FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:
The Placing of the Honorable Sash of the Most Holy Theotokos
Cyprian the Hieromartyr & Bishop of Carthage
Gennadius Scholarus, Patriarch of Constantinople
Aristides the Philosophe
Ἡ κατάθεσις τῆς τιμίας Ζώνης τῆς Ὑπεραγίας Θεοτόκου ἐν τῷ ἐν Κωνσταντινουπόλει σεβασμίῳ οἴκῳ αὐτῆς τῷ ὄντι ἐν τοῖς Χαλκοπρατείοις.
READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:
The Reading is from St. Paul's Letter to the Hebrews 9:1-7
BRETHREN, the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly sanctuary. For a tent was prepared, the outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence; it is called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain stood a tent called the Holy of Holies, having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, which contained a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail. These preparations having thus been made, the priests go continually into the outer tent, performing their ritual duties; but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood which he offers for himself and for the errors of the people.
Πρὸς Ἑβραίους 9:1-7
Ἀδελφοί, εἶχεν ἡ πρώτη σκηνὴ δικαιώματα λατρείας, τό τε ἅγιον κοσμικόν. Σκηνὴ γὰρ κατεσκευάσθη ἡ πρώτη, ἐν ᾗ ἥ τε λυχνία καὶ ἡ τράπεζα καὶ ἡ πρόθεσις τῶν ἄρτων, ἥτις λέγεται ἅγια. Μετὰ δὲ τὸ δεύτερον καταπέτασμα σκηνὴ ἡ λεγομένη ἅγια ἁγίων, χρυσοῦν ἔχουσα θυμιατήριον, καὶ τὴν κιβωτὸν τῆς διαθήκης περικεκαλυμμένην πάντοθεν χρυσίῳ, ἐν ᾗ στάμνος χρυσῆ ἔχουσα τὸ μάννα, καὶ ἡ ῥάβδος Ἀαρὼν ἡ βλαστήσασα, καὶ αἱ πλάκες τῆς διαθήκης· ὑπεράνω δὲ αὐτῆς Χερουβὶμ δόξης κατασκιάζοντα τὸ ἱλαστήριον· περὶ ὧν οὐκ ἔστιν νῦν λέγειν κατὰ μέρος. Τούτων δὲ οὕτως κατεσκευασμένων, εἰς μὲν τὴν πρώτην σκηνὴν διὰ παντὸς εἰσίασιν οἱ ἱερεῖς, τὰς λατρείας ἐπιτελοῦντες· εἰς δὲ τὴν δευτέραν ἅπαξ τοῦ ἐνιαυτοῦ μόνος ὁ ἀρχιερεύς, οὐ χωρὶς αἵματος, ὃ προσφέρει ὑπὲρ ἑαυτοῦ καὶ τῶν τοῦ λαοῦ ἀγνοημάτων·
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 ΛΑ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, ἀνάμνησις τῆς ἐν τῇ Ἁγίᾳ σορῷ καταθέσεως τῆς τιμίας Ζώνης τῆς Ὑπεραγίας Θεοτόκου, ἐν τῷ σεβασμίῳ αὐτῆς οἴκῳ, τῷ ὄντι ἐν τοῖς Χαλκοπρατείοις, ἀνακομισθείσης ἀπὸ τῆς Ἐπισκοπῆς Ζήλας, ἐπὶ Ἰουστινιανοῦ τοῦ Βασιλέως. Ἔτι δὲ καὶ τοῦ γεγονότος θαύματος, διὰ τῆς ἐπιθέσεως τῆς Τιμίας Ζώνης εἰς τὴν βασιλίδα Ζωήν, τὴν σύζυγον Λέοντος τοῦ Βασιλέως.
Χρυσῆν κορωνίδ' οἷα, σεμνὴ Παρθένε,
Τῷ τοῦ χρόνου τίθημι σὴν Ζώνην τέλει.
Θέντο σορῷ Ζώνην πρώτῃ Πανάγνου Τριακοστῇ.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, μνήμη τῆς ἀνακαινίσεως τοῦ ναοῦ τῆς Ὑπεραγίας Θεοτόκου ἐν τῷ Νεωρίῳ.
Ταῖς τῆς ἀχράντου Μητρός σου πρεσβείαις, Χριστὲ ὁ Θεὸς ἡμῶν, ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.
