But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated; for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven. Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.”
1 Thessalonians 4:13-17
But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him. Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi’s house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many, and they followed Him. And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth-those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.
Saints and Feasts celebrated today
Venerable Theophylactus , bishop of Nicomedia (845).
Saint Theophylaktos lived at Constantinople in the VIII Century during the time of the Iconoclast heresy. After the death of the iconoclast emperor Leo IV the Khazar (775-780), there entered upon the throne the emperor Constantine VI (780-797). There occurred also a change of Patriarchs: the holy Patriarch Paul (Comm. 30 August), not having the strength to continue guiding the flock afront the powerfully spread iconoclasm, voluntarily resigned the cathedra/chair (784). In his place was chosen Saint Tarasios (Comm. 25 February) at that time an eminent imperial counselor. Under the supervision of the new Patriarch was convened the Seventh OEcumenical Council (787), condemning the Iconoclast heresy. For Orthodoxy a relatively peaceful time began. Monasteries again began to fill with residents. Saint Theophylaktos, a gifted student of Saint Tarasios and with the blessing of this the Patriarch, settled together with Saint Michael (Comm. 23 May) in a monastery on the coast of the Black Sea. The zealous ascetics by their God-pleasing labours and intense efforts of prayer were granted by God the gift of wonderworking. By their prayers, during the time of an intense drought when the workers in the field were weakened by thirst, an empty vessel became filled with so much water, that it sufficed for the entire day. After several years in the monastery they were both consecrated by Patriarch Tarasios to the dignity of bishop: Saint Michael was made bishop of Synada, and Saint Theophylaktos was made bishop of Nicomedia. Heading the Church of Nicomedia, Saint Theophylaktos constantly concerned himself about the flock entrusted to him. He built churches, hospices, homes for wanderers, he generously distributed alms, was guardian for orphans, widows and the sick, and himself attended to those afflicted with leprosy, not hesitating to wash their wounds. When the iconoclast Leo the Armenian (813-820) came upon the imperial throne, the terrible heresy burst forth with new strength. But the iconoclast emperor was not able to sway the successor of the holy Patriarch Tarasios Saint Nicephoros (806-815, Comm. 2 June), who together with the bishops vainly urged the ruler not to destroy churchly peace. Present at the negotiations of the emperor with the Patriarch was Saint Theophylaktos, denouncing the heretics, and he predicted a speedy perishing to Leo the Armenian. For his bold prophesy the saint was sent into exile to the fortress Strobil (in Asia Minor). He languished for thirty years until his end, which occurred in about the year 845. After the restoration of icon-veneration in the year 847, under the empress Saint Theodora (842-855; + 867, Comm. 11 February) and her son Michael, the holy relics of Bishop Theophylaktos were transferred back to Nicomedia.
Venerables Lazarus and Athanasius , monks of Murman Island, Onega Lake (1391).
The Monk Athansii (Afanasii) was hegumen at the monastery of the Monk Lazar during the mid-XV Century. After his death the body of the ascetic was buried in a separate chapel, where the chains of the saint were preserved evidence of his exploits. The veneration of this saint goes way back. In the second half of the XVII Century they called Hegumen Athanasii “a wonderworking monk”. A tropar and kondak to the saint are known of.
Apostle Hermas of the Seventy (1st c.).
The Holy Disciple from the 70, Hermas, was bishop at Philippopolis, and died a martyr in the I Century. In the Epistle to the Romans the holy Apostle Paul summons the Romans to greet the Disciple Hermas (Rom. 16: 14).
Hieromartyr Theodoretus of Antioch (361).
