Saint Aristobulus, one of the Seventy Apostles, was the brother of St Barnabus (June 11) and proclaimed the Gospel in Britain, where he died in peace. He is also commemorated on March 16.
Troparion - Tone 3 Holy Apostles of the Seventy: Stáchys, Amplías, Úrban, Narcíssus, Apélles, and Aristobúlus,entreat the merciful Godto grant our souls forgiveness of transgressions.
Kontakion - Tone 8 Let us thankfully praise the wise ApostlesStáchys, Amplías, Úrban, Narcíssus, Apélles, and Aristobúlus,those treasures of the Holy Spirit and rays of the Sun of glory,who were gathered together by the grace of our God.
Saint Mark, also called John, (Acts 12:12), was a nephew of St Barnabas, and was Bishop of Apollonia (Col. 4:10). It was in the house of his mother Maria that the persecuted disciples found shelter after the Ascension of the Lord.
Saint Abramius, Archimandrite of Rostov, in the world Abercius, left his parents' home in his youth and entered upon the path of Christian asceticism. Having assumed the monastic schema, Abramius settled at Rostov on the shore of Lake Nero. In the Rostov lands there were not many pagans, and the saint worked intensely at spreading the true Faith.
Not far from the cell of the saint was a pagan temple, where the pagans worshipped a stone idol of Veles (Volos), which caused fright among the inhabitants of Rostov. In a miraculous vision the Apostle John the Theologian stood before Abramius, and gave him a staff with a cross on top, with which the venerable one destroyed the idol. At the place of the pagan temple, St Abramius founded a monastery in honor of the Theophany and became its head.
In memory of the miraculous appearance, the holy monk built a church named for St John the Theologian. Many of the pagans were persuaded and baptized by St Abramius. Particularly great was his influence with the children whom he taught the ability to read and write, instructing them in the law of God, and tonsured monastics from among them.
Everyone who came to the monastery was accepted with love. The saint's life was a constant work of prayer and toil for the benefit of the brethren: he chopped firewood for the oven, he laundered the monks' clothing and carried water for the kitchen. St Abramius reposed in old age and was buried in the church of the Theophany.
His holy relics were uncovered in the time of Great Prince Vsevolod (1176-1212). In the year 1551, Tsar Ivan the Terrible, before his campaign against Kazan, made the rounds of holy places. At the Theophany-Abramiev monastery the monks showed him the staff with which St Abramius had destroyed the idol of Veles. The Tsar took the staff with him on the campaign, but the cross remained at the monastery. And returning again after the subjugation of the Khan, Ivan the Terrible gave orders to build a new stone church at the Abramiev monastery in honor of the Theophany, with four chapels, and he also supplied it with books and icons.
Troparion - Tone 1 You abandoned all earthly comforts, O Father Abramius,Living righteously in hope of things to come and receiving a sacred anointing.Initiated into divine mysteries, you enlighten those who cry:Glory to him who has strengthened you!Glory to him who has granted you a crown!Glory to him who through you works healing for all!
Kontakion - Tone 3 You lived on earth as an angel in the fleshAnd flourished as a well–planted tree, watered by abstinence and tears,O Abramius, vessel of the Holy Spirit!
Saint Arsenius, Archbishop of Pech, was born in Srem. He spent a large part of his life as a monk at the Zhicha monastery under the spiritual direction of St Sava (January 14). Because of his strict ascetic life, St Sava made him the igumen of the monastery.
When Serbia was invaded by Hungary, St Sava sent St Arsenius to find a safer place in the south for a new episcopal See. Arsenius chose Pech, where he built a monastery and a church which was dedicated to the Holy Apostles, and then to the Lord's Ascension.
Before leaving for Jerusalem, St Sava designated Arsenius as his successor. In 1223, St Sava died in Trnovo on the way home, and St Arsenius urged King Vladislav to bring his body home for burial in Serbia. After thirty-three years of wisely guiding his flock, St Arsenius fell asleep in the Lord in the year 1266. His relics were buried at the Pech monastery, but now rest in the Zhrebaonik, Montenegro.
Saint Nestor the Chronicler, of the Kiev Caves, Near Caves was born at Kiev in 1050. He came to St Theodosius (May 3) as a young man, and became a novice. St Nestor took monastic tonsure under the successor to St Theodosius, the igumen Stephen, and under him was ordained a hierodeacon.
Concerning his lofty spiritual life it says that, with a number of other monastic Fathers he participated in the casting out of a devil from Nikita the Hermit (January 31), who had become fascinated by the Hebrew wisdom of the Old Testament. St Nestor deeply appreciated true knowledge, along with humility and penitence. "Great is the benefit of book learning," he said, "for books point out and teach us the way to repentance, since from the words of books we discover wisdom and temperance. This is the stream, watering the universe, from which springs wisdom. In books is a boundless depth, by them we are comforted in sorrows, and they are a bridle for moderation. If you enter diligently into the books of wisdom, then you shall discover great benefit for your soul. Therefore, the one who reads books converses with God or the saints."
In the monastery St Nestor had the obedience of being the chronicler. In the 1080s he wrote the "Account about the Life and Martyrdom of the Blessed Passion Bearers Boris and Gleb" in connection with the transfer of the relics of the saints to Vyshgorod in the year 1072 (May 2). In the 1080s St Nestor also compiled the Life of the Monk Theodosius of the Kiev Caves. And in 1091, on the eve of the patronal Feast of the Kiev Caves Monastery, he was entrusted by Igumen John to dig up the holy relics of St Theodosius (August 14) for transfer to the church.
The chief work in the life of St Nestor was compiling in the years 1112-1113 The Russian Primary Chronicle. "Here is the account of years past, how the Russian land came to be, who was the first prince at Kiev and how the Russian land is arrayed." The very first line written by St Nestor set forth his purpose. St Nestor used an extraordinarily wide circle of sources: prior Russian chronicles and sayings, monastery records, the Byzantine Chronicles of John Malalos and George Amartolos, various historical collections, the accounts of the boyar-Elder Ivan Vyshatich and of tradesmen and soldiers, of journeymen and of those who knew. He drew them together with a unified and strict ecclesiastical point of view. This permitted him to write his history of Russia as an inclusive part of world history, the history of the salvation of the human race.
The monk-patriot describes the history of the Russian Church in its significant moments. He speaks about the first mention of the Russian nation in historical sources in the year 866, in the time of St Photius, Patriarch of Constantinople. He tells of the creation of the Slavonic alphabet and writing by Sts Cyril and Methodius; and of the Baptism of St Olga at Constantinople. The Chronicle of St Nestor has preserved for us an account of the first Orthodox church in Kiev (under the year 945), and of the holy Varangian Martyrs (under the year 983), of the "testing of the faiths" by St Vladimir (in 986) and the Baptism of Rus (in 988).
We are indebted to the first Russian Church historian for details about the first Metropolitans of the Russian Church, about the emergence of the Kiev Caves monastery, and about its founders and ascetics. The times in which St Nestor lived were not easy for the Russian land and the Russian Church. Rus lay torn asunder by princely feuds; the Polovetsian nomads of the steppes lay waste to both city and village with plundering raids. They led many Russian people into slavery, and burned churches and monasteries. St Nestor was an eyewitness to the devastation of the Kiev Caves monastery in the year 1096. In the Chronicle a theologically thought out patriotic history is presented. The spiritual depth, historical fidelity and patriotism of the The Russian Primary Chronicle establish it in the ranks of the significant creations of world literature.
St Nestor died around the year 1114, having left to the other monastic chroniclers of the Kiev Caves the continuation of his great work. His successors in the writing of the Chronicles were: Igumen Sylvester, who added contemporary accounts to the The Russian Primary Chronicle; Igumen Moses Vydubitsky brought it up to the year 1200; and finally, Igumen Laurence, who in the year 1377 wrote the most ancient of the surviving manuscripts that preserve the Chronicle of St Nestor (this copy is known as the "Lavrentian Chronicle"). The hagiographic tradition of the Kiev Caves ascetics was continued by St Simon, Bishop of Vladimir (May 10), the compiler of the Kiev Caves Paterikon. Narrating the events connected with the lives of the holy saints of God, St Simon often quotes, among other sources, from the Chronicle of St Nestor.