Although the historical accounts differ somewhat, the Deposition that is celebrated today took place most likely during the reign of Emperor Arcadius (395-408), when the precious Cincture of the Mother of God was brought from Zela of Cappadocia to Constantinople, and placed in the Church of the Theotokos in the section of Chalcopratia.
Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Θεοτόκε Αειπάρθενε, τών ανθρώπων η σκέπη, Εσθήτα καί Zώνην τού αχράντου σου σώματος, κραταιάν τή πόλει σου περιβολήν εδωρήσω, τώ ασπόρω τόκω σου άφθαρτα διαμείναντα, επί σοί γάρ καί φύσις καινοτομείται καί χρόνος, διό δυσωπούμέν σε, ειρήνην τή πολιτεία σου δώρησαι, καί ταίς ψυχαίς ημών τό μέγα έλεος.
O Ever-Virgin Theotokos, shelter of mankind, thou hast bestowed upon thy people a mighty investure, even thine immaculate body's raiment and sash, which by thy seedless childbirth have remained incorrupt; for in thee nature and time are made new. Wherefore, we implore thee to grant peace to the world, and great mercy to our souls.
Kontakion in the Second Tone
Τήν θεοδόχον γαστέρα σου Θεοτόκε, περιλαβούσα η Zώνη σου η τιμία, κράτος τή πόλει σου απροσμάχητον, καί θησαυρός υπάρχει, τών αγαθών ανέκλειπτος, η μόνη τεκούσα αειπάρθενος.
Thy precious sash, O Theotokos, which encompassed thy God-receiving womb, is an invincible force for thy flock, and an unfailing treasury of every good, O only Ever-virgin Mother.
Saint Cyprian was born of pagan parents in Carthage of Roman Africa about the year 190. An eloquent teacher of rhetoric, he was converted and baptized late in life, and his conversion from a proud man of learning to a humble servant of Christ was complete; he sold his great possessions and gave them to the poor, and because of his zeal and virtue, was ordained presbyter in 247, then Bishop of Carthage in 248. He was especially steadfast in defending the sanctity and uniqueness of the Baptism of the Church of Christ against the confusion of those who would allow some validity to the ministrations of heretics; his writings continue to guide the Church even in our own day. Having survived the persecution of Decius about the year 250, he was beheaded in confession of the Faith during the persecution of Valerian in 258, on September 14; that day being the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, his feast is kept today.
Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Guide of Orthodoxy, teacher of piety and holiness, luminary of Carthage, God-inspired adornment of confessors, O wise Cyprian, by thy teachings thou has enlightened all, O harp of the Spirit. Intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.
Kontakion in the First Tone
We honour thee, O Cyprian, as a true shepherd * who with thy sacred words and divinely-wise doctrines * hast shown us the bound'ry-stones marking out the one Church of Christ. * Even unto death didst thou bear witness with courage; * wherefore, we extol thee as a hierarch and Martyr. * Entreat that we all be saved.
Η σημερινή ημέρα είναι η τελευταία του εκκλησιαστικού χρόνου. Και κλείνει σήμερα ο κύκλος του εκκλησιαστικού έτους με μια διπλή γιορτή της Υπεραγίας Θεοτόκου και την μνήμη των τριακοσίων εξηνταέξη Μαρτύρων, που θανατώθηκαν στη Νικομήδεια. Και της Παναγίας η διπλή γιορτή και των Μαρτύρων η μνήμη δεν είναι δίχως κάποια σημασία για την τελευταία ημέρα του χρόνου. Με την Παναγία μορφή της Θεοτόκου, που κάθε ημέρα ζητούμε την μεσιτεία της, στις προσευχή μας, επισφραγίζομε τον κύκλο των ημερών ενός χρόνου στη ζωή μας. και με την γιορτή των αγίων Μαρτύρων, που αντιστοιχούν ο καθένας και σε μια ημέρα, είναι σαν να γιορτάζουμε αντιπροσωπευτικά σήμερα όλες τις ημέρες του έτους. Οι Άγιοι του Θεού πρεσβεύουν για μας που διαπλέομε το πέλαγος της ζωής και πρώτη η Θεοτόκος, προς την οποία ο κάθε χριστιανός ψάλλει· "Παναγία Θεοτόκε, τον χρόνο της ζωής μου μη εγκαταλίπης με".
