FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:
The Forefeast of the Nativity of the Theotokos
Sozon the Martyr
Kassiani the Hymnographer
Euodos and Onesiphoros, Apostles of the 70
John the Wonderworker of Novgorod
Προεόρτια τῆς Γεννήσεως τῆς Ὑπεραγίας Θεοτόκου.
Τοῦ Ἁγίου Μάρτυρος Σῴζοντος καί Κασσιανῆς τῆς Ὑμνογράφου.
READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:
The Reading is from St. Paul's Letter to the Galatians 2:6-10
BRETHREN, from those who were reputed to be something (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality) - those , I say, who were of repute added nothing to me; but on the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised (for he who worked through Peter for the mission to the circumcised worked through me also for the Gentiles), and when they perceived the grace that was given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised; only they would have us remember the poor, which very thing I was eager to do.
Πρὸς Γαλάτας 2:6-10
Ἀδελφοί, ἀπὸ δὲ τῶν δοκούντων εἶναί τι ὁποῖοί ποτε ἦσαν οὐδέν μοι διαφέρει· πρόσωπον θεὸς ἀνθρώπου οὐ λαμβάνει ἐμοὶ γὰρ οἱ δοκοῦντες οὐδὲν προσανέθεντο· ἀλλὰ τοὐναντίον, ἰδόντες ὅτι πεπίστευμαι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς ἀκροβυστίας, καθὼς Πέτρος τῆς περιτομῆς - ὁ γὰρ ἐνεργήσας Πέτρῳ εἰς ἀποστολὴν τῆς περιτομῆς, ἐνήργησεν καὶ ἐμοὶ εἰς τὰ ἔθνη - καὶ γνόντες τὴν χάριν τὴν δοθεῖσάν μοι, Ἰάκωβος καὶ Κηφᾶς καὶ Ἰωάννης, οἱ δοκοῦντες στῦλοι εἶναι, δεξιὰς ἔδωκαν ἐμοὶ καὶ Βαρναβᾷ κοινωνίας, ἵνα ἡμεῖς μὲν εἰς τὰ ἔθνη, αὐτοὶ δὲ εἰς τὴν περιτομήν· μόνον τῶν πτωχῶν ἵνα μνημονεύωμεν, ὃ καὶ ἐσπούδασα αὐτὸ τοῦτο ποιῆσαι.
The Reading is from Mark 5:22-24, 35-43; 6:1
At that time, there came to Jesus one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and seeing him, he fell at his feet, and besought him, saying, "My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live." And he went with him. While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler's house some who said, "Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?" But ignoring what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, "Do not fear, only believe." And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. When they came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, he saw a tumult, and people weeping and wailing loudly. And when he had entered, he said to them, "Why do you make a tumult and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping." And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside, and took the child's father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. Taking her by the hand he said to her, "Talitha cumi"; which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise." And immediately the girl got up and walked (she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat. He went away from there and came to his own country; and his disciples followed him.
Κατὰ Μᾶρκον 5.22-24, 35-43
Τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ, ἔρχεται εἷς τῶν ἀρχισυναγώγων, ὀνόματι ᾿Ιάειρος, καὶ ἰδὼν αὐτὸν πίπτει πρὸς τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ καὶ παρεκάλει αὐτὸν πολλά, λέγων ὅτι τὸ θυγάτριόν μου ἐσχάτως ἔχει, ἵνα ἐλθὼν ἐπιθῇς αὐτῇ τὰς χεῖρας, ὅπως σωθῇ καὶ ζήσεται. καὶ ἀπῆλθε μετ᾿ αὐτοῦ· καὶ ἠκολούθει αὐτῷ ὄχλος πολύς, καὶ συνέθλιβον αὐτόν. ῎Ετι αὐτοῦ λαλοῦντος ἔρχονται ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀρχισυναγώγου λέγοντες ὅτι ἡ θυγάτηρ σου ἀπέθανε· τί ἔτι σκύλλεις τὸν διδάσκαλον; ὁ δὲ ᾿Ιησοῦς εὐθέως ἀκούσας τὸν λόγον λαλούμενον λέγει τῷ ἀρχισυναγώγῳ· μὴ φοβοῦ, μόνον πίστευε. καὶ οὐκ ἀφῆκεν αὑτῷ οὐδένα συνακολουθῆσαι εἰ μὴ Πέτρον καὶ ᾿Ιάκωβον καὶ ᾿Ιωάννην τὸν ἀδελφὸν ᾿Ιακώβου. καὶ ἔρχεται εἰς τὸν οἶκον τοῦ ἀρχισυναγώγου, καὶ θεωρεῖ θόρυβον, καὶ κλαίοντας καὶ ἀλαλάζοντας πολλά, καὶ εἰσελθὼν λέγει αὐτοῖς· τί θορυβεῖσθε καὶ κλαίετε; τὸ παιδίον οὐκ ἀπέθανεν, ἀλλὰ καθεύδει. καὶ κατεγέλων αὐτοῦ. ὁ δὲ ἐκβαλὼν πάντας παραλαμβάνει τὸν πατέρα τοῦ παιδίου καὶ τὴν μητέρα καὶ τοὺς μετ᾿ αὐτοῦ, καὶ εἰσπορεύεται ὅπου ἦν τὸ παιδίον ἀνακείμενον, καὶ κρατήσας τῆς χειρὸς τοῦ παιδίου λέγει αὐτῇ· ταλιθά, κοῦμι· ὅ ἐστι μεθερμηνευόμενον, τὸ κοράσιον, σοὶ λέγω, ἔγειρε. καὶ εὐθέως ἀνέστη τὸ κοράσιον καὶ περιεπάτει· ἦν γὰρ ἐτῶν δώδεκα. καὶ ἐξέστησαν ἐκστάσει μεγάλῃ. καὶ διεστείλατο αὐτοῖς πολλὰ ἵνα μηδεὶς γνῷ τοῦτο· καὶ εἶπε δοθῆναι αὐτῇ φαγεῖν. Καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ἐκεῖθεν καὶ ἦλθεν εἰς τὴν πατρίδα ἑαυτοῦ· καὶ ἀκολουθοῦσιν αὐτῷ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ.
READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:
Τῇ Ζ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Μάρτυρος Σῴζοντος.Ἀντεῖχε Σῴζων σώματος πρὸς αἰκίας,
Πρὸς τὸν μόνον σῴζοντα τὴν ψυχὴν βλέπων.