St Nestor was buried in the Near Caves of St Anthony. The Church also honors his memory in the Synaxis of the holy Fathers of the Near Caves commemorated September 28 and on the second Sunday of Great Lent when is celebrated the Synaxis of all the Fathers of the Kiev Caves. His works have been published many times, including in English as "The Russian Primary Chronicle".
The Martyr Lupus lived at the end of the third century and beginning of the fourth century, and was a faithful servant of the holy Great Martyr Demetrius of Thessalonica (October 26). Being present at the death of his master, he soaked his own clothing with his blood and took a ring from his hand. With this clothing, and with the ring and the name of the Great Martyr Demetrius, St Lupus worked many miracles at Thessalonica. He destroyed pagan idols, for which he was subjected to persecution by the pagans, but he was preserved unharmed by the power of God.
St Lupus voluntarily delivered himself into the hands of the torturers, and by order of the emperor Maximian Galerius, he was beheaded by the sword.
The Martyrs Marcian and Martyrius, Notaries of Constantinople served in a Constantinople cathedral. Marcian was a reader and Martyrius a subdeacon. They both performed in the capacity of notaries, i.e. secretaries, for Patriarch Paul the Confessor (November 6).
Arian heretics expelled and secretly executed the righteous Patriarch Paul. His throne was given to the heretic Macedonius. The heretics attempted to entice Sts Marcian and Martyrius over to their side by flattery. They offered them gold and promised to consecrate them as archbishop, but all the efforts of the Arians were in vain.
Then the impious threatened to slander them before the emperor, and sought to intimidate them with torture and death. But the saints steadfastly confessed Orthodoxy, as handed down by the Fathers of the Church. Marcian and Martyrius were sentenced to death. Before death, the martyrs prayed, "Lord God, Who have invisibly created our hearts, and directed all our deeds, accept with peace the souls of Your servants, since we perish for You and are considered as sheep for the slaughter (Ps 32/33:15; 43/44:22). We rejoice that by such a death we shall depart this life for Your Name. Grant us to be partakers of life eternal with You, the Source of life." After their prayer the martyrs, with quiet rejoicing, bent their necks beneath the sword of the impious (+ ca. 335).
Their holy bodies were reverently buried by Orthodox Christians. Later, by decree of St John Chrysostom, the relics of the holy martyrs were transferred to a church built in their honor. Believers here were healed of many infirmities through the prayers of the saints, to the glory of the One Life-Creating Trinity.
Troparion - Tone 3
In holy zeal you dispelled the error of Arius,Proclaiming the Trinity in one essence.Holy Martyrs Marcian and Martyrius,Unshaken bulwarks of Orthodoxy.Pray to Christ our God to grant us his great mercy!
Kontakion - Tone 4
You fought well from your youth, O wise martyrs,And by preserving the Orthodox Faith inviolateYou humbled the apostate AriusFaithfully following your teacher, Paul.Therefore, with him you have found life as champions of the Trinity!
The wonderworking "Joy of All Who Sorrow" Icon of the Mother of God was glorified in the year 1688. Euphymia, the sister of Patriarch Joachim (1674-1690), lived at Moscow and suffered from an incurable illness for a long time. One morning during a time of prayer she heard a voice say, "Euphymia! Go to the temple of the Transfiguration of My Son; there you will find an icon called the "Joy of All Who Sorrow." Have the priest celebrate a Molieben with the blessing of water, and you will receive healing from sickness." Euphymia did as she was directed by the Most Holy Theotokos, and she was healed. This occurred on October 24, 1688.
The icon of the Mother of God "Joy of All Who Sorrow" (with coins fused to it by a bolt of lightning), was manifested at St Petersburg in 1888. See July 23.
Translation of the relics of Blessed James of Borovichi, Wonderworker of Novgorod St James took upon himself the arduous task of foolishness for Christ in his youth. Most of the details of his life are unknown, but the Lord glorified him after death.
In the year 1540, on the third day of Pascha, a large block of ice floated up against the current along the River Msta to the village of Borovichi (in Novgorod district), and on this block of ice stood the coffin (made from an oak log) without cover, in which the body of the youth lay. Shunning the holy relics, peasants with poles pushed the block of ice back into the river, but it returned to the shore. This was repeated three times. That night the youth appeared in a dream to the elders of the village, who had seen him upon the ice-flow, and said, "I am also a Christian just like you. Don't push me away. My name is James. I am the namesake of St James, the Brother of God."
The relics of the holy youth were first placed in a chapel, then in 1544 were transferred to the Descent of the Holy Spirit church. Then the annual commemoration of the saint every year on October 23 was established. The Lord, having glorified his God-pleasing one, granted the relics of St James a curative power. A Feastday with Matins was established in 1572. The Iconographic Manuals describe St James: "A youth, bare, girded with a piece of cloth." In 1657 Patriarch Nikon sent part of the relics to Valdai, to the Iveron monastery.
Saint Glyceria was killed at Adrianopolis during the third century with the martyrs Alexander the Bishop, Heraclius the Soldier, Anna, Elizabeth, and Theodota for their confession of Christ. This was a time when Christianity spread among the pagans. Despite the persecutions against the Christians, Bishop Alexander fearlessly converted and baptized many pagans into the holy saving faith.
The governor of the region ordered his soldiers to use torture to force Bishop Alexander to deny Christ. The saint patiently endured terrible tortures. Struck by this, the soldier Heraclius believed in Christ, for Whom the saint suffered. And after him, the Women Martyrs Anna, Elizabeth, Theodota and Glyceria confessed themselves to be Christians.
The Transfer of the Relics of Saint Hilarion, Bishop of Meglin, to the Bulgarian city of Trnovo, occurred in the year 1206. Prior to this event, the body of the saint rested in the city of Meglin.
St Hilarion received a fine Christian upbringing. At eighteen, he entered a monastery. Because of his virtuous and strict life he was chosen to be igumen of the monastery. He was very concerned about the salvation of the monks' souls. He unceasingly exhorted those souls entrusted to him not to waste precious time intended to prepare for salvation. Particularly persistent, Hilarion eradicated drunkenness in the monastery.
In 1134, when the Bogomil heresy was spreading through Bulgaria, he was consecrated bishop of Meglin. The followers of the heresy believed that "good and evil manifest themselves as independent principles, and a struggle between the two ensues." St Hilarion tirelessly fought against the Bogomils with apostolic zeal and fervent prayer. He continually unmasked their heresy and exposed their hypocritical guise of piety. In refuting the teaching of the heretics, St Hilarion said:
"You are not Christians at all, since you are hostile to the Cross of Christ the Savior. You do not acknowledge the One God, you slander the teachings of the Old Testament venerated by Christians. You deceive people by hypocritical meekness while full of pride. True piety is not possible in those who do not see their own heart's corruption, but by those who ask God's grace with prayer and humility. Evil thoughts, envy, vanity, greed, lies are not the deed of some evil thing within man to be conquered by mere fasting. These vices are the fruit of self- love which demands rooting out by spiritual efforts."
Because of the saint's exhortations many of the heretics abandoned their false teaching and returned to the holy Church. St Hilarion also successfully struggled against the rise of the Armenian Monophysite heretics in Bulgaria, who acknowledged only the divine nature of Christ. The saint fell asleep in the Lord in 1164.
Holy Righteous Artemius of Verkola was born in the village of Dvina Verkola around the year 1532. The son of pious parents, Artemius was a child who was courageous, meek and diligent for every good deed. On June 23, 1545 the twelve-year-old Artemius and his father were taken by surprise in a field by a thunderstorm. A clap of thunder broke right over their heads, and the child Artemius fell dead. People thought that this was a sign of God's judgment, therefore they left the body in a pine forest without a funeral, and without burial.
Some years later, the village reader beheld a light over the place where the incorrupt body of the Righteous Artemius lay. Taken to the church of St Nicholas in 1577, the holy relics were shown to be a source of numerous healings. In this village a monastery was later built, called the Verkola. In 1918, the impious Soviets chopped the holy relics into pieces and threw them into a well. The memory of St Artemius is also celebrated on October 20.
Reading: Saint John of Rila founded the renowned monastery of that name in Bulgaria in the tenth century. Over the centuries, great and wondrous healings have flowed from his holy relics.
Apolytikion in the First Tone
Thy life was a foundation of repentance, a model of compunction, an image of consolation and spiritual perfection equal to the Angels, O Saint; for thou didst persevere in prayer, fasting, and tears. O Father John, intercede with Christ our God for our souls.
