Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Apostle Andrew

Commemorated on June 30

The Synaxis of the Glorious and All-Praiseworthy Twelve Apostles of Christ appears to be an ancient Feast. The Church honors each of the Twelve Apostles on separate dates during the year, and has established a general commemoration for all of them on the day after the commemoration of the Glorious and First-Ranked among the Apostles Peter and Paul.

The holy, glorious, all-laudable Apostle Andrew the First-called is also commemorated on November 30. He was the brother of St Peter (June 29).

For lists of the Apostles' names, see: Mt.10:2, Mark 3:14, Luke 6:12, Acts 1:13, 26.

Troparion - Tone 4

First-enthroned of the apostles,
teachers of the universe:
Entreat the Master of all
to grant peace to the world,
and to our souls great mercy!

Kontakion - Tone 2

Today Christ the Rock glorifies with highest honor
The rock of Faith and leader of the Apostles,
Together with Paul and the company of the twelve,
Whose memory we celebrate with eagerness of faith,
Giving glory to the one who gave glory to them!



Monday, June 29, 2009

The Holy Glorious and All-Praised Leader of the Apostles, Peter & Paul

Commemorated on June 29

Sermon of Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo

Today the Holy Church piously remembers the sufferings of the Holy Glorious and All-Praised Apostles Peter and Paul.

St. Peter, the fervent follower of Jesus Christ, for the profound confession of His Divinity: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God," was deemed worthy by the Savior to hear in answer, "Blessed art thou, Simon ... I tell thee, that thou art Peter [Petrus], and on this stone [petra] I build My Church" (Mt.16:16-18). On "this stone" [petra], is on that which thou sayest: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God" it is on this thy confession I build My Church. Wherefore the "thou art Peter": it is from the "stone" [petra] that Peter [Petrus] is, and not from Peter [Petrus] that the "stone" [petra] is, just as the Christian is from Christ, and not Christ from the Christian. Do you want to know, from what sort of "rock" [petra] the Apostle Peter [Petrus] was named? Hear the Apostle Paul: "Brethren, I do not want ye to be ignorant," says the Apostle of Christ, "how all our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ" (1 Cor.10: 1-4). Here is the from whence the "Rock" is Peter.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the final days of His earthly life, in the days of His mission to the race of man, chose from among the disciples His twelve Apostles to preach the Word of God. Among them, the Apostle Peter for his fiery ardor was vouchsafed to occupy the first place (Mt.10:2) and to be as it were the representative person for all the Church. Therefore it is said to him, preferentially, after the confession: "I will give unto thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in the heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth: shall be loosed in heaven" (Mt.16: 19). Therefore it was not one man, but rather the One Universal Church, that received these "keys" and the right "to bind and loosen." And that it was actually the Church that received this right, and not exclusively a single person, turn your attention to another place of the Scriptures, where the same Lord says to all His Apostles, "Receive ye the Holy Spirit" and further after this, "Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them: and whose soever sins ye retain, are retained" (John 20: 22-23); or: "whatsoever ye bind upon the earth, shall be bound in Heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth, shall be loosened in heaven" (Mt.18:18). Thus, it is the Church that binds, the Church that loosens; the Church, built upon the foundational cornerstone, Jesus Christ Himself (Eph 2:20), doth bind and loosen. Let both the binding and the loosening be feared: the loosening, in order not to fall under this again; the binding, in order not to remain forever in this condition. Therefore "Iniquities ensnare a man, and everyone is bound in the chains of his own sins," says Wisdom (Prov 5:22); and except for Holy Church nowhere is it possible to receive the loosening.

After His Resurrection the Lord entrusted the Apostle Peter to shepherd His spiritual flock not because, that among the disciples only Peter alone was pre-deserved to shepherd the flock of Christ, but Christ addresses Himself chiefly to Peter because, that Peter was first among the Apostles and as such the representative of the Church; besides which, having turned in this instance to Peter alone, as to the top Apostle, Christ by this confirms the unity of the Church. "Simon of John" -- says the Lord to Peter -- "lovest thou Me?" -- and the Apostle answered: "Yea, Lord, Thou knowest that I love Thee"; and a second time it was thus asked, and a second time he thus answered; being asked a third time, seeing that as it were not believed, he was saddened. But how is it possible for him not to believe That One, Who knew his heart? And wherefore then Peter answered: "Lord, Thou knowest all; Thou knowest that I love Thee." "And sayeth Jesus to him" all three times "Feed My sheep" (John 20:15-17).

Besides this, the triple appealing of the Savior to Peter and the triple confession of Peter before the Lord had a particular beneficial purpose for the Apostle. That one, to whom was given "the keys of the kingdom" and the right "to bind and to loose," bound himself thrice by fear and cowardice (Mt.26:69-75), and the Lord thrice loosens him by His appeal and in turn by his confession of strong love. And to shepherd literally the flock of Christ was acquired by all the Apostles and their successors. "Take heed, therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock," the Apostle Paul urges church presbyters, "over which the Holy Spirit hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of the God, which He hath purchased with His own blood" (Acts 20:28); and the Apostle Peter to the elders: "Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof not by constraint, but willingly: not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind: neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being examples to the flock. And when is appeared the Prince of pastors, ye will receive unfading crowns of glory" (1 Pet. 5:2-4).

It is remarkable that Christ, having said to Peter: "Feed My sheep," did not say: "Feed thy sheep," but rather to feed, good servant, the sheep of the Lord. "Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?" (1 Cor.1:13). "Feed My sheep". Wherefore "wolfish robbers, wolfish oppressors, deceitful teachers and mercenaries, not being concerned about the flock" (Mt.7:15; Acts 20:29; 2 Pet 2:1; John 10:12), having plundered a strange flock and making of the spoils as though it be of their own particular gain, they think that they feed their flock. Such are not good pastors, as pastors of the Lord. "The good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep" (John 10:11), entrusted to Him by the chief Shepherd Himself (1 Pet 5:4). And the Apostle Peter, true to his calling, gave his soul for the very flock of Christ, having sealed his apostleship by a martyr's death, is now glorified throughout all the world.

The Apostle Paul, formerly Saul, was changed from a robbing wolf into a meek lamb. Formerly he was an enemy of the Church, then is manifest as an Apostle. Formerly he stalked it, then preached it. Having received from the high priests the authority at large to throw all Christians in chains for execution, he was already on the way, he breathed out "threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord" (Acts 9:1), he thirsted for blood, but "He that dwells in the Heavens shall laugh him to scorn" (Ps 2:4). When he, "having persecuted and vexed" in such manner "the Church of God" (1Cor.15:9; Acts 8:5), he came near Damascus, and the Lord from Heaven called to him: "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" and I am here, and I am there, I am everywhere: here is My head; there is My body. There becomes nothing of a surprise in this; we ourselves are members of the Body of Christ. "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me; it is hard for thee to kick against the goad" (Acts 9:4-5). Saul, however, "trembling and frightened", cried out: "Who art Thou, Lord?" The Lord answered him, "I am Jesus Whom thou persecutest."

And Saul suddenly undergoes a change: "What wantest Thou me to do?" -- he cries out. And suddenly for him there is the Voice: "Arise, and go to the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do" (Acts 9:6). Here the Lord sends Ananias: "Arise and go into the street" to a man, "by the name of Saul," and baptize him, "for this one is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel" (Acts 9: 11, 15, 18). This vessel must be filled with My Grace. "Ananias, however, answered: Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he hath done to Thy saints in Jerusalem: and here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Thy Name" (Acts 9:13-14). But the Lord urgently commands Ananias: "Search for and fetch him, for this vessel is chosen by Me: for I shall show him what great things he must suffer for My name's sake" (Acts 9:11, 15-16).