Saint Theodorit was a presbyter and maintainer of vessels at the cathedral church in Antioch. This church was built and richly adorned by the emperor holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Constantine the Great (306-337, Comm. 21 May) and his son Constantius, and it was called among the people “the Golden church”. Having occupied the throne after the death of the emperor Constantius (337-361), Julian the Apostate (361-363) decided to restore paganism throughout all the Roman empire. The emperor appointed his uncle, also named Julian, as governor of Antioch. He ordered him to close the Christian temples, and in seizing the valuables within them to hand it over to the imperial treasury. Wanting to please the emperor, the governor also an apostate from the Christian faith, set about his impious task with zeal. Arriving at Antioch with the dignitary Felix, he gave orders to lock up the presbyter Theodorit under guard, and he set about to his plundering, defiling the altar and the holy altar-table. One of those present, Euzoios, tried to admonish the impiety, and for this he was killed. Julian accused Theodorit of hiding the church valuables, but the venerable maintainer of vessels denied the accusation and openly denounced Julian for his apostasy. Despite beastly tortures, the holy martyr defended to the end his faith in Christ the Saviour, and predicted a speedy death to Julian and the emperor for their sacrilege. The soldiers, torturing the faithful presbyter, struck by his firmness and endurance and the strong power of the Word of God, were converted to faith in Christ, for which they were drowned in the sea. The holy confessor was himself beheaded. The mockery and sacrilege over sacred things did not go unpunished the predictions of Saint Theodorit soon occurred: the governor Julian died in agony from grievous illness, and the emperor Julian perished in a campaign against the Persians.
Kursk “Sign” Icon (1898) Icon of the Mother of God.
The Kursk Znamenie (Sign) Icon of the Mother of God is one of the most ancient icons of the Russian Church. In the XIII Century during the time of the Tatar invasion, when all the Russian realm was put to the extremest tribulation, the city of Kursk, ravaged by the Horde of Batu, fell into desolation. One day in the environs of the city an hunter noticed the ancient icon, lying on a root face downwards to the ground. The hunter lifted it and saw that the image of the icon was similar to the Novgorod “Znamenie” Icon. With the appearance of this icon immediately there appeared its first miracle. Just as the hunter lifted up the holy icon from the earth, right then, at that place where the icon lay, gushed up strongly a spring of pure water. This occurred on 8 September 1259. The hunter decided not to leave the icon in the forest and settled on as a resting place an ancient small chapel, in which he put the newly-appeared image of the Mother of God. Soon inhabitants of the city of Ryl’a heard about this, and being in location not far away, they began to visit the place of the appearance for venerating the new holy image. They transferred the icon to Ryl’a and put it in a new church in honour of the Nativity of the MostHoly Mother of God. But the icon did not long remain there. It disappeared and returned to its former place of appearance. The inhabitants of Ryl’a repeatedly took it and carried it to the city, but the icon incomprehensibly returned to its former place. Everyone then realised, that the Mother of God preferred the place of appearance of Her Image. The especial help granted by the Mother of God through this icon is bound up with important events in Russian history: with the war of liberation of the Russian nation during the time of the Polish-Lithuanian incursion in 1612, and the 1812 Fatherland war. From the icon several copies were made, which also were glorified.
Additional Saints and Feasts Celebrated Today:
- Parents’ Saturday. .
- New Hieromartyr John priest (1923).
- Martyr Vladimir (1942).
- Venerable Dometius, monk (363).
- St. Felix of Burgundy, bishop of Dunwich and enlightener of East Anglia (648) (Celtic & British).
- Venerable Paul of Prusias, confessor (840) (Greek).
- Martyr Dio (Greek).
- Martyrs Quintilian and Capatolinus in Nicomedia.
St. Theophylactus the Confessor, Bishop of Nicomedia
No Troparion is given in the Menaion.
Kontakion, Tone II “Seeking the highest”
Thou wast shown to be a radiant beacon throughout the ends of the earth,/ O
holy hierarch Theophylactus;/ and having preached the Word Who is of one essence
with the Father and the Spirit,/ thou didst enlighten the council of the godly
fathers,/ and wast shown to be a favorite of the Trinity.// Standing before Him,
pray thou unceasingly in behalf of us all.
Today’s Fasting Guidelines
Great Lent. Food with Oil