Fourth Week of Pascha. Tone three.
Today is fast-free!
John 10:9-16 (Matins Gospel)
I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.
Acts 10:1-16 (Monday)
There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius!” And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it, lord?” So he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter. He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do. And when the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier from among those who waited on him continually. So when he had explained all these things to them, he sent them to Joppa. The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again.
John 6:56-69 (Monday)
He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven-not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever. These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum. Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?” When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you? What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.” From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.
Hebrews 7:26-8:2 (Equals-to-the Apostles)
For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever. Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.
Matthew 5:14-19 (Equals-to-the Apostles)
You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Saints and Feasts Celebrated Today
Holy Equals-to-the-Apostles Methodius (885) and Cyril (869), first teachers of the Slavs.
The Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles First-Teachers and Enlighteners of the Slavic Peoples, the Brothers Cyril and Methodius came from an illustrious and pious family living in the Greek city of Soluneia (Thessalonika). Saint Methodius was the oldest of seven brothers, Saint Contantine (Cyril , was his monastic name) was the youngest. Saint Methodius was at first in the military profession and was governor in one of the Slavic principalities dependent to the Byzantine empire , probably Bulgaria, which made it possible for him to learn the Slavic language. Having dwelt there for about 10 years, Saint Methodius afterwards accepted monastic orders at one of the monasteries on Mount Olympos (Asia Minor). Saint Constantine from his early years distinguished himself by great aptitude and he studied together with the emperor Michael during that one’s youth , under the finest teachers in Constantinople, among which were Photios, future Patriarch of Constantinople. Saint Constantine, having attained knowledge in all the sciences of his time and also many languages, also with particular diligence studied the works of Sainted Gregory the Theologian. Because of his keen mind and penetrating perception, Saint Constantine received the title “Philosopher” (wise). Upon the completion of his education, Saint Constantine accepted the dignity of priest and was appointed curator of the patriarchal library at the church of Saint Sophia, but he soon quit the capital and went off secretly to a monastery. Discovered there and having returned to Constantinople, he was appointed teacher of philosophy in the highest level of the Constantinople schools. The wisdom and strength of faith for the still rather young Constantine was so great, that he won the victory in a debate with the leader of the heretic-iconclasts Ananias. After this victory Constantine was sent by the emperor to dispute in a debate about the Holy Trinity with the Saracens (musselmans) and again he gained the victory. Having returned, Saint Constantine went off to his brother Saint Methodius on Olympos, spending the time in unceasing prayer and reading the works of the holy fathers. The emperor soon summoned forth both of the holy brothers from the monastery and dispatched them to preach the Gospel to the Khazars. Along the way they stayed for some time in the city of Korsun, making preparations for preaching. There the holy brothers in miraculous manner discovered the relics of the Priestmartyr Clement, Pope of Rome (Comm. 25 November). There also at Korsun Saint Constantine found a Gospel and Psalter written in “Russian letters” [i.e. Slavonic], and a man speaking in Slavic, and he began to learn from this man to read and to speak in his language. After this, the holy brothers set off to the Khazars, where they gained the victory in a debate with Jews and Moslems by preaching the Gospel teaching. On the way home the brothers again visited Korsun and, taking up the relics of Saint Clement there, they returned to Constantinople. Saint Constantine remained in the capital, but Saint Methodius received the hegumenate at the small Polychronion monastery , not far from Mount Olympos, where he pursued asceticism as before. Soon there came to the emperor messengers from the Moravian prince