Sunday, September 24, 2017

"Main Posts" after Saint or Feast of the Day

Please be sure to scroll down past the Saint or Feast of the day.

After the Saint or Feast of the day I post my "Main Posts". These may be anything including original articles, book reviews, adding new blogs to my web page and just about anything new I may wish the reader to read.

Please note I do not always have "Main Posts" posted.

I tend to leave "Main Posts" up for several days.

Sophocles

Icon of the Mother of God “Mirozh”

Commemorated on September 24

The Mirozh Icon appeared at the Mirozh monastery in the year 1198. But later, during the reign of Ivan the Terrible, at a time when a plague raged at Pskov, an ancient report tells how tears flowed from both eyes of the icon. Many benefits and healings for man occured from the icon of the Mother of God.”

The Mirozh Icon is an “Orans” (“Praying”) type. On either side of the Most Holy Theotokos stand the Pskov Saints: on the right, the holy Prince Dovmont-Timothy (May 20); on the left, his wife, the holy nun Martha, in the world named Maria Dimitrievna (November 8, 1300). Tsar Ivan Vasilievich took away the wonderworking icon from Pskov, but at the monastery an exact copy remained: the so-called “Great Panagia” from the Savior-Mirozh monastery.

On September 24, 1567, on the Feast of Saint Abraham at the Mirozh monastery there occurred a miraculous sign from an ancient icon of the Most Holy Theotokos. The celebration of the Mirozh Icon of the Sign was established in that same year, with the blessing of Archbishop Pimen of Novgorod and Pskov. A special service to this icon was composed, and was published in the 1666 MENAION.

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SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2016(with 2015's link here also and further: 2014  2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008 and even 2007!):

Friday, September 22, 2017

Venerable Cosmas of the Zographou Monastery on Mt. Athos



Saint Cosmas, Hermit of Zographou, was a Bulgarian. In his youth he avoided entering into marriage, and secretly left his parents’ home for Mount Athos. Then as he was on his way to the Holy Mountain, the devil tried to shake the yearning of the youth, vexing him with a vision of the infinite abyss of the sea surrounding the Holy Mountain. The fervent prayer of the youth dispelled the demonic temptation.

On Athos, Saint Cosmas was accepted in the Zographou monastery. There he was a novice for a long time, and then he was tonsured, and was appointed ecclesiarch. Saint Cosmas received a special mercy to see the heavenly abbess of Mount Athos Herself, Who on the Feast of the Annunciation at the Vatopedi monastery deigned to reveal to him a glimpse of Her care for Her earthly appanage. He saw a Woman of royal majesty and grandeur, Who attended to both in church for services, and in the trapeza. All the monks served and obeyed Her.

Soon the saint was ordained as deacon, and then as presbyter, which inspired him to new exploits. Zealous for salvation, the saint through fervent prayer to the Most Holy Theotokos was granted a particular sign of Her special favor. He heard the voice of the Mother of God issuing from Her holy icon and asking Her Son, “How will Cosmas be saved?” The Lord answered, “Let him withdraw from the monastery into silence.” After obtaining the blessing of the Superior, Saint Cosmas withdrew into the wilderness, and there in a cave cut into a cliff, and began his new deed of silent seclusion. God did not forsake the faithful man of prayer, for the saint was granted the gift of clairvoyance.

Just as at the start of his ascetic life, the Enemy of the race of mankind again tried to dissuade the saint from his intended path, and so the final days before the righteous one’s death were also a grievous trial for him.

Not long before the death of God’s chosen one, he was granted a vision of Christ Himself, Who informed the saint that before his soul would depart to the heavenly Kingdom, Satan himself with his hosts would beat and gnash at him. Prepared for the suffering by this divine solace, the saint bravely underwent the terrible demonic assaults, and on the third day after furious beatings, he received the All-Pure Mysteries. With words of praise on his lips, he peacefully departed to the Lord.

God, “Who glorifies those who glorify Him,” also glorified Saint Cosmas miraculously at his death. At the time of the saint’s burial a multitude of beasts and birds flocked to his cave, as though sensing the common loss of the Holy Mountain. When they placed his body in the grave and began to cover it with ground, each of the speechless creatures let out a mournful cry, bestowing final respect to the saint of God.

Forty days later, when the brethren opened the saint’s tomb after the all-night Vigil (as was customary), in order to transfer them to the monastery with honor, they were not to be found. The Lord hid them in a miraculous manner. This occurred in the year 1323.

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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Venerable Joseph of Zaonikiev Monastery, Vologda



Saint Joseph of Zaonikiev, was named Hilarion in the world, a pious peasant from the village of Obukhovo Kubensk in the region of the Vologda gubernia. For a long time he suffered a disease of the eyes and he fervently prayed for the help of the Lord, to the Most Holy Theotokos, and to the Saints, in particular the holy Unmercenaries Cosmas and Damian.

His prayer was heard, and in 1588, by a revelation of Saint Cosmas, Hilarion went into the forest into a swampy place, to an icon of the Mother of God, from which he received healing. In gratitude the monk cleared a forest thicket at the place of the appearance of the wonderworking icon and built a chapel, in which he placed the icon. He himself settled close by, taking the monastic schema with the name of Joseph.

Afterwards, with the blessing of Saint Anthony, Bishop of Vologda, on the place of Joseph’s ascetic exploits the Zaonikiev monastery emerged, so named from the brigand Anikios who once dwelt in this forest. When the monastery expanded and the number of monks grew, upon the advice of Saint Joseph, Anthony was chosen as igumen. Joseph did not accept the leadership himself out of humility. Since he concealed his own strict exploits from the others, he was perceived as a fool-for-Christ. He stood on his feet at prayer in his chapel, and he went about barefoot in the fierce cold.

Saint Joseph reposed on September 21, 1612 at age 83, and was buried in the monastery founded by him.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Holy Martyrs Trophimus, Sabbatius and Dorymedon

Commemorated on September 19

The Holy Martyrs Trophimus, Sabbatius and Dorymedon suffered for Christ during the reign of the Roman emperor Probus (276-282). A pagan festival was being celebrated in the city of Antioch. Sacrificial offerings were brought, the wine was poured, and vile acts were performed. The Christians Trophimus and Sabbatius arrived in the city just as the festival was taking place, and were saddened by this loud and indecent spectacle. They prayed that the Lord would guide the errant on the way of salvation. As they said this, the idolaters noticed their presence. Seeing that the strangers did not worship the idols, they arrested them and took them to the governor.

At their interrogation, the saints firmly confessed their faith. When they were told to renounce Christ, they resolutely refused to do so. Saint Sabbatius died under the fierce torment. Saint Trophimus was sent to the city of Synnada in Phrygia for even more terrible tortures.

