Sunday, September 30, 2018

Holy One Thousand Martyrs

Holy 1,000 Martyrs (Feast Day - September 30)

Verses

The one thousand in number regiment were decapitated,
As prize for the contest they found innumerable crowns.

The Holy One Thousand Martyrs met their end by the sword.


Holy Martyr Mardonios

St. Mardonios the Martyr (Feast Day - September 30)

Verses

Bearing the mark of your passion Mardonios,
You bear on your navel the seal of burning.

The Holy Martyr Mardonios was perfected by receiving burning coals on his navel.


Holy Martyr Stratonikos

St. Stratonikos the Martyr (Feast Day - September 30)

Verses

Stratonikos by coming to an end through the sword,
Conquered by himself the entire demonic host.

The Holy Martyr Stratonikos was perfected by the sword.


Saturday, September 29, 2018

Translation of the Relics of Saint Donatos of Euroea from Venice to Paramythia


Saint Donatos reposed in 387 and was buried near a church he built and a grave he prepared in the village of Glyki of Paramythia, which is in Epirus, Greece. For security reasons due to the invasion of various barbaric tribes, the sacred relic was transferred in 604 to Kerkyra, where it was kept in Kassiopi. The refugees from Paramythia accompanying the relic, including Bishop John of Euroea, were welcomed by Bishop Alkison of Kerkyra and hosted in the Castle of Kassiopi.

Synaxarion of the Holy Martyr Goudelia of Persia

St. Goudelia the Martyr (Feast Day - September 29)

Verses

Goudelia by the sword hastened with her head,
To you Christ the head of all.

She lived during the reign of King Shapur of Persia (309-379), and because she converted many unbelieving Persians to the faith of Christ, she was apprehended by the king, and the blessed one was punished with many torments. Unable to be persuaded to sacrifice to the fire, she was put in prison. There she remained for many years, where she starved for lack of food.

Holy Martyr Petronia


Verses

Petronia bent her head to the sword,
Fixing the eyes of her soul on the divine rock.

The Holy Martyr Petronia was perfected by the sword.


Holy Martyrs Tryphon, Trophimos and Dorymedon


Verses

Sumptuous nourishment was found above,
By Trophimos, Tryphon as well as Dorymedon.

We have no information about them in the synaxaria, except that their synaxis was celebrated on September 29th next to the Church of Saint Anna in the Deuteron district of Constantinople. It may be that Trophimos and Dorymedon are the same Holy Martyrs commemorated on September 19th, who were martyred in Phrygia, and Tryphon was the same Holy Martyr commemorated on February 1st, who also was martyred in Phrygia. Perhaps their shrine in Constantinople contained relics of these three Phrygian martyrs.


Friday, September 28, 2018

Holy Hieromartyr Alkison, Bishop of Nicopolis (+ 516)

St. Alkison of Nicopolis (Feast Day - September 28)

Saint Alkison was Bishop of Nicopolis (now Preveza) in Epirus from 491 to 516, and became a valiant opponent of the policy of accommodation with the Monophysites pursued by the Emperor Anastasios I (495-518) and his successors. He firmly resisted every attempt at persuading him to condone heresy and was imprisoned at Constantinople, where he died of the effects of ill-treatment, on 28 September 516.

Saint Herodion, Founder of Iloezersk Monastery (+ 1541)

St. Herodion of Iloezersk (Feast Day - September 28)

Saint Herodion of Elias Lake (Iloezersk) and Novgorod, was a disciple of Saint Cornelius of Komel (+ May 19, 1537). After the death of his mentor, he settled at Elias Lake, 20 kilometers from White Lake, and there on a peninsula he built himself a cell and established a church in honor of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos, marking the beginning of the Elias Lake Ozadsk Monastery (Iloezersk Monastery).

Saints Euthymius and Chariton, Abbots of Syanzhema Monastery in Vologda (+ 1509)

Sts. Euthymius (Jan. 20) and Chariton (Sept. 28) of Syanzhema

Saint Euthymius and his disciple Saint Chariton lived at the River Syanzhema during the close of the fifteenth and the beginning of the sixteenth centuries. Saint Euthymius came to the Spasokamensk Monastery from the outskirts of Volokolamsk. For a long time he continued as a novice at the monastery, but later he settled on the eastern shore of Lake Kuben near the mouth of the River Kushta.

