Bright Week. Fast-free
Acts 1:12-17, 21-26
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey. And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples (altogether the number of names was about a hundred and twenty), and said, Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus; for he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry. Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection. And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” Then they said to him, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?” He said: “I am ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Make straight the way of the LORD, ‘ as the prophet Isaiah said.” Now those who were sent were from the Pharisees. And they asked him, saying, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” John answered them, saying, “I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know. It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. These things were done in Bethabara beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
Matthew 28:1-20 (Cross Procession)
Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you. So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word. And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.” Now while they were going, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all the things that had happened. When they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, saying, “Tell them, ‘His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.’ And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will appease him and make you secure. So they took the money and did as they were instructed; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day. Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.
Mark 16:1-8 (Cross Procession)
Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away-for it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples-and Peter-that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you. So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
Luke 24:1-12 (Cross Procession)
Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’ And they remembered His words. Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles. And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them. But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened.
John 20:1-10 (or Luke 24:36-53) (Cross Procession)
Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.
Luke 24:36-53 (or John 20:1-10) (Cross Procession)
Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.” But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have. When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, “Have you any food here?” So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. And He took it and ate in their presence. Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high. And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen.
Saints and Feasts Celebrated Today
Venerable Alexander (Oshevensky), abbot, near Onega Lake (1479).
The Monk Alexander of Oshevensk was born on 17 March 1427, 80 versts from Belozersk in the Vysheozersk region, several months before the death of the Monk Kirill of Belozersk (+ 9 July 1427), , with whom he was bound together by later spiritual connections for his whole life. Alexei (worldly name of the Monk Alexander of Oshevensk) was the fifth son of the rich landowner Nikifor Osheven and his spouse Fotinia; he was a long-awaited child and was born through the fervent prayers of Fotinia. The Mother of God Herself together with the Monk Kirill of Belozersk appeared to her and promised the birth of a son through the intercession of the Monk Kirill. Although Alexei was the youngest son, his parents hoped to see in him their successor and someone to care for them in their old age. In childhood they taught the boy his letters and spoke of him as an enterprising landowner. At 18 years of age they sought to marry off the youth. With the permission of his parents, he went off to pray at the Kirillo-Belozersk monastery and remained there. The hegumen loved the youth for his humility and soon suggested to him to take monastic vows. But Alexei refused, having decided to test himself. Having studied Holy Scripture, he served the brethren as a novice for six years and only then did he accept monastic vows. During this time his parents settled in the village of Volosovo, , 30 versts from Kargopol near the River Onega. Soon Nikifor sought of the Novgorod boyar Ioann a place for settling near the River Churiuga, which received the town-name Oshevensk. The Monk Alexander asked of the hegumen permission to receive from his parents their final blessing and forgiveness, so that afterwards he might go into a solitary life. Not at once did the hegumen give permission to the young monk. He warned him about the dangers of wilderness life. But the Monk Alexander feared the ascetic fame that he had among the brethren, and he requested a second time to be released from the monastery. Finally, the hegumen gave his blessing. Greeting him with joy, the father suggested to the son that he settle at the River Churiuga and promised to assist in the building of a monastery. The Monk Alexander took a liking to the place. He set up a cross as foundation of the future monastery and gave a vow to dwell there until the end of his life. After this the Monk Alexander returned to the Kirillo-Belozersk monastery and for some time he did obedience in the choir, in the kitchen and in the bakery. They ordained him to the dignity of deacon. Finally, when the Monk Alexander went to the hegumen for the third time and told him, how a miraculous voice had called him to organise a monastery, and how he had vowed to dwell at that place, the hegumen released him, , blessing him with the icons of the Hodegetria Mother of God and Sainted Nicholas the Wonderworker. The Monk Alexander dedicated the chosen spot with the icons, and received from his father supervision for building a church, and he himself set off to the Archbishop of Novgorod Jona (1459-1470). Archbishop Jona ordained him to the dignity of presbyter and appointed him hegumen of the monastery. The boyarina Anastasia and her son