And actually the Lord did show the Apostle Paul what things he had to suffer for His Name. He instructed him the deeds; He did not stop at the chains, the fetters, the prisons and shipwrecks; He Himself felt for him in his sufferings, He Himself guided him towards this day. On a single day the memory of the sufferings of both these Apostles is celebrated, though they suffered on separate days, but by the spirit and the closeness of their suffering they constitute one. Peter went first, and Paul followed soon after him. Formerly called Saul, and then Paul, having transformed his pride into humility. His very name (Paulus), meaning "small, little, less," demonstrates this. What is the Apostle Paul after this? Ask him, and he himself gives answer to this: "I am," says he, "the least of the Apostles... but I have labored more abundantly than all of them: yet not I, but the grace of God, which was with me" (1 Cor.15:9-10).

And so, brethren, celebrating now the memory of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, remembering their venerable sufferings, we esteem their true faith and holy life, we esteem the innocence of their sufferings and pure confession. Loving in them the sublime quality and imitating them by great exploits, "in which to be likened to them" (2 Thess 3: 5-9), and we shall attain to that eternal bliss which is prepared for all the saints. The path of our life before was more grievous, thornier, harder, but "we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses" (Heb 12: 1), having passed by along it, made now for us easier, and lighter, and more readily passable. First there passed along it "the author and finisher of our faith," our Lord Jesus Christ Himself (Heb 12: 2); His daring Apostles followed after Him; then the martyrs, children, women, virgins and a great multitude of witnesses. Who acted in them and helped them on this path? He Who said, "Without Me ye can do nothing" (John 15: 5).

Troparion - Tone 4

First-enthroned of the apostles,
teachers of the universe:
Entreat the Master of all
to grant peace to the world,
and to our souls great mercy!

Kontakion - Tone 2

O Lord, You have taken up to eternal rest
and to the enjoyment of Your blessings
the two divinely-inspired preachers, the leaders of the Apostles,
for You have accepted their labors and deaths as a sweet-smelling sacrifice,
for You alone know what lies in the hearts of men.

Kontakion - Tone 2

Today Christ the Rock glorifies with highest honor
The rock of Faith and leader of the Apostles,
Together with Paul and the company of the twelve,
Whose memory we celebrate with eagerness of faith,
Giving glory to the one who gave glory to them!



Sunday, June 28, 2009

Synaxis of all Saints of Pskov

Commemorated on June 28

The Russian Orthodox Church commemorates All Saints of Pskov on the Third Sunday after Pentecost.



Saturday, June 27, 2009

St Joanna the Myrrhbearer

Commemorated on June 27

Saint Joanna the Myrrh-bearer, wife of Chusa, the household steward of King Herod, was one of the women following and attending the Lord Jesus Christ during the time of His preaching and public ministry. She is mentioned in Luke 8:3 and 24:10. Together with the other Myrrh-bearing Women, St. Joanna went to the Sepulchre to anoint the Holy Body of the Lord with myrrh after His death on the Cross, and she heard from the angels the joyful proclamation of His All-Glorious Resurrection. According to Tradition, she recovered the head of St. John the Baptist after Herodias had disposed of it (February 24).

St. Joanna is also commemorated on the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearing Women.



Friday, June 26, 2009

Appearance of the Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God

Commemorated on June 26

According to ancient tradition, the wonderworking icon of Tikhvin is one of several painted by St Luke the Evangelist. The icon was taken from Jerusalem to Constantinople in the fifth century, where it was enshrined in the Church of Blachernae, which was built especially for this purpose.

In 1383, seventy years before the fall of Constantinople at the hands of the Turks, fishermen on Lake Ladoga in the principality of Novgorod the Great witnessed the icon miraculously hovering over the lake's waters amidst a radiant light. According to an early sixteenth century Russian manuscript, "The Tale of Miracles of the Icon of the Tikhvin Mother of God," the Theotokos herself decided that her image should leave Constantinople, perhaps in anticipation of the impending fall of the Byzantine Empire.

Shortly after its miraculous appearance, the icon was discovered in several neighboring towns, including the village of Motchenitsy on the bank of the Tikhvinka River, before it finally appeared near the town of Tikhvin. A wooden church dedicated to the Dormition of the Theotokos was built on the site of the icon's final resting place. Miraculously, the icon survived a number of fires.

In the early sixteenth century, through the zeal of Great Prince Basil Ivanovich, a stone church was built to replace the original wooden structure. In 1560, by order of Tsar Ivan the Terrible, a men's monastery was established near the church and enclosed with a stone wall.

In 1613-1614, the Swedish army, having seized Novgorod, made several attempts to destroy the monastery. The countless prayers offered to the Theotokos before the icon were heard, and the monastery was spared. On one occasion, after monks had been alerted to the approaching Swedish army, they decided to flee and to take the icon with them. But the monks soon discovered that they could not remove the icon from its shrine. Seeing this as a sign of the Theotokos' protection, the monks decided not to abandon the monastery, begging the Theotokos to spare them and their beloved spiritual home. To their amazement, a large Muscovite army appeared to defend the monastery.

When the Swedes encountered the army, they retreated immediately. Word of this miracle spread rapidly, and imperial emissaries soon visited the monastery. Accompanied by a copy of the wonderworking icon, they set off for the village of Stolbovo, 33 miles from Tikhvin, where they concluded a peace treaty with the Swedes on February 10, 1617. Afterwards, the copy of the icon was taken to Moscow and enshrined in the Kremlin's Dormition Cathedral. Later, the same icon was placed in the Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia) cathedral in Novgorod at the request of the city's faithful, who also found themselves under attack by the Swedes. Once again, through the intercession of the Theotokos, the city was spared.

Over the centuries, the icon's fame spread far and wide. Copies of the wonderworking icon began to adorn churches throughout the land. Some of these copies also proved to be sources of miracles, and it was not uncommon to find the faithful praying before the icon to seek healing for children who were ill.

No fewer than 24 processions with the icon were celebrated each year at the Tikhvin Monastery, where the icon was enshrined. A decorative cover, or "riza," adorned the icon, exposing only the faces and hands of the Holy Virgin and Christ child. Numerous precious stones studded the riza, and many of the faithful, desiring to express thanksgiving for prayers answered through the Theotokos' intercession, affixed precious jewelry to the riza.

Most miraculous is the fact that the icon was preserved from destruction or sale after the Russian Revolution, which ushered in a 74-year persecution of the Church. During the 1920s, the communist government demanded that the Russian Orthodox Church turn over countless icons and other precious liturgical items, which through the nationalization of private property were considered the property of "the people." Many of these sacred items were sold, allegedly to raise money to feed the Russian and Ukrainian population which was afflicted by famine.

During the World War II German occupation, the Nazis removed the icon from the Tikhvin Monastery, from where it was taken to Pskov and subsequently to Riga, Latvia. When the city was evacuated, Bishop John [Garklavs] of Riga, in whose care the icon was placed, took the icon to Bavaria, where it was venerated by Orthodox faithful who had been displaced because of the war. While Soviet agents had spotted the icon, Bishop John was permitted to take the icon to the United States in 1949, under the pretext that the icon in his care was a reproduction, the work of a simple monk, and that it was of little historic or monetary value. Shortly after his arrival in the United States, Bishop John, who was later elevated to the rank of Archbishop, was elected to oversee the Diocese of Chicago, and the icon was regularly displayed and venerated in Chicago's Holy Trinity Cathedral.

