel of old; He did not split open a rock, for a spring of water to issue forth for the thirsty people; not through rambling words, as with Elias, not through a prophetic ecstasy, as once with Daniel, languishing with hunger in the pit. But then in what form? It seemed to her that I, her especially beloved son (she presupposed me in her sleep to be no one else), that I had appeared to her suddenly by night with a basket of the whitest bread, and then having pronounced prayer over these loaves and blessing them with the Sign of the Cross, as is our custom, I gave her to eat, and with this her strength returned and increased. And this night-time vision was for her something that actually happened, since she became herself again and was no longer an hopeless case. And what happened with her became apparent in a clear and evident manner. With the break of day I had gone to her early in the morning, and for the first time saw her in her former fine condition, and so I chanced as usual to ask: how was her night and did she need anything? Without a bit of hesitation quite fluently she said: "Thou thyself, beloved son, hath fed me and now thou dost ask about my health. O, how good and caring thou art!" At this moment her attendants motioned to me by gestures, that I should not contradict her, but I have taken her words at face value and so that the actual truth should not distress her".
Early in the year 374 reposed the hundred year old elder bishop Gregory. Saint Nonna, after this almost never emerging from the church, soon after his death died at prayer in the temple on 5 August 374.
Sainted Theoktist, Bishop of Chernigov, prior to entering upon the cathedra-chair, pursued an ascetic life at the Kievo-Pechersk monastery. He was among the number of the great startsi-elders, healing by prayer the Monk Nikita, afterwards Sainted Bishop of Novgorod (Comm. 31 January). In the year 1103 Saint Theoktist was made hegumen of the Kievo-Pechersk monastery. In the year 1108 he built on the means of pious prince Gleb Vseslavich a stone refectory. Saint Theoktist particularly insisted, that the name of the Monk Theodosii (Feodosii, Comm. 3 May), be included in the synodikon of the saints of all Russia. In the year 1110, on 11 February, there was an heavenly apparition at the Pechersk monastery: a pillar of fire from the ground to the sky appeared and lightning lighted up all the earth, and at the 1st hour of the night there was the crash of thunder; the fiery pillar stood over the stone refectory so that its cross was not visible; afterwards it proceeded to the church and settled over the grave of the Monk Theodosii, and then, turning to the East, it disappeared. "This was not a pillar of fire, but rather an angelic face, -- wrote the Monk Nestor the Chronicler, -- because an angel appears thus, when there is a pillar of fire, a flaming, as says the Prophet David: Who maketh His angels spirits and His servants flames of fire" (Ps. 103 : 4). In the year 1113 Saint Theoktist was ordained Bishop of Chernigov. The PriestMartyr Monk Kuksha (Comm. 27 August), enlightening at this time the Vyatichi, belonging to the Chernigov diocese. On 2 May 1115 Saint Theoktist participated in the transfer of the relics of holy Princes Boris and Gleb to Vyshgorod, and later in Chernigov near his cathedral he consecrated a church in the name of the holy Princes Boris and Gleb, erected in the year 1120 by prince David of Chernigov. And to the noble Prince Passion-Bearers Boris and Gleb the saint made a sermon on the day of their memory. On 6 august 1123, the feast of the Transfiguration, Saint Theoktist died, and because of the feastday, his memory is made on 5 August. On one of the lists of the Saints it is said, that he was buried at the Pechersk monastery. For the memory of Saint Theoktist believers resort also to 28 September, when he is remembered in the 9th ode of the Canon of the Sobor-Assemblage of the Monastic Fathers of the Nearer Caves.
THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:
1. THE HOLY MARTYR EUSIGNIUS
Eusignius served as a soldier under Emperor Maximian, Emperor Constantine the Great and under Constantine's sons. He was present during the torturing of the holy female martyr Basiliscus [May 22]. He saw myriads of angels and the Lord Jesus Himself as He received the soul of this holy martyr from the angels. Eusignius fought under Emperor Constantine and saw the Cross which appeared to the emperor. He served in the army for sixty full years and during the reign of Constantine's sons resigned from military service and settled in Antioch, the place of his birth. There, he lived a god-pleasing life in fasting, prayer and good works. During the time of Julian the Apostate, two men who were arguing on the street asked him to be their judge. He dispensed justice to the correct one and the man at fault became angry and went to the emperor and accused Eusignius of being a Christian. The emperor summoned Eusignius to court but he strongly denounced the emperor for his apostasy from the Faith and reproached him with the shining example of Constantine the Great. The enraged Julian ordered that he be beheaded. Eusignius was martyred at a ripe old age in the year 362 A.D. and took up habitation in the Kingdom of Heaven.
2. THE PRIESTLY-MARTYR FABIAN, POPE OF ROME
Fabian was a Roman by birth. At first, he was a village priest and, after that, during the election of a pope, when a white dove descended upon him, he was chosen pope. Fabian was meek and kind. With great diligence, he gathered the bodies of the holy martyrs and buried them with honor and built churches over their graves. In the same manner, he built shrines and chapels in the caves where the martyrs hid during the time of bitter persecution. He baptized Emperor Philip and his son Philip, the heir to the throne and, with the help of the baptized senator Pontius, destroyed many idols and idolatrous temples. When the wicked Decius was crowned emperor, a terrible persecution of Christians began during which St. Fabian suffered and was beheaded in the year 250 A.D. This holy Fabian established the custom of consecrating Holy Myron [Chrism] on Holy and Great Thursday.
