Venerable Ioannicius the Great of Bithynia


A prayer attributed to St. Joannicius

My hope is the Father, my refuge is the Son, my shelter is the Holy Spirit, O Holy Trinity, Glory to Thee.

Wednesday November 17, 2021 / November 4, 2021

22nd Week after Pentecost. Tone four.
Fast. By Monastic Charter: Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)

Venerable Ioannicius the Great of Bithynia (846). Hieromartyrs Nicander, bishop of Myra, and Hermas, presbyter (1st c.). Martyr Nicholas confessor and priest (1931). Virgin-martyr Eugene (1935). New Hieromartyr Alexander priest (1937). New Hieromartyr Ismail priest (1941). Venerable Mercurius, faster of the Kiev Caves (14th c.). Venerable Nicander, abbot of Gorodensk (Novgorod) (1607). Blessed Simon of Yurievets (1584)

The Scripture Readings

Colossians 3:17-4:1
Luke 11:42-46

  •  

1. THE HOLY MARTYR PARASCEVA

She was born in the city of Iconium of wealthy and Christ-loving parents. After the death of her parents, the maiden Parasceva began to distribute her possessions to the poor and the less fortunate, all in the name of Christ the Lord. When a persecution began under Diocletian, Parasceva was brought to trial before the governor of that land. When the governor asked her for her name, she replied that she was called a Christian. The governor rebuked her because she did not give her usual name and Parasceva said to him: “First, I had to tell you my name in eternal life, and then my name in this temporal life.” After flogging her, the governor cast Parasceva into prison where an angel of God appeared to her, healed her of her wounds, and comforted her. By prayer, Parasceva destroyed all the idols in the pagan temple. After prolonged and harsh tortures, Parasceva was beheaded with the sword and took up her abode in eternal life.

2. SAINT ARSENIJE, ARCHBISHOP OF PEĆ

Arsenije was a great hierarch of the Serbian Church and the successor of St. Sava. Arsenije was born in Srem.  While still in his youth, he was tonsured a monk and devoted himself sincerely and whole-heartedly to asceticism for the salvation of his soul. Hearing of the wonderful person and work of St. Sava, Arsenije went to him in Žiča, where St. Sava received him cordially and included him among the brotherhood of Žiča. Seeing the rare virtures in Arsenije, Sava soon appointed him abbot of the Žiča monastery. When the Hungarians attacked the Serbian lands, Sava sent Arsenije to the south to look for a place more secluded than Žiča for the archiepiscopal see. Arsenije chose Peć, and built a monastery there and a church dedicated to the Holy Apostles (which was later remaned the Church of the Ascension of the Lord). Before his second departure for Jerusalem, Sava designated Arsenije as his successor to the archiepiscopal throne, and when Sava reposed in Trnovo on his way back from Jerusalem, Arsenije urged King Vladislav to translate the body of St. Sava to the Serbian land. He governed the Church prudently for thirty years and reposed in the Lord on October 28, 1266 A.D. On the wall of the altar in the church of Peć is written: “O Lord our God, hearken: visit and bless this church … and remember also me, the sinful Arsenije.” Arsenije is buried in the church at Peć.

3. THE HOLY MARTYR TERENCE

He was from Syria and suffered for the Christian Faith with his wife Neonilla and their seven children. After many tortures, during which the power of God was manifested, they were all beheaded with the sword.

4. SAINT STEPHEN OF ST. SAVA’S

He was the composer of many beautiful canons. He lived the ascetic life in the community of St. Sava the Sanctified. He was later ordained a bishop and peacefully entered into rest in the year 807 A.D.

5. SAINT ATHANASIUS, PATRIARCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE

He was an opponent of union with Rome, in contrast to his predecessor John Beccus (1275-1282 A.D.). He was an ascetic and a prayerful person from his childhood. Beloved by his people, Athanasius provoked the displeasure of certain priests by his moral strictness. He withdrew to his monastery on Mount Ganos, where he labored even more austerely than before. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself appeared to him and scolded him gently for leaving his flock to the wolves. When he foretold the day of the earthquake in Constantinople, Emperor Andronicus reinstated him to the patriarchal throne against his will. After that, he again secretly withdrew to the ascetic life. He entered into rest at the age of one hundred. He was clairvoyant and a miracle-worker.