Bishop John frequently took the icon on pilgrimage to various places throughout the United States and Canada. After his retirement in the late 1970s and death on Palm Sunday in 1982, Archpriest Sergei Garklavs, Bishop John's adopted son, became the caretaker of the icon. In 2003, over a decade after the fall of communism and the resurrection of the Russian Orthodox Church, the decision was made to return the precious icon to its original home.

The icon began its year-long journey to Russia at the 99th annual Pilgrimage to St Tikhon Monastery, South Canaan, Pennsylvania, May 23-26, 2003. His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, together with members of the Holy Synod of Bishops and guest hierarchs, greeted the icon, which was available for veneration by the faithful.

The icon follows the "Hodigitria" model and is similar in style to the ancient Iveron icon of Our Lady. It differs in that the Christ child's legs are crossed, while the sole of His foot is turned to the viewer. Several historic sources note that several other Hodigitria icons of the Theotokos had been brought to Russia in the 1380s, during the rule of the saintly prince Demetrius Donskoy.

-- Archpriest John Matusiak

Troparion - Tone 4

Today, like the eternal sun,
Your Icon appears in the sky, O Theotokos.
With rays of mercy it enlightens the world.
This land accepts the heavenly gift from above,
Honoring You as the Mother of God.
We praise Christ our Lord who was born of You.
Pray to Him, O Queen and sovereign virgin
That all Christian cities and lands be guarded in safety, And that He save those who kneel to His divine, and Your holy image, O unwedded bride.

Kontakion - Tone 8

O people, let us come to the Virgin Queen and Mother, giving thanks to Christ God.
Let us fall before her miraculous image, and let us cry:
O sovereign Mary, your glorious image now inhabits this land.
Save all the Christians of this world, showing us the heavenly life.
To You we faithfully cry: Rejoice, O Virgin, the salvation of the world!

SOURCE(and icon on right):



Thursday, June 25, 2009

Virginmartyr Febronia of Nisibis

Commemorated on June 25

The Virgin Martyr Febronia suffered during the reign of Diocletian (284-305). She was raised at a monastery in the city of Sivapolis (Assyria). The head of the women's monastery was the abbess Bryaena, the aunt of St Febronia. Being concerned about her niece's salvation, she assigned her a stricter form of life than the other nuns. According to their monastic rule, on Fridays the sisters put aside their other duties and spent the whole day in prayer and the reading of Holy Scripture. The abbess usually assigned the reading to St Febronia.

News of her pious life spread throughout the city. The illustrious young widow Hieria, a pagan, began to visit her, and under the influence of her guidance and prayer she accepted holy Baptism, bringing her parents and kinsfolk to the Christian Faith.

Diocletian sent a detachment of soldiers to Assyria under the command of Lysimachus, Selinus and Primus for the destruction of Christians. Selenos, the uncle of Lysimachus, was noted for his fierce attitude against Christians, but Lysimachus was of a different frame of mind from him, since his mother had sought to inspire love for the Christian faith in her son, and she had died a Christian. Lysimachus had discussed with his kinsman Primus how it would be possible to deliver Christians from the hands of the torturer. When the detachment of soldiers approached the convent, its inhabitants hid. There remained only the abbess Bryaena, her helper Thomais and St Febronia, who was seriously ill at the time.

It grieved the abbess terribly that her niece might fall into the hands of the torturers, who might defile her. She prayed fervently that the Lord would preserve her and strengthen her in the confession of Christ the Savior. Selinus gave orders to bring him all the nuns of the convent. Primus with the detachment of soldiers found no one, except the two old women and St Febronia. He regretted that they had not hidden, and he suggested to the nuns that they flee. But the nuns decided not to leave the place of their labors and they entrusted themselves to the will of the Lord.

Primus told Lysimachus about the particular beauty of St Febronia and advised him to take her for himself. Lysimachus said that he would not seduce a virgin dedicated to God, and he asked Primus to hide the other nuns somewhere so that they would not fall into the hands of Selinus. One of the soldiers overheard the conversation and told Selinus. They led St Febronia off to the military commander with her hands bound and a chain around her neck. Selinus urged her to deny Christ, promising her honors, rewards, and marriage with Lysimachus. The holy virgin firmly and fearlessly answered that she had an Immortal Bridegroom, and she would not exchange Him for any mortal man. Selinus subjected her to fierce torture. The saint prayed, "My Savior, do not abandon me in this terrible hour!"

They beat the martyr for a long time, and blood flowed from her wounds. In order to intensify the suffering of St Febronia, they tied her to a tree and set a fire under it. The tortures were so inhuman, that the people began to demand an end to the torture, since there was no confession of guilt by the girl. Selinus continued to mock and jeer at the martyr, but St Febronia became silent. Because of weakness she was unable to utter a word. In a rage Selinus gave orders to tear out her tongue, smash her teeth, and finally, to cut off both hands and feet. The people were unable to bear such a horrid spectacle and they left the scene of the torture, cursing Diocletian and his gods.

Among the crowd was the nun Thomais, who afterwards recorded St Febronia's martyrdom in detail, and also her student Hieria. She came forth out of the crowd and in the hearing of all reproached Selinus for his boundless cruelty. He gave orders to arrest her, but learning that Hieria was of illustrious standing whom he could not readily subject to torture, he said, "By your speech you have brought on Febronia even greater torment." Finally, they beheaded the holy Martyr Febronia.

Departing the place of execution, Lysimachus wept and withdrew to his quarters. Selinus made ready to eat, but he was not able to take food, and went off to the quiet of his own chambers. Suddenly, he became like one deranged. Looking up to the heavens, he raved and bellowed like a bull, then fell down and struck his head on a marble column and died. When Lysimachus learned of this, he said, " Great is the God of the Christians, Who has avenged Febronia's blood, so unrighteously shed!" He prepared a coffin, placed the martyr's body in it, and took it to the convent.

Abbess Bryaena fell senseless, seeing the mutilated remains of St Febronia. Later, she recovered her senses and gave orders to open the convent gates so that all would be able to come and venerate the holy martyr and glorify God Who had given her such endurance in suffering for Christ. Lysimachus and Primus renounced their idol worship and accepted both Baptism and monasticism. Hieria gave her wealth to the convent and petitioned Abbess Bryaena to accept her at the convent in place of St Febronia.

Every year, on the day of the martyric death of St Febronia, a solemn feast was celebrated at the convent . During the time of the all-night Vigil the nuns always saw St Febronia, at her usual place in church. From the relics of St Febronia occurred numerous miracles and healings. The Life of St Febronia was recorded by the nun Thomais, an eyewitness to her deeds.

In the year 363 the relics of St Febronia were transferred to Constantinople.

Soon after the death of St Febronia, St James the Bishop of Nisibis (January 13) built a church and transferred into it a portion of the of the holy martyr's relics.

Troparion - Tone 3

Like a fragrant rose in the ascetic life,
You breathed forth the myrrh of Christ.
Therefore he has glorified you as a righteous martyr, O Febronia.
Now intercede with him for those who cry:
"Rejoice, O noble and blessed martyr!"

Troparion - Tone 4

Your lamb Febronía, calls out to You, O Jesus, in a loud voice:
"I love You, my Bridegroom, and in seeking You I endure suffering.
In baptism I was crucified so that I might reign in You, and I died so that I might live with You.
Accept me as a pure sacrifice,
for I have offered myself in love."
Through her prayers save our souls, since You are merciful.

