Wednesday November 11, 2020 / October 29, 2020
23rd Week after Pentecost. Tone five.
Fast. Food with Oil
Virgin-martyr Anastasia the Roman (256). Venerable Abramius the Recluse (360) and his niece St. Mary, of Mesopotamia (397). Venerable Abramius, archimandrite of Rostov (Valaam) (1073). New Hieromartyrs Nicholas priest and with him Cosma, Victor, Naum, Philip, John, Paul, Andrew, Paul, Basil, Alexis, John and Virgin-martyr Agaphia (1918). New Hieromartyr John priest (1930). New Hieromartyr Eugene priest (1937). Virgin-martyr Anastasia (after 1937). New Hieromartyr Leonid priest (1941). Martyrs Claudius, Asterius, Neon, and Theonilla, of Aegae in Cilicia (285). Venerable Anna (known as Euphemianus) of Constantinople (826)
The Scripture Readings
The Monk Abraham the Hermit
and Blessed Maria, his niece
Commemorated on October 29
The Monk Abraham the Hermit and Blessed Maria, his niece, asceticised in the village of Chidan, near the city of Edessa. They were contemporaries and of the same country together with the Monk Ephrem the Syrian (Comm. 28 January), who afterwards wrote about their life. The Monk Abraham began his difficult exploit of the solitary life in the prime of youth. He left his parental home and settled in a desolate wilderness place, far off from worldly enticements, and he spent his days in unceasing prayer. After the death of his parents, the saint refused his inheritance and requested his kinsmen to give it away to the poor. By his strict ascetic life, fasting and love for mankind, Abraham attracted to him many, seeking after spiritual light, prayer and blessing. Soon his faith was put to a serious test: he was appointed presbyter in one of the pagan villages of Mesopotamia. For three years, and sparing no efforts, the monk toiled over the enlightenment of the pagans. He tore down a pagan temple and built up a temple of God. Humbly enduring derision and even beating from obstinate idol-worshippers, in prayer he beseeched the Lord: “Look down, O Master, upon Thine servant, hearken unto my prayer, strengthen me and set free Thy servants from diabolical snares and grant them to know Thee, the One True God”. The zealous pastor was granted the happiness to see the culmination of his righteous efforts: the pagans came to believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and the monk himself baptised them. Having fulfilled his priestly duty, Abraham again withdrew into his wilderness, where he continued to glorify God, and doing His holy will. The devil, put to shame by the deeds of the monk, tried to entrap him with proud thoughts. One time at midnight, when Saint Abraham was at prayer in his cell, suddenly there shone a light and a voice was heard: “Blessed art thou, blessed as is no one amongst mankind!” Confuting the wiles of the enemy, the saint said: “I – am a sinful man, but I trust on the help and grace of my God and I fear thee not”. Another time the devil appeared before the saint in the form of a youth, lighted a candle and began to sing the Psalm: “Blessed is the undefiled on the way that walketh in the law of the Lord”. Perceiving, that this also was a demonic temptation, the elder crossed himself and asked: “If thou knowest, what be the undefiled blessed, then why troublest thou them?” The temptor answered: “I provoke them in order to conquer them and turn them away from every good deed”. To this the saint replied: “Thou gainest victory over those fallen away from God through their will, but for those loving God thou dost vanish, like smoke in the wind”. After these words the devil vanished. And thus did Saint Abraham defeat the enemy, strengthened by Divine grace. After fifty years of ascetic life he peacefully expired to the Lord (+ c. 360).
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.
Martyress Anatasia the Roman
The Monastic Martyress Anastasia the Roman
Commemorated on October 29
The Monastic Martyress Anastasia the Roman in infancy lost her parents, and she was then taken under the care of the head of a women’s monastery, named Sophia. The hegumeness raised Anastasia in fervent faith, in the fear of God and obedience. During these times there began the persecution against Christians by the emperor Decius (249-251). The city administrator, Probus, on the orders of the emperor commanded that Anastasia be brought to him. Having been blessed by her eldress-mentor for the deed of suffering for the Name of Christ, the young Martyress Anastasia humbly came out to meet the armed soldiers. Seeing her youth and beauty, Probus at first attempted by false flattery to tempt her and lead her into a renunciation of faith in Christ: “Why waste thine years, deprived of pleasure? What is there to gain in giving thyself over to tortures and death for the Crucified? Worship our gods, get thyself some handsome husband, and live in glory and honour”. The saint steadfastly replied: “My Bridegroom, my riches, my life and my happiness – is my Lord Jesus Christ, and with the threat of torments thou canst not part me from the Lord!” Fiercesome tortures were then begun. The holy martyress bravely endured them, glorifying and praising the Lord. In anger the torturers cut out her tongue. The people, seeing the inhuman and disgusting treatment of the saint, became indignant, and the governor of the city was compelled to bring the torture to a close, by beheading the martyress. The body of Saint Anastasia was thrown out beyond the city for devouring by wild animals, but the Lord did not permit that a mockery should be made with the holy remains. Learning of this through the Lord, the hegumeness Sophia found the torn body of the martyress, and with the help of two Christians she consigned it to earth.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.
