Wednesday November 4, 2020 / October 22, 2020
22nd Week after Pentecost. Tone four.
Fast. Food with Oil
The Kazan Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos, commemorating the deliverance from the Poles in 1612. Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Abercius, bishop and wonderworker of Hierapolis (167). 7 Holy Youths (“7 Sleepers”) of Ephesus: Maximilian, Iamblichus, Martinian, Dionysius, Antoninus, Constantine (Hexakustodianos), and John (250). New Hieromartyrs Seraphim archbishop of Uglich and with him German archimandrite, Vladimir, Alexander, Basil, Alexander priests and Martyrs Herman and Menas (1937). New Hieromartyrs Nicholas, Nicholas priests and Martyr Gregory (1937). Uncovering of the relics of Hieromartyr Nikodim, bishop of Belgorod (2012). Martyrs Alexander the bishop, Heraclius, Anna, Elizabeth, Theodota and Glyceria, at Adrianopolis (2nd-3rd c.). “Andronikos” and “Jacobshtad” (17th c.) Icons of the Mother of God
The Scripture Readings
The Celebration of the MostHoly Mother of God, in honour of Her “Kazansk” Icon
Commemorated on October 22
The Celebration of the MostHoly Mother of God, in honour of Her “Kazansk” Icon, was established in gratitude for the deliverance of Moscow and all Russia from the incursion of the Polish in 1612. The period of the end of the XVI and beginning XVII Centuries is known in the history of Russia as “the Time of Troubles” (“Smutnoe Vremya”). The country suffered the onslaught of Polish armies, which scoffed at the Orthodox faith, in plundering and burning churches, cities and villages. By way of deceit they succeeded in taking Moscow. To the appeal of His Holiness Patriarch Ermogen (Comm. 12 May), the Russian nation rose up in defense of its native-land. To the militia forces headed by prince Dimitrii Mikhailovich Pozharsky was sent from Kazan the wonderworking image of the Mother of God.
Sainted Dimitrii of Rostov (Comm. 21 September), in his “Discourse on the Day of Appearance of the Icon of the Mother of God at Kazan” (Icon feastday 8 July), said: “The Mother of God doth deliver from misfortune and woe not only the righteous, but also sinners, but which sinners? Those, which do turn themselves to the Heavenly Father like the Prodigal Son, they make lamentation beating their bosom, like the Publican, they weep at the feet of Christ, like the Sinful Woman washing His feet with her tears, and they offer forth confession of Him, like the Thief upon the Cross. Upon suchlike sinners is it that the All-Pure Mother of God doth heed and hasten to their aid, and from great misfortunes and woe doth deliver”.
Knowing that the misfortunes were in sufferance for their sins, the whole nation and the militia imposed upon themselves a three-day fast and with prayer they turned to the Lord and His All-Pure Mother for Heavenly help. The prayer was heard. Situated in captivity under the Polish, from Sainted Arsenii (afterwards Bishop of Suzdal’) came an announcement, that in a vision to him had been revealed a shifting in the Judgement of God towards mercy, through the intercession of the MostHoly Virgin. Emboldened by the news, Russian forces on 22 October 1612 liberated Moscow from the Polish usurpers. Celebration in honour of the Kazan Icon of the MostHoly Mother of God was established in 1649. And down to our own day this icon is especially revered by the Russian Orthodox nation.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.
