Saturday March 27, 2021
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1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 (Epistle, Departed)
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.
John 5:24-30 (Gospel, Departed)
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.
Hebrews 3:12-16 (Epistle)
Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses?
Mark 1:35-44 (Gospel)
Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. And Simon and those who were with Him searched for Him. When they found Him, they said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.” But He said to them, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.” And He was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and casting out demons. Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed. And He strictly warned him and sent him away at once, and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing those things which Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
Saints and Feasts Celebrated Today
Martyr Matrona of Thessalonica
The Holy Martyr Matrona of Thessalonica suffered in the third or fourth century. She was a slave of the Jewish woman Pautila (or Pantilla), wife of one of the military commanders of Thessalonica. Pautila constantly mocked her slave for her faith in Christ, and tried to convert her to Judaism. Saint Matrona, who believed in Christ from her youth, still prayed to the Savior Christ, and secretly went to church unbeknownst to her vengeful mistress.Pautila, learning that Saint Matrona had been to church, asked, “Why won’t you come to our synagogue, instead of attending the Christian church?” Saint Matrona boldly answered, “Because God is present in the Christian church, but He has departed from the Jewish synagogue.” Pautila went into a rage and mercilessly beat Saint Matrona, tied her up, and shut her in a dark closet. In the morning, Pautila discovered that Saint Matrona had been freed of her bonds by an unknown Power.In a rage Pautila beat the martyr almost to death, then bound her even more tightly and locked her in the closet. The door was sealed so that no one could help the sufferer. The holy martyr remained there for four days without food or water, and when Pautila opened the door, she again found Saint Matrona free of her bonds, and standing at prayer. Pautila flogged the holy martyr and left the skin hanging in strips from her body. The fierce woman locked her in the closet again, where Saint Matrona gave up her spirit to God.Pautila had the holy martyr’s body thrown from the roof of her house. Christians took up the much-suffered body of the holy martyr and buried it. Later, Bishop Alexander of Thessalonica built a church dedicated to the holy martyr. Her holy relics, glorified by many miracles, were placed in this church.The judgment of God soon overtook the evil Pautila. Standing on the roof at that very place where the body of Saint Matrona had been thrown, she stumbled and fell to the pavement. Her body was smashed, and so she received her just reward for her sin.
Icon of the Mother of God of Mount Athos, “Sweet Kissing”
Like the Panagia Portaitissa, the Glykophilousa Icon is one of those which were saved during the iconoclastic period and brought miraculously to Mount Athos. It originally belonged to Victoria, the devout wife of the senator Symeon. Victoria was one who venerated the holy icons, especially that of the Most Holy Theotokos, before which she prayed each day. Her husband was an iconoclast who found her piety offensive, for he, like Emperor Theophilos (r. 829-842), found the veneration of icons distasteful. Symeon told his wife to give him her icon so that he could burn it. In order to save the icon from being destroyed, she threw it into the sea, and it floated away standing upright on the waves. After a few years, the icon appeared on the shores of Mount Athos near the Monastery of Philotheou, where it was received with great honor and rejoicing by the Abbot and Fathers of the Monastery, who had been informed of its impending arrival through a revelation of the Theotokos.A spring of holy water sprouted forth on the very spot where they placed the icon on the shore. Every year on Monday of Bright Week there is a procession and blessing of water. Numerous miracles have occurred.Although there are many miracles of the Glykophilousa Icon, we will mention only a few. In 1713, the Mother of God answered the prayers of the devout Ecclesiarch Ioannikios, who complained about the poverty of the monastery. She assured him that she would provide for the material needs of the monastery.Another miracle took place in 1801. A pilgrim, after seeing the precious offerings having from the icon, planned to steal them. He stayed in the Temple after the Ecclesiarch closed it. Then he stole the offerings and left for the port of Ivḗron Monastery. There he found a boat that was leaving for Ierissos. After a while the ship sailed, but despite the excellent weather, it remained stationary in the sea. When the Ecclesiarch saw what had happened, the abbot sent monks out in various directions. Two went to the port of Ivḗron and when they saw the immobile ship, they realized what happened. The guilty man who committed this fearful sacrilege asked for forgiveness. The monks were magnanimous and did not want the thief to be punished.A pilgrim from Adrianopolis visited Philotheou Monastery in 1830. He listened attentively to a monk tell the story of the holy Icon and the miracles associated with it, but he regarded the account as a fictitious tale which only a child might believe. The monk was grieved at the man’s unbelief, and tried to persuade him that everything he had said was absolutely true. The unfortunate pilgrim remained unconvinced.That very day, as the pilgrim was walking on an upper balcony, he slipped and began to fall. He cried out, “Most Holy Theotokos, help me!” The Mother of God heard him and came to his assistance. The pilgrim landed on the ground completely unharmed.The Glykophilousa Icon belongs to the Eleousa (the Virgin of Tenderness) category of icons, where the Mother accepts the affection shown by the Child Christ. The icon is commemorated by the Church on March 27 and also on Bright Monday. The icon depicts the Theotokos inclining toward Christ, Who embraces her. She seems to be embracing Him more tightly than in other icons, and her expression is more affectionate.The Icon is located on a pillar on the left side of the katholikon (main church).