Κατάθεσις Τιμίας ζώνης τῆς Θεοτόκου
Ἡ ἀνακομιδὴ τῆς τίμιας Ζώνης τῆς Θεοτόκου, ἄλλοι λένε ὅτι ἔγινε ἀπὸ τὸ βασιλιὰ Ἀρκάδιο καὶ ἄλλοι ἀπὸ τὸ γιό του Θεοδόσιο τὸν Β´. Ἡ μεταφορὰ ἔγινε ἀπὸ τὴν Ἱερουσαλὴμ στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη καὶ τὴν τοποθέτησαν σὲ μία χρυσὴ θήκη, ποὺ ὀνομάσθηκε ἁγία Σωρός. Ὅταν πέρασαν 410 χρόνια, ὁ βασιλιὰς Λέων ὁ Σοφὸς ἄνοιξε τὴν ἁγία αὐτὴ Σωρὸ γιὰ τὴν βασίλισσα σύζυγό του Ζωή, ποὺ τὴν διακατεῖχε πνεῦμα ἀκάθαρτο. Ὅταν λοιπὸν ἄνοιξε τὴν ἁγία Σωρό, βρῆκε τὴν τίμια Ζώνη τῆς Θεοτόκου νὰ ἀκτινοβολεῖ ὑπερφυσικά. Καὶ εἶχε μία χρυσὴ βοῦλα, ποὺ φανέρωνε τὸ χρόνο καὶ τὴν ἡμέρα ποὺ μεταφέρθηκε στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη. Ἀφοῦ λοιπὸν τὴν προσκύνησαν, ὁ Πατριάρχης ἅπλωσε τὴν τιμία Ζώνη ἐπάνω στὴ βασίλισσα, καὶ ἀμέσως αὐτὴ ἐλευθερώθηκε ἀπὸ τὸ δαιμόνιο. Ὁπότε ὅλοι δόξασαν τὸ Σωτῆρα Χριστὸ καὶ εὐχαρίστησαν τὴν πανάχραντη Μητέρα Του, ἡ ὁποία εἶναι γιὰ τοὺς πιστοὺς φρουρός, φύλαξ, προστάτις, καταφυγή, βοηθός, σκέπη, σὲ κάθε καιρὸ καὶ τόπο, ἡμέρα καὶ νύκτα.
Ἀνακαίνιση Ναοῦ τῆς Θεοτόκου ἐν τῷ Νεωρίῳ
Ὁ ἀνακαινισθεὶς ναὸς τῆς Θεοτόκου στὸ Νεώριο, ἦταν κτῆμα τοῦ πατρικίου Ἀντωνίου, ποὺ βρισκόταν μέσα στὴν αὐλὴ τοῦ σπιτιοῦ του. Κατὰ τὴν ἀναπαλαίωση ὁ ναὸς ἔλαβε θαυματουργικὴ χάρη καὶ ἔκανε πολλὰ θαύματα σὲ πολλοὺς ποὺ προσέρχονταν σ᾿ αὐτὸν μὲ πίστη. Ὅταν πέθανε ὁ πατρίκιος Ἀντώνιος, ὁ ναὸς ἐγκαταλείφθηκε καὶ ἐρήμωσε. Ὅταν δὲ ὁ βασιλιὰς Ρωμανὸς Α´ Λεκαπηνὸς ἑτοιμαζόταν νὰ τὸν γκρεμίσει, ὁ ἐπιστάτης τῆς κατεδαφίσεως τοῦ ναοῦ ἐμποδίστηκε μὲ ὀπτασία τῆς Θεοτόκου. Τότε ἀποφασίστηκε νὰ ἀνακαινισθεῖ ὁ ναὸς καὶ μὲ χρυσόβουλο ἐξασφαλίστηκε ἐτήσια χορήγηση γιὰ τὴν συντήρησή του.
Οἱ Ἅγιοι τέσσερις Μάρτυρες ἀπὸ τὴν Πέργη τῆς Παμφυλίας
Μαρτύρησαν, ἀφοῦ τοὺς ἀνάγκασαν νὰ τρέξουν μέσα στὴ φωτιά.
The Placing of the Sash of the Most Holy Theotokos (395-408? 886- 912?)
At the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, her sash came into the possession of the Apostle Thomas and after various transfers came to Cappadocia. It was later taken from there to Constantinople, where it was kept in a sealed casket in the Church of the Theotokos at Blachernae, at the time of the Emperor Arcadius (395-408). The casket was not opened until the reign of the Emperor Leo the Wise (886-912), when the Empress Zoe, who was ill, had a vision in which she was told to have the sash placed upon her. The Emperor obtained the blessing of the Patriarch, the sash was placed upon the Empress, and she was immediately healed. Some accounts say that today's feast celebrates the bringing of the sash to Constantinople; others that it commemorates the miraculous healing of the Empress.