Kontakion - Tone 3

You were adorned with the grace of virginity and the beauty of martyrdom,
O Febronia, bride of Christ.
You wisely carried your lamp and ran to your Bridegroom
Receiving an incorruptible crown.
Pray for those who faithfully sing hymns of praise to you!

Kontakion - Tone 6

"Most sweet Jesus, my Bridegroom,
it is not hard for me to follow You;" cried Febronía,
"the sweetness of Your love gives wings of hope to my soul,
the beauty of Your mercy has sweetened my heart;
may I drain the cup of sufferings in imitation of You,
so that You may count me worthy to be among the wise virgins:
those who dance with You in Your bridal chamber."
Therefore, venerable passion-bearer, as we honor the struggles of your labors we entreat you:
"Pray that we not find the doors of the bridal chamber locked to us."



Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Venerable Anthony the Abbot of Dymsk, Novgorod

Commemorated on June 24

Saint Anthony of Dymsk was born at Novgorod about the year 1157. Once in church he heard the words of Christ: "If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me" (Mt.16:24), the saint resolved to leave the world and receive monastic tonsure under St Barlaam of Khutyn (November 6) at his monastery.

When he was dying, St Barlaam appointed St Anthony as igumen in his place; but Anthony, shunning glory, left the monastery and settled at the shores of Lake Dyma, on the outskirts of the city of Tikhvin. Here he founded a monastery and struggled there until the end of his own life.

According to Tradition, St Anthony made a journey to Constantinople, and returned to his monastery on the day that the igumen Barlaam died. St Anthony fell asleep in the Lord on June 24, 1224. In the year 1330 his relics were found incorrupt, and from that time they were glorified by many miracles.

St Anthony of Dymsk is also commemorated on January 17.



Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Rigtheous Menignus of Verkola

Commemorated on June 23

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.



Monday, June 22, 2009

Hieromartyr Eusebius the Bishop of Samosata

Commemorated on June 22

The Hieromartyr Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata, stood firmly for the Orthodox Confession of Faith proclaimed at the First Ecumenical Council at Nicea in the year 325. For this he underwent persecution by the Arians, being repeatedly deprived of his see and banished. The emperor Constantius (337-361), patron of the Arians, learned that St Eusebius kept a conciliar decree regarding the election of the Orthodox Archbishop Meletius to the See of Antioch. He commanded him to give up the decree. The saint boldly refused to do as ordered. The enraged emperor sent a message that if he did not give up the decree, then his right hand would be cut off. St Eusebius stretched out both hands to the emissary saying, "Cut them off, but I will not give up the Decree of the Council, which denounces the wickedness and iniquity of the Arians." The emperor Constantius marveled at the audacity of the bishop, but did not harm him.

During the reign of Justin the Apostate (361-363), even more difficult times ensued, and an open persecution against Christians began. St Eusebius, having concealed his identity, went about in the garb of a soldier across the whole of Syria, Phoenicia and Palestine, urging Christians to the Orthodox Faith. He established priests and deacons in desolated churches, and he consecrated bishops who renounced the Arian heresy. After Julian the Apostate's death, he was succeeded by the pious emperor Jovian (363-364), during whose reign the persecutions stopped. Returning from exile, St Meletius (February 12) convened a local Council at Antioch in the year 379 on the advice of St Eusebius. Twenty-seven bishops participated, and it reaffirmed the Orthodox teaching of the First Ecumenical Council. The Arians signed the conciliar definition, fearing the steadfast defenders of Orthodoxy, the holy hierarchs Meletius, Eusebius and Pelagios, who had great influence with the emperor. After the death of Jovian the Arian Vanlentus (364-378) came to power.

The Orthodox were again subjected to persecution. St Meletius was banished to Armenia, St Pelagius to Arabia, and St Eusebius was condemned to exile in Thrace. Having received the imperial decree, St Eusebius left Samosata by night so as to prevent tumult among the people that esteemed him. Having learned of of the bishop's departure, believers followed after him and with tears entreated him to return. The saint refused the entreaty of those who had come, saying that he had to obey the authorities. The saint urged his flock to hold firm to Orthodoxy, blessed them and set off to the place of exile. The Arian Eunomios became Bishop of Samosata, but the people did not accept the heretic. The Orthodox would not go to the church and avoided meeting with him. The heretical Arian perceived that it was impossible to attract the independent flock to him.

The emperor Gracian (375-383) came upon the throne, and all the Orthodox hierarchs banished under the Arians were brought back from exile. St Eusebius also returned to Samosata and continued with the task of building up the Church. Together with St Meletius he supplied Orthodox hierarchs and clergy to Arian places. In the year 380 he arrived in the Arian city of Dolikhina to establish the Orthodox bishop Marinus there. An Arian woman threw a roof tile at the holy bishop's head. As he lay dying, he asked her for wine and requested those around not to do her any harm. The body of St Eusebius was taken to Samosata and was buried by his flock. The saint's nephew, Antiochus, succeeded him and the Samosata Church continued to confess the Orthodox Faith, firmly spread through the efforts of the holy Hieromartyr Eusebius.

Troparion - Tone 4

By sharing in the ways of the Apostles,
you became a successor to their throne.
Through the practice of virtue, you found the way to divine contemplation, O inspired one of God;
by teaching the word of truth without error, you defended the Faith, even to the shedding of your blood.
Hieromartyr Eusebius, entreat Christ God to save our souls.

Kontakion - Tone 4

Podoben: “Today You have shown forth...”
You lived piously as a bishop,
and trod the path of martyrdom.
You extinguished idolatrous burnt offerings,
Hierarch Eusebius.
Since you have boldness before Christ God, entreat Him that our souls may be saved!



Inspired Bicycles - Danny MacAskill April 2009

This was sent to me via e-mail. I just loved it so much that it had to get on here. With a cool tune to boot.

Steelers Safety Troy Polamalu Interview on The 700 Club - CBN.com

I really enjoy watching Troy's manner, so without any airs.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Synaxis of the Saints of North America

Commemorated on June 21

On the second Sunday after Pentecost, each local Orthodox Church commemorates all the saints, known and unknown, who have shone forth in its territory. Accordingly, the Orthodox Church in America remembers the saints of North America on this day.

Saints of all times, and in every country are seen as the fulfillment of God's promise to redeem fallen humanity. Their example encourages us to "lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily besets us" and to "run with patience the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1). The saints of North America also teach us how we should live, and what we must expect to endure as Christians

Although it is a relatively young church, the Orthodox Church in America has produced saints in nearly all of the six major categories of saints: Apostles (and Equals of the Apostles); Martyrs (and Confessors); Prophets; Hierarchs; Monastic Saints; and the Righteous. Prophets, of course, lived in Old Testament times and predicted the coming of Christ.

The first Divine Liturgy in what is now American territory (northern latitude 58 degrees, 14 minutes, western longitude 141 degrees) was celebrated on July 20, 1741, the Feast of the Prophet Elias, aboard the ship Peter under the command of Vitus Bering. Hieromonk Hilarion Trusov and the priest Ignatius Kozirevsky served together on that occasion. Several years later, the Russian merchant Gregory I. Shelikov visited Valaam monastery, suggesting to the abbot that it would be desirable to send missionaries to Russian America.

On September 24, 1794, after a journey of 7,327 miles (the longest missionary journey in Orthodox history) and 293 days, a group of monks from Valaam arrived on Kodiak Island in Alaska. The mission was headed by Archimandrite Joasaph, and included Hieromonks Juvenal, Macarius, and Athanasius, the Hierodeacons Nectarius and Stephen, and the monks Herman and Joasaph. St Herman of Alaska (December 13, August 9), the last surviving member of the mission, fell asleep in the Lord in 1837.

