Thursday September 29, 2022
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- Venerable Kyriákos the Anchorite
- Martyrs Dadas, Gabdelas, and Kazdoa of Persia
- Venerable Theophanes the Merciful of Gaza
- Saint Onuphrius of Saint David Gareji Monastery, Georgia
- Saint Cyprian of Ustiug
Ephesians 1:1-9 (Epistle)
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself,
Luke 6:12-19 (Gospel)
Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles: Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot; Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor. And He came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases, as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed. And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all.
Saints and Feasts Celebrated Today
Venerable Kyriákos the Anchorite
Saint Kyriákos1 was born in the Greek city of Corinth to the priest John and his wife Eudokίa. Bishop Peter of Corinth, who was a family relative, seeing that Kyriákos was a quiet and sensible child, made him a Reader in church. His constant reading of the Holy Scriptures awakened in him a love for the Lord, and made him long for a pure and holy life. When he was not yet eighteen years old, Kyriákos was deeply moved during a Church Service by the words of the Gospel: “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). He believed that these words applied to him, so he went straight to the harbor without stopping at home, got onto a ship, and went to Jerusalem. After visiting the holy places, Kyriákos lived for several months at a monastery not far from Sion, in obedience to the Igoumen Abba Eustórgios. Later, with the latter’s blessing, he made his way to the wilderness Lavra of Saint Euthymios the Great (January 20). Saint Euthymios, discerning great gifts of God in Kyriákos, tonsured him into the monastic schema and placed him under the guidance of Saint Gerásimos (March 4), who trained him in asceticism at the Monastery of Saint Theóktistos by the Jordan. Saint Gerásimos, taking into account the fact that Kyriákos was very young, ordered him to live in a cenobitic monastery with the brethren. The young monk easily fulfilled his monastic obediences: he prayed fervently, he slept little, and ate food only every other day, sustaining himself with bread and water. It was customary for the monks to go into the Rouva wilderness during Great Lent, and return to the Monastery on Palm Sunday. Seeing the young monk’s strict abstinence, Saint Gerásimos decided to take him along with him. In complete solitude, the ascetics redoubled their efforts. Every Sunday Saint Gerásimos imparted the Holy Mysteries to his disciple. After the repose of Saint Gerásimos, the twenty-seven-year-old Kyriákos returned to the Lavra of Saint Euthymios, who was no longer among the living. Father Kyriákos asked for a solitary cell and there he devoted himself to ascetical contests in silence, speaking only to the monk Thomas. But Thomas was sent to Alexandria where he was consecrated as a bishop, and Saint Kyriákos spent another ten years in complete silence. At the age of thirty-seven, he was ordained to the diaconate. When a rift occurred between the monasteries of Saint Euthymios and Saint Theóktistos, Saint Kyriákos withdrew to the Souka Monastery of Saint Kharίton (September 28). At this Monastery they received even tonsured monks as novices, and Saint Kyriákos was also received this way. He toiled humbly at various monastic obediences. After several years, Saint Kyriákos was ordained as a priest, and was chosen as the canonarch,2 serving in this obedience for eighteen years. In all, Saint Kyriákos spent thirty years at the Monastery of Saint Kharίton (September 28). Strict fasting and a complete lack of evil distinguished Saint Kyriákos even among the older ascetics of the Lavra. Each night he read the Psalter in his cell, interrupting his reading only to go to church at midnight. The ascetic slept very little. When he reached the age of seventy, Kyriákos went to the Natoufa wilderness, taking his disciple John with him. In the desert the hermits ate only with bitter herbs, which were made edible by the prayers of Saint Kyriákos. After five years, a certain man found out about the ascetics and brought his demon-possessed son to them, and Saint Kyriákos healed him. From that time, many people began coming to him with their needs, but he desired complete solitude, and fled to the Rouva wilderness, where he dwelt five years more. But the sick and those afflicted by demons also came to him in that wilderness, and the Saint healed them all with the Sign of the Cross and anointing them with oil. In his eightieth year Saint Kyriákos fled to the remote Sousakim wilderness, near two dried up streams. According to Tradition, the holy Prophet David mentioned Sousakim: “Thou hast dried up the rivers of Etham” (Psalm 73/74:15). After seven years, brethren of the Souka Monastery came to him, beseeching his spiritual help during a period of debilitating hunger and illness, which God allowed. They implored Saint Kyriákos to return to the Monastery, and he settled in the cave where Saint Kharίton had once lived. Saint Kyriákos provided great help to the Church in the struggle with the spreading heresy of Origenism. By prayer and by word, he brought the wayward back