For three days Saint Trophimus walked shod in iron sandals with sharp nails, driven on by a cavalry guard. The governor of Frigius, Dionysius, infamous as a torturer and executioner, used all manner of tortures to break the will of the brave Christian. Saint Trophimus merely repeated the words of Scripture: “many afflictions has the righteous one, but from them all will the Lord deliver him” (Ps 33/34:20).

The senator Dorymedon, a secret Christian, visited Saint Trophimus in prison, washing and binding his wounds. When the pagans learned that the senator would not participate in the festival of Castor and Pollux, they asked the reason for his refusal. He said that he was a Christian, and would not attend a festival in honor of the demons. He and Saint Trophimus were thrown to the wild beasts to be eaten by them, but the martyrs remained unharmed. Then they were beheaded with the sword.

TROPARION - TONE 8

God praised in Trinity has glorified a trinity of martyrs: / Trophimus, Sabbatius, and Dorymedon. / By their faith, they overthrew the adversary. / Through their prayers, O Christ our God, have mercy on us.

KONTAKION - TONE 8

As the foundation of athletes and the confirmation of piety / the Church honors and glorifies your brilliant suffering, / wise and glorious Trophimus, ever-praised and blessed athlete. / Together with your fellow sufferers, ask cleansing for those who hymn you, / for you are invincible.

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SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2016(with 2015's link here also and further: 2014  2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008 and even 2007!):

John the Foreigner

September 20













SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2016(with 2015's link here also and further: 2014  2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008 and even 2007!):

Monday, September 18, 2017

Venerable Hilarion of Optina



Saint Hilarion (Ponamarov) was born in Kluch on the night of Pascha, April 8-9, 1805. Nikita and Euphemia Ponamarov named their third son Rodion in honor of Saint Herodion of the Seventy. He always considered April 8, the day of his patron saint’s commemoration, as his birthday. After Rodion, a son and a daughter were born to the Ponamarovs. The daughter, however, died as a baby.

Nikita Ponamarov worked in town as a tailor, and sometimes his business took him to the homes of the local landowners. Consequently, Rodion seldom saw his father until he was fifteen years old.

Rodion was a quiet, uncoordinated child who did not play much with other children, since they made fun of his clumsiness. Even members of his own family behaved in a rude manner toward him, and seldom showed him any affection. The way he was treated made him thoughtful and introspective.

One winter he was playing in the snow with some friends, using an old board as a sled. The board broke and left Rodion with a permanent scar on the finger of his left hand. Another time he injured himself on a saddle-horn while riding. These injuries also had an effect on his health, which was never robust.

The family moved to the Novopersk region of Voronezh in 1820, and Rodion lived there until he was twenty. He helped his father in his work, and gradually acquired skill as a tailor. His parents wanted him to follow this trade, even though his mother once foretold that he would be a monk. Rodion himself desired the monastic life even as a young child, but now he applied himself to tailoring, for he knew that this handicraft would be very useful in the monastery.

Rodion went to Moscow in December of 1825 in order to learn more about being a tailor, arriving with very little money, and with nowhere to stay. He worked with various tailors, but the work was difficult and he became ill. His poor health, he said in later life, probably saved him from falling into many vices. Having increased his proficiency as a tailor, Rodion left Moscow and returned home.

The family moved again in 1829, this time to Saratov. Rodion was engaged twice, but the Lord did not want him to follow this path. His first fiancée died after a short illness, and Rodion simply lost interest in the second.

Saratov was the home to many sectarians of all sorts, and the future saint became involved with certain activists who tried to refute their false teachings. Rodion’s missionary labors may have influenced many sectarians to return to the Orthodox Church. Because of some misunderstanding, however, Rodion and his friends were put on trial. As a result, the authorities kept Rodion under observation for the next four years. This scrutiny was hard for him to endure, and made it very difficult for him to conduct his affairs.

Through his study of the Holy Scripture and the writings of the holy Fathers, Rodion’s desire to become a monk was reawakened. Therefore, he decided to find the monastery which was most suitable for him. In 1837 and 1838 Rodion visited monasteries at Sarov, Suzdal, Rostov, Tikhvin, Moscow, Pochaev, and other places. Finally, he arrived before the gates of Optina. He was thirty-four years old.

At first, Rodion was placed in a cell next to Father Barlaam, a retired igumen of Valaam Monastery. Father Barlaam was a man of great spiritual stature, who had a profound influence on the young man, and became his first instructor in the Jesus Prayer. In later years, Elder Hilarion recalled visiting Father Barlaam to tell him of the various things he had seen or heard. Father Barlaam would ask, “Is that useful? It would be better for you not to see or hear anything. Try to examine your thoughts and your heart more often.” With his wise counsel, Father Barlaam helped Rodion in his spiritual growth as a monk.

Saint Anthony (August 7), the Superior of the Skete, was transferred to Maloyaroslavets on December 1, 1839. He was replaced by Saint Macarius (September 7), the monastery’s confessor. Rodion was assigned to be his cell attendant, remaining in this obedience until the Elder’s death in 1860. Rodion went to Father Macarius for Confession, and to Saint Leonid (October 11) for the daily revelation of his thoughts. In an effort to cleanse himself of the passions, Rodion renounced his own will and obeyed Elder Macarius in all things.

Father Macarius was very strict with the novices, and would not permit the slightest disobedience. He was never the first to bring up a person’s failures and shortcomings, but waited for him to confess his own negligence. He taught the novices to love their neighbor, and to bear their afflictions with patience.


From the time Rodion came to Optina, he had other obediences in addition to serving as cell attendant to Father Macarius. He also tended the flower and vegetable gardens, and worked as a baker, and a bee-keeper. He carried out every task assigned him without complaint.

While his spiritual progress was hidden from men, it was certainly noticed by the all-seeing God. In due course, he received the monastic tonsure and was given the name Hilarion. Father Macarius recognized his disciple’s spiritual maturity, and predicted that he and Saint Ambrose (October 10) would succeed him as Elders after his death. Elder Macarius therefore entrusted Father Hilarion and Father Ambrose with giving counsel to his many spiritual children.

As the closest disciple of Saint Macarius, Father Hilarion was chosen to be Superior of the Skete, and the monastery’s Father Confessor. He confessed all the brethren entrusted to him five times a year, once during each of the Fasts, and twice during Great Lent. Each monk was questioned about the details of his inner life, and was given advice on how to conduct himself in future. Once he finished hearing the Confession of the monks, Father Hilarion began confessing the nuns, and the men and women who came to him from various places. Although there were many people, Father Hilarion never refused anyone. He rarely gave his own opinion, but quoted from the Scriptures or the writings of the Fathers. Sometimes, he would tell people what Father Macarius had said in similar situations. He was very effective in giving advice, because he always practiced what he preached, and he had already experienced the things that were troubling his spiritual children.

