FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:
Righteous John Cassian the Confessor
Basil the Confessor
Kyranna the New Martyr of Thessaloniki
Τοῦ Ὁσίου Πατρός ἡμῶν καί Ὁμολογητοῦ Βασιλείου, συνασκητοῦ τοῦ Ἁγίου Προκοπίου τοῦ Δεκαπολίτου.
READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:
St. John's First Universal Letter 1:8-10; 2:1-6
Prokeimenon. Mode 4.
Their voice has gone out into all the earth.
Verse: The heavens declare the glory of God.
Brethren, if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we may be sure that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He who says "I know him" but disobeys his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps his word, in him truly love for God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him: he who says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
Ἰωάννου α' 1:8-10;2:1-6
Προκείμενον. Ἦχος δ.
Εἰς πᾶσαν τὴν γῆν ἐξῆλθεν ὁ φθόγγος αὐτῶν.
Στίχ. Οἱ οὐρανοὶ διηγοῦνται δόξαν Θεοῦ.
Ἀδελφοί, ἐὰν εἴπωμεν ὅτι ἁμαρτίαν οὐκ ἔχομεν, ἑαυτοὺς πλανῶμεν, καὶ ἡ ἀλήθεια οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν ἡμῖν. Ἐὰν ὁμολογῶμεν τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν, πιστός ἐστιν καὶ δίκαιος ἵνα ἀφῇ ἡμῖν τὰς ἁμαρτίας, καὶ καθαρίσῃ ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ πάσης ἀδικίας. Ἐὰν εἴπωμεν ὅτι οὐχ ἡμαρτήκαμεν, ψεύστην ποιοῦμεν αὐτόν, καὶ ὁ λόγος αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν ἡμῖν. Τεκνία μου, ταῦτα γράφω ὑμῖν, ἵνα μὴ ἁμάρτητε. Καὶ ἐάν τις ἁμάρτῃ, παράκλητον ἔχομεν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα, Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν δίκαιον· καὶ αὐτὸς ἱλασμός ἐστιν περὶ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν· οὐ περὶ τῶν ἡμετέρων δὲ μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ περὶ ὅλου τοῦ κόσμου. Καὶ ἐν τούτῳ γινώσκομεν ὅτι ἐγνώκαμεν αὐτόν, ἐὰν τὰς ἐντολὰς αὐτοῦ τηρῶμεν. Ὁ λέγων, Ἔγνωκα αὐτόν, καὶ τὰς ἐντολὰς αὐτοῦ μὴ τηρῶν, ψεύστης ἐστίν, καὶ ἐν τούτῳ ἡ ἀλήθεια οὐκ ἔστιν· ὃς δʼ ἂν τηρῇ αὐτοῦ τὸν λόγον, ἀληθῶς ἐν τούτῳ ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ τετελείωται. Ἐν τούτῳ γινώσκομεν ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ ἐσμέν· ὁ λέγων ἐν αὐτῷ μένειν ὀφείλει, καθὼς ἐκεῖνος περιεπάτησεν, καὶ αὐτὸς οὕτως περιπατεῖν.
The Gospel of Mark 13:31-37: 14:1-2
The Lord said to his disciples, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Watch therefore -- for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning -- lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Watch." It was now two days before the Passover and the feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth, and kill him; for they said, "Not during the feast, lest there be a tumult of the people."
Κατὰ Μᾶρκον 13.31-37. 14.1
Εἶπεν ὁ Κὐριος τοῖς ἑαυτοῦ μαθηταῖς· Ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ παρελεύσονται, οἱ δὲ ἐμοὶ λόγοι οὐ μὴ παρελεύσονται. Περὶ δὲ τῆς ἡμέρας ἐκείνης ἢ τῆς ὥρας οὐδεὶς οἶδεν, οὐδὲ οἱ ἄγγελοι ἐν οὐρανῷ, οὐδὲ ὁ υἱός, εἰ μὴ ὁ πατήρ. Βλέπετε, ἀγρυπνεῖτε καὶ προσεύχεσθε· οὐκ οἴδατε γὰρ πότε ὁ καιρός ἐστιν. ὡς ἄνθρωπος ἀπόδημος, ἀφεὶς τὴν οἰκίαν αὐτοῦ, καὶ δοὺς τοῖς δούλοις αὐτοῦ τὴν ἐξουσίαν, καὶ ἑκάστῳ τὸ ἔργον αὐτοῦ, καὶ τῷ θυρωρῷ ἐνετείλατο ἵνα γρηγορῇ. γρηγορεῖτε οὖν· οὐκ οἴδατε γὰρ πότε ὁ κύριος τῆς οἰκίας ἔρχεται, ὀψὲ ἢ μεσονυκτίου ἢ ἀλεκτοροφωνίας ἢ πρωΐ· μὴ ἐλθὼν ἐξαίφνης εὕρῃ ὑμᾶς καθεύδοντας. ἃ δὲ ὑμῖν λέγω, πᾶσι λέγω· γρηγορεῖτε. Ἦν δὲ τὸ πάσχα καὶ τὰ ἄζυμα μετὰ δύο ἡμέρας. καὶ ἐζήτουν οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ οἱ γραμματεῖς πῶς αὐτὸν ἐν δόλῳ κρατήσαντες ἀποκτείνωσιν.ἔλεγον δὲ μὴ ἐν τῇ ἑορτῇ, μήποτε θόρυβος ἔσται τοῦ λαοῦ.
- See more at: http://www.goarch.org/chapel/lectionary_view?type=gospel&event=1146&code=276&language=el&date=2/28/2013#sthash.Ak87UbXm.dpuf
READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:
Τῇ ΚΗ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, Μνήμη τοῦ Ὁσίου Πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ ὁμολογητοῦ Βασιλείου, συνασκητοῦ τοῦ Ἁγίου Προκοπίου.
Ὁ Βασίλειος Χριστὸν ἐν ψυχῇ φέρων,
Ψυχὴν σκιᾶς τίθησι τῆς αὐτοῦ χάριν.
Κρύψαν ὑπὸ χθόνα εἰκόνα ὀγδοάτῃ Βασίλειον.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Ἱερομάρτυρος Προτερίου, Ἀρχιεπισκόπου Ἀλεξανδρείας.
Ὁ Προτέριος σφάττεται τοῖς καλάμοις,
Ὀξυγράφου κάλαμος ὢν κατὰ πλάνης.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Μάρτυρος Νέστορος.
Οὐκ εἶχεν εἶδος, οὐδὲ κάλλος ἐν ξύλῳ,
Νέστωρ ἁπλωθείς, τὸ προφητικὸν φάναι.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τῶν Ἁγίων Γυναικῶν Κύρας καὶ Μαράνας.
Καταξιοῦνται Μαράνα τε καὶ Κύρα,
Σαρκὸς μαρασμῷ, κυριεύειν τοῦ πόλου.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, οἱ Ἅγιοι ἓξ Μάρτυρες, οἱ ἐξ Αἰγύπτου ξίφει τελειοῦνται.
Ξίφει θανεῖν ἔγραψαν ἓξ Αἰγυπτίους,
οἱ τοῦ χρόνου γράψαντες ἄθλους καὶ βίους.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, οἱ Ἅγιοι Ἀπόστολοι Νυμφᾶς καὶ Εὔβουλος ἐν εἰρήνῃ τελειοῦνται.
