St. Empress Pulcheria and

St. Paul the Obedient

St. Paul the Obedient, 13th-14th century

Wednesday September 23, 2020 / September 10, 2020

16th Week after Pentecost. Tone six.
Fast. By Monastic Charter: Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)

Martyrs MenodoraMetrodora, and Nymphodora at Nicomedia (305). New Hieromartyrs Ismail, Eugene, John, Constantine, Peter, Basil, Gleb, Basil, John, Nicholas, Palladius priests, Hieromartyrs Meletius and Gabriel, Martyr Symeon, Virgin-Martyr Tatiana (1937). New Hieromartyr Warus bishop of Lipetsk (1938). Venerable Paul the Obedient of the Kiev Caves (13th c.). Venerable Prince Andrew, in monasticism Joasaph, of Kubensk, Vologda (1453). Synaxis of the Holy Apostles ApellesLucius, and Clement of the Seventy.. Martyr Barypsabas in Dalmatia (2nd c.). Blessed Pulcheria, the Empress of Greece (453). Sts. Peter (826) and Paul (9th c.), bishops of Nicaea. Synaxis of All Saints of Lipets

The Scripture Readings

Galatians 6:2-10
Mark 7:14-24

The Monk Paul the Obedient (XIII-XIV)

Commemorated on September 10

      The Monk Paul the Obedient (XIII-XIV), was an ascetic in the Farther Caves at Kiev. Upon assuming the monastic form at the Pechersk monastery, the monk without a murmur underwent very burdensome obediences, on which the monastery head had sent him. He was never idle, and when he was not at an obedience, he ground the grain under the millstone, wearing down his body by this heavy work and keeping unceasing inner prayer. The Church honours his memory on 10 September, on the day of his name in common with Sainted Paul, Bishop of Nicea (X).

St Pulcheria, Empress of Eastern Rome, 5th Century

The Nobleborn Empress Pulcheria

Commemorated on September 10

      The Nobleborn Empress Pulcheria, daughter of the Greek-Byzantine emperor Arcadius (395-408), was co-regent and adviser of her brother Theodosius the Younger (408-450). Having received a broad and well-rounded education, she distinguished herself by her wisdom and piety, firmly adhering to the Orthodox teaching of faith. Through her efforts the church of the MostHoly Mother of God at Blakhernae was built, and likewise other churches and monasteries. With her assist, the Third OEcumenical Council was convened in the year 431 at Ephesus, to deal with the heresy of Nestorius.
      Through the intrigues of enemies and also Eudocia, the wife of the emperor Theodosius the Younger, Saint Pulcheria was stripped of rule. She withdrew into seclusion, where she lived a pious life. But without her things became disorderly, and after a certain while, upon the urgent request of her brother the emperor she returned, and the unrest provoked by emerging heresies was quelled. After the death of Theodosius the Younger, Marcian (450-457) was chosen emperor. Saint Pulcheria again wanted to withdraw into her seclusion, but both the emperor and officials besought her not to forsake the rule, and instead become the spouse of the emperor Marcian. For the common good she consented to become the wife of Marcian on the condition, that she be permitted to preserve her virginity within the marriage. In such manner the imperial spouses lived in purity, like brother and sister.
      Through the efforts of Saint Pulcheria, the Fourth OEcumenical Council was convened in the year 451 at Chalcedon, to deal with the heresies of Dioskoros and Eutykhios.
      Throughout the course of all her life Saint Pulcheria defended the Orthodox teaching of faith against the various heresies that emerged. Having distributed off her substance to the poor and to the Church, she died peacefully at age 54 in the year 453.

© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

HYMN OF PRAISE

HE HOLY MARTYRS MENODORA, METRODORA AND NYMPHODORA 

Three virgins, sisters by birth,

 Three glorious martyrs of Christ,

 Glorified Christ before Fronton.

 By their fearlessness,

they frightened the governor;

 And Governor Fronton,

poor in wisdom,

 Thought, as many others did,

 That by force, fire and gallows

 He would quickly change their Christian ways.

 The governor thought: “All women are alike;

 They will quickly change their faith!”