Rostislav, otherwise pressured by German bishops , with a request to send teachers to Moravia, who would be able to preach in the vernacular Slavic tongue. The emperor summoned Saint Constantine and said to him: “It is necessary for thee to go thither, where it be better for thee that no one realise this”. Saint Constantine prepared for the new task with fasting and prayer. With the help of his brother Saint Methodius and the students Gorazd, Clement, Savva, Naum and Angelyar he composed a Slavonic alphabet and translated into the Slavic tongue books , without which it would be impossible to celebrate Divineu2011services: the Gospel, Epistles, Psalter and collected services. This occurred in the year 863. After completing the translation, the holy brothers set off to Moravia, where they were received with great honour, and they began to teach the Divine-services in the Slavic language. This aroused the malice of the German bishops, who celebrated Divine-services in the Moravian churches in the Latin language, and they rose up against the holy brothers, convinced that Divine-services must be done only in one of three languages: Hebrew, Greek or Latin. Saint Constantine answered them: “Ye recognise only three languages by which to give glory to God. But David sang: Come to the Lord, all nations, praise the Lord all peoples, let everything that hath breath praise the Lord! And in the Holy Gospel it says: Go teach all nations…”. The German bishops were humiliated, but they became all the more bitter and sent off a complaint to Rome. The holy brothers were summoned to Rome for a decision on this question. Taking with them the relics of Saint Clement Pope of Rome, Saints Constantine and Methodius set off to Rome. Knowing that the holy brothers were bringing along with them these relics, Pope Adrian met them along the way with his clergy. The holy brothers were greeted with honour, the pope of Rome gave permission for Divine-services in the Slavonic language, and the books translated by the brothers he ordered to be placed in Roman churches and to make liturgy in the Slavonic language. At Rome Saint Constantine fell ill and, in a miraculous vision from the Lord advising of the nearness of death, he accepted the monastic schema-order with the name of Cyril (Kirill). 50 days after the accepting of the schema, on 14 February 869, Saint Cyril died at 42 years of age. In expiring to God, Saint Cyril commanded his brother Saint Methodius to continue with their common task , the enlightening of the Slavic peoples with the light of the true faith. Saint Methodius entreated the pope of Rome to send the body of his brother for burial in their native land, but the pope commanded the relics of Saint Cyril to be placed in the church of Saint Clement, where miracles began to occur from them. After the death of Saint Cyril, the pope in fulfilling the request of the Slavic prince Kotsel, sent Saint Methodius to Pannonia, , having ordained him Archbishop of Moravia and Pannonia, on the ancient throne of the holy Disciple Andronikes. In Pannonia Saint Methodius together with his students continued to propagate Divine-services in books inscribed in the Slavonic language. This again aroused the wrath of the German bishops. They obtained an arrest and held a trial over Saint Methodius, who was sent in chains to Swabia, where during the course of two and an half years he underwent many sufferings. Having been set free by order of the Pope of Rome, John VIII, and restored to the rule of his archdiocese, Saint Methodius continued to preach the Gospel among the Slavs. He baptised the Czech prince Borivoi and his spouse Liudmila (Comm. 16 September), and also one of the Polish princes. The German bishops started a persecution against the saint for a third time, , for not accepting the Roman teaching about the procession of the Holy Spirit from both the Father and from the Son. Saint Methodius was summoned to Rome, but he justified himself before the pope, and preserved in its purity the Orthodox teaching, and was sent off again to the capital of Moravia, Velehrad. Here in the ensuing years of his life Saint Methodius with the help of two of his priest-students translated into the Slavonic language all the Old Testament except for the Book of Maccabbees, and even the Nomokanon (Rule of the holy fathers) and books of the holy fathers (Paterikon). Sensing the nearness of death, Saint Methodius decreed one of his students , Gorazd, as worthy successor to himself. The sainted-bishop predicted the day of his death and he died on 6 April 885 at an age of about 60 years. The burial service of the saint was done in three languages , Slavonic, Greek and Latin. He was buried in the cathedral church of Velehrad.
Blessed Christesia, called Christopher (1771) (Georgia).