Χριστοῦ φυτεία Χρισταπόστολοι δύο,
Χριστῷ σύνεισιν Εὔβουλος Νυμφᾶς ἅμα.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, ὁ Ὅσιος Βάρσος, Ἐπίσκοπος Δαμασκοῦ, ἐν εἰρήνῃ τελειοῦται.
Πανήγυριν ῥέοντος ἐκλιπὼν βίου,
Σύνεστι Βάρσος Ἀγγέλων πανηγύρει.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, ὁ Ἅγιος Μάρτυς Ἀβίρκιος ξίφει τελειοῦται.
Χριστοῦ λατρευτῆς αὐχένα τμηθεὶς ξίφει,
Θεῶν λατρευτὰς Ἀβίρκιος αἰσχύνει.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ὁσίου Πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ Ὁμολογητοῦ Κασσιανοῦ τοῦ Ῥωμαίου.
Ἔνθεν μεταστὰς Κασσιανὸς πρὸς νόας,
Θείας νοητῶς κασσίας ἀποπνέει.
Εἰκάδα ἀμφ᾽ ἐνάτην θάνε Κασσιανὸς μεγαθύμων.
Ταῖς αὐτῶν ἁγίαις πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεός, ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.
This Saint was born about the year 350, and was, according to some, from Rome, according to others, from Dacia Pontica (Dobrogea in present-day Romania). He was a learned man who had first served in the military. Later, he forsook this life and became a monk in Bethlehem with his friend and fellow-ascetic, Germanus of Dacia Pontica, whose memory is also celebrated today. Hearing the fame of the great Fathers of Scete, they went to Egypt about the year 390; their meetings with the famous monks of Scete are recorded in Saint John's Conferences. In the year 403 they went to Constantinople, where Cassian was ordained deacon by Saint John Chrysostom; after the exile of Saint Chrysostom, Saints Cassian and Germanus went to Rome with letters to Pope Innocent I in defence of the exiled Archbishop of Constantinople. There Saint Cassian was ordained priest, after which he went to Marseilles, where he established the famous monastery of Saint Victor. He reposed in peace about the year 433.
The last of his writings was On the Incarnation of the Lord, Against Nestorius, written in 430 at the request of Leo, the Archdeacon of Pope Celestine. In this work he was the first to show the spiritual kinship between Pelagianism, which taught that Christ was a mere man who without the help of God had avoided sin, and that it was possible for man to overcome sin by his own efforts; and Nestorianism, which taught that Christ was a mere man used as an instrument by the Son of God, but was not God become man; and indeed, when Nestorius first became Patriarch of Constantinople in 428, he made much show of persecuting the heretics, with the exception only of the Pelagians, whom he received into communion and interceded for them to the Emperor and to Pope Celestine.
The error opposed to Pelagianism but equally ruinous was Augustine's teaching that after the fall, man was so corrupt that he could do nothing for his own salvation, and that God simply predestined some men to salvation and others to damnation. Saint John Cassian refuted this blasphemy in the thirteenth of his Conferences, with Abbot Chairemon, which eloquently sets forth, at length and with many citations from the Holy Scriptures, the Orthodox teaching of the balance between the grace of God on one hand, and man's efforts on the other, necessary for our salvation.
Saint Benedict of Nursia, in Chapter 73 of his Rule, ranks Saint Cassian's Institutes and Conferences first among the writings of the monastic fathers, and commands that they be read in his monasteries; indeed, the Rule of Saint Benedict is greatly indebted to the Institutes of Saint John Cassian. Saint John Climacus also praises him highly in section 105 of Step 4 of the Ladder of Divine Ascent, on Obedience.
Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Εν σοί Πάτερ ακριβώς διεσώθη τό κατ' εικόνα, λαβών γάρ τόν σταυρόν, ηκολούθησας τώ Χριστώ καί πράττων εδίδασκες, υπεροράν μέν σαρκός, παρέρχεται γάρ, επιμελείσθαι δέ ψυχής πράγματος αθανάτου. Διό καί μετά Αγγέλων συναγάλλεται, Όσιε X τό πνεύμά σου.
The image of God, was faithfully preserved in you, O Father. For you took up the Cross and followed Christ. By Your actions you taught us to look beyond the flesh for it passes, rather to be concerned about the soul which is immortal. Wherefore, O Holy John Cassian, your soul rejoices with the angels.
Kontakion in the First Tone
Οἰ λόγοι σου σοφέ, οὐρανίου κασσίας, ὀσμὴν πνευματικήν, διαπνέουσι κόσμῳ· φιάλαι γὰρ ὤφθησαν, ἀρωμάτων ὠς γέγραπται, σιαγόνες σου, αἰ ἀναπτύσσουσαι πᾶσιν, τὰς ἐν Πνεύματι, πνευματικὰς ἀναβάσεις, Κασσιανὲ Ὄσιε.
Thy words breathe forth the sweetness of heavenly cassia, dispelling the foul odour of passion and pleasures; but with the sweet fragrance of thy discretion and temperance, they make known the spiritual ascents in the Spirit, leading men on high, O righteous Father John Cassian, divinely-sent guide of monks.
Saints Procopius and Basil, fellow ascetics, lived about the middle of the eighth century, during the reign of Leo the Isaurian (717-741), from whom they suffered many things for the sake of the veneration of the holy icons. They ended their lives in the ascetical discipline.
Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Ταίς τών δακρύων σου ροαίς, τής ερήμου τό άγονον εγεώργησας, καί τοίς εκ βάθους στεναγμοίς, εις εκατόν τούς πόνους εκαρποφόρησας, καί γέγονας φωστήρ, τή οικουμένη λάμπων τοίς θαύμασι, X Πατήρ ημών, Όσιε, Πρέσβευε Χριστώ τώ Θεώ, σωθήναι τάς ψυχάς ημών.
With the rivers of your tears, you have made the barren desert fertile. Through sighs of sorrow from deep within you, your labors have borne fruit a hundred-fold. By your miracles you have become a light, shining upon the world. O Basil, our Holy Father, pray to Christ our God, to save our souls.
Kontakion in the Second Tone
Εξ ύψους λαβών, τήν θείαν αποκάλυψιν, εξήλθες σοφέ, εκ μέσου τών θορύβων, καί μονάσας οσίως, τών θαυμάτων είληφας τήν ενέργειαν, καί τάς νόσους ιάσθαι τή χάριτι, Βασίλειε παμμάκαρ Ιερώτατε. -
Thou tookest thyself away from worldly turbulence, since thou hadst received God's revelation from on high; and for living righteously as a monk, thou didst receive might from grace to heal ills and work miracles, O all-blessed Basil, wise in sacred things.