Holy Martyr Alexander and the Thirty Martyrs With Him

Sts. Alexander the Martyr and the 30 Martyrs with him (Feast Day - September 28)

Verses

Alexander the leader had his end,
Three times ten in number men were decapitated.

The Holy Martyr Alexander and the Thirty Martyrs with him were perfected by the sword.


Holy Martyrs Eustathios the Roman and Kallinikos

Sts. Eustathios the Roman and Kallinikos (Feast Day - September 28)

Verses

A Roman, as well as strong,
Was the Martyr Eustathios who contested towards the sword.

The Holy Martyrs Eustathios the Roman was perfected by the sword. Kallinikos is also mentioned with him as a Martyr, but we have no iambic verses for him.


Thursday, September 27, 2018

Holy New Hieromartyr Anthimos the Iberian, Metropolitan of Wallachia (+ 1716)

St. Anthimos the Iberian (Feast Day - September 27)

Saint Anthimos was born in Georgia, and his parents were called John and Maria. The child received the name Andrew in Baptism, and his parents raised him in piety as an Orthodox Christian.

Andrew was captured by Turks who invaded Georgia when he was young, and he was one of many who were made slaves in Constantinople. There he learned to speak Greek, Arabic, and Turkish, and also became skilled in woodcarving, embroidery, and painting. After a few years as a slave, Andrew escaped and fled to the Ecumenical Patriarchate for refuge.

Saint Sabbatius of Solovki the Wonderworker (+ 1435)

St. Sabbatius of Solovki (Feast Day - September 27)

Saint Sabbatius of Solovki came to the Saint Cyril of White Lake Monastery (Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery) in the year 1396, where he received the monastic tonsure. He there pursued asceticism for a long time, unquestioningly fulfilling all obediences. His humility, gentle love towards the brethren and his strict life distinguished the monk Sabbatius among his fellow ascetics. He soon became burdened by the attention and esteem of the brethren and laity coming to him, and having learned that on Lake Ladoga is the rocky island of Valaam, he decided to settle there.

Holy Apostles Mark, Aristarchus and Zenon of the Seventy

Sts. Mark, Aristarchus and Zenon of the Seventy (Feast Day - September 27)

Verses

To Mark.
He who is boastfully called John and Mark,
Excelled on the path of the Apostles.

To Aristarchus.
Aristarchus was an excellent initiate of the Word,
Beginning in excellency and living the life of a stranger.

To Zenon.
Zenon preached the Word of the living God,
Reviving very many who were dead in error.

Holy Marytrs Philemon the Bishop and Fortunianus

Sts. Philemon the Bishop and Fortunianus (Feast Day - September 27)

Verses

The friend of Christ Philemon the sacrificer affectionately loved,
Fortunianus who contested with him and affectionately loved in return.

The Holy Marytrs Philemon the Bishop and Fortunianus were martyred for their confession of Christ. Nothing else is known of their life or death.


Holy Fifteen Martyrs Who Drowned at Sea

Holy Fifteen Martyrs (Feast Day - September 27)

Verses

The company of three times fives athletes,
Descended to the bottom of the sea.

The Holy Fifteen Martyrs were drowned after being put out at sea on a ship that had holes in it.


Holy Martyr Gaiana

St. Gaiana the Martyr (Feast Day - September 27)

Verses

Gaiana gave her back to the flames,
As if she saw the back of the flaming sword.

The Holy Martyr Gaiana was perfected by being burnt on her back.


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Saint Ephraim of Perekop the Wonderworker (+ 1492)

St. Ephraim of Perekop (Feast Day - September 26)

The Venerable Ephraim of Perekop was born on September 20, 1412 in the city of Kashin. In Holy Baptism he was named Eustathius. His parents, Stephen and Anna, lived not far from the Kashin women’s monastery named in honor of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos.