Blessed Christesia’s family was from Egrisi in western Georgia. From his youth Christesia longed for the divine services and the solitary life, but he was forced by his master to marry, and by this marriage he begot a son. Later, when both his wife and son had died, his master insisted that he marry again, but the pious Christesia would not heed his master’s order. Instead he related the order to his spiritual father, who advised him to depart from the world and journey to the Davit-Gareji Wilderness. Deeply inspired by his spiritual father’s counsel, Christesia abandoned his possessions and his life in the world and withdrew to the Monastery of St. John the Baptist in the Davit-Gareji Wilderness. The holy father spent many years in humble service to the Lord. He was assigned to gather firewood and bring water for the monastery, and he performed these tasks obediently and in perfect meekness. Every day he walked over four miles to fill a pitcher with water and then carried it to a small hut nearby. He hung the pitcher at the entrance to make it visible from a distance, and travelers who passed by would come to quench their thirst. He also kept a small vegetable garden to feed the passers-by. Every Saturday he prepared kolio (a dish of wheat and honey traditionally offered to commemorate the departed) and divided it in three parts: one part commemorated the family and loved ones of those who had donated the wheat and honey; the second, the deceased fathers of the monastery; and the last, all departed Orthodox Christians. It always disturbed St. Christesia to see his brothers and sisters at odds with one another, so when he heard that two people were quarreling, he would go and reconcile them. “My children!” he would say, “If you do not heed my words, I will leave in sorrow, and the devil, who is always resistant to peace, will rejoice and send more tribulations upon you. I came to you hungry, and I will depart hungry!” His words warmed the hearts of those whom he counseled and helped them to be reconciled with one another. One hot evening after Vespers, St. Christesia set off on foot for a certain village. He left during twilight, and when night fell the sky was without a moon and extraordinarily dark. Before long it became difficult to walk any farther, so St. Christesia stopped to pray, and a bright light appeared before him to light the way. The divine light guided him all through the night, until he reached the village of Sartichala. St. Christesia’s cell was poor and cramped. He slept on a bed of wooden planks that he covered in sheepskin, and instead of a pillow he rested his head on a stone. The pious ascetic wore a sheepskin coat and sandals made of bark. Whatever he received he gave to the poor. Having placed complete trust in God, he would not permit himself to worry about the morrow, nor did he bother to store up food or supplies for the harsh winter months. Father Christesia was already advanced in age when he was tonsured a monk and given the new name Christopher. He reposed peacefully in 1771, at the age of eighty.
Hieromartyr Mocius (Mucius), presbyter of Amphipolis in Macedonia (295).
Saint Mokios was a presbyter in Macedonia in the city of Amphypolis. During a time of persecution against Christians under the emperor Diocletian (284-305), Saint Mokios exhorted the pagans , who had assembled for the pagan feast to the divinity Dionysos (Bacchus), to forsake iniquity and the vile customs which accompanied this solemnity, and to repent and be converted to the Lord Jesus Christ and be cleansed through holy baptism. The saint was brought to trial to the governor of Laodiceia; he confessed before him the true faith, and against the threats he answered: “My death for Christ , is a great accomplishment for me”. Saint Mokios was subjected to torture, which he bore with marvelous endurance, and in no wise ceasing to denounce the idol-worshippers. Taken to the pagan temple of Dionysos, the saint shattered the idols with the Name of Jesus Christ. After this he was put into a red-hot oven, where he remained unharmed, but the flames coming out of the oven scorched the governor. And again the assigned commander subjected Saint Mokios to fierce torture, which with the help of God he stoically endured; given for devouring by wild beasts, he remained unharmed , the lions but lay down at the feet of the saint. The people, having witnessed such miracles, began to urge that the saint be set free. The governor ordered the saint to be sent to the city of Perinth, and from there to Byzantium, where Saint Mokios was executed. Before his death he gave thanks to the Lord, for having bestown upon him the strength to go to the very end with the act of martyrdom. “Lord, receive my spirit in peace”, , were his last words, after which he was beheaded. Saint Mokios died in about the year 295. Later on, the emperor Constantine built a church in honour of the Priestmartyr Mokios and transferred his holy passion-bearing relics into it.
Venerable Sophronius , recluse of the Kiev Caves (13th c.).
The Relics of the Monk Sophronii were buried in the Farther Cave of the Kievo-Pechersk monastery. In the Kanon to the monks of the Farther Caves it gives an account of the hermit’s deed as an holy ascetic, , being deemed worthy of hearing angelic singing. The memory of Saint Sophronii is done separately on 11 March.
St. Joseph , metropolitan of Astrakhan (1671).