Yurii were prepared to offer the monastery the whole district, but the Monk Alexander accepted the gramota (deed) for only the necessary ground. The constructed church was dedicated in the name of Sainted Nicholas. With determination and energy the monk began to work at organising the monastery. An elder, who had accompanied him from the Kirillo-Belozersk monastery, was not able to endure the harsh wilderness life and went back. By little by little brethren gathered. The monk enacted a strict ustav (rule) of common life, which required complete silence in temple and at refectory, , when saint-lives were read, in monk cells there was to be no idleness, and at the time of fulfilling obediences it was necessary to do the Jesus Prayer or read psalms. “Brethren, , said the monastic hegumen, , let us not shirk work nor the way of sorrow. Ye know, that the way of sorrow leads to the Heavenly Kingdom. Live in mutual love and humility. God is love, and He loveth the humble”. Many even from the layfolk came to the monk and put themselves under his spiritual guidance. Two nephews of the saint accepted monastic orders at his monastery, who offended one of the brethren, , the monk Ambrosii. The Monk Alexander gently calmed the religious brother, but the nephews cooled in their zeal for asceticism and they left the monastery. Grief over the salvation of his spiritual children wrecked the health of the monk. He lay down and was not able to life up his hand nor his head, nor even to utter a word. In such a state of exhaustion the Monk Alexander prayed to the Monk Kirill, his patron. The Monk Kirill appeared in a white robe and, signing the sick man with the sign of the cross, he said: “Grieve not, brother! I intercede and thou shalt be well. Only forget not thy vow, nor leave this place. I shall assist thee”. Having fallen asleep, the monk regained his strength and in the morning went to church. To encourage the brethren he told about the visit of the Monk Kirill. The monk laboured for 27 years in the monastery founded by him, and died peacefully on 20 April 1479. After the death of the hegumen, the monastery began quickly to go into decline. But the monk did not cease to care for it. One time, the monastic attendant Mark had a vision in a dream: the monastery was full of people; a grey-haired elder in bishop’s garb signed with a cross those working on the building. Another elder, with a long beard, sprinkled with holy-water; and a third, of moderate stature and blond hair, censed. A fourth one, a youth, followed after them at a distance. The third elder, , this was the Monk Alexander Oshevensk , explained, that Sainted Nicholas the Wonderworker and the Monk Kirill of Belozersk assisted him, and the youth standing at the distance was the cantor Matfei, who was soon vowed under the name Maxim and chosen hegumen of the monastery, as predicted in the vision of the Monk Alexander. The monk Maxim was established as hegumen by the Archbishop of Novgorod Sergei (1483-1485), and he restored the monastery. He was the monastic head until 1525. At the time of building of a new temple in the name of Sainted Nicholas, during an appearance of the Monk Alexander and at his command, , his relics were found undecayed. His image was then painted in accord with how he appeared as a monk and in accord with the accounts of those who knew the elder: the Monk Alexander of Oshevensk was of moderate stature, with parched face and sunken cheeks, with a small thin beard, grizzled with blond hairs. He is thus depicted on icons.
“Cyprus” (392) and “Keepiazh” Icons of the Mother of God.
The Cypriot Icon of the Mother of God appeared in the year 392 on the island of Cyprus and was situated in a monastery built on the place of its appearance. The celebration of this icon is done also on 9 July and on the day of the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles.
Venerable Theodore Trichinas (“the Hair-shirt Wearer”), hermit near Constantinople (400).
The Monk Theodore the Trikhinian was born into a rich Constantinople family. In his youth he withdrew into a wilderness monastery in Thrace and accepted monasticism. The monk was strict in fasting, and he wore only a coarse prickly hairshirt, which was called a “trikhinia” (“vlasyanitsa”). This name also was given to the monastery in which he pursued asceticism. During his life the monk worked many miracles and healings. After his death there flowed from his holy relics a salubrious myrrh, which healed many of the sick and cast out impure spirits. The years during which the monk Theodore lived is unknown.
Sts. Gregory (593) and Anastasius (599), Patriarchs of Antioch.
Sainted Anastasias I the Sinaite, Patriarch of Antioch, began his monastic deeds on Mount Sinai, wherefore he was called the Sinaite. He entered upon the Patriarchal throne in the year 562 during the reign of the emperor Justinian (527-565). The Monophysite heresy was spreading about during this time. The emperor himself inclined towards the side of the heretics. Sainted Anastasias was outspoken against the heresy. He distributed a missive throughout all the churches and daily elucidated in his own temple the Orthodox teaching about the two natures of the Lord Jesus Christ. All those questioning or wavering in the faith awaited with hope the words of the holy Patriarch Anastasias. Justinian, angering upon learning of this, wanted to depose Sainted Anastasias from the Antioch throne, but suddenly he became grievously ill. Before his death he made Church penance and composed the beautiful prayer “Only-begotten Son Word of God”, which has entered into the order of the Divine Liturgy. In it he expressed the Orthodox teaching about the two natures of the Lord Jesus Christ. After Justinian, there came upon the throne emperor Justin the Younger (565-578), who resumed the persecution against Sainted Anastasias and in 572 sent him into imprisonment. Returning from exile in 593, Sainted Anastasias governed the Church for six years and died peacefully (+ 21 April 599). In exile, Saint Anastasias wrote several dogmatic and moral works, and even rendered into the Greek language the work of Sainted Gregory Dialogus (+ 604, Comm. 12 March) “About Pastoral Service”.