Drawn to the solitary life, Eustathius left his parental home while still in his early years and settled in the Kalyazin Monastery of the Most Holy Trinity. His parents wanted their son to return home, but he persuaded them to leave the world and accept monasticism. Later, they also finished their earthly paths living as hermits.

Holy Martyr Chera

St. Chera the Martyr (Feast Day - September 26)

Verses

Chera was slain for you O Word her bridegroom,
Having written the contract in her blood.

The Holy Martyr Chera was perfected by a knife.


Tuesday, September 25, 2018

When Fr. Benedict Petrakis Resurrected his Dead Benefactor


Archimandrite Benedict Petrakis (+ September 8, 1961) developed a magnificent pastoral activity in the Metropolis of Aitoloakarnania and especially in Agrinio. Many spiritual branches of this region bore fruit through his systematic work and his exceeding love for God and neighbor.

When he was young and wanted to study theology, he was helped financially by a pious woman from Patras, Melpomeni Bulbasakos. And when he became a mature preacher in Aitoloakarnania, he received a phone call informing him that his benefactor was near death and he was requested to go and give her final communion.

Saint Euphrosyne of Suzdal (+ 1250)

St. Euphrosyne of Suzdal (Feast Day - September 25)

Saint Euphrosyne, Princess of Suzdal, was born in the year 1212. In holy baptism she was given the name Theodoulia and she was the eldest daughter of the Holy Martyr Michael, Prince of Chernigov (Sept. 20). Prince Michael and his wife Theophania did not have children and they often visited the Kiev Caves Monastery, where they prayed the Lord to grant them children. Princess Euphrosyne was their first daughter, sent from God in answer to their prayer. Three times the Most Holy Theotokos appeared to them and said that their prayer had been heard and that the Lord would grant them a daughter.

Saint Arsenius the Great, Catholicos of Georgia (+ 887)

St. Arsenius the Great of Georgia (Feast Day - September 25)

Saint Arsenius the Great, a pupil and spiritual son of Gregory of Khandzta, was the youngest son of a certain aristocrat, Mirian, from Meskheti in southern Georgia.

On their way to Abkhazeti, Saint Gregory’s companions Theodore and Christopher stopped in Meskheti at the home of Arsenius’ family. Mirian and his wife, Kravaia, asked the monks to bless their children and, astonished at the fathers’ virtue, they entrusted their youngest son to their care.

Gregory of Khandzta later traveled to Abkhazeti to visit Theodore and Christopher, and on his way back to the monastery he brought with him the young Arsenius, the future catholicos of Georgia, and the youth Ephraim, the future wonderworker and bishop of Atsquri. The monks Theodore and Christopher journeyed with them as well.

Saint Sergius of Radonezh Resource Page

St. Sergius of Radonezh (Feast Day - September 25)

About St. Sergius

Saint Sergius the Wonderworker, Abbot of Radonezh (+ 1392)

Saints Cyril and Maria, Parents of Saint Sergius of Radonezh (+ 1337)

The Appearance of the Most Holy Theotokos to St Sergius of Radonezh

Holy Martyrs Paul and Tatta and their children Sabinian, Maximos, Rufus, and Eugene

Sts. Paul, Tatta, Sabinian, Maximos, Rufus and Eugene (Feast Day - September 25)

Verses

Paul the father was martyred with his children,
Together with Tatta who was arrayed with the same mind.

Saints Paul and Tatta, who were yoked together, with their four children Sabinian, Maximos, Rufus, and Eugene, were from Damascus. Having been accused of being Christians, their feet were fastened in stocks and bound with chains. Having been sentenced, they were harshly beaten. The unbelievers then dislocated the members of their bodies, and by this they delivered their souls into the hands of God, from Whom they received crowns of martyrdom.


Monday, September 24, 2018

Monastery of the Panagia of Filerimos in Rhodes


Verses

The stream of the Filerimos Icon floods,
Those who approach it with healings.
On the twenty-fourth we celebrate the Lady Filerimos.

