FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:
Dormition of St. Anna, mother of the Theotokos
Olympias the Deaconess
Eupraxia & Julia the Righteous of Tabenna
Ἡ Κοίμησις τῆς Ἁγίας Ἄννης, μητρός τῆς Ὑπεραγίας Θεοτόκου καί τῶν Ὁσίων Γυναικῶν Ὀλυμπιάδος καί Εὐπραξίας.
Τοῦ Ἁγίου Γρηγορίου, Μητροπολίτου Ἡρακλείας, τοῦ Καλλίδου.
READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:
The Reading is from St. Paul's Letter to the Galatians 4:22-27
BRETHREN, Abraham had two sons, one by a slave and one by a free woman. But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, the son of the free woman through promise. Now this is an allegory: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written, "Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and shout, you who are not in travail; for the children of the desolate one are many more than the children of her that is married."
Πρὸς Γαλάτας 4:22-27
Ἀδελφοί, Ἀβραὰμ δύο υἱοὺς ἔσχεν· ἕνα ἐκ τῆς παιδίσκης, καὶ ἕνα ἐκ τῆς ἐλευθέρας. Ἀλλʼ ὁ μὲν ἐκ τῆς παιδίσκης κατὰ σάρκα γεγέννηται, ὁ δὲ ἐκ τῆς ἐλευθέρας διὰ τῆς ἐπαγγελίας. Ἅτινά ἐστιν ἀλληγορούμενα· αὗται γάρ εἰσιν δύο διαθῆκαι· μία μὲν ἀπὸ ὄρους Σινᾶ, εἰς δουλείαν γεννῶσα, ἥτις ἐστὶν Ἅγαρ. Τὸ γὰρ Ἅγαρ Σινᾶ ὄρος ἐστὶν ἐν τῇ Ἀραβίᾳ, συστοιχεῖ δὲ τῇ νῦν Ἱερουσαλήμ, δουλεύει δὲ μετὰ τῶν τέκνων αὐτῆς. Ἡ δὲ ἄνω Ἱερουσαλὴμ ἐλευθέρα ἐστίν, ἥτις ἐστὶν μήτηρ πάντων ἡμῶν· γέγραπται γάρ, Εὐφράνθητι, στεῖρα, ἡ οὐ τίκτουσα· ῥῆξον καὶ βόησον, ἡ οὐκ ὠδίνουσα· ὅτι πολλὰ τὰ τέκνα τῆς ἐρήμου μᾶλλον ἢ τῆς ἐχούσης τὸν ἄνδρα.
The Reading is from Luke 8:16-21
The Lord said, "No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a vessel, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hid that shall not be made manifest, nor anything secret that shall not be known and come to light. Take heed then how you hear; for to him who has will more be given, and from him who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away."
Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him for the crowd. And he was told, "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you." But he said to them, "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it."
Κατὰ Λουκᾶν 8.16-21
Εἶπεν ὁ Κύριος· Οὐδεὶς δὲ λύχνον ἅψας καλύπτει αὐτὸν σκεύει ἢ ὑποκάτω κλίνης τίθησιν, ἀλλ᾿ ἐπὶ λυχνίας ἐπιτίθησιν, ἵνα οἱ εἰσπορευόμενοι βλέπωσι τὸ φῶς.οὐ γάρ ἐστι κρυπτὸν ὃ οὐ φανερὸν γενήσεται, οὐδὲ ἀπόκρυφον ὃ οὐ γνωσθήσεται καὶ εἰς φανερὸν ἔλθῃ.βλέπετε οὖν πῶς ἀκούετε· ὃς γὰρ ἐὰν ἔχῃ, δοθήσεται αὐτῷ, καὶ ὃς ἐὰν μὴ ἔχῃ, καὶ ὃ δοκεῖ ἔχειν ἀρθήσεται ἀπ᾿ αὐτοῦ. Παρεγένοντο δὲ πρὸς αὐτὸν ἡ μήτηρ καὶ οἱ ἀδελφοὶ αὐτοῦ, καὶ οὐκ ἠδύναντο συντυχεῖν αὐτῷ διὰ τὸν ὄχλον.καὶ ἀπηγγέλη αὐτῷ λεγόντων· ἡ μήτηρ σου καὶ οἱ ἀδελφοί σου ἑστήκασιν ἔξω ἰδεῖν σε θέλοντες.ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπε πρὸς αὐτούς· μήτηρ μου καὶ ἀδελφοί μου οὗτοί εἰσιν οἱ τὸν λόγον τοῦ Θεοῦ ἀκούοντες καὶ ποιοῦντες αὐτόν.
READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:
Τῇ ΚΕ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, Μνήμη τῆς Κοιμήσεως τῆς Ἁγίας Ἄννης, μητρὸς τῆς Ὑπεραγίας Θεοτόκου.
Μήτηρ τελευτᾷ Μητροπαρθένου Κόρης,
Ἡ τῶν κυουσῶν μητέρων σωτηρία.
Πέμπτῃ ἐξεβίωσε μογοστόκος εἰκάδι Ἄννα.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τῶν Ἁγίων 165 Πατέρων, τῶν ἐν τῇ πέμπτῃ Οἰκουμενικῇ Συνόδῳ συνελθόντων καὶ τὰ Ὠριγένους δόγματα καθελόντων.
Λόγοι Βελίαρ οἱ λόγοι Ὠριγένους,
Οὕσπερ καθεῖλον προσκυνηταὶ τοῦ Λόγου.
Ταῖς αὐτῶν ἁγίαις πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεός, ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.