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Emulating the life of the Angels, O Saint, and leaving behind all earthly things, thou didst run unto Christ. And protecting thyself with His commandments, thou wast shown to be a pillar that no attacks of the enemy could shake. Wherefore, we cry to thee: Rejoice, O Father John, most brilliant light.
Saint Joseph of Volokolamsk, in the world John Sanin, was born on November 14, 1440 (1439 according to another source) in the village of Yazvisch-Pokrov, not far from the city of Volokolamsk. He was born into a pious family with his father named John (in monasticism Joannicius) and his mother Marina (in schema Maria). The seven-year-old boy John was sent to the pious and enlightened Elder Arsenius of the Volokolamsk-Exaltation of the Cross monastery to be educated.
Distinguished by rare qualities and extraordinary aptitude for church service, for one year the talented youth studied the Psalter, and, the following year, the entire Holy Scripture. He became a reader and singer in the monastery church. Contemporaries were astonished at his exceptional memory. Often, without having a single book in his cell, he would do the monastic rule, reciting from memory from the Psalter, the Gospel, the Epistles, and all that was required.
Even before becoming a monk, John lived a monastic lifestyle. Thanks to his reading and studying of Holy Scripture and the works of the holy Fathers, he dwelt constantly in contemplation of God. As his biographer notes, he "disdained obscene and blasphemous talk and endless mirth from his childhood years."
At twenty years of age John chose the path of monastic striving and, leaving his parents' home, he went off into the wilderness nigh to the Tver Savvin monastery, to the renowned Elder and strict ascetic, Barsanuphius. But the monastic rule seemed insufficiently strict to the young ascetic. With the blessing of Elder Barsanuphius, he set off to Borov to St Paphnutius of Borov (May 1), who had been a novice of Elder Nikita of the Vysotsk monastery, who in turn was a disciple of St Sergius of Radonezh and Athanasius of Vysotsk.
The simple life of the holy Elder, the tasks which he shared with the brethren, and the strict fulfilling of the monastic rule suited John's spiritual state. St Paphnutius lovingly accepted the young ascetic who had come to him, and on February 13, 1460 he tonsured him into monasticism with the name Joseph, thus realizing John's greatest wish. With love and with zeal the young monk shouldered the heavy obediences imposed upon him, in the kitchen, the bakery, the infirmary. St Joseph fulfilled this latter obedience with special care, "giving food and drink to the sick, taking up and arranging the bedding, so very anxious and concerned with everything, working, as though attending to Christ Himself."
The great spiritual abilities of the young monk were evidenced in the Church reading and singing. He was musically talented and possessed a voice that "in church singing and reading was like that of a swallow and wondrously harmonious, delighting the hearing of listeners, as much as anyone anywhere." St Paphnutius made Joseph ecclesiarch in church, so that he would observe the fulfilling of the Church rule.
Joseph spent about seventeen years in the monastery of St Paphnutius. The strict efforts of monastic obedience under the direct guidance of the experienced abbot was for him an excellent spiritual schooling, having educated him into a future instructor and guide of monastic life. Towards the end of the life of St Paphnutius, Joseph was ordained hieromonk and, in accord with the final wishes of St Paphnutius, he was appointed Igumen of the Borov monastery.
St Joseph decided to transform the monastic life along strictly coenobitic principles, following the example of the Kiev Caves, Trinity-St Sergius, and St Cyril of White Lake monasteries. But this met with strong opposition from a majority of the brethren. Only seven pious monks were of one mind with the igumen. St Joseph decided to visit Russian coenobitic monasteries, to investigate the best arrangement for monastic life. He arrived together with the Elder Gerasimus at the St Cyril of White Lake monastery, which itself presented a model of strict asceticism on the principles of a coenobitic monastery rule.
His acquaintance with the life of these monasteries strengthened St Joseph's views. But, after he returned to Borov monastery at the wish of the prince, St Joseph encountered again the former staunch resistance of the brethren to change from their customary rule. Therefore, he resolved to found a new monastery with a strict coenobitic rule, so he took seven like-minded monks to Volokolamsk, his native region, to a forest known to him since childhood.
In Volokolamsk at the time, the prince was Boris Vasilievich, the pious brother of Great Prince Ivan III. Hearing of the virtuous life of the great ascetic Joseph, he gladly received him and allowed him to settle on the outskirts of his principality, at the confluence of the Rivers Struga and Sestra. The selection of this spot was accompanied by a remarkable occurrence: a storm blew down the trees before the eyes of the astonished travelers, as though clearing the place for the future monastery. Here the ascetics set up a cross and built a wooden church in honor of the Dormition of the Mother of God in June 1479, which was consecrated on August 15, 1479. This day and year stand in history as the date of the founding of the monastery of the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God as "volok' lamsk" ["broken-up peninsula"], later named after its founder.
The monastery was built rather quickly. Much of the work in the construction of the monastery was done by the founder himself. "He was skilled in every human craft: he felled trees, carried logs, he chopped and sawed wood." By day he toiled with everyone at the construction of the monastery, but spent his nights in solitary cell prayer, remembering always that "Desires kill the sluggard, for his hands do not choose to do anything" (Prov 21:25).
Good reports about the new ascetic attracted disciples to him. The number of monks soon increased to a hundred men, and the venerable Joseph strove to be a good example for his monks in everything. Preaching temperance and spiritual sobriety in all things, his external appearance was no different than the others. His simple, cold-weather rags were his constant clothing, and bast shoes (made from bark) served as his footwear.
He was the first one to appear in church, he read and sang in the choir beside the others, he gave instruction and was the last to leave church. At nights the holy igumen walked around the monastery and the cells, safeguarding the peace and prayerful sobriety of the brethren entrusted him by God. If he chanced to hear a frivolous conversation, he rapped on the door and quietly withdrew.
St Joseph devoted much attention to the inner ordering of the life of the monks. He himself led a strict cenobitic life in accord with the Rule he compiled, to which all the services and obediences of the monks were subordinated, and it governed their whole life, "whether in their comings or goings, their words or their deeds." At the core of the rule was total non-covetousness, detachment from one's own will, and constant work. The brethren possessed everything in common: clothing, footwear, food and other things.
None of the brethren could take anything into their cell without the blessing of the igumen, not even a book or an icon. Part of the trapeza meal of the monks, by general consent, was given away to the poor. Work, prayer, spiritual efforts filled the life of the brethren. The Jesus Prayer never vanished from their lips. Festivity was viewed by St Joseph as a chief weapon for demonic seduction. St Joseph invariably imposed upon himself quite burdensome obediences. The monastery was occupied with the copying and transcription of Service Books and the writings of the holy Fathers, so that the Volokolamsk book collection soon became one of the finest of Russian monastic libraries.
With each passing year the monastery of St Joseph flourished all the more. In the years 1484-1485 a stone church of the Dormition of the Mother of God was built in place of the wooden one. In the Summer of 1485 "artistic masters of the Russian land" painted within it, Dionysius the Iconographer with his sons Vladimir and Theodosius. St Joseph's nephews, Dositheus and Bassian Toporkov, participated in the adornment of the new Church. In 1504 a heated church in honor of the Holy Theophany was set up, followed by the establishment of a bell-tower and next to the bell tower, a church named in honor of the Hodigitria (Directress)Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos.
St Joseph trained a whole school of renowned monks, some of whom gained notoriety in the arena of church-historical activity since they were "good pastors," while others gained fame with works of enlightenment. Some were remembered as worthy examples of pious monastic struggles. History has preserved for us the names of many disciples and co-ascetics of the holy Volokolamsk igumen, who continued to develop his ideas.
Among the disciples and followers of St Joseph were: the Metropolitans of Moscow and All Rus: Daniel (+ 1539) and Macarius (+1563), the Archbishop of Rostov Bassian (+1515), the Bishops of Suzdal: Simeon (+1515), Dositheus of Krutitsa (+1544), Sava of Krutitsa, called the Black, Acacius of Tver, Bassian of Kolomets, and many others. Monastics of the Volokolamsk monastery occupied the most important Archepiscopal sees of the Russian Church: the holy hierarchs of Kazan, Gurias (December 5) and Germanus (November 6 ), and St Barsanuphius, Bishop of Tver (April 11).