- See more at: http://www.goarch.org/chapel/saints_view?contentid=444&type=saints#sthash.QN3ZGIC0.dpuf
Η μνήμη του αγίου Προτερίου Πατριάρχου Αλεξανδρείας, τον οποίον η Εκκλησία μας γιορτάζει σήμερα, μας δίνει αφορμή να σκεφθούμε επάνω στο θέμα του θρησκευτικού φανατισμού. Εν ονόματι της θρησκείας οι άνθρωποι φανατίζονται και τυφλώνονται και διαπράττουν φοβερά εγκλήματα. Δυστυχώς τέτοια εγκλήματα δεν λείπουν και στην ιστορία του Χριστιανισμού και στην αρχαία και στη νεώτερη εποχή. Οι εχθροί της πίστεως στα εγκλήματα αυτά βρίσκουν ευκαιρία να κατηγορήσουν τον Χριστιανισμό, σαν και να ευθύνεται ο Χριστός και το Ευαγγέλιο για τα πάθη των ανθρώπων. Δυστυχώς πάντα υπάρχουν άνθρωποι, που χρησιμοποιούν τις ιερώτερες αλήθειες για σημαία της κακίας τους και εν ονόματι του Χριστού διώκουν και σφάζουν ιερείς, όπως τον άγιο Προτέριο. Το είπεν ο Χριστός και είναι γραμμένο στο Ευαγγέλιο, ότι "έρχεται ώρα ίνα πας ο αποκτείνας υμάς δόξη λατρείαν προσφέρειν τω Θεώ".
Ὁ Ὅσιος Βασίλειος ὁ Ὁμολογητὴς συναθλητὴς τοῦ Ἁγίου Προκοπίου τοῦ Δεκαπολίτου
«Δι᾿ ὑπομονῆς τρέχωμεν τὸν Προκείμενον ἡμῖν ἀγῶνα». Ἂς τρέχουμε μὲ ὑπομονὴ τὸν ἀγῶνα ποὺ προβάλλει μπροστά μας. Μ᾿ αὐτὸν τὸν τρόπο ἀγωνίστηκε καὶ ὁ Ὅσιος Βασίλειος ἐνάντια στοὺς εἰκονομάχους, ἐπὶ Λέοντος Γ´ τοῦ Ἰσαύρου. Ὑπῆρξε μαθητὴς καὶ συναθλητὴς τοῦ Ἁγίου Προκοπίου τοῦ Δεκαπολίτου (+ 27 Φεβρουαρίου) σὲ ποιὰ μονὴ ὅμως, μᾶς εἶναι ἄγνωστο. Καταδιώχθηκε γιὰ τὴν ἄκαμπτη ἀντίστασή του καὶ τὴν θαῤῥαλέα συνηγορία του ὑπὲρ τῆς Ὀρθοδοξίας. Βασανίστηκε ποικιλοτρόπως καὶ φυλακίστηκε. Μετὰ τὸ θάνατο τοῦ Λέοντα Γ´, τοῦ δόθηκε ἡ ἐλευθερία του. Τότε ἐπιδόθηκε στὴ διδασκαλία τῆς πίστης, μὲ ὅλη τὴν θέρμη τῆς φιλοχρίστου ψυχῆς του. Ἀθλητὴς τοῦ ἀσκητηρίου του, κατάρτιζε πάντοτε πνευματικότερα τὸν ἑαυτό του. Μέγας ἀγωνιστὴς τῆς Ἐκκλησίας, στρατευόταν συνεχῶς γιὰ τὴν ἐνίσχυση τῆς ὀρθόδοξης ἀλήθειας, γιὰ τὴν διαφώτιση τῶν αἱρετικῶν, γιὰ τὴν στερέωση τῶν πιστῶν καὶ γιὰ τὴν μετάνοια τῶν ἁμαρτωλῶν. Ὁ θάνατος τὸν πῆρε ἀπὸ τὸ πολύμοχθο αὐτὸ στάδιο, γιὰ νὰ τὸν μεταφέρει στὴ δόξα καὶ τὴν μακαριότητα τῶν δικαίων καὶ στεφανηφόρων ψυχῶν.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Προτέριος, ἱερομάρτυρας Ἀρχιεπίσκοπος Ἀλεξανδρείας
Ἦταν ἀρχιπρεσβύτερος καὶ πατριαρχικὸς ἐπίτροπος στὴν Ἐκκλησία τῆς Ἀλεξανδρείας, τὸ ἔτος 450, στὰ χρόνια τῶν βασιλέων Μαρκιανοῦ καὶ Πουλχερίας. Ὅταν ἔγινε ἡ Δ´ Οἰκουμενικὴ Σύνοδος στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη (451), συμμετεῖχε σ᾿ αὐτὴ καὶ ὁ Προτέριος, καὶ μὲ τόλμη ἀγωνίστηκε κατὰ τῆς πλάνης τῶν μονοφυσιτῶν. Ἡ Σύνοδος αὐτὴ καταδίκασε τὸν μονοφυσίτη Πατριάρχη Ἀλεξανδρείας Διόσκορο καὶ στὸ θρόνο ἀνέβασε τὸν Προτέριο (452-457). Οἱ μονοφυσῖτες, ὅμως, κατόρθωσαν νὰ δημιουργήσουν ταραχὲς στὴν Ἀλεξάνδρεια. Μὲ ἐπικεφαλῆς κάποιον μονοφυσίτη ἱερέα Ἀλεξανδρείας Τιμόθεο τὸν Αἴλουρο, ὁ ὁποῖος κατάφερε νὰ ξεγελάσει ἀκόμα καὶ τοὺς μοναχοὺς καὶ νὰ τοὺς πάρει μὲ τὸ μέρος του, ὁ μανιασμένος ὄχλος ἀνακήρυξε Πατριάρχη αὐτὸν τὸν ἱερέα. Ὁ Προτέριος γιὰ νὰ σωθεῖ ἀπὸ τὴν λύσσα τῶν αἱρετικῶν, κρύφτηκε μέσα σὲ μία μεγάλη κολυμβήθρα τοῦ ναοῦ. Οἱ αἱρετικοὶ ὅμως τὸν ἀνακάλυψαν καὶ μέσα ἐκεῖ τὸν ἔσφαξαν. Καὶ ὅλα αὐτὰ ἔγιναν τὴν Μεγάλη Ἑβδομάδα, καὶ ὁ Τιμόθεος ὁ Αἴλουρος τελοῦσε τὶς ἀκολουθίες τῶν Παθῶν μὲ ματωμένα χέρια. Ἀργότερα ὁ Τιμόθεος αὐτὸς καταδικάσθηκε συνοδικὰ καὶ ἐξορίστηκε στὴ Γάγγρα. Ὁ δὲ Προτέριος ἀνακηρύχθηκε μέγας Ἅγιος της Ὀρθόδοξης Ἐκκλησίας. (Ὁρισμένοι Συναξαριστὲς περιττῶς ἀναφέρουν τὴν μνήμη του καὶ τὴν 23η Φεβρουαρίου).
