Wednesday February 2, 2022 / January 20, 2022
33rd Week after Pentecost. Tone seven.
Fast. Fish Allowed
Venerable Euthymius the Great (473). New Hieromartyr Paul priest (1940). Venerable Laurence the Recluse (13th-l4th c.) and Venerable Euthymius the Silent (14th c.), of the Kiev Caves. Venerable Euthymius of Syanzhemsk (1470). Martyrs Inna, Pinna, and Rimma, disciples of Apostle Andrew in Scythia (lst-2nd c.). Martyrs Bassus, Eusebius, Eutychius, and Basilides at Nicomedia (303). St. Euthymius (Kereselidze) the Confessor (1944) (Georgia)
Life of Euthymius the Great
The Monk Euthymios the Great
Commemorated on January 20
The Monk Euthymios the Great came from the city of Meletina in Armenia, near the River Euphrates. His parents, Paul and Dionysia, were illustrious people and pious christians. For a long time they did not have children, and finally through fervent prayer a son was born to them, whose appearance into the light of day was preceded by a Divine apparition foretelling a great future for the child.
The father of the Monk Euthymios soon died, and his mother – fulfilling a vow to dedicate her son to God – gave him over for educating to her brother, the Monk Eudoxios. He presented the lad to the bishop of the Meletina Church, Otreos, who with love took upon himself caring for him. Seeing his good conduct, the bishop soon made him a reader. Saint Euthymios later accepted monasticism and was ordained to the dignity of presbyter. At the same time, he was entrusted with the stewardship of all the city monasteries. The Monk Euthymios often visited the monastery of saint Polieuktos, and during the days of Great Lent he withdrew into the wilderness. The position of steward of the monasteries weighed heavily upon the ascetic seeking quietude, and in his 30th year of life he secretly left the city and headed to Jerusalem where, having prostrated himself before the holy places, he withdrew into the Tharan Lavra. Having found outside the monastery a solitary empty abode, he settled into it, securing his subsistence by weaving baskets. Nearby, the Monk Theoktistos pursued asceticism. They had both one striving for God, one will, one purpose. Usually after the feast of Theophany, they withdrew into the Kutilleia wilderness (not far from Jericho). One day though they left there, having chosen a place in the mountains difficult of access, and settled into a cave. The Lord however soon revealed their solitary place for the benefit of many people: shepherds driving their flocks came upon the cave and told about it in the village. People seeking spiritual benefit began to throng to the hermits. Gradually a monastic community grew up – several monks came from the Tharan monastery, among them Marin and Luke. The Monk Euthymios entrusted the running of the growing monastery to his friend Theoktistos, and himself became a spiritual brother. He exhorted the brethren: “Know, that one desiring to lead a monastic life ought not to have his own will, he is always to be found in obedience and humility and to be mindful of the thought of death, to fear the Judgement and the eternal fire and to desire the Heavenly Kingdom”.
The monk commanded young monastics to tackle bodily labour with an inner thought of God. “If laymen, – he said, – work much, in order to feed themselves and their families, and besides this, they give alms and offer sacrifice to God, then all the moreso ought we as monks to work, so as to avoid idleness and not be nourished by the work of strangers”. The abba demanded, that the monks keep silence in church during Divine-services and at meals. He did not allow young monks, wishing to fast more than others of the brethren, to follow their own will, but urged them to partake of all the food at meals with temperance, not having over-eaten.
In these years the Monk Euthymios converted and baptised many Arabs, among whom was the military-head Aspevet and his son Terevon, whom the Monk Euthymios healed from sickness. Aspevet received the name Peter in Baptism and afterwards he was a bishop amongst the Arabs.
The fame of the miracles accomplished by the Monk Euthymios spread quickly. People began to throng from everywhere; brought with sickness, they received healing. Unable to bear human fame and glory, the monk secretly left the monastery, – taking with him only his closest student Dometian. He withdrew into the Ruv wilderness and settled on the high mountain of Mardes, around about the Dead Sea. In the quests for solitude the monk explored the Zeph wilderness and settled in the cave, where formerly holy king David hid from the pursuit of king Saul. The Monk Euthymios founded there a monastery, and at the cave of David he established a church. During this time the Monk Euthymios converted many monks in the wilderness from the Manichaean heresy, he worked miracles, healed the sick and cast out devils.
Visitors to the saint disturbed the tranquillity of the wilderness; loving silence, he decided to return to the monastery of Saint Theoktistos that he had forsaken. Along the way the monk took a fancy to a solitary place on a mountain and he remained on it. There afterwards his holy body was buried.
Blessed Theoktistos went out with his brethren to the Monk Euthymios and requested him to return to the monastery, but the monk did not comply. However, he promised to come to the monastery on Sundays for community Divine-services.
The Monk Euthymios did not wish to have anyone nearby, nor to organise a general monastery or lavra, but in a vision the Lord commanded him not to drive away those who were come to him for the salvation of their souls. After some time brethren again gathered around him, and he organised a Lavra, on the pattern of the Tharan Lavra. In the year 429, when the monk Euthymios was 52 years old, the Jerusalem Patriarch Juvenalios consecrated the lavra church and supplied it with presbyters and deacons.