According to tradition, Anna, the ancestor of God, lived for sixty-nine years, and her spouse Joachim, for eighty; according to one account, Saint Joachim died two years before Saint Anna. The Theotokos had been orphaned of both her parents already when she was eleven years of age, when she was living in the Temple (see Sept. 8 and Nov. 21). Saint Anna is invoked for conceiving children, and for help in difficult childbirth.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Ζωήν τήν κυήσασαν, εκυοφόρησας, αγνήν Θεομήτορα, θεόφρον Άννα, διό πρός λήξιν ουράνιον, ένθα ευφραινομένων, κατοικία εν δόξη, χαίρουσα νύν μετέστης, τοίς τιμώσί σε πόθω, πταισμάτων αιτουμένη, ιλασμόν αειμακάριστε.
O Godly-minded Anna, thou didst give birth unto God's pure Mother who conceived Him Who is our Life. Wherefore, thou hast now passed with joy to thy heavenly rest, wherein is the abode of them that rejoice in glory; and thou askest forgiveness of sins for them that honour thee with love, O ever-blessed one.
Kontakion in the Second Tone
Προγόνων Χριστού, τήν μνήμην εορτάζομεν, τήν τούτων πιστώς, αιτούμενοι βοήθειαν, τού ρυσθήναι άπαντας, από πάσης θλίψεως, τούς κραυγάζοντας, ο Θεός γενού μεθ' ημών, ο τούτους δοξάσας ως ηυδόκησας.
We celebrate now the mem'ry of Christ's ancestors, while asking their help with faith, that we may all be saved from all manner of tribulation as we fervently cry aloud: Be thou with us, O Lord our God, Whose pleasure it was to glorify them both.
Σήμερα η Εκκλησία γιορτάζει την μνήμη της οσίας Ολυμπιάδος. Η οσία Ολυμπιάς, αμέσως μετά το γάμο της έμεινε χήρα κι αφιέρωσεν έπειτα όλη της τη ζωή και την περιουσία στην υπηρεσία των πτωχών. Η Εκκλησία την ετίμησε με το αξίωμα τότε της "διακονίσσης", για να υπηρετεί επίσημα και υπεύθυνα στο φιλανθρωπικό της έργο. Έγινε το δεξί χέρι του αγίου Ιωάννου του Χρυσοστόμου στην διοργάνωση του της διακονίας των πτωχών. Σε δέκα επτά επιστολές, που της έστειλεν ο άγιος Χρυσόστομος από την εξορία, βλέπομε τις αρετές, την αγιότητα και την αφοσίωση της οσίας αυτής γυναικός. Οι εχθροί του αγίου Χρυσοστόμου την εδίωξαν και αυτήν κι απέθανε στην εξορία, "πλήρης αγαθών έργων και ελεημοσυνών". Η ζωή της οσίας Ολυμπιάδος διδάσκει όλες τις χριστιανές χήρες πώς να τιμήσουν την χηρεία τους, δίνοντας νόημα και περιεχόμενο στη ζωή τους, με την άσκηση της φιλανθρωπίας.
Ἡ Κοίμησις τῆς Ἁγίας Ἄννας, Μητέρας τῆς Ὑπεραγίας Θεοτόκου
Ἡ Ἁγία Ἄννα, ἡ μητέρα τῆς Ὑπεραγίας Θεοτόκου, καταγόταν ἀπὸ τὴν φυλὴ τοῦ Λευΐ. Ὁ πατέρας της, ποὺ ἦταν ἱερέας, ὀνομαζόταν Ματθᾶν καὶ ἡ μητέρα της Μαρία. Ἡ Ἄννα εἶχε καὶ δυὸ ἀδελφές, τὴν ὁμώνυμη μὲ τὴν μητέρα της Μαρία καὶ τὴν Σοβήν. Καὶ ἡ μὲν Μαρία εἶχε κόρη τὴν Σαλώμη, ἡ δὲ Σοβὴ τὴν Ἐλισάβετ. Καὶ ἡ Ἄννα τὴν Παρθένο Μαρία. Ἡ Ἁγία Ἄννα ἀξιώθηκε νὰ ἔχει τὴν μεγάλη τιμὴ καὶ εὐτυχία νὰ ἀποκτήσει μοναδικὴ κόρη, τὴν μητέρα του Σωτῆρα τοῦ κόσμου. Ἀφοῦ ἡ Ἅγια Ἄννα ἀπογαλάκτισε τὴν Θεοτόκο καὶ τὴν ἀφιέρωσε στὸ Θεό, αὐτὴ πέρασε τὴν ὑπόλοιπη ζωή της μὲ νηστεῖες, προσευχὲς καὶ ἐλεημοσύνες πρὸς τοὺς φτωχούς. Τέλος, εἰρηνικὰ παρέδωσε στὸ Θεὸ τὴν δίκαια ψυχή της, κληρονομώντας τὰ αἰώνια ἀγαθά. Διότι ὁ ἴδιος ὁ Κύριος διαβεβαίωσε ὅτι «οἱ δίκαιοι εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον ἀπελεύσονται». Οἱ δίκαιοι, δηλαδή, θὰ μεταβοῦν γιὰ νὰ ἀπολαύσουν ζωὴ αἰώνια.