Throughout the Church's history, the seeds of faith have always been watered by the blood of the martyrs. The Protomartyr Juvenal was killed near Lake Iliamna by natives in 1799, thus becoming the first Orthodox Christian to shed his blood for Christ in the New World. In 1816, St Peter the Aleut was put to death by Spanish missionaries in California when he refused to convert to Roman Catholicism.

Missionary efforts continued in the nineteenth century, with outreach to the native peoples of Alaska. Two of the most prominent laborers in Christ's Vineyard were St Innocent Veniaminov (March 31 and October 6) and St Jacob Netsvetov (July 26), who translated Orthodox services and books into the native languages. Father Jacob Netsvetev died in Sitka in 1864 after a life of devoted service to the Church. Father John Veniaminov, after his wife's death, received monastic tonsure with the name Innocent. He died in 1879 as the Metropolitan of Moscow.

As the nineteenth century was drawing to a close, an event of enormous significance for the North American Church took place. On March 25, 1891, Bishop Vladimir went to Minneapolis to receive St Alexis Toth (May 7) and 361 of his parishioners into the Orthodox Church. This was the beginning of the return of many Uniates to Orthodoxy.

St Tikhon (Belavin), the future Patriarch of Moscow (April 7, October 9), came to America as bishop of the diocese of the Aleutians and Alaska in September 1898. As the only Orthodox bishop on the continent, St Tikhon traveled extensively throughout North America in order to minister to his widely scattered and diverse flock. He realized that the local church here could not be a permanent extension of the Russian Church. Therefore, he focused his efforts on giving the American Church a diocesan and parish structure which would help it mature and grow.

St Tikhon returned to Russia in 1907, and was elected as Patriarch of Moscow ten years later. He died in 1925, and for many years his exact burial place remained unknown. St Tikhon's grave was discovered on February 22, 1992 in the smaller cathedral of Our Lady of the Don in the Don Monastery when a fire made renovation of the church necessary.

St Raphael of Brooklyn (February 27) was the first Orthodox bishop to be consecrated in North America. Archimandrite Raphael Hawaweeny was consecrated by Bishop Tikhon and Bishop Innocent (Pustynsky) at St Nicholas Cathedral in New York on March 13, 1904. As Bishop of Brooklyn, St Raphael was a trusted and capable assistant to St Tikhon in his archpastoral ministry. St Raphael reposed on February 27, 1915.

The first All American Council took place March 5-7, 1907 at Mayfield, PA, and the main topic was "How to expand the mission." Guidelines and directions for missionary activity, and statutes for the administrative structure of parishes were also set forth.

In the twentieth century, in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, countless men, women, and children received the crown of martyrdom rather than renounce Christ. Sts John Kochurov (October 31) and Alexander Hotovitzky (December 4 and August 7) both served the Church in North America before going back to Russia. St John became the first clergyman to be martyred in Russia on October 31, 1917 in St Petersburg. St Alexander Hotovitzky, who served in America until 1914, was killed in 1937.

In addition to the saints listed above, we also honor those saints who are known only to God, and have not been recognized officially by the Church. As we contemplate the lives of these saints, let us remember that we are also called by God to a life of holiness.

Troparion - Tone 8

As the bountiful harvest of Your sowing of salvation,
The lands of North America offer to You, O Lord, all the saints who have shone in them.
By their prayers keep the Church and our land in abiding peace
Through the Theotokos, O most Merciful One.

Kontakion - Tone 3

Today the choir of Saints who were pleasing to God in the lands of North America
Now stands before us in the Church and invisibly prays to God for us.
With them the angels glorify Him,
And all the saints of the Church of Christ keep festival with them;
And together they all pray for us to the Pre-Eternal God.



Saturday, June 20, 2009

Translation of the relics of St Gurias the Archbishop of Kazan

Commemorated on June 20

The Transfer of Relics of Saint Gurias, Archbishop of Kazan, from the Savior-Transfiguration monastery to the cathedral church of the city of Kazan occurred in the year 1630.

His Life is recorded under December 5, the day of his repose.



Friday, June 19, 2009

Venerable Paisius the Great

Commemorated on June 19

St Paisius the Great lived in Egypt. His parents, Christians, distributed generous alms to all the needy.

After the death of her husband his mother, on the suggestion of an angel, gave her young son Paisius to the clergy of the church.

The youth Paisius loved monastic life and spent his time in one of the Egyptian sketes. Renouncing his own will, he lived under the spiritual guidance of St Pambo (July 18), finishing all the tasks assigned him. The Elder said that a new monk in particular needs to preserve his sight, in order to guard his senses from temptation. Paisius, heeding the instruction, went for three years with his eyes cast downwards. The saintly ascetic read spiritual books, and he was known for his ascetic fasting and prayer. At first he did not eat any food for a week, then two weeks. Sometimes, after partaking of the Holy Mysteries of Christ, he survived without food for seventy days.

St Paisius went into the Nitrian desert in search of solitude. There he lived in a cave carved out by his own hands. The saint was granted a wondrous vision: the Lord Jesus Christ revealed to him that through his labors the Nitrian wilderness would become inhabited by ascetics. He asked the Lord where the monks would obtain the necessities of life in the desert. The Lord said that if they would fulfill all His commandments, He Himself would provide all their necessities, and would deliver them from demonic temptations and cunning.

In time, a number of monks and laymen gathered around St Paisius, and a monastery was established. The most important rule of St Paisius was that no one would do anything by his own will, but in all things would fulfill the will of his elders.

Since his tranquility was being disturbed by so many people, the saint withdrew to another cave farther away. Once, he was transported to a paradisical monastery and partook of the immaterial divine food. After his ascetic labors for salvation, the Lord granted His saint the gift of prescience and healing the souls of men.

One of his disciples, with the saint's blessing, went to sell his handicrafts in Egypt. On the way he encountered a Jew, who told the simple-minded monk that Christ the Savior is not the Messiah, and that another Messiah will come. Confused, the monk said, "Maybe what you say is true," but he did not attribute any particular significance to his words. When he returned, he saw that St Paisius would not acknowledge his arrival, and he asked the reason for his anger. The saint said, "My disciple was a Christian. You are not a Christian, for the grace of Baptism has departed from you." The monk repented with tears, and begged to have his sin forgiven. Only then did the holy Elder pray and ask the Lord to forgive the monk.

A certain monk on his own initiative left the desert and moved near a city. There he had encounters with a woman, who hated and blasphemed Christ the Savior. Under her influence, he not only left the monastery, but also scorned faith in Christ, and finally he reached a state of total disbelief.

Once, through the blessed Providence of God, Nitrian monks came by his home. Seeing them, the sinner remembered his own former life and he asked the monks to ask St Paisius to pray for him to the Lord. On hearing the request, the saint prayed fervently, and his prayer was heard. The Lord, appearing to His saint, promised to forgive the sinner. Soon the seduced monk's woman companion died, and he returned to the desert where, weeping and distressed for his sins, he began to labor at deeds of repentance.

St Paisius distinguished himself by his great humility, and performed ascetic deeds of fasting and prayer, but he concealed them from others as far as possible. When the monks asked which virtue is the highest of all, the saint replied, "Those which are done in secret, and about which no one knows."

St Paisius died in the fifth century at a great old age, and he was buried by the monks. After some time his relics were transferred by St Isidore of Pelusium (February 4) to his own monastery and placed beside the relics of his friend St Paul, with whom St Paisius was particularly close during his life.

