Tuesday, August 31, 2010

St Aidan the Bishop of Lindesfarne

Commemorated on August 31
Saint Aidan, a steadfast defender of Celtic practices against the imposition of Roman usage, was born in Ireland (then called Scotland) in the seventh century. As a monk of the monastery founded by St Columba (June 9) on the island of Iona, he was known for his strict asceticism.

When the holy King Oswald of Northumbria (August 5) wanted to convert his people to Christianity, he turned to the Celtic monks of Iona, rather than the Roman clergy at Canterbury. The first bishop sent to lead the mission proved unsuitable, for he alienated many people by his harshness, and he blamed the hostile disposition of the English for his failure. St Aidan said that the bishop was to blame, and not the English. Instead of being too severe with an ignorant people, he should have fed them with milk rather than solid food (I Cor. 3:2). The bishop was recalled, and an ideal candidate was found to replace him.

St Aidan was consecrated bishop and sent to Northumbria to take charge of the mission. King Oswald gave him the island of Lindisfarne near the royal residence of Bamburg for his episcopal See. St Aidan also founded the famous monastery on Lindisfarne in 635.

St Bede (May 27), in his ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PEOPLE praises Aidan for his humility and piety, recommending him as a model for other bishops and priests to follow. He was not attached to the things of this world, nor did he seek earthly treasures. Whenever he received gifts from the king or from rich men, he distributed them to the poor. On Wednesdays and Fridays he would fast from all food until the Ninth Hour (about 3 P.M.), except during the paschal season.

From Lindisfarne, St Aidan traveled all over Northumbria, visiting his flock and establishing missions. St Oswald, who knew Gaelic from the time he and his family were exiled to Iona, acted as an interpreter for Bishop Aidan, who did not speak English. Thus, the king played an active role in the conversion of his people.

One year, after attending the services of Pascha, King Oswald sat down to a meal with Bishop Aidan. Just as the bishop was about to bless the food, a servant came in and informed the king that a great number of needy folk were outside begging for alms. The king ordered that his own food be served to the poor on silver platters, and that the silver serving dishes be broken up and distributed to them.There is a charming illustration of this incident in the thirteenth century Berthold Missal in New York's Pierpont Morgan Library (Morgan MS 710, fol. 101v). Aidan, deeply moved by St Oswald's charity, took him by the right hand and said, "May this hand never perish." According to Tradition, St Oswald's hand remained incorrupt for centuries after his death. St Bede says that the hand was kept in the church of St Peter at Bamburgh, where it was venerated by all. The present location of the hand, if it still survives, is not known.

St Oswald was killed in battle against the superior forces of King Penda on August 5, 642 at a place called Maserfield. He was only thirty-eight years old. St Aidan was deeply grieved by the king's death, but his successor St Oswin (August 20) was also very dear to him.

King Oswin once gave St Aidan a horse and a cart for his journeys (the bishop usually traveled on foot). Soon after this, Bishop Aidan met a beggar and gave him the horse and cart. The king heard of this and was disturbed by it. He asked St Aidan why he had given the royal gift away when there were ordinary horses in the stables which were more suitable for a beggar. Aidan rebuked him, asking if the king regarded the foal of a mare more highly than the Son of God. At first, he did not understand. Then he fell at the bishop's feet, weeping tears of repentance. Asking for forgiveness, Oswin promised never again to judge St Aidan's charitable deeds.

St Aidan raised the king to his feet, declaring that he had never seen a king who was so humble. He prophesied that Oswin would soon depart from this life, since the people did not deserve such a ruler. His prophecy was soon fulfilled, for St Oswin was murdered at Gilling on August 20, 651. St Aidan departed to the Lord on August 31, less than two weeks later. He died at Bamburgh, by the west wall of the church. The beam on which he was leaning to support himself still survives, even though the church was twice destroyed by fire. The beam may still be seen in the ceiling of the present church, above the baptismal font.

On the day St Aidan died, St Cuthbert (March 20) was a young man tending his master's sheep. Looking up, Cuthbert saw a vision of angels bearing someone's soul to heaven in a sphere of fire. Later, he learned that Bishop Aidan had died at the very hour that he had seen the vision.

At first, the holy bishop Aidan was buried at Lindisfarne on the right side of the altar in the church of St Peter. In 664 the Synod of Whitby declared that all the churches of Britain must follow Roman practices, and that Celtic customs were to be suppressed. St Colman (February 18), the third Bishop of Lindisfarne, was unable to accept this decision. Therefore, he decided to retire to Iona, taking the bones of St Aidan with him. Celtic customs survived on Iona until the eighth century.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also and further, 2007's):

The Ecumenists are Co-responsible for the Abuse of the Gospel and the Perdition of the Heterodox

From here.

The Ecumenists are Co-responsible for the Abuse of the Gospel and the Perdition of the Heterodox

Protopresbyter Theodoros Zisis
Professor Emeritus at Aristotle University

1. Papism and Protestantism have distorted the Gospel

Lately many members of the Church have been agonizing over the destructive and rapid development of the so-called inter-Christian relations of the Orthodox with the two big heresies of the West, Papism and Protestantism. Their concern has been expressed many times, this year with the composition of the well-known “Confession of Faith against Ecumenism” which was circulated and signed by many, and for the first time annoyed and disturbed those Ecumenists who are complacent and boast over their success.

The ambient policy and cultural atmosphere of globalization not only tends to erase geographical boundaries between nations, but also tends to tear down spiritual, cultural and religious boundaries. Its goal and vision is to level differences and individuality, to homogenize people in their beliefs and manner of life, to create a new type of person, without spiritual concerns and pursuits beyond this life, but for them to remain glued to this earth, in material prosperity and affluence. This serves two specific aims of the planners: people will reduced to simply being consumers, which will increase businesses’ material and economic profit and at the same time they will become slaves in their daily struggle to secure material goods, with their degree of leisure being in the hands of the powerful, so that through controlled economic crises or allocations they can keep people docile and obedient.

The second apparent aim is to place the Gospel of Christ and the Church, which constitute the only powers of resistance against materialism, at the periphery so that the new world can be governed not by Christ, but by the Antichrist. Only Christ conquered the temptation of Satan over material goods and preached that “man shall not live by bread alone” (Luke 4:4), prioritizing material and spirit, the world and God – He gave priority to God and to the spirit: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you” (Matt 6:33). And elsewhere, “for what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36).

The Christian world of Constantine the Great, of New Rome – Constantinople, of Orthodoxy, in which the Third Rome, Moscow, participated spiritually, lived and put into practice this ascetic and perfecting teaching of the Gospel. Now it is to be replaced by the new world of materialistic America and Europe, or Pax Christiana by Pax Americana.

Papism, having separated itself from the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, submitted to the temptations of Satan and was transformed into a worldly power with economic, dynastic, conquering, political pursuits, with dogmas and a way of life that have nothing to do with the life and teaching of the Gospel. As the great Russian intellectual Theodore Dostoyevsky powerfully said that Papism is not even Christianity; if Christ returned to earth, He would be judged and crucified by the holy inquisitors of Rome.

Those under the Pope perverted and distorted the Gospel. They did not serve as the light of the world and as the salt of the earth, for this they had no effect on the souls of the people of the West. The West, Europe and America, soon distanced themselves from untrustworthy Papism and became de-Christianized because “if the salt has lost its taste, wherewith shall it be salted?” (Matt 5:13). They threw out and rightfully trampled upon the pseudo-inscribed Christianity of the Pope.

Protestantism justly reacted against the arbitrariness and the deviations of Papism, though doing it alone without asking for help from the Church in order to return to the purity of Evangelical truth, without apostolic succession and the Grace of the mysteries (sacraments), in time being led to numerous divisions and teachings [some of] which even doubt the Resurrection of Christ, while they even justify “dishonorable passions” – as the Apostle Paul calls homosexuality in the first chapter of his Epistle to the Romans – as being on a level of a moral life,.