The Elder led people to feel sorrow for their sins, and through his questions he brought them to an awareness of their spiritual state. Sometimes he would help them to remember sins which they had forgotten to confess, sins which might lie at the root of their spiritual infirmity. He gave penances according to a person’s age, health, and circumstances. He might require the penitent to read certain prayers, do prostrations, give alms, and to avoid those habits and amusements which are not fitting for a Christian. Many people received much benefit from confessing to him, and continued to live according to the advice he had given them. Not only were they cured of their spiritual afflictions, but sometimes Father Hilarion also healed them of their physical or mental illness as well.

Father Hilarion, by God’s providence, became seriously ill for two years. All during that time he did not ask God to let him recover. Instead, he asked to be given the patience to help him bear the illness. He received Holy Communion frequently, and twice he was given Holy Unction.

During the last thirty-three days of his life, Father Hilarion partook of the life-giving Mysteries of Christ every day. In the last four weeks of his life, the Elder was unable to lie down in bed because of water in his lungs. Therefore, he remained seated on a couch in front of a portrait of Father Macarius. He experienced great discomfort, and was not able to sleep very well.

Father Hilarion observed the cell rule of prayer until the last moments of his life. Early on the morning of September 18, 1873 he listened to the morning rule being read, and received Holy Communion at 1:00 A.M. Five hours later, he rested from his labors and gave his soul into the hands of God.

It is said that during Father Hilarion’s final illness, Saint Macarius appeared to him many times in his dreams. As he drew closer to death, these appearances became more frequent. He died with his prayer rope in his hands, and was buried next to his beloved Elder Saint Macarius.

The Moscow Patriarchate authorized local veneration of the Optina Elders on June 13,1996. The work of uncovering the relics of Saints Leonid, Macarius, Hilarion, Ambrose, Anatole I, Barsanuphius and Anatole II began on June 24/July 7, 1998 and was concluded the next day. However, because of the church Feasts (Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, etc.) associated with the actual dates of the uncovering of the relics, Patriarch Alexey II designated June 27/July 10 as the date for commemorating this event. The relics of the holy Elders now rest in the new church of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God.

The Optina Elders were glorified by the Moscow Patriarchate for universal veneration on August 7, 2000.

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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Icon of the Mother of God of Constantinople



The Constantinople Icon commemorated today is probably the prototype of another Constantinople Icon (April 25) venerated at Moscow’s Dormition church on Malaya Dimitrovka.

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Friday, September 15, 2017

St. Joseph the New of Partos the Metropolitan of Timishoara (Romania)

Commemorated on September 15

Saint Joseph the New was born in 1568 at Raguza in Dalmatia, and was given the name Jacob at his Baptism. When he was very young, his father died, and he was raised by his mother. At the age of twelve, he was sent to Ochrid to be schooled.

The young Jacob was called to live the monastic life when he was fifteen, and entered the monastery of the Mother of God. After five years, he traveled to Mount Athos, and was tonsured at the Pantokrator Monastery with the new name of Joseph. He fulfilled his various obediences in an exemplary manner, becoming perfected in virtue and holiness. He attained unceasing prayer of the heart, receiving from God the gift of tears. He also performed many miracles, healing the sick and the crippled. Some of the monasteries of the Holy Mountain would send for him so that he could heal those monks who were afflicted with severe bodily suffering.

On July 20, 1650, at the age of eighty-two, Saint Joseph was elected as Metropolitan of Timishoara. He was a wise and good shepherd to his flock, healing their physical and spiritual illnesses. Once he extinguished a fire in the western part of Timishoara by his prayers, when God sent a heavy rainfall.

After three years of archpastoral labors, he retired to the Partosh Monastery, where he was often visited by many of the faithful. The monastery was an important center of church activity in those days, and even had a school for training priests.

Metropolitan Joseph fell asleep in the Lord on August 15, 1656 when he was eighty-eight years old, and he was buried in the monastery church. He is commemorated on September 15.

He worked many miracles during his lifetime, and there are reports that his relics remained incorrupt after his death.

For more than 300 years the monks reverently tended his grave, then at his glorification on October 7, 1956 Saint Joseph’s relics were transferred into the cathedral at Timishoara. The casket containing his holy relics is adorned with carvings depicting scenes from his life.

An Akathist composed to honor Saint Joseph speaks of his many virtues.

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Monday, September 11, 2017

Martyrs Diodorus, Didymus and Diomedes of Laodicea



These Saints were born in Laodicea in the fourth century, and suffered martyrdom in that city. They were flogged to death.



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Sunday, September 10, 2017

Sunday before Holy Cross

 September 10


TONE OF THE WEEK

PLAGAL OF THE FIRST TONE

EOTHINON

THIRD ORTHROS GOSPEL

RESURRECTIONAL APOLYTIKION

PLAGAL OF THE FIRST TONE

Let us worship the Word, O ye faithful, praising Him that with the Father and the Spirit is co-beginningless God, Who was born of a pure Virgin that we all be saved; for He was pleased to mount the Cross in the flesh that He assumed, accepting thus to endure death. And by His glorious rising, He also willed to resurrect the dead.

SEASONAL KONTAKION

FOURTH TONE

In your holy birth, Immaculate One, Joachim and Anna were rid of the shame of childlessness; Adam and Eve of the corruption of death. And so your people, free of the guilt of their sins, celebrate crying: "The barren one gives birth to the Theotokos, who nourishes our life."

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Saturday, September 09, 2017

St. Ciaran of Clonmacnoise



Saint Ciaran (Kieran), who has been described as a lamp shining with the light of knowledge, was born in 512 and raised in Connacht, Ireland. His father was a builder of chariots. He was one of eight children, at least two of whom also embraced the religious life.

Saint Ciaran had a special affinity for animals, and even had a fox for a pet. The future saint left home as a boy, driving a cow before him to pay for his keep. He went to study with Saint Finnian of Clonard (December 12), and became one of the “twelve apostles to Ireland.” Some of the others were Saint Columba of Iona (June 9), Ninnidh (Nennius) of Lough Erne (January 16), and Saint Brendan the Voyager (May 16).

There is a story that one day the students were studying the Gospel of Saint Matthew when Saint Ninnidh came into class without a book. He asked Ciaran to lend him his, which he did. So when Finnian tested the class, Ciaran knew only the first half of the Gospel. The other students laughed and called him “Ciaran half-Matthew.” Saint Finnian silenced them and said, “Not Ciaran half-Matthew, but Ciaran half-Ireland, for he will have half the country and the rest of us will have the other half.”

After spending some time in Clonard, Ciaran visited other monasteries, including that of Saint Enda (March 21) on Aran, where he was ordained to the holy priesthood. He left there because of a vision which Saint Enda interpreted for him. Then he went to Scattery Island to study under Saint Senan (March 8). Later, he went to visit his brothers Luachaill and Odhran, who had a foundation at a place called Isel. Ciaran’s charity was so great that his brothers asked him to leave. They said, “Brother, leave us for we cannot live in the same place with you and feed and keep our brethren for God, because of your unbounded lavishness.”

