Wednesday March 18, 2020 Gregorian Calendar / March 5, 2020 Julian Calendar
Third Week of the Great Lent. Tone Six.
Great Lent. By Monastic Charter: Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)
Martyr Conon of Isauria (2nd c.). St. Nicholas (1919). New Hieromartyr John priest and New Hieromartyrs Mardarius and Theophanes (1938). Uncovering of the relics (1996) of St. Luke, hierarch-surgeon of Simferopol (1961). Translation of the relics (1463) of St. Theodore, prince of Smolensk and Yaroslav (1299), and his children Sts. David (1321) and Constantine. Monk-martyr Adrian, abbot of Poshekhonye (1550) and his fellow-ascetic St. Leonidas (1549). Martyr Onisius of Isauria (2nd c.). Martyr Conon the Gardener of Pamphylia (251). Virgin-martyr Irais (Rhais) of Antinoe in Egypt (3rd c.) and with her Martyr Archelaus and 152 Martyrs in Egypt. Martyr Eulogius of Palestine. Martyr Eulampius of Palestine. Venerable Mark the Faster of Egypt (5th c.). Venerable Hesychius the Faster of Bithynia (790). “Nurtured Up-Bringing” Icon of the Mother of Go
The Scripture Readings
Commemorated on February 27 Julien Calendar/11 March Gregorian Calendar
St. Luke, Hierarch-Surgeon of Simferopol
Commemorated on March 5 and May 29
St. Luke was born Valentine of Felix Voino-Yassenetsky in Kertz on April 27th 1877. His mother was Orthodox, but later did not attend church, while his father, a Roman Catholic, was deeply pious and influenced Valentine very much. His faith was much influenced by both his proximity to the Holy Lavra of the Kiev Caves (which his family lived near) and a copy of the Holy Bible he received upon graduating High School. He had a great talent for and desire to pursue art, however, his desire to do something to help the poor peasants around him was overriding, and he attended medical school in Kiev, and graduated in 1903.
In 1904, the Russo-Japanese War brought Valentine to the Far East as a surgeon, where he met his future wife Anna Vasilievna Lanskaya. They married and had four children. During this time, as a surgeon, Valentine became specially trained in opthamological operations, along with regional anesthesia and the surgery of pyogenic infections (which later became areas of research for him). He also displayed immense faith in those difficult times. The family would entertain a nun from the Fiodorovski monastery once a month, and they would attending church regularly. Valentine also refused to perform an operation without first praying before an icon of the Theotokos in the operating room, and then signing the patient with iodine in the sign of the Cross. In fact, one time the Communist Party officials removed the icon, at which point Valentine refused to return to surgery until it would be returned. Soon, the wife of one of the party officials needed an operation, and specifically requested Valentine. He, however, refused to perform the surgery until the icon of the Panagia was returned. They complied with his request, and he returned to surgery.
Valentine’s wife, who came down with tuberculosis, died prematurely. Though Valentine grieved deeply for his wife, he was able to see the hand of the Lord guiding him even through this difficult time, both by Him choosing one of the nurses to help raise his children, and by calling him to the priesthood. In obedience to Archbishop Innocent, Valentine hastily followed Christ’s divine call, and was ordained a deacon on January 26th, and a priest on February 2nd, 1921. In fact, because of the need for a bishop, Fr. Valentine also obeyed the call of the people and underwent the monastic tonsure (being given the name “Luke”, as he resembled the Evangelist in many ways) and was consecrated a bishop.
This period of time was extremely difficult for the Russian Orthodox Church, as they were constantely being assulted from the right (zealots and schismatics) and from the left (the athiest government and their heretical “Living Church”). Because of St. Luke’s confessions of faith (and despite his immense medical and scientific achievements), he was imprisoned, tortured, and exiled for 11 years in total, to Siberia, and other trecherous locales. Besides persecution from the government, he had to deal with heretics from the “Living Church” who masqueraded as Orthodoxy and drew people away from the Church, and schismatic individuals who also caused unneeded harm in those turbulent years.
St. Luke’s virtues, struggles and achievements are staggering. As a Grace-filled hierarch of the Church, he re-opening many churches that had been closed by the Communists, produced deep theologic works, and supported the faithful while drawing many to Orthodoxy. In addition, his love, skill and devotion to his patients saved thousands, (especially injured soldiers in war), and his research techniques were award-winning, and were thought to still be recognized by his fellow surgeons fifty years later. After a lifetime of such medical accomplishments and spiritual struggles in his confession for the Faith, St. Luke reposed in the Lord as the Archbishop of Simferopol (Crimea) on June 11th (New Calendar) 1961.
St. Luke’s incredible virtues, love for the Lord and his fellow men, and accomplishments helped sustain the faithful immensely in those difficult days of the Atheist state. After his death, the Communist Party sought to use propaganda and intimidation to minimize his achievements, but the overwhelming love and devotion of the faithful thwarted their plans. Whereas the funeral procession was supposed to last a few minutes without psalmody or honor, it ended up lasting hours, as the faithful planted themselves around the hurse, and did not let it speed away to the cemetary. Miraculously, a huge flock of doves followed the procession from the church to the cemetary.
Later, the remains of St. Luke were disinterred, and it was found that his heart remained incorrupt. What a beautiful reminder of the never-ending love that he showed towards Christ and towards his fellow men, especially the sick and suffering! In November of 1995, he was proclaimed a Saint by the Ukranian Orthodox Church.