to the true path, and strengthened the Orthodox in their faith. Cyril, the author of the Life of Saint Kyriákos, and a monk of the Lavra of Saint Euthymios, was a witness when Saint Kyriákos foretold the impending death of the chief heretics Nonos and Leontius, and said that soon the heresy would cease to spread. The Most Holy Theotokos once appeared to Saint Kyriákos in a dream, along with Saints John the Baptist and John the Theologian, ordering him to preserve Orthodox doctrine in its purity. She refused to enter his cell, however, because in it was a book with the writings of the heretic Nestorius. “My enemy is in your cell,” she told him.3 At the age of ninety-nine, Saint Kyriákos went to Susakim again and lived there with his disciple John. In the desert, Saint Kyriákos was served by a huge lion, which protected him from robbers. The animal did not bother the brethren, and it ate food from the Saint’s hand. The ascetics had stored some water in the hollow of a rock during the winter, but in the heat of summer, all the water dried up. Since there was no other source of water, Saint Kyriákos prayed, and the rain fell, filling the hollow with water. Saint Kyriákos returned to the Monastery two years before his death and settled once more in Saint Kharίton’s cave. Until the end of his life the righteous Elder preserved his courage, and prayed with fervor. He was never idle, he either prayed or he worked. Before his blessed repose, Saint Kyriákos summoned the brethren and blessed them all. He fell asleep in the Lord, having lived for 109 years.
1 His name is derived from the Greek word Κύριος, which means Lord, or one who belongs to the Lord.
2 A Canonarch is the lead chanter, or Reader. He ensures that other Readers chant from the correct texts and use the proper Tones. He also preserves the canonical order in the liturgical services, according to the Typikon. 3 The appearance of the Most Holy Theotokos to Saint Kyriákos is commemorated on June 8.
Venerable Theophanes the Merciful of Gaza
Saint Theophanes the Merciful was an inhabitant of the Syrian city of Gaza. He was very kind and merciful. He took in vagrants, he helped the poor and the sick, and he spent all his substance on help for the needy, while he himself remained in want. Saint Theophanes did not grieve at all over the loss of his property, but he lost his health, and sickness caused him great suffering. His body began to swell up, to rot, and to give off a stench. This ordeal he also endured in good spirit, giving thanks to God for all things. A fierce storm raged while he was dying, and his wife grieved that she would not be able to give him proper burial. The saint comforted her: “Weep not, woman, for up to now the trial has lasted, but here comes help from the Merciful God, since in the hour of my death the storm will cease, by the will of God.” So it occurred: just as he gave up his soul to God, calmness prevailed. After death the body of Saint Theophanes became completely cleansed of wounds and decay and became fragrant, giving forth abundant healing myrrh.
Saint Onuphrius of Saint David Gareji Monastery, Georgia
Saint Onuphrius of Gareji (Otar Machutadze in the world) lived and labored in the 18th century. He was a Kartlian aristocrat famed for his wealth, hospitality, and charity. Longing for the ascetic life, Otar wore a hair shirt under his distinguished raiment and unceasingly prayed to God for the strength to lead the monastic life. He revealed his will to his wife: “I thirst to turn from this world and draw nearer to Christ,” he said. “Therefore, I beg your forgiveness for all my transgressions, both voluntary and involuntary.”His faithful wife consented and permitted him to go in peace. Otar traveled with his two eldest sons to Tbilisi, blessed them, and bade them farewell for the last time. Then he set off for the David-Gareji Monastery, which at that time was led by the kindhearted superior Archimandrite Herman. Archimandrite Herman received Otar with great joy, and after a short time he tonsured him a monk with the name Onuphrius. Blessed Onuphrius was a peaceful, humble and obedient man and a tireless ascetic. He would keep vigil through the night, and after the morning prayers he would go down to the ravine and continue to chant psalms, shedding tears over his past transgressions. He ate just one meal a day of bread and water, after the hour of Vespers. Once the Dagestanis attacked the David-Gareji Monastery, plundered the church, and took captive several monks including Onuphrius, the priests Maxime and Ioakime, and four deacons. Onuphrius was the oldest among them. The unbelievers planned to stab him to death, but the Lord protected him from their evil scheme. According to the will of the All-merciful God, Onuphrius was freed and returned to the monastery.The brotherhood was impoverished after the invasion, so Archimandrite Herman sent Saint Onuphrius on a mission to solicit alms. It was difficult for Saint Onuphrius to depart from the monastery, but he unquestioningly obeyed the will of his superior: the former aristocrat began to walk from door to door, begging for charity. At Tskhinvali in Samachablo Saint Onuphrius attracted the attention of a crowd of people leading a young, demon-possessed man. The saint approached them and discovered that they