Ἑβδομάτη Σῴζων θάνε, τυπτόμενος χρόα λαμπρόν.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τῶν Ἁγίων Ἀποστόλων Εὐόδου καὶ Ὀνησιφόρου.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Εὐψύχιος ξίφει τελειοῦται.Εὔψυχος Εὐψύχιος ἣν πρὸς τὸ ξίφος,
Χαίρων ὅτι πλάσαντι τὴν ψυχὴν θύει.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, ἑορτάζεται ἡ κοίμησις τοῦ Ὁσίου Λουκᾶ, τοῦ τῆς Λυκαόνων Ἐπαρχίας, τρίτου δὲ Ἡγουμένου τῆς Μονῆς τοῦ Σωτῆρος, τῆς ἐπιλεγομένης Βαθέος Ῥύακος.
Ταῖς τῶν σῶν Ἁγίων πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεός, ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Εκ τής ρίζης Ιεσσαί, καί εξ οσφύος τού Δαυϊδ, η θεόπαις Μαριάμ, τίκτεται σήμερον ημίν, διό καί χαίρει η σύμπασα καί καινουργείται, συγχαίρει τε ομού, ο ουρανός καί η γή, Αινέσατε αυτήν αι πατριαί τών εθνών, Ιωακείμ ευφραίνεται, καί Άννα πανηγυρίζει κραυγάζουσα, Η στείρα τίκτει, τήν Θεοτόκον, καί τροφόν τής ζωής ημών.
From the root of Jesse and the loins of David the King, Mariam, the child of God, is born for our sake this day. Hence, all creation exulteth on its renewal. Both Heaven and the earth rejoice together now. Praise her, O ye tribes of nations here below. The righteous Joachim rejoiceth, and Anna keepeth feast, crying out: The barren beareth the Theotokos, the nourisher of our life.
Kontakion in the Third Tone
Η Παρθένος σήμερον, καί Θεοτόκος Μαρία, η παστάς η άλυτος, τού ουρανίου Νυμφίου, τίκτεται, από τής στείρας θεοβουλήτως, όχημα, τού Θεού Λόγου ευτρεπισθήναι, εις τούτο γάρ καί προωρίσθη, η θεία πύλη, καί Μήτηρ τής όντως ζωής.
On this day the Virgin and Theotokos Mary, the bridal chamber of the Heavenly Bridegroom, by the will of God is born of a barren woman. Being prepared as the chariot of God the Word, she was pre-ordained for this, since she is the divine gate and the true Mother of Life.
This holy Martyr was a shepherd in Lycaonia. Born a pagan, named Tarasius, he received holy Baptism and was renamed Sozon. Filled with zeal for the truth, he taught his countrymen to desist from the worship of idols. Once he entered the temple of Artemis in Pompeiopolis of Cilicia, cut off the golden hand of the idol, and breaking it in pieces, distributed it among the poor. When he saw that many were being unjustly punished for the theft, of his own accord he gave himself up to Maximian the Governor. He was beaten with rods until his bones were broken. According to some, he suffered martyrdom in 288; according to others, in 304.
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 Second Tone
Νεανίας άλκιμος, ως επιστάς τώ σταδίω, στρατιώτης άριστος τού Ζωοδότου εδείχθης, τούτου γάρ, τήν δυναστείαν διεζωσμένος, έλυσας, τών παρανόμων τάς επινοίας, καί νομίμως, εναθλήσας, Σώζον θεόφρον, σώζεις τούς δούλους σου.
As we come together on this day, let us acclaim with a great voice Sozon, the true and God-bearing Martyr, the approved athlete of godliness, the divine initiate of grace, the most bountiful bestower of healings; for he intercedeth with God for us all.
"Δώη έλεος Κύριος τω Ονησιφόρου οίκω, ότι πολλάκις με ανέψυξε και την άλυσίν μου ουκ επησχύνθη, αλλά γενόμενος εν Ρώμη σπουδαιότερον εζήτησέ με και εύρε...". Έτσι γράφει ο Απόστολος Παύλος σε μία του Επιστολή για τον Απόστολο Ονησιφόρο, του οποίου η Εκκλησία σήμερα γιορτάζει την μνήμη. Δηλαδή, είθε να ελεήση ο Κύριος το σπιτικό του Ονησιφόρου, γιατί πολλές φορές με βοήθησε στην αιχμαλωσία μου και δεν εντράπηκε να ενδιαφερθή για έναν φυλακισμένο. Αντίθετα μάλιστα όταν βρέθηκε στη Ρώμη με περισσότερο ενδιαφέρον έψαξε και με βρήκε... Σ' αυτά τα λόγια του μεγάλου Αποστόλου, που είναι λόγια ευγνωμοσύνης, βλέπομε πόση αξία έχει να συντρέχουν οι χριστιανοί τους εργάτας της Εκκλησίας και τους κήρυκας του Ευαγγελίου στο έργο τους. Το είπε κι ο Ιησούς Χριστός κάποτε στους Αποστόλους· "Ος αν ποτίση υμάς ποτήριον ύδατος εν τω ονοματί μου... ου μη απολέση τον μισθόν αυτού".
Ὁ Ἅγιος Σώζων
Ἔζησε στὰ τέλη τοῦ 3ου αἰῶνα μ.Χ. Πατρίδα του ἦταν ἡ Λυκαονία καὶ σὰν ἐθνικὸς ὀνομαζόταν Ταράσιος. Ὅταν βαπτίσθηκε χριστιανός, ὀνομάσθηκε Σώζων. Βοσκὸς στὸ ἐπάγγελμα, προσπαθοῦσε νὰ μιμεῖται τὴν ἡμερότητα τῶν προβάτων, ποὺ θαύμαζε πολύ. Πολλὲς φορὲς τὸν ἐνοχλοῦσαν καὶ τὸν ἀδικοῦσαν οἱ ἄλλοι βοσκοί, ἀλλὰ αὐτὸς πάντοτε στάθηκε πρᾶος ἀπέναντί τους. Μοῦ εἶναι ντροπή, ἔλεγε, νὰ γίνω κατώτερος ἀπὸ τὰ πρόβατα ποὺ βόσκουν. Μελετοῦσε μὲ ἐπιμέλεια τὴν Ἁγία Γραφή, καὶ ὅταν στὴν ἐξοχὴ συναντοῦσε εἰδωλολάτρη, προσπαθοῦσε νὰ τὸν κατηχήσει στὸ Χριστό. Κάποτε ὁ Σώζων πῆγε στὴν Πομπηιούπολη τῆς Κιλικίας, ὅπου ὑπῆρχε ἕνα χρυσὸ εἰδωλολατρικὸ ἄγαλμα. Μόλις τὸ εἶδε, ἡ ψυχὴ τοῦ πράου Σώζοντα παροργίστηκε. Τότε, μὲ θάρρος πολὺ ἔσπασε τὸ δεξὶ χέρι τοῦ χρυσοῦ ἀγάλματος, τὸ πούλησε καὶ τὰ ἔσοδα διαμοίρασε στοὺς φτωχούς. Ὁ ἔπαρχος Μαξιμιανὸς ἀναστατώθηκε καὶ φυλάκισε πολλοὺς ἀνεύθυνους. Ὅταν τὸ ἔμαθε αὐτὸ ὁ Σώζων, παρουσιάστηκε στὸν ἔπαρχο καὶ στὶς ἀπειλές του μὲ ἤρεμο ὕφος ἀπάντησε ὅτι μέσα στὸ ναὸ τὸ ἄγαλμα ἦταν ἄχρηστο, ἐνῷ ἔτσι ὠφέλησε καὶ κάποιους φτωχούς. Ἀμέσως τότε, ἀφοῦ τὸν βασάνισαν φρικτά, τὸν ἔριξαν στὴ φωτιά, ὅπου ὁ πρᾶος καὶ ζηλωτὴς βοσκὸς ἀπῆλθε πρὸς τὸν Κύριο, ὁ ὁποῖος νὰ τί λέει γιὰ τοὺς πράους: «Μακάριοι οἱ πραεῖς, ὅτι αὐτοὶ κληρονομήσουσι τὴν γῆν». Μακάριοι, δηλαδή, οἱ πρᾶοι, ποὺ συγκρατοῦν τὸ θυμό τους καὶ δὲν παραφέρονται ποτέ, διότι αὐτοὶ θὰ πάρουν σὰν κληρονομιὰ ἀπὸ τὸ Θεὸ τὴν γῆ τῆς ἐπαγγελίας, ποὺ τὰ ἀγαθά της θὰ ἀπολαύσουν ἀπὸ τὴν παροῦσα ζωή.