The lavra was at first poor, but the monk steadfastly trusted on God to send down all the necessities for people. Once there came to the lavra about 400 male pilgrims – Armenians from Jerusalem who were starving. Viewing this, the Monk Euthymios summoned the steward and ordered him to feed the wanderers. The steward answered that there was no such quantity of food in the monastery. The monk, however, persisted. Going to the room where the bread was kept, the steward found there a large quantity of bread. With this came forth wine and oil. The wanderers ate to the glory of God: they ate their fill and after this there remained a three-month supply of food for the brethren. Thus the Lord wrought a miracle through the faith of Saint Euthymios.
Once one of the monastics refused to carry out an obedience assigned to him. Despite the fact that the monk having summoned him urged him to comply, the monastic remained obstinate. The monk then shouted loudly: “Thou wilt see what the reward for disobedience is”. The monastic fell to the ground in a fit of raving. The brethren began to make entreaty to the abba for him, and then the Monk Euthymios healed the insubordinate one who, having come to himself, asked forgiveness and promised to improve himself. “Obedience, – said Saint Euthymios, – is a great virtue. The Lord loves obedience more than sacrifice, but disobedience leads to death”.
Two of the brethren in the monastery of Saint Euthymios became overwhelmed by the austere form of life and they resolved to flee. Foreseeing in spirit their intent, the monk summoned them and for a long time he urged them to give up their destructive intention. He said: “Heed not that state of mind, of having sorrow and hatred for the place in which we live, and being prompted to go off to another place. Let a monk not imagine that, having gone to another place he arrives at something better, since good deeds are realised not by a place, but by a firm will and by faith. Whence the tree, which often they transplant to another place, does not bear fruit”.
In the year 431 was convened in Ephesus the Third OEcumenical Council, directed against the Nestorian heresy. The Monk Euthymios rejoiced over the affirmation of Orthodoxy but was grieved about the archbishop of Antioch John who, being orthodox, defended Nestorios.
In the year 451 was convened at Chalcedon the Fourth OEcumenical Council against the heresy of Dioskoros who, in contrast to Nestorios, asserted that in the Lord Jesus Christ there is only one nature – the Divine, having in the Incarnation swallowed up the human nature (thus the heresy was called Monophysite).
The Monk Euthymios accepted the confession of the Chalcedon and he acknowledged it as Orthodox. News about this spread quickly among the monks and hermits and many of them, having previously believed wrongly, through the example of Saint Euthymios accepted the confession of the Chalcedon Council.
For his ascetic life and firm confession of the Orthodox faith Saint Euthymios received the title “the Great”. Having become wearied by intercourse with the world, the holy abba settled for a time into an inner wilderness. After his return to the lavra some of the brethren saw that, when he celebrated the Divine Liturgy, fire descended from Heaven and encircled the saint. The monk himself revealed to several of the monastics, that often he saw an Angel celebrating the Holy Liturgy together with him. The monk had a gift of perspicacity – he saw the innder workings of the spirit and he discerned human inclinations. When monastics received the Holy Mysteries, it was revealed to the monk – who approached worthily, and who unto condemnation of self.
When the Monk Euthymios was 82 years old, there came to him blessed Sava (the future Sava the Sanctified, Comm. 5 December), who was then still a youth. The elder received him with love and sent him off to the monastery of the Monk Theoktistos. He foretold, that the Monk Sava would shine in the monastic life.
When the saint had become 90 years of age, his companion and fellow Monk Theoktistos became grievously ill. The Monk Euthymios came to visit his friend and remained at the monastery; he took his leave of him and was present at the end. Having consigned the body to the grave, he returned to the lavra.
The time of his death was revealed to the Monk Euthymios through a particular mercy of God. On the day of memory of the Monk Anthony the Great, 17 January, the Monk Euthymios gave blessing to make the all-night vigil and, summoning the presbyters to the Altar, he told them that he would no more celebrate with them another vigil, because the Lord was summoning him from earthly life. All were filled with great sadness, but the monk commanded the brethren to gather together with him in the morning. He began to instruct the brethren: “If ye love me, observe my precepts, acquire love, which is an uniting of perfection. No virtuousness is possible without love and humility. The Lord Himself on account of His Love for us humbled Himself and became Man, as are we. We need therefore unceasingly to offer up praise to Him, particularly we, who have renounced the passions of the world. Never leave from church services, observe tradition and monastic rules carefully. If anyone of the brethren struggleth with unclean thoughts, – unceasingly guide and instruct him, so that the devil does not carry off the brother into the pit”.
“I add likewise another command: let the gates of the monastery never be bolted to wanderers and everything that you have, offer to the needy, for the poor in their misfortune do what you can to help”. Afterwards, having given instruction for the guidance of the brethren, the monk promised to remain in spirit with all who desired to bear asceticism in his monastery until the end of the ages.
Having dismissed all, the Monk Euthymios kept about him only his one disciple Dometian and, remaining with him inside the Altar for three days, he died on 20 January in the year 473 at the age of 97 years.