Saint Ciaran left them and set off with his books in a bag. On the way he met a stag and placed the bag on its back. He followed the animal until he came to Lough Ree opposite Hare Island, where he founded a monastery. Leaving his brother Donnan (January 7) as abbot, he went to dwell in the wilderness.

With nine other companions, Saint Ciaran founded another monastery at Clonmacnoise on the banks of the River Shannon. Within seven months, he became ill and asked to be taken outside and laid on the ground. He looked up at the heavens and said something about the way being steep and difficult. He departed to the Lord at the age of thirty-three.

Clonmacnoise was a thousand years old when it was suppressed by Henry VIII. The monastery was destroyed by Reformation armies in 1552, but the ruins are still very impressive. There is a cathedral, seven other churches, three high crosses, and two stumps of round towers. Fifty kings are said to be buried here with the abbots and monks of the monastery.

Saint Ciaran’s crozier survives to the present day.

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Friday, September 08, 2017

Icon of the Mother of God of Domnitsa



The Domnitsa Icon of the Mother of God appeared in the year 1696 on the bank of the Domnitsa River in Chernigov diocese, not far from the city of Berezna. At the place of appearance of the icon a monastery was established, in which was situated the wonderworking image. In the year 1771 the inhabitants of the city prayed before the holy icon and were delivered from plague through the intercession of the Theotokos.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Martyr Romulus and with him many others



The Martyr Romulus lived during the reign of the emperor Trajan (98-117) and was a confidant of the emperor by virtue of his office of military commander. At the time, Trajan was waging war in the East to put down uprisings against the Romans by the Iberians, Sarmatians, and Arabs.

In the year 107, and again a second time in 115, the emperor conducted a review of the military strength of his army, and found in his troops upwards of 11,000 Christians. Trajan immediately sent these Christians into exile in Armenia in disgrace. Saint Romulus, in view of this, reproached the emperor for his impiety and the sheer folly to diminish the army’s strength during a time of war. Saint Romulus, moreover, acknowledged that he himself was a Christian. The enraged Trajan had the holy martyr subjected to a merciless beating, after which Saint Romulus was beheaded.

The Christian soldiers sent into exile in Armenia were killed by various forms of execution.

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Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Martyr Urban and 79 Companions at Nicomedia



The Martyrs Urban, Theodore, Medimnus and seventy-nine companions suffered at Nicomedia during the reign of the Arian emperor Valentus (Valens) (364-378 or 379). The Orthodox bishop Evagrius was banished from the Church of Constantinople, and Christians not wishing to accept the Arian heresy were locked up in prison and subjected to various outrages.

Driven to the point of despair, the Orthodox Christians decided to ask for protection from the emperor and they sent 80 chosen men of religious rank, headed by Saints Urban, Theodore and Medimnus.

Hearing their justified complaints, the emperor flew into a rage, but he knew how to hide his wrath. He quietly summoned the eparch Modestus and ordered him to put the delegates to death. Modestus put them upon a ship, telling them that they all would be sent to prison. Instead, he ordered the ship’s officers to burn the ship on the open sea. The ship was set afire and for a while, it floated upon the sea. Finally, reaching a place called Dakizis, the ship burned up with all the holy martyrs on board.

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Friday, September 01, 2017

Icon of the Mother of God “Chernigov-Gethsemane”

Commemorated on September 1

The Chernigov-Gethsemane Icon of the Mother of God is a copy of the famed Ilyin-Chernigov Icon of the Mother of God (April 16), which was to be found at the Trinity-Ilyin monastery near Chernigov on Mount Boldina, and where in the eleventh century Saint Anthony of the Kiev Caves struggled in asceticism.

Saint Demetrius of Rostov described the miracles of this icon in his book THE BEDEWED FLEECE. He wrote in conclusion: “The end of the booklet, but not of the miracles of the Most Holy Theotokos, for who can count them?” The grace-bearing power of this icon is manifest also in its copies.

The Chernigov-Gethsemane Icon of the Mother of God was painted in the mid-eighteenth century and was passed on to the Trinity Sergiev Lavra in 1852 by Alexandra Grigorievna Philippova, who piously kept it for a quarter century. (This icon was given to her by the priest John Alekseev, who received it in turn from one of the monks of the Trinity Sergiev Lavra.)

On the advice of the head of the Lavra, Archimandrite Anthony (+ May 1, 1877), the icon was placed in the newly-consecrated cave church named for Saint Michael, Leader of the Heavenly Hosts, which was consecrated on October 27, 1851 by Saint Philaret, Metropolitan of Moscow (November 19), who assumed an active role in the building of the Gethsemane skete.

In this manner, the icon took in the currents of grace of all the history of the Russian Church, it acquired the blessing of Saint Anthony of the Caves, of Saint Sergius of Radonezh and of his parents Saints Cyril and Maria (September 28), and finally, of the ascetics of the nineteenth century. These spiritual connections providentially come forth through the Chernigov-Gethsemane Icon of the Mother of God.

It is remarkable that the first miracle of this icon was witnessed on the day of the Church New Year, September 1, 1869, when the twenty-eight-year-old peasant of Tula governance, Thekla Adrianova, was healed, after being completely crippled for nine years.

Living at the hostel by the caves, and then at the Lavra during the celebration of the Repose of Saint Sergius (September 25), Thekla recovered completely. Saint Innocent the Metropolitan of Moscow (October 6 and March 31), learned of the miracle from his daughter the nun Polyxeni, treasurer of the Borisov wilderness monastery. On the feast of Saint Sergius, he himself met with Thekla and asked her about the details of the healing. On September 26, 1869 Saint Innocent arrived at the Gethsemane skete and gave the blessing for a Molieben to be served before the glorified icon, while he himself prayed with tears.

By September 26 three healings had occurred already, and a whole series of miracles in November of that same year. The fame of the icon of the Mother of God spread with unusual swiftness. Exhausted by suffering and sickness, thirsting for bodily and spiritual healing, people from every class of society came with firm faith to the wonderworking icon, and the mercy of God did not forsake them.

By the beginning of the twentieth century, more than 100 miracles had been recorded. By its great esteem the icon benefited the ascetics of the Gethsemane skete: the schemamonk Philip (+ May 18, 1868), the founder of the cave monastery, and his three sons, the hieroschemamonks Ignatius (+ 1900), Porphyrius (+ 1905 ?) and Basil (+ April 1, 1915). They preserved accounts of the deep love, which the hieromonk Elder Isidore (+ February 3, 1908) displayed for the Chernigov-Gethsemane Icon.

The initial celebration of the icon was established on April 16, on the day when Ilyin-Cherigov icon was celebrated. Later, it was transferred to September 1, the day of its glorification. At the present time there are copies of the Chernigov-Gethsemane icon at Trinity-Sergiev Lavra. They are found in the temple of Saint Sergius, in the monastery trapeza, and in the portico of the Trinity cathedral, painted by Elders of the Gethsemane skete and the Zosimov wilderness monastery.