Οἱ Ἅγιοι Εὔοδος καὶ Ὀνησιφόρος οἱ Ἀπόστολοι
Ὁ Εὔοδος ἀνήκει στὴ χορεία τῶν ἑβδομήκοντα Ἀποστόλων καὶ ἔγινε ἐπίσκοπος στὴ μεγάλη Ἀντιόχεια, ὕστερα ἀπὸ τὸν Ἀπόστολο Πέτρο. Αὐτὸς λοιπόν, ἀφοῦ ἔγινε μεγαλόφωνος κήρυκας τοῦ Εὐαγγελίου καὶ ἔλαμψε σ᾿ ὅλες τὶς ἀρετές, ἀπεβίωσε εἰρηνικά. Ὁ δὲ Ὀνησιφόρος, ἦταν χριστιανὸς οἰκογενειάρχης στὴν Ἐκκλησία τῆς Ἐφέσου. Τὸν ἀναφέρει ὁ Ἀπόστολος Παῦλος (Β´ πρὸς Τιμόθεον ἐπιστολή, α´ 16-18). Αὐτὸς λοιπόν, ἔγινε ἐπίσκοπος Κολοφῶνος τῆς Μικρᾶς Ἀσίας καὶ διακρίθηκε στὴ διδασκαλία τοῦ Εὐαγγελίου, τὸ ὁποῖο ὑπερασπίσθηκε μὲ ἀνδρεία μέχρι αἵματος. (Γι᾿ αὐτὸν τὸν Ἅγιο βλέπε καὶ στὸ βιογραφικὸ σημείωμα τῆς Ἁγίας Θέκλας, τὴν 24η τοῦ ἰδίου μήνα).
Ὁ Ἅγιος Εὐψύχιος
Ἀνήκει στὶς εὐσεβεῖς δόξες τῆς Καισαρείας στὴν Καππαδοκία. Ὁ πατέρας του Διονύσιος, πέθανε ἀλλ᾿ αὐτὸς δὲν ἀπέμεινε ὀρφανός. Κατηχήθηκε στὴ χριστιανικὴ πίστη, βαπτίστηκε καὶ ἔγινε ὑπήκοος καὶ μακαριστὸς γιὸς τοῦ οὐράνιου Πατέρα. Ὅλα του τὰ ὑπάρχοντα, τὰ μοίρασε στοὺς φτωχούς. Αὐτὸς ζοῦσε μὲ μεγάλη ἁπλότητα καὶ ἀφιερώθηκε στὴν ὑπηρεσία τῆς σωτηρίας τῶν ψυχῶν. Γι᾿ αὐτὸ λοιπόν, ὅταν αὐτοκράτορας ἦταν ὁ Ἀδριανὸς (117 μ.Χ.), καταδιώχτηκε καὶ καταδικάστηκε. Στὴν ἀρχὴ τοῦ ξέσκισαν τὰ πλευρὰ καὶ ἔτσι αἱμόφυρτο τὸν ἔριξαν στὴ φυλακή. Τελικά, ἀφοῦ δὲν μπόρεσαν νὰ τὸν ἀλλαξοπιστήσουν τὸν ἀποκεφάλισαν.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Πέτρος ἡγούμενος τῆς Μονῆς τοῦ Σωτῆρος τῆς ἐπικαλούμενης τοῦ Βαθέος Ρύακος
Αὐτὸς ἦταν μαθητὴς τοῦ ὁσίου Βασιλείου τοῦ κτήτορα τῆς Μονῆς τοῦ Βαθέος Ρύακος, ποὺ μετὰ ἀπ᾿ αὐτὸν ἀνέλαβε τὴν ἡγουμενία. Καταγόταν ἀπὸ τὴν δεύτερη ἐπαρχία τῶν Καππαδοκῶν καὶ διακρίθηκε γιὰ τὴν αὐστηρή του εὐλάβεια καὶ τὴν θεοφιλῆ ζωή του. Ἀσκητικὰ ἀφοῦ ἔζησε, ἀπεβίωσε εἰρηνικά.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Λουκᾶς ἀπὸ τὴν ἐπαρχία Λυκαόνων
Αὐτὸς ἔγινε μοναχὸς καὶ στὴ συνέχεια ἡγούμενος, τρίτος στὴ σειρὰ ἀπὸ τῆς ἱδρύσεως τῆς Μονῆς Βαθέος Ρύακος, ποὺ βρίσκεται στὴν Τρίγλια καὶ ἦταν ἀφιερωμένη στὸ ὄνομα τοῦ Σωτῆρος Χριστοῦ. Διαδέχτηκε τὸν Πέτρο τὸν Εὐλαβῆ ἀπὸ τὴν Καππαδοκία.