Ὁ Ὅσιος Βάρσος ἐπίσκοπος Δαμασκοῦ
Ὁ Ἅγιος Ἀβρίκιος (ἢ Ἀβέρκιος)
Μαρτύρησε διὰ ξίφους.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Νέστωρ
Καταγόταν ἀπὸ τὴν Πέργη τῆς Παμφυλίας καὶ διέδιδε θερμὰ τὴν χριστιανικὴ πίστη. Τόσο δὲ τολμηρὸς ἦταν στὸ ἔργο του, ποὺ ἐξακολουθοῦσε ἄφοβα νὰ τὸ πράττει καὶ μετὰ τὰ διατάγματα τοῦ αὐτοκράτορα Διοκλητιανοῦ κατὰ τῶν χριστιανῶν. Ὁ Διοικητὴς τῆς Πέργης Εἰρήναρχος, τὸν συνέλαβε καὶ τὸν ἔστειλε στὸν ἔπαρχο τῆς Παμφυλίας Πόπλιο. Αὐτὸς μάταια προσπάθησε νὰ τὸν παρασύρει στὴν ἄρνηση τοῦ Χριστοῦ. Ὅταν δὲ ἔχασε κάθε ἐλπίδα, διέταξε τὴν σταύρωσή του. Ὁ Νέστωρ ὑπέστη τὸ μαρτύριό του μὲ πολλὴ καρτερία. Καὶ ἀπὸ τὸ σταυρό, ἐνῷ οἱ πόνοι τὸν κατακεντοῦσαν, αὐτὸς ὑμνοῦσε τὸ Χριστό. (Τὸν Νέστορα αὐτὸν ὁ Πατμιακὸς Κώδικας 266 καλεῖ ἐπίσκοπο).
Οἱ Ὁσίες Μαράνα ἢ Μαριάννα καὶ Κύρα
Πατρίδα τους ἦταν ἡ Βέῤῥοια (τωρινὸ Χαλέπιο) τῆς Συρίας καὶ ἔζησαν στὶς ἀρχὲς τοῦ 5ου αἰῶνα μ.Χ. Ἡ καταγωγή τους ἦταν ἐπίσημη καὶ εὐγενική, ἀνάλογη δὲ καὶ ἡ μόρφωσή τους. Αὐτὲς ὅμως καταφρόνησαν τὴν λαμπρότητα καὶ τὰ ἄλλα θέλγητρα τῆς ζωῆς, καὶ ἔκτισαν ἕνα περιτείχισμα ἔξω ἀπὸ τὴν πόλη ὅπου ἐκεῖ μέσα με αὐστηρὴ ἄσκηση προόδευαν στὶς ἀρετὲς τοῦ Νυμφίου Χριστοῦ. Ἡ Ὁσία ζωή τους προσείλκυσε καὶ τὶς ὑπηρέτριές τους. Ἐκεῖ μέσα πέρασαν ἀπομονωμένες 42 χρόνια. Ἔπειτα ἐπισκέφθηκαν τοὺς Ἁγίους Τόπους, κατόπιν τὸ ναὸ τῆς Ἁγίας Θέκλας στὴν Ἰσαυρία καὶ ἐπέστρεψαν πολὺ ὠφελημένες στὸ ἐρημητήριό τους. Ἔτσι μὲ τὴν ἐνάρετη πολιτεία τους ἀφοῦ στόλισαν τὸ γένος τῶν γυναικῶν, καὶ ἔγιναν παράδειγμα ἀρετῆς καὶ ἄσκησης στὶς ἄλλες γυναῖκες, παρέδωσαν τὸ πνεῦμα τους στὸν Νυμφίο Χριστό.
Οἱ Ἅγιοι ἕξι Μάρτυρες ἀπὸ τὴν Αἴγυπτο
Μαρτύρησαν διὰ ξίφους.
Οἱ Ἅγιοι Νυμφᾶς καὶ Εὔβουλος οἱ Ἀπόστολοι
Γι᾿ αὐτοὺς ἀναφέρει ὁ Ἀπόστολος Παῦλος στὶς Ἐπιστολές του, Κολ. δ´ 15 καὶ Β´ Τιμ. δ´ 21. Καὶ οἱ δυὸ ἀπεβίωσαν εἰρηνικά.
Ἡ Ἁγία Κυράννα (ἢ Κυρήνη) ἡ Νεομάρτυς
Ἡ ἁγία αὐτὴ νύμφη τοῦ Χριστοῦ καταγόταν ἀπὸ τὸ χωριὸ Ἀθυσσώκα τῆς Θεσσαλονίκης ἀπὸ γονεῖς εὐσεβεῖς χριστιανούς. Ἦταν πολὺ ὄμορφη καὶ ἡ ζωή της ἦταν ἐνάρετη καὶ φρόνιμη. Κάποιος γενίτσαρος ποὺ ἦλθε στὸ χωριὸ τῆς Κυράννας νὰ εἰσπράξει φόρους, τὴν εἶδε, τὴν θαύμασε καὶ ἀποφάσισε νὰ τὴν ἐξισλαμίσει καὶ νὰ τὴν παντρευτεῖ. Παρὰ τὶς ὑποσχέσεις καὶ τὴν ἐπιμονὴ τοῦ γενίτσαρου, ἡ παρθένος αὐτή, ποὺ εἶχε ἀκέραιο τὸ χριστιανικό της φρόνημα, παρέμεινε ἀνένδοτη καὶ δὲν ὑπέκυψε στὶς προτάσεις τοῦ ἀπίστου. Ὁπότε ὁ γενίτσαρος αὐτός, μὲ τὴν βοήθεια τῶν συντρόφων του, τὴν ἅρπαξε καὶ τὴν πῆγε στὸν κριτὴ τῆς Θεσ/νίκης, ψευδομαρτυρῶντας ἐναντίον της, ὅτι δῆθεν τοῦ ὑποσχέθηκε ν᾿ ἀλλάξει τὴν πίστη της καὶ νὰ τὸν παντρευτεῖ. Ἡ Κυράννα μὲ σεμνότητα καὶ χωρὶς φόβο εἶπε, ὅτι εἶναι χριστιανὴ καὶ Νυμφίο της ἔχει τὸν Χριστό, τὸν ὁποῖο ποθεῖ ἀπὸ τὴν νεότητά της καὶ εἶναι ἕτοιμη γιὰ τὴν ἀγάπη της πρὸς Αὐτὸν νὰ χύσει καὶ τὸ αἷμα της. Οἱ Τοῦρκοι, μπροστὰ στὴν ἀμετάθετη γνώμη τῆς Κυράννας, τὴν ἔριξαν στὴ φυλακή, ὅπου ἀνελέητα καὶ ἄσπλαχνα τὴν ἔδερναν γιὰ πολλὲς μέρες. Αὐτή, ὅμως, ἀκράδαντα ὁμολογοῦσε τὸν Χριστό. Τότε τὰ βασανιστήρια συνεχίστηκαν, μέχρι ποὺ ἡ Ἁγία παρέδωσε τὸ πνεῦμα της στὶς 28 Φεβρουαρίου 1751. Ἀσματικὴ ἀκολουθία της, συνέγραψε ὁ Χριστοφόρος Προδρομίτης.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Κασσιανὸς ὁ Ῥωμαῖος
Ῥωμαῖος στὴν καταγωγή, μὲ γονεῖς πλούσιους καὶ ἐπιφανεῖς. Ἡ μεγάλη του εὐφυΐα, ἡ φιλομάθεια καὶ ἡ ἐπιμέλειά του, ἦταν ἀπὸ τοὺς βασικοὺς παράγοντες, ὥστε ὁ Κασσιανὸς νὰ διακριθεῖ στὶς σπουδές του καὶ νὰ γίνει ἄριστος ἐπιστήμων. μαζὶ μὲ τὴν διανοητικὴ αὐτὴ προκοπή του, καλλιέργησε καὶ τὴν ζωὴ τῆς χριστιανικῆς ἁγιότητας, μὲ πολὺ ζῆλο καὶ προσεκτικὴ ἀκρίβεια. Ὅπως ἡ ἐπιστήμη του ὑπῆρξε φωτεινή, ἔτσι σταθερὴ στάθηκε καὶ ἡ πίστη του. Τὸ πιὸ ἐντυπωσιακό, ὅμως, εἶναι ὅτι ὁ Κασσιανὸς διὰ τῆς θείας χάριτος ἐπιβλήθηκε στοὺς ἐνθουσιασμοὺς τῆς νεότητας. Διατηρήθηκε ἐγκρατὴς καὶ σώφρων καὶ πέτυχε τὸ ὡραιότερο τῶν στεμμάτων, τὴν ἁγνότητα, ποὺ τὴν διατήρησε καὶ κατὰ τὴν στρατιωτική του ζωή. Ἔτσι ἐφάρμοσε κατὰ πάντα τὴν θεόπνευστη προσταγὴ τοῦ Ἀποστόλου Παύλου, «σεαυτὸν ἁγνὸν τηρεῖ». Δηλαδή, διατήρησε τὸν ἑαυτό σου καθαρὸ ἀπὸ τὶς δικές σου, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἀπὸ τὶς ξένες ἁμαρτίες. Ἀργότερα ὁ Κασσιανός, μὲ τὸ στέμμα αὐτὸ τῆς ἁγνότητας, ἄφησε τὸ στρατιωτικὸ στάδιο καὶ ἔβαλε τὸ ῥάσο τῆς μοναχικῆς πολιτείας, ὅπου διέπρεψε σὰν πνευματικὸς πατέρας. Ποθῶντας ὅμως νὰ γνωρίσει βαθύτερα τὴν ἀκρίβεια τῆς μοναχικῆς ζωῆς, περιῆλθε ὅλα τὰ μεγάλα κέντρα τοῦ ἀσκητισμοῦ, τὴν Αἴγυπτο, τὴν Θηβαΐδα, τὴν Νιτρία, Ἀσία, Καππαδοκία, καὶ τὸν Πόντο, ἀπ᾿ ὅπου πῆρε πολλή ὠφέλεια. Ὁ Κασσιανὸς ἐπίσης, ἔγραψε τὰ γνωστὰ ἀπὸ τὴν Φιλοκαλία κεφάλαια «περὶ τῶν ὀκτὼ λογισμῶν», ποὺ τόσο πολὺ διαβάζονταν καὶ διαβάζονται ἀπὸ τοὺς ἀσκητές. Ἔτσι μὲ λόγια καὶ ἔργα ἀφοῦ ἔλαμψε, εἰρηνικὰ πρὸς τὸν Κύριο ἐξεδήμησε.
Blessed Nicholas of Pskov, fool for Christ (1576)