The Holy Monastery of the Panagia of Filerimos is situated amid idyllic scenery on Filerimos hill that dominates the namesake bay at an altitude of 247 meters. Following the main road from Rhodes Town to Ialyssos and turning left on the Ialyssos main crossroad you will reach the foot of Filerimos hill. The site appears to have been attractive from ancient times. The Acropolis of Ialyssos and the ancient temple of Athena Poliados, which, in the 5th century A.D., became a Christian three-aisled basilica, were at the same location. The only remains of this basilica is a cross-shaped font. Passing through the eastern gate, a wide stone staircase, with tall cypress trees right and left, leads us to the Monastery of Panagia Filerimos dedicated to the Zoodochos Pigi (Life-Giving Spring). The church complex was built by the Knights of Saint John over an older Byzantine church and was rebuilt in its present form by Italian archaeologists. Right next to the font is the restored stone Gothic church.

Holy Venerable Martyr Galaction of Vologda (+ 1612)

St. Galaction of Vologda (Feast Day - September 24)

Fearing the wrath of Tsar Ivan the Terrible, kinsmen of the disgraced prince Ivan Ivanovich Belsky secretly brought his seven-year-old son Gabriel to the city of Staritsa. In the years of his growing up, and seeing the malice of the Tsar towards his family, the young prince withdrew to Vologda and lived with a shoemaker, from whom he learned the cobbler’s craft. His marriage did not last long, for his wife soon died, leaving Prince Gabriel to raise his infant daughter.

The adversities of his earthly life strengthened in him the intent to devote himself to God. Having sought out a place at the River Sodima, he dug a pit and made his cell near a church named for the Most Holy Trinity. After being tonsured with the name Galaction, he began to labor in fasting and prayer. The ascetic did not give up his cobbler’s trade, and the money which he received from the work was divided into three portions. One part he dedicated to God, another portion he gave to the poor, and the third part he kept for his own needs.

Saint Nicander of Pskov (+ 1581)

St. Nicander of Pskov (Feast Day - September 24)

Saint Nicander of Pskov (in Baptism Nikon) was born on 24 July 1507 into the peasant family of Philip and Anastasia in the village of Videlebo in the Pskov lands.

From childhood he dreamed of continuing the ascetic exploits of his fellow villager, Saint Euphrosynus of Spasoeleazar, the original Pskov wilderness-dweller (May 15). The first in Nikon’s family to accept monasticism was his older brother Arsenius. After the death of his father, the seventeen-year-old Nikon was able to convince his mother to dispose of the property and withdraw into a monastery, where she lived until her own end.

Saint Dorothy of Kashin (+ 1629)

St. Dorothy of Kashin (Feast Day - September 24)

By Fr. Seraphim Rose

Saint Dorothy was born in 1549, in the prosperous early part of the reign of Ivan IV (the Terrible), and died in 1629 during the peaceful reign of the first Romanov Tsar, Michael Theodorovich; but her whole life, beginning when she was twelve years old, passed in the midst of the most frightful conditions of rebellion, anarchy, famine, plague, and foreign invasion.

This holy nun of the latter times was of noble blood, and some say that she was of the family of the Princes Korkodinov, but neither her place of birth nor her name before receiving the monastic tonsure are known to us. She was given in marriage to Theodore Ladygin and by him had a son, Michael; they lived in the region north of Moscow, where the city of Kashin is located. In the first decade of the 17th century, Kashin was laid waste by invading Poles and Lithuanians, and St. Dorothy's husband fell on the field of battle in defence of the city.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Encomium on the Conception of Saint John the Baptist (St. Sophronios of Jerusalem)


By St. Sophronios of Jerusalem

Let us speak of the wonderful conception of the Honorable Forerunner - since it could stand as the beginning of the whole narrative - and put in order what we are triumphantly about to mention, insofar it pleases him whom we are praising today to give us the power of speech. But it might be better to begin our talk with events that preceded the conception. In this way we can demonstrate that, even before his conception, it was clear that he would become a great and important person and that he would meet the expectations of people in matters of salvation, since he would not be exempt from the consequences which the fall of the Adam and Eve had for the whole of humankind. As a result of this fall, we had reached the point where we were living on earth in misery and degeneracy, as the general legatees of God’s decision: “You are dust and shall return to dust” (Gen. 3, 19).