Icon of the Mother of God “of the Akathist”
There are other icons of this name which are commemorated on January 12 (Hilandar Icon “Of the Akathist”), and October 10 (Zographou Icon “Of the Akathist”).
2nd Saturday of Great Lent: Memorial Saturday
Saturday is the day which the Church has set aside for the commemoration of faithful Orthodox Christians departed this life in the hope of resurrection to eternal life. Since the Divine Liturgy cannot be served on weekdays during Great Lent, the second, third, and fourth Saturdays of the Fast are appointed as Soul Saturdays when the departed are remembered at Liturgy.In addition to the Liturgy, kollyva (wheat or rice cooked with honey and mixed with raisins, figs, nuts, sesame, etc.) is blessed in church on these Saturdays. The kollyva reminds us of the Lord’s words, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24).The kollyva symbolizes the future resurrection of all the dead. As Saint Simeon of Thessalonica (September 15) says, man is also a seed which is planted in the ground after death, and will be raised up again by God’s power. Saint Paul also speaks of this (I Cor. 15:35-49).It is customary to give alms in memory of the dead in addition to the prayers we offer for their souls. The angel who spoke to Cornelius testifies to the efficacy of almsgiving, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God” (Acts 10:4).Memorial services for the dead may be traced back to ancient times. Chapter 8 of the Apostolic Constitutions recommends memorial services with Psalms for the dead. It also contains a beautiful prayer for the departed, asking that their voluntary and involuntary sins be pardoned, that they be given rest with the Patriarchs, Prophets, and Apostles in a place where sorrow, suffering, and sighing have fled away (Isaiah 35:10). Saint John Chrysostom mentions the service for the dead in one of his homilies on Philippians, and says that it was established by the Apostles. Saint Cyprian of Carthage (Letter 37) also speaks of our duty to remember the martyrs. The holy Fathers also testify to the benefit of offering prayers, memorial services, Liturgies, and alms for the dead (Saint John Chrysostom, Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, Saint John of Damascus, etc.). Although both the righteous and those who have not repented and corrected themselves may receive benefit and consolation from the Church’s prayer, it has not been revealed to what extent the unrighteous can receive this solace. It is not possible, however, for the Church’s prayer to transfer a soul from a state of evil and condemnation to a state of holiness and blessedness. Saint Basil the Great points out that the time for repentance and forgiveness of sins is during the present life, while the future life is a time for righteous judgment and retribution (Moralia 1). Saint John Chrysostom, Saint Gregory the Theologian, and other patristic writers concur with Saint Basil’s statement.By praying for others, we bring benefit to them, and also to ourselves, because “God is not so unjust as to forget your work and the love which you showed for His sake in serving the saints…” (Heb. 6:10).