"A rare fearlessness is a characteristic of fools for Christ. Blessed Nicholas ran through the streets of Pskov, pretending madness, rebuking people for their secret sins and foretelling what would happen to them. When Tsar Ivan the Terrible entered Pskov, the whole town was in fear and dread of the terrible Tsar... The Tsar, learning about this blessed man, who and what he was, visited him in his tiny room. [Ivan was a great lover of external piety.] It was the first week of the Great Fast. Hearing that the Tsar was coming to visit him, Nicholas found a piece of raw meat and, when the Tsar entered his cell, Nicholas bowed and offered the meat to the Tsar. 'Eat, little Ivan, eat!' The terrible Tsar answered him furiously: 'I am a Christian, and do not eat meat in the Fast.' Then the man of God retorted, 'You do that and worse; you feed on men's flesh and blood, forgetting not only the Fast but God as well.' This lecture entered deeply into the heart of Tsar Ivan, and he immediately left Pskov in shame, having intended to wreak great slaughter there." (Prologue)
Holy New Martyr Kyranna (1751)
This pious and beautiful maiden lived in a village near Thessalonica. One day a Janissary, come to collect taxes, laid eyes on her and was struck by lust. When she refused his advances, the wicked official brought her before the judge in Thessalonica and, using other soldiers as false witnesses, said that she had agreed to marry him and to convert to Islam. To all these claims Kyranna replied, 'I am a Christian, and I have no bridegroom but Christ, to whom I have offered my maidenhood as a dowry. Him I love and for Him I am ready to shed my blood! That is my answer; expect no other from me.' Having said this, she 'enclosed herself in silence' (Synaxarion) and would testify no more. She was cast into prison, where she was tormented and finally beaten to death by her jailer. When she died, a divine Light surrounded her and illumined the entire prison. When news of the miracle spread, the shamed Turkish officials handed over her body to Christians, who laid it to rest outside the city.
Commemorations for February 29 are moved to February 28 in non-leap years.
St John Cassian the Roman (435)
The Synaxarion calls him "Our Father Cassian, chosen by God to bring the illumination of Eastern monasticism to the West". He was born in Scythia of noble parents, and was well educated in secular things. But, thirsting for perfection, he left all behind and travelled with his friend Germanus to the Holy Land, where he became a monk in Bethlehem. After becoming established in the monastic life for several years, St John felt a desire for greater perfection, and sought out the Fathers of the Egyptian Desert. He spent seven years in the Desert, learning from such Fathers as Moses, Serapion, Theonas, Isaac and Paphnutius. Through long struggles in his cell, St John developed from personal experience a divinely-inspired doctrine of spiritual combat. Many say that it was he who first listed the eight basic passions: gluttony, fornication, avarice, anger, sadness, acedia, vainglory and pride.
In time, struggles in the Alexandrian Church made life so difficult for the Egyptian monks that St John (still accompanied by his friend Germanus), sought refuge in Constantinople, where they came under the care and protection of St John Chrysostom. When the holy Archbishop was exiled, St John once again fled, this time to Rome, where he came under the protection of Pope Innocent I. This proved to be providential for the Western Church, for it was St John who brought the treasures of Desert spirituality to the monasteries of the West. He founded the monastery of St Victor in Marseilles, then, at the request of his bishop, wrote the Cenobitic Institutions, in which he adapted the austere practices of the Egyptian Fathers to the conditions of life in Gaul. He went on to write his famous Conferences, which became the main channel by which the wisdom of the desert East was passed to the monastics of the West. Saint Benedict developed much of his Rule (which at one time governed most monasteries in the Latin world) from St John's Institutions,, and ordered that the Conferences be read in all monasteries.
Saint John reposed in peace in 435, and has been venerated by the monks of the West as their Father and one of their wisest teachers. His relics are still venerated at the Abbey of St Victor in Marseilles.
St John's writings were soon attacked by extreme Augustinians and, as Augustinianism became the official doctrine of the Latin Church, his veneration fell out of favor in the West. Outside the Orthodox Church, his commemoration is now limited to the diocese of Marseilles.