The activity and influence of St Joseph were not limited to the monastery. Many laypeople went to him to receive advice. With a pure spiritual insight he penetrated into the deep secrets of the souls of questioners and clairvoyantly revealed to them the will of God. Everyone living around the monastery considered him their spiritual Father and protector. Eminent nobles and princes asked him to be godfather for their children. They revealed their souls to him in confession, they asked for letters of guidance to help them fulfill his directives.
The common folk found at the monastery the means for sustaining their existence on occasions of extreme need. The number of those fed through monastery resources sometimes approached 700 people. "All of the Volotsk land are inclined to good, enjoying peace and quiet. And the name Joseph, as something sacred, is on everyone's lips."
The monastery was famed not only for its piety and help for the suffering, but also for its manifestations of the grace of God. During Matins of Holy Saturday, the righteous monk Bessarion once saw the Holy Spirit in the form of a white dove, sitting upon the Shroud of the Lord, which was being carried by St Joseph. The Abbot, bidding the monk to keep silent about the vision, himself rejoiced in spirit, hoping that God would not forsake the monastery. This monk had seen the souls of dying brethren, white as snow, issuing forth from their mouths. To St Joseph himself was revealed the day of his end, and he fell asleep in the Lord with joy, having received the Holy Mysteries and assuming the schema.
The saintly life of St Joseph was neither easy nor placid. In these difficult times for the Church in Russia, the Lord raised him up as a zealous defender of Orthodoxy in the struggle with heresies and churchly disputes. St Joseph exerted quite a great effort in denouncing the Judaizers, who tried to poison and distort the foundations of Russian spiritual life. Just as the holy Fathers and teachers of the Ecumenical Councils had elaborated on the teachings of Orthodoxy in responding to the ancient heresies (which contended against the Spirit, Christ, or icons), so also St Joseph was summoned forth by God to oppose the false teachings of the Judaizers and to compile the first manual of Russian Orthodox theology, his large book The Enlightener.
Even earlier, preachers from the Khozars had come to St Vladimir (July 15), trying to convert him to Judaism. But the great Baptizer of Rus repudiated the pretensions of the rabbis. After this, St Joseph writes, "the Great Russian land dwelt for five centuries in the Orthodox Faith, until the Enemy of salvation the devil, should bring the cunning Jew to the city of Novgorod."
Along with the retinue of the Lithuanian prince Michael Olelkovich, who came to Novgorod in 1470, the Jewish preacher Skhariya (Zachariah) accompanied them. Playing upon the deficiencies of faith and of learning on the part of certain clergy, Skhariya and his accomplices sowed distrust among the petty-minded towards the church hierarchy, inclining them towards a revolt against the spiritual authorities, tempting them with the idea of "self-authority," i.e. a capricious self-determination of each individual in matters of faith and salvation. Those they tempted gradually pushed towards a full break with the Church: they disdained the holy icons, and repudiated the veneration of the saints, basic elements of Orthodox popular morality.
Ultimately, they led the religiously blind and deluded to a denial of the saving Mysteries and the fundamental teachings of Orthodoxy, outside of which there is no knowledge of God: the teaching of the Most Holy Trinity and the teaching of the Incarnation of the God-man our Lord Jesus Christ. If decisive measures were not taken, "all of Orthodox Christianity would be doomed by heretical teachings." So the question was posed for history. The Great Prince Ivan III, enticed by the Judaizers, invited them to Moscow. He had two of the most prominent of the heretics made archpriests, one at the Dormition, the other at the Archangel Michael cathedrals of the Kremlin, and he summoned to Moscow even the arch-heretic Skhariya himself.
All those close to the prince were led astray by the heresy, beginning with the clerk heading the government, Theodore Kuritsyn, whose brother became a ringleader of the heretics. Even the in-law of the great prince, Elena Voloshanka, accepted the Judaizers. And finally, the heretical Metropolitan Zosimas was installed upon the bishop's Throne of the great Moscow Hierarchs Peter, Alexis and Jonah.
St Joseph and St Gennadius, Bishop of Novgorod (December 4), called for a struggle against the spread of the heresy. St Joseph wrote his first epistle "Concerning the Mystery of the Most Holy Trinity" while still a monk at the Paphnutiev Borov monastery in the year 1477. From the very beginning the Dormition Volokolamsk monastery became a bulwark of Orthodoxy in the struggle against the heresy. Here St Joseph wrote his chief works, The Enlightener, engendered with his fiery anti-heretical epistles, or as the monk himself unassumingly called them, "book exercises." The works of St Joseph and Archbishop Gennadius were crowned with success. In 1494 the heretic Zosimas was deposed from the bishop's Throne, and in the years 1502-04 the malicious and unrepentant Judaizers, who blasphemed against the Holy Trinity, Christ the Savior, the Most Holy Theotokos and the Church,were condemned at a church council.
St Joseph had many other trials and tribulations, but each time the Lord tried him according to the measure of his spiritual strength. The saint angered the Great Prince Ivan III, who only towards the end of his life reconciled with the saint and repented of his former weakness for the Judaizers. The saint also angered the Volotsk appenage prince Theodore, on whose lands Joseph's monastery was situated. In 1508 the saint suffered wrongful interdiction from St Serapion, Archbishop of Novgorod (March 16), with whom, however, he soon reconciled.
In 1503, a Council at Moscow, under the auspices of St Joseph and his disciples, adopted a "Conciliar Reply" concerning the indissolubility of church properties, "therefore all church-acquired property is essentially the acquired property of God, pledged, entrusted, and given to God." The legacy of the canonical works of Igumen Joseph is notably in "The Nomocanon Codex," a vast codex of canonical rules of the Orthodox Church, begun by St Joseph and completed by Metropolitan Macarius.
There are opinions about the differences of outlook and discord between the two great pedagogues of Russian monasticism at the end of the fifteenth and beginning of the sixteenth centuries: St Joseph of Volotsk and St Nilus of Sora (May 7). In the historical literature these views usually present them as proclaiming two "contrary" currents within Russian spiritual life: external action and inner contemplation. This is profoundly incorrect. St Joseph in his Rule synthesized these two aspects of the Russian monastic tradition, proceeding without interruption from the Athonite blessing given to St Anthony of the Kiev Caves, through St Sergius, and down to our own day.
The Rule presupposes the need for a full inner regeneration of man, submitting one's whole life to the task of salvation and deification [Greek theosis] not only for each individual monk, but also for the collective salvation of the whole human race. A great emphasis in the Rule is put on the demand to monastics for constant work in connection with inward and churchly prayer, "the monk should never be on holiday." Work, as "a collective deed," comprised for Joseph the very essence of church life: faith, embodied in good works, is the realization of prayer.
On the other hand, St Nilus of Sora had lived the ascetic life for a number of years on Mt. Athos, and he brought from there the teaching about the contemplative life and "the Jesus Prayer" as a means of a hesychastic service of monks to the world, as a constant spiritual activity, in connection with the physical work necessary for sustaining one's life.
But spiritual work and physical work are but two aspects of the same Christian vocation: a vital continuation of the creative activity of God in the world, encompassing as much the ideal as well as the material spheres. In this regard Sts Joseph and Nilus are spiritual brothers, varied in continuing the Church Tradition of the holy Fathers, and are heirs to the precepts of St Sergius of Radonezh. St Joseph highly regarded the spiritual experience of St Nilus and sent his own disciples to him to study inner prayer.
St Joseph was also an active proponent of a strong centralized Moscow realm. He was one of the originators of the teaching about the Russian Church as the recipient and bearer of the piety of the Byzantine Empire, "the Russian land has now surpassed all in piety." The ideas of St Joseph, possessing tremendous historical significance, were further developed later by his disciples and followers. From them came the Pskov Spaso-Eleazarov monastery Elder Philotheus with his own teaching about Moscow as the Third Rome. He declared, "Two Romes have fallen, Moscow is the third, and a fourth there shall not be."
These views of the Josephites on the significance of monasteries possessing properties for church building, and the participation of the Church in social life, were set amidst the conditions of the struggle for centralized power by the Moscow prince. His opponents were separatists who tried to disparage these views for their own political ends, surreptitiously using the teaching of St Nilus of Sora about "non-acquisitiveness," the withdrawal of monastics from worldly matters and possessions.
This supposed opposition engendered a false view on the hostility between the trends of Sts Joseph and Nilus. In actuality, both trends legitimately coexisted within the Russian monastic Tradition, complementing each other. As is evidenced from the Rule of St Joseph, its basis was complete non-acquisitiveness, and renunciation of the very concepts of "yours-mine."