Martyrs Manuel and Theodosius
The Holy Martyrs Manuel and Theodosius suffered for their faith in Christ in 304 in Sirmium. Seeing how the pagans put Christians to death every day, they believed in Christ and resolved to suffer for their faith. They boldly confessed themselves as Christians before the governor. The governor and those around him marvelled at their bravery.By order of the governor, Saints Manuel and Theodosius were thrown into prison, and a strict watch was set over them. After several days the governor gave orders to bring the saints from prison, and he urged them to renounce Christ and offer sacrifice to the idols. The holy martyrs, however, were steadfast in their confession. Then the governor ordered Saints Manuel and Theodosius to be suspended from a tree, and scraped with sharp iron hooks. The martyrs were stabbed with a sharp trident, and then beheaded.
Venerable John the Clairvoyant, Anchorite, of Egypt
Saint John the Clairvoyant of Egypt was born at the beginning of the fourth century. He lived in the city of Likopolis (Middle Egypt) and was a carpenter. At the age of twenty-five he went to a monastery, where he received monastic tonsure.For five years Saint John lived in various monasteries, and then wanting complete solitude, he went to the Thebaid and lived on Mount Bolcha. Saint John then spent many years in solitude, never leaving the spot. He conversed with visitors through a small window, through which he also received food and other necessities. After thirty years of seclusion, Saint John received the gift of clairvoyance from God. He predicted to the emperor Theodosius the Great (379-395) victory over his adversaries Maximus and Eugenius, and a military victory over the Gauls. He also foretold future events in the lives of his visitors, and gave them guidance. The ascetic gave holy oil to the sick who visited him, and anointed them with it, healing them of various maladies.Saint John predicted that the historian Palladius, who wrote his Life, would become a bishop. The prediction of the seer was fulfilled, and Palladius was made Bishop of Bithynia (Asia Minor).Saint John in his instructions commanded first of all to have humility: “Imitate the virtuous life of the holy Fathers according to the measure of your strength and if you fulfill everything, do not become overconfident or praise yourself. For there are many people who reached perfection in virtue and became puffed up with pride, plunging from the heights into the abyss.“Examine yourselves carefully to see if your conscience is pure, so that purity may not be driven from your mind. Do not allow your thoughts to wander during prayer. Do you, out of vanity, wish to gain a reputation for asceticism? Or do you wish to have only the appearance of asceticism? Take heed lest any passion overcome you. Take heed that thoughts of worldly things do not enter your mind during prayer, since there is nothing more foolish than to pray to God with your lips, while your thoughts are far from Him. This often happens with those who do not absolutely renounce the world, but rather seek approval from men. A man whose mind is given over to worldly and perishable things, cannot behold God with his spiritual eyes. It is fitting that one who seeks after God will remove his mind from every earthly thing, and direct the gaze of his understanding towards God. He who has attained a little knowledge of God (for no one can receive the whole of it), is able to acquire knowledge of many things, and will see the mysteries which the knowledge of God will show him. He sees future events before they happen, and like a saint he will receive glorious revelations. He will work miracles, and will receive everything that he asks from God.”“Love silence, child, live always in divine contemplation and pray that God will grant you a pure mind, free from sinful thoughts. Worthy of praise is the ascetic who lives in the world, practices the virtues, renders kindness to strangers or distributes alms, or who helps others in their work, or lives without anger. Such a man is praiseworthy, since he dwells in virtue, fulfilling the commands of God, while not neglecting earthly affairs.”“He who leaves the transitory things of this world to others is better and more worthy of praise, for he denies himself, takes up his cross, and cleaves to Christ. He constantly embraces the things of heaven, and escapes earthly things. He will not allow himself to be turned aside by any other cares. Such a man, through his good deeds and the praises which he offers to God, is free and unfettered by any ties whatsoever. He stands before God in security, and his mind is not distracted by any other cares. He who is in this condition continually converses with God.”Saint John brought much spiritual benefit to people with these and similar salvific teachings, through his instructive discourses, and by his personal example in the angelic life. Saint John of Egypt survived into old age and fell asleep in the Lord in 395, at the age of ninety.