Our Holy Father Barsanuphius (457)
He was born a pagan in the Holy Land. As a young man he saw the truth of Christ, was baptized at the age of eighteen and immediately became a monk, given the name of John. Such was his reputation for virtue that in time he became Archbishop of Damascus. But, spurning worldly distinction and desiring only a solitary life of prayer, he secretly left Damascus and travelled to the Nitrian desert. He entered a monastery as the monk Barsanuphius, telling no one of his past. He joyfully accepted the obedience of water-carrier for the monastery, and lived out his life in humility, becoming a model of monastic life for his brethren. Only at his death was it revealed to the monks that their humble and obedient brother Barsanuphius had been an Archbishop. He reposed in peace in 457.
The Monk Basil the Confessor was a monastic and suffered during the reign of the iconoclast emperor Leo the Isaurian (717-741). When a persecution started against those that venerated holy icons, Saint Basil together with his companion the Monk Prokopios (Comm. 27 February) was subjected to much torture and locked up in prison. here both martyrs languished for a long while, until the death of the impious emperor. When the holy Confessors Basil and Prokopios were set free together with other venerators of holy icons, they continued with their monastic efforts, instructing many in the Orthodox faith and the virtuous life. The Monk Basil died peacefully in the year 750.
Sainted Meletii, Archbishop of Khar'kov and Akhtyrsk (in the world Mikhail Ivanovich Leontovich), was born 6 November 1784 in the village of Stara Stanzhara in the Poltava district.
In 1808 Mikhail Leontovich successfully completed the Ekaterinoslav religious Seminary. As the best student, he was sent on by the Ekterinoslav archbishop Platon to Peterburg, to the Alexandro-Nevsky Spiritual Academy [in Russia, "spiritual academy" is higher level of religious training beyond "seminary"]. Finishing the spiritual academy in 1814 with the degree of "magister" ["teacher"], he was appointed adjunct-professor of Greek language.
On 11 March 1817 they appointed Mikhail Leontovich to the office of secretary of the Academy Building committee.
On 30 July 1817 they transferred him to the Kiev religious Seminary, to serve in the office of inspector, as well as professor of Church history and Greek language. When the Kiev Spiritual Academy opened on 28 September 1819, Mikhail Leontovich became its first inspector.
On 11 February 1820, on the eve of the day of memory of Sainted Meletios of Antioch, in the cathedral church of the Kievo-Bratsk monastery, he was tonsured into monasticism with the name Meletii. The tonsure was made by the Kiev metropolitan Evgenii (Bolkhovitnikov). On 22 February 1820 the Monk Meletii was ordained by metropolitan Evgenii to the dignity of deacon, and on 25 February -- to priestmonk.
On 9 August 1821 Priest-monk Meletii was appointed rector of the Mogilevsk religious Seminary and head of the Kuteinsk Orshansk monastery with elevation to the dignity of archimandrite. In August 1823 they transferred him to the office of rector of the Pskov religious Seminary, and on 24 January 1824 Archimandrite Meletii was appointed rector of the Kiev Spiritual Academy.
In October 1826 the Holy Synod followed with a decision to appoint Archimandrite Meletii as bishop of Chigirinsk, a vicar of the Kiev diocese and head of the Zlatoverkh Mikhailovsk monastery. On 19 October 1826 was his appointment as bishop, and on 21 October 1826 was made the archpastoral consecration at the Kiev Sophia cathedral.
With a fatherly love the saint concerned himself about young foster-children, raising them in a spirit of devotedness to the Church of Christ. The saint had particular concern for the needy, and widows and orphans. He often visited the imprisoned and provided them the consolation of Divine-services in the prison-churches. The saint also was no little concerned about the spiritual nourishment of the brethren of the Mikhailovsk monastery. With edifying discourse and personal example he inspired in the monks of the monastery a spirit of true asceticism. Saint Meletii said: "Humility -- is the guarding sword, with which to pass over earth and hades, to reach Heaven".
In April 1828 Sainted Meletii received appointment to the Perm cathedral.
Strict towards himself, the saint was strict also towards others. To prepare chosen candidates for the accepting of the dignity, Saint Meletii himself wrote for them the so-called "Ordinant's Catechism". In August 1831 Saint Meletii was transferred to the Irkutsk cathedra-seat, with elevation to the dignity of archbishop.
The saint devoted great attention to the enlightenment of the lesser nations of Russia with the light of the Gospel teaching. The saint founded churches in the north of Kamchatka, in the northeast parts of the Irkutsk diocese and along the Aldan River, on the tract from Yakutsk to Okhotsk. He often reviewed his extensive diocese, going to the shores of the Okhotsk and Arctic Seas, to the boundary lines of North America, where there then laboured the reknown Apostle of Siberia -- the Priest Ioann Veniaminov, later known as the Apostle to America Sainted Innocent (Innokentii, Comm. 23 September and 31 March). Journeying through Siberia and along the shores of the Pacific Ocean, Saint Meletii frequently interacted with the native peoples who professed Lamaism. The saint with gentleness urged them to leave behind their errors and he explained the Gospel truths to these pagan peoples: the Tungus, the Buryats, the Kamchadali, and also the inhabitants of the Kurile and Aleutian Islands.
With his untiring efforts the health of the saint began to deteriorate, and they transferred him in 1835 to the Slobodsk-Ukrainsk cathedra-seat (afterwards the cathedra of Khar'kov and Akhtyrsk).
And here Sainted Meletii devoted great attention to the institutions of spiritual learning, and much concerned himself about the life and education of the clergy.
He raised questions about the restoration of those monasteries and spiritual schools, which the empress Catherine II had closed up. The saint also allotted great attention to the struggle with the schismatics.
On 2 July 1839 Saint Meletii led the solemnity in the city of Akhtyrk with the 10 year anniversary of the appearance of the wonderworking Icon of the Mother of God, named the Akhtyrsk.
The blessed end of the saint occurred on the night of 29 February 1840. After Communion, with the words "Now lettest Thou Thy Servant depart in peace", the saint signed himself with the sign of the cross and, having turned to everyone with the words "Forgive me", -- he expired to the Lord.
On 4 March 1840 Saint Meletii was consigned to the earth by the Kursk bishop Iliodor within a burial crypt beneathe the Church of the Cross at the Pokrov monastery.
From the first days after his death believing people firmly trusted on the intercession of Saint Meletii before God, and they received the help of grace: healing in sicknesses, comfort in sorrows and deliverance from difficult circumstances. Believers in Khar'kov put especial trust in Saint Meletii during the terrible days of the "Great War for the Fatherland" (World War II). With miraculous advice the saint predicted the impending deliverance of the city from the enemy.
In 1948, with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Alexei, the coffin with the relics of Saint Meletii was transferred to the Annunciation cathedral church, where they remain to the present day, manifesting spiritual recourse and prayerful comfort for believers.
On the day of affirmation in 1977 by His Holiness Patriarch Pimen and the Holy Synod of a service with an akathist to sainted Meletii, Khar'kov believers hastened to the cathedral on a Wednesday evening, there to ask the prayerful intercession of the saint for the welfare of Holy Church, for peace and for the prosperity of their Fatherland.
Blessed Nikolai of Pskov for more than three decades assumed the exploit of holy fool. And quite a long while before death he acquired the gifts of grace of the Holy Spirit and was granted the gift of wonderworking and of prophecy. The Pskov people of his time called him Mikula (Mikola, Nikola) Sallos, which in translation from the Greek means "blessed, fool", and even during his lifetime they revered him as a saint, even calling him Mikula the Holy.