Venerable Anastasius , abbot of Sinai (685).
The Monk Anastasias, hegumen of Mount Sinai, was born at the end of the VI Century. He received in his youth a fine secular education, which he completed by the study of theology. In a sermon on Thomas Sunday the Monk Anastasias wrote: “Having beheld Christ in the flesh they reckoned Him for a prophet; and we, although we have not seen him with bodily eyes, but rather from the tips of our fingers, then still when we were small children and lads, we recognised in Him God, and learned to confess Him as Lord of the universe, Creator of the ages, and Radiance of the Glory of the Father. With such a faith do we hear His Holy Gospel, as though we behold Christ Himself. When we only but look at an icon depiction of His Divine likeness, as of Him Himself, we attain to Heaven for ourselves, and we honour, we worship and fall down”. Already in his youth the Monk Anastasias had accepted monasticism, and he later set off to Jerusalem and settled on Mount Sinai. During this period, the hegumen of Mount Sinai was the Monk John of the Ladder (Lestvichnik, Climaticus; Comm. 30 March), and afterwards his brother George. After Saint George, the Monk Anastasias became hegumen, from which they bestowed upon him the title “Sinaite”. The Monk Anastasias put much work into the struggle with the Akephaloi heresy, which was opposed by the decrees of the IV OEcumenical Council at Chalcedon (451), and which defined the dogma about the union in the One Person of the Lord Jesus Christ in two natures , the Divine and the human. Spreading the Orthodox faith, the Monk Anastasias visited Egypt, Arabia and Syria. For the struggle with the Monophysites he left to his students an epistolary guide in the form of answers to questions under the title “Guide-book” in 24 chapters. The Monk Anastasias also had dialogues with heretics which he also wrote down; , these have come down to us in his work “Explanation of the Sixth Day” (12 book-chapters), Sermons, Instructions, Vitae of certain ascetics, and Commentaries on many places in Holy Scripture. The Monk Anastasias the Sinaite died in deep old age (+ c. 695).
Apostle Zacchaeus, bishop of Caesarea (1st c.).
This is the tax-collector Zaccheus whom Jesus called down from the tree in Jericho (Luke ch. 19). He became a faithful disciple and, after the Resurrection, a companion of the Apostle Peter. He became Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine, where he served faithfully and reposed in peace.
Sts. Betran and Theotimus I, bishop of Tomis in Scythia Minor (410) (Romania).
Sainted Betranes and Theotimos were bishops of Lesser Skythia, where the mouth of the Dunaj (Danube) flows into Thrace. Their diocesan cathedral was situated in the city of Toma (Kiustendji). They were Skythians. The Church historian Sozomenes gives an account about Sainted Betranes. When the emperor Valens (364-378) stayed in Toma, he began in church to urge the saint to enter into communion with Arian heretics. Saint Betranes boldly answered, that he adhered to the teaching of the holy Nicean fathers and, in order to avoid bantering, he went off to another of the city churches. And all the people followed after him. There remained in the deserted church only the emperor with his retinue. For such audacity the emperor condemned the saint to exile, but he feared the grumbling of the crowd and let him go free. The Skyths loved their archpastor and they cared about him as a good and saintly man. Another historian, Theodorit, writes about the sainted-bishop: “And Betranes, radiant with every virtue and archpastoral power, governing the cities of all the Skythians, was enflamed with zeal of spirit and denounced the heretics for their dogmatic deficiency and their iniquitous attitude towards the saints. He said with the Divine-inspiration of David: “I shall speak Thy testimonies before the king and not be shy” (Ps. 18:46). Sainted Betranes died, probably soon after the denunciation of emperor Valens. His commemoration in the “Acts of the Saints” indicates 25 January. At the II OEcumenical Council in 381 it mentions already the successor to Sainted Betranes, , the Toma bishop Gerontios, and after him the cathedra was occupied by Sainted Theotimos. In the year 392 Sainted Theotimos was already known to Blessed Jerome (Comm. 15 June) as a writer and bishop. Sainted Theotimos participated in the Council of 399, where Sainted John Chrysostom (Comm. 13 November) examined