Conception of Saint John the Baptist Resource Page

Conception of St. John the Forerunner (Feast Day - September 23)

Verses

The man received a prophetic oracle from the Archangel,
You will beget a Prophet, and even greater than the prophets.
On the twenty-third the Forerunner appeared and received the womb.

Synaxarion for the Conception of the Honorable Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John

The Conception of Saint John the Forerunner

Encomium on the Conception of Saint John the Baptist (St. Sophronios of Jerusalem)

Saturday, September 22, 2018

A Weeping Icon of the Holy Mandylion in Patmos


On the island of Patmos, in the main church of the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian, is a western-style image of the Holy Mandylion dating to the end of the 18th or beginning of the 19th century. It seems almost out of place inside the old temple filled with Byzantine-styled frescoes. Artistically it is less interesting than anything around it, being a simple image on wood with a wood-carved frame, but it has a fascinating history in and of itself, especially how it came to be displayed in the most sacred church on the island.

Holy Martyrs Isaac and Martin

Sts. Isaac and Martin the Martyrs (Feast Day - September 22)

Verses

To Isaac.
Isaac the child of Sarah came short of suffering,
Isaac the new paid in full by being slain.

To Martin.
Inspired from above with the courage of Christ,
Martin hastened to the sword and expired.

The Holy Martyrs Isaac and Martin were perfected by the sword.


Friday, September 21, 2018

Holy Martyrs Eusebius, Nestabus and Zeno who were Brothers

Sts. Eusebius, Nestabus and Zeno of Gaza (Feast Day - September 21)

Verses

Eusebius, Nestabus, as well as Zeno,
Died for their pious faith by a sword.

By Sozomen

(Ecclesiastical History, Bk. 5, Ch. 9)

Martyred During the Reign of Emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363).

As I have advanced thus far in my history, and have given an account of the death of George and of Theodoritus, I deem it right to relate some particulars concerning the death of the three brethren, Eusebius, Nestabus, and Zeno. The inhabitants of Gaza, being inflamed with rage against them, dragged them from their house, in which they had concealed themselves and cast them into prison, and beat them. They then assembled in the theater, and cried out loudly against them, declaring that they had committed sacrilege in their temple, and had used the past opportunity for the injury and insult of paganism. By these shouts and by instigating one another to the murder of the brethren, they were filled with fury; and when they had been mutually incited, as a crowd in revolt is wont to do, they rushed to the prison. They handled the men very cruelly; sometimes with the face and sometimes with the back upon the ground, the victims were dragged along, and were dashed to pieces by the pavement. I have been told that even women quitted their distaffs and pierced them with the weaving-spindles, and that the cooks in the markets snatched from their stands the boiling pots foaming with hot water and poured it over the victims, or perforated them with spits. When they had torn the flesh from them and crushed in their skulls, so that the brain ran out on the ground, their bodies were dragged out of the city and flung on the spot generally used as a receptacle for the carcasses of beasts; then a large fire was lighted, and they burned the bodies; the remnant of the bones not consumed by the fire was mixed with those of camels and asses, that they might not be found easily.

Holy Six Martyrs, who were Armor-Bearers of Emperor Maximian

Holy Six Martyrs (Feast Day - September 21)

Verses

For God who bent his head on the wood,
Six Martyrs bent their heads to the sword.

In the year 298 the Holy Six Martyrs, who were armor-bearers of Emperor Maximian, were beheaded for confessing Christ.


Holy Martyr Eusebius

St. Eusebius the Martyr (Feast Day - September 21)

Verses

The impious slew Eusebius with a sword,
He who lived piously and was a friend of Christ.

Saint Eusebius appeared of his own free will before the prefect of Phoenicia, and said to him: "What senseless deed are you doing, O prefect, persecuting the flock of Christ?" This enraged the prefect, who ordered for the athlete of Christ to be suspended and lacerated. Then with hair cloths tied together, the wounds of his members were rubbed down. The Martyr rejoiced and was glad, as if it was someone else suffering, and not himself. This bewildered the prefect, and not knowing what to do, he ordered for his beheading. In this way the blessed one ascended into the heavens, in order to receive the unfading crown of martyrdom.