In February the year 1570, after a devastating campaign with an army of the Oprichniki against Novgorod, tsar Ivan the Terrible moved against Pskov, suspecting treason and preparing it a like fate of Novgorod. As the Pskov chronicler relates, "the tsar was come... with great fierceness, like a roaring lion, as though to tear apart innocent people and to shed much blood".
All the city prayed for the averting of the tsar's wrath. Hearing the peal of the bell for matins throughout all of Pskov, the tsar was reading the inscription on the wonderworking Liubyatovsk (at Liubatov stood the tsar's army) Umilenie-Tenderness Icon of the Mother of God (Comm. 19 March). "Be kind of heart, -- said he to his soldiers, -- lay down the swords upon the stones, and let the killings cease".
All the inhabitants of Pskov came out upon the streets, and each family was on their knees at the gate of their house, bearing bread and salt for the meeting of the tsar. On one of the streets Blessed Nikolai ran out towards the tsar, astride a stick as though galloping an horse, and cried out to the tsar: "Ivanushko, Ivanushko, eat the bread-salt, and not Christian blood".
The tsar gave orders to catch the holy fool, but he disappeared.
Having forbidden the killings, Ivan the Terrible still intended to punish the city. The tsar heard the molieben at the Trinity cathedral, he venerated the relics of holy nobleborn Prince Vsevolod-Gabriel (Comm. 11 February), and he desired to receive the blessing of Blessed Nikolai.
When the tsar arrived at the cell of the saint, that one said: "Hush, come in, (wouldst thou have nothing, traveller), to have a drink of water from us, there is no reason thou shouldst shun it". The holy fool offered the tsar for a bite a piece of raw meat. "I be a Christian and do not eat meat during Lent", -- said Ivan to him. "Thou drinkest human blood", -- the saint answered him, instructing the tsar "by many terrible sayings", that he should cease the killings and not plunder the holy churches of God. But Ivan did not heed him and gave orders to take the bell from the Trinity cathedral, and then, in accord with the prophecy of the saint, the finest horse of the tsar collapsed.
The prayer and the lecture of the saint awakened the conscience of the tsar. Frightened by the coming to pass of the prophecy and denounced in his wicked deeds, Ivan the Terrible ordered a stop to the plunder and fled from the city. The Oprichniki, witnessing this, wrote: "The mighty tyrant... departed beaten and shamed, driven off as though by an enemy. Thus did a worthless beggar terrify and drive off the tsar with his multitude of a thousand soldiers".
Blessed Nikolai died on 28 February 1576 and was buried in the Trinity cathedral of the city saved by him. Such honours were granted only to the Pskov princes, and later on, archpastors.
The local veneration of the saint began all of 5 years after his death. In the year 1581, during a siege of Pskov by the soldiers of the Polish king Stefan Bathory, to the blacksmith Dorofei appeared the Mother of God together with a gathering of Pskov saints praying for the city, among whom also was Blessed Nikolai (the account about the Pskovo-Pokrovsk Icon of the Mother of God is located under 1 October).
And still now also at the Trinity cathedral do they venerate the relics of Blessed Nikolai of Pskov, who "of the flesh of folly wast, ... being manifest a citizen of Mount Jerusalem, ... having transformed the tsar's might and fierce mind to mercy".
The PriestMartyr Proterias, Patriarch of Alexandria, and those suffering with him: During the time of the patriarchal tenure of Dioskoros (444-451), who was an adherent of the Monophysite false-teaching of Eutykhios, -- at Alexandria there lived the presbyter Proterias, who fearlessly denounced the heretics and confessed the Orthodox faith. In the year 451 at the Fourth OEcumenical Council at Chalcedon, the heresy of Eutykhios was condemned and the definition established, by which Christ is confessed to be Perfect God and Perfect Man, existing in these two natures "unconfusedly" and "indivisibly" [and "immutably" and "inseparably"]. The heretic Dioskoros was deposed and exiled, and upon the Alexandria patriarchal throne was elevated Proterias, distinguished for his strict and virtuous life.
However, many supporters of Dioskoros remained in Alexandria, and rebelling against the choice of Proterias, they rioted and burned the soldiers, sent out to pacify them. The pious emperor Marcian (450-457) deprived the Alexandrians of all the privileges they were accustomed to, and dispatched new and re-inforced detachments of soldiers. The inhabitants of the city then quieted down and besought Patriarch Proterias to intercede before the emperor to restore them their former privileges. The kindly saint consented and readily gained the request.
After the death of Marcian the heretics again raised their heads. Presbyter Timothy, himself striving for the patriarchal dignity, and taking advantage of the absence of the governor of the city, came forth at the head of the rioters. Saint Proterias decided to leave Alexandria, but that night he saw in a dream the holy Prophet Isaiah, who said to him: "Return to the city, and there I shalt await thee". The saint realised that this -- was a premonition about his martyr's end. He returned to Alexandria and concealed himself in a baptistry.
The rioting heretics broke into this refuge and killed the patriarch and six men who were with him. It did not even stop them, that this occurred during the Canon of Pascha -- on Holy Saturday. In their raging they went so far, that they tied a rope to the body of the murdered patriarch, and they dragged it on the street, struck at and lacerated it, and finally they burnt it, and scattered the ashes to the wind (+ 457).
The Orthodox reported about this to the holy Emperor Leo (457-474) and Saint Anatolios, Patriarch of Constantinople (449-458). An army arrived at Alexandria, the rebellion was crushed, and Timothy brought to trial and exiled.
Regarding the death of the PriestMartyr Proterias, four Thracian bishops of his time wrote: "We do consider His Holiness Proterias in the ranks and choir of the Saints, and we beseech God to be compassionate and merciful to us through his prayers".
The PriestMartyr Nestor, Bishop of Magiddisum, during a time of persecution against Christians under the emperor Decius (249-251), was arrested in his home while at prayer. He was informed about the suffering awaiting him by a peculiar revelation -- the sight of a lamb, readied for killing. The governor of the city of Magiddisum sent him for trial to Pergium. On the way there Saint Nestor was strengthened in spirit -- he heard a Voice from Heaven, after which there occurred an earthquake. After cruel tortures at Pergium the priestmartyr was crucified on a cross.
The Nuns Marina and Kyra, sisters by birth, lived during the IV Century in the city of Beria (or Beroea) in Asia Minor. Their parents were illustrious and rich, but the sisters upon reaching mature age left home and departed the city. Having parcelled off a small plot of land, the holy virgins sealed up the entrance to their refuge with stones and clay, leaving merely a narrow opening, through which food was passed through to them, and they lived under the open sky. On their bodies they wore heavy iron chains and patiently they endured hunger: during the course of three years they accepted food one time in 40 days. Their former servants came to them, wanting to join their ascetic life. The saints situated them in a separate cottage hut not far from their enclosure and they guided them, exhorting them to deeds of prayer and fasting. The life of the holy ascetics Marina and Kyra was well known to Blessed Theodorit, Bishop of Cyr: he alone, out of respect for his hierarchical dignity, did the holy virgins allow into their dwelling. Blessed Theodorit conversed with them and persuaded them not to overburden themselves with the bearing of chains, which were so heavy that Kyra being weak in body was always stooped under their weight and unable to straighten up. Thus did they pursue asceticism over the course of 40 years. They disturbed their solitude only to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to pray at the Sepulchre of the Lord. During the time of travel they partook of no food until they prayed at the Holy Places, and returning back they likewise partook of nothing. Such an exploit they did yet another time, when they journeyed to the grave of the First-Martyress Equal-to-the-Apostles Thekla at Isauria. The Nuns Marina and Kyra died in about the year 450.
THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:
1. THE VENERABLE PROCOPIUS - DECAPOLIT
This saint was from Decapolis [Ten Cities] surrounding the Sea of Galilea for which he was called "Decapolit." In his youth, he devoted himself to a life of asceticism and accomplished all prescribed efforts, by which the heart is purified and the spirit elevated to God. When a persecution began by the nefarious Emperor Leo Isaurian regarding icons, Procopius rose up in defense of icons showing that the veneration of icons is not idolatry; for Christians know that honoring icons they do not either bow down or honor lifeless material but rather honor living saints who are depicted on the icons. Because of that, Procopius was arrested, brutally tortured, flogged and scrapped with an iron brush. When the wicked Emperor Leo was slain in the body, [for he had lost his soul earlier], icons were restored in the churches and Procopius returned to his monastery where he spent the remainder of his days in peace. In old age, he was translated into the kingdom of God where he gazes with joy upon the living angels and saints, whose images on icons he honored on earth. He died peacefully in the ninth century.
2. THE VENERABLE THALELAEUS
Thalelaeus was a Syrian ascetic. At first he resided in the Monastery of St. Sabas the Sanctified near Jerusalem but later he settled in a pagan cemetery known for the apparitions of evil spirits and frightening things. In order to conquer fear within himself through faith in God, Thalelaeus settled in this cemetery where he lived for many years enduring many assaults from evil spirits both day and night. Because of his great faith and love for God, God endowed him with the gift of working miracles by which he did much good for the sick and suffering people. He died about the year 460 A.D.
3. VENERABLE TITUS OF THE CAVES IN KIEV
Titus was a presbyter and had a sincere Christian love for Deacon Evgarius as a brother for a brother. As much as their love in the beginning was true, later it became a mutual blood-feud and hatred sown by the devil. They hated each other so much that when one was censing in the church, the other turned around and walked out of the church. Titus attempted many times to reconcile with his opponent but in vain. Titus became ill and everyone thought that he was going to die. He begged them to bring Evgarius to him in order to forgive him. Forcefully, they dragged Evgarius to the bedside of Titus, but Evgarius broke free and fled saying that he will not forgive Titus either in this world or the other world. As soon as he said this, he fell to the ground and died. Titus arose from his bed healthy and related how the demons were hovering around him until he forgave Evgarius and when he forgave him, the demons fled and attached Evgarius and angels of God surrounded Titus. He died in the year 1190 A.D.
4. THE VENERABLE STEPHEN
At first, Stephen was a palace clerk of Emperor Maurice. After that he resigned his palace duties and, driven by love for Christ, Stephen built a hospice of charity for the aged in Constantinople. He died peacefully in the year 614 A.D.
5. THE HOLY MARTYR JULIAN
Julian suffered severely from gout so much so that he was neither able to stand nor walk. Because of his faith in Christ, he was brought on a pallet before the judge. He was burned alive at the stake in Alexandria with his disciple Cronyon during the reign of Emperor Decius.
HYMN OF PRAISE
That God forgives us, let us forgive men,
As temporary guests, we are on this earth.
Prolonged fasting and prayer, in vain is
Without forgiveness and without true mercy.
God is the true Physician; sins are leprosy,
Whoever God cleanses, God also glorifies.
God rewards with mercy, every mercy of men,
That one perishes without mercy, who returns sin with sin,
With pus from pus - infected wounds, pus is not cleansed,
Neither is darkness from the dungeon dispelled by darkness,
But pure balm heals the wound of pus,
But the darkness of the dungeon, a light disperses.
To the seriously wounded, mercy is like a balm,
As a torch, in her [mercy] everyone rejoices.
This the ignorant says: I have no need of mercy!
But, when he is overcome by misery, he cries out for mercy!
Men bathe upon the mercy of God,
That mercy of God awakes us to life!
That God forgives us, let us forgive men,
As temporary guests, we are all on this earth.
Whenever we are outside the Grace of God, we are outside of ourselves and, compared with our Grace-filled nature, we do not find ourselves in a better condition than an insane man in comparison to a so-called healthy man. Only a blessed man is a natural man, i.e., a man of higher and unspoiled nature, in which the Grace of God rules and governs. St. Simeon the New Theologian says: "A lamp, even if it is filled with oil and possesses a wick, remains totally dark if it is not lighted with fire. So it is with the soul in appearance adorned with all virtues, if it does not have a light and the Grace of the Holy Spirit it, is extinguished and dark." (Homily, Number 59). As the great apostle also says: "But by the Grace of God I am what I am"
(1 Corinthians 15:10). However to be without grace means to be alienated from God and alienated from the reality of our own individual being. Our being, our personality, confirms our reality and receives its fullness only in the nearness of God and by God. That is why we must look at sinners as we look upon the sick: as weak shadows, without reality and without a mind.
To contemplate the Lord Jesus as the Vine "I am the true Vine" (St. John 15:1):
1. As the Vine from which sprouted numerous fruitful branches in the images of the saints;
2. As the Vine Who with His sap, His blood, waters and feeds all the branches on Himself;
3. As the Vine from Whom the Divine Church branched out on earth and in the heavens;
4. As the Vine from Whom, even I should not separate the branch of my life.
About the power of the Resurrector of the body
"Destroy this temple, anin three days I will raiseit up" (St. John 2:19).
Here our Lord speaks about the temple of His body. Destroy this body and in three days I will raise it up! Thus speaks One Who knows His might and Who, according to His might, fulfilled His words. For His body was destroyed, broken, pierced, buried and covered with darkness for three days. And the third day, He raised it; raised it not only from the grave on earth but raised it up to the heavens. And so, He spoke the word and His word came true.
The Lord gave a sign to the Jews, for they sought a sign from Him. And when He gave them a sign, such as no one else before Him was able to give, they did not believe Him but, confused and frightened, bribed the guards from Golgotha to swear falsely and to proclaim the lie that this miraculous sign did not occur, but that His disciples stole His body from the tomb!
No sign whatsoever helps those do not want to believe. The Jews, with their own eyes witnessed the many miracles of Christ, but nevertheless did not want to believe but, they spoke about justifying their unbelief saying that He performs these miracles "by the help of the prince of the demons!" (St. Matthew 9:34). Whoever does not want to believe in good, all the signs which heaven can give will not help him. A heart filled with evil is harder than granite. A mind, darkened by sin, cannot be illuminated by all the light of heaven, whose light is greater than one-thousand suns.
When man expels evil from his heart and saves his mind from the darkness of sin, then he sees the numerous signs which God gives to those who want to believe - to see and to believe.
O, my brethren, let us not sin against the mercy of God and let us not succumb to the evil of the Jews. O, my brethren, all the signs have already been given, and they all glitter as the stars in the heavenly firmament, to all who have a good heart and a right-thinking mind.