The years passed. The monastery flourished with the construction work and efforts of St Joseph, and as he got old, he prepared himself for life eternal. Before his end he received the Holy Mysteries, then summoned all the brethren. He gave them his peace and blessing, and peacefully fell asleep in the Lord on September 9, 1515.
The funeral oration to St Joseph was composed by his nephew and disciple, the monk Dositheus Toporkov.
The first Life of the saint was written in the 1540s by a disciple of St Joseph, Bishop Sava the Black of Krutitsa, with the blessing of Macarius, Metropolitan of Moscow and all Rus (+ 1564). It entered into the Great Menaion Readings compiled by Macarius. A second redaction of the Life was written by the Russified Bulgarian writer Lev the Philolog with the assistance of St Zenobios of Otensk (October 30).
Local celebration of St Joseph was established at the Volokolamsk monastery in December of 1578, on the hundred year anniversary of the founding of the monastery. On June 1, 1591, the church-wide celebration of his memory was established under Patriarch Job. St Job, a disciple of the Volokolamsk saint, tonsured St Germanus of Kazan, and was a great admirer of St Joseph and was author of the Service to him, which was included in the MENAION. Another disciple of Sts Germanus and Barsanuphius was also the companion and successor to Patriarch Job, the Hieromartyr Patriarch Hermogenes (February 17), a spiritual leader of the Russian people in the struggle for liberation under the Polish incursion.
The theological works of St Joseph comprise an undeniable contribution within the treasury of the Orthodox Tradition. As with all Church writings inspired by the grace of the Holy Spirit, they continue to be a source of spiritual life and knowledge, and they have their own theological significance and pertinence.
St Joseph's chief book was written in sections. Its original form, completed at the time of the 1503-1504 councils, included eleven sections. In the final redaction, compiled after the death of the saint and involving a tremendous quantity of scrolls, The Book against the Heretics or The Enlightener includes sixteen sections, prefaced by An Account of the Newly-Appeared Heresies. The first section expounds the Church teaching about the teaching of the Most Holy Trinity; the second, about Jesus Christ, the True Messiah; the third, about the significance within the Church of the prophecies of the Old Testament; the fourth, about the Incarnation of God; the fifth through seventh, about the veneration of icons. In the eighth through tenth sections, St Joseph expounds on the fundamentals of Christian eschatology. The eleventh section is devoted to monasticism. In the twelfth the ineffectiveness of the anathemas and sanctions imposed by heretics is demonstrated. The final four sections consider methods of the Church's struggle with the heretics, and the means for their correction and repentance.
St Joseph is also commemorated on September 9 and February 13.
You may have noticed that I have not been updating the News regularly lately. I have run into some technical difficulties with uploading photos for the stories I post. I enjoy the pictures published with the articles and felt frustrated not being able to determine the problem.
But it is time for me to cut back some anyway.
I recently began a new business which has been gradually soaking up more and more of my time and feel I need to nail it down with the use of my little extra time. Posting regularly as I had been doing required vast amounts of my time in the reading and posting of the articles.
This really exciting business has to do with travel and I am going to plug it here. I believe it to be a wonderful opportunity and when you click on the above link and you open the new page, press numbers 1 and 2 to learn more.
You are welcome also to book your travel through my website as the search engine employed searches out all the major sites such as Cheap Tickets, Travelocity, Orbitz, etc. as well as many of the mom n' pop travel sites many of us have never heard of and within 3 minutes will produce the best price available for airfare, rental cars, hotels, cruises and so forth.
With this blog I will continue to post the Saint or Feast of the day and other articles such as the Mount Athos and Anti-Ecumenism videos I have been posting.
I plan to return to posting Orthodox News from around the world once I have the free time to deal with the technical issues and also once I have solidified my business more.
There are, in essence, two levels of ecumenism. In the extreme case, the highest level of ecumenism even encompasses non-Christian faiths. Christians, Jews, Moslems, Hindus, American Indians…they all unite in worship. These religions do not even claim to worship the same God, and yet they serve together. Venerate both Christ and Buddha as God in one service?! This is impossible! There are appalling videos showing all these different faiths performing their religious ceremonies as part of one big inter-communal service. Then there are those who attempt to join together all Christian religions into one faith. They would be horrified at the idea of a service with Hindus and Christians celebrating together, yet they do not bat an eyelash at the idea of Orthodox celebrating with Roman Catholics, who with no authority broke off from the Church close to a thousand years ago.
The Transfer of the relics of Righteous Lazarus of the Four Days, Bishop of Kiteia on Cyprus, took place in the ninth century. The Righteous St Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary (Magdalene), lived in the village of Bethany, not far from Jerusalem. During His earthly life the Lord Jesus Christ often visited the house of Lazarus, whom He much loved and called His friend (John 11:3,11), and when Lazarus had died and lain four days already in the grave, the Lord raised him from the dead (John 11:1-44). (The Church remembers St Lazarus on the Saturday of the Sixth Week of Great Lent, "Lazarus Saturday.")
Many of the Jews, when they heard about this, came to Bethany. Being persuaded of the reality of this most remarkable wonder, they became followers of Christ. Because of this the High Priests also wanted to kill Lazarus. Righteous Lazarus is mentioned in the Holy Gospel once more: when the Lord had come again to Bethany six days before the Passover, Lazarus was also there (John 12:1-2, 12:9-11). After his raising, St Lazarus lived another thirty years as a bishop on the island of Cyprus, where he spread Christianity and peacefully fell asleep in the Lord.
The holy relics of St Lazarus were discovered in Kiteia. They were within a marble coffin, upon which was inscribed: "Lazarus of the Four-Days, the friend of Christ." The Byzantine emperor Leo the Wise (886-911) gave orders to transfer the relics of St Lazarus to Constantinople in the year 898 and place them within the church of the Righteous Lazarus.
Saint Eupraxia, Princess of Pskov, in the world Euphrosyne, was the daughter of the Polotsk prince Rogvolod Borisovich, and an aunt to the holy Prince Dovmont-Timothy (May 20). She was the wife of the Pskov prince Yaroslav Vladimirovich. Prince Yaroslav fled from Pskov to Livonia and there married a German. Together with the Teutonic knights he made incursions several times upon the Russian lands, and in 1231 he seized Izborsk. After the departure of her husband, Euphrosyne turned to deeds of piety. In the year 1243, she built a monastery on the banks of the River Velika named for St John the Forerunner, and became its abbess.
Invited to Livonia for a meeting with her former husband in the city of Odenpa (Bear's Head), she was murdered (May 8, 1243) by a stepson, more accurately, the son of Yaroslav by his German wife. She was buried at the cathedral of the monastery she founded. Ten days after the death of St Eupraxia, a miracle occurred over her grave, when myrrh issued from an icon of the Savior. The icon was called "The myrrh-bearing Savior". The countenance of the righteous princess was preserved on two icons. On the one she is depicted at prayer with St John the Forerunner and the holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called. The other icon with her likeness is beside the wonderworking icon of the Savior.
The Hieromartyr Lucian, Presbyter of Antioch, was born in the Syrian city of Samosata. At twelve years of age he was left orphaned. Lucian distributed his possessions to the poor, and went to the city of Edessa to the confessor Macarius, under the guidance of whom he diligently read Holy Scripture and learned the ascetic life. For his pious and zealous spreading of Christianity among the Jews and pagans, Lucian was made a presbyter.
In Antioch St Lucian opened a school where many students gathered. He taught them how to understand the Holy Scriptures, and how to live a virtuous life. St Lucian occupied himself with teaching, and he corrected the Greek text of the Septuagint, which had been corrupted in many places by copyists and by heretics who deliberately distorted it in order to support their false teachings. The entire Greek text of the Bible which he corrected was hidden in a wall at the time of his confession of Christ, and it was found during the lifetime of St Constantine the Great.
During the persecution of Diocletian, St Lucian was arrested and was sent to prison in Nicomedia, where for nine years he encouraged other Christians with him to remain steadfast in their confession of Christ, urging them not to fear tortures or death.
St Lucian died in prison from many terrible tortures and from hunger. Before his death, he wished to partake of the Holy Mysteries of Christ on the Feast of Theophany. Certain Christians who visited him brought bread and wine for the Eucharist. The hieromartyr, bound by chains and lying on a bed of sharp potsherds, was compelled to offer the Bloodless Sacrifice upon his chest, and all the Christians there in prison received Communion. The next day the emperor sent people to see if the saint was still alive. St Lucian said three times, "I am a Christian," then surrendered his soul to God. The body of the holy martyr was thrown into the sea, but after thirty days dolphins brought it to shore. Believers reverently buried the body of the much-suffering St Lucian.