Οἱ Ἅγιοι 165 Πατέρες τῆς Ε´ Οἰκουμενικῆς Συνόδου
Στὰ χρόνια τοῦ Βασιλιᾶ Ἰουστινιανοῦ Α´ τὸ ἔτος 535, Πατριάρχης Κωνσταντινουπόλεως ἦταν ὁ Ἄνθιμος ὁ Τραπεζούντιος, ποὺ ὑποστήριζε τὶς αἱρετικὲς θεωρίες τοῦ Εὐτυχοῦς. Ἔτσι ἀπομακρύνθηκε ἀπὸ τὸν Πατριαρχικὸ θρόνο καὶ ἀντ᾿ αὐτοῦ χειροτονήθηκε Πατριάρχης, ἀπὸ τὸν τότε Πάπα Ρώμης Ἀγαπητό, ὁ Πρεσβύτερος τῆς Ἐκκλησίας στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη Μηνᾷς. Μὲ τὴν ἀφορμὴ λοιπὸν αὐτή, ἐπαναστάτησαν οἱ Σεβῆρος καὶ Πέτρος ὁ Ἀπαμείας, ποὺ ἦταν ἄνθρωποι αἱρετικοὶ καὶ συνιστοῦσαν τὰ βλάσφημα δόγματα τοῦ Ὠριγένη. Ὁπότε ἐπικράτησε μεγάλη ταραχὴ στὴν Ἐκκλησία. Ἔτσι ὁ βασιλιὰς Ἰουστινιανὸς συγκάλεσε στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη Σύνοδο ἀπὸ 165 Ἁγίους Πατέρες, μὲ τὴν προεδρία τοῦ Πατριάρχη Μηνᾷ καὶ ἀναθεμάτισαν τοὺς προαναφερθέντες αἱρετικούς, καθὼς καὶ τοὺς ὀπαδούς τους. Ἀπὸ τότε ἡ Ἐκκλησία γιορτάζει τὴν ἀνάμνηση τῆς Συνόδου αὐτῆς πρὸς δόξαν Θεοῦ.
Ἡ Ὁσία Ὀλυμπιάδα ἡ Διακόνισσα
Ἡ Ὀλυμπιάδα ἔζησε στὰ χρόνια τῶν Πατριαρχῶν Νεκταρίου καὶ ἁγίου Ἰωάννου τοῦ Χρυσοστόμου (395 μ.Χ.). Ὁ πατέρας της Ἀκούνδος εἶχε τὸ ἀξίωμα τοῦ κόμητος. Κατ᾿ ἄλλους ὅμως ὀνομαζόταν Σέλευκος. Ἡ Ὀλυμπιάδα εἶχε μεγάλη σωματικὴ ὡραιότητα, εὐφυΐα, παιδεία, καὶ πολλὰ πλούτη. Παντρεύτηκε τὸν ἔπαρχο Κωνσταντινουπόλεως Νευρίδιο, ἀλλ᾿ αὐτὸς μετὰ ἀπὸ λίγο χρόνο πέθανε καὶ ἔτσι ἡ Ὀλυμπιάδα ἔμεινε χήρα σὲ πολὺ μικρὴ ἡλικία. Ὁ αὐτοκράτωρ Θεοδόσιος προσπάθησε νὰ τὴν πείσει νὰ πάρει δεύτερο ἄνδρα, κάποιο ἀξιωματοῦχο Ἐλπίδιο. Αὐτὴ ὅμως, τιμώντας τὴν μνήμη τοῦ ἄντρα της καὶ φλεγόμενη ἀπὸ τὸν πόθο νὰ ὑπηρετήσει τὴν Ἐκκλησία μὲ τὰ πλούτη της, ἀπέῤῥιψε τὸ δεύτερο γάμο. Ἀφοσιώθηκε λοιπὸν στὸ μέγα ἀρχιεπίσκοπο Κωνσταντινουπόλεως Ἰωάννη τὸ Χρυσόστομο καὶ γεμάτη ἐνθουσιασμὸ ἔδωσε στὴν ἀρχιεπισκοπή του χιλιάδες χρυσὰ νομίσματα καὶ κτήματα. Μέσα στὴν Ἐκκλησία εἶχε τὸν τίτλο τῆς Διακόνισσας. Ἵδρυσε μάλιστα καὶ μοναστήρι, κοντὰ στὸ ναὸ τῆς ἁγίας Εἰρήνης. Ἀργότερα, ὅταν ὁ Χρυσόστομος ἐξορίστηκε, ἡ Ὀλυμπιάδα ἔπεσε σὲ βαθὺ πένθος. Γιὰ νὰ τὴν παρηγορήσει ὁ μέγας ἱεράρχης, τῆς ἔστειλε ἀρκετὲς ἐπιστολὲς (σῴζονται 17). Πέθανε ἐξορισμένη στὴ Νικομήδεια, μόλις 50 ἐτῶν, λίγο μετὰ ἀπὸ τὸ θάνατο τοῦ ἱεροῦ Χρυσοστόμου.
Ἡ Ὁσία Εὐπραξία
Ἡ Ἁγία αὐτὴ ἦταν κόρη τοῦ συγκλητικοῦ Ἀντίγονου καὶ τῆς Εὐπραξίας (ἡ Ἅγια εἶχε τὸ ἴδιο ὄνομα μὲ τὴν μητέρα της), ποὺ ἦταν συγγενὴς τοῦ Θεοδοσίου τοῦ Μεγάλου (379-395). Μετὰ τὸν θάνατο τοῦ Ἀντιγόνου, ἡ μητέρα της τὴν παρέδωσε στὸν βασιλιὰ Θεοδόσιο γιὰ νὰ τὴν ἀποκαταστήσει. Αὐτὸς τὴν ἀῤῥαβώνιασε πολὺ μικρὴ μὲ κάποιον συγκλητικό. Ἀλλὰ κατὰ τὴν διάρκεια κάποιας περιήγησής της στὴν Αἴγυπτο, μὲ τὴν συνοδεία τῆς μητέρας της, ἡ Εὐπραξία ἐπισκέφθηκε κάποια γυναικεία Μονὴ στὴ Θήβα τῆς Ἄνω Αἰγύπτου (ὅπου ἡγουμένη ἦταν μία ἁγία γυναῖκα, ποὺ λεγόταν Μαρίνα) καὶ τόσο τῆς ἄρεσε ἡ ζωὴ τῶν ἐκεῖ ἀσκουμένων, ὥστε ἀποφάσισε νὰ περάσει τὸ ὑπόλοιπό της ζωῆς της μαζὶ μ᾿ αὐτές. Ἡ δὲ μητέρα της δὲν ἔφερε ἀντίῤῥηση, ἐπέστρεψε στὴν Ἀνατολή, πούλησε τὴν κτηματική της περιουσία καὶ ἐπανῆλθε στὴ Μονή. Ἐκεῖ ἀφοῦ κατέθεσε ὅλα τὰ χρήματα ἀπὸ τὴν πώληση τῆς περιουσίας της, ἀπεβίωσε εἰρηνικά. Ἡ δὲ κόρη της Εὐπραξία, μοίρασε τὰ χρήματα αὐτὰ στὶς ἐκκλησίες καὶ στοὺς φτωχοὺς καὶ ἐπιδόθηκε σὲ αὐστηρότατη ἄσκηση γιὰ 45 ὁλόκληρα χρόνια. Ἔτσι ἀσκητικὰ καὶ ἅγια ἀφοῦ ἔζησε, παρέδωσε εἰρηνικὰ τὸ πνεῦμα της στὸν Θεό, ἐπιτελώντας πολλὰ θαύματα.