Thursday, September 20, 2018

Holy Prince Oleg of Briansk, who was Tonsured with the name Basil (+ 1285)

St. Oleg of Briansk (Feast Day - September 20)

Holy Prince Leontius Oleg Romanovich of Briansk was grandson of the holy martyr Prince Michael of Chernigov. According to the chronicle histories, Prince Oleg together and his father, Prince Roman Mikhailovich of Briansk, participated in a war against Lithuania in 1274.

Holy Martyrs Michael the Prince of Chernigov and Theodore his Boyar (+ 1246)

St. Michael of Chernigov and Theodore his Boyar (Feast Day - September 20)

Saint Michael (Mikhail) of Chernigov was the son of Vsevolod Svyatoslavich (who later became grand prince Vsevolod IV the Red of Kiev), by Anastasia, the daughter of grand duke Casimir II of Poland. The patrimonial domain of his father was located in the northwestern part of the Vyatichi lands where he undoubtedly spent his childhood. He was noted from childhood for his piety and mildness.

Holy Venerable Martyr John the Egyptian and the Forty Martyrs With Him

St. John of Egypt together with Forty Martyrs (Feast Day - September 20)

Verses

John together with the decad of four,
Firmly approached decapitation by the sword.

Because the lawless and impious Maximian could not endure the boldness through Christ of Saint John, he ordered that he be killed by a sword with forty others in the year 295. In this way the blessed ones received crowns of martyrdom.


Holy Martyrs Artemidoros and Thallos

Sts. Artemidoros and Thallos the Martyrs (Feast Day - September 20)

Verses

Artemidoros and Thallos were slain by the sword,
For not venerating Artemis the slayer of strangers.

The Holy Martyrs Artemidoros and Thallos were perfected by the sword because they refused to deny Christ and worship idols.


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Oxyrhynchus, the Egyptan City Once Full of Saints


Rufinus visited Oxyrhynchus in the 370's, and was the first to describe in the Latin language an Egyptian city so thoroughly Christian, it can be adequately described as a city of God on earth. The city had a population of male and female monastics which were more in number than regular inhabitants, with twelve churches and numerous monasteries. Some believe Rufinus was exaggerating his account to rouse the imaginations of Christians in the West, but we know that the twelve churches he describes in the city of his time had increased to forty or more by 535 A.D. No doubt it was an important Christian center in its time, and the disappearance of its numerous churches and monasteries especially due to the Islamic conquest is much to be regretted. Today relics of its Christian past can still be seen in some pillars in the chief mosque of Behnesa, and a single Corinthian column in the modern Coptic cemetery in the desert to the southwest of the town ruins.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Holy Martyrs Bidzina, Shalva and Elizbar, Princes of Georgia (+ 1661)

Sts. Bidzina, Shalva and Elizbar the Princes of Georgia (Feast Day - September 18)

In the 17th century the Persian aggressors razed churches, monasteries, and fortresses and drove out thousands of Georgian families to resettle them in remote provinces of Persia. The deserted territories were settled by Turkic tribes from Central Asia. In the chronicle The Life of Kartli it is written: “The name of Christ was not allowed to be uttered, except in a handful of mountainous regions: Tusheti, Pshavi, and Khevsureti.”

But the All-merciful Lord aroused a strong desire in the valiant prince Bidzina Choloqashvili of Kakheti and, together with Shalva and his uncle Elizbar, princes of Aragvi and Ksani provinces, he led a struggle to liberate Kakheti from the Tatars. (The Persian governor of Kakheti, Salim Khan (1656-1664), had been encouraging the Tatar tribesmen to profane the Christian churches.)

Holy Martyr Kastor

St. Kastor the Martyr (Feast Day - September 18)

Verses

Kastor was not a wild beast, but a noble man,
Or rather we should say he was a brave man who was assaulted.

All we know of Saint Kastor is that he was martyred for his faith in Christ.


Holy Martyrs Sophia and Irene of Egypt

Sts. Sophia and Irene the Martyrs (Feast Day - September 18)

Verses

The heads of Irene and Sophia were cut off,
They beheld You who are peace beyond comprehension O Word.