were bringing the young man to a fortuneteller for help.With love and great boldness Saint Onuphrius addressed the crowd, saying, “My children, such behavior is not fitting for Christian believers. Bring the young man to me!”The young man’s mother fell on her knees before him, begging for help, but Saint Onuphrius raised her up and proclaimed: “I have come bearing earth from the grave of Saint David of Gareji. This will help your son!” He dissolved a pinch of the earth in water and gave it to the young man to drink, and he was immediately healed. Saint Onuphrius took with him his youngest son, John, and returned to the monastery with a great quantity of provisions.Once a certain Arab with a wounded eye came to the monastery seeking help. Saint Onuphrius washed his eye in water from the holy spring of David-Gareji, and he was immediately healed. Later Saint Onuphrius desired to be tonsured into the great schema. The superior was hesitant, and told Onuphrius to remain for twenty or thirty days at the grave of Saint David praying and supplicating God to reveal His will. The saint remained there in prayer, and after thirty days God revealed to the abbot that Fr. Onuphrius was truly worthy of this honor. Then Schemamonk Onuphrius gave a vow of silence and began to sleep on a tattered mat. Under his clothing he wore a heavy chain, and he left his cell only to attend the divine services.Soon Blessed Onuphrius became so exhausted that he was no longer able to stand. The brothers begged him to lie on a bed and rest his head on a pillow, but the blessed Onuphrius opened his mouth for the first time since taking the vow of silence and said, “I vow to end my days on this mat.”Saint Onuphrius endured his infirmities with thanksgiving and repeated the Jesus Prayer incessantly. When people came to receive his blessing, he would welcome them, saying, “Let me kiss the edge of your garments and wash your feet with my tears!”Sensing that the end of his days was approaching, Saint Onuphrius partook of the Holy Gifts and, eighteen days later, on the Feast of Theophany, fell asleep in the Lord.Saint Onuphrius was buried on the south side of the grave of Saint David of Gareji, near the altar window.
Martyrs Dadas, Gabdelas, and Kazdoa of Persia
The Martyrs Dadas, Gabdelas and Kazdoa (Kasdoe) accepted death for Christ under the Persian emperor Sapor. Dadas was chief steward under Sapor, and Saints Gabdelas and Kazdoa were the cruel emperor’s own children. Not knowing that Saint Dadas was a Christian, the emperor appointed him as governor of one of the Persian districts. When it was discovered, he was stripped of all honors, sent to the court of the cruel torturer Andromelik and was condemned to be burned. Approaching the stake, Saint Dadas shielded himself with the Sign of the Cross, and the fire went out. Seeing this miracle, the emperor’s stunned son Gabdelas believed in Christ and in the hearing of all, confessed his faith. The judge reported this to the emperor, and he commanded Saint Gabdelas to be fiercely tortured. But in all the sufferings divine strength preserved the saint. An angel of the Lord comforted him, and each time the Lord restored health and strength to him. Beholding the miraculous healing of the holy martyr, many prisoners in the prison with him became Christians, even the sorcerer Gargal, and thus accepted martyrdom. The emperor’s daughter Kazdoa, sister of the Martyr Gabdelas, secretly visited him in prison and brought him water. Another time Kazdoa saw her brother when the torturers tortured him anew. The holy martyr was hung on a cross, and a volley of arrows shot at him, but the arrows bounced off and struck the archers. Seeing his sister, he prevailed upon her to believe in Christ. Saint Kazdoa confessed herself a Christian, and by the command of her father the emperor Sapor, she was cruelly beaten and thrown into prison where her brother languished. Suffering from her wounds, Saint Kazdoa asked her brother to pray for her. Saint Gabdelas, having said the prayer, assured his sister that she would suffer no more. On the following day during new tortures Saint Gabdelas, saw two presbyters Dadias and Abdi, asked them to bring oil and water, since he deeply wanted to receive holy Baptism. At this moment a cloud overshadowed the martyr, from which poured out water and oil, and a voice was heard: “Servant of God, you have already received Baptism.” The face of the martyr became radiant, and in the air was the fragrance of perfume. The torturer commanded the saint to be pierced with spears, and after several hours he died with prayer on his lips. His body was cut into three parts, but the priests Dadias, Abdi and the deacon Armazates took the holy relics and buried them reverently. The body of the holy Martyr Dadas, whom they also tortured for a long time and cut in parts, was also secretly buried by Christians. At midnight the Martyr Gabdelas appeared to the priest Dadias, gave him a vessel with oil and sent him to the martyr Kazdoa to anoint her with oil and give her the Holy Mysteries. The priest did this and, at the very last, said to the holy martyr: “Sleep, sister, until the coming of the Lord,” and Saint Kazdoa departed to the Lord. The mother of the holy martyr prepared her for burial and with joy buried her with the Martyr Gabdelas.
