2019-10-13

Science of the Saints, 14-X (1 Oct.), St Romanus The Melodist


The Monk Romanus the Melodist was born in the fifth century in the Syrian city of Emessa.

Having moved on to Constantinople, he became a church attendant in the temple of Saint Sophia. The monk spent his nights alone at prayer in a field or in the Blachernae church out beyond the city.

Saint Romanus did not initially have the talent for reading and song. One time, on the eve of the Nativity of Christ, he read the kathisma verses, but so poorly that another reader had to take his place, and the clergy made fun of Romanus. 

The youth for a long while in grief prayed before an icon of the Most Holy Mother of God. The Mother of God appeared at night in a dream-vision to the saint, and having given him a scroll (in Greek "kondakion"), commanded him to eat it. Thus did the Monk Romanus receive the gift of book understanding, composition, and the making of churchly song. This was on the day of the Nativity of Christ. For the all-night vigil Saint Romanus in a wondrous voice sang forth in church his first kondak: "Today the Virgin giveth birth to the Transcendent One..." 

From this scroll ("kondakion") all the songs of the monk became known as kondakions or kondaks. Saint Romanus was also the first to write in the form of the "ikos," a song form which he incorporated into the all-night vigil at his places of domicile (in Greek "oikos").

For his zealous service Saint Romanus was ordained to the dignity of deacon and became a teacher of song. Up until his death, which occurred in about the year 556, the Monk-Deacon Romanus the Melodist composed nearly a thousand church songs, many of which Christians still use to glorify the Lord.

2019-10-12

Science of the Saints, 13-X (30 Sep.), Holy Hieromartyr Gregory The Illuminator, Bishop And Evangelist Of Great Armenia


The Hieromartyr Gregory, Enlightener of Great Armenia, was born in the year 257.

He was descended from the line of the Parthian Arsakid emperors. The father of Saint Gregory, Anak, in striving after the Armenian throne, had murdered his kinsman, the emperor Kursar, in consequence of which all the line of Anak was marked for destruction. A certain kinsman saved Gregory: he carried off the infant from Armenia to Caesarea Cappadocia and raised him in the Christian faith.

At maturity, Gregory married, had two sons, but soon was left a widower. Gregory raised his sons in piety. One of them, Orthanes, afterwards became a priest, and the other, Arostanes, accepted monasticism and went off into the wilderness.

In order to atone for the sin of his father, who had murdered the father of Tiridates, Gregory entered into the service of the latter and was for him a faithful servant. Tiridates loved Gregory like a friend, but he was intolerant of the Christian confession of faith. After ascending the Armenian throne, he began to demand that Saint Gregory renounce the Christian faith. The steadfastness of the saint embittered Tiridates, and he gave his faithful servant over to cruel tortures: they suspended the sufferer head downwards with a stone about his neck, for several days they choked him with a stinking smoke, they beat and ridiculed him, and forced him to walk in iron sandals inset with nails. During the time of these sufferings Saint Gregory sang psalms. In prison the Lord healed all his wounds.

When Gregory again stood before the emperor cheerful and unharmed, that one was astonished and gave orders to repeat the torments. Saint Gregory endured them, not wavering, with all his former determination and bearing. They then poured hot tin over him and threw him into a pit, full of vipers. The Lord however saved His chosen one: the viperous creatures did him no harm. Some pious women fed him with bread, secretly lowering it into the pit. An holy Angel, appearing to the martyr, invigorated his powers and encouraged his spirit. Thus it went on for fourteen years. During this time the emperor Tiridates wrought yet another evil deed: he martyred the holy virgin Saint Ripsimia, the aged hegumeness Gaiania and another thirty-five virgins from one of the Asia Minor monasteries.