Ἡ Ὁσία Κασσιανή
Εἶναι ἡ γνωστὴ Κασσιανὴ ποιήτρια, ποὺ ἔζησε στὰ χρόνια τοῦβασιλιᾶ Θεοφίλου (829-842). Τὴ μνήμη της δὲν ἀναφέρει κανένας Συναξαριστής. Καὶ ὅμως οἱ Κάσιοι, ἀπὸ τὴν συγγένεια τοῦ ὀνόματός της μὲ τὸ νησί τους, καθιέρωσαν τὴν μνήμη αὐτῆς τὴν 7η Σεπτεμβρίου καὶ ὁ Γεώργιος Σασσὸς ὁ Κάσιος φιλοπόνησε καὶ εἰδικὴ Ἀκολουθία, ποὺ δημοσιεύθηκε στὴν Ἀλεξάνδρεια τὸ 1889 στὸ τυπογραφεῖο τῆς «Μεταρρυθμίσεως». Τὸ παράδοξο ὅμως εἶναι, ὅτι ἡ Ἀκολουθία αὐτὴ ἀφιερώθηκε στὸν Πατριάρχη Ἀλεξανδρείας Σωφρόνιο, ποὺ ὁ ἴδιος στὴν συνέχεια τὴν ἔδωσε γιὰ ἐκτύπωση στὸν Μητροπολίτη Θηβαΐδας Γερμανὸ (τὴν 1η Σεπτεμβρίου 1889) καὶ ἔτσι, ἐπισημοποιήθηκε κατὰ κάποιο τρόπο ἡ ἁγιοποίηση τῆς Κασσιανῆς ἀπὸ τὴν Ἐκκλησία τῆς Ἀλεξανδρείας, ὅπως τὸ ποθοῦσαν oι κάτοικοι τῆς Κάσου.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Ἰωάννης ὁ Θαυματουργὸς Ἀρχιεπίσκοπος Νοβογορδίας (Ρῶσος)
Martyr Sozon of Cilicia (208/304)
He began life as a pagan shepherd in Lycaonia. Coming to faith in Christ, he was baptized and received the name Sozon ("Save"). Thereafter he took every opportunity to proclaim the Gospel to his countrymen and to urge them to give up their idols. Entering a temple of Artemis in Cilicia, he cut off its golden hand, broke it into pieces, and distributed the gold to the poor. When he learned that because of this some were being punished unjustly for theft, he gave himself up to the governor Maximian. He was beaten to death with rods, by some accounts in 288, by others in 304.
Holy Apostles Evodus and Onesiphorus of the Seventy
St Evodus (or Evodius) is mentioned by St Ignatios of Antioch. He was a disciple of the Apostle Peter and succeeded him as Bishop of Antioch. It is said that the name "Christians" for members of the Church was given by Evodus. He was martyred during a visit by the Emperor Vespasian to Antioch. St Onesiphorus is mentioned by the Apostle Paul in his second epistle to St Timothy, where he calls Onesiphorus a friend and helper. He was a bishop in Colophon in Asia Minor, where he met martyrdom for Christ.
Holy Martyr Eupsychyius of Caesarea (2nd c.)
He was the son of a wealthy pagan senator in Caesarea of Cappadocia. When his father died, he gave his inheritance to the poor, proclaiming the Kingdom of God while he did so. For this he was arrested by Sapricius, Governor of Cappadocia, and put in prison. He persuaded his jailers to release him for awhile, and set about giving away the remainder of his worldly goods, first to his accusers and persecutors, then to the poor. When all his wealth was gone, he voluntarily returned to prison. He was viciously scourged several times, then beheaded. At his martyrdom, it is said that milk instead of blood flowed from his body.
Our Holy Father John, Archbishop of Novgorod (1185)
"He was first a married priest and then, from 1163, bishop in Novgorod, building seven churches during his lifetime. He had a vision of the holy Mother of God and a rare power over demons, making them obey him, and he once miraculously preserved Novgorod from an attack by seventy-two princes. He suffered from diabolical temptations, but overcame them all by the power of the Cross and by prayer. Retiring to a monastery in old age, he received the Great Habit and entered peacefully into rest in the Lord on September 7th, 1185." (Prologue)
St Kassia (Kassiani) the Hymnographer (9th c.)
She was born in Constantinople to a noble family, and grew to be unusually beautiful and learned — so much so that she was chosen to participate in a ‘bride show’, at which the Emperor Theophilos was to choose a wife. Struck by Kassia’s beauty, the Emperor approached her and said ‘Through a woman came forth the baser things,’ referring to Eve’s transgression. Kassia responded, ‘Through a woman came forth the better things’, referring to the Incarnation of Christ through His Most Pure Mother. Stung by her reply, the Emperor rejected her and chose Theodora as his wife. Kassia entered monastic life and founded a women’s monastery in Constantinople, closely allied with the Stoudion Monastery. Serving as abbess of the monastery, she wrote many liturgical hymns, at least twenty of which are included in the services of the Church. Best-known (or at least most closely associated with her) is the Hymn of Kassiani, sung at Matins on Holy Wednesday. She reposed in peace.
The Martyr Sozontes, a native of Likaonea, was a shepherd. He read the Holy Scriptures attentively, and he loved to share his knowledge about the One God with the shepherds who gathered together with him. He brought many to the faith in Christ and to Baptism. By night-time once, when he sat under an oak tree, he had a vision foretelling his deed of martyrdom for Christ. He set off to the city of Cilician Pompeiopolis, where a festal pagan celebration was being prepared for a golden idol, standing in a pagan temple. Unseen by anyone, saint Sozontes went into the pagan temple and broke off the hand of the idol, and having smashed it he gave the gold to the poor. The missing hands of the idol caused an uproar and commotion in the city: many were under suspicion, given over to interrogation and torture. Not wanting to be the cause ofd suffering for other people, Saint Sozontes went to the emperor Maximian (284-305) and declared, that it was he that broke the hand from the idol. "I did this, -- he said, -- so that ye might see the lack of power of your god, which offered me no resistance. It is not a god, but rather a deaf and dumb idol. I wanted to smash it all into pieces, so that people would no longer worship its wrought hands". The emperor in a fitful rage commanded that Saint Sozontes be tortured mercilessly. They hung him up and struck at him with iron claws, and then they put on his legs iron shackles with nails inside and took him through the city. After this they again suspended him and beat him with iron rods until his bones broke. In these terrible torments Saint Sozontes gave up his spirit to God (+ c. 304). By decree of the emperor, slaves set a strong fire so as to burn the body of the martyr, but suddenly lightning flashed, it thundered loudly and a strong rain poured down over the flames of the fire. Christians took the body of the martyr by night and gave it over to burial. By his grave and at the place where he had the vision, there occurred healing of many of the sick. A church later was built in memory of the sufferings of the holy martyr.
Sainted John, Archbishop of Novgorod, was born at Novgorod of the pious parents Nikolai and Christina. He passed his childhood in quiet and peaceful surroundings.