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Thursday, August 24, 2017

Virginmartyr Syra of Persia

Commemorated on August 24

The martyr Syra lived during the sixth century in Persia and was the daughter of an illustrious pagan priest of the fire-worshippers (i.e. Zoroastrians) from Karkh-Seleucia in Elimiade (Abizarde). Syra’s father, fearing the influence of Christianity on his daughter, sent her to the city of Tharsis after the death of her mother to be educated as a pagan priestess.

Syra became a priestess at the heathen temple of fire, and occupied herself with honorable activity. But once, after speaking with some Christian beggars, Syra believed in Christ the Savior and began to live as a Christian. She began to learn prayers and Psalms, to fast and to read Christian books.

Syra once fell ill. She was not able to find a remedy for her sickness, so she went to the Christian church and asked the priest only to give her some of the ashes from the church, hoping to receive healing from them. The priest, knowing Syra to be a servitor of idols, refused her request.

Syra was not angered, recognizing her own unworthiness, but with faith she touched the robe of the priest, as the woman with the issue of blood once touched the robe of the Savior (Mt. 9: 20-22). She immediately received healing and she returned home healed.

Syra’s family began to suspect that she wanted to accept Christianity, and they asked Syra’s stepmother to persuade her to abandon this intention. The stepmother, pretending that she herself was a secret Christian, talked sweetly with Syra, telling her to keep her faith secret. She also told Syra to continue to serve the fire outwardly, so she would not fall away from Christ altogether by being subjected to torture.

Syra began to hesitate about accepting Baptism, but when she saw a vision in her sleep about the desolate fate which befell her mother after her death, and about the luminous abodes foreordained for Christians, she made up her mind and went to the bishop, asking him to baptize her. The bishop declined to fulfill her request, fearing to give the pagan priests a reason for persecuting Christians. Besides this, he thought that Syra, fearing her father’s wrath, would deny Christ. The bishop advised her first to openly confess her faith in the Savior before her kinsfolk.

Once during the morning sacrifice, Saint Syra was stoking the priestly fire worshipped by the Persians as their god, and overturning the sacrifice she proclaimed loudly: “I am a Christian and reject false gods and I believe in the True God!”

The father beat his daughter until he became exhausted, and then threw her in prison. With tears and entreaties he urged her to return to her former faith, but Syra was unyielding. The father then denounced her to the pagan high priest, and afterwards to the governor and to the emperor Chozroes the Elder.

They tortured the holy maiden for a long time in prison, but the Lord strengthened her, and she stood firmly on her faith in Christ. After she bribed the prison guard, Saint Syra went to the bishop and received Baptism. The Lord granted Saint Syra the gift of wonderworking. When the Persians gave the martyr over for the leering of impious men, they began to jeer at the saint, saying: “What’s the fable told about you, that the chains fall from your neck, hands and legs by themselves? Let us see now how the chains fall off!” Saint Syra prayed in the depths of her heart to the Savior, and immediately the chains fell from her. And this was not the only time.

Succumbing to her tortures, Saint Syra fell deathly ill. She began to entreat the Lord that He not permit her to die from the illness, but rather to grant her a martyr’s crown. The Lord heard her and granted healing. Seeing the martyr healed, the prison guard and jail warden went to dishonor the holy maiden, but the Lord struck one with illness and the other one was struck dead. The martyr was condemned to be strangled.

They conducted the execution with refined cruelty. After a while they left go of the rope, asking the saint whether she wanted to change her mind and remain among the living. But the martyr, barely alive, refused and requested the execution be done quickly. The body of the saint was thrown to dogs to be devoured, but they would not touch it. Christians then buried the body of Saint Syra.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

St. Bogolep, disciple of St. Paisius of Uglich



Saint Bogolep was a disciple of Saint Paisius of Uglich (June 6). In the world Saint Bogolep was a baker of bread, and then in the monastery he had this as his obedience.

A wonderworking icon of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos appeared before him when he went early in the morning for water to the Volga. He saw the icon standing on the riverbank and gleaming with a heavenly light (from whence it came was unknown).

Forgetting about the water, Saint Bogolep quickly ran back to the monastery and reported everything to Saint Paisius. Saints Adrian, Vassian, Bogolep and Paisius, in company with all the monastery brethren, carried the icon to the monastery.

Saint Bogolep was a hieromonk. Before his death he became a schemamonk. His memory is celebrated on August 22, the day commemorating his namesake Saint Theoprepius (which in Russian translation is “Bogolep,” meaning “God-worthy”).

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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Afterfeast of the Dormition of the Mother of God

Commemorated on August 19

On the fourth day of the Afterfeast of the Dormition, the Church continues to honor the passage of the Most Holy Theotokos from death to life. Just as Christ once dwelt in the virginal womb of His Mother, now He takes Her “to dwell in His courts.”

TROPARION - TONE 1

In giving birth you preserved your virginity, / In falling asleep you did not forsake the world, O Theotokos. / You were translated to life, O Mother of Life, / And by your prayers, you deliver our souls from death.

KONTAKION - TONE 2

Neither the tomb, nor death could hold the Theotokos, / Who is constant in prayer and our firm hope in her intercessions. / For being the Mother of Life, / She was translated to life by the One who dwelt in her virginal womb.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

St. Constantine Brancoveanu andf His Four Sons Constantine the Younger, Stephen, Radu, Matthew and His Loyal Counsellor Ianache Vacarescu

Commemorated on August 16

The holy Prince Constantine Brancoveanu, the son of Prince Matthew Basarab, was born in 1654. When his parents died, he was raised and educated by his uncle, Constantine Cantacuzino. When another uncle, Prince Serban Cantacuzino died on on October 19, 1688, Constantine was chosen to succeed him as Prince of the Romanian Land (Wallachia). Saint Constantine was a wise and just ruler who was guided by Christian principles, and worked for the benefit of his people. He also built and restored many churches and monasteries. His philanthropy extended even into Transylvania and Moldavia, which were ruled by others.

In 1714, after a reign of twenty-five years, Saint Constantine, his sons, and his sons-in-law were arrested by soldiers sent to Bucharest by Sultan Ahmed III (1703-1730).The prisoners were brought to Constantinople, where they were tortured for four months. Prince Constantine was told that if he and his sons wanted to escape death, they would have to convert to Islam and pay a large sum of money. Constantine did not have the money required by the Turks, and he did not wish to convert to the Moslem faith.

Seeing that neither tortures nor threats would induce the prisoners to forsake Christ, the Turks sentenced them to death. Before his own execution, Saint Constantine had to watch as his sons were beheaded before his eyes.

On the Feast of the Dormition (August 15), The sixty-year-old prince, his sons, and his counsellor Ianache Vacarescu died as martyrs for Christ. Their bodies were left unburied for three days, then they were thrown into the sea. Their relics were recovered by Orthodox Christians who brought them to the Monastery of the Theotokos on the island of Chalki.