St Lucian was originally commemorated on January 7, the day of his death. Later, when the celebration of the Synaxis of St John the Baptist was appointed for this day, the feast of St Lucian was transferred to October 15. The October date may be associated with the dedication of a church which was built in Antioch by St Helen (May 21) over St Lucian's holy relics.
Although he was only a priest, sometimes St Lucian is depicted in the vestments of a bishop. The Stroganov Guide for Iconographers was published in Russia in 1869, based on a 1606 manuscript. There St Lucian is depicted wearing a phelonion and holding a Gospel. He does not wear the omophorion of a bishop, however. Another handbook, the Litsevoy Podlinnik, states that St Lucian is to be depicted with the omophorion.
It may be that the Russians thought of St Lucian as a bishop because of his importance to the Church, and so that is how they depicted him. Similarly, St Charalampus (February 10) is depicted as a priest in Greek icons, and as a bishop in Russian icons.
Troparion - Tone 3 Radiant with the Spirit,You taught true knowledge of the true faith;A trainer of martyrs, O Lucian,You were glorified in contest.Intercede with Christ our God that he may grant us great mercy!
Troparion - Tone 4 Your holy martyr Lucian, O Lord,through his suffering has received an incorruptible crown from You, our God.For having Your strength, he laid lowhis adversaries, and shattered the powerless boldness of demons.Through his intercessions, save our souls!
Kontakion - Tone 2 We honor you with hymns of glory,Lucian, the radiant star.You first became radiant by your detachment from the things of this world;First, you became radiant by detachment from the things of this world; then you were raised up by your struggle.Unceasingly pray for us all.
The Holy Martyrs Nazarius, Gervasius, Protasius and Celsius of Milan suffered during the reign of the emperor Nero (54-68). St Nazarius (son of the Christian Perpetua and the Jew Africanus) was born at Rome and was baptized by Bishop Linus. From his youth Nazarius decided to devote his life to preaching Christ and to aid wandering Christians. With this intent he left Rome and arrived in Mediolanum (Milan).
St Nazarius met Protasius and Gervasius when he was visiting Christians in the Mediolanum prison. He so loved the twins that he wanted to suffer and die with them. The ruler heard that he was visiting the prisoners, so he had St Nazarius beaten with rods, then driven from the city.
St Nazarius proceeded to Gaul (modern France), and there he successfully preached Christianity and converted many pagans. In the city of Kimel he baptized Celsius, the son of a Christian woman who entrusted her child to the saint. Nazarius raised the boy in piety, and acquired a faithful disciple and coworker in his missionary labors.
The pagans threw the saints to wild animals to be eaten, but the beasts would not touch them. Afterwards, they tried to drown the martyrs in the sea, but they walked upon the water as if on dry land. The soldiers who carried out the orders were so amazed that they themselves accepted Christianity and released the holy martyrs.
Sts Nazarius and Celsius went to Milan and visited Gervasius and Protasius in prison. For this, they were brought before Nero, who ordered that Sts Nazarius and Celsius be beheaded. Soon after this the holy brothers Gervasius and Protasius were also executed. The relics of all four martyrs were stolen by a Christian named Philip, and were buried in his house.
Many years later, during the reign of the holy Emperor Theodosius (408-450), St Ambrose, Bishop of Milan (December 7), discovered the relics of Sts Gervasius and Protasius through a revelation from God.
In the reign of Arcadius and Honorius, St Ambrose also discovered the relics of Sts Nazarius and Celsius. The holy relics, glorified by many healings, were solemnly transferred to the Milan cathedral.
Troparion - Tone 4 Let us praise the fourfold company of martyrs:Nazarius, Protase, Gervase and Celsus.For they preached the Trinity to allAnd by their contest dispelled the worship of idols.Through their prayers, O Christ God, have mercy on us all.
New Martyr Zlata (Chryse) This "golden vessel of virginity and undefiled bride of Christ," was born in the village of Slatena, Meglena diocese, on the border of Bulgaria and Serbia, while Bulgaria was under the Turkish Yoke.
From her youth Zlata displayed an unusually strong character, a firm faith in Christ, and was both chaste and beautiful. A certain Turk was obsessed with her, and seized her one day as she was gathering wood. He carried her off to his house, and repeatedly tried to seduce the maiden and force her to accept Islam. Since persuasion did not work, he began to threaten her with grievous tortures.
The glorious martyr was not frightened by these threats, but said she would never deny Christ no matter what they did to her. For six months the impious Hagarenes tried to make Zlata accept their religion, but she remained steadfast. Then they ordered the saint's parents and sisters to convince her to become a Moslem. Otherwise, they said, they would kill Zlata and torture them.
The parents and sisters of the saint wept and urged her to deny Christ "just for the sake of appearances," so that they all might be spared torments and death. St Zlata was unmoved by their pleas, and replied, "You who incite me to deny Christ are no longer my parents and sisters. Instead, I have the Lord Jesus Christ as my father, the Theotokos as my mother, and the saints as my brothers and sisters!"
When the Moslems saw that they could not weaken the resolve of the saint, they tormented her for three months, beating her with clubs. Later, they peeled strips of skin from her body so that the earth was reddened by her blood. Then they heated a skewer and passed it through her ears.
Nearby was her spiritual Father, the hieromonk Timothy of Stavronikita Monastery on Mt. Athos. She sent word to him to pray that she would successfully complete the course of martyrdom. It was he who recorded her martyrdom.
Finally, the Moslems fell into a fury at having been conquered by a woman, so they tied her to a tree and cut her to pieces with their knives. Her pure soul was received by Christ, Who bestowed on her the double crowns of virginity and martyrdom. Certain Christians gathered her relics secretly and buried them with reverence. St Zlata suffered for Christ in the year 1795.
Saint Cosmas the Hymnographer, Bishop of Maiuma, was a native of Jerusalem. He was raised by the parents of St John of Damascus (December 4) together with their son, and he received a fine education. When St Cosmas came of age, he set out to one of the monasteries of Palestine, where he attained renown for his monastic exploits.
During a time of persecution against holy icons St Cosmas, and the venerable John, came forward to defend Orthodoxy. In the year 743 Cosmas was made Bishop of Maiuma. He died in old age, leaving behind many canons for feast days and a Triodion for four days of Holy Week.
Troparion - Tone 8 O Champion of Orthodoxy, teacher of purity and of true worship,The enlightener of the universe and the adornment of the Hierarchs:O all-wise Father Cosmas, Your teachings have gleamed with light upon all things.Intercede before Christ our God to save our souls!
Troparion - Tone 4 Though in the flesh, you were zealous to emulate the choirs of heaven,And while on earth you composed hymns to God in the highest,Like a harp of holy wisdom,With enlightened understanding you hymned God the Word.O divinely inspired Cosmas, we praise you with hymns!
Kontakion - Tone 2 O God-inspired Cosmas, you adorned yourself with virtues,Adorning the Church of Christ with the rich splendor of your hymns.Intercede with the Lord that He may deliver us from the snares of our enemies!We cry out to you: Rejoice, O holy and blessed Father!
Saint Theophanes, Confessor and Hymnographer, Bishop of Nicea was the younger brother of the St Theodore the Branded (December 27). The brothers received an excellent education and were particularly involved in philosophy. Striving towards the knowledge of God, they settled in the Lavra of St Sava. Here St Theophanes was tonsured, and later became a hieromonk.
The holy brothers were famed as advocates of icon veneration. They boldly fulfilled the mission entrusted them by the Patriarch of Jerusalem and went to Constantinople to denounce the iconoclast emperor Leo the Armenian (813-820). Afterwards, they also denounced the iconoclast emperors Michael Balbos (820-829) and Theophilus (829-842).
The saints had to endure imprisonment, hunger, even torture. The emperor Theophilus gave orders to inscribe a phrase insulting to the glorious confessors upon their faces with red-hot needles. Therefore, they are called "Branded". "Write whatever you wish, but at the Last Judgment you shall read your own writing," said the agonized brothers to the emperor. They sent Theodore to prison, where also he died (+ 833), but Theophanes was sent into exile. With the restoration of Icon veneration St Theophanes was returned from exile and consecrated Bishop of Nicea. The saint wrote about 150 canons, among which is a beautiful canon in defense of holy icons. He died peacefully around the year 850.