Οἱ Ἅγιοι Σάκτος (ἢ Σάγκτος), Ματοῦρος, Ἄτταλος καὶ Βλανδίνα
Μαρτύρησαν στὰ χρόνια τοῦ βασιλιᾶ τῶν Ρωμαίων Μάρκου Ἀντωνίνου. Ὁ Σάκτος καὶ ὁ Ματοῦρος ἦταν ἀπὸ τὴν Βιέννα, οἱ δὲ Ἄτταλος καὶ Βλανδίνα ἀπὸ τὴν Πέργαμο. Συνελήφθησαν διότι ἦταν χριστιανοὶ καὶ τοὺς βασάνισαν φρικτὰ μὲ διάφορα βασανιστήρια, ὅπως μὲ κοφτερὰ μαχαίρια, πυρακτωμένα σίδερα, ἄγρια θηρία, μαστιγώσεις καὶ ἄλλα. Τελικὰ τοὺς ἀπαγχόνισαν στὴ φυλακὴ καὶ τὰ σώματά τους τὰ ἔριξαν στὴ φωτιὰ καὶ κατόπιν στὸν Ροδανὸ ποταμό, ἀφοῦ τὰ τρύπησαν μὲ ἀκόντια. (Νὰ ἐπισημάνουμε ὅτι ἐδῶ ὁρισμένα Ἁγιολόγια ἀναφέρουν τὴν μνήμη τῶν Ἁγίων Ποθεινοῦ ἐπ. Λυῶνος (23 Αὐγούστου) Ἀλεξάνδρου ἰατροῦ καὶ Ποντικοῦ τοῦ παιδός).
Dormition of the Righteous Anna, mother of the Most Holy Theotokos
According to tradition, both Anna and her husband Joachim had reposed by the time the Most Holy Theotokos was about eleven years old and living in the Temple; thus when she reached maturity she was an orphan, and was given into the care of the noble Joseph. The prayers of St Anna are invoked for conceiving children and for help in difficult childbirth. Her main feast is on September 9th.
Commemoration of the holy 165 Fathers of the Fifth Ecumenical Council (553)
This council was held in Constantinople during the reign of Justinian the Great. The council condemned the various forms of monophysitism, the heretical writings of Theodore of Mopsuestia and Theodoret, and the writings of Origen (particularly on universal salvation).
St Olympias the Deaconess (408)
She was born to a noble family in Constantinople: her father Anysius Secundus was a senator. She was betrothed to a nobleman who died before they could be wed; resisting all advice to take another husband, Olympias devoted herself entirely to God, giving her large inheritance to the Church and to the poor. She served as a deaconess, first under the Patriarch Nektarios, then under St John Chrysostom. When St John was sent into exile, he advised her to remain in Constantinople, and to continue to serve the Church whatever patriarch took his place. But as soon as the holy hierarch went into exile, a fire destroyed a large part of the City, and St John's enemies accused the holy Olympias of setting the fire. She in turn was exiled to Nikomedia, where she reposed in 408. She left instructions that her body be placed in a coffin and thrown into the sea, to be buried wherever it was cast up. The coffin came to shore at Vrochthoi and was buried there at a church dedicated to the Apostle Thomas. Her relics have continued to be a source of great miracles of healing.
During his exile, St John Chrysostom wrote a number of letters to St Olympias, seventeen of which have been preserved through the centuries. In one he writes: 'Now I am deeply joyful, not only because you have been delivered from sickness, but even more because you are bearing adversities with such fortitude, calling them trifles — a characteristic of a soul filled with power and abounding in the rich fruits of courage. You are not only enduring misfortune with fortitude, but are making light of it in a seemingly effortless way, rejoicing and triumphing over it — this is a proof of the greatest wisdom.'
The Falling-Asleep (Dormition-Uspenie) of Righteous Anna, Mother of the MostHoly Mother of God: The God-wise, God-blest and Blessed Anna was the daughter of the priest Nathan and his wife Mary, from the tribe of Levi by descent of Aaron. According to tradition, she died peacefully in Jerusalem at age 79, before the Annunciation of the MostHoly Virgin Mary. During the reign of the holy Saint Justinian the Emperor (527-565), a church was built in her honour at Deutera. And emperor Justinian II (685-695; 705-711) restored her church, since Righteous Anna had appeared to his pregnant wife. And it was at this time that her body and omaphorion (veil) were transferred to Constantinople. (The account about Righteous Joakim and Anna is located under 9 September).