Saint Constantine’s wife Marica brought his holy relics back to Bucharest and placed them in the church of Saint George the New, which he had founded. He was glorified by the Orthodox Church of Romania in 1992.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

St. Macarius the Roman



Saint Macarius the Roman was born at the end of the fifteenth century into a wealthy family of Rome. His parents raised him in piety and gave him an excellent education. He might have expected a successful career in public service, but he did not desire honors or earthly glory. Instead, he focused on how to save his soul.

He lived in an age when the Christian West was shaken by the Protestant Reformation. While others around him were pursuing luxury and lascivious pleasures, he studied the Holy Scriptures and the writings of the Fathers. Saint Macarius was grieved to see so many darkened by sin and worldly vanity, and was disturbed by the rebellions and conflicts within the Western Church. With tears, he asked God to show him the path of salvation, and his prayer did not go unanswered. He came to realize that he would find the safe harbor of salvation in the Orthodox Church.

Saint Macarius left Rome secretly, and set out for Russia without money, and wearing an old garment. After many sufferings on his journey, he arrived in Novgorod, where he rejoiced to see so many churches and monasteries. One of these monasteries had been founded three centuries before by his fellow countryman, Saint Anthony the Roman (August 3).

Saint Macarius came to the banks of the River Svir, where Saint Alexander of Svir (April 17 and August 30) had founded the monastery of the Holy Trinity. Saint Alexander received Macarius into the Orthodox Church and tonsured him as a monk. Macarius, however longed for the solitary life. He moved to an island on the River Lezna, forty-five miles from Novgorod, where he engaged in ascetical struggles and unceasing prayer.

The winters were very cold, and the summers were hot and humid. The marshy area was also a breeding ground for mosquitos, which tormented the saint. Saint Macarius survived on berries, roots, and herbs. Sometimes bears would come to him for food, and they allowed him to pet them.

Such a great lamp of the spiritual life could not remain hidden for long. One rainy night someone knocked on his door and asked him to open it. Several people, who seemed to be hunters, entered his cell. Astonished by his appearance, and the divine light shining from his face, the men asked for his blessing. They told him they had come to the forest to hunt, and only by the prayers of the saint did God permit them to find him.

“It is not my sinful prayers,” he told them, “but the grace of God which led you here.”

After feeding them, he spoke and prayed with them, then showed them the way out of the marsh. Saint Macarius was concerned that his peace would be disturbed, now that his dwelling place was known. His fears were justified, because many people sought him out to ask for his advice and prayers.

The holy ascetic decided to move even farther into the wilderness, choosing an elevated place on the left bank of the Lezna. Even here, however, he was not able to conceal himself for very long.
Sometimes a pillar of fire would rise up into the sky at night above his place of refuge. During the day, the grace of God was made manifest by a fragrant cloud of smoke. Drawn by these signs, the local inhabitants of the region were able to find him once more.

Some of his visitors begged Saint Macarius to permit them to live near him and to be guided by his counsels. Seeing that this was the Lord’s will, he did not refuse them. He blessed them to build cells, and this was the foundation of his monastery.

In 1540, they built a wooden church dedicated to the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos. Saint Macarius was ordained to the holy priesthood by Bishop Macarius of Novgorod, who later became Metropolitan of All Russia. The hierarch also appointed Saint Macarius as igumen of the monastery.
Saint Macarius was an example to the others, and was given the gifts of clairvoyance and wonderworking from God. He wore himself out with his labors and vigils, encouraging others not to become faint-hearted in their own struggles.

After several years, he entrusted the monastery to one of his disciples, and returned to the island where he had first lived. There he fell asleep in the Lord on August 15, 1550. His disciples buried him outside on the left side of the Dormition church which he had founded.

The Hermitage of Saint Macarius was never a prosperous monastery with many monks, but it was distinguished by the high level of spiritual life. In the seventeenth century, many of the monasteries near Novgorod were plundered by Swedish invaders. The Hermitage of Saint Macarius was also burned in 1615, and some of the monks were put to the sword.

By the eighteenth century, the monastery had become a dependency of the Saint Alexander Nevsky Lavra in Saint Petersburg. The Empress Catherine closed it in 1764, just as she had closed other monasteries, and it was designated as a parish church. Although pilgrims still came to venerate the saint’s relics and to celebrate his Feast Day, the buildings soon fell into ruin.

In the mid-nineteenth century, some benefactors restored the two churches and the miraculous healing spring which the saint himself had dug. About this time an old priest was living there, and he celebrated the church services until his death. In 1894, the monastery began to function once more under the noted missionary Hieromonk Arsenius, who introduced the Athonite Typikon. The monastery was destroyed by the Soviets in 1932.

Saint Macarius the Roman is commemorated on August 15 (the date of his repose), and also on January 19 (his nameday).

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Monday, August 14, 2017

Forefeast of the Dormition of the Mother of God

Commemorated on August 14

The Troparion of the Forefeast invites us to gather on this day in gladness, for the Theotokos is about to depart from earth to heaven

TROPARION - TONE 4

Dance with joy, O peoples! / Clap your hands with gladness! / Gather today with fervor and jubilation; / sing with exultation. / The Mother of God is about to rise in glory, / ascending from earth to heaven. / We ceaselessly praise her in song as truly Theotokos.

KONTAKION - TONE 4

Today the universe dances with joy at your glorious memorial, / and cries out to you, O Mother of God: / “Rejoice, O Virgin, pride of Christians!”




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Sunday, August 13, 2017

Icon of the Mother of God of Minsk

Commemorated on August 13

The Minsk Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos was brought by the holy Prince Vladimir from Korsun in the Crimea and placed in Kiev’s Cathedral of the Tithes (the consecration of the church in 996 is commemorated on May 12).

In the year 1500, during the capture of Kiev by Khan Mengli-Gyr, a certain Tatar stripped the cover and adornments from the icon, and threw it into the Dniepr River. After a while it was found floating in the River Svislocha, near Minsk.

Surrounded by an extraordinary light, the icon was brought to shore and taken to the church of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos, in the holdings of the Minsk appanage princes. This occurred on August 13, 1500.

The Minsk Icon was brought to the Uniate Monastery of the Holy Spirit in 1616, and returned to the Orthodox in 1839. The church of the Holy Spirit Monastery became an Orthodox cathedral, which was dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul. Every Friday, an Akathist was served before the holy icon, and many miracles have been recorded.

The Minsk Icon, of the Hodigitria type, is more than four and a half feet tall, and three feet wide.

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Saturday, August 12, 2017

Sergios, Stephen and Kastor

August 12

APOLYTIKION OF SERGIOS, STEPHEN AND KASTOR

Plagal of the Fourth Tone

You are a guide of Orthodoxy, a teacher of piety and modesty, a luminary of the world, the God inspired pride of monastics. O wise Sergios, Stephen and Kastor, you have enlightened everyone by your teachings. You are the harp of the Spirit. Intercede to Christ our God for the salvation of our souls.