Troparion - Tone 4

The sublime monk and incarnate angel,
The bodiless man and citizen of heaven,
As he celebrates with us today,
Grants grace to all who honor him.
Let us fervently magnify him!

Kontakion - Tone 8

Let us, the faithful, sing praises to divinely–wise Paisius
The desert's adornment, equal–to–the–angels, Christ's friend and the glory of monks.
Let us cry to him: Rejoice, O Father Paisius!



Books I've Read(or am reading)-Twenty: "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" by Victor E. Marsden (E)

This book is a very controversial one and I would like the reader to know that I post this with some reservation because it may be assumed that I hold positions as a result of such a book that may not actually be mine in fact.

The fact is that this book has had a major effect on history. Whether it is indeed a forgery, as its detractors claim, or whether it is true as its author claims, peoples' ideas have been set into motion as a result of this collection of these protocols and perhaps to understand the previous century and the one we are now in it is necessary to read such a book to see what, if any, effect this book may have had.

I myself will offer no comment except to note that the protocols have a very detailed and profound understanding of the human condition and in a C.S. Lewis, Screwtape Letters type of way, the Protocols view the human being in the reverse of the Benevolent God Who desires the healing of the human being through union with Himself and Who accurately expounds on the human condition so as to bring about this healing.

In the Protocols we have the same viewing of the fallen condition which is prone to sin and error but with the aim of exploiting this weakness to bring about the subjugation of the human being using this understanding of the psychology of the fallen human condition against itself. There is a certain wisdom in these protocols which surprised me.

Also, interestingly, Plato's Republic came to mind when I read this book. As the reader may know, in his work, Plato argued that Rule should be in the hands of a born and bred Philosopher King whose rule alone should be desired over the other forms of government he speaks of in descending value from the Philosopher King: Tyranny(and remember that a "tyrant", in the ancient Greek usage of this word denotes something other what a modern user of this word means, Oligarchy(the rule of the few) and in Plato's mind the worst form of government, Democracy.

Along these lines, it must be noted that in the aim of the protocols there is also manifested a certain desire by those orchestrating the events to bring about the good of those to be ruled for their own good as they, if left to themselves cannot rule. So the "takeover" is viewed in a "positive"light by the one being instructed in the protocols for the ultimate good of those to be ruled who cannot, because of an inherent weakness, rule themselves.

I will over the course of time print all the protocols. It is a fascinating work. I will preface each post with the above primer I have provided.

Protocol XXI

Loans and Credit

1. To what I reported to you at the last meeting I shall now add
a detailed explanation of internal loans. Of foreign loans I shall
say nothing more, because they have fed us with the national
moneys of the GOYIM, but for our State there will be no
foreigners, that is, nothing external.

2. We have taken advantage of the venality of administrators
and slackness of rulers to get our moneys twice, thrice and
more times over, by lending to the GOY governments moneys
which were not at all needed by the States. Could anyone do
the like in regard to us? .... Therefore, I shall only deal with the
details of internal loans.

3. States announce that such a loan is to be concluded and open
subscriptions for their own bills of exchange, that is, for their
interest-bearing paper. That they may be within the reach of all
the price is determined at from a hundred to a thousand; and a
discount is made for the earliest subscribers. Next day by
artificial means the price of them goes up, the alleged reason
being that everyone is rushing to buy them. In a few days the
treasury safes are, as they say, overflowing and there's more
money than they can do with (why then take it?) The
subscription, it is alleged, covers many times over the issue
total of the loan; in this lies the whole stage effect - look you,
they say, what confidence is shown in the government's bills of

4. But when the comedy is played out there emerges the fact
that a debit and an exceedingly burdensome debit has been
created. For the payment of interest it becomes necessary to
have recourse to new loans, which do not swallow up but only
add to the capital debt. And when this credit is exhausted it
becomes necessary by new taxes to cover, not the loan, BUT
ONLY THE INTEREST ON IT. These taxes are a debit
employed to cover a debit.... (Hence THE CRY TO

5. Later comes the time for conversions, but they diminish the
payment of interest without covering the debt, and besides they
cannot be made without the consent of the lenders; on
announcing a conversion a proposal is made to return the
money to those who are not willing to convert their paper. If
everybody expressed his unwillingness and demanded his
money back, the government would be hoist on their own
petard and would be found insolvent and unable to pay the
proposed sums. By good luck the subjects of the GOY
governments, knowing nothing about financial affairs, have
always preferred losses on exchange and diminution of interest
to the risk of new investments of their moneys, and have
thereby many a time enabled these governments to throw off
their shoulders a debit of several millions.

6. Nowadays, with external loans, these tricks cannot be played
by the GOYIM for they know that we shall demand all our
moneys back.

7. In this way in acknowledged bankruptcy will best prove to
the various countries the absence of any means between the
interests of the peoples and of those who rule them.

8. I beg you to concentrate your particular attention upon this point and upon the following: nowadays all internal loans are consolidated by so-called flying loans, that is, such as have terms of payment more or less near. These debts consist of moneys paid into the savings banks and reserve funds. If left for long at the disposition of a government these funds evaporate in the payment of interest on foreign loans, and are placed by the deposit of equivalent amount of RENTS.

9. And these last it is which patch up all the leaks in the State
treasuries of the GOYIM.

10. When we ascend the throne of the world all these financial
and similar shifts, as being not in accord with our interests, will
be swept away so as not to leave a trace, as also will be
destroyed all money markets, since we shall not allow the
prestige of our power to be shaken by fluctuations of prices set
upon our values, which we shall announce by law at the price
which represents their full worth without any possibility of
lowering or raising. (Raising gives the pretext for lowering,
which indeed was where we made a beginning in relation to the
values of the GOYIM).

11. We shall replace the money markets by grandiose
government credit institutions, the object of which will be to
fix the price of industrial values in accordance with
government views. These institutions will be in a position to
fling upon the market five hundred millions of industrial paper
in one day, or to buy up for the same amount. In this way all
industrial undertakings will come into dependence upon us.
You may imagine for yourselves what immense power we shall
thereby secure for ourselves ....

Protocol XXII

Power of Gold

1. In all that has so far been reported by me to you, I have endeavored to depict with care the secret of what is coming, of what is past, and of what is going on now, rushing into the flood of the great events coming already in the near future, the secret of our relations to the GOYIM and of financial operations. On this subject there remains still a little for me to add.


3. Surely there is no need to seek further proof that our rule is
predestined by God? Surely we shall not fail with such wealth
to prove that all that evil which for so many centuries we have
had to commit has served at the end of ends the cause of true
well-being - the bringing of everything into order? Though it
be even by the exercise of some violence, yet all the same it
will be established. (The motto of the Freemasons - "Out of
Chaos, Order"). We shall contrive to prove that we are
benefactors who have restored to the rent and mangled earth
the true good and also freedom of the person, and therewith we
shall enable it to be enjoyed in peace and quiet, with proper
dignity of relations, on the condition, of course, of strict
observance of the laws established by us. We shall make plain
therewith that freedom does not consist in dissipation and in the right of unbridled license any more than the dignity and force of a man do not consist in the right of everyone to promulgate destructive principles in the nature of freedom of conscience, equality and the like, that freedom of the person in no wise consists in the right to agitate oneself and others by abominable speeches before disorderly mobs, and that true freedom consists in the inviolability of the person who honorably and strictly observes all the laws of life in common, that human dignity is wrapped up in consciousness of the rights and also of the absence of rights of each, and not wholly and solely in fantastic imaginings about the subject of one's EGO.