Hieromartyr Cyprian, bishop of Carthage (258)
He was born around 190 to pagan parents in North Africa. Before baptism he was distinguished in Carthage as a teacher of philosophy and rhetoric. He came to faith in Christ and was baptized at a young age; as soon as he became a Christian he abandoned his prestigious teacher's position, sold his many possessions and gave all his wealth to the poor. He was ordained presbyter in 247, Bishop of Carthage in 248. He was known for his gentleness and paternal care for his flock, combined with firm opposition to heretics. His extensive writings still guide the Church today.
For his confession of Christ, he was beheaded under the Emperor Valerian on September 14; since that is the date of the Exaltation of the Cross, his feast is kept today. At the time of his execution he left twenty-five gold pieces (a huge sum) for the executioner who beheaded him.
St Gennadius, Patriarch of Constantinople (471)
He was known for his gentleness and his ascetical way of life. He would not ordain any man who did not know the Psalter by heart. He presided at a local council in which simony in the Church was anathematized. In his own lifetime he worked miracles, and he was told the time of his death in a vision. The famous monastery of Studion was built in his time, with his blessing. He reposed in peace.
Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne (651)
Around AD 635, Saint Oswald (5 August), King of Northumbria, appealed to the monks of the Monastery of Ionia to send missionaries to his mostly-pagan kingdom. (An earlier mission had ended with the death of St Edwin in 633).) The fathers of the monastery chose St Aidan and consecrated him bishop. He founded a monastery (and his episcopal seat) on the island of Lindisfarne, and undertook missionary journeys, always on foot, throughout the kingdom, with King Oswald often accompanying him and serving as his interpreter. He lived in great poverty, using all the gifts he received as alms for the poor or to buy back captives and slaves. He was the spiritual father of St Hilda (17 Nov.), and founded the first women’s monasteries in Northumbria. He reposed in peace in 651, and was buried at Lindisfarne.
Note: Northumbria was an Anglo-Saxon kingdom in what is now northeastern England and southern Scotland.
The Placing of the Venerable Belt of the MostHoly Mother of God in the Constantinople Blakhernae Church was during the reign of the emperor Arcadius (395-408). Before this the holy relict, entrusted to the Apostle Thomas by the Mother of God Herself, was after Her Dormition thereafter kept at Jerusalem by pious Christians. After many years, during the reign of emperor Leo the Wise (886-911), from the Belt of the Mother of God was accomplished a miraculous healing of his spouse Zoa, suffering from an unclean spirit.
The empress had a vision, that she would be healed of her infirmity when the Belt of the Mother of God would be placed upon her. The emperor turned with his petition to the Patriarch. The Patriarch removed the seal and opened the vessel in which the relict was kept: the Belt of the Mother of God appeared completely whole and undamaged by time. The Patriarch placed the Belt on the sick empress, and she immediately was freed from her infirmity. They served a solemn thanksgiving molieben to the MostHoly Mother of God, and the venerable Belt they placed back into the vessel and resealed the seal.
In commemoration of the miraculous occurrence and the twofold Placing of the venerable Belt, the feast of the Placing of the Venerable Belt of the MostHoly Mother of God was established. Parts of the holy Belt are in the Athos Batopedia monastery, in Trier monastery and in Gruzia (Georgia).
The PriestMartyr Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, was born in about the year 200 in the city of Carthage (Northern Africa), where all his life and work took place. Thasius Cyprianus was the son of a rich pagan senator, and received a fine secular education becoming a splendid orator, teacher of rhetoric and philosophy in the school of Carthage. He often appeared in the courts to plea and defend the deeds of his townsmen. Cyprian afterwards recollected, that for a long while "he remained in a deep dark myst..., far from the light of Truth". His fortune -- received from his parents and from his vocational activity, he expended on sumptuous banquets, but they were not able to quench in him the thirst for truth. Having become curious about Christianity, he became acquainted with the writings of the Apologist presbyter Tertullian (born about the year 160). The sainted-bishop later wrote, that it then seemed impossible for him because of his habits to attain to the regeneration promised by the Saviour.