The Prophet Hanani (Ananias) lived during the thirty-sixth year of the Kingdom of Judah, counting from the start of Rehoboam’s reign. He is mentioned in 2 Chronicles (Paraleipomenon) 16: 7-10. There was an ongoing war between King Asa of Judah and King Baasha of Israel (ninth century B.C.). When King Baasha of Israel fortified Ramah, thereby isolating the territory of Judah, Asa made a treaty with the Syrian King Ben-Hadad I (ruled circa 900–860 B.C.). Asa took all the silver and gold from the treasures of the house of the Lord and from the king’s house and sent his servants to deliver it to Ben Hadad. This was a bribe to make the Syrian King break his treaty with King Baasha, and ally himself with King Asa (3 Kings 15:16-21). Ben Hadad sent an army against Israel, and the forces of Judah took the supplies from Ramah and built up Geba and Mizpah. This treaty, however, was not pleasing to God (1/3 Kings 15:16–22; 2 Chronicles/Paraleipomenon 16:1–10). The Prophet Hanani went before King Asa and rebuked him harshly for this, saying, “Because you put your trust in the King of Syria, and not in the Lord your God, therefore the army of Syria has escaped out of your hand. Were not the Ethiopians and the Libyans more numerous in chariots and in horsemen, and an exceedingly great multitude? Yet, because you trusted in the Lord, did He not deliver them into your hand? For the eyes of the Lord behold all the earth, and give strength to those who with a perfect heart trust in Him. But you have acted foolishly, therefore from this time wars shall arise against you.” Angered by these words, King Asa ordered that Hanani be thrown into prison. Later, the Prophet reposed in peace. The name Hanani means “God has gratified me,” or “God is gracious.”
2nd Saturday of Great Lent: Memorial Saturday – Troparion & Kontakion
Troparion — Tone 8
Only Creator, with wisdom profound, You mercifully order all things,
and give that which is needed to all men:
Give rest, O Lord, to the souls of Your servants who have fallen asleep,
for they have placed their trust in You, our Maker and Fashioner, and our God.
Kontakion — Tone 8
With the saints give rest, O Christ, to the souls of Your servants,
where there is neither sickness nor sorrow, and no more sighing,
but life everlasting.
Martyr Matrona of Thessalonica – Troparion & Kontakion
Troparion — Tone 3
With undaunted spirit you preserved the Faith,
and your soul, Matrona, was not enslaved by the cruelty of your torturers.
You excelled in contest, slaying the crafty one
and were mystically wedded to the Lord of creation.
Fervently entreat him to deliver us from all harm!
Kontakion — Tone 4
Filled with the light of the Spirit, O Matrona,
you regarded your prison cell as a bridal chamber;
and from it you hastened to your radiant dwelling in the heavens, crying out:
‘In divine love for You, O Word, I gladly endured scourgings.’
Martyrs Manuel and Theodosius – Troparion & Kontakion
Troparion — Tone 4
Your holy martyrs Manuel and Theodosius, O Lord,
through their sufferings have received incorruptible crowns from You, our God.
For having Your strength, they laid low their adversaries,
and shattered the powerless boldness of demons.
Through their intercessions, save our souls!
Venerable John the Clairvoyant, Anchorite, of Egypt – Troparion & Kontakion
Troparion — Tone 8
By a flood of tears you made the desert fertile,
and your longing for God brought forth fruits in abundance.
By the radiance of miracles you illumined the whole universe!
O our holy father John, pray to Christ our God to save our souls!
Icon of the Mother of God of Mount Athos, “Sweet Kissing” – Troparion & Kontakion
Troparion — Tone 1
We praise thy holy Icon as a most honored gift,
and having acquired it, Philotheou Monastery rejoices exceedingly;
for in it we behold thee, O Pure One, kissing Christ as an infant;
and we magnify thy great glory, O Virgin, crying out to thee:
Glory to thy mighty works, O Pure One!
Glory to thy compassion!
Glory to thy care for us, O Spotless One!
Prophet Hanani – Troparion & Kontakion
Troparion — Tone 2
We celebrate the memory
of Your prophet Hanani, O Lord;
through him we entreat You,
save our souls.
Kontakion — Tone 4
Endowed with the gift of prophecy, O Hanani,
you clearly proclaimed the saving coming of Christ to the world.
His brightness has brought light to the whole universe.
Readings and Feast Day Information provided by The Orthodox Church in America (OCA).
Fasting guidelines provided by The Greek American Orthodox Archdiocese (GOARCH).
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