After the death of the parents John and his brother Gabriel, having received a small inheritance, decided to make on their inherited property a small monastery in honour of the Annunciation (Blagoveschenie) of the MostHoly Mother of God. At first they built a wooden church, but a short time later built also a stone church. Their good intentions were not without difficulties. Before they finished construction on the stone temple, the brothers totally exhausted their means. Only their steadfast and living faith inspired them to continue what they had started. They turned for help with it to the Queen of Heaven, on Whose account this God-pleasing matter was begun. Through their unflagging prayer She manifested to them Her mercy -- She foretold in a dream, that everything necessary for the completion of the temple would be provided. On the following morning the brothers saw a splendid horse, loaded with two sacks of gold. No one came by for it, and when the brothers took hold of the sacks, the horse then vanished. Thus did the Mother of god send means for the monastery.
Upon completion of the monastery construction, -- here under the protection of the Mother of God, the brothers took monastic vows. Saint John took the name of Ilia, and Saint Gabriel -- the name Gregory.
The chronicles speak about Saint John being made bishop under the entries for the year 1162. His first archpastoral missive was directed to the clergy of his diocese. It was embued with an endearing concern about his flock, written in a spirit of fatherly guidance: "It pleased God and the MostHoly Mother of God, through your prayers, that I but a mere man, should not refrain from this high dignity, of which I am unworthy. Wherein that ye yourselves have encouraged me to this service, now hearken to me..." The saint spoke about the vocation of the pastor -- he is concerned about his sheep, he not only chastises but also heals those that lead a sinful life. "At the beginning of my discourse I ask you, be not strongly attached to this world, but rather be instructive to people. Look first of all, that they not give themselves over to strong drunkenness. Yet ye yourselves know, that through this most of all do not only the simple people perish, but we also. When your spiritual children approach you in repentance, then question them with mildness. It is not seemly to impose harsh penances. Scorn not the reading of books, since if we do not make a start of doing this, then what will distinguish us from the simple unschooled people?... Do not impose penances upon orphans.... Let everything be seemly, in that the yoke of Christ ought to be light..."
In the year 1165 Saint John was elevated to archbishop (from that time the Novgorod cathedra became archbishopal).
The winter of 1170 was a very difficult time for Novgorod. Suzdal' forces with their allies laid siege to the city for two days since the Novgorod people would not accept prince Svyatoslav, and likewise the took the tribute-tax of the Dvina district which was not subject to them.
In grief the Novgorod people prayed God and the MostHoly Mother of God for the salvation of the city. On the third night, while he was praying before an image of the Saviour, Saint John heard a voice, ordering him to go to the church of the Saviour on Il'ina street, to take the icon of the MostHoly Mother of God and put it up upon a trident-hook. In the morning the saint told the assembly about the command and sent the archdeacon with clergy to the Sophia church for the icon. Going into the church, the archdeacon bowed down before the icon and wanted to take hold of it, but the icon would not budge. The archdeacon returned to the archbishop and told him about what happened. Then the saint with all the assembly went to the Il'ina church and on their knees began to pray before the icon. They began to sing a molieben canon, and at the 6th ode at the kondak " Mediatrix of Christians" the icon itself moved from the place. The people with tears cried out: "Lord, have mercy!" Then Saint John took the icon and together with two deacons carried it on the trident-hook. The Novgorod people in terror foresaw their doom, since the Suzdal' forces with their allies had made their way ready for pillage. In the sixth hour of the evening there began an assault, and the arrows fell like rain. Then by the Providence of God the icon turned its visage towards the city, and from the eyes of the MostHoly Mother of God there trickled down tears, which the saint gathered on his phelon. A darkness like ashes covered over the Suzdal' forces, they became unable to see and with terror they fell back. This occurred on 25 February 1170. Saint John established in honour of this a solemn feastday for Novgorod -- the Sign (Znamenie) of the MostHoly Mother of God (celebrated 27 November).
The Suzdal' army wreaked great harm on the Novgorod region. Here also the archpastor did not remain on the sidelines. He showed fatherly concern about devastated households suffering hunger, and he distributed aid to hapless orphans. Just like other Russian hierarchs, by prayer and by virtue he calmed and soothed the internecine strife in much-suffering Rus'. Thus, in 1172 the archpastor himself journeyed to Vladimir to reconcile the nobleborn prince Andrei Bogoliubsky with the Novgorod people.
The saint not only shared in the adversity of his people, but most of all he concerned himself about their spiritual enlightenment. Saint John devoted great attention to spiritual conversations, which often occurred in the circle of the clergy and the laypeople. There are preserved about 30 of his instructions: concerning Baptism, Confession, the Holy Eucharist. The Guidance for Monks is filled with spiritual grandeur: "Once having followed after Christ, monks as actualisers of spiritual life by the cross ought to live in solitary places, separate from worldly folk. Let them pilfer nothing for themself, nor not wholly be dedicated to God. A monk ought always to be a monk, at every time and at every place -- both in sleep and in wakefulness they should preserve the memory of death, and in flesh to be fleshless. Not for everyone does the monastery serve as a doctoring for sensual-love, just as silence -- is to anger, and death -- to greed for money, and the tomb -- to avarice... Monastic life and worldly life are incompatible, -- just as they do not harness together a camel and horse. The monk bends his neck beneathe the yoke of the Creator and ought to pull the plow in the valley of humility, in order to multiply the fine wheat by the warmth of the Life-bestowing Spirit and to sow the seed-grains of the reason of God. The black-robed is not his own master; being like gods take care not to rot in likeness to people, nor fall from the heights like the light-bearing prince [i.e. of angels, Lucifer-satan]... for from human glory is begotten haughty pride..."
The saint's spiritual powers of grace were unusual. For his simplicity of soul and purity of heart God gave him power against devils. One time, when the saint as was his custom prayed by night, he heard in the wash-bowl something splashing the water. Seeing that there was no one alongside him, the saint perceived, that this was the doing of a devil trying to scare him. The saint made the sign of the cross over the wash-bowl and restrained the devil. Soon the evil spirit could no longer bear the prayer of the saint, which scorched it with fire, and it began to implore to be released from the wash-bowl. The saint was agreeable, but set a condition, that the devil carry him from Novgorod to Jerusalem to the Sepulchre of the Lord, and back all in one night. The devil fulfilled the command of the saint, but asked him to tell no one about his shaming.
In one of his conversations the saint told his flock, that he knew a man, who by night visited the Holy Land. The revenge of the evil spirit was not slow in coming. It began to scatter about women's things in the cell of the saint. One time when a large crowd of city-folk, stirred up by jealous and unvirtuous people, had gathered at the cell of the monk, the devil appeared to them, looking like a woman which ran out from the cell. The saint came out to the racket and gently asked: "What has happened, my children, what is the noise all about?" The unruly crowd, shouting various charges of perverse life against the saint, dragged him to the River Volkhov. They put the saint on a raft and released it down along the current of the river, reckoning to be rid of it. But the raft, contrary to expectation, sailed against the current straight to the men's Yur'ev monastery, situated three versts from Novgorod. Seeing this, people took shame and with weeping and shouts they went along the river-bank after the raft, beseeching the saint to forgive them and to return to the city. The heart of the simple-souled archpastor was filled with thankful joy, not only for himself but just as much for his flock: ""Lord, hold this not in sin against them!" -- he prayed and granted pardon to all.