The Seven Youths of Ephesus
The Seven Holy Youths of Ephesus – Maximilan, Iamblichus, Martinian, Dionysius, Antoninus, Constantine (Hexakustodianos) and John
Commemorated on October 22, August 4
The Seven Youths of Ephesus: Maximilian, Iamblichus, Martinian, John, Dionysius, Eksacustodianus (Constantine) and Antoninus, lived in the III Century. Saint Maximilian was the son of the Ephesus city administrator, and the other six youths – were sons of other illustrious Ephesus citizens. The youths were friends from childhood, and all were together in military service. When the emperor Decius (249-251) arrived in Ephesus, he commanded all the citizenry to appear for offering sacrifice to the pagan gods; torture and death by execution awaited the recalcitrant. By denunciation from those currying the emperor’s favour, the seven youths of Ephesus were summoned to reply to the charges. Standing before the emperor, the seven youths confessed their faith in Christ. Their illustrious military decorations – the military sashes – were quickly taken from them. Decius however set them at liberty, hoping, that they would change their minds while he was away on military campaign. The youths fled from the city and hid in a cave on Mount Okhlonos, where they passed the time at prayer, preparing for the deed of martyrdom. The very youngest of them – Saint Iamblichus, having clothed himself in beggar’s attire, went into the city and bought bread. In one of these journeys into the city he heard, that the emperor had returned and sought them, so as to bring them to trial. Saint Maximilian exhorted his companions to come out of the cave and bravely appear at trial. Having learned where the lads were hidden, the emperor gave orders to seal the entrance of the cave with stones, so that the lads would perish in it from hunger and thirst. Two of the dignitaries, coming before the walled-up entrance to the cave, were secret christians. Wanting to preserve the memory of the saints, they set in among the stones a sealed container, in which were located two tin sheaves. On them were inscribed the names of the seven youths and the details of their suffering and death.
But the Lord brought upon the youths a miraculous sleep, continuing almost two centuries. During this while the persecutions against Christians had ceased, although during the reign of the holy nobleborn emperor Theodosius the Younger (408-450) there had appeared heretics who rejected the belief in the Resurrection of the Dead at the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Some of them said: “How can there be a resurrection of the dead, when there would be neither soul, nor body, since they are disintegrated?” Others affirmed: “Only the souls alone would have a restoration, since it would be impossible for bodies to arise and live after a thousand years, when even the dust from them would not remain”. The Lord therefore revealed the mystery of the awaited Resurrection of the Dead and of the Future Life also through His seven youths.
The master of that region of land, on which Mount Okhlonos was situated, discovered the stone construction, and his workers opened up the entrance to the cave. The Lord had kept alive the youths, and they as it were awoke from their habitual sleep, not suspecting, that almost 200 years had elapsed. Their bodies and clothing were completely undecayed. Preparing to accept torture, the youths entrusted to Saint Iamblichus yet once again to buy bread for them in the city to keep up their strength. Going towards the city, the youth was astonished, seeing the holy cross on the gates. And hearing the freely uttered Name of Jesus Christ, he began to doubt that he was approaching his own city. Praying for the bread, the youth gave the merchant money with the image of the emperor Decius on it, and he was detained, as one possibly concealing an horde of old money. They took Saint Iamblichus to the city administrator, who at this time happened to be the bishop of Ephesus. Hearing the bewildering answers of the youth, the bishop perceived, that God was revealing through him some sort of mystery, and set out himself with other people to the cave. At the entrance to the cave the bishop took out the sealed container and opened it. He read upon the tin sheaves the names of the seven youths and the details of the sealing-up of the cave on the orders of the emperor Decius. Going into the cave and seeing the youths alive, everyone rejoiced and perceived that the Lord, through their awakening from long sleep, was disclosing to the Church the mystery of the Resurrection of the Dead. Soon the emperor himself arrived in Ephesus and conversed with the youths in the cave. Then the holy youths in view of everyone lay down their heads upon the ground and again fell asleep, this time until the General Resurrection. The emperor wanted to place each of the youths into a jeweled coffin, but appearing to him in a dream, the holy youths said, that their bodies were to be left in the cave upon the ground. In the XII Century the Russian pilgrim the hegumen Daniel saw in the cave these holy remains of the seven youths.
A second commemoration of the seven youths is celebrated on 22 October. (By one tradition, which entered into the Russian Prologue [of Saints Lives], the youths a second time fell asleep on this day; according to the notes of the Greek Menaion of 1870, they fell asleep first on 4 August, and woke up on 22 October. The holy youths are mentioned also in the service of the Church New Year – 1 September).
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.
HYMN OF PRAISE
SAINT ABERCIUS, EQUAL TO THE APOSTLES
St. Abercius, a model of meekness,
Is a most beautiful example of Christian zeal.
He zealously toppled the dumb idols
And joyfully exposed himself to death.