Besides being beloved in Russia and the Ukraine, St. Luke is also very well-loved in Greece. Specifically, the life of St. Luke, written by Archimandrite and Abbott of the Monastery of Sagmata, Nektarios Antonopoulos, has sold thousands of copies, and is in its 14th edition of printing. Many churches (some of them quite large) have been built in honor of St. Luke of Simferopol in Greece alone in recent years. The Monastery of Sagmata (outside of the city of Thebes in Greece) also houses relics of St. Luke, which there and everywhere continue to work many, many miracles through his intercessions.
One incredible miracle involved a young boy who was an excellent piano player. The tips of three of his fingers were cut off accidentally, and he was afraid that he would never be able to play piano again. After he and his grandmother prayed to St. Luke to help him, his fingers began to spontaneously regrow, and in 10 days, were totally normal! Today, the boy plays better with that hand than his other, unaffected hand.
May St. Luke, the great defender of Orthodoxy in these latter days, the wondrous healer of souls and bodies, the teacher, the hierarch, and the holy father, intercede with Christ for all of us! Amen!
HYMN OF PRAISE
SAINT MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL
The angels are our older and superior brothers.
The will of God Most-high is their will.
They are brighter and swifter than light,
Lighter and fresher than the air on the mountain.
In light they are clothed, the light of their Creator–
These tireless laborers of the work of Christ.
They care for men. Their only concern
Is how to return the prodigal son to God,
How to return their younger brothers from a strange land
To the joyful courts of the Householder.
Michael, Arch-captain, the first among the first:
What Venus is among the stars, he is among the angels.
He hurries to every penitent, to lift him up to God.
No matter how many penitents there are, he reaches them all.
To serve, serve and serve–for him that is joy.
Even in heaven, service to one’s neighbor is paramount.
Service which strengthens life and makes a mother jubilant,
Service which adorns with wreaths unfading:
That service for the angels is joy and celebration,
For it is directed to the glory of God and the salvation of men.
Why do some people, well educated and baptized as Christians, fall away from Christianity and give themselves over to philosophy and pedantic theories, pretending that these are truer than Christianity? They do so for two principal reasons: either because of a totally superficial understanding of Christianity or because of sin. A superficial understanding of Christianity rejects it, and sin flees from Christ as does a criminal from the judge. Superficial and sinful Christians were as often enraged and infuriated with Christianity as were the pagans. The superficial and culpable find it is more comfortable for them to bathe in the shallow puddle of human thoughts than in the perilous depths of Christ. For those who sincerely follow Christ, He constantly calls them to a greater and greater depth, as He once said to the Apostle Peter: Launch out into deep (Luke 5:4). St. Mark the Ascetic writes that the Law of God is understood in accordance with the fulfillment of the commandments of God: “Ignorance compels a person to speak in opposition to that which is beneficial, and insolence multiplies vice.”
Contemplate the Mystery of Communion as the Mystery of the Perfection of Love:
1. Because, on the part of Christ, it means giving completely of Himself to His faithful;
2. Because of this, Christ is received with faith and trust on the part of the faithful;
3. Because of this, it leads to the joyful, fruitful and saving union of God with man.
on traveling with Christ into the deep
“Launch out into the deep” (Luke 5:4).
This is what our Lord commanded Peter and the rest of the apostles when He had finished speaking. This means that He first gave instructions and then, immediately after, He called them to action. This is also important for us. For as soon as we learn something from the Gospels, we immediately need to go out and implement it. The disciple’s works are dear to the Lord–not just the disciple.
Launch out into the deep. From the shallow water along the shore, our Lord spoke to the people who were less enlightened in the mysteries of God’s Kingdom, but He summoned the apostles out into the deep. There is less danger in the shallow waters, but the catch is also smaller. In the shallows there are snakes, frogs and other small repulsive water creatures; that is all the danger. In shallow waters there are only small fish; that is the entire catch. But in the greater depths, the danger is also greater. There you have large sea creatures and great storms; that is the danger. But there are also much larger and better fish in enormous quantity; that is the catch. O enlightened one, come therefore into the deep!
Launch out into the deep, mysterious sea of life, but do not proceed without Christ in your boat. By no means. You might spend the entire night of your life not catching anything, as Peter said: We have toiled all the night and have taken nothing (Luke 5:5). Not only that, but you could face far worse if Christ is not in your boat. Perhaps the winds will carry you away and cast you into an abyss. Perhaps the monstrous and enormous beasts of the sea will consume you. The winds, O enlightened one, are your own passions which accompany you unavoidably if you set out into the deep without Christ. The enormous and monstrous beasts of the sea are demons, who can destroy you in the blink of an eye as they destroyed the herd of two thousand (See Mark 5:13).
However, if you are going out with Christ into the deep, do not be afraid of anything, but go joyfully and courageously joined to Christ. You will lay hold of the best catch, and you will fill both boats with it–the physical and the spiritual. You will snare the best catch, O dedicated one, and you will arrive on shore without any dangers, on the shore of the Kingdom of Christ. Nowhere without Christ! Neither in shallow places nor in the deep. In the shallow places you will become vexed by hunger and by many minor annoyances, but in the deep a greater evil will befall you.
O my Almighty Savior, Thou art our Helmsman, our Defense, our Harbor.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.