the acts of the bishop of Ephesus. In the year 403, when Sainted Epiphanios of Cyprus (+ 403, Comm. 12 May) insistently demanded of Saint John Chrysostom and the other bishops to carry out a condemnation of Origen, Sainted Theotimos wrote: “It is impious to further offend the dead and to rise up in judgement against the ancients and re-question their sanction”. He took out one of the works of Origen, read from it and, pointing out that which was read was of good purpose to the Church, added: “Those who condemn this book, slander also that which it says here”. Sainted Theotimos journeyed much throughout his diocese. His Christian love flowed even upon the Huns, , then as yet unenlightened by the light of the Gospel. By means of beneficence and gentleness the sainted-bishop strove to win them over to the true faith. The impressive miracles, worked by the saint in the Name of Jesus Christ, so astonished the pagans, that they called him a Roman god. Once, when during the time of a journey the saint and his companions were under the threat of deadly peril from the Huns, the sainted-bishop began to pray intensely, and all were left invisible to them. Another time, when a certain Hun tried to catch the saint with a rope, his hand froze in the air and only then was it released from its invisible hold, when Sainted Theotimos at the request of other Huns prayed to God for him. Sainted Theotimos kept to a simple form of life: he partook of nourishment not at this or that time, but only when he experienced hunger or thirst. Blessed Jerome wrote about him: “Theotimos, Skythian bishop of Tomum, produced in dialogues in the form of ancient rhetoric powerfully fine tracts and, as I have heard, he wrote other works”. It is known, that Sainted Theotimos wrote: “About the Teachings of the Saviour”, “Against Idols”, a “Commentary on Genesis”, a “Commentary on the Text , `I shall bear the Gift unto the Altar”, “About Fasting” (from the last 4 works the Monk John Damascene makes comparison in several places in his own parallels). Sainted Theotimos died peacefully in about the year 412. His commemoration in the “Acts of the Saints” is indicated as 20 April.
Hieromartyr Anastasius II, patriarch of Antioch (610).
Sainted Anastasias II, Patriarch of Antioch, entered upon the throne after the holy Patriarch Anastasias I the Sinaite (561-572; 593-599). He governed the Church for 10 years and was killed in 609 by Jews, , when emperor Phocas (602-610) issued an edict, forcing all to accept baptism.
Additional Saints and Feasts Celebrated Today
Entire week, fast-free .
New Hieromartyr Theodosius, bishop of Kolomensk (1937).
Translation of the relics (1991) of St. Nicholas (Velimirovich) of Ochrid and Zhicha (1956) from America to Serbia.
Child-martyr Gabriel of Slutsk (Poland) (1690).
St. Nicholas (Velimirovich), bishop of Ochrid and Zhicha, Serbia (1956) ( Serbia ).
Venerables Athanasius (1380) and Ioasaph (1423) of Meteora, abbots.
St. Caedwalla, king of the West Saxons (689) (Celtic & British).
Blessed Anastasius I (599), patriarch of Antioch.
The Bright Resurrection of Christ, Troparion. Tone V
Christ is risen from the dead, trampling on death by death, and on those in
the tombs bestowing life.
Kontakion, Tone VIII
Though Thou didst descend into the grave, O Immortal One, yet didst Thou
destroy the power of hell, and didst rise again as Conqueror, O Christ our God,
saying to the myrrhbearing women, Rejoice! and giving peace to Thine Apostles,
and offering to the fallen resurrection.
Having slept in the flesh as a mortal, O King and Lord, Thou didst rise on
the third day. Thou didst raise up Adam from corruption and abolish death, O
Passover of incorruption, Salvation of the world!
St. Theodore Trichinas
No Troparion is given in the Menaion.
Kontakion, Tone TV, “Thou hast appeared today..
Thou hast been shown to be all-wondrous in life, O wise father Theodore, and
changing thy rags of haircloth, which are more precious than royal treasure on
earth, in their place thou didst receive heavenly vesture. Pray thou ever in our
behalf, O venerable one.
St. Anastasius, abbot of Sinai, Troparion, Tone VIII
With the streams of thy tears thou didst irrigate the barren desert,
with sighs from the depths of thy soul thou didst render thy labors fruitful an
Thou wast a beacon for the whole world, radiating miracles.
our father Anastasius, entreat Christ God that our souls be saved.
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