2.   Double error: Inclusion with the heresies and a crutch of Papism

The planners of the New Age and Globalization want to unite us to and identify us with this distorted, abused and untrustworthy Christianity of Papism and Protestantism, [and create] a materialistic, earthly and worldly Christianity, so that the beneficial effect of the Gospel and of the Church cease in the world, so that people may not find the real Christ anywhere, so that we succumb to all the temptations of the devil, and thus establish the kingdom of the Antichrist. They have already succeeded in duping us and getting us to join in the pan-Protestant “World Council of Churches (WCC),” that is the World Council of Heresies and Fallacies. What a disgrace and shame! The Bride of Christ, the Body of Christ, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, equated and put on the same level with the numerous Protestant shoots, each one of them claiming to be the true Church. In the end, is there one Church or many Churches? Are heresies also Churches? Never has the Church identified itself with nor has it ever been included among heretical groups and organizations. This is so not due to a lack of love, but so that it may help heretics to return through repentance, and at the same time protect the faithful from heresy. It truly preaches the truth when there is danger of heresy and awaits the response of those in error. If it identifies itself with them, where will they return? They will remain where they are if we accept, as some “Orthodox” maintain, that there is salvation and truth there too. We put all those heterodox who came to Orthodoxy in a difficult position, who, if they are not stable and convinced of their salvific steps, may become scandalized and disappointed.

Papism witnessed our entry into the World Council of Churches with joy and satisfaction because we left it the only purporter of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. However, unlike us, it does not forget that in the mid 15th century, the probable alliance of the Orthodox in the reformation coucils of Constantia (1414-1418) and of Basel (1431-1439), forerunning movements of Protestantism, would have led to the synodic system prevailing and would have voided the primacy of authority of the Pope. He does not only leave us with the Protestants, but he wants us with him against those Protestants who rejected [his] many innovations. And as he then misled us to disgraceful Ferrara-Florence, so that we would not strengthen the synodic reformation – that even reached the point of the Pope being defrocked by his own cardinals – he is doing the same thing even now. He leads us to dialogues of love with his candies that we are somehow “sister Churches” and we can discuss “on equal terms.” He continues, however, to consider us schismatics and ecclesiologically deficient, in order to lead us to the recognition of Papal primacy through Unia, whose condemnation at Freising-Munich by the plenary session of the Joint Committee for Theological Dialogue (1990) he buried and made disappear. With this one-sided action, which we quietly accepted without any protest, the Pope shows that even in the theological dialogue he does as he wishes as the First and as infallible. Therefore, why should we discuss, since the Vatican accepts only what is in its favor, while what is [beneficial] to us it rejects and makes disappear? We foolishly, like in Ferrara-Florence where we signed Unia, we repeat the mistake and we again become the crutch of Papism with the unacceptable article of Ravenna and the even worse draft plan of Cyprus concerning the primacy of the Pope.

We should note that within relatively the same conditions we are repeating the same mistakes, without learning from history. Greece and Cyprus, in order to be helped by the West and the Pope, sign yet again unacceptable articles of union, like at Ferrara-Florence (1438-1439). They accept and honor Pope, the pan-heretic and distorter of the Gospel, thus pushing away and distancing divine help and offending the Holy Martyrs and Confessors of the Faith. Constantinople, which tasted divine abandonment, is unfortunately leading us to activities of false union and to a new Ferrara-Florence, in the steps of the then Cardinal Bessarion of Nicea and not of Saint Mark of Ephesus (Evgenikos), distorting the Gospel and embracing the “grave wolves” of Papism and Protestantism. That is why vigilance is needed according to the advice of the Apostle Paul, who foresaw that, “Also of your own selves shall arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-31).

Monday, August 30, 2010

Uncovering of the relics of St Daniel the Prince of Moscow

Commemorated on August 30

Holy Prince Daniel of Moscow, son of the holy Prince Alexander Nevsky, died on March 4, 1303. On August 30, 1652 his relics were uncovered incorrupt. See March 4.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also and further, 2007's):

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Beheading of the Holy Glorious Prophet, Forerunner, and Baptist John

Commemorated on August 29

The Beheading of the Prophet, Forerunner of the Lord, John the Baptist: The Evangelists Matthew (Mt.14:1-12) and Mark (Mark 6:14-29) provide accounts about the martyric end of John the Baptist in the year 32 after the Birth of Christ.

Following the Baptism of the Lord, St John the Baptist was locked up in prison by Herod Antipas, the Tetrarch (ruler of one fourth of the Holy Land) and governor of Galilee. (After the death of king Herod the Great, the Romans divided the territory of Palestine into four parts, and put a governor in charge of each part. Herod Antipas received Galilee from the emperor Augustus).

The prophet of God John openly denounced Herod for having left his lawful wife, the daughter of the Arabian king Aretas, and then instead cohabiting with Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip (Luke 3:19-20). On his birthday, Herod made a feast for dignitaries, the elders and a thousand chief citizens. Salome, the daughter of Herod, danced before the guests and charmed Herod. In gratitude to the girl, he swore to give her whatever she would ask, up to half his kingdom.

The vile girl on the advice of her wicked mother Herodias asked that she be given the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Herod became apprehensive, for he feared the wrath of God for the murder of a prophet, whom earlier he had heeded. He also feared the people, who loved the holy Forerunner. But because of the guests and his careless oath, he gave orders to cut off the head of St John and to give it to Salome.

According to Tradition, the mouth of the dead preacher of repentance once more opened and proclaimed: "Herod, you should not have the wife of your brother Philip." Salome took the platter with the head of St John and gave it to her mother. The frenzied Herodias repeatedly stabbed the tongue of the prophet with a needle and buried his holy head in a unclean place. But the pious Joanna, wife of Herod's steward Chuza, buried the head of John the Baptist in an earthen vessel on the Mount of Olives, where Herod had a parcel of land. (The Uncovering of the Venerable Head is celebrated (February 24). The holy body of John the Baptist was taken that night by his disciples and buried at Sebastia, there where the wicked deed had been done.

After the murder of St John the Baptist, Herod continued to govern for a certain time. Pontius Pilate, governor of Judea, later sent Jesus Christ to him, Whom he mocked (Luke 23:7-12).

The judgment of God came upon Herod, Herodias and Salome, even during their earthly life. Salome, crossing the River Sikoris in winter, fell through the ice. The ice gave way in such a way that her body was in the water, but her head was trapped above the ice. It was similar to how she once had danced with her feet upon the ground, but now she flailed helplessly in the icy water. Thus she was trapped until that time when the sharp ice cut through her neck.

Her corpse was not found, but they brought the head to Herod and Herodias, as once they had brought them the head of St John the Baptist. The Arab king Aretas, in revenge for the disrespect shown his daughter, made war against Herod. The defeated Herod suffered the wrath of the Roman emperor Caius Caligua (37-41) and was exiled with Herodias first to Gaul, and then to Spain.

The Beheading of St John the Baptist, a Feast day established by the Church, is also a strict fast day because of the grief of Christians at the violent death of the saint. In some Orthodox cultures pious people will not eat food from a flat plate, use a knife, or eat food that is round in shape on this day.

Today the Church makes remembrance of Orthodox soldiers killed on the field of battle, as established in 1769 at the time of Russia's war with the Turks and the Poles.

Troparion - Tone 2

The memory of the righteous is celebrated with hymns of praise,
but the Lord¹s testimony is sufficient for you, O Forerunner.
You were shown in truth to be the most honorable of the prophets,
for you were deemed worthy to baptize in the streams of the Jordan Him whom they foretold.
Therefore, having suffered for the truth with joy,
you proclaimed to those in hell God who appeared in the flesh,
who takes away the sin of the world, and grants us great mercy.