This occurrence happened not long before the death of the saint. Sensing its approach, he put off the hierarch's omophor and took the schema with the name John, -- the same name he had in his youth. As successor to himself he appointed his brother, Sainted Gregory (Comm. 24 May). The saint died on 7 September 1186 and was put in the portico of the Sophia church.
In 1439 through the zeal of Sainted Evphymii repairs were being made at the Sophia cathedral; in the portico chapel-temple of Saint John the Fore-Runner a stone suddenly came loose and powerfully cracked the lid of the tomb standing there. Sainted Evphymii gave orders to lift off the boards broken by the stone, and the temple was filled with fragrance. In the tomb they beheld the undecayed relics of the saint, but no one was able to identify whom this archpastor was. In his cell Sainted Evphymii began fervently to pray God to reveal to him the name of this saint. By night there appeared before him a man, clothed in hierarchical garb, and said that he was Archbishop John, found worthy to serve the miracle of the MostHoly Mother of God in honour of Her Sign (Znamenie). "I proclaim thee the will of God, -- continued the saint, -- to make the memory of the archbishops and princes lying here, on 4 October, and I shall pray Christ for all Christians". His memory is celebrated likewise with the Assemblage (Sobor) of Novgorod Sainted-hierarchs on 10 February; in 1630 a feastday was also established on 1 December.
The MonkMartyr Makarii of Kanevsk lived in the XVII Century. This was a most terrible of times for Orthodox Christians in western Rus'. The vital effort, made by the monkmartyr, was an effort of defence of the Orthodox Faith under conditions of inequitably exhaustive struggle, when it was possible only to defend the future of the Russian Orthodox Church, which was preserved from the brusque passing of the hurricane of the Unia, endured together with Tatar incursions.
The holy MonkMartyr Makarii was born in 1605 in the city of Ovrucha in Volynia -- into the illustrious Tokarevsky family, reknown adherents of Orthodoxy. In the years between 1614-1620 the saint studied at the Ovruchsk Dormition (Uspenie) monastery, and upon the death of his parents he became a monk at this monastery, having begun his service in the minor monastic rank of novice. In 1625 the Monk Makarii, with the blessing of the archimandrite, left the Uspensk monastery and was sent to the Pinsk bishop, -- Avramii, who assigned him to the Pinsk Kupyatichsk monastery. In 1630 he was ordained to the dignity of monk-deacon, and in 1632 -- to the dignity of priest-monk. Fame about the excellence of the monastic life of the priest-monk Makarii spread beyond the bounds of the Kupyatichsk monastery, and in 1637 the brethren of the Bretsk Simonovsk monastery turned with a request to the hegumen of the Kupyatichsk monastery -- Ilarion (Denisevich), to send them Saint Makarii to be their head. But the Kupyatichsk hegumen also had need of the priest-monk Makarii. In 1637 the head of the Kupyatichsk monastery sent him to the Kiev metropolitan Peter Moghila to hand over money collected by the brethren for the rebuilding of the Kiev Sophia temple, and for the solicitation of help for the construction and repair of damaged monastery churches. Seeing in the priest-monk Makarii a talented son of God's Church, the metropolitan issued him an universal certificate for the collection of offerings, and in 1638 appointed him head of the Kamenetsk Resurrection (Voskresenie) monastery (in Grodnensk district). Until the pillaging and seizing of the monastery by the Uniates in 1642, the Monk Makarii guided the brethren of the Voskresensk monastery. In these harsh times the brethren of the Kupyatichsk monastery summoned as hegumen the Monk Makarii, who held the monastery until 1656. From 1656 through 1659 the Monk Makarii headed the Pinsk monastery, and from 1660 in the dignity of archimandrite the Monk Makarii guided the brethren of his original Ovruchsk Uspenie monastery. More than ten years passed in incessant struggle with the Latino-Polish in Ovrucha. But neither the tearing-away by the Dominicans of the farm-lands belonging to the monastery, nor the rapacious pillaging of moveable property, nor thrashing, -- nothing was able to compel the brethren to quit the monastery. Only in the year 1671, after the devastation of Ovrucha by the Tatars, did the holy archimandrite Makarii leave the monastery, in which there remained not a single monk, and he set off for spiritual deeds to the Kievo-Pechersk Lavra. But the defenders of Orthodoxy, like the Monk Makarii, were needed not only at Kiev, but even moreso outside of Kiev. Metropolitan Joseph (Neliubovich-Tukal'sky) assigned Archimandrite Makarii as head of the Kanevsk monastery. Thus, after thirty years of struggle with the Uniates, the Monk Makarii was again on the front lines of giving battle for the Orthodox Faith.
In 1672 at the Kanevsk monastery the son of Bogdan Khmel'nitsky, -- Yuri, sought shelter. The hetman Doroshenko, having petitioned Metropolitan Joseph for the assignment of the Monk Makarii, repeatedly visited Kanevsk monastery and in 1675 switched to Russian allegiance, having renounced allegiance to the Turks, evidently, not without counsel from the Monk Makarii. In response the Turkish powers dispatched an army to Little Russia. On 4 September 1678 the aggressors rushed on the monastery. Saint Makarii met the enemy with cross in hand at the entrance to the church. The Turks demanded from the monk to hand over to them the monastery treasury. Hearing the answer of the monk, that his treasure was in Heaven, the furious robbers hung the saint hand and foot between two posts. After two days they beheaded the monkmartyr (+ 7 September 1678). Witnesses to the martyr's death of Archimandrite Makarii carried his body to the monastery church, in which for safety they were hidden. But the returning Turks placed firewood around the church and burnt everything concealed in the temple. When the citizens of Kanev that survived began removing the bodies of those that perished, then only one body was found whole and as though alive -- this was the body of the MonkMartyr Makarii, attired in hairshirt, with a cross on the breast and another cross in the hand. The holy body was buried in this temple beneathe the altar on 8 September 1678.
The holy MonkMartyr Makarii was a man of highly righteous and spiritual life, glorified while still alive by miracles and the gift of perspicacity. At Kanev he healed the blind and the dying.