Saint Olympiada the Deaconess was the daughter of the senator Anicius Secundus, and by her mother she was the grand-daughter of the noted eparch Eulalios (he is mentioned in the account about the miracles of Saint Nicholas). Before her marriage to Anicius Secundus, Olympiada's mother had been married to the Armenian emperor Arsak and became widowed. When Saint Olympiada was still very young, her parents betrothed her to a nobleborn youth. The marriage was supposed to take place when Saint Olympiada reached the age of maturity. The bridegroom soon however died, and Saint Olympiada did not wish to enter into another marriage, but instead preferred a life of virginity. After the death of her parents she became the heir to great wealth, which she began top distribute with a general hand to all the needy: the poor, the orphaned and the widowed; she likewise gave significant monies to the churches, monasteries, hospices and shelters for the downtrodden and the homeless.
Holy Patriarch Nektarios (381-397) appointed Saint Olympiada as a deaconess. The blessed saint fulfilled her service honourably and beyond reproach.
Saint Olympiada provided great assistance to hierarchs coming to Constantinople -- Amphylokhios, Bishop of Iconium, Onysimos of Pontum, Gregory the Theologian, Saint Basil the Great's brother Peter of Sebasteia, Epiphanios of Cyprus -- and she attended to them all with great love. Her wealth she did not regard as her own but rather God's, and she distributed not only to good people, but also to their enemies.
Saint John Chrysostom (+ 407, Comm. 13 November) had high regard for Saint Olympiada and he bestowed her his good-will and spiritual love. And when this holy hierarch was guiltlessly and unjustly banished, Saint Olympiada together with the other deaconesses were deeply upset. Leaving the church for the last time, Saint John Chrysostom called out to Saint Olympiada and the other deaconesses Pentadia, Proklia and Salbina, and he said that the matters incited against him would come to an end, but scarcely more would they see him. He asked them not to abandon the church but instead be obedient to the bishop who would be appointed in his place, since the Church is not able to be without bishop. The holy women, shedding tears, fell down before the saint.
The Alexandria patriarch Theophilos (385-412), having repeatedly benefited formerly through the generosity of Saint Olympiada, turned against her for her devotion to Saint John Chrysostom, but also for the additional reason, that she had taken in and fed monks arriving in Constantinople, whom Patriarch Theophilos had banished from the Egyptian wilderness. He levelled unrighteous accusations against her attempted to cast doubt on her holy life.
After the banishment of Saint John Chrysostom, the cathedral church of Saint Sophia caught fire and after this a large part of the city burnt down.
All the supporters of Saint John Chrysostom came under suspicion of arson, and they were summoned for interrogation. And then also did Saint Olympiada suffer. They summoned her to trial, rigourously interrogating her, and although they did not produce any proof, they sentenced her to payment of a large fine of money for the arson, of which she was not guilty. After this the saint left Constantinople and set out to Kyzikos (on the Sea of Marmara). But her enemies did not cease with their persecution: in the year 405 they sentenced her to imprisonment at Nicomedia, where the saint underwent much grief and deprivation. Saint John Chrysostom wrote to her from his exile, consoling her in her sorrow. In the year 409 Saint Olympiada died in imprisonment.
Saint Olympiada appeared in a dream to the Nicomedia bishop and commanded, that her body be placed in a wooden coffin and cast into the sea: "Whither the waves carry the coffin, there let my body be buried", -- said the saint. The coffin was brought by the waves to a place named Brokhti near to Constantinople. The inhabitants, informed of this by God, took the holy relics of Saint Olympiada and put them in the church of the holy Apostle Thomas. Afterwards, during the time of an invasion of enemies, the church was burned, but the relics were preserved and under the Patriarch Sergios (610-638) they were transferred to Constantinople and put at the women's monastery founded by Saint Olympiada. From her relics miracles occurred and healings made.
The Nun Eupraxia was daughter of the Constantinople dignitary Antigonos, a kinsman of the holy Emperor Theodosius the Great (379-395).
Antigonos and his wife Eupraxia were pious and bestowed generous alms on the destitute. A daughter was born to them, whom they likewise named Eupraxia. Antigonos soon died. The mother withdrew from the imperial court and together with her daughter she set out to Egypt under the pretext of looking over her properties. And there near the Thebaid was a women's monastery with a strict monastic rule. The life of the inhabitants attracted the pious widow. She wanted to bestow aid on this monastery, but the hegumeness Theophila refused and said, that the nuns had fully devoted themselves to God and that they did not wish the acquisition of any earthly riches. The hegumeness consented to accept only candles, incense and oil.
The younger Eupraxia was at this time seven years old. She liked the monastic manner of life and she decided to remain at the monastery. Her pious mother did not stand in the way of her daughter's wish. Taking leave of her daughter at the monastery, Eupraxia asked her daughter to be humble, never to dwell upon her nobleborn descent, and to serve God and her sisters fervently. In a short while the mother died. Having learned of her death, the emperor Saint Theodosius sent Saint Eupraxia the Younger a letter, in which he reminded her, that her parents had betrothed her to the son of a certain senator for when she reached age fifteen, and that he desired that she would fulfill the commitment made by her parents. In answer to the letter, Saint Eupraxia wrote to the emperor, that she had already become a bride of Christ and she requested of the emperor to dispose of her properties, distributing the proceeds for the use of the Church and the needy.
Saint Eupraxia, having reached the age of maturity, intensified her ascetic efforts all the more. At first she partook of food once a day, then after two days -- three days or more and finally, once a week. She combined her fasting with the fulfilling of all her monastic obediences: she toiled humbly in the kitchen, she washed dishes, she swept the premisses and served the sisters with zeal and love. And the sisters loved the unpretentious Eupraxia. But one of them envied her and explained away all her efforts as a desire for glory. This sister began to trouble and to reproach her, but the holy virgin did not answer her back, and instead humbly asked forgiveness.
