Wednesday July 22, 2020 / July 9, 2020
7th Week after Pentecost. Tone five.
Fast. By Monastic Charter: Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)
Hieromartyr Pancratius, bishop of Taormina in Sicily (1st c.). Venerable Gabriel, abbot of St. Elias Skete, Mt. Athos (1901). New Hieromartyr Constantine priest (1918). Hieromartyr Cyril, bishop of Gortyna in Crete (250-252). Martyrs Patermuthius, Coprius, and Alexander the Soldier, in Egypt (361). St. Theodore, bishop of Edessa (848). “Cyprus” in the village of Stromyn (Moscow diocese) and “Koloch” (1413) Icons of the Mother of God
The Scripture Readings
The PriestMartyr Pankratios, Bishop of Tauromeneia
Commemorated on July 9
The PriestMartyr Pankratios, Bishop of Tauromeneia, was born at a time, when our Lord Jesus Christ yet lived upon the earth.
The parents of Pankratios were natives of Antioch. Hearing about the good-news of Jesus Christ, the father of Pankratios took his young son with him and set off to Jerusalem, in order to see for himself personally the great Teacher. The miracles astonished him, and when he heard the Divine teaching, he then believed in Christ as the Son of God. He became close with the disciples of the Lord, especially with the holy Apostle Peter. And it was during this period that young Pankratios got to know the holy Apostle Peter.
After the Ascension of the Saviour one of the Apostles came to Antioch and baptised the parents of Pankratios together with all their household. When the parents of Pankratios died, he left behind his inherited possessions and went to a Pontine mountain and began to live in a cave, passing his days in prayer and deep spiritual contemplation. The holy Apostle Peter, one time passing through these parts, made a visit to Pankratios at Pontus, and took him along to Antioch, and then to Cilicia, where the holy Apostle Paul then was. And there the holy Apostles Peter and Paul ordained Saint Pankratios as bishop of the Cilician city of Tauromeneia.
Saint Pankratios toiled zealously for the Christian enlightenment of the people. Over the course of a single month he built a church, where he celebrated Divine-services. The number of believers quickly grew, and soon almost all the people of Tauromeneia and the surrounding cities accepted the Christian faith.
Saint Pankratios governed his flock peacefully for many years. But one time pagans connived against the saint, and seizing an appropriate moment, they fell upon him and stoned him. Thus did Saint Pankratios end his life as a martyr (I). The relics of the saint rest in the church named for him, at Rome.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.
HYMN OF PRAISE
SAINT PANCRATIUS [PANCRAS]
Pancratius holy, during his childhood,
Warmed himself in the sun of the face of Christ.
Summer after summer flew fast away,
But in his mind that face remained,
Day and night, luminous before him.
All that darkened that image, he resisted,
And his possessions and the home of his parents he left,
And left every deceptive desire,
And the pleasures of the world that please men.
Alone, he went into the wilderness,
And to the last day of his earthly course
He was infused with the sweetness of the divine countenance.
A radiant lamp is not easily hid–
Pancratius in his own way, and the Lord in His.
Sicily, a pagan land was,
That needed the light of St. Pancratius,
That needed his witness of Christ’s face,
That needed the blood of the martyr!
All that was needed, Pancratius gave.
As a martyr he fell, as an immortal one he remained.
Above Sicily, he remained as a light–
A guide to that face that would forever warm it.
Many ask themselves why God takes young men, maidens and children from this life–why does He not let them grow old, and then take them through death to the other world? This is God’s economy, this is the holy will of His providence. But there are some examples, in the enormous experience of the Church, in which God sometimes acts in this way according to the wishes and prayers of his saints in the other world, or of relatives. St. Ader (in monasticism Athanasius) appeared to his wife, whom he had suddenly left with three children when he entered a monastery, where he died. When the wife reached a state of despair–out of her concern for her helpless children and also for her husband, for she did not know where he was–he appeared to her in a dream from the other world. His face was glowing and he was wearing a radiant white garment. He said to her: “Cease crying and railing against me. Behold, I will take two of the children from you to myself; and you, if you want to, can devote yourself to the salvation of your soul.” At the same time and in the same manner, he also appeared to St. Theodosius the Stylite and said to him: “In three days, an old hermitess, who lives near the monastery, will go to the Lord. In that cell, put my wife, so that she may live an ascetical life as a nun. Let the youngest child remain with her until he grows up. He will walk in my footsteps and will inherit the apostolic throne in Jerusalem.” And in truth, all this occurred as was foretold. On the third day the old hermitess died, and so also did Ader’s two older children. His wife then took over the cell of the old hermitess with the youngest son, who–when he grew up–became the Patriarch of Jerusalem.
To contemplate the miraculous victory over Amalek (Exodus 17):
1. How the people prevailed against Amalek as long as Moses prayed to God with upraised hands;
2. How Moses, with upraised hands in prayer, prefigured the victorious Crucifixion of Christ;
3. How, through the power of the Cross and prayer, I too can conquer the dark passions that Amalek represents.
About the judgment of God on the righteous
“For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that do not obey the Gospel of the Son of God?” (1 Peter 4:17).
When the judgment of God comes upon the house of the righteous man, the unrighteous one should not maliciously rejoice, but should tremble with fear. If the righteous man and the unrighteous one are neighbors, and if the hand of God falls on the righteous one, it has fallen on them both–on the former to temper and on the second to warn. When bitter suffering befalls the righteous one, it does not befall him without the will of God. Let not the unrighteous one rejoice, for this suffering is more for his sake than for the sake of the righteous one–that is, that he may see the wrath of God, and hasten to change his spirit and correct his works. Let him also ask himself: when such is the wrath of God against the righteous one, what will it be against me?
Therefore know, brethren, that justice is strength and injustice is weakness. Which can endure more and not break under the strain: might or weakness? Without a doubt, might. It is for this reason that a heavy yoke (burden) is placed on the righteous man. Let not the unrighteous one jeer (ridicule) when he sees the righteous one under a heavy yoke, and let him not say: My unrighteousness is better than his righteousness! Let him look upon the yoke of the righteous one with fear and trembling, and let him sincerely say to himself: That is my yoke, but I am entirely too weak to bear it. That is why it was thrown on his back, on the back of the righteous one, that I may see it and repent of my ways, and through repentance become strengthened for the burden that awaits me. Judgment must begin at the house of God–that is God’s immeasurable mercy toward sinners, toward the weak ones who have become weakened by sin. Let them open their eyes and read the wrath of God that has been recorded. Judgment must begin at the house of God, for the house of God is strong, and the house of God is the righteous man, in which the Spirit of God abides. When the wind rocks the tower of stone, then let the hut dwellers fortify their huts.
O my brethren, how fateful and awesome are those apostolic words for sinners!
O Lord Jesus, just and merciful, have mercy on us and save us.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.