The Priest-martyr Joseph, First Metropolitan of Astrakhan, was born at Astrakhan in 1579. Having taken monastic vows, Saint Joseph at 52 years of age was raised to the dignity of archimandrite of the Astrakhan Trinity monastery. In 1656 he was at Moscow, after which he was elevated to the dignity of Metropolitan of Astrakhan. On 11 May 1672, during the time of an uprising of the townspeople, Sainted Joseph accepted a martyr’s death at Astrakhan. This sad event was recorded in detail by eye-witnesses, priests of the Astrakhan cathedral , Kirill and Peter. The priests took up the body of the martyr and, having dressed it in bishop’s garb, they placed it in a prepared grave. On the following day, after doing a panikhida, the body of the saint was taken to one of the chapel churches and during the course of 9 days it remained unburied. The relics of the sainted-hierarch thereafter were placed into the grave and in a short while were glorified by miracles. The canonisation of the saint was done at the Local Sobor of the Russian Orthodox Church in April 1918.
St. Nicodemus of Pech, archbishop of Serbia (Mt. Athos) (1325).
Sainted Nikodim, Archbishop of Serbia, was hegumen of the Khilendaria monastery and was elevated to the dignity of bishop in the year 1316. Especially noteworthy is this, that in the year 1319 he translated into the Slavonic language and ordered into use in Serbia the Typikon (Ustav) of Saint Sava the Sanctified, of Jerusalem. Sainted Nikodim died in the year 1325.
Additional Saints and Feasts Celebrated Today
Equal-to-the-Apostles Rostislav, prince of Greater Moravia (870).
New Hieromartyr Michael priest (1920).
New Hieromartyr Alexander archbishop of Kharkov (1940).
New Martyrs Dioscorus and Argyrus of Thessalonica (1808) (Greek).
Commemoration of the Founding of Constantinople (330).
Venerable Comgall, founder and abbot of Bangor (ca. 603) (Celtic & British).
St. Bessarion, Archbishop of Larissa (Greek).
Martyr Acacius of Lower Moesia (Greek).
New Martyr Olympia, abbess of Mitylene (1235) (Greek).
St. Theophylact, bishop of Stavropol and Ekaterinodar (1872).
St. Wiro, Irish missionary bishop to the Netherlands, in Limberg (710) (Celtic & British).
St. Cathan of Bute (6th c.) (Celtic & British).
St. Asaph, bishop of Llanelwy, Wales (6th c.) (Celtic & British).
St. Mayeul, abbot of Cluny (994) (Celtic & British).
St. Tudy, abbot of the Tudy.
St. Comgall, bishop anf founder of Bangor Monastery (601).
Holy Hieromartyr Mocius, Troparion in Tone IV
As thou didst share in the ways of the apostles
and didst occupy their
thou didst find thine activity to be a passage to divine vision,
divinely inspired one.
Wherefore, ordering the word of truth,
suffer for the Faith even to the shedding of thy blood.
O hieromartyr Mocius,
entreat Christ God, that our souls be saved.
Kontakion, Tone II, “The steadfast…”
Armed with the shield of faith,
thou didst cut down legions of the ungodly,
O hieromartyr Mocius,
and hast received a crown from Christ;
rejoicing with the angels,
from misfortunes save those who hymn thee,
unceasingly in beHalf of us all.
St. Joseph, metropolitan of Astrakhan, Troparion, in Tone VI
Having fought the good fight and crowned thy life with sufferings for the
Truth, thou didst pass over to make thine abode in the mansions of heaven,
where, standing before the throne of the Holy Trinity, pray thou, O holy
hierarch Joseph, that the city of Astrakhan and our homeland be saved in peace.
Kontakion of the hieromartyr, in Tone II
Like an all-radiant star didst thou shine forth in Astrakhan, O holy hierarch
Joseph, where thou wast born and raised, and thou didst accept a martyr’s death
out of loyalty to God and the lawful authorities. And we, honoring thy
sufferings, cry aloud unto thee: O holy hierarch Joseph who wast slain by
rebels, entreat Christ God in behalf of our souls!
Holy Equals-to-the Apostles Methodius and Cyril, Troparion, in Tone IV
In that ye share the ways of the apostles,
O divinely wise Cyril and
Methodius, ye teachers of the Slavic lands,
entreat the Master of all,
confirm all the Slavic nations in Orthodoxy and oneness of mind,
to the world and save our souls.
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