From such a burdened and undecided state of mind he was helped out by his friend and guide -- the presbyter Cecilius. At 46 years of age the studious pagan was received into the Christian community as a catechumen. And before accepting Baptism, he distributed his property to the poor and moved into the house of the presbyter Cecilius. Strengthened by the power of the regenerative grace of God -- received by him in Baptism, Sainted Cyprian wrote in a letter to his friend Donatus: "When the surge of regeneration cleansed the impurity of my former life, a light -- steady and bright, shone down from Heaven into my heart. When the second birth by the Heavenly Spirit transformed me into a new man, then in a miraculous manner I was strengthened against doubt, mysteries were revealed, and darkness was made light... and I learned, that my having lived in the flesh for sin belonged to the earthly, but now was begun a Divine living by the Holy Spirit. In God and from God is all our strength; from Him is our might. Through Him we, living upon the earth, have the hint of a condition of future bliss". Exemplarily a year after his Baptism the saint was ordained to the priesthood, and when bishop Donatus of Carthage died, all unanimously chose Saint Cyprian as bishop. He gave his consent, having complied with his guide's request, and was ordained bishop of Carthage in about the year 248.
The saint first of all concerned himself about the welfare of the Church and the eradication of vices amidst the clergy and flock. The saintly life of the archpastor evoked in everyone a desire to imitate his piety, humility and wisdom. The fruitful activity of Saint Cyprian became reknown beyond the bounds of his diocese. Bishops from other sees often turned to him for advice, as how to deal with this or that other matter. A persecution by the emperor Decius (249-251) -- revealed to the saint in a dream vision, forced him to go into hiding. His life was necessary to his flock for the strengthening of faith and courage among the persecuted. Before his departure from his diocese, the saint distributed the church treasury among all the clergy for the rendering of help to the needy, and in addition he dispatched further funds.
He kept in constant touch with the Carthaginian Christians through his epistles, and he wrote letters to presbyters, confessors and martyrs. Some Christians, broken by torture, offered sacrifice to the pagan gods. These lapsed Christians appealed to the confessors, asking to give them what is called a letter of reconciliation, i.e. an interceding certificate about accepting them back into the Church. Sainted Cyprian wrote to all the Carthaginian Christians a general missive, in which he indicated that those lapsed during a time of persecution might be admitted into the Church, but this needed to be preceded by an investigation of the circumstances under which the falling-away came about. An examination was necessary of the sincerity of contrition of the lapsed. To admit them was possible only after a Church penance and with the permission of the bishop. Some of the lapsed insistently demanded their immediate re-admittance into the Church and by this caused unrest in the whole community. Saint Cyprian wrote the bishops of other dioceses asking their opinion, and from all he received full approval of his directives.
During the time of his absence the saint authorised four clergy to examine the lives of persons preparing for ordination to the priesthood and the deaconate. This met resistance from the layman Felicissimus and the presbyter Novatus, roused to indignation against their bishop. Saint Cyprian excommunicated Felicissimus and six of his accomplices. In his letter to the flock, the saint touchingly admonished all not to separate themselves from the unity of the Church, to be subject to the lawful commands of the bishop and to await his return. This letter held the majority of Carthaginian Christians in fidelity to the Church.
In a short while Saint Cyprian returned to his flock. The insubordination of Felicissimus was put to an end at a Local Council in the year 251. This Council rendered a judgement about the possibility of receiving the lapsed back into the Church after a church penance and it affirmed the excommunication of Felicissimus.
During this time there occurred a new schism, put forward by the Roman presbyter Novatian, and joined by the Carthaginian presbyter Novatus -- a former adherent of Felicissimus. Novatian asserted that the lapsed during time of persecution could not be admitted back, even if they repented of their sin. Besides this, Novatian with the help of Novatus convinced three Italian bishops during the lifetime of the lawful Roman bishop Celerinus to place another bishop on the Roman cathedra. Against such iniquity, Saint Cyprian wrote a series of circular missives to the African bishops, and afterwards a whole book, "On the Unity of the Church".
When the discord in the Carthage church began to quiet down, a new calamity began -- a pestilential plague flared up. Hundreds of people fled from the city -- leaving the sick without help, and the dead without burial. Saint Cyprian, providing an example by his firmness and his courage, himself tended the sick and buried the dead, not only Christians but pagans also. The pestilential plague was accompanied by drought and famine. An horde of barbarian Numidians, taking advantage of the misfortune, fell upon the inhabitants taking many into captivity. Saint Cyprian moved many rich Carthaginians to offer up means for feeding the starving and ransoming captives.