Saint Ripsimia had fled to Armenia, together with her hegumeness and fellow sisters, to avoid entering into marriage with the emperor Diocletian (284-305), who was charmed by her beauty. Concerning this, Diocletian sent a report to the Armenian emperor Tiridates suggesting that he either send Ripsimia back, or wed her himself. The servants of the emperor found the fugitives and they began to urge Ripsimia to submit to the will of the emperor. The saint answered, that she, just like all her monastic sisters, was betrothed to the Heavenly Bridegroom and so to enter into marriage was not possible. Then from the heavens resounded a Voice: "Be brave and fear not, for I am with thee," The messengers in fear withdrew. Tiridates gave the maiden over to cruelest torments: they plucked out her tongue, cut open her stomach, blinded and killed her, chopping her body into pieces.

After this, inspired by Ripsimia to bravely endure torments for Christ, the hegumeness Saint Gaiania and two other monastic sisters were given over to similar tortures, after which they were beheaded. The remaining thirty-three sisters were run through with swords and their bodies thrown for devouring by wild beasts. 

The wrath of God befell emperor Tiridates, and likewise those of his associates and soldiers, who had participated in the tormenting of the saints. Beset by demons, they became like wild boars (as once with Nabuchodonosor, Dan. 4:30), ranging through the forests, rending their clothes and gnawing at their own bodies. After the passage of a certain while, it was announced in a dream to Tiridates' sister Kusarodukhta: "If Gregory be not taken out of the pit, emperor Tiridates will not be healed." Then those close to the emperor approached the pit and asked: "Gregory, art thou alive?" Gregory answered: "By the grace of my God I am alive." Then they brought out the holy martyr - unshaven, darkened, and very withered, but as before steadfast of spirit.

The saint ordered the remains of the martyred virgins to be gathered up, which they venerably buried, and on the place of burial they built a church. At this church Saint Gregory greeted the demon-possessed emperor and commanded him to pray to the holy martyrs. Tiridates was healed, repenting of his offenses against God, and with his whole household he accepted holy Baptism. Following the example of the emperor, all the whole Armenian people was baptised. 

Through the efforts of Saint Gregory in the year 301 there was erected the Echmiadzin cathedral in honour of the Descent of the Holy Spirit. In the year 305 Saint Gregory journeyed to Caesarea Cappadocia and there was installed by archbishop Leontius as bishop of Armenia. For his apostolic works he received the title of Enlightener of Armenia. Saint Gregory likewise converted to Christ many people from the surrounding lands of Persia and Assyria. 

In organising the Armenian Church Saint Gregory summoned to serve as bishop his own son, Arostanes the wilderness-dweller, and he himself retired into the wilderness. Saint Arostanes in the year 325 was a participant in the First Ecumenical Council, which condemned the heresy of Arius. 

Saint Gregory, having retired to the wilderness, died in the year 335. The right hand and part of his holy relics rest now in a reliquary Echmiadzin cathedral church in Armenia. In the tradition of the Armenian Apostolic Church, preserved up to the present, the Supreme Catholicos-Patriarch of all the Armenians blesses with this right hand the holy myrrh at the time of the myrrh-boiling.

2019-10-11

Science of the Saints, 12-X (29 Sep.), St Cyriacus The Ascetic


The Monk Cyriacus was born at Corinth into the family of a presbyter of the cathedral church, John and his wife Eudoxia. 

The bishop of Corinth, Peter, being a kinsman and seeing that Cyriacus was growing up as a quiet and sensible lad, made him a reader in church. Constant reading of the Holy Scriptures awakened in him a spirit of love for the Lord and of a yearning for a pure and saintly life. 

Once, when the youth was not yet eighteen years old, during a church service he was so deeply moved by the words of the Gospel: "Whosoever would to come after Me, let him deny himself and raise up his cross and follow Me," (Mt.16:24) that immediately - not returning home - he went to the harbour, got onto a ship and set off to Jerusalem. Having visited the holy places, Cyriacus dwelt for several months at a monastery not far from Sion in obedience to the hegumen Abba Eustorgius, by whose blessing he made his way to the wilderness Laura of the Monk Euthymius the Great. 