4. One authority will be glorious because it will be all-powerful, will rule and guide, and not muddle along after leaders and orators shrieking themselves hoarse with senseless words which they call great principles and which are nothing else, to speak honestly, but Utopian .... Our authority will be the crown of order, and in that is included the whole happiness of man. The aureole of this authority will inspire a mystical bowing of the knee before it and a reverent fear before it of all the peoples. True force makes no terms with any right, not even with that of God: none dare come near to it so as to take so much as a span from it away.

Protocol XXIII

Instilling Obedience

1. That the peoples may become accustomed to obedience it is
necessary to inculcate lessons of humility and therefore to
reduce the production of articles of luxury. By this we shall
improve morals which have been debased by emulation in the
sphere of luxury. We shall re-establish small master production
which will mean laying a mine under the private capital of
manufactures. This is indispensable also for the reason that
manufacturers on the grand scale often move, though not
always consciously, the thoughts of the masses in directions
against the government. A people of small masters knows
nothing of unemployment and this binds him closely with
existing order, and consequently with the firmness of authority.
For us its part will have been played out the moment authority
is transferred into our hands. Drunkenness also will be
prohibited by law and punishable as a crime against the
humanness of man who is turned into a brute under the
influence of alcohol.

2. Subjects, I repeat once more, give blind obedience only to
the strong hand which is absolutely independent of them, for in
it they feel the sword of defense and support against social
scourges .... What do they want with an angelic spirit in a king?
What they have to see in him is the personification of force and

3. The supreme lord who will replace all now existing rulers,
dragging in their existence among societies demoralized by us,
societies that have denied even the authority of God, from
whose midst breeds out on all sides the fire of anarchy, must
first of all proceed to quench this all-devouring flame.
Therefore he will be obliged to kill off those existing societies,
though he should drench them with his own blood, that he may
resurrect them again in the form of regularly organized troops
fighting consciously with every kind of infection that may
cover the body of the State with sores.

4. This Chosen One of God is chosen from above to demolish
the senseless forces moved by instinct and not reason, by
brutishness and not humanness. These forces now triumph in
manifestations of robbery and every kind of violence under the
mask of principles of freedom and rights. They have
overthrown all forms of social order to erect on the ruins the
throne of the King of the Jews; but their part will be played out
the moment he enters into his kingdom. Then it will be
necessary to sweep them away from his path, on which must be
left no knot, no splinter.

5. Then will it be possible for us to say to the peoples of the
world: "Give thanks to God and bow the knee before him who
bears on his front the seal of the predestination of man, to
which God himself has led his star that none other but Him
might free us from all the before-mentioned forces and evils".

Protocol XXIV

Qualities of the Ruler

1. I pass now to the method of confirming the dynastic roots of King David to the last strata of the earth.

2. This confirmation will first and foremost be included in that
which to this day has rested the force of conservatism by our
learned elders of the conduct of the affairs of the world, in the
directing of the education of thought of all humanity.

3. Certain members of the seed of David will prepare the kings
and their heirs, selecting not by right of heritage but by eminent
capacities, inducting them into the most secret mysteries of the
political, into schemes of government, but providing always
that none may come to knowledge of the secrets. The object of
this mode of action is that all may know that government
cannot be entrusted to those who have not been inducted into
the secret places of its art....

4. To these persons only will be taught the practical application
of the aforenamed plans by comparison of the experiences of
many centuries, all the observations on the politico-economic
moves and social sciences - in a word, all the spirit of laws
which have been unshakably established by nature herself for
the regulation of the relations of humanity.

5. Direct heirs will often be set aside from ascending the throne
if in their time of training they exhibit frivolity, softness and
other qualities that are the ruin of authority, which render them incapable of governing and in themselves dangerous for kingly office.

6. Only those who are unconditionally capable for firm, even if
it be to cruelty, direct rule will receive the reins of rule from
our learned elders.

7. In case of falling sick with weakness of will or other form of
incapacity, kings must by law hand over the reins of rule to
new and capable hands.

8. The king's plan of action for the current moment, and all the
more so for the future, will be unknown, even to those who are
called his closest counselors.


9. Only the king and the three who stood sponsor for him will
know what is coming.

10. In the person of the king who with unbending will is master
of himself and of humanity all will discern as it were fate with
its mysterious ways. None will know what the king wishes to
attain by his dispositions, and therefore none will dare to stand
across an unknown path.

11. It is understood that the brain reservoir of the king must
correspond in capacity to the plan of government it has to
contain. It is for this reason that he will ascend the throne not
otherwise than after examination of his mind by the aforesaid
learned elders.

12. That the people may know and love their king, it is
indispensable for him to converse in the market-places with his
people. This ensures the necessary clinching of the two forces
which are now divided one from another by us by the terror.

13. This terror was indispensable for us till the time comes for
both these forces separately to fall under our influence.

14. The king of the Jews must not be at the mercy of his
passions, and especially of sensuality: on no side of his
character must he give brute instincts power over his mind.
Sensuality worse than all else disorganizes the capacities of the
mind and clearness of views, distracting the thoughts to the
worst and most brutal side of human activity.

15. The prop of humanity in the person of the supreme lord of
all the world of the holy seed of David must sacrifice to his
people all personal inclinations.

16. Our supreme lord must be of an exemplary
irreproachability. przion7.htm

Signed by the representative of Zion, of the 33rd Degree


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Icon of the Mother of God "the God Loving"

Commemorated on June 18

The Bogolub Icon of the Mother of God, one of the most ancient wonderworking icons of Russia, was painted in the twelfth century at the request of Prince Andrew Bogolubsky (July 4), in memory of an appearance to him by the Mother of God.

In the year 1155 holy Prince Andrew, having resettled from Vishgorod to the Suzdal region, brought with him a wonderworking icon of the Mother of God, painted by the Evangelist Luke (this afterwards was called the Vladimir Icon). At seven versts distance from Vladimir by horse, the cart carrying the wonderworking icon stopped and could not be moved from the place. Holy Prince Andrew asked the priest Nicholas, who accompanied him, to serve a Molieben before the Icon. For a long time Andrew prayed with tears before the venerable image. Later he went into his tent and continued his fervent prayer. The Most Holy Theotokos appeared to him with a small scroll in Her hand and commanded the pious prince that the icon he brought from Vishgorod should remain at Vladimir, and that on the site of Her miraculous appearance a church and holy monastery should be built. She then prayerfully raised Her hand to Heaven, and received a blessing from Christ the Savior. Then the vision ended.

In fulfilling the command, holy Prince Andrew built a stone church in honor of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos, and also a monastery. Afterwards the holy prince commissioned talented iconographers and asked that the Mother of God be depicted such as he had seen Her in the vision, in full stature, with the scroll in Her right hand, and Her face turned towards the Savior. When the church was completed, the icon was placed in it and a yearly celebration in honor of the appearance of the Mother of God was established on June 18. The monastery, and the city which formed around the monastery, was named Bogolub by St Andrew, because in his own words, "the Mother of God loves this place," and the prince himself came to be called Bogolub or "God-lover." The wonderworking icon of the Mother of God, brought from Vishgorod, was afterwards transferred from the Bogoub monastery to Vladimir into the Dormition cathedral, but the icon of the Appearance remained at Bogolub and was called the Bogolub (at the present time [1978] the icon is in the Vladimir-Suzdal Museum collection).