But God protects the servant who strives for Him,
And shields him from evil with His right hand.
Against the saint, demons and men rose up,
But became shamefully silent before the power of the Cross.
What the saint desired, the Lord granted,
And though he was in much sorrow, he gladdened many.
St. Abercius was as a fiery pillar,
A light and an enlightener of men.
He preached Christ to many peoples–
From powerful emperors to the poor–
And witnessed Christ through many miracles.
He poured miracles out like living water;
By the life-creating word he assuaged the thirsty,
And with the teaching of Christ he fed the hungry.
St. Abercius, a model of meekness,
Gave himself to God in honorable old age,
And was crowned with eternal youth in Paradise,
Surrounded by the joy and glory of heaven.
O wonderful holy one, strive yet a little more:
Protect the remaining flock on earth,
Implore Christ’s mercy on us through prayer,
That the Church will boast in you to the end.
As much as the strictness of holy men toward themselves is a cause for amazement, so also is their compassion toward others. They have disinterest for themselves, and concern for others. St. Hilarion the Great, unable to pay his fare to Sicily, offered the owner of the ship his Gospel (which he, in his youth, had copied with his own hands). When he had cured a certain prince of an unclean spirit, the prince wanted to present him with ten liters of gold. The saint would not accept the gold, but showed him barley bread and said: “Those who feed on this kind of bread look upon gold as mud!” When men begged him to pray to God for rain, or to save them from floods or poisonous snakes, St. Hilarion helped them by his prayer. This is how St. Abercius acted as well. Seeing many people in pain and sickness, he knelt in a certain place and prayed to God that He would open up a spring of warm, healing water there, that the infirm might be healed and glorify God. God then opened a spring of warm water on that spot. When Abercius healed the emperor’s daughter of insanity, the emperor offered him gold, silver and other gifts, but St. Abercius said: “Riches are not needed for one who considers bread and water a royal meal.” Not seeking anything for himself, Abercius nevertheless begged the emperor to do two favors for his flock in Hierapolis: to build a bath over those healing waters, and to give sufficient wheat each year to the poor of Hierapolis. The emperor agreed and did according to the saint’s request.
Contemplate the miraculous healing of Aeneas of Lydda (Acts 9):
1. How Aeneas had lain paralyzed for eight years;
2. How the Apostle Peter healed him in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ;
3. How Aeneas arose healthy.
on the beauty of Christ above all other beauty
Thou art fairer than the sons of men (Psalm 45:2).
Holy Scripture does not ascribe any particular value to physical beauty, and in general to anything transient. That is why everyone who reads Holy Scripture should take care to be sufficiently attentive and wise to transfer the praise of physical beauty to the soul and to spiritual values. Without a doubt, spiritual beauty gives a wondrous attractiveness to the most unattractive body, just as an ugly soul makes even the most attractive body repulsive. The Prophet David, pouring forth good words (Psalm 45:1), says to his King, the Lord Jesus Christ: Thou art fairer than the sons of men. The Lord Himself created His bodily cloak as He wanted. Had He wanted to appear in the world as the physically fairest of men, He could have done so. But there is nothing in the Gospel to indicate that He drew followers to Himself or influenced men by His appearance. He Himself said: the flesh profiteth nothing (John 6:63). Therefore, it is clear that David was not speaking of the physical beauty of Christ, but of His spiritual, divine beauty. This is clearly seen in the following words of the Psalmist: Grace is poured forth upon thy lips (Psalm 45:2). So it is that the unsurpassed beauty of the Son of God is not in the form and shape of His lips, but rather in the stream of grace that flows from His mouth. Again, the Prophet Isaiah speaks of Christ: He had no form or comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him (Isaiah 53:2-3). Do Isaiah and David agree? Perfectly well. David speaks of Christ’s inward beauty, and Isaiah speaks of Christ’s external abasement. Isaiah said that He would not be seen as a king or a rich man, but as a servant and sufferer.
O Lord Jesus Christ, Thou art fairer to us than all men and angels: glory to Thine immortal and unending beauty. O gracious Lord, correct the ugliness of our souls, which are disfigured by sin, we pray Thee.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.