HYMN OF PRAISE
THE VENERABLE ABRAMIUS THE RECLUSE
St. Abramius left his bride
And dedicated his life to strict asceticism.
By asceticism he worked out his salvation,
And wisely directed others to salvation.
Demonic power attacked the saint,
But in the name of Christ he crushed it.
The demon took on various, horrible guises,
To scare and hinder the man of God.
This man of God did not allow himself to fear,
Or separate his mind from God,
But shone on the world like a candle,
Glorifying the One God, the Most-holy Trinity.
Imprisoned, alone and not wanted by the world,
Abramius became a prisoner for the sake of Christ
For fifty years–fifty years!
Of tears, fasting and struggle–all for the Son of God:
For fifty years–fifty years!
Established on Christ, the firm Foundation.
Glory to Abramius, Christ’s soldier,
That, on the mortal earth, he has shown us immortality!
REFLECTIONBut he that endureth to the end shall be saved (Matthew 10:22), said the Lord. Faith is the only light of endurance, for endurance in and of itself implies unbearable darkness. Faith is the shining star in this darkness; faith eases the sharpness of suffering; it bears on its wings all the weight of endurance. St. Abramius gives us a beautiful example of perseverance in endurance. The vexation that the devil caused him by a multitude of temptations and terrors would have driven lesser men to leave one place for another. But Abramius did not want to move, so as not to give the evil demon a cause to rejoice; he remained in his place and defeated the devil. The bishop of that region sent Abramius to a pagan village to convert the villagers to the Christian Faith. After long hesitation, Abramius set out, saying: “Let it be as God wills–I will go out of obedience.” He first built a church in that village. Then he smashed all the idols in plain sight of the villagers. They beat him and whipped him half to death, and drove him from their village. But he prayed to God with tears for them, that the Lord would open the eyes of their hearts to know the truth of Christ. And so the pagans continually beat and abused him over the course of three years, but he constantly prayed to God for them, and was not angered with them, enduring in the Faith as a firm rock. And only after three years of labor, tears, forgiveness and faith, was he rewarded. Suddenly, the consciences of the villagers were awakened and they all came together to Abramius, bowing before him, and receiving the Christian Faith from him.
Contemplate the terrible punishment by which Paul punished the magician (Acts 13):
1. How a certain Jewish magician held Sergius the deputy under his dark power;
2. How Paul, by a word, blinded that magician;
3. How the deputy saw that miracle, believed in Christ and was baptized.
on the glory of the name of God
And blessed be His glorious name forever! And let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen (Psalm 72:19).
From the grace-filled heart of the prophet flow words full of grace. The prophet speaks of the King and the King’s Son, the most unusual King Who has ever appeared on earth. May His name be blessed forever (Psalm 72:17), the prophet said, and then, as if that were not enough, he said it again and added: His glorious name. The Church of Christ is the glory of Christ. Blessed is His Holy Church–the fruit of His labors, the wreath of His humiliation, the work of His hands, and the flower of His blood! Blessed is the very name of His Church–holy and salvific! And with His Church, that is, with His work and with His glory, the whole earth shall be filled. By the words, Forever and ever, the prophet foretold the immortal work of Christ, that is, His Church. She will be built in time and will be revealed in eternity. She will be built until the end of time, and will be revealed whole in eternity.
O my brethren, let us strive that our souls may be built into Christ’s Church, into that living and immortal body whose life has no end, and whose beauty is indescribable. Let us strive that we are not rejected as unsuitable and useless stones, to be cast into the abyss of eternal darkness.
O Lord Jesus Christ, King and Son of the King, write us also in the book of immortality, and remember us in Thy Heavenly Kingdom.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.