The icon of the Bogolub Mother of God was glorified by innumerable miracles, and over the span of many centuries manifest its grace-filled help to the believers of the Russian nation. The fame of the miracles and signs wrought by the icon inspired believers in many places in Russia to make copies of the venerable image, some of which were also miraculous.



Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Martyred Fathers and Mothers of Atchara

Commemorated on June 17

Atchara has been a Christian stronghold since apostolic times. It was through this region that St. Andrew the First-called entered Georgia, preaching the Gospel for the first time in the Iberian land. On this land, in the village of Gonio, the holy relics of the martyred Apostle Matthias are buried.

Since the 16th century Atchara has been subject to constant assaults by the Turks. Having attained a victory in the Ottoman-Persian War, the Turks gained a large part of southern and western Georgia: Samtskhe, Atchara, and Chaneti were declared Turkish provinces. The invaders knew well that, in order to completely conquer the Georgian people, it was necessary to uproot Christianity. Thus they instituted a systematic campaign of forced conversion to Islam.

When they failed to achieve their goal with bribery and deception, they resorted to violence. In his work The Islamization of Georgia, or the Spread of Islam in Western Georgia in the 17th–18th Centuries, the renowned early twentieth-century scholar Zakaria Chichinadze retold a story he had heard from one elderly Atcharan man: “In Atchara the implanting of Islam faced a powerful opposition. Many of the elderly men and the majority of women stood firmly by the Christian Faith, and even challenged and debated the Turkish mullahs.… The number of these aged men in Atchara was considerably high. In the end an order was issued: to arrest all dissidents, forcibly convert them to Islam, and execute those who resisted. Before long all the elderly Christians of Atchara were arrested and cast in prison. Then they were led to the River Atcharistsqali, to a 12th-century bridge known as the “Bridge of Queen Tamar.” On that bridge the Ottomans erected a guillotine.

They chopped off the heads of the elderly people, sent the ends of their tongues to the pasha, and threw their bodies into the river. This happened one hundred years ago, in the year 1790.”

Gallows and a guillotine were erected in the villages of Atcharistsqali, Keda, Chakvi, Khulo, Machakhela, and Gonio. The documents preserved in the manuscript collection at Akhaltsikhe Museum describe in even more horrific detail the martyrdom of the Atcharan Christians: “The human tongue is powerless to describe the tortures that the Georgians suffered in those years for confessing Christianity. While they were still alive their flesh was stripped and their bodies quartered; they were slashed to pieces with swords, their bellies ripped open; they were roasted over campfires. They were pierced with flaming rods, thrown into cauldrons of boiling water; molten lead was poured down their throats; they were tossed into pools of hot lime.…”

The Georgian Apostolic Church has numbered among the saints all the holy fathers and mothers of Atchara who sacrificed their lives in defense of the Christian Faith.



Tuesday, June 16, 2009

St Tychon(Tikhon) the Bishop of Amathus in Cyprus

Commemorated on June 16

Saint Tikhon, Bishop of Amathus, was born in the city Amathus on the island of Cyprus. His parents raised their son in Christian piety, and taught him the reading of sacred books. It is said that the gift of wonderworking appeared in St Tikhon at quite a young age.

His father was the owner of a bakery, and whenever he left his son alone in the shop, the holy youth would give free bread to those in need. Learning of this, his father became angry, but the son said that he had read in the Scriptures, that in giving to God one receives back a hundredfold. "I," said the youth, "gave to God the bread which was taken," and he persuaded his father to go to the place where the grain was stored. With astonishment the father saw that the granary, which formerly was empty, was now filled to overflowing with wheat. From that time the father did not hinder his son from distributing bread to the poor.

A certain gardener brought the dried prunings of vines from the vineyard. St Tikhon gathered them, planted them in his garden and besought the Lord that these branches might take root and yield fruit for the health of people. The Lord did so through the faith of the holy youth. The branches took root, and their fruit had a particular and very pleasant taste. It was used during the lifetime of the saint and after his death for making wine for the Mystery of the Holy Eucharist.

They accepted the pious youth into the church clergy, made him a reader. Later, Mnemonios, the Bishop of Amathus ordained him a deacon. After the death of Bishop Mnemonios, St Tikhon by universal agreement was chosen as Bishop of Amathus. St Epiphanius, Bishop of Cyprus (May 12), presided at the service.

St Tikhon labored zealously to eradicate the remnants of paganism on Cyprus; he destroyed a pagan temple and spread the Christian Faith. The holy bishop was generous, his doors were open to all, and he listened to and lovingly fulfilled the request of each person who came to him. Fearing neither threats nor tortures, he firmly and fearlessly confessed his faith before pagans.

In the service to St Tikhon it is stated that he foresaw the time of his death, which occurred in the year 425.

The name of St Tikhon of Amathus was greatly honored in Russia. Temples dedicated to the saint were constructed at Moscow, at Nizhni Novgorod, at Kazan and other cities. But he was particularly venerated in the Voronezh diocese, where there were three archpastors in succession sharing the name with the holy hierarch of Amathus: St Tikhon I (Sokolov) (+ 1783, August 13), Tikhon II (Yakubovsky, until 1785) and Tikhon III (Malinin, until 1788).

Troparion - Tone 3

God called you to the sacred priesthood
as a worthy servant of the Holy Trinity.
You shone forth with the grace of godliness
strengthening the Church by many miracles.
Righteous Tychon, entreat Christ our God to grant us His great mercy.

Kontakion - Tone 3

Podoben: “Today the Virgin...”
Through your ascetic labors, you shone forth, O beloved of God,
and received from on high the power of the Comforter
to destroy the idols of delusion,
and to save people,
to cast out demons and to heal the sick.
Therefore, venerable Tychon,
we honor you as a friend of God.



Monday, June 15, 2009

Prophet Amos

Commemorated on June 15

The Holy Prophet Amos, third of the Twelve Minor Prophets, lived during the eighth century before Christ. At this time the Hebrew nation was divided into two kingdoms: Judea and Israel. The Judean king Hosiah ruled in Jerusalem, but the ten separated Israelite tribes were ruled by Jeroboam II, an idol-worshipper. At Bethel he set up an idol in the form of a golden calf, which they worshipped, after they rejected the God of Israel.

The Prophet Amos was a Judean, from the city of Thecua in the land of Zebulon. Simple and untaught, but fervent in faith and zealous for the glory of the true God, this former shepherd and dresser of sycamore trees (Amos 7:14-15) was chosen by the Lord for prophetic service. He was sent to the kingdom of Israel to denounce the impiety of King Jeroboam, and also the Israelites for falling away from God. The prophet predicted a great misfortune which would befall Israel and the neighboring pagan nations, because of their impiety. As a result of his denunciations, the Prophet Amos repeatedly suffered beatings and torture. He returned to Bethel, and threatening inevitable misfortunes, he continued to call the Israelites to repentance.

The idolatrous priest Amaziah of the pagan temple particularly hated the prophet. The prophet predicted speedy destruction for him and all his household, and for this he was subjected to beatings. Hosiah, the son of Amaziah, struck the saint on the head with a club and seriously wounded him. Still alive, the Prophet Amos reached his native village and died there around 787 B.C. He is not to be confused with Amos, the father of the Prophet Isaiah.

Troparion - Tone 2

Celebrating the memory
Of Your Prophet Amos, O Lord,
For his sake, we entreat You, save our souls.

Kontakion - Tone 4

Purifying your fervent heart by the Spirit,
O glorious Prophet Amos,
And receiving the gift of prophecy from on high,
You cry with a loud voice to the nations:
This is our God, and there is none beside Him.