In 1688, during renovation of the temple, the grave of the monkmartyr was opened and in it was found the undecayed body of the saint. In connection with the danger of invasion for the Kanevsk monastery, on 13 May 1688 the holy relics were solemnly transferred to the Pereyaslavl' regimental Resurrection church. There also they transferred the beloved book of the monkmartyr -- "Discourse of John Chrysostom on the 14th Epistle of the holy Apostle Paul" (Kiev edition 1621-1623) with his signature on one of the page-leafs. Under Bishop Zakharii (Kornilovich) the relics were transferred in 1713 to a new-built temple of the Pereyaslavl' Mikhailovsk monastery, and after its closing the relics reposed from 4 August 1786 at the Pereyaslavl' Resurrection monastery.
In 1942 the relics were transferred to the Trinity church in the city of Cherkassa, and from 1965 they are situated in a temple in honour of the Nativity of the MostHoly Mother of God in that same city.
The commemoration of the MonkMartyr Makarii is made twice: 7 September -- on the day of repose, and on 13 May -- on the day of transfer of the holy relics.
The Monk Serapion of Pskov was born at Yur'ev (now Tartu), which then was under the rule of Germans, who sought to stamp out Orthodoxy. His parents were parishioners of a Russian church in the name of Saint Nicholas. The Monk Serapion was versed in the Holy Scripture and more than once he entered into the defense of Orthodoxy. When they wanted to convert him by force to the foreign faith, he departed to the Tolvsk wilderness, not far from Pskov, where the Pskov ascetic monk Evphrosyn (Comm. 15 May) began his prayerful work. Under his nurturing the Monk Serapion began to acquire the wisdom of wilderness life. But soon he happened to undergo temptations: on the basis of his own powers he wanted without blessing to quit his guide and in complete solitude to start independent ascetic life. But the Lord brought the inexperienced novice to his senses: having seriously hurt his leg, he repented his self-will and disobedience and returned to the elder. Having taken on the great schema, for 55 years he dwelt constantly with the Monk Evphrosyn, strictly keeping the vow of silence. Brethren began gradually to gather around the Monk Evphrosyn, for which the elder built a temple in the name of the Three Hierarchs and gave a skete ustav (rule). The Monk Serapion zealously fulfilled everything commanded of him and was a role-model for the monks. The monk so strictly fulfilled the monastic vow of uncovetousness, that a copyist of his life called him "an unburied corpse". He bore every insult with extraordinary humility, always blaming only himself alone, and he himself asked forgiveness of his insulter. The monk deeply sensed the power of in-common church-prayers and he said, that "the order of the twelve psalms" sung alone in the dell cannot equal one "Lord, have mercy" sung in church.
The Monk Serapion died on 8 September 1480, on the feastday of the Nativity of the MostHoly Mother of God. Since the day of repose of the Monk Serapion coincides with the twelve great-feasts, his memory is made on 7 September. A tropar and kondak to the monk were compiled.
The Monk Evphrosyn himself gave over to the earth the body of his disciple, who from his fervent deeds had transformed himself into mere "bones, covered by skin". The Monk Serapion was not separated from his spiritual father even after death: their holy relics were placed alongside each other, and to the Monks Evphrosyn and Serapion there was composed a common service on 15 May, wherein the Monk Serapion is glorified as the first co-ascetic, "companion and friend" of the Monk Evphrosyn.
The Holy Disciple from the Seventy Evodus was, after the holy Apostle Peter, the first bishop in Syrian Antioch. About him there reminisces his successor the PriestMartyr Ignatios the God-Bearer (Comm. 20 December) -- disciple of the holy Apostle John the Theologian, in Ignatios' Letter to the Antiochenes: "Remember your blessed father Evodus, who was made first pastor for you by the Apostles..."
Saint Evodus served in the dignity of bishop for 27 years and died a martyr's death under the emperor Nero (54-68). Saint Evodus wrote several compositions. In one of them he writes about the MostHoly Virgin Mary, that She gave birth to the Saviour of the world at age 15.
Other compositions of the saint have not survived. Of them there is known a book under the title "the Star" mentioned by the XIV Century church historian Nicephoros Kallistos. The martyr's death of Saint Evodus occurred in the year 66.
About the Holy Disciple Onysiphoros the holy Apostle Paul (+ 67, Comm. 29 June) gives witness: "God grant mercy to the house of Onysiphoros for that repeatedly he hath given me rest and was not ashamed of my bonds, but being at Rome, with great diligence he searched after and did find me. May the Lord grant him to find the mercy of the Lord on that day; and how much he did serve me at Ephesus, thou well knowest" (2 Tim. 1: 16-18). Saint Onysiphoros was bishop at Colophon (Asia Minor), and later -- at Corinth. He died a martyr in the city of Parium (not far from Ephesus) at the shores of the Hellespont, whither he had set out to proclaim the faith in Christ amongst the local pagans. Here the holy disciple Onysiphoros was arrested and brought to an idolous pagan-temple. For his refusal to burn incense to the pagan gods, the disciple Onysiphoros, together with his servant Porphyrios, was tied to wild horses and dragged along the ground. In the Roman Martyrology the day of death of Saint Onysiphoros is reckoned as 16 September. The Orthodox Church honours his memory together with the holy disciple Evodus on 7 September, and likewise on 4 January in the Assemblage (Sobor) of the holy 70 Disciples.
The Holy Martyr Eupsykhias was born in Caesaria Cappadocia. In one of the synaxaria (saints-accounts) he is called the son of a senator Dionysios. During a time of a persecution against Christians under Adrian he was arrested and subjected to torture. After the torture they threw him into prison, where he was healed of his wounds by an Angel. When they set the martyr free, he distributed all his property to the poor, besides which he gave away a certain portion even to his enemies, who had reported on him and given him over to torture. Under the changeover to a new governor Saint Eupsykhias was again arrested. They hung him up and cut at his body with iron, and then they cut off his head with a sword. The martyr died under the emperor Adrian (117-138).
The Monk Luke was the third holy hegumen (from the year 975) at the Saviour monastery, named "Deep Rivers" (near Constantinople in the Cythian Gulf). The first holy hegumen was the Monk Basil (he died at the beginning of the IX Century, and his memory in the Greek Church is 1 July); the second holy hegumen -- was the Monk Ignatios (c. 963-975, Comm. 27 September). The monastery was famed for the especial strictness of the ascetic life of its residents. The Monk Luke died at the end of the X Century.
THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:
1. The Holy Martyr Sozon
Sozon was born in Lyconia. He was a shepherd and kept all of God's laws, instructing his peers and friends in his pious Faith. In a vision he was shown that he would suffer martyrdom for Christ. This was in the time of Maximian, magistrate of Cilicia, who perpetrated a terrible persecution of Christians in the nearby city of Pompeiopolis. In that city there was a certain golden idol which the pagans worshiped. Sozon left his flock, went to the city, entered the pagan temple and broke the arm off the golden idol. He crumbled it into bits and distributed it to the poor. There was a great uproar because of this, and the pagans sought out the guilty one. So that no one else would suffer for his deed, Sozon went to the magistrate and declared himself to be a Christian and the perpetrator of that act. His torturers first beat him, then suspended him from a tree and scraped his body with iron combs. When he was nearly dead, they cast him into a fire, where St. Sozon gave up his holy soul to God. He suffered in about the year 304. St. Sozon's relics were miracle-working, and a church in his name was built over them.