The enemy of the human race caused the saint much misfortune. One time in getting water she fell into the well, from which the sisters extracted her; another time Saint Eupraxia was chopping wood for the kitchen and cut herself on the leg with an axe. When she carried an armload of wood up upon the ladder, she stepped on the hem of her garment, she fell and a sharp splinter cut her near the eyes. All these woes Saint Eupraxia endured with patience, and when they asked her to give herself a rest, she would not consent. For her efforts, the Lord granted Saint Eupraxia a gift of wonderworking: through her prayer she healed a deaf and dumb crippled child, and she delivered from infirmity a demon-oppressed woman. They began to bring the sick for healing to the monastery. The holy virgin humbled herself all the more, reckoning herself least among the sisters. Before the death of Saint Eupraxia, the hegumeness had a vision. The holy virgin was transported into a resplendid palace and was greeted with a spot before the Throne of the Lord surrounded by holy Angels, and the All-Pure Virgin showed Saint Eupraxia about the luminous chamber and said to her, that She had made ready for her and that she would come into this habitation after the space of ten days.
The hegumeness and the sisters wept bitterly, not wanting to lose Saint Eupraxia. The saint herself, in learning about the vision, wept that she was not prepared for going into eternity, and she besought the hegumeness to implore the Lord to leave her alive even one year more for repentance. The hegumeness consoled Saint Eupraxia and said, that the Lord would grant her His great mercy. Suddenly Saint Eupraxia sensed herself not well, and having sickened, she soon peacefully died at age thirty (+ 413).
The Monk Makarii of Zheltovodsk and Unzhensk was born in the year 1349 at Nizhni-Novgorod into a pious family. At twelve years of age he secretly left his parents and accepted monastic tonsure at the Nizhegorodsk Pechersk monastery under Saint Dionysii (afterwards Archbishop of Suzdal'; + 1385, Comm. 26 June). With all the intensity of his youthful soul he gave himself over to the work of salvation: extremely strict fasting and exact fulfilling of the monastic rule distinguished him amongst the brethren.
The parents of the Monk Makarii only learned three years later where he had taken himself off to. His father went to him and tearfully besought his son merely that he would come forth and show himself. The Monk Makarii conversed with his father through a wall and said, that he would see him in the future life. "Extend me at least thine hand," -- implored the father. The son fulfilled this small request and the father, having kissed the extended hand of his son, returned home. Burdened by fame, the humble Makarii set out to the shores of the River Volga and here he pursued asceticism near the waters of Lake Zhelta. Here by firm determination and patience he overcame the abuse of the enemy of salvation. Lovers of solitude gathered to the Monk Makarii, and in 1435 he organised for them a monastery in the Name of the MostHoly Trinity. Here also he began to preach Christianity to the surrounding Cheremis and Chuvash peoples, and he baptised both Mahometans and pagans in the lake, which received its name from the saint. When the Kazan Tatars destroyed the monastery in 1439, they took captive the Monk Makarii. Out of respect for his piety and charitable love, the khan released the saint from captivity and set free together with him nearly 400 Christians. But in return they accepted the word of the Monk Makarii not to settle by Lake Zhelta. The Monk Makarii reverently buried those killed at his monastery, and he set out 200 versts to the Galich border. During the time of this resettlement all those on the way were fed in miraculous manner through the prayers of the monk. Having arrived at the city of Unzha, the Monk Makarii 15 versts from the city set up a cross and built a cell on the shores of Lake Unzha. And here he founded a new monastery. During the fifth year of his life at Lake Unzha the Monk Makarii took sick and reposed at age 95.
While yet alive, the Monk Makarii was granted a graced gift: he healed a blind and demon-afflicted girl. After the death of the monk, many received healing from his relics. The monks erected over his grave a temple and established a life-in-common rule at the monastery. In 1522 Tatars fell upon Unzha and wanted to tear apart the silver reliquary in the Makariev monastery, but they fell blind, and in a panic they took to flight. Many of them drowned in the Unzha. In 1532, through the prayers of the Monk Makarii, the city of Soligalich was saved from the Tatars, and in gratitude the inhabitants built a chapel in the cathedral church in honour of the saint. More than 50 people received healing from grievous infirmities through the prayers of the Monk Makarii, -- this was certified to by a commission, dispatched by Patriarch Philaret in 1619.
The Monk Christopher of Sol'vychegodsk and Koryazhemsk was a student and novice under the Monk Longin, hegumen of the Koryazhemsk monastery. After the death of his teacher, the Monk Christopher dwelt for yet another ten years at the Koryazhemsk monastery, and then he settled along the upper tributaries of the Large Koryazhemka, where he lived in solitude.
When novices began to come to him, the Monk Christopher founded a monastery and built a church in honour of the Hodegetria Icon of the Mother of God, which he brought with him to this place, and from which they received many healings. The monastery of the Monk Christopher was famed for the strictness of life of its residents, and also for a curative water-spring, from which there was received a relief from illness by Anastasia (1457-1460), the spouse of Ivan the Terrible (1533-1584). In 1572 the Monk Christopher left the monastery and he secretly settled alone in an unknown place. They say, that the Monk Christopher died between the years 1572-1582.
The Holy Martyrs Sactus (Sanctus), Maturus, Attalus, Blandina, Biblius (Viblius), Vittius, Epagathus, Pontinus, Alexander and 43 Others were tortured by the pagans for their belief in Christ in the city of Lyons (then named Lugdunum) under the emperor Marcus Aurelius (161-180), in the year 177. After a vicious death, their bodies were burned, and the ashes thrown into the River Rhone.
The Fifth OEcumenical Council (Constantinople II) was at Constantinople, held under the holy Emperor Saint Justinian I (527-565) in the year 553, to resolve the question about the Orthodoxy of three long-since dead bishops: Theodore of Mopsuetia, Theodoret of Kyr (Cyr) and Ibas of Edessa, who had expressed Nestorian opinions in their writings way back in the time of the Third OEcumenical Council (at Ephesus in year 431, Comm. 9 September). These three bishops had not been condemned later at the Fourth OEcumenical Council (at Chalcedon in year 451, Comm. 16 July), which condemned the Monophysites, and in turn had been accused by the Monophysites of Nestorianism. And therefore, to remove from the Monophysites the stance of accusing the Orthodox of sympathy for Nestorianism, and also to dispose the heretical party towards unity with the followers of the Chalcedon Council, the emperor Saint Justinian issued an edict: in it were condemned three "Chapters" of the three deceased bishops. But since the edict was issued on the emperor's initiative, and since it was not acknowledged by representatives of all the Church (particularly in the West, and in part, in Africa), a dispute arose about the "Three Chapters". The Fifth OEcumenical Council was convened for resolving this dispute.