Kontakion - Tone 5

The glorious beheading of the Forerunner,
became an act of divine dispensation,
for he preached to those in hell the coming of the Savior.
Let Herodias lament, for she entreated lawless murder,
loving not the law of God, nor eternal life,
but that which is false and temporal.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also and further, 2007's):

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Martyr Susanna the Queen of Georgia

Commemorated on August 28

Saint Shushanik was the wife of the Georgian prince Varsken, the ruler of Hereti (a province of southeastern Georgia) was under Persian control at that time, Varsken was essentially the viceroy for the Persians). Having been raised in a pious Christian family, she was deeply penetrated with love and the fear of God.

At that time Kartli was under heavy political pressure from Persia, and Prince Varsken visited the Persian king Peroz in hopes of encouraging more friendly relations between the two countries. He willingly denied the true Faith, converted to the worship of fire, and promised the king to convert his wife and children upon his return to Hereti.

Having approached the border of Hereti, Varsken sent messengers to Tsurtavi, the city in which he ruled, to ensure that his subjects met him with due respect. The blessed Shushanik, having learned of her husband’s betrayal, fell to the ground and wept over him with bitter tears. Then she took her four children, deserted the palace, and sought refuge in a nearby church.

That evening Shushanik was visited by her spiritual father, the elder Jacob, who predicted, “Varsken’s cruelty and mercilessness are unmistakable. Know that terrible trials await you. Will you be firm and unbending in your position?”

“I would rather die than unite with him and destroy my soul!” she answered.

Three days later the prince arrived in Tsurtavi. As promised, he tried to persuade his wife to convert, but St. Shushanik firmly answered, “As you have renounced your Creator, so I am renouncing you. I will no longer take part in your affairs, no matter what suffering I must endure!”

The next time, Varsken sent his younger brother Jojik and Bishop Apots to convince Shushanik to return to the palace. Shushanik refused for some time, but in the end she yielded to their persuasion. She set off for the palace with the Holy Gospel and the Lives of the holy martyrs, and when she arrived she locked herself in a squalid cell. Two days later Varsken returned to the palace and invited Shushanik, his brother Jojik, and his sister-in-law for supper. The queen, however, could not bring herself to share a meal with one who had betrayed Christ: she pushed away the cup that Jojik’s wife had offered her, thus further angering her husband.

The furious Varsken beat his wife mercilessly, fettered her in irons, locked her in prison, and forbade the guards to let anyone in to see her.

St. Shushanik spent six years in captivity. While she was serving her sentence, she helped the poor that came to her. Through her prayers the sick were healed and children were born to the childless. Before her death, Holy Martyr Shushanik blessed those around her and requested that she be buried at the place from which her unbelieving husband had dragged her out of the palace.

This happened in the year 475. The clergy and people alike wept bitterly over Shushanik’s tragic fate. Her holy relics were buried in accordance with her will.

In 578, with the blessing of Catholicos Kirion I, St. Shushanik’s holy relics were translated to Tbilisi, where they remain today, in the Metekhi Church of the Most Holy Theotokos.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also and further, 2007's):

Friday, August 27, 2010

St Hosius the Confessor the Bishop of Cordova

Commemorated on August 27

Saint Hosius the Confessor was bishop for more than sixty years in the city of Cordova (Spain) during the fourth century. The holy emperor St Constantine the Great (306-337) deeply revered him and made him a privy counsellor. The saint advised St Constantine to convene the First Ecumenical Council at Nicea in 325, and he was the first to sign the acts of this Council.

After the death of St Constantine the Great, St Hosius defended St Athanasius of Alexandria (May 2) against the emperor Constantius (337-361), an advocate of the Arian heresy. Because of this, they sent him to prison in Sirmium.

St Hosius died in the year 359 after his return to Cordova.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also and further, 2007's):

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Icon of the Mother of God "Virgin of Tenderness" of the Pskov Caves

Commemorated on August 26
The Pskov Caves Icon of the Most Holy Mother of God, named the "Tenderness" (1542), is famous particularly for the defense of Pskov and the Pskov Caves monastery from the army of Stephen Bathory in 1581. Its celebration is also on May 21, June 23 and October 7.

The Tenderness Icon of the Mother of God is of the Eleousa (Umilenie) type.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also and further, 2007's):

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

St Menas the Patriarch of Constantinople

Commemorated on August 25

Saint Menas, Patriarch of Constantinople (536-552), was at first a presbyter at Constantinople and supervisor there of the Home of St Sampson the Hospitable for the poor and needy during the reign of St Justinian I (527-565). After the removal of the heretic Anthimus (535-536), the holy presbyter Menas was raised to the patriarchal throne of Constantinople as one worthy to be bishop, because of his profound virtue and firm confession of Orthodoxy.

Agapitus, the Bishop of Rome (535-536), participated in the consecration of St Menas. He had come to Constantinople in order to depose the heretic Anthimus. During the patriarchate of St Menas a miracle occurred at Constantinople, which was known to the whole city.

A certain Jewish child went with other children to church and he partook of the Holy Mysteries of Christ. At home, he told his father about this. In a terrible rage, he seized the child and threw him into a red-hot oven (the father was a glass-blower). He said nothing to his wife. For three days, the mother tearfully searched for her son, calling loudly for him. On the third day, he emerged from the red-hot oven. When she pulled the child out, she found that he was unharmed.

The boy said that a most radiant Lady had come to him, cooling the fire and bringing him water and food. This incident became known to St Menas and the emperor Justinian I. The boy and his mother received Baptism, but the father of the child was obdurate and did not wish to repent, in spite of the great miracle that he had seen. Then the emperor ordered that the father be tried as a child-killer, and sentenced him to death.

The holy Patriarch Menas ruled the Church of Constantinople for sixteen years. During his patriarchate at Constantinople, the famous church of Hagia Sophia, the Wisdom of God, was consecrated. The saint died peacefully in the year 552.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also and further, 2007's):

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Venerable Arsenius the Abbot of Komel, Vologda

Commemorated on August 24

Saint Arsenius of Komel was born in Moscow, and was descended from a noble family, the Sakharusov. In his youth he was tonsured at the Trinity-Sergiev monastery, and he occupied himself there with the copying of books. There is a Gospel that he copied in the year 1506. In the years 1525-1527 the monk was igumen at the Trinity-Sergiev monastery. He often withdrew to the solitary Makrisch monastery. Great Prince Basil IV (1505-1533), making a visit to the monastery at that time, was surprised to behold the igumen of a prosperous monastery in old clothes covered with patches. The brethren explained that St Arsenius wished to travel in the wilderness.

Setting out together with his own cell elder to the Komel forest located 50 versts from Vologda, St Arsenius made a large wooden cross, and with this cross on his shoulders he set out through the forest to pick out a spot for a future monastery. Coming to a marshy place through a swamp, the monk stumbled under the heavy cross and fell. A heavenly beam of light flashed upon the ascetic at this very moment and convinced him to establish his monastery on this site. He set up the cross and built the first cell.

The local inhabitants, went there to hunt wild animals, and killed the disciple of St Arsenius. He himself was forced to withdraw into the Shelegod forest. Several monks soon gathered at his new monastery, and afterwards fugitives from a Tatar incursion upon the surrounding populace settled there. St Arsenius, seeking after silence, desired to live in a quieter spot.

In the year 1530 Great Prince Basil gave him a deed for land in the Komel forest at the Kokhtisha River. The monk began here to clear the forest together with his disciple Gerasimus. By prayer, the saint tamed the wild beasts. When several monks had gathered about him, he built a church in honor of the Placing of the Veil of the Most Holy Theotokos.

Visiting the Shelegod monastery, the monk instructed the peasants who had settled in the area of the monastery. He bid them reverently to observe feastdays and Sundays. Once when a peasant who had heard him started to work on a feastday, a wind suddenly arose scattering all his sheaves.

Having spent his life in fasting, prayer and constant work, St Arsenius died on August 24. 1550. His Life was written soon after his death, but burned in a fire in the Komel monastery in 1596. In shortened form, it was restored from the surviving manuscripts and augmented with posthumous miracles by John, a monk of the monastery.