3. THE HOLY MARTYR PONTIUS, THE SENATOR
Pontius was the son of Senator Marcus and his wife Julia. The barren Julia conceived after twenty-two years of marriage and gave birth to Pontius. He was baptized by Pope Pontian along with his friend Valerius, his biographer, and succeeded to convert his father Marcus, the Emperor Philip with his son and many other distinguished Romans to the Faith of Christ. As a senator, he greatly protected and assisted the Church and was a good friend of Pope Fabian. When the persecution began under Decius, Pontius escaped from Rome and hid in the foothills of the Alpine mountains [Cimella Cimez, France]. During the reigns of Valerian and Galiena he was captured and subjected to harsh tortures during which many miracles of God were manifested and many converted to Christ. There happened to be many Jews there who cried out to the judge: "Kill him, kill him immediately, this magician." To this, St. Pontius raised his hands to heaven and said: "I thank You my God that the Jews even cry out against me as their fathers did once cried out against Christ: 'Crucify Him, crucify Him.' " Pontius was beheaded in the year 257 A.D. and was buried by his friend Valerius.
4. SAINT NONNA
Nonna was the mother of St. Gregory the Theologian. As a Christian, she possessed powerful and miracle-working prayer. By her prayer to God, she converted her husband from heathen stupidity to the Christian Faith. Her husband Gregory later became a bishop in the town of Nazianzus. By prayer Nonna saved her son Gregory the Theologian from a storm. She died peacefully as a deaconess in the year 374 A.D.
HYMN OF PRAISE
THE HOLY MARTYR PONTIUS
Pontius, with his companion Valerian, walked,
But, with sorrow, his heart was overcome.
His father, a senator, his mother also a senator,
But, a bitter enigma, torments his soul;
All worldly wisdom, a fable, to him seemed,
O, where is truth? Truth, he asked for.
Thus, both walked, absorbed in thought
At eventide, along side a Christian church;
Into the church entered and beheld glowing,
Beheld glowing and heard chanting:
Of silver and gold, the gods of the people are
And eyes, have they blind as mud, are they
And ears, have they deaf as a rock are they,
And mouths, have they but the mouths are mute.
Weaker than oneself, the weak ones created,
That is why their creator, as such will also be
And all of them in order, that to them bow down
And foolishly hope in lifeless things
Two sorrowful young men, two slaves of the idols,
Heard these words, both trembled,
Then, the image [icon] of Christ, approached,
To the honorable priest, entrusted their hearts,
What the truth faith is, the priest told them,
And idolatrous service, what it is: vacuous and bloody.
Into the church entered, two young noblemen,
Renown and respected throughout the city of Rome,
Into the church entered, sad and sorrowful,
From the church departed, radiant and joyful.
This is how Valerian begins the biography of his companion, St. Pontius: "Who can believe, if God does not grant it? Who can lead a life of asceticism, if the Lord does not help? Who can receive the wreath of martyrdom, if Christ does not give it?" God can do all and God wills all that is for the salvation of men, if only men pray to Him. By prayer, St. Nonna converted her husband Gregory and her son, Gregory the Theologian, to Christianity. By prayer, Monica brought Augustine back from a wayward life to the path of good works and faith. By prayer, St. Basil converted his teacher Evulios. By prayer, King Hezekiah prolonged his life for fifteen years. By prayer, St. Simeon the Stylite turned back the Persians and Scythians that they not attack the land of Greece with an army already prepared. Furthermore, all the stars in the heavens will be more readily counted then all the miracles worked on earth by prayer.
To contemplate the miraculous strength of Samson (Judges 14):
1. How the Spirit of the Lord came upon him so that he was able to tear lions apart with his hands and to snap the rope by which he was bound and slew many Philistines;
2. How the Spirit of the Lord withdrew from him [Samson] when he confided the secret of his strength to a heathen woman [Delilah] and was then slain [Judges 16].
About how God whitens the repentant sinners
"Though your sins be like scarlet, they may be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool" (Isaiah 1:18).
O, the boundless mercy of God! In His greatest wrath upon the faithless and ungrateful people, upon the people "laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters" (Isaiah 1:4), as "princes [rulers] of Sodom" (Isaiah 1:10) and upon the people who have become as the "people of Gomorrah" (Isaiah 1:10) - in such wrath, the Lord does not abandon mercy but rather calls them to repentance. Just as after terrible lightnings, a gentle rain falls. Such is the Lord long-suffering [patient] and full of mercy and "neither will He keep His anger forever" (Psalm 103:9). Only if sinners cease to commit evil and learn to do good and turn to God with humility and repentance they will become "white as snow." The Lord is mighty and willing. No one, except Him, is able to cleanse the sinful soul of man from sin and, by cleansing, to whiten it. No matter how often linen is washed in water with ashes and soap, no matter how often it is washed and rewashed, it cannot receive whiteness until it is spread under the light of the sun. Thus, our soul cannot become white, no matter how often we cleanse it by our own effort and labor even with the help of all legal means of the law until we, at last, bring it beneath the feet of God, spread out and opened wide so that the light of God illumines it and whitens it. The Lord condones and even commends all of our labor and effort, i.e., He wants us to bathe our soul in tears, by repentance to constrain it by the pangs of the conscience to press it, to clothe it with good deeds and in the end of ends, He calls us to Him: "Come now," says the Lord, "and let us reason together" (Isaiah 1:18). That is, I will look at you and I will see if there is Me in you and you will look upon Me as in a mirror and you will see what kind of person you are.
O Lord, slow to anger, have mercy on us before the last wrath of that Dreadful Day.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.