The Monk Euthymius, discerning in the youth great Divine gifts, vowed him into the monastic form and set him under the guidance of the Monk Gerasimus, pursuing asceticism at Jordan in the monastery of Saint Theoctistus. 

Saint Gerasimus, seeing the youthfulness of Cyriacus, ordered him to live in the regular community with the brethren. The young monk easily accomplished the monastic obediences - he prayed fervently, he slept little, food he partook of only every other day, nourishing himself but with bread and water. 

During the period of great Lent Saint Gerasimus, having set out according to custom into the Ruv wilderness returning to the monastery only on Palm Sunday, began also to take Cyriacus with him. In the complete solitude the ascetics redoubled their efforts. The Monk Gerasimus each Sunday communed his student with the Holy Mysteries. 

After the death of the Monk Gerasimus, the 27 year old Cyriacus returned to the Laura of the Monk Euthymius, but he too was no longer among the living. The Monk Cyriacus asked for himself a solitary cell and there he pursued asceticism in silence, communicating only with the monk Thomas. But soon Thomas was sent to Alexandria where he was ordained bishop, and Saint Cyriacus spent ten years in total silence. 

At thirty-seven years of age he was ordained to the dignity of deacon. When a split occurred between the monasteries of the Monk Euthymius and the Monk Theoctistus, Saint Cyriacus withdrew to the Sukea monastery of the Monk Chariton. At this monastery they took in monks entering anew as new-beginners, and so also was Saint Cyriacus received, humbly toiling at the regular monastic obediences. 

After several years the Monk Cyriacus was ordained priest and chosen canonarch and did this obedience for eighteen years. The Monk Cyriacus spent thirty years at the monastery of the Monk Chariton. Strict fasting and total lack of evil distinguished the Monk Cyriacus even among the ascetics of the Laura. In his cell each night he read the Psalter, interrupting the reading only so as to go to church at midnight. The ascetic slept very little. 

When the monk reached seventy years of age, he went to the Natupha wilderness, taking with him his disciple John. In the wilderness the hermits nourished themselves only with bitter grasses, which through the prayer of Saint Cyriacus was rendered edible. After a period of five years one of the inhabitants found out about the ascetics and brought to them his demon-possessed son, and Saint Cyriacus healed him. From that time many people began to approach the monk with their needs, but he sought complete solitude and fled to the Ruv wilderness, where he dwelt five years more. But the sick and demon-afflicted came to him in this wilderness, and the monk healed them with the sign of the Cross and prayer. 

At his eightieth year of life the Monk Cyriacus fled to the hidden Susakim wilderness, where two parched streams passed by. According to tradition, the holy Prophet David brought Susakim to attention: "Thou driest up the river Itham." (Ps. 73:15) After seven years brethren of the Sukea monastery came to him, beseeching his spiritual help during the time of onset, through the sufferance of God, of debilitating hunger and illness. They implored Saint Cyriacus to return to the monastery, and the monk settled into a cave, in which the Monk Chariton had earlier asceticised.

The Monk Cyriacus rendered great help to the Church in the struggle with the spreading heresy of the Origenists; by prayer and word he returned the misled to the true way, and strengthening the orthodox in their faith. 

The author of the Vita of the Monk Cyriacus, a monk of the Laura of the Monk Euthymios named Cyril, was a witness, when the Monk Cyriacus predicted the pending death of the chief heretics Jonah and Leontius, and soon the heresy would cease to spread. 

The Most Holy Mother of God Herself commanded the Monk Cyriacus to keep to the orthodox teaching in its purity: Having appeared to him in a dream together with the Saints John the Baptist and John the Theologian, She refused to enter into the cell of the monk because in it was a book with the words of the heretic Nestorius. "In your cell is My enemy," She said. 

At his ninety-ninth year of life the monk Cyriacus again went off to Susakim and lived there with his disciple John. In the wilderness a huge lion waited on the Monk Cyriacus, protecting him from robbers, but it did not bother wandering brethren and it ate from the monk's hand. Once in the heat of summer all the water in the pit dried up, where during winter the ascetics had stored up water, and there was no other source of water. The Monk Cyriacus prayed, and here amidst the desert there poured forth copious rain, filling the pit with water. 