At this Council were present 165 bishops. Pope Vigilius, while being present in Constantinople, refused to participate in the Council, although he was three times asked to do so by official deputies in the name of the gathered bishops and the emperor himself. The Council was opened with Sainted Eutykhios, Patriarch of Constantinople (552-565, 577-582), presiding. In accordance with the imperial edict, the matter of the "Three Chapters" was carefully examined in eight prolonged sessions from 4 May to 2 June 553. Anathema was pronounced against the person and teachings of Theodore of Mopsuetia unconditionally. But as regards Theodore and Ibas the condemnations were confined only to certain of their treatises, while they as persons had been cleared without doubt by the Chalcedon Council because of repentance, and they were thus spared from anathema. The need of this measure was that certain of the proscribed works contained expressions used by the Nestorians to interpret to their own ends the definitions of the Chalcedon Council. But the leniency of the fathers of this Fifth OEcumenical Council, in a spirit of moderating economy as regards the persons of bishops Theodore and Ibas, instead embittered the Monophysites against the decisions of the Council. Besides which, the emperor had given the orders to promulgate the Conciliar decisions together with a chastening of excommunication against Pope Vigilius, as being like-minded with the heretics. The Pope afterwards concurred with the general frame of mind of the fathers and gave his signature on the Conciliar definition. But the bishops of Istria and all the region of the Aquilea metropolia remained more than a century in schism.
At the Council the fathers likewise examined the errors of presbyter Origen, a long since dead reknown Church teacher of the III Century. His teaching about the pre-existence of the human soul was condemned. Other heretics were also condemned, who did not admit of the universal resurrection of the dead.
[trans. note: Both the Monophysite and the Nestorian heresies ultimately deny the Chalcedon Fourth OEcumenical Council's definition of the Son of God our Lord Jesus Christ as One Divine Person -- the 2nd Person of the Holy Trinity -- in a mysteried hypostatic union (without mixture or confusion) of His perfect Divine Nature and His perfect Human Nature. The Monophysite (OneNature) heresy affirms only the Divine Nature of Christ, and denies His Human Nature. At the opposite pole, the earlier Nestorian heresy in various forms asserts that there are two persons in Christ: the one Divine, the other Human; which is to say that there is a Christ Who is God and a Christ Who is man -- but they are not one and the same Person, which is ultimately to say that the Only-Begotten Son of God did not truly become humanly the Son of Man, but remains separate. Nestorianism is also a Mariological heresy, asserting that Mary is only "Christotokos" (bearer of Christ), but that She is not "Theotokos" ("Bogoroditsa", i.e. Mother of God, "Bogomater", "Mater tou Theou"). Both these heresies originate in an attempt to quell the "intellectual scandal", that in Christ, God truly has become Man, while perfectly preserving the dignity and integrity of both the Divine and the Human Natures -- that our Lord Jesus Christ is truly the God-Man, rather than being "merely God" or "merely Man". Both heresies are imperfect attempts to deal with the abyss separating God and man -- which is overcome in the salvific Divine Person of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The imperial intrusion of Justinian on the Church's perogatives obviously but worsened matters. The innovation of retroactively anathemising those long since dead was in general greeted with dismay by many, and Justinian himself is alleged to have for a time flirted with the Monothelite heresy whilst persecuting the Orthodox. The secular considerations of restoring under Justinian's rule the Roman "Western Empire" underlay the captivity and rough treatment of Pope Vigilius, and the need for Byzantium to placate Monophysite Egypt, in vain, as indeed our account relates. But amidst all the external considerations, it pleased the Lord that the Holy Spirit should inspire the fathers of the Council in a further definition of Orthodoxy, that preserves the integrity and dignity both of God and of mankind, without the distortion of either that transpires within the Nestorian or Monophysite heresies.
THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:
1. SAINT ANNA, THE MOTHER OF THE ALL-HOLY BIRTH-GIVER OF GOD
Today is the commemoration of the falling asleep of St. Anna but her principal feast is celebrated on September 9, on which date is written her service and her hagiography. Anna was from the tribe of Levi and the daughter of Matthan, the priest. After a long and God-pleasing life she died in extreme old age.
2. SAINT OLYMPIAS, THE DEACONESS
Olympias was born in Constantinople of very distinguished parents. Her father, Anysius Secundus, was a senator and her mother was the daughter of the famous nobleman Eulavius who is mentioned in the hagiography of St. Nicholas the Wonder-worker. When Olympias reached maturity, she was betrothed to a nobleman who died before the marriage took place. The emperor and the other relatives pressured Olympias to marry another, but in vain. However, she refused them this and devoted herself to a god-pleasing life, giving from her inherited estate great offerings to the churches and alms to the needy. She served as a deaconess in the Church, at first during the time of Patriarch Nectarius and, after his death, during the time of St. John Chrysostom. When Chrysostom was exiled, he counseled Olympias to remain in the church and to serve as before regardless who the patriarch after him would be. Immediately after the banishment of this great saint, someone started a fire in the Great Church [The Church of the Divine Wisdom Hagia Sophia] and the fire consumed many prominent buildings in the capital. The enemies of Chrysostom accused this holy woman of initiating this malicious fire. Olympias was banished from Constantinople to Nicomedia where she died in the year 410 A.D., requesting in her testament that her body be placed in a box and cast into the sea and wherever the water tosses it up, there she is to be buried. The coffin was cast ashore in the city of Vrochthoi, where there existed a church dedicated to the Apostle Thomas. From her relics, great healing miracles appeared throughout the centuries. The exiled Chrysostom wrote beautiful letters to the exiled Olympias which, even today, serve as a great comfort to all those who suffer for the sake of God's justice. Among other things, Chrysostom writes to Olympias: "Now I am very elated not only because you were relieved from infirmity, but more so, that you are nobly enduring all difficulties referring to them as trivialities which is characteristic of a soul full of power and abounding in the rich fruits of courage. For you not only courageously are enduring misfortune rather you do not even notice it when it comes and without exertion, without labor and disturbance not even talking about it to others but rejoicing and triumphing over it. That serves as the greatest wisdom" (Letter VI).