A hundred years later after the death of the saint, the igumen Joasaph built a stone church at the monastery in honor of the Placing of the Veil of the Most Holy Theotokos. Two chapels of this church show the spiritual bond of teacher and disciple. The left chapel was dedicated to St Sergius of Radonezh, and the right to St Arsenius of Komel.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also and further, 2007's):

Monday, August 23, 2010

Saints Eutychius and Florentius of Nursia

Commemorated on August 23

Saints Eutychius and Florentius were monks pursuing asceticism in the region of Nursa in Italy during the sixth century. St Eutychius converted many to God by his teaching. When the igumen of a nearby monastery died, they appealed to him to become its head. He consented, but continued to be concerned with the former place of his ascetic activity, where his companion Florentius remained.

St Florentius worked many miracles during his lifetime. For example, he tamed a bear, which served him. It shepherded sheep, carried water and obeyed other commands of the Elder. Jealous of the fame of St Florentius, four monks killed the bear. The saint predicted that the wrath of God would fall upon the murderers. So it happened as he said. The monks were stricken with illness, and died shortly afterwards. On learning of the death of the monks, St Florentius was grievously saddened and distressed, considering himself the murderer of those monks. He wept for them the rest of his life.

St Eutychius did not work miracles during his lifetime, but after death his clothing began to produce healings. During a time of drought the people of Nursia went to the fields with his clothing, and God sent rain (this was in the year 1492). St Eutychius died on May 23, 540, and St Florentius, on June 1, 547.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also and further, 2007's):

My secrets I give to Thee, o God

 image from here

The goal of the living of the Orthodox ascetical spiritual life is the revealing of the secrets I keep from myself,  knowingly or unknowingly, which hinder me from my prize:  union with Christ.  In other words, my secrets are those things I place above Christ, holding onto them rather than obtaining Him.

For example, lust, that which primarily ties Man to the Fallen Creation(1 John 2:15-17), has roots so deep in me that I often seek ways to place myself in situations where I can justify a "fall" into sin.

Christ came to reveal and undo the works of the Devil.  I, in union with Him, cooperating freely through my will, have as my goal if I follow Christ to choose to want to have revealed to me those "secret workings" within myself and once revealed to put my back to the task of eliminating them, by God's grace.

Their power is undone when I freely offer them to God, no longer tied to them.  However, as the passion(s) have taken a long time to take root and entrench themselves, they seem to be rarely, if ever, removed only offering them up once and for all.  Usually, a prolonged struggle over a long course of our lives is involved to lessen their(the passions) power and to work towards their complete removal through perfect union with Christ, the God Man.

This, it must be said, is not impossible.  The lives of many Saints show this possibility to us and it must be remembered that the Saints are like us and not initially "set apart" for the task of becoming divinized.  They chose to have themselves joined to Christ and their example is for us as well.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Hieromartyr Athanasius the Bishop of Tarsus in Cilicia, Venerable Anthusa the Nun and The Martyrs Charisimos and Neophytus servants of Anthusa the Nun

Commemorated on August 22

The Hieromartyr Athanasius, bishop of the Cilician city of Tarsus, who baptized the holy Nun Anthusa, was beheaded by the sword under the emperor Aurelian (270-275).

St Anthusa, a native of the city of Seleucia (in Syria), was the daughter of illustrious pagans. Learning of the teachings of Christ, she under pretense of visiting her benefactress, journeyed instead to Tarsus to St Athanasius and received Baptism from him.

Her parents were enraged at their daughter for becoming a Christian. She received monastic tonsure from St Athanasius, then settled in the desert, where she spent 33 years at ascetic deeds. She died at the end of the third century while she was praying. The Martyrs Charisimos and Neophytus, who had been baptized together with the Nun Anthusa, were her servants, and they too accepted death for Christ.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also and further, 2007's):

Saturday, August 21, 2010

St Sarmean, the Catholicos of Kartli, Georgia

Commemorated on August 21
The chronicles listing the generations of chief shepherds of Georgia reveal that St. Sarmean was leader of the Georgian Apostolic Church from the year 767 (or 760, according to some sources) until the year 774. These were years of Arab-Muslim rule in Georgia. The Arabs persecuted the Christians, oppressed those who served in the Church, and tried in every way to convert the country to Islam. Despite the frightful abuses that the faithful endured and the transformation of the city into a residence for the emir, many Tbilisi churches continued to function.

Sarmean was a firm defender of Orthodoxy. Once, however, on Cheese-fare Thursday at Shio-MgvimeMonastery, a group of strangers bearing gifts arrived at the monastery. He served Holy Communion to them without ever inquiring into their faith. Later he learned that they were Jacobites. (members of one of the Monophysite churches.)

His carelessness was revealed to him in a dream that same night.

When he awoke the next morning, Catholicos Sarmean summoned the bishops, confessed his mistake, burned the gifts that the Jacobites had given him before their eyes, and departed for an isolated cave, where he wept over his sin with bitter tears.

But the All-merciful Lord sent a sign to St. Sarmean to inform him that his transgression had been forgiven. The bishops sent him a message from Mtskheta: “O Great Sovereign Patriarch Sarmean! Rejoice! We, your spiritual children, believers in your holiness, the entire council of bishops, wish to inform you that St. Shio has appeared and told each of the five of us that the Lord has remitted your sin. Make haste and summon us to the monastery, that we may give thanks together to our Holy Father Shio!”

Holy Catholicos Sarmean, divinely endowed with humility, faith, love, and the fear of God, led his flock wisely to the end of his days and reposed peacefully in the year 774.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also and further, 2007's):

Friday, August 20, 2010

The martyrs Severus, Memnon, Philip, and 38 Martyred Soldiers in Thrace

Commemorated on August 20

 The martyrs Severus, Memnon, Philip, and thirty-seven others suffered in Philippopolis, Thrace under the emperor Diocletian (284-305).

When the governor learned that the St Severus had converted the centurion Memnon to Christ, he ordered that Memnon be tortured. They cut three strips of skin from St Memnon's back.

St Severus was raked with iron hooks. Then they put red-hot rings on his fingers and girded him with a red-hot iron belt. After these tortures, he was blinded.

The others had their hands and feet cut off and were thrown into a fiery oven.
These thirty-seven soldiers suffered with Sts Severus and Memnon in Philippopolis, Thrace under the emperor Diocletian (284-305).

These thirty-seven soldiers suffered with Sts Severus and Memnon.
Their names are Orion, Antilinus, Molias, Eudemon, Silvanus, Sabinus, Eustathius, Straton, Bosua of Byzantium, Timothy, Palmatus, Mestus, Nikon, Difilus, Dometian, Maximus, Neophytus, Victor, Rinus, Satorninus, Epaphroditus, Cercanus, Gaius, Zoticus, Cronion, Anthony, Horus, Zoilus, Tyrannus, Agathon, Panstenus [Parthenias], Achilles, Panthyrias, Chrysanthus, Athenodorus, Pantoleon, Theosebius, Genephlius of Philippopolis.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also and further, 2007's):

Hell: Refuge from the love of God

image from here.

Those who know me well are privy to a part of my life which was very bleak.