For the two years before his death the Monk Cyriacus returned to the monastery and again settled into the cave of the Monk Chariton. Until the end of his life the righteous elder preserved his courage, and standing with fervour he sang. He was never without deeds, either he prayed, or he worked. Before death the Monk Cyriacus summoned the brethren, gave blessing to all and with a prayer he quietly expired to the Lord, having lived 109 years.

2019-10-10

Science of the Saints, 11-X (28 Sep.), Our Holy Father And Confessor Chariton


The Monk Chariton the Confessor suffered at Iconium during the time of one of the persecutions against Christians under either the emperor Galerius (305-311), Maximian (305-311) or Licinius (311-324). 

The grace-bearing example of the holy First‑Martyress Thecla encouraged him in his confessor's deed - she being a native of his city, whose memory he in particular deeply venerated. 

Saint Chariton bravely denounced the pagan gods and staunchly confessed faith in the One True God - Christ the Saviour. The holy Confessor underwent fierce tortures but, through the Providence of God, he remained alive. When the persecution abated, the saint was set free from imprisonment and he dedicated all his life to the service of the Lord. 

Journeying to Jerusalem on pilgrimage to the holy places, he fell into the hands of robbers. They tied him and threw him in a cave, intending later to kill him, and they themselves hastened off on business. In expectation of death the saint prayed heatedly, he gave thanks to God and entreated Him to do with him according to His will. At this time a snake crawled into the cave and began to drink wine from a vessel setting there, poisoning it with its deadly venom. Having returned to the cave, the robbers drank the poisoned wine and they all perished. 

The Monk Chariton, giving thanks to God, began asceticising at the place of his miraculous rescue. The plundered gold of the robbers he distributed to the poor, and in the robbers' cave he built a church, around which in time there formed a monastery - the reknowned Tharan Laura in Palestine. 

The Monk Chariton compiled a strict rule for his monastery. Yearning for solitude, the monk went farther into the wilderness, but there also he did not reject those who besought his spiritual guidance , and he founded yet two more monasteries - the Jerichon and the Tree-branched, named the "Palm Laura." 

At the end of his life the Monk Chariton asceticised in a cave on an hill, nearby the Tree-branched monastery, but he did not cease guidance with all three of the monasteries founded by him. 

By tradition, the Monk Chariton compiled the office of taking monastic vows. The Monk Chariton the Confessor died in extreme old age and was buried, in accord with his last-wishes, in the Tharan monastery in the church, built on the spot of the robbers' cave.

2019-10-09

Science of the Saints, 10-X (27 Sep.), Holy Martyr Callistratus And The Forty Nine Holy Martyrs With Him


Saint Callistratus was a native of Carthage. An ancestor of Saint Callistratus, Neoscorus, has served under the emperor Tiberius in Palestine, under the command of the procurator of Judea Pontius Pilate, and was a witness to the suffering on the Cross and glorious Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. The father of the saint was a Christian, and he raised his son in faith and piety. Also like his father, Saint Callistratus became a soldier and excelled among his pagan military comrades by good conduct and gentle disposition. During the nights when everyone slept, he usually stayed up at prayer. 

One time a soldier sleeping nearby him heard Saint Callistratus invoking the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and he reported this to the military commander, who in turn summoned Callistratus, interrogated him, and wanted to make him offer sacrifice to idols. To this the saint answered firmly with a resolute refusal. Then the military commander gave orders to beat the saint and then, covered with wounds, to drag him over sharp stones. The beating and the torments did not sway the firm will and brave endurance of the sufferer. The torturer gave orders to sew up the saint in a leather sack and drown him in the sea. By Divine Providence however the sack came upon a sharp rock tearing it, and Saint Callistratus, supported by dolphins, came to dry land unharmed. Viewing such a miracle, forty-nine soldiers came to believe in Christ. Then the military commander threw Saint Callistratus together with the believing soldiers into prison. Before this, all of them were subjected to innumerable floggings.