 But the governor had deceived himself bitterly,

 And was shamed by these Christian women.

 Christ discriminates not between women and men–

 His gives strength to all who serve Him:

 The miraculous power of faith and hope,

 The power of suffering, without bitter lamenting.

 This power outlived the empire,

 And was employed for thousands of years–

 Employed but remained whole–

 Everything is as weak as clay before it.

 Menodora, and with her Metrodora,

 And the youngest sister, Nymphodora,

 Conquered the governor by God’s might.

 They gave their lives and glorified Christ;

 They gave their lives, and remained alive.

REFLECTION

Examples of courage and patience displayed by martyred Christian women–thousands upon thousands of them–have shone with radiant glory on all the pages of the history of the Christian Church. However, as amazing as these examples of voluntary martyrs are, the examples of ascetics, known and unknown, are not a bit less amazing, for asceticism is nothing less than prolonged martyrdom. Paul, the Bishop of Monemvasia, has given to posterity an instructive example of women ascetics. While he was still a layman and a collector of the royal tax, it happened that he stayed in a certain monastery. Seeing ravens landing on the fruit trees, breaking off branches with fruit and carrying them away, Paul wondered at this, and followed them with the monks to see where they were taking the fruit. Going thus, they came upon an impassable forest. The ravens landed at the bottom, deposited the broken fruit branches, and quickly returned. Paul and the monks investigated, and discovered a cave in which three women ascetics were living. The oldest one related their life story to them: She was of noble birth, from Constantinople. When her husband died, another nobleman wanted to take her as his wife by force. However, she decided that after the death of her first husband she would spend the remainder of her life in chastity. Therefore she distributed her wealth to the poor and fled to this deserted place with two of her maidservants. They lived there for eleven years in fasting and prayer, seeing no one and seen by no one but God. God the Provider arranged for the birds to bring them fruit for nourishment. Then they asked the abbot to bring them Holy Communion. Three days after they had received Holy Communion, all three of these holy women reposed, and the monks honorably buried them.

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the riches and glory of Solomon (I Kings 5:5-10):

1. How Solomon built a majestic Temple to God and then built cities and ships;

2. How the neighboring rulers were amazed at Solomon; how Hiram served him and the Queen of Sheba visited him; 

3. How Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed as gloriously as a lily of the field.

HOMILY

on how sinful men prefer to receive an evildoer rather than a doer of good

I am come in My Father’s name, and ye receive Me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive (John 5:43).

Who is this “other” who will come in his own name, and whom sinful men will prefer to receive rather than Christ the Lord? It is he who does not carry the cross and does not walk the narrow path; he who is not a lover of man but rather a hater of man; he who does not struggle against sin but rather struggles for sin; he who loves impurity and spreads impurity; he who is a soldier of eternal death and not of eternal life; he who flatters the godless and loves every passion and vice: he is Antichrist. He will come in his own name and not in the name of God, and all those who did not receive Christ will receive him. He will be more dear to them, for he will embrace all their crooked and sinful paths. He will be more dear to them than Christ, for alongside the difficult path of Christ he will build a path smooth as ice, over which men will easily slide, not thinking about the abyss to which it leads them. The Lord Jesus Christ came in the name of the eternal salvation of men, eternal life, eternal truth and eternal justice. Antichrist will come in his own name, that is, in the name of eternal destruction, death, falsehood and injustice. When the Antichrist comes among his own, his own will gladly receive him. In fact, all those for whom Christ is difficult will gladly receive Antichrist, for he and his path will appear easy to them. Only when it is too late will the foolish see that they were deceived, but there will be no salvation for them. When they begin to slide into eternal night, into the jaws of the fetid serpent, then it will be too late; repentance will not be accepted and there will be no salvation. The foolish banquet of earthly sinners and Antichrist will be over quickly, in the blink of an eye, and the house of impure joy will turn into a hopeless prison of remorse and misery. Then it will be too late.

O man-loving Lord, the only friend of man, Thee only do we know and recognize. Thee, only Thee, do we receive as our Savior and salvation.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.