Wednesday, November 24, 2021 / November 11, 2021
23rd Week after Pentecost. Tone five.
Fast. Food with Oil
Martyr Menas of Egypt (304). Martyrs Victor at Damascus (160) and Stephanida (Stephanis) of Spain (161). Martyr Vincent of Spain (304). Venerable Theodore the Confessor, abbot of the Studion (826). Repose of Blessed Maximus of Moscow Fool-for-Christ (1434). New Hieromartyr Eugene priest (1937). Venerable Martyrius, abbot of Zelenets (1603). Great-martyr Stephen-Urosh III of Dechani, Serbia (1331) (Serbia).
Blessed Maxim, Fool-for-Christ
Commemorated on November 11 and August 13
Blessed Maxim, Fool-for-Christ, lived at Moscow. About his parentage, time and place of birth, nothing is known. Saint Maxim chose one of the most difficult and thorny paths to salvation, voluntarily for the sake of Christ having taken upon himself the guise of a fool. Summer and winter Maxim walked about almost naked, bearing with prayer both the heat and cold. He had a saying: “Fierce though be the winter, yet sweet be paradise”. Rus’ very much loved its holy fools, it esteemed their deep humility, it heeded their wisdom, expressed profitably and aphoristically in the proverbial sayings of the people’s language. And everyone heeded the holy fools: everyone from the great princes on down to the least beggar.
Blessed Maxim lived at a difficult time for the Russian people. Tatar incursions, droughts, epidemics were endemic and people perished. The saint said to the unfortunate: “Not everything is by the weave of the wool, some be opposite… They have won the fight, admit it, and bow the lower; weep not for the beaten, weep rather the unbeaten; let us show tolerance and in this we shalt at least be human; gradually even raw firewood ignites; for toleration may God grant salvation”. But the saint did not only speak words of consolation. His angry denunciations frightened the mighty of his world. Blessed Maxim was wont to say to the rich and illustrious: “An idolatrous house, and a conscience corrupted; everyone is baptised, let everyone pray; God doth detect every wrong. He deceiveth not thee, nor deceivest thou He”.
Blessed Maxim died on 11 November 1434 and as buried at the church of the holy Princes Boris and Gleb. Miraculous healings began occurring from the relics of the saint of God. In a circular missive of 1547, metropolitan Makarii enjoined “the singing and celebration at Moscow to the new Wonderworker Maxim, Fool-for-Christ”. That same year on 13 August the relics of Blessed Maxim were uncovered undecayed. The church of Saints Boris and Gleb, at which the saint was buried, burned in the year 1568. On its place was built a new church, which they consecrated in the name of Saint Maxim, Fool-for-Christ. And into this church was put the venerable relics of Saint Maxim.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.
HYMN OF PRAISE
THE HOLY MARTYR STEFAN OF DEČANI, KING OF SERBIA
Tortured and persecuted, Holy King Stefan of Dečani
Endured pains and persecutions as a true Christian.
And when it seemed he was defeated by all,
He was actually victorious, powerful and unscathed.
He defeated his father by patient endurance,
And Cantacuzene by profound wisdom.
With silence he overcame malicious Simonida,
And with trust in God he overcame King Shishman.
He was even more powerful than his mighty son–
For those who do not sin are always more powerful.
Earthly power always ends without a glimmer,
But there is no end to heavenly power.
King Stefan of Dečani, meek and beloved,
Drew his strength from heavenly power:
His power and glory were from Christ,
And from Christ was his life, throne and sovereignty.
Stefan understood this, and this he confessed;
That is why he defeated all adversaries in the end.
Pray for us, O wondrous king,
That God may grant us salvation and mercy.
If ever there was a holy king who sat on the throne of an earthly kingdom, that was the holy King Stefan of Dečani. The Greeks, who otherwise considered the Slavs barbarians, were amazed at the beauty of St. Stefan’s soul as one of the rarest wonders of the time. When the Emperor Cantacuzene sent the abbot of the Monastery of the Pantocrator to Milutin on some official business, King Milutin inquired about his son Stefan. “O King, are you asking me about the second Job?” the abbot replied. “Be assured that his poverty stands above your royal greatness.” For his part, the Byzantine emperor acted very cruelly toward the blind Stefan: he confined him to one area of the court and forbade everyone access to him. After that, he sent him to the Monastery of the Pantocrator, hoping that the monastery would force him into strict monastic asceticism, and that he would become weak and perish there. But God preserved the Blessed Stefan and he endured the ascetic labor of fasting and prayer like the best of monks. They began to speak of his wisdom throughout all of Constantinople, and the emperor began to respect him and often sought advice from him. For example, St. Stefan contributed to the defeat of the infamous heresy of Barlaam, against which St. Gregory of Palamas fought.*) Barlaam then resided in Constantinople, and by skillful intrigue, had won over many high-ranking clerics and civil officials to his way of thinking. In perplexity, the emperor summoned Stefan and asked him what he should do. The wise Stefan replied with the words of the Psalmist: Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate Thee? (Psalm 139:21), and also said: “Dangerous men must be banished from society.” Heeding this, Emperor Cantacuzene drove Barlaam from the capital with dishonor.
*) Refer to the Synaxarion, the Second Sunday in Lent.
Contemplate the wonderful healing power of the Apostle Paul (Acts 28):
1. How Paul prayed and laid his hand on Publius’s father and healed him of dysentery;
2. How he also healed many others in that place in the same manner.
on the Creator of the new man
… for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace (Ephesians 2:15).
When He came to earth, the Lord, the Lover of Mankind, came to all men, not just to some. The Jews awaited a messiah; He came as the Messiah. The pagans awaited a redeemer; He came as the Redeemer. He came with equal love for both the Jews and the pagans. There was no other group on earth–only the Jews and the pagans. The Jews were the only ones in the world who believed in one God, whereas the pagans worshiped idols. But the Jews had obscured their faith by their transgressions and, therefore, knew nothing. Thus, both the Jews and the pagans had become equal in their ignorance and equal in the curse of sin with which Adam had burdened the benighted earth. As of old Adam did not belong to the Jews exclusively, but also to the pagans, for they both descended from him, so Christ, the new Adam, did not belong to one or the other, but to both, for He saved both. The Lord Jesus could not side with the Jewish kingdom of empty legal formalism, or the Hellenic kingdom (including paganism in general) of naturalistic fables and demonic divinations and sorcery. Rather, He healed them both. He took both of these sick ones and he created the new man. And this is the Church of God. Thus, the Lord annulled and cast out both Judaism and Hellenism, and created His Holy Church.
O Lord Jesus, All-good and All-wise, everything Thou hast done is good and wise beyond words.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.