The Holy Martyrs Sophia and Irene were from Egypt and were beheaded for confessing Christ during the reign of Emperor Aurelian (270-275), when Claudius was governor in Egypt. They are commemorated the day after the Holy Martyr Sophia and her daughters Faith, Hope and Love. There is an Athonite fresco with a scene of their martyrdom from 1547 at Dionysiou Monastery.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Holy Hieromartyrs Herakleides and Myron, Bishops of Tamassos in Cyprus

Sts. Herakleides and Myron of Tamassos (Feast Day - September 17)

Verses

Herakleides and Myron were assigned to the fire,
They approached Christ as fragrant myrrh.

Herakleides was the son of a pagan priest and lived in the village Lambadistis, in Cyprus. His father, although a pagan, was hospitable and did not hesitate to accommodate the Apostle Paul together with Barnabas and Mark when they came to Cyprus. The Apostles however refused to dine with one who sacrificed to idols, but instead asked for a guide around the island. Herakleides' father gladly volunteered his son. The Apostles led Herakleides to the faith of Christ, since he was eager to learn, and he in turn, led his parents. It is said that his name was first Herakleon but changed by Saint Paul upon his baptism to Herakleides. Saint Barnabas on his second trip to Cyprus appointed him Bishop of Cyprus and placed him in Tamassos. He is said to have built churches, cured diseases, raised the dead, cast out demons, and worked innumerable wonders. Herakleides worked with great zeal along with his disciple Myron, his successor as Bishop of Tamassos, for the dissemination of Christianity with impressive results, and many pagans believed in Christ. His successes however agitated the unbelievers, who killed them by burning them alive.

Holy Martyrs Haralambos and Panteleon with their Companions

Sts. Haralambos and Panteleon and those with them (Feast Day - September 17)

Verses

On his way to the slaughter Haralambos rejoiced,
And Panteleon was like a lion on his way to the knife.

The Holy Martyrs Haralambos and Panteleon with their companions suffered martyrdom for Christ. Their synaxis was celebrated in their Martyrium at the Deuteron district of Constantinople.


Holy Martyrs Maximos, Theodotos, Hesychios and Asklepiodota


Verses

For September 17

To Maximos, Theodotos and Asklepiodota.
One woman and two young men,
Went to decapitation with one burning heart.

For February 19

To Maximos, Theodotos and Hesychios.
Three strong men contested together,
Being brave even to decapitation for you Trinity.

To Asklepiodota.
Christ crowned Asklepiodota,
She whose head was cut off by the sword.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Gospel Commentary for the Sunday After the Holy Cross (St. Theophylact of Ochrid)


Sunday After the Holy Cross

Mark 8:34-38; 9:1

From the Homilies on the Gospel of Saint Mark

By Blessed Theophylact of Ochrid

34-37. And when He had called the people unto Him with His disciples also, He said unto them, Whosoever desireth to follow after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whosoever desireth to save his life, shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for My sake and the Gospels, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

[In this passage of St. Mark, and in the following commentary, the single Greek word, psyche, has been translated as either "life" or "soul" as it has both these meanings. See also Theophylact's Explanation of St. Matthew, pp. 30, 61, and 193. Tr.]