Troparion - Tone 5 Having attained an angelic stateYou sounded forth as a golden trumpet of revelationAnd nourished the chosen people by your words.In singing hymns to you the Church rejoicesFor you struggled on her behalf, O Theophanes!
Kontakion - Tone 2 Having thundered the divine incarnation of Christ,You convicted the fleshless foes,O wonderful Theophanes.We pray you to intercede for us all!
It simply does not work to bring everything down to the lowest common denominator and say that the only criteria for being a Christian is that we all believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Or some will even go so far as to say that, if even this is not true of everyone, at least everyone believes in a god, and that's enough - it doesn't matter that some do not even believe in the Christian God. It is fine for Christians and Moslems and Jews and pagans all to join together; the important thing is simply that we all love each other. The differences do not matter; only the similarities. So the ecumenists argue. But this is not true! This is not the apostolic teaching. This is not the true faith. This is ecumenism! The apostles taught us to be of one mind and one body by believing, speaking, and doing all the same things that have been handed down to us ever since the first followers of Christ. We must be completely united in all our beliefs, being perfectly joined together in the same mind and judgement. To reduce the requirements for being a Christian to a mere statement of faith in a god, thus minimalizing Christianity, severs this unity that we are commanded to abide by.
Holy Prince Yaropolk Izyaslavich, in Holy Baptism Peter, was the grandson of Yaroslav the Wise, and great-grandson of St Vladimir. He shared the sad fate of his father, the Kievan Great Prince Izyaslav, expelled by his brothers from Kiev.
Yaropolk journeyed on various missions for his father to the Polish king, the German emperor, and the Bishop of Rome St Gregory VII (1073-1085). Upon the death of Great Prince Svyatoslav in 1078, Prince Izyaslav was restored to his principality, and Yaropolk received Vyzhgorod. After the death of his father, he was given as his appanage the city of Vladimir-Volynsk, from which the Rostislavichi attempted to displace him.
On the way from Vladimir to Zvenigorod-Galitsk, Yaropolk was treacherously murdered by Neryadets, one of his retainers (+1086). The murderer indeed had been bribed by the Rostislavichi. The body of Yaropolk was transferred to Kiev and on December 5 was buried at the monastery of St Demetrius in the church of St Peter, which he himself had begun to build. Many Church memorials, beginning with the Chronicle of St Nestor, testify that the murdered Prince Yaropolk be venerated in the rank of saints well-pleasing to God.
Saint Andronicus and his wife Athanasia of Egypt lived in Antioch in the fifth century. St Andronicus was a craftsman who divided his earnings into three portions. One part he gave to the Church, the second to the poor, and the third he used for his family. When the Lord took the son and daughter of Andronicus and Athanasia, the pious couple decided to devote themselves fully to the service of God, helping the poor and the sick. Soon the saintly spouses set out for Alexandria, where Andronicus entered a skete monastery, and Athanasia entered the women's Tabennisiota monastery.
After twelve years of ascetic life St Andronicus went to Jerusalem to pray at the holy places. He met a co-pilgrim, St Athanasia, who, foreseeing the difficulties of the journey, had donned men's attire. They did not recognize each other, since long ascetic effort had altered their appearance. When they returned from Jerusalem, both monks settled into a single cell and for many years lived the ascetic life in silence. St Athanasia wrote a note to be read after her death, revealing her secret.. St Andronicus died soon after St Athanasia.
Saint Pelagia the Penitent was converted to Christianity by St Nonnus, Bishop of Edessa (Saturday of Cheesefare Week). Before her acceptance of Christianity through Baptism, Pelagia was head of a dance troupe in Palestinian Antioch, living a life of frivolity and prostitution.
One day Pelagia, elegantly dressed, was making her way past a church where St Nonnus was preaching a sermon. Believers turned their faces away from the sinner, but the bishop glanced after her. Struck by the outer beauty of Pelagia and having foreseen the spiritual greatness within her, the saint prayed in his cell for a long time to the Lord for the sinner. He told his fellow bishops that the prostitute put them all to shame. He explained that she took great care to adorn her body in order to appear beautiful in the eyes of men. "We... take no thought for the adornment of our wretched souls," he said.
On the following day, when St Nonnus was teaching in the church about the dread Last Judgment and its consequences, Pelagia came. The teaching made a tremendous impression upon her.With the fear of God and weeping tears of repentance, she asked the saint for Baptism. Seeing her sincere and full repentance, Bishop Nonnus baptized her.
By night the devil appeared to Pelagia, urging her to return to her former life. The saint prayed, signed herself with the Sign of the Cross, and the devil vanished.
Three days after her baptism, St Pelagia gathered up her valuables and took them to Bishop Nonnus. The bishop ordered that they be distributed among the poor saying, "Let this be wisely dispersed, so that these riches gained by sin may become a wealth of righteousness." After this St Pelagia journeyed to Jerusalem to the Mount of Olives. She lived there in a cell, disguised as the monk Pelagius, living in ascetic seclusion, and attaining great spiritual gifts. When she died, she was buried in her cell.
Troparion - Tone 4
Like a fragrant rose growing from thorns,You were revealed to the Church through your virtuous deedsBecoming a source of joy for the faithful.You offered your life in sweet-smelling fragranceTo him who made you wonderful.Entreat him to deliver us from every soul-destroying passion,O righteous Pelagia!
Troparion - Tone 8 The image of God was truly preserved in you, O Mother,for you took up the Cross and followed Christ.By so doing doing you taught us to disregard the flesh for it passes awaybut to care instead for the soul, since it is immortal.Therefore your spirit, venerable Pelagía, rejoices with the angels.
Kontakion - Tone 2 You wore out your body through fasting, vigils, and prayer beseeching the Creator to completely forgive your deeds.You achieved this, holy Mother Pelagía,thereby showing us the way to repentance.
Saint Sergius the Obedient of the Kiev Caves, Near Caves, was a Greek who began his monastic life on Mount Athos. Later, he came to Russia and settled in the monastery of the Life-Giving Trinity under the guidance of St Sergius of Radonezh (July 5) and (September 25). After several years, with the blessing of the igumen, St Sergius went into the Vologda forests and settled at the bank of the River Nurma. There he set up a cross and built a chapel with a cell, in which he lived an ascetical life in deep silence, "going forth in angelic life," and patiently enduring temptation from demons and malevolent people.
It pleased the Lord to summon the saint from his solitude, so that in his wisdom and spiritual experience he should serve for the salvation of others. From various places forty men gathered around him, thirsting for the spiritual life. By their common efforts, the brethren built a large church in honor of the Procession of the Venerable Wood of the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord (August 1). The monastic cells were built around the church.
St Paul of Obnora (January 10) led an ascetical life about three miles from the Nurma monastery, and St Sergius often visited him for soul-profiting conversation. When it was time for St Sergius to go back to his monastery, St Paul would accompany him for two-thirds of the way. Later, a chapel was built to mark the place where they parted. St Sergius died on October 7, 1412. Since 1546, the Church has venerated him for his saintly life.
Posted on Monday, October 06 @ 00:52:44 EDT by greek_news
Ausbury Park, NJ.- The 61st Anniversary of the Holy Cross Celebration, in the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of New Jersey, was held at the Paramount Theater in Asbury Park, New Jersey, with tremendous success on Sunday, September 21, 2008. This yearʼs event which attracted 3000 Greek Orthodox Faithful and visitors, according to the Asbury Park Press (http://www.app.com/apps/pbcs.dll/frontpage) from throughout the State of New Jersey and the Greater Philadelphia area, was enjoyed by all in attendance. His Eminence, Metropolitan EVANGELOS of New Jersey presided over the festivities that included, celebration of the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, the Elevation of the Holy Cross, the Blessing of the Waters and the subsequent Diving for the Cross by 70 Orthodox youngsters.