Saint Cyprian of Ustiug
Saint Cyprian of Ustiug was a wealthy landowner, but turning from the vanities of the world, he received the Angelic Schema with the name Cyprian at the monastery of the Holy Trinity at Gledeno.
The inhabitants of the newly-established city of Ustiug begged Saint Cyprian to build a monastery somewhere near the city. Saint Cyprian, went around the city and observed its layout, then chose a place near shallow lakes at the Ostrozh falls and he started building a cell. By the year 1212, he had established a monastery in honor of the Entrance into the Temple of the Most Holy Theotokos, and a church dedicated to the Archangel Michael, the Chief Commander of the Heavenly Hosts. The inhabitants of Ustiug, seeing the godliness of the holy ascetic, brought him all the things he needed to build the monastery, and many came to live the ascetic life with Saint Cyprian, who received everyone with joy and with love. The holy monastery grew, and according to the account in the Ustiug Chronicle, Saint Cyprian “was chosen as the Superior of the holy monastery, and pastor of the flock of Christ, but out of humility he would not agree to be ordained to the holy priesthood.” There was a stone by his bed, which he used to rest his head. During his night prayers, the ascetic held it in his hands in order to maintain vigilance and to be constantly at prayer. Saint Cyprian went to the Lord at 6 o’clock in the afternoon on September 29, 1276, and his body was buried in the monastery which he founded. Later, a church was built over his holy relics and was dedicated to the Feast of Mid-Pentecost, which also had a chapel in honor of Saint Cyprian of Carthage (August 31).
Venerable Kyriákos the Anchorite – Troparion & Kontakion
Troparion — Tone 1
You were shown to be a citizen of the desert, an Angel in the body
and a wonderworker.
O our God-bearing Father Kyriákos,
hrough fasting, vigil and prayer you received heavenly gifts,
healing the sick and the souls of those who hasten to you with faith.
Glory to Him Who gave you strength.
Glory to Him Who crowned you.
Glory to Him Who, through you, grants healing to all.
Kontakion — Tone 8
The sacred Lavra always honors you as a mighty champion,
and celebrates your holy memory every year.
Since you possess boldness with the Lord,
protect us from our enemies, that we may cry to you:
“Rejoice, O thrice-blessed Father.”
Martyrs Dadas, Gabdelas, and Kazdoa of Persia – Troparion & Kontakion
Troparion — Tone 4
Your holy martyrs, O Lord,
through their sufferings have received an incorruptible crown 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!
Saint Onuphrius of Saint David Gareji Monastery, Georgia – 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 Onuphrius, pray to Christ our God to save our souls!
Saint Cyprian of Ustiug – Troparion & Kontakion
Troparion — Tone 8
In you, O venerable Father Father Cyprian, the image of God shone forth,
for you carried your cross and followed Christ.
By so doing you taught us to disregard the flesh, for it passes away,
and to care instead for the soul since it is immortal.
Wherefore, your soul forever rejoices with the angels.
Kontakion — Tone 2
Having divinely armed yourself with the purity of your soul,
and firmly grasping unceasing prayer as a spear, you pierced the armies of demons.
Therefore, we beseech you, O our Father Cyprian,
always intercede for us who honor you.
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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