I often have described to such persons the necessity I felt to always flee from the presence of love directed towards me.  I could not be in the presence of such love, uncomfortable and scrutinizing as I would feel it.  The shell I was could easily be peered into and I felt this nakedness and avoided at all costs any such experiences if at all possible.

click on images to enlarge

I am currently reading An Orthodox Survival Guide for the 21st Century, by Victor Mihailoff. I just came across this section and thought it well worth publishing.  Bearing in mind that "God is love"(1 John 4:8), I leave the reader with the following excerpt from Chapter 17: God's Relationship with Us:

God allows us to be frightened by descriptions of hell and lets us believe that He is wrathful to the point of administering eternal punishment upon us through condemning us to hell. Hell was created as the place for fallen angels and because some people choose to follow the demons, they too spend eternity with their leaders, the demons, in hell. God does not send them there; they flee from Him and hide there from His light. The fallen-angels and some people who chose and choose to be separate from God are greatly tortured in the presence of His divine light. God's supreme purity burns sin and corruption. Those angels who fell (demons) and people who choose to remain in the state of "fallen nature" all the way up to their physical death are full of impurity. That impurity is part of what they are. God did not create them this way but they freely chose to be such because they prefer to follow their own blind-will instead of blindly (at first), following God's perfect-Will. This impurity which they chose to make part of themselves burns in the presence of God's light. To be with God in heaven, we must become pure because impurity cannot share a place with God's purity. Just as oil and water cannot form an homogeneous mixture, so too, unrepentant sinners and demons cannot live with the Holy Spirit in and around them to the extent that they combine. Their attachment to impurity gives them pain when in God's presence. God mercifully prepared a place of darkness to give them "shade" from His light. They still feel the burning of His love but not so intensely as they would in His presence. This is unavoidable because it is God's love which mercifully maintains their dark retreat without which they would suffer even more. They could not bear to spend even the shortest time in heaven. For them, that is infinitely worse than hell. To be in heaven we need to detach ourselves from impurity. If we become righteous through our own voluntary efforts (free will), even without achieving sainthood in life, we can be freed at death from the remnants of impurity through the grace of God after "purchasing" this grace, so to speak, through works of faith. God's light also burns the lesser impurities of His loyal servants and friends, but they willingly submit themselves to Him for this purpose because they know that after their sins are burned away they will never suffer again. They will be in a state of eternal joy in the presence of their loving Creator!

We then finally come to understand that God is truly merciful and offers His mercy and help to all of us. Some of us learn to humbly accept His offer and the rest do not. We should pray for them.

It is God Whom we will love most in heaven. How great it would be for us to get a head-start while here on earth.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Martyrs Timothy, Agapius and Thekla of Palestine

Commemorated on August 19

The Martyrs Timothy, Agapius and Thekla suffered martyrdom in the year 304. The Martyr Timothy was a native of the city of Caesarean Palestine. He studied the Holy Scripture, and having received a special gift of eloquence, he became a teacher of the Christian Faith.

During the time of persecution against Christians under the co-emperors Diocletian (284-305) and Maximian (305-311), the martyr was brought to trial by the governor Urban. St Timothy fearlessly declared himself a Christian and spoke about the love of the Lord Jesus Christ for mankind and of His coming into the world for their salvation. The martyr was subjected to cruel torture, and when they saw that he remained down, they killed him.

And in this same town and year the Martyrs Agapius and Thekla were condemned. They were thrown to be eaten by wild beasts, and suffering in this manner, they received their heavenly crowns.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also and further, 2007's):

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Martyrs Florus and Laurus of Illyria

Commemorated on August 18

The Martyrs Florus and Laurus were brothers by birth not only in flesh but in spirit. They lived in the second century at Byzantium, and afterwards they settled in Illyria [now Yugoslavia]. By occupation they were stone-masons (their teachers in this craft were the Christians Proclus and Maximus, from whom also the brothers learned about life pleasing to God).

The prefect of Illyria, Likaion, sent the brothers to a nearby district for work on the construction of a pagan temple. The saints toiled at the structure, distributing to the poor the money they earned, while they kept strict fast and prayed without ceasing.

Once, the son of the local pagan-priest Mamertin carelessly approached the structure, and a chip of stone hit him in the eye, severely injuring him. Sts Florus and Laurus assured the upset father, that his son would be healed.

They brought the youth to consciousness and told him to have faith in Christ. After this, as the youth confessed Jesus Christ as the true God, the brothers prayed for him, and the eye was healed. In view of such a miracle, even the father of the youth believed in Christ.

When the construction of the temple was completed, the brothers gathered the Christians together, and going through the temple, they smashed the idols. In the eastern part of the temple they set up the holy Cross. They spent all night in prayer, illumined with heavenly light. Having learned of this, the head of the district condemned to burning the former pagan priest Mamertin and his son and 300 Christians.

The martyrs Florus and Laurus, having been sent back to the prefect Likaion, were thrown down an empty well and covered over with earth. After many years, the relics of the holy martyrs were uncovered incorrupt, and transferred to Constantinople. In the year 1200 the Novgorod pilgrim Anthony saw them. Stephen of Novgorod saw the heads of the martyrs in the Pantokrator monastery around the year 1350.

Troparion - Tone 4

Let us praise as is meet, O you faithful,
The most comely, radiant and divinely wise martyrs:
Most blessed Florus and all venerable Laurus,
Who proclaimed to all the uncreated Trinity.
Suffering unto bloodshed,
They were adorned with brilliant crowns.
Entreat Christ our God to save our souls.

Kontakion - Tone 8

Today all the world honors in glory the divinely wise Florus and Laurus,
As pious martyrs who suffered for Christ.
Through their prayers may we receive grace and mercy
And be delivered from calamity and temptation,
And from wrath and sorrow on the Day of Judgment.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also and further, 2007's):

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Martyrs Straton, Philip, Eutychian and Cyprian of Nicomedia

Commemorated on August 17

The Martyrs Straton, Philip, Eutychian and Cyprian suffered at Nicomedia. Visiting the circus, they taught people to abandon their idol-worship, and they converted many pagans to Christ. The governor, observing that the people were leaving the circus, summoned to himself the martyrs, who firmly confessed their faith in Christ. For this they were given over to wild beasts to be eaten. The beasts did not touch them, and the martyrs were then tortured and thrown into a fire.

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also and further, 2007's):

Monday, August 16, 2010

Martyr Diomedes the Physician of Tarsus, in Cilicia

Commemorated on August 16

The Martyr Diomedes was born in Cilician Tarsus. He was a physician, and a Christian, and he treated not only ills of the body but also of the soul. He enlightened many pagans with belief in Christ, and baptized them. The Church venerates him as a healer and mentions him during the Mystery of Holy Unction.

St Diomedes traveled much, converting people to the true Faith. When he arrived in the city of Nicea, the emperor Diocletian (284-305) sent soldiers to arrest him. Along the way from Nicea to Nicomedia, he got down from the cart so as to pray, and he died.

As proof of carrying out their orders, the soldiers cut off his head, but became blinded. Diocletian gave orders to take the head back to the body. When the soldiers fulfilled the order, their sight was restored and they believed in Christ.

Troparion - Tone 4

Your holy martyr Diomedes, O Lord,
Through his sufferings has received an incorruptible crown from You, our God.
For having Your strength, he laid low his adversaries,
And shattered the powerless boldness of demons.
Through his intercessions, save our souls!

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also and further, 2007's):

Sunday, August 15, 2010

St Macarius the Roman

Commemorated on August 15

Saint Macarius the Roman was born at the end of the fifteenth century into a wealthy family of Rome. His parents raised him in piety and gave him an excellent education. He might have expected a successful career in public service, but he did not desire honors or earthly glory. Instead, he focused on how to save his soul.

He lived in an age when the Christian West was shaken by the Protestant Reformation. While others around him were pursuing luxury and lascivious pleasures, he studied the Holy Scriptures and the writings of the Fathers. St Macarius was grieved to see so many darkened by sin and worldly vanity, and was disturbed by the rebellions and conflicts within the Western Church. With tears, he asked God to show him the path of salvation, and his prayer did not go unanswered. He came to realize that he would find the safe harbor of salvation in the Orthodox Church.

St Macarius left Rome secretly, and set out for Russia without money, and wearing an old garment. After many sufferings on his journey, he arrived in Novgorod, where he rejoiced to see so many churches and monasteries. One of these monasteries had been founded three centuries before by his fellow countryman, St Anthony the Roman (August 3).