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Tuesday, August 08, 2017

St. Euthymius the Elder of the St. John the Baptist Monastery

Commemorated on August 8

Saint Euthymius was abbot of the Monastery of Saint John the Baptist in the Davit-Gareji Wilderness. In the chronicles of the monastery he is commemorated as a “man of many labors.”

According to the 19th-century historian Prince John Bagrationi, Euthymius was a philosopher and theologian and an outstanding preacher. He dedicated his life to improving the monastery and rebuilt the nearby village of Khashmi, which had been utterly razed by Dagestani thieves. In Khashmi he constructed a mill and planted a vineyard with a rare variety of grapes. He adorned the monastery and expanded the estate surrounding the complex. At his instruction, a great number of theological works were translated, and many rare books were recopied. Saint Euthymius instructed several of his pupils in philosophy and theology as well.

After receiving a commission from Bishop Saba of Ninotsminda, Saint Euthymius composed an Akathist hymn to Saint Nino the Equal to-the-Apostles and Enlightener of Georgia.

In 1797 the black plague broke out in Tbilisi and residents fled from the city. Like true guardian angels, monastics and hermits abandoned their isolated cells and arrived to minister to the sick and the suffering. As he had in so many other worthy endeavors, Saint Euthymius served as the leader and inspiration behind these works of mercy.

The pious Euthymius reposed peacefully in the year 1804.

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Sunday, August 06, 2017

The Holy Transfiguration of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ (the Second “Feast of the Savior” in August)

Commemorated on August 6

Discourse on the Holy Transfiguration of Our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christof Saint Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessalonica

For an explanation of the present Feast and understanding of its truth, it is necessary for us to turn to the very start of today’s reading from the Gospel: “Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James and John his brother, and led them up onto a high mountain by themselves” (Mt.17:1).

First of all we must ask, from whence does the Evangelist Matthew begin to reckon with six days? From what sort of day is it? What does the preceding turn of speech indicate, where the Savior, in teaching His disciples, said to them: “For the Son of Man shall come with his angels in the glory of His Father,” and further: “Amen I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death, until they have seen the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom” (Mt.16:27-28)? That is to say, it is the Light of His own forthcoming Transfiguration which He terms the Glory of His Father and of His Kingdom.

The Evangelist Luke points this out and reveals this more clearly saying: “Now it came to pass about eight days after these words, that He took Peter and John and James, and went up the mountain to pray. And as He prayed, His countenance was altered, and His raiment became a radiant white” (Luke 9:28-29). But how can the two be reconciled, when one of them speaks definitively about the interval of time as being eight days between the sayings and the manifestation, whereas the other (says): “after six days?”

There were eight on the mountain, but only six were visible. Three, Peter, James and John, had come up with Jesus, and they saw Moses and Elias standing there and conversing with Him, so altogether there were six of them. However, the Father and the Holy Spirit were invisibly with the Lord: the Father, with His Voice testifying that this was His Beloved Son, and the Holy Spirit shining forth with Him in the radiant cloud. Thus, the six are actually eight, and there is no contradiction regarding the eight. Similarly, there is no contradiction with the Evangelists when one says “after six days,” and the other says “eight days after these words.”

But these twofold sayings as it were present is a certain format set in mystery, and together with it that of those actually present upon the Mount. It stands to reason, and everyone rationally studying in accordance with Scripture knows that the Evangelists are in agreement one with another. Luke spoke of eight days without contradicting Matthew, who declared “after six days.” There is not another day added on to represent the day on which these sayings were uttered, nor is the day on which the Lord was transfigured added on (which a rational person might reasonably imagine to be added to the days of Matthew).

The Evangelist Luke does not say “after eight days” (like the Evangelist Matthew says “after six days”), but rather “it came to pass eight days after these words.” But where the Evangelists seem to contradict one another, they actually point out to us something great and mysterious. In actual fact, why did the one say “after six days,” but the other, in ignoring the seventh day, have in mind the eighth day? It is because the great vision of the Light of the Transfiguration of the Lord is the mystery of the Eighth Day, i.e., of the future age, coming to be revealed after the passing away of the world created in six days.

About the power of the Divine Spirit, through Whom the Kingdom of God is to be revealed, the Lord predicted: “There are some standing here who shall not taste death, until they have seen the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom” (Mt.16:28). Everywhere and in every way the King will be present, and everywhere will be His Kingdom, since the advent of His Kingdom does not signify the passing over from one place to another, but rather the revelation of its power of the Divine Spirit. That is why it is said: “come in power.” And this power is not manifest to simply ordinary people, but to those standing with the Lord, that is to say, those who have affirmed their faith in Him like Peter, James and John, and especially those who are free of our natural abasement. Therefore, and precisely because of this, God manifests Himself upon the Mount, on the one hand coming down from His heights, and on the other, raising us up from the depths of abasement, since the Transcendent One takes on mortal nature.

Certainly, such a manifest appearance by far transcends the utmost limits of the mind’s grasp, as effectualized by the power of the Divine Spirit.

Thus, the Light of the Transfiguration of the Lord is not something that comes to be and then vanishes, nor is it subject to the sensory faculties, although it was contemplated by corporeal eyes for a short while upon an inconsequential mountaintop. But the initiates of the Mystery, (the disciples) of the Lord at this time passed beyond mere flesh into spirit through a transformation of their senses, effectualized within them by the Spirit, and in such a way that they beheld what, and to what extent, the Divine Spirit had wrought blessedness in them to behold the Ineffable Light.

Those not grasping this point have conjectured that the chosen from among the Apostles beheld the Light of the Transfiguration of the Lord by a sensual and creaturely faculty, and through this they attempt to reduce to a creaturely level (i.e., as something “created”) not only this Light, the Kingdom and the Glory of God, but also the Power of the Divine Spirit, through Whom it is meet for Divine Mysteries to be revealed. In all likelihood, such persons have not heeded the words of the Apostle Paul: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man, what things God has prepared for those who love Him. But to us God has revealed them through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God” (1 Cor.2:9-10).

So, with the onset of the Eighth Day, the Lord, taking Peter, James and John, went up on the Mount to pray. He always prayed alone, withdrawing from everyone, even from the Apostles themselves, as for example when with five loaves and two fish He fed the five thousand men, besides women and children (Mt.14:19-23). Or, taking with Him those who excelled others, as at the approach of His Saving Passion, when He said to the other disciples: “Sit here while I go over there and pray” (Mt.26:36). Then He took with Him Peter, James and John. But in our instance right here and now, having taken only these same three, the Lord led them up onto a high mountain by themselves and was transfigured before them, that is to say, before their very eyes.