2. The Holy Apostles Euodus and Onesiphorus
Euodus and Onesiphorus were apostles of the Seventy. St Ignatius the God-bearer mentions Euodus with great praise in his Epistle to the Antiochians. Euodus was a disciple of the Apostle Peter, and his successor as Bishop of Antioch. The Apostle Peter himself consecrated him. Euodus wrote a work on the Holy Theotokos, in which he related how the Holy Virgin Mary was brought to the Temple at the age of three, and remained in the Temple for eleven years; how, on entering her fifteenth year, she was entrusted to St. Joseph for protection; and how, at age fifteen, she gave birth to the Lord. Euodus also wrote another work entitled "The Beacon." However, both of these works were destroyed during the persecution of Christians. He was slain for Christ during Emperor Vespasian's persecutions in Antioch. The Apostle Paul mentions St. Onesiphorus as his sincere friend and helper (II Timothy 1:16-18). St. Onesiphorus suffered for Christ in Colophon, where he was bishop. It is said that he was tied to wild horses and pulled apart. Thus, these faithful soldiers of Christ honorably served on earth, and entered into the joy of their Lord.
3. The Holy Martyr Eupsychius
Eupsychius was the son of Dionysius, a senator. He was severely tortured for Christ, being beaten and scraped, and was thrown half-dead into prison, where an angel of God came to him and healed him. Released from prison, he distributed all of his possessions-some to the poor and some to his slanderers. He was arrested again, and his body was scraped until he gave up his soul to God. Instead of blood, milk and water flowed from his wounds. He suffered in the time of Emperor Hadrian.
4. Saint John, Archbishop of Novgorod
John was a priest who was ordained Bishop of Novgorod in 1163. He built seven churches during his lifetime. He had a vision of the Holy Theotokos, and had unusual power over demons, whom he even forced to serve him. He miraculously saved Novgorod from an attack by seventy-two princes. He suffered from diabolical temptations, but by the power of the Cross and much prayer he overcame them all. In old age, he withdrew to a monastery and received the great schema. He reposed peacefully in the Lord on September 7, 1185.
HYMN OF PRAISE
The Holy Martyr Sozon
The young Sozon, a right-believing hero,
Stood erect before the unbelievers-
He stood straight, fearing nothing,
Holding his mind immersed in God,
Standing with his mind firm in heaven.
The tormentor subjected him to torture
For breaking the arm of the golden idol.
"I broke it," Sozon replied,
"To see if it would rebuke me,
But the idol's two arms are lifeless.
In vain do you offer sacrifices.
The lifeless idol said not a word to me,
And had no power to keep me from breaking its arm.
This dead thing was mute, as it has no spirit in it,
Nor understanding, nor sight, nor hearing.
I took the arm, not for theft
But to distribute bread to the poor.
O pagans, it was for your salvation
That I distributed this dead stone,
To bring some light into your souls,
That you might recognize the Living Christ as God."
Sozon knelt, and prayed to God,
And shed his blood for truth.
Sozon, the wonderful, unsurpassable hero,
Whose limitless source of strength was God.
Victory over anger is one of the greatest victories of a soldier of Christ. We generally become angry either at those we wish to turn back from sin, or at those who slander us. However, in doing so we forget that anger is a mortal sin, and in desiring the salvation of others we lose our own, according to the words of St. Macarius. Anger against our enemies is usually tied to another evil impulse, the desire for revenge. St. Eupsychius so overcame the passion of anger in himself, that before his death, he gave one portion of his great estate to the poor and another portion to his slanderers, because of whom he was being tortured and slain. He considered his slanderers as his benefactors. St. John Chrysostom writes: "Let us clip the wings of anger, and evil will not rise high. Anger is an evil sickness that can destroy our souls…. Anger is a terrible fire which devours everything…. If an angry man could see himself at the moment of his anger, he would need no other counsel not to become angry-because there is nothing more unpleasant than an angry face." Abba Ammon confessed of himself: "I spent fourteen years in Scetis, praying to God day and night, to give me victory over anger."
Contemplate Solomon's honoring of his mother (I Kings 2):
1. How his mother went to her son to ask something of him;
2. How he stood up, met his mother and bowed before her-even though he was king;
3. How, when he sat down on his throne, he placed his mother at his right hand.
on spiritual food
My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me (John 4:34).
Behold, here is love! Behold, here is instruction! Behold, here is humility! Behold, here is an example! As there is in good bread all that is needed for our body, so in every word of the Lord Jesus Christ there is all that is needed for our soul. The divine unity of the nature of the Father and the Son is expressed in the love of the Father for the Son, and the Son for the Father. He who loves, obeys. If you want to know how great your love for God is, measure your obedience to the will of God and you will know immediately. A lack of obedience is a sure sign of the lack of love. He who loves, fulfills the will of his beloved. The Son of God loves His Father so much that He regarded fulfilling the Father's will as the sweetest food. What is the will of the Father? The salvation of mankind. Our Lord, the Son of God, felt the insatiable hunger to fulfill the Father's will. When He saved someone, He felt as if nourished with the sweetest food. Do you see how exalted Christ's spirituality is? His disciples brought Him food from the city and urged Him: Master, eat! At that moment He was too occupied with His main work, the saving of human souls. There was the Samaritan woman, ready to embrace the teaching of salvation; there was the entire city of Sychar, already drawn to the Kingdom of God; and there was the great field ready for the harvest of salvation. For Christ this was food sweeter than all physical food and worldly sweetness. The body is a vehicle in which man, the king, rides. When the king performs his royal duty-ransoming his heirs from bondage-the vehicle must be put aside and not interfere in the work of the king. The king is so focused on saving his beloved heirs, that this mission is his food, drink, reward, sole satisfaction and dignity. O my brethren, if you could know how much Christ the Lord hungers, even today, for our salvation! If we did, then we would give Him the food that He likes most! Who is a greater guest, closer relative, or more sincere friend than He? When we host far lesser guests, more distant relatives and less sincere friends, we give them the food that we know they like. Then, why do we not host our Lord with the only food that is pleasing to Him? Let us embrace the salvation that He offers us-that, for Him, is the most pleasant food. He turns His head away from all other food.
O Lord Jesus, insatiable Lover of our salvation, have mercy on us and save us.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.