Assisting His Eminence at the Divine Liturgy were Clergy from throughout the State of New Jersey. The V. Rev. Archimandrite Nektarios Cottros, Proistamenos of St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Philadelphia, PA, and the Rev. Economos Andrew Eugenis, Proistamenos of St. George Greek Orthodox Church, Asbury Park, NJ, served as Ecclesiarchs. The Paramount Theater, which was standing room only, resonated with the sounds of Byzantine Music, chanted by the Byzantine Choir of the Holy Metropolis of New Jersey; this year directed by Mr. Nicholas Chingas, Protopsaltis of St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Trenton, NJ. Mrs. Kay Kahayas, Choir Director of St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Piscataway, NJ, directed the Eastern Federation of Greek Orthodox Church Musicians Choir that also melodiously chanted the responses during the Divine Liturgy.
Present at the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy and the dayʼs Celebration were the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece, His Excellency, Ioannis Valinakis, the new Consul General of Greece, Her Excellency, Aglaia Balta; and the Consul General of Cyprus, His Excellency Andreas Panayiotou.
Metropolitan Evangelos warmly welcomed the distinguished guests, presenting each of the distinguished guests with a beautiful bouquet of roses, expressing his gratitude, personally, and on behalf of the entire Holy Metropolis of New Jersey, for their presence at this yearʼs celebration.
In his remarks, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece, His Excellency Valinakis expressed his great joy at being able to attend this yearʼs event. He also remarked that it was a special occasion for him personally, as this was the second year in a row that he was able to attend the celebration of the Holy Cross in Asbury Park. His Excellency spoke about the life-long and beautiful relationship, between the Greek-American community here in the United States of America, and the Mother country of Greece. He encouraged all in attendance to continue supporting their Church and the Holy Metropolis of New Jersey as well as, exhorting them to continue teaching the younger generations the values of the Hellenic culture, that has given so much to not only Greece, but the same Hellenic culture, which has given so much to the entire world.
His Eminence, Metropolitan Evangelos then conducted a Trisagion Service for the late Patriarch Athenagoras placing a beautiful wreath at the statue erected by the City of Asbury Park in his honor, on the Boardwalk.
Following the Agiasmos Service that was held by the waterfront under perfect weather conditions, His Eminence approached the waves, and threw the Cross into the ocean four times, each time being retrieved by members of the Greek Orthodox Youth Association, those who retrieved the Cross, have a special blessing throughout the coming year. This yearʼs diver who retrieved the Cross were: Junior Girl: Christina Kolovos from Ascension Greek Orthodox Church, Fairview, NJ; Junior Boy: Nicholas Hilaris from St. John the Theologian Greek Orthodox Cathedral, in Tenafly, NJ; Senior Girl: Demetra Michailides from St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Trenton, NJ; Senior Boy: Joseph Abadiotakis, from St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Asbury Park, NJ.
The dayʼs festivities concluded with a BBQ outside and the following dance groups performed from Churches throughout the Holy Metropolis of New Jersey: St. George Greek Orthodox Church, Piscataway, NJ; St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, Perth Amboy, NJ; St. Athanasios Greek Orthodox Church, Paramus, NJ; and St. George Greek Orthodox Church, Trenton, NJ.
Glorification of St Innocent, Metropolitan of Moscow, Enlightener of the Aleuts and Apostle to America (in the world John Popov-Veniaminov), was born on August 26, 1797 in the village of Anginsk in the Irkutsk diocese, into the family of a sacristan. The boy mastered his studies at an early age and by age seven, he was reading the Epistle in church. In 1806 they sent him to the Irkutsk seminary. In 1814, the new rector thought it proper to change the surnames of some of the students. John Popov received the surname Veniaminov in honor of the deceased Archbishop Benjamin of Irkutsk (+ July 8, 1814). On May 13, 1817 he was ordained deacon for the Irkutsk Annunciation church, and on May 18, 1821, he was ordained priest.
The missionary service of the future Apostle of America and Siberia began with the year 1823. Father John spent 45 years laboring for the enlightenment of the peoples of Kamchatka, the Aleutian Islands, North America, Yakutsk, the Khabarov frontier, performing his apostolic exploit in severe conditions and at great risks to life. Saint Innocent baptized ten thousand people, and built churches, beside which he founded schools and he himself taught the fundamentals of the Christian life. His knowledge of various crafts and arts aided him in his work.
Father John was a remarkable preacher. During the celebration of the Liturgy, memorial services and the all-night Vigil, he incessantly guided his flock. During his time of endless travels, Father John studied the languages, customs and habits of the peoples, among whom he preached. His work in geography, ethnography and linguistics received worldwide acclaim. He composed an alphabet and grammar for the Aleut language and translated the Catechism, the Gospel and many prayers into that language. One of the finest of his works was the Indication of the Way into the Kingdom of Heaven (1833), translated into the various languages of the peoples of Siberia and appearing in more than 40 editions. Thanks to the toil of Father John, the Yakut people in 1859 first heard the Word of God and divine services in their own native language.
On November 29, 1840, after the death of his wife, Father John was tonsured a monk with the name Innocent by St Philaret, the Metropolitan of Moscow, in honor of St Innocent of Irkutsk. On December 15, Archimandrite Innocent was consecrated Bishop of Kamchatka, the Kurile and Aleutian Islands. On April 21, 1850 Bishop Innocent was elevated to the rank of archbishop.
By the Providence of God on January 5, 1868, St Innocent succeeded Metropolitan Philaret on the Moscow cathedra. Through the Holy Synod, Metropolitan Innocent consolidated the secular missionary efforts of the Russian Church (already in 1839 he had proposed a project for improving the organization of missionary service).
Under the care of Metropolitan Innocent a Missionary Society was created, and the Protection monastery was reorganized for missionary work. In 1870 the Japanese Orthodox Spiritual Mission headed by Archimandrite Nicholas Kasatkin (afterwards Saint Nicholas of Japan, (February 3) was set up, to whom St innocent had shared much of his own spiritual experience. The guidance by St Innocent of the Moscow diocese was also fruitful, by his efforts, the church of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos was built up into the Moscow Spiritual Academy.
St Innocent fell asleep in the Lord on March 31, 1879, on Holy Saturday, and was buried at the Holy Spirit Church of the Trinity-St Sergius Lavra. On October 6, 1977, St Innocent was glorified by the Russian Orthodox Church. His memory is celebrated three times during the year: on March 31, the day of his blessed repose, on October 5 (Synaxis of the Moscow Hierarchs), and on October 6, the day of his glorification.
Troparion - Tone 4 O Holy Father InnocentIn obedience to the will of GodYou accepted dangers and tribulationsBringing many peoples to the knowledge of truth.You showed us the way,Now by your prayers help lead us into the Kingdom of Heaven.
Troparion - Tone 4 You evangelized the northern people of America and Asia,proclaiming the Gospel of Christ to the natives in their own tongues.Holy Hierarch Father Innocent,enlightener of Alaska and all America,your ways were ordered by the Lord! Pray to Him for the salvation of our souls in His heavenly Kingdom!
Kontakion - Tone 2 A true celebration of the providence and grace of GodIs your life, O holy father Innocent, Apostle to our land.In hardships and dangers you toiled for the Gospel's sakeAnd God delivered and preserved you unharmed.From obscurity He highly exalted you as an exampleThat the Lord truly guides a man in the way he should go.
The celebration of a special day to honor Saints Peter, Alexis, Jonah the Metropolitans and Wonderworkers of All Russia was established by Patriarch Job on October 5, 1596. In 1875, St Innocent, Metropolitan of Moscow (March 31 and October 6) proposed that St Philip be included with the others. St Hermogenes was added only in the year 1913. In 2005 the Church of Russia added St Innocent (March 31 and October 6), St Macarius (December 30), St Job (April 5 and June 19), St Tikhon (April 7 and October 9), St Philaret (November 19), St Peter (September 27), and St Macarius (February 16).
By celebrating these hierarchs on a common day, the Church offers each of them equal honor, as heavenly protectors of the city of Moscow and prayerful intercessors for Russia.
Information about the Lives of these holy Hierarchs is found under the dates of their commemoration: St Peter (December 21 and August 24), St Alexis (February 12 and May 20), St Jonah (March 31, May 27, and June 15), St Philip (January 9 and July 3 ), St Hermogenes (February 17 and May 12 ).
Troparion - Tone 4
O Russian Hierarchs,Guardians of the Apostolic tradition,Firm pillars, guides of Orthodoxy,Peter, Alexis, Jonah, and Philip,Pray to the Lord of all,To grant peace to the world and great mercy to our souls.
Kontakion - Tone 3
You were holy as hierarchs;You taught the people and you were well-pleasing to God.He has glorified you with incorruption and miraclesAs disciples of the grace of God.