At the burial of the holy abba there immediately thronged a multitude of monks from the monasteries and from the wilderness, among whom was Saint Gerasimos. The Patriarch Anastasios came also with clergy, the Nitreian monks Martyrios and Elias, who later became Jerusalem Patriarchs – about which the Monk Euthymios had foretold them.
Blessed Dometian did not leave the grave of his preceptor for 6 days. On the 7th day, he saw the holy abba, joyously having returned with love for his student: “I am come, my child, in preparation for thee in peace, wherefore I prayed the Lord Jesus Christ, that thou be with me”. Having told the brethren about the vision, Saint Dometian went to church and in joy offered his spirit to God. He was buried alongside Saint Euthymios. The relics of the Monk Euthymios were situated at his monastery in Palestine: the Russian pilgrim hegumen Daniel saw them in the XII Century.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.
HYMN OF PRAISE
The eye that sees all, the ear that hears all
Travels with everyone, everywhere they go–
Without changing place, present in every place.
Where virtue is being kneaded, God is the yeast in the dough;
Where light is sought, He gives of Himself;
Where help is cried for, He is not absent.
Quietly and silently, but always on time,
He is in time to reap and to sow the seeds,
He is in time to reproach, He is in time to reward,
To make the young old and to make the old young,
To weed, to trim and to caress fruit–
He comesv wherever He wants and whenever He wants.
Whenever a solitary person thinks, behold, He listens;
Where two people speak, as a third party He hears;
Where the weaver weaves the cloth, her threads He counts;
The universal fabric, in His mind, He weaves.
Oh, who knows His footsteps and paces?
Who could enumerate His paths and places?
Eternal and Immortal, Triune and One,
In the trackless net of the universal fabric,
Unseen and seen, regardless of whence He is viewed,
He cuts out the paths and reveals the direction.
In the trackless net, He looks at all the paths,
And does not allow even an ant to stray.
For eighty years on earth, St. Euthymius
Dedicated such thoughts to Him.
REFLECTIONAs compassionate and lenient as the saints were toward human weakness, so terribly unyielding and unbending were they with regard to the confession of the true dogmas of the Faith. Thus, St. Nicholas of Myra in Lycia struck Arius with his hand at the First Ecumenical Council [Nicaea, 325 A.D.]. St. Anthony left his desert to come to Alexandria to publicly unmask Arius. St. Euthymius, being greatly pressured by the Empress Eudocia and the false Patriarch Theodosius, and being unable to debate rationally with them, left the monastery and hid in the desert; an example followed by all other distinguished monks thereafter. Euthymius remained in the desert until the pseudo-patriarch was ousted and Orthodoxy confirmed. When, in Jerusalem, the greatest agitation surfaced in the name of the emperor against the Fourth Ecumenical Council [Chalcedon, 451 A.D.], and when the entire population was frightened by the heretics, then St. Theodosius the Great, already burdened with old age, came to Jerusalem as a fearless soldier of Christ, entered the Great Church, ascended the stairs, waved his hands and said to the people: “If anyone does not honor the Four Ecumenical Councils as he does the four evangelists, let him be anathema.” (Up to that time only four Ecumenical Councils had been convened.) All who heard him were frightened by these words, and none of the heretics dared to say anything contrary to them.
Contemplate the Lord Jesus as Light:
1. As a Light to my life, as a Light to mankind, as a Light to every creature;
2. As a Light, especially in the darkness of fear and suffering;
3. As a Light in the hour of death, and after death a Light in eternity.
on the only Light in darkness
“I am the Light of the world” (John 8:12).
Since the beginning of the world and time, no one who was ever born has dared to speak these words. There have been men, and there are men, who say: “I bring light!” But only one dared to say: “I am the Light!” Only the Lord Jesus could have spoken those words boldly and convincingly. His short life on earth and His long history of nearly two thousand years have completely justified these words. He is the Light of truth, righteousness and life.
He is the Light of truth, because He revealed in Himself the truth of the true nature of God and the true nature of man, the relationship of man to man, and the relationship of man toward God. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but His words will not pass away; for heaven and earth both came into existence by His word, and His word is from Him and with Him always, and will not pass away. [Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away (Matthew 24:35 – Mark 13:31)].
He is the Light of righteousness, because He revealed the might of righteousness and the weakness of unrighteousness. He revealed this in the brightest light–by what He said, by what He did, and by what He experienced–and overcame the unrighteous ones. He has revealed it through His Church over the course of twenty centuries–through His numerous righteous saints and martyrs, for righteousness’ sake. Righteousness is from God, and in the long line of history, it can never be defeated. Unrighteousness is of helpless beings. Unrighteousness quickly rushes out to the rampart with its triumphant banner, but at the same time, it is quickly thrown into the grave.
He is the Light of life. His words illuminate life. His works illuminate life. His victory illuminates life. Especially His resurrection, as the most luminous sun, illuminates life by its bright light and disperses death as a weak shadow.
O Lord Jesus, Light Most-luminous, Sun of Truth, Sun of Righteousness and Sun of Life, illuminate us sinners and unworthy ones!
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.