St Macarius came to the banks of the River Svir, where St Alexander of Svir (April 17 and August 30) had founded the monastery of the Holy Trinity. St Alexander received Macarius into the Orthodox Church and tonsured him as a monk. Macarius, however longed for the solitary life. He moved to an island on the River Lezna, forty-five miles from Novgorod, where he engaged in ascetical struggles and unceasing prayer.

The winters were very cold, and the summers were hot and humid. The marshy area was also a breeding ground for mosquitos, which tormented the saint. St Macarius survived on berries, roots, and herbs. Sometimes bears would come to him for food, and they allowed him to pet them.

Such a great lamp of the spiritual life could not remain hidden for long. One rainy night someone knocked on his door and asked him to open it. Several people, who seemed to be hunters, entered his cell. Astonished by his appearance, and the divine light shining from his face, the men asked for his blessing. They told him they had come to the forest to hunt, and only by the prayers of the saint did God permit them to find him.

"It is not my sinful prayers," he told them, "but the grace of God which led you here."

After feeding them, he spoke and prayed with them, then showed them the way out of the marsh. St Macarius was concerned that his peace would be disturbed, now that his dwelling place was known. His fears were justified, because many people sought him out to ask for his advice and prayers.

The holy ascetic decided to move even farther into the wilderness, choosing an elevated place on the left bank of the Lezna. Even here, however, he was not able to conceal himself for very long. Sometimes a pillar of fire would rise up into the sky at night above his place of refuge. During the day, the grace of God was made manifest by a fragrant cloud of smoke. Drawn by these signs, the local inhabitants of the region were able to find him once more.

Some of his visitors begged St Macarius to permit them to live near him and to be guided by his counsels. Seeing that this was the Lord's will, he did not refuse them. He blessed them to build cells, and this was the foundation of his monastery.

In 1540, they built a wooden church dedicated to the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos. St Macarius was ordained to the holy priesthood by Bishop Macarius of Novgorod, who later became Metropolitan of All Russia. The hierarch also appointed St Macarius as igumen of the monastery.

St Macarius was an example to the others, and was given the gifts of clairvoyance and wonderworking from God. He wore himself out with his labors and vigils, encouraging others not to become faint-hearted in their own struggles.

After several years, he entrusted the monastery to one of his disciples, and returned to the island where he had first lived. There he fell asleep in the Lord on August 15, 1550. His disciples buried him outside on the left side of the Dormition church which he had founded.

The Hermitage of St Macarius was never a prosperous monastery with many monks, but it was distinguished by the high level of spiritual life. In the seventeenth century, many of the monasteries near Novgorod were plundered by Swedish invaders. The Hermitage of St Macarius was also burned in 1615, and some of the monks were put to the sword.

By the eighteenth century, the monastery had become a dependency of the St Alexander Nevsky Lavra in St Petersburg. The Empress Catherine closed it in 1764, just as she had closed other monasteries, and it was designated as a parish church. Although pilgrims still came to venerate the saint's relics and to celebrate his Feast Day, the buildings soon fell into ruin.

In the mid-nineteenth century, some benefactors restored the two churches and the miraculous healing spring which the saint himself had dug. About this time an old priest was living there, and he celebrated the church services until his death. In 1894, the monastery began to function once more under the noted missionary Hieromonk Arsenius, who introduced the Athonite Typikon. The monastery was destroyed by the Soviets in 1932.

St Macarius the Roman is commemorated on August 15 (the date of his repose), and also on January 19 (his nameday).

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also and further, 2007's):

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Venerable Arcadius of Novotorsk

Commemorated on August 14

Saint Arcadius of Vyazma and Novy Torg was from the city of Vyazma of pious parents, who from childhood taught him prayer and obedience. The gentle, perceptive, prudent and good youth chose for his ascetic feat of being a fool-for-Christ. He lived by alms, and slept wherever he found himself, whether in the forest, or on the church portico.

His blessed serenity and closeness to nature imparted to the figure of young Arcadius a peculiar spiritual aspect and aloofness from worldly vanity. In church, when absorbed in prayer, St Arcadius often wept tears of tenderness and spiritual joy. Though he seldom spoke, his advice was always good, and his predictions were fulfilled.

An experienced guide, St Ephraim the Wonderworker of Novy Torg (January 28), helped the young ascetic to avoid spiritual dangers while passing through the difficult and unusual exploit of foolishness. After this the people of Vyazma witnessed several miracles, worked through the prayers of Blessed Arcadius, but the saint fled human fame and traveled along the upper Tvertsa River. Here St Arcadius shared the work with his spiritual guide St Ephraim, and with him founded a church and monastery in honor of the holy Passion-Bearers Boris and Gleb (May 2).

Entering into the newly-built monastery, St Arcadius became a monk and took upon himself the exploit of full obedience to his spiritual Father, St Ephraim. St Arcadius never missed Liturgy and he was always the first to appear for Matins together with his spiritual guide. After St Ephraim's repose (January 28, 1053), St Arcadius continued to pursue asceticism in accord with the last wishes of his Elder, dwelling in prayer, fasting and silence. After several years, he also fell asleep in the Lord (December 13, 1077).

In 1594, a chapel dedicated to St Arcadius was built in one of the churches of Vyazma. A combined celebration of Sts Arcadius and Ephraim was established by Metropolitan Dionysius in the years 1584-1587. The relics of St Arcadius, glorified by miracles of healing, were uncovered on June 11, 1572, and on July 11, 1677, they were placed in a stone crypt of Sts Boris and Gleb cathedral in the city of Novy Torg (New Market). In 1841, the left side chapel of Sts Boris and Gleb cathedral church was dedicated in honor of St Arcadius. The solemn celebration of the 300th anniversary of the uncovering of the holy relics of St Arcadius took place in the city of Novy Torg in July of 1977. He is also commemorated on August 14 and June 11 (Transfer of his relics).


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also and further, 2007's):

Friday, August 13, 2010

St Tikhon the Bishop of Voronezh and Wonderworker of Zadonsk and All Russia

Commemorated on August 13

Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk, Bishop of Voronezh (in the world Timothy), was born in the year 1724 in the village of Korotsk in the Novgorod diocese, into the family of the cantor Sabellius Kirillov. (A new family name, Sokolov, was given him afterwards by the head of the Novgorod seminary). His father died when Timothy was a young child, leaving the family in such poverty that his mother was barely able to make ends meet. She wanted to give him to be raised by a neighbor, a coachman, since there was nothing with which to feed the family, but his brother Peter would not permit this. Timothy often worked a whole day with the peasants for a single piece of black bread.

As a thirteen-year-old boy, he was sent to a clergy school near the Novgorod archbishop's home, and earned his keep by working with the vegetable gardeners. In 1740, he was accepted under a state grant set up for the Novgorod seminary. The youth excelled at his studies. Upon finishing seminary in 1754, he became a teacher there, first in Greek, and later in Rhetoric and Philosophy. In the year 1758, he was tonsured with the name Tikhon. In that same year they appointed him to be prefect of the seminary.

In 1759, they transferred him to Tver, elevating him to be archimandrite of the Zheltikov monastery. Later, they appointed him rector of the Tver seminary and, at the same time, head of the Otroch monastery.

His election as bishop was providential. Metropolitan Demetrius, the presiding member of the Holy Synod, had intended to transfer the young archimandrite to the Trinity-Sergiev Lavra. On the day of Pascha, at Peterburg, Archimandrite Tikhon was one of eight candidates being considered for selection as vicar-bishop for Novogorod. The lot fell on him three times.

On the same day, during the Cherubic Hymn, Bishop Athanasius of Tver, without realizing it, commemorated him as a bishop while cutting out particles from the prosphora at the Table of Oblation. On May 13, 1761 he was consecrated Bishop of Keksgolma and Ladoga (i.e., a vicar bishop of the Novgorod diocese).