Since Peter had rebuked Him for wanting to be crucified, the Lord called the people unto Him, and said in the hearing of all, but directing His words mostly towards Peter, "Do you find fault with Me, Peter, because I take up the cross? I say to you, that neither you, nor anyone else, will be saved unless you die for the sake of goodness and truth." See that Christ does not compel a man to die on a cross against his own will. Instead He said, Whosoever desireth. The Lord is saying: "I compel no one. I invite him to something good, not to something bad to which he must be forced. Whoever does not want these things is not worthy of them." We can learn what it means to deny oneself if we understand what it means to deny another. He who denies another is he who, when he sees his brother, or servant, or father, being flogged or even murdered, does not turn towards him and pity him in his suffering, but acts as if he were a stranger to him. In this same manner the Lord wants us to show no pity towards our own bodies, so that even if we are flogged, or worse, let it make no difference to us. Let him take up his cross, that is, accept a most shameful death, for at that time to die on a cross was considered the most shameful of deaths. But since many were crucified for being bandits, the Lord added to the crucifixion something else: that one ought to have virtue. This is what it means to follow Me. Although His command that one give oneself over to death seemed hard and cruel, the Lord straightway shows this commandment is given out of love for mankind. For whosoever shall lose his life for My sake shall find life. (But the death of a condemned man, or of one who hangs himself, is not for Christs sake and brings no such reward.) And, on the contrary, he who appears to have saved his life, far from finding life, shall lose it by not remaining steadfast during his time of martyrdom. Do not say to Me, "But he has saved his life", it means nothing. Even if you say that he has gained the whole world as well, it is of no benefit. No one can exchange money for his salvation, for if that were so, a man who had gained the world but lost his soul, could, while burning in the flames of hell, use his money to buy innocence. But at that time and in that place no such trade can be made. Here let us shut the mouths of those who say, following Origen, that all the souls in hell will be restored [and reunited with those in heaven] after they have been punished in accordance with their sins. (1) Let them hear that there is no exchange that can be made there for ones soul. No one is kept in hell as a punishment. Rather, it is the weight of his own sins which holds him there.

38-9:1. Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when He cometh in the glory of His Father with the holy angels. And He said unto. them, Verily I say unto you, that there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.

Intellectual faith does not suffice, but confession of faith with ones mouth is required as well. Since man himself is two-fold, let his sanctification be two-fold as well. The soul is sanctified by faith, but the body is sanctified by confessing. Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed to confess that the Crucified One is his God, of him also shall the Crucified One be ashamed. For the Lord shall judge that man to be an unworthy servant, when He comes with glory, escorted by the angels, and no longer in lowly form. At the second coming He will not appear, as He did before, to be of base origin and circumstance, and an object of scorn. Since He speaks of His own glory, He desires to show that He is not vainly boasting, and says, There be some of them that stand here, namely, Peter, James, and John, who shall not die until I have shown them at the Transfiguration the glory with which I shall appear at the second coming. For the Transfiguration was nothing less than a foreshadowing of the second coming, and as He appeared in radiance then, so will He shine at the second coming, as will also all the righteous.

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1. This false teaching of Origen, apokotastasis, the general restoration of all fallen creation, was condemned by the Church as heresy at the Fifth Ecumenical Council held at Constantinople in 553 AD.



Friday, September 14, 2018

Origins of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross


By Louis van Tongeren

The roots of the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross lie in Jerusalem and go back to the fourth century. The oldest sources associate the observance with the annual feast of Dedication of two churches built at sacred sites in Jerusalem: the Martyrium on Golgotha and the Anastasis rotunda, located over Jesus' tomb and therefore also called the Church of the Holy Sepulchre or the Church of the Resurrection. According to the oldest stratum of the Armenian Lectionary, which goes back to the liturgical customs of Jerusalem circa 415, the feast of the Dedication of the two churches, which was celebrated for eight days, began on September 13 in the Anastasis. On the second day (September 14) people gathered in the Martyrium and "the venerable, life-giving Holy Cross was displayed for the whole congregation." Here we do not yet find an independent feast of the Cross with a name of its own. The feast focuses on commemorating the Dedication of the two churches. The term "Exaltation" is first used in the sixth century by the monk Alexander of Cyprus (527-565), when he reports that "the Fathers, commanded by the Emperor, determined that the day of the Exaltation of the venerable Cross and of the Dedication should be celebrated annually on September 14, in honor of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit." For Alexander too the celebration is a combination of Exaltation and Dedication.

Why Every Christian Should Wear A Cross


By St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite

The Christians of old were accustomed to carry on themselves the Cross of Christ, made either out of wood, gold, silver or some other metal, for their protection and salvation. For this reason Saint Pankratios the Bishop of Taormina, who is celebrated on the ninth of July, when he baptized Christians, he gave to each of them a Cross made from cedar to carry on them. And Gregory the Theologian carried a Cross towards the averting of every adversary. For this reason he spoke to the devil in meter:

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