When a new persecution against Christians spread under the emperor Valerian (253-259), the Carthaginian proconsul Paternus ordered the saint to offer sacrifice to idols. He steadfastly refused both to do this and to name names and abodes of the presbyters of the Carthage Church. The sent off the saint to the locale of Corubisum. Deacon Pontus voluntarily followed his bishop into exile. On the day when the saint arrived at the place of exile he had a dream vision, predicting for him a quick martyr's end. Situated in exile, Saint Cyprian wrote many letters and books. Wanting to suffer at Carthage, he himself returned there. Taken before the court, he was set at liberty until the following year. Nearly all the Christians of Carthage came to take their leave of their bishop and receive his blessing. At the trial Saint Cyprian calmly and firmly refused to offer sacrifice to idols and was sentenced to beheading with a sword. Hearing the sentence, Saint Cyprian said: "Thanks be to God!" and all the people with one voice cried out: "And we want to die with him!" Coming to the place of execution, the saint again gave his blessing to all and arranged to give 25 gold coins to the executioner. He himself then covered over his eyes, and gave his hands to be bound to the presbyter and archdeacon standing near him and lowered his head. Christians with lamentation put their shawls and veils by him so as to gather up the priestly blood. The martyr's death occurred in the year 258. The body of the saint was taken by night and given burial in a private crypt of the procurator Macrovius Candidianus.
Afterwards, during the time of king Charles the Great (i.e. Charlemagne, 771-814), his holy relics were transferred to France.
Sainted Cyprian of Carthage left the Church a precious legacy: his writings and 80 letters. The works of Saint Cyprian were accepted by the Church as a model of Orthodox confession and read at OEcumenical Councils (III Ephesus and IV Chalcedon). In the writings of Saint Cyprian is stated the Orthodox teaching about the Church -- having its foundation upon the Lord Jesus Christ, and proclaimed and built by the Apostles. The inner unity is expressed in an unity of faith and love, and the outer unity is actualised by the hierarchy and sacraments of the Church. In the Church Christ comprises all the fulness of life and salvation. Those having separated themselves from the unity of the Church do not have in themself true life. Christian love is shewn as the bond holding together the Church. "Love, -- is the foundation of all the virtues, and it continues with us eternally in the Heavenly Kingdom".
Sainted Gennadios, Patriarch of Tsargrad, was placed on the throne of the Constantinople Church in the year 458, during the reign of the holy nobleborn emperor Leo the Great (457-474). His life is known about from the book "Spiritual Meadows" in which were inscribed tales of the monks of Salamis monastery (near Alexandria), -- the Monks Sophronios and John. These monks were clergy of the Constantinople Church under Patriarch Gennadios. Sainted Gennadios was distinguished for his mildness, tolerance, purity and abstinence. About his power of prayer one might judge from the following instance: in the church of the holy Martyr Eleutherios at Constantinople was a disreputable clergyman Charisimos, spending his life in idleness, impurity and even occupying himself with theft and sorcery. For a long time Saint Gennadios admonished him with gentleness and patience, but Charisimos did not change his conduct. The patriarch resorted to strictness and gave orders to give the disreputable cleric several blows for comprehension. But even after the punishment he did not straighten out. Patriarch Gennadios then entrusted his emissary in his name to turn to the holy Martyr Eleutherios (Comm. 4 August) in whose church Charisimos served. Entering the temple, the emissary of the patriarch came before the altar, stretched out his hand to the grave of the martyr and said: "Holy Martyr Eleutherios! Patriarch Gennadios announces to thee through me a sinner, that the cleric Charisimos, serving in thy temple, doth do much iniquity and create great scandal; wherefore do thou either improve him or cut him off from the Church". On the following morning Charisimos was found dead. Another instance, displaying the great strength of prayer of Saint Gennadios, occurred with one of the portrait painters who dared to paint an image of Christ, giving the Saviour the features of the pagan god Zeus. The hand of the painter, having done such blasphemy, immediately withered. The repentant painter was brought in the church and confessed all his sins to the patriarch. Saint Gennadios prayed over the sinner, and the hand of the painter was healed.
To settle iniquitous actions and false teachings arising in the Church, Saint Gennadios summoned a Local Council at which were condemned the Eutykhian heresy and which interdicted simony (the buying of the dignity of ordination). The saint concerned himself that a person wishing to accept the priestly dignity would be quite knowledgeable in Holy Scripture and know the Psalter by heart.