In 1763, St Tikhon was transferred to the See of Voronezh. During the four and a half years that he administered the Voronezh diocese, St Tikhon provided constant edification, both by his life and by his numerous pastoral guidances and soul-saving books. He wrote a whole series of works for pastors:

Concerning the Seven Holy Mysteries

A Supplement to the Priestly Office

Concerning the Mystery of Repentance

An Instruction Concerning Marriage
The saint considered it essential that each priest, deacon and monk have a New Testament, and that he should read it daily. In an Encyclical, he called on pastors to perform the Holy Mysteries with reverence, with the fear of God, and love for one's neighbor. (An Explanation of Christian Duties was often republished in Moscow and Peterburg during the eighteenth century).

At Voronezh the saint eradicated an ancient pagan custom, the celebration in honor of Yarila (a pagan god associated with the fertility of grain and cattle). In the outlying districts where military units of the Don Cossacks were dispersed, he formed a missionary commission to restore sectarians to the Orthodox Church.

In 1765, St Tikhon transformed the Voronezh Slavic-Latin school into a seminary. He invited experienced instructors from Kiev and Kharkhov, and planned the courses for it. He exerted much attention and effort to build up both the churches and the school, and to guide pastors to understand the need for education.

The saint was unflagging in his efforts to administer the vast diocese, and he often spent nights without sleep. In 1767, poor health compelled him to give up running the diocese and withdraw for rest to the Tolshevsk monastery, at a distance 40 versts from Voronezh.

In 1769, the saint transferred to the monastery of the Theotokos in the city of Zadonsk. Having settled into this monastery, St Tikhon became a great teacher of the Christian life. With deep wisdom he set forth the ideal of true monasticism in his Rule of Monastic Living and his Guidances to Turn from the Vanity of the World, and in his own life he fulfilled this ideal. He kept strictly to the precepts of the Church. Zealously (almost daily) he visited the temple of God, and he often sang and read in the choir. In time, out of humility, he altogether ceased participating and serving, but merely stood in the altar, reverently making the Sign of the Cross over himself. He loved to read the Lives of the Saints and the works of the holy Fathers. He knew The Psalter by heart, and he usually read or sang the Psalms on his journeys.

The saint underwent much tribulation because he had to leave his flock. When he recovered his health, he thought about returning to the Novgorod diocese, where Metropolitan Gabriel had invited him to head the Iveron Vallaisk monastery. But when his cell-attendant mentioned this to the Elder Aaron, he declared: "Are you mad? The Mother of God does not direct him to move away from here." The cell-attendant conveyed this to His Grace.

"If that is so," said the saint "I shall not move away from here," and he tore up the invitation. Sometimes he journeyed to the village of Lipovka, where he celebrated church services at the Bekhteev house. The saint journeyed also to the Tolshev monastery, which he loved for its solitude.

The fruition of all his spiritual life were the books that the saint wrote while in retirement: A SPIRITUAL TREASURY, GATHERED FROM THE WORLD (1770), and ON TRUE CHRISTIANITY (1776).

The saint lived in very simple circumstances: he slept on straw, covered by a sheepskin coat. His humility was so great that he paid no attention to the workers who laughed at him as he walked about the monastery, pretending that he did not hear it. He used to say, "It is pleasing to God that even the monastery workers mock me, and I deserve it because of my sins." He often said, "Forgiveness is better than revenge."

Once, a fool named Kamenev struck the saint on the cheek saying, "Don't be so haughty" The saint, accepting this with gratitude, gave the fool three kopeks every day for the rest of his life.

All his life the saint "in troubles, and sorrows, and insults... joyfully endured, mindful that there can be no crown without the victory, nor victory without effort, nor effort without struggle, nor struggle without enemies" (Ode 6 of the Canon).

Strict towards himself, the saint was indulgent towards others. On the Friday before Palm Sunday, he entered the cell of his friend the schemamonk Metrophanes, and he saw him at table together with Cosmas Ignatievich, of whom he was also fond. There was fish on the table, and his friends became upset (Fish is not permitted during Lent, except for Feast days). The saint said, "Sit down, for I know you. Love is higher than fasting." To further calm them, he ate some of their fish soup.

He especially loved the common folk, and comforted them in their grievous lot, interceding with the landowners, and moving them to compassion. He gave away his pension, and gifts from admirers, to the poor.

By his deeds of self-denial and love of soul, the saint advanced in contemplation of Heaven and foresaw the future. In 1778, he had a vision in his sleep: the Mother of God stood in the clouds, and near Her were the Apostles Peter and Paul. On bended knees, the saint prayed to the All-Pure Virgin for the peace of the whole world. The Apostle Paul loudly exclaimed: "When they shall say, peace and safety; then sudden destruction will come upon them" (I Thess. 5:3). The saint fell asleep in trembling and in tears. The following year, he again saw the Mother of God in the air and several people near Her. The saint knelt down, and near him four others in white garments also fell to their knees. The saint entreated the All-Pure Virgin for someone, that She would not leave him (the saint did not tell his cell-attendant who the four people were, nor for whom the request was made). She answered, "Let it be as you ask."

St Tikhon prophesied much about the future, particularly the victory of Russia over the French in 1812. More than once they saw the saint in spiritual rapture, with a transformed and luminous face, but he forbade them to speak about this.

For three years before his repose he prayed each day, "Tell me, O Lord, of my end." And a quiet voice in the morning dawn said, "It will be on a Sunday." In that same year, he saw in a dream a beautiful meadow with wondrous palaces upon it. He wanted to go inside, but they said to him: "In three years, you may enter. For now, continue your labors." After this the saint secluded himself in his cell and admitted only a few friends.

Both clothing and a grave were prepared for the time of his death. He often came to weep over his coffin, while standing hidden from people in a closet. A year and three months before his death, in a vivid dream, it seemed to the saint that he was standing in the monastery church. A priest of his acquaintance was carrying the Divine Infant, covered with a veil, out of the altar through the Royal Doors. The saint approached and kissed the Infant on the right cheek, and he felt himself stricken on the left. Awakening, the saint sensed a numbness in his left cheek, his left leg, and a trembling in his left hand. He accepted this illness with joy.

Shortly before his death, the saint saw in a dream a high and twisting ladder and he heard a command to climb it. "At first, I was afraid because of weakness," he told his friend Cosmas. "But when I started to go climb, the people standing around the ladder lifted me higher and higher, up to the very clouds."

"The ladder," said Cosmas, "is the way to the Heavenly Kingdom. Those who helped were those you have helped by your advice, and they remember you." The saint said with tears, "I thought so, too. I feel that my end is near." He frequently received the Holy Mysteries during his illness.

St Tikhon died, as was revealed to him, on Sunday August 13, 1783, at the age of fifty-nine. The first uncovering of his relics occurred on May 14, 1846.

Saint Tikhon's glorification took place on Sunday August 13, 1861.

Troparion - Tone 8
From your youth you loved Christ, O blessed one.
You have been an example for all by word, life, love, faith, purity, and humility.
Therefore, you now abide in the heavenly mansions,
where you stand before the throne of the All-holy Trinity.
Holy Hierarch Tikhon, pray for the salvation of our souls.

Kontakion - Tone 8

Successor to the Apostles,
adornment of hierarchs, and teacher of the Orthodox Faith:
beseech the Master of all to grant peace to the universe
and to our souls great mercy.


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also and further, 2007's):

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Martyrs Gerontius, Serapion, Herman, Bessarion, Bessarion and Simeon of the St David Gareji Monastery, Georgia

Martyr Serapion                                                                            Martyr Simeon

Commemorated on August 12

Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries the Dagestanis were continually raiding and pillaging the Davit-Gareji Wilderness. They destroyed churches and monasteries, stole sacred objects, and tortured and killed many of the monks who labored there.

A Dagestani army invaded the Davit-Gareji Wilderness in the summer of 1851. They looted the Davit-Gareji Lavra and carried off many of the monastery’s sacred treasures and books. Then they took many of the monks captive and tortured a few of the most pious.