“What does it mean to say: He was transfigured?” asks the Golden-Mouthed Theologian (Chrysostom). He answers this by saying: “It revealed something of His Divinity to them, as much and insofar as they were able to apprehend it, and it showed the indwelling of God within Him.” The Evangelist Luke says: “And as He prayed, His countenance was altered” (Luke 9:29); and from the Evangelist Matthew we read: “And His face shone as the sun” (Mt.17:2). But the Evangelist said this, not in the context that this Light be thought of as subsistent for the senses (let us put aside the blindness of mind of those who can conceive of nothing higher than what is known through the senses). Rather, it is to show that Christ God, for those living and contemplating by the Spirit, is the same as the sun is for those living in the flesh and contemplating by the senses. Therefore, some other Light for the knowing the Divinity is not necessary for those who are enriched by Divine gifts.

That same Inscrutable Light shone and was mysteriously manifest to the Apostles and the foremost of the Prophets at that moment, when (the Lord) was praying. This shows that what brought forth this blessed sight was prayer, and that the radiance occured and was manifest by uniting the mind with God, and that it is granted to all who, with constant exercise in efforts of virtue and prayer, strive with their mind towards God. True beauty, essentially, can be contemplated only with a purified mind. To gaze upon its luminance assumes a sort of participation in it, as though some bright ray etches itself upon the face.

Even the face of Moses was illumined by his association with God. Do you not know that Moses was transfigured when he went up the mountain, and there beheld the Glory of God? But he (Moses) did not effect this, but rather he underwent a transfiguration. However, our Lord Jesus Christ possessed that Light Himself. In this regard, actually, He did not need prayer for His flesh to radiate with the Divine Light; it was but to show from whence that Light descends upon the saints of God, and how to contemplate it. For it is written that even the saints “will shine forth like the sun” (Mt.13:43), which is to say, entirely permeated by Divine Light as they gaze upon Christ, divinely and inexpressibly shining forth His Radiance, issuing from His Divine Nature. On Mount Tabor it was manifest also in His Flesh, by reason of the Hypostatic Union (i.e., the union of the two perfect natures, divine and human, within the divine Person [Hypostasis] of Christ, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity). The Fourth Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon defined this Hypostatic union of Christ’s two natures, divine and human, as “without mingling, without change, without division, without separation.”

We believe that at the Transfiguration He manifested not some other sort of light, but only that which was concealed beneath His fleshly exterior. This Light was the Light of the Divine Nature, and as such, it was Uncreated and Divine. So also, in the teachings of the Fathers, Jesus Christ was transfigured on the Mount, not taking upon Himself something new nor being changed into something new, nor something which formerly He did not possess. Rather, it was to show His disciples that which He already was, opening their eyes and bringing them from blindness to sight. For do you not see that eyes that can perceive natural things would be blind to this Light?

Thus, this Light is not a light of the senses, and those contemplating it do not simply see with sensual eyes, but rather they are changed by the power of the Divine Spirit. They were transformed, and only in this way did they see the transformation taking place amidst the very assumption of our perishability, with the deification through union with the Word of God in place of this.

So also she who miraculously conceived and gave birth recognized that the One born of her is God Incarnate. So it was also for Simeon, who only received this Infant into his arms, and the aged Anna, coming out [from the Jerusalem Temple] for the Meeting, since the Divine Power illumined, as through a glass windowpane, giving light for those having pure eyes of heart.

And why did the Lord, before the beginning of the Transfiguration, choose the foremost of the Apostles and lead them up onto the Mount with Him? Certainly, it was to show them something great and mysterious. What is particularly great or mysterious in showing a sensory light, which not only the foremost, but all the other Apostles already abundantly possessed? Why would they need a transforming of their eyes by the power of the Holy Spirit for a contemplation of this Light, if it were merely sensory and created? How could the Glory and the Kingdom of the Father and the Holy Spirit project forth in some sort of sensory light? Indeed, in what sort of Glory and Kingdom would Christ the Lord come at the end of the ages, when there would not be necessary anything in the air, nor in expanse, nor anything similar, but when, in the words of the Apostle, “God will be all in all” (1 Cor.15: 28)?

That is to say, will He alter everything for all? If so, then it follows that light is included.

Hence it is clear that the Light of Tabor was a Divine Light. And the Evangelist John, inspired by Divine Revelation, says clearly that the future eternal and enduring city “has no need of the sun or moon to shine upon it. For the Glory of God lights it up, and the Lamb will be its lamp” (Rev 21:23). Is it not clear, that he points out here that this [Lamb] is Jesus, Who is divinely transfigured now upon Tabor, and the flesh of Whom shines, is the lamp manifesting the Glory of divinity for those ascending the mountain with Him?

John the Theologian also says about the inhabitants of this city: “they will not need light from lamps, nor the light of the sun, for the Lord God will shed light upon them, and night shall be no more” (Rev 22:5). But how, we might ask, is there this other light, in which “there is no change, nor shadow of alteration” (Jas 1:17)? What light is there that is constant and unsetting, unless it be the Light of God? Moreover, could Moses and Elias (and particularly the former, who clearly was present only in spirit, and not in flesh [Elias having ascended bodily to Heaven on the fiery chariot]) be shining with any sort of sensory light, and be seen and known? Especially since it was written of them: “they appeared in glory, and spoke of his death, which he was about to fulfill at Jerusalem” (Luke 9:30-31). And how otherwise could the Apostles recognize those whom they had never seen before, unless through the mysterious power of the Divine Light, opening their mental eyes?

But let us not tire our attention with the furthermost interpretations of the words of the Gospel. We shall believe thus, as those same ones have taught us, who themselves were enlightened by the Lord Himself, insofar as they alone know this well: the Mysteries of God, in the words of a prophet, are known to God alone and His perpetual proximity. Let us, considering the Mystery of the Transfiguration of the Lord in accord with their teaching, strive to be illumined by this Light ourselves and encourage in ourselves love and striving towards the Unfading Glory and Beauty, purifying our spiritual eyes of worldly thoughts and refraining from perishable and quickly passing delights and beauty which darken the garb of the soul and lead to the fire of Gehenna and everlasting darkness. Let us be freed from these by the illumination and knowledge of the incorporeal and ever-existing Light of our Savior transfigured on Tabor, in His Glory, and of His Father from all eternity, and His Life-Creating Spirit, Whom are One Radiance, One Godhead, and Glory, and Kingdom, and Power now and ever and unto ages of ages.

Amen

TROPARION - TONE 7

You were transfigured on the mountain, O Christ God, / revealing Your glory to Your disciples as far as they could bear it. / Let Your everlasting Light also shine upon us sinners, / through the prayers of the Theotokos. / O Giver of Light, glory to You!

KONTAKION - TONE 7

You were transfigured on the mountain, O Christ God, / revealing Your glory to Your disciples as far as they could bear it. / Let Your everlasting Light also shine upon us sinners, / through the prayers of the Theotokos. / O Giver of Light, glory to You!

SOURCE:

SAINT OR FEAST POSTED THIS DATE 2016(with 2015's link here also and further: 2014  2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008 and even 2007!):