In confinement, Saint Callistatus continued to preach the Word of God to the soldiers and he bolstered their spirits for the martyr's act. Summoned again to the military commander, the sufferers firmly confessed their faith in Christ, after which they bound them hand and foot and threw them into a water-dam. But there their bonds broke, and with bright faces the holy martyrs stood in the water, rejoicing in their Baptism, which coincided with the act of martyrdom. Over them were beautiful bright crowns, and all heard a voice: "Be brave, Callistratus, with thy company, and come rest in the eternal habitations." At the same time with this, the earth shuddered and an idol standing not far off fell down and smashed. Beholding this happening, another 135 soldiers also believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. The military commander, fearing a mutiny in the army, did not set about to judge them, but again imprisoned Saint Callistratus with the others, where they fervently prayed and gave thanks to the Creator, for having given them power to endure such sufferings. At night by order of the military commander they chopped the martyrs to pieces with swords. Their holy remains were buried by the remaining-alive 135 soldiers, and afterwards on the spot of their sufferings, as Saint Callistatus had foretold, a church was built.

2019-10-08

Science of the Saints, 9-X (26 Sep.), Translation Of The Apostle & Evangelist St John The Theologian


The Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian was the son of Zebedee and Salomia - a daughter of Saint Joseph the Betrothed. Together at the same time with his elder brother James, he was called by our Lord Jesus Christ to be numbered amongst His Apostles, which took place at Lake Gennesareth (i.e. the Sea of Galilee). Leaving  behind their father, both brothers followed the Lord.

The Apostle John was especially beloved by the Saviour for his sacrificial love and his virginal purity. After his calling, the Apostle John did not part from the Lord, and he was one of the three apostles who were particularly close to Him. Saint John the Theologian was present when the Lord resuscitated to life the daughter of Jairus, and he was a witness to the Transfiguration of the Lord on Mount Tabor. During the time of the Last Supper, he reclined next to the Lord, and at a gesture from the Apostle Peter, he pressed nigh to the bosom of the Saviour and asked the name of the betrayer. The Apostle John followed after the Lord, when they led Him bound from the Garden of Gethsemane to the court of the iniquitous high-priests Annas and Caiphas. He was there in the courtyard of the high-priest during the interrogations of his Divine Teacher and he resolutely followed after him on the way of the Cross, grieving with all his heart. At the foot of the Cross he went together with the Mother of God and heard addressed to Her from atop the Cross the words of the Crucified Lord: "Woman, behold Thy son" and to him "Behold thy Mother" (Jn.19:26-27). And from that moment the Apostle John, like a loving son, concerned himself over the Most Holy Virgin Mary, and he served Her until Her Dormition, never leaving Jerusalem. 

After the Dormition of the Mother of God the Apostle John, in accord with the lot that had befallen him, set off to Ephesus and other cities of Asia Minor to preach the Gospel, taking with him his own disciple Prochorus. They set off upon their on a ship, which floundered during the time of a terrible tempest. All the travellers were cast up upon dry ground, and only the Apostle John remained in the depths of the sea. Prochorus wept bitterly, bereft of his spiritual father and guide, and he went on towards Ephesus alone. On the fourteenth day of his journey he stood at the shore of the sea and beheld that the waves had cast ashore a man. Going up to him, he recognised the Apostle John, whom the Lord had preserved alive for fourteen days in the deeps of the sea. Teacher and student set off to Ephesus, where the Apostle John preached incessantly to the pagans about Christ. His preaching was accompanied by numerous and great miracles, such that the number of believers increased with each day. During this time there had begun a persecution against Christians under the emperor Nero (56-68). They took away the Apostle John for trial at Rome. The Apostle John was sentenced to death for his confession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, but the Lord preserved His chosen one. The apostle drank out of a cup prepared for him with deadly poison but he remained alive, and