During the time of the patriarchate of Saint Gennadios, there was built a temple in honour of Saint John the Precursor. Then a certain senator Studius having come from Rome founded a monastery, which afterwards became known as the "Studite". The church steward under the holy Patriarch Gennadios was the Monk Marcian (Comm. 10 January). The patriarch also ordained to the priesthood the Monk Daniel the Stylite (Comm. 11 December). Saint Gennadios was the author of dialogues and commentaries on the Prophet Daniel (the works have not survived). There is known also his Circular Missive against Simony", affirmed by a Council of the year 459. Sainted Gennadios governed the Constantinople Church for 13 years. He died peacefully in the year 471.
Once during the time of night prayer it was made known to the saint that a powerful enemy would fall upon his flock. He incessantly offered up prayer for the peace of the Church, that the Lord would preserve it invincible against the gates of Hades.
THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:
1. THE FEAST OF THE GIRDLE OF THE HOLY BIRTH-GIVER OF GOD
After her Dormition [Falling-asleep], the Holy Theotokos gave her girdle [sash] to the Apostle Thomas. That girdle was later brought to Constantinople and kept in a sealed reliquary in the church of the Mother of God at Blachernae, the royal foundation [Zaduzbina] of Empress Pulcheria. This reliquary was never opened until the time of Emperor Leo the Wise (886-912 A.D.). Leo's wife, the Empress Zoe, became mentally ill and, according to a mysterious vision, she desired that the girdle of the Holy Theotokos be placed on her. The emperor implored the patriarch and the reliquary was opened and the girdle was removed and placed on the ailing empress. The empress was immediately healed. This feast was instituted in commemoration of this miracle. One part of the girdle is to be found in Zugdid, Georgia. That is to say: the daughter of Emperor Romanus was healed with the aid of this girdle and later when her father married her to the Georgian Emperor Abuchaz, she took a part of that girdle with her. By order of the Russian Emperor Alexander I, a special church was built in Mingrelia in Zugdid where that part of the miracle-working garment of the Holy Theotokos is kept.
2. SAINT GENNADIUS, PATRIARCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE
Gennadius succeeded St. Anatolius as patriarch. He was a contemporary of St. Marcian (January 10) and St. Daniel the Stylite (December 11). During his time, the glorious Studite monastery was founded and named after the Roman Senator Studius, who came to Constantinople and with the blessing of Gennadius built the church of St. John the Forerunner and along side, it the monastery. Gennadius was very gentle and restrained. He would not ordain anyone who did not know the entire Psalter by heart. He presided at a local council in Constantinople at which simony in the Church was anathematized. He worked miracles and, in a vision, learned of his death. Gennadius governed the Church for thirteen years and peacefully presented himself to the Lord in the year 471 A.D.
3. THE PRIESTLY-MARTYR CYPRIAN
Cyprian was born of unbelieving parents and himself was educated in polytheism.
He became famous in Carthage as a teacher of philosophy and rhetoric. He was married but when he became a Christian, he ceased to live with his wife and dedicated himself to laborious study of Holy Scripture day and night and perfected his character. Because of his unusual virtues, he was chosen as a presbyter and soon after that as a bishop. As much as he was merciful toward Christians, so was he firm toward Christians. He wrote many works of instruction guided by the Holy Spirit. Especially, vehemently wrote against idolatry, Judaism and the Novatian heresy. Beautiful and sweet is his work concerning virginity, as well as of martyrdom and about charity, about patience, the Lord's Prayer and so forth. He suffered and died at the time of Valerian and Galian in the year 258 A.D. Before his death, he prayed to God, blessed the people and left twenty-five gold coins to be given to the executioner who would behead him. The unattainable greatness and generosity of a true Christian!
4. SAINT JOHN, METROPOLITAN OF KIEV
John was a Bulgarian by birth. He came to Kiev in the year 1080 A.D. and immediately attained such esteem that he was soon elevated to the throne of the Metropolitan See. John governed the Church for eight years. He wrote an epistle to Pope Clement in which he reprimanded him because of the innovations, which the Roman Church introduced. He died peacefully in the year 1089 A.D.
HYMN OF PRAISE
THE HOLY PRIESTLY-MARTYR CYPRIAN
Adornment of the Church, pride of Carthage,
Before and after the death of Cyprian the priest,
In word and deed, the faithful, he instructed
The pure and chaste ones, especially praising:
Chastity, says he, is the sanctity of the organs,
From the chains of passions, it is freedom
And the source of purity; the adornment of morality.
The dignity of the body and the cord of modesty,
The peace of a home, chastity is the crown of harmony,
Chastity is silence, the absence of anxiety.