First they stabbed Hierodeacon Otar to death, then they beheaded Hieromonk Gerontius. The unbelievers battered Hieromonk Serapion to death with their swords. Monk Herman was stabbed in the stomach, then beheaded Monk Besarion was also beheaded. The eighteen-year-old Simeon tried to flee on foot but was shot at with bows and arrows, then caught and beheaded. Monk Michael, the most outstanding among the brothers in humility and silence, was subjected to the harshest tortures.

After their martyrdom the bodies of these holy men were illumined with a divine light.

The martyrdom of the holy fathers of the Davit-Gareji Monastery was described in 1853 by Hieromonk Isaac of Gaenati, who witnessed the tragedy. Hieromonk Isaac himself was captured and led away to Dagestan by the merciless bandits. He was later freed through the mediation of Tsar Nicholas I (1825–1855).


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008 and 2007's links here also):

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Hieromartyrs Theodore and Basil of the Kiev Near Caves

Commemorated on August 11

The Hieromartyrs Theodore and Basil of the Caves pursued asceticism in the eleventh century in the Near Caves of Kiev. St Theodore distributed his riches to the poor, went to the monastery and settled into the Varangian Cave, adjoining the Caves of St Theodosius. He dwelt here many years in strict temperance.

When the enemy aroused sorrow in him for giving away his possessions, St Basil comforted him: "I implore you, brother Theodore, do not forget the reward. If you want to have possessions, take everything that is mine." St Theodore repented and dearly loved St Basil, with whom he lived in the cell.

Once, St Basil was on an errand outside the monastery for three months. The devil, having assumed his form, appeared to St Theodore and indicated that there was a treasure hidden somewhere in the cave by robbers. The monk still wanted to leave the monastery to buy possessions to live in the world. When St Basil returned, the demonic illusion disappeared. From that time, St Theodore started to be more attentive to himself. In order not to be distracted by idle thoughts during moments of inactivity, he set up a millstone, and by night he ground grain. Thus, by long and zealous ascetic action he freed himself from the passion of avarice.

A report reached Prince Mstislav Svyatopolkovich that St Theodore had found much treasure in the cave. He summoned the monk to him and commanded him to show him the spot where the valuables were hidden. St Theodore told the prince that indeed he had once seen gold and precious vessels in the cave, but fearing temptation, he and St Basil had buried the treasure, and God took from him the memory of where it was hidden.

Not believing the saint, the prince gave orders to torture him to death. They beat St Theodore so much, that his hair-shirt was wet with blood, and then they hung him head-downwards, lighting a fire beneath him. In a drunken condition the prince commanded them to torture St Basil also, and then to kill him with an arrow. Dying, the martyr Basil threw the arrow at the feet of Prince Mstislav and predicted that he himself would soon be mortally wounded by it. The prophecy was fulfilled on July 15, 1099 during an internecine war with David Igorevich. On the wall of the Vladimir fortress, Prince Mstislav was suddenly struck in the chest by an arrow through an opening in the timbers, and on the following night he died. Recognizing his own arrow, the prince said: "I die because of the monastic martyrs Basil and Theodore."

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Martyr and Archdeacon Laurence of Rome, Pope Sixtus, Deacons Felicissimus and Agapitus and the Soldier Romanus

Commemorated on August 10

The Martyrs Archdeacon Laurence, Pope Sixtus, Deacons Felicissimus and Agapitus, the Soldier Romanus were citizens of Rome, and suffered in the year 258 under the emperor Valerian (253-259). Holy Pope Sixtus, born at Athens, received a fine education, preached in Spain and was made bishop in Rome following the martyr's death of Holy Pope Stephen (253-257, commemorated on August 2). These were times when a pope occupying the Roman throne, was known to choose death for the faith. In a short while St Sixtus also was arrested and put in prison together with his deacons Felicissimus and Agapitus.

When the holy archdeacon Laurence visited Pope Sixtus, whom they held in prison, he cried out with tears: "Whither art thou gone, father? Why hast thou forsaken thine archdeacon, with whom always thou hast offered the Bloodless Sacrifice? Take thy son with thee, that I may be thy companion in having blood shed for Christ!" St Sixtus answered him: "I have not forsaken thee, my son. I am old and go to an easy death, but yet greater sufferings await thee. Know, that after three days upon our death thou shalt follow after me. And now go, take the church treasury and distribute it to the poor and needy Christians." St Laurence zealously did the bidding of the holy hierarch.

Having heard, that Pope Sixtus had been taken to trial with the deacons, St Laurence went there so as to witness their deed, and he said to the holy bishop: "Father, I have already fulfilled thy command, and distributed by hand thine treasury; forsake me not!" Hearing something about treasure, soldiers put him under guard, and the other martyrs were beheaded (+6 August 258). The emperor locked up St Laurence in prison and ordered the chief jailer Hyppolitus to keep watch over him. In prison St Laurence with prayer healed the sick gathered together with him and he baptized many.

Astonished by this, Hyppolitus himself believed and accepted Baptism from St Laurence together with all his household. Soon the archdeacon Laurence was again brought to the emperor and commanded to produce the hidden treasure. St Laurence answered: "Give me a period of three days, and I shalt show thee this treasure". During this time the saint gathered up a crowd of the poor and the sick, who ate only because of the charity of the Church, and bringing them he explained: "Here are the vessels in which is contained the treasure. And everyone, who puts their treasure in these vessels, will receive them in abundance in the Heavenly Kingdom".

After this they gave St Laurence over to fierce tortures, urging him to worship idols. The martyr was scourged (with a fine iron flail with sharp needles), they burned his wounds with fire, and struck at him with metal switches. At the time of the martyr's suffering, the soldier Romanus suddenly cried out: "St Laurence, I behold a bright youth, who standeth about thee healing thy wounds. Beseech thy Lord Christ not to forsake me!" After this they stretched St Laurence on a rack and returned him to prison to Hyppolitus. Romanus brought there a waterpot with water and besought the martyr to baptize him. And immediately after the Baptism of the soldier, he was beheaded (+9 August). When they took St Laurence to his final torture, St Hyppolitus wanted to declare himself a Christian and die together with him, but the confessor said: "Conceal for now thy confession in thy heart.

After some length of time I shall summon thee, and thou shalt hear and come unto me. Weep not for me, but rather rejoice, for I go to receive a glorious crown of martyrdom." They placed him in an iron cage, under which they set an intense fire, and the flames of the fire flicked towards the body of the martyr. St Laurence, glancing at the governor, said: "Here now, you burn only but one side of my body, turn over the other and do my whole body". Dying, he uttered: "I thank Thee, Lord Jesus Christ, that Thou hast accounted me worthy to enter into Thy gates" -- and with these words he gave up the spirit.

St Hyppolitus took the body of the martyr by night, he wrapped it in a shroud with ointments and gave it over to the priest Justin. Over the relics of the martyr in the home of the widow Kyriake they made an all-night vigil and Divine Liturgy. All the Christians present partook of the Holy Mysteries and with honor they buried the body of the holy martyr Archdeacon Laurence in a cave on 10 August 258. St Hyppolitus and other Christians suffered three days after the death of St Laurence (13 August), as he had foretold them of this.

Troparion - Tone 4
Victorious martyr of Christ our God,
by the sign of the Cross you gave sight to the blind;
you distributed the riches of the Church to the poor;
you were tried by fire and no evil was found in you.
As you endured the burning,
may your prayers extinguish the flames of our many sins,
blessed Archdeacon Lawrence!

Kontakion - Tone 2

Your heart burned with divine fire
as the flames of the passions died within you.
God-bearing martyr Lawrence, the pillar of those who struggle,
you cried out in the midst of your contest:
"Nothing can separate me from the love of Christ."

icon on left: Martyr and Archdeacon Laurence of Rome


SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2009(with 2008's link here also):