3. THE VENERABLE FEMALE EUPRAXIA [EUPHRASIA], THE VIRGIN
Eupraxia was the daughter of Antigonus, a nobleman of Constantinople and a relative of Emperor Theodosius the Great. Her mother, a young widow, with Eupraxia settled in Egypt and visited the monasteries there distributing alms and praying to God. By her fervent desire, the seven-year-old Eupraxia was tonsured a nun. The older she got the more she imposed upon herself the heavy burden of mortification. At one time, she fasted for forty days. She reposed in 413 A.D, in her thirtieth year. She possessed the great grace of God and healed the most difficult illnesses.
4. THE COMMEMORATION OF THE FIFTH ECUMENICAL COUNCIL
This Council was convened in Constantinople during the reign of Emperor Justinian the Great in the year 553 A.D. All the heresies of the Monophysites were condemned at this Council as well as the heretical writings of Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret of Cyrus and Origen (his teaching against the resurrection of the dead).
HYMN OF PRAISE
SAINT EUPRAXIA (EUPHRASIA)
Eupraxia, the young virgin,
For the sake of Christ, a hermitess became,
And boastful was of royal birth
But God-bearing was her soul.
All honors, as a burden she rejected,
And her royal lineage and riches.
Before God she prayed day and night,
By fasting and all-night vigils, herself exhausted.
To His servant, God harkened,
Tearful virgin Eupraxia,
Who many tears shed
And with tears inflamed prayers,
Upon her did God bestow wondrous gifts,
Both the young and the old to help,
Wicked demons to drive away,
Of every infirmity, heals the sick.
Before God, with a pure soul she came,
And for herself, in heaven found a home,
Built of faith and deeds,
And by much patience purchased.
With God Himself, that home glows,
Here, St. Eupraxia took up abode
To enjoy amidst eternal good
And to reign with the immortal Christ.
"As virginity is better than marriage, so the first marriage is better than the second." Thus, St. John Chrysostom wrote to the young widow of Tarasius, a deceased nobleman of Constantinople, counseling her not to enter into marriage for the second time. The Church blesses first marriages with joy but the second marriage with sorrow. Eupraxia the elder, the mother of St. Eupraxia and relative of Emperor Theodosius the Great, remained a young widow following the death of her husband Antigonus, with whom she lived in physical contact for only two years and three months, and further lived one more year as brother and sister by mutual pledge. The emperor and empress counseled her to enter into marriage with another nobleman. She would not hear of it, but took her child Eupraxia and together they fled to Egypt. What can we say about St. Olympias and St. Eupraxia the younger? As with St. Macrina, not only was she also betrothed as a virgin but when her betrothed died, she considered herself a widow and would not even in her thoughts consider entering into marriage. What purity of heart! What fidelity to one's betrothed! What fear of God! What obvious faith in the future life in which the betrothed maiden hopes to see her betrothed.
To contemplate the miraculous standing still of the sun and the moon (Joshua 10):
1. How Joshua, in order to complete the victory over the Gibeonites, ordered the sun and the moon to stand still in their courses;
2. How God heard the voice of the righteous man and by His power caused the sun and the moon to stand still;
3. How God created even nature to serve man and how God acts according to the will of the righteous.
About slaves who preach liberty
"While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants (slaves) of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage" (2 Peter 2:19).
The apostle still speaks of "the impure, the impudent, and the self-willed", reminding the faithful, to beware of their misleading "proud and false words". He first said about them that: "they speak evil of dignities of the glory of God" and second: "that they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness" (1 Peter 2:18). Now he further speaks about how they promise liberty i.e., they promise something which they themselves do not possess, for being overcome by impure passions, they are slaves to their own passions, submissive slaves to the greatest tyranny of this world. O my brethren, how relevant for us are these apostolic words written some nineteen hundred years ago! Behold, how everywhere around us they get carried away declaiming liberty, those who do not have even a little bit of liberty! Listen to the cry of the despairing slaves of passions and vices; how deceived, they are deceiving; how blinded, preaching light. Passions are a woven net, woven by the devil, to ensnare mankind. Captured in this net, they refer to other men as slaves and themselves as freemen to the laughter of the devil, who silently gathers in the net hauling it toward his shore. O brethren, guard yourselves from those desperate ones who call themselves the heralds of liberty, while they serve their master and lord, the devil, day and night. Their poverty they call wealth and the wealth of others they call poverty, as does the ignorant one calls the entire world ignorant and himself intelligent. Thus, those who are least free call others enslaved. Service to God and to fellow men out of love, they call slavery, while service to the devil, they call liberty. They are malicious both to God and to men, as is the devil himself malicious to God and to men. Whenever you hear anyone who speaks to you of liberty, question him well, as to whether he is not a slave of some passion or vice. By the impurity of their life, by their impudence and their self-will, you will recognize all false teachers of liberty. The apostle reminds you of this.
O Lord, the only Giver of true liberty, safeguard us from the net of all those who are malicious toward You and us.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.