When from the body, the spirit of man withdraws,
And into the realm of its own, it enters,
And of the inner world, perceives the luxury,
Then, the body to interfere, it does not allow
With insane passions, with various desires,
From worries deprived with empty luxury,
Luxury to us, an adorned woman does not proclaim
Rather an impure soul and its sinfulness.
O golden freedom, from desires of vanity,
Precious treasure of only a saint!
Chastity is freedom, chastity is silence,
From the Son of God both are gifts.
O Son of God O Good Lord
Grant us the glory of chastity and freedom.
Christians do not believe in kismet, fate or destiny. Even if God determines the chief lines of our life, He, according to our prayers and merits, can change them. Thus, He prolonged King Hezekiah's life for fifteen years: "Go and say to Hezekiah, thus said the Lord, the God of David Your father, I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears: behold I will add unto your days fifteen years" (Isaiah 38:5), and to the Venerable Dius (July 19) he likewise prolonged his life for fifteen years. God extended the life of St. Basil the Great, according to the prayer of the saint for one day until he baptized the Jew, Joseph, his physician. But, as God can, by prayer, prolong life, so He can shorten it because of sin. Emperor Anastasius adhered to the Severian heresy, so called the Acephalites (the headless ones), who spread the foolishness that the Church does not need bishops and priests but rather that everyone unto himself is a bishop and a priest and that everyone has the right, in his own way, to interpret Holy Scripture and to teach others as he understands and believes. In vain did St. John the Patriarch counsel the emperor to return to the truth of Orthodoxy, and not only did the emperor not accept the counsel but rather ill-treated the patriarch in various ways and contemplated to have him banished. One night, the emperor saw in a dream an awesome man on an exalted throne, who held a book in his hand. This man opened the book, found the name of Emperor Anastasius and said: "I have wanted to permit you to live for a while longer but, because of your heresy, behold, I am erasing fourteen years from your life." And he erased something from the book. Terrified, the emperor jumped up from his dream and related his dream to his followers. After a few days, thunder struck the emperor's place and killed Emperor Anastasius.
To contemplate the rejoicing of David in the Lord (2 Samuel 6 2 Kings 6):
1. How David transferred the Ark of the Covenant from Baal of Judah to Jerusalem and how, out of joy, he danced before the Ark;
2. How Michal, his wife, sneered at David because of his dancing before the Ark, not being ashamed the women;
3. How God punished Michal for that inappropriate sneer so that Michal had no offspring until her death.
About the power and the mission of Christ, as Isaiah prophesied
"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance to our God" (Isaiah 61: 1-2).
This great and programmed prophecy, the Lord Jesus read at the beginning of His saving work before the Jews in Nazareth and having read this, He sat down and said: "Today is this scripture fulfilled" (St. Luke 4: 16-21). One of the darkest prophecies for the Jewish scribes and priests, He read, closed the book and said: "Today is this scripture fulfilled." None of the Jews dared to touch this prophecy for no one knew to whom this prophecy pertains. Seven centuries have passed since this prophecy was spoken and written and no one knew to whom it pertains. And when that one [Christ] came, upon whom this prophecy pertains, He read it and applied it to Himself. Thus our great Lord justified His prophet and presented Himself to the world.
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me." Why does He speak so when He is equal to the Spirit as He is to the Father? As St. Chyrsostom interprets, it is for the sake of witnessing to the people. He does not say the grace of the Spirit [is upon Me], for the grace of the Spirit is upon the faithful people but the Spirit Himself is upon Him as was manifested on the Jordan river. The Spirit is the witness of the Son and the Son was never without the Spirit for one moment. The Lord Jesus often mentions the Father and the Holy Spirit first out of infinite love, toward the Father and the Spirit and love always ascribes its own to others and second for the sake of instruction to proud men that they do not emphasize themselves but rather to give honor to others, equal to themselves.
Everything else that is said in this wonderful prophecy, the Lord fulfilled by His miraculous works, word for word. He came primarily to proclaim the mercy of God to men but at the same time, to proclaim the Dread Judgment to those who would despise and reject that mercy.
This is the vision of Isaiah, the son of Amos, the prophet of God, the true prophet.
Brethren, let us venerate Isaiah whose God-inspired mouth foretold the Savior and our salvation and let us worship without ceasing our wonderful Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
We worship You our Lord and Savior and we give You thanks for Your All-wise plan for our salvation.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.