6. SAINT DIMITRI, BISHOP OF ROSTOV

Dimitri was a great hierarch, preacher, author and ascetic. He was born near Kiev in the year 1651 A.D., and reposed in the year 1709 A.D. Among his many glorious works of instruction, he was known especially for his translation and publication of The Lives of the Saints. He foresaw his own death three days in advance, and died while at prayer. Dimitri was a great light of the Russian Church and of Orthodoxy in general. He had heavenly visions during his life. He served the Lord zealously and took up his habitation in the Kingdom of Heaven.

HYMN OF PRAISE

THE VENERABLE IOANNICIUS THE GREAT

Ioannicius served the people,
The people and the prince, with great zeal,
And then withdrew from all and everything
To serve the glory of the Heavenly King.

Ioannicius was a great soldier
For the holy Faith and for pure justice;
With tears and labors for half a century
He prayed and prayed to Christ.

Glorious Ioannicius was a rich man,
Rich and more than abundant with the power of heaven,
Leading the struggle, and chanting Psalms,
Against every dark and deceitful power.

The wondrous saint, Ioannicius,
Worked many wonderful miracles
In the name of Christ and by the power of the Cross,
Mightily destroying the demons’ schemes.

O Saint of God, Ioannicius,
You found mercy in the Lord Jesus Christ:
Beg mercy also for us sinners,
And from the Holy Spirit, holy grace.


REFLECTION

Mercy is the fruit of faith. Where there is true faith, there also is true mercy. St. Ioannicius was walking past a monastery one day. Among the many nuns, there were a mother and daughter. Evil spirits continually assaulted the young daughter with bodily temptations, and inflamed the passion of lust in her to such a degree that she wanted to leave the convent to marry. In vain did her mother counsel her to stay. Her daughter would not even hear of it. When the mother saw St. Ioannicius, she begged him to counsel her daughter to remain in the monastery and not expose her soul to perdition in the world. Ioannicius summoned the maiden and said: “Daughter, place your hand on my shoulder!” She did so. Then the compassionate saint prayed to God with a fervent heart that He deliver her from temptation, and that her bodily lust be transferred to him. Thus, it happened. The maiden was completely calmed and remained in the monastery, and the saint of God went on his way. But as he went, the passion of lust was inflamed in him, and his blood began to boil as though on fire. He desired to die rather than to give the passion its way and, seeing a large poisonous snake, ran to it so as to be bitten and to die. But the snake would not bite him. He provoked it to make it bite him, but as soon as he touched it the snake died. At that moment the flame of lust disappeared from Ioannicius.

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the Lord’s coming to Paul in a vision at night (Acts 18):

1. How the Lord came to Paul at Corinth, in a nighttime vision;

2. How He told him to fear not and to preach, for He said: I have much people in this city;

3. How Paul obeyed and remained there for a year and a half.

HOMILY

on the heirs of the Kingdom through Christ the Lord

In whom also we have obtained an inheritance (Ephesians 1:11).

All is from the Lord Jesus Christ, all is through the Lord Jesus Christ, and all is of the Lord Jesus Christ. Without Him, we have no proper ties or normal relationships with God, with men or with other created beings. He is our head and our mind, and through Him we have obtained an inheritance. What do we inherit? The Kingdom of God. Why are Christians often called heirs in the New Testament? Inheritance is always associated with someone’s passing from this earth. One must die for his heir to inherit. Christians even become heirs while still in this life, for the old man in them dies and the new man comes in his place as heir. The one who outlives the other is the one who inherits. When the body dies, the soul outlives it; the soul therefore inherits all that a man has gathered while in the body, be it good works for salvation or evil works for condemnation. Through the Lord Jesus Christ the inheritance that the Lord Himself rejoiced in is opened to us: the Immortal Kingdom of God. We inherit that Kingdom when we leave the earthly kingdom–when we die to this earth, we will inherit heaven; when we break off the alliance with Satan, we will become fellow heirs in Christ. O my brethren, just think what a rich inheritance awaits us! But let us not sell it cheaply, as Esau sold his birthright!

O Lord Jesus Christ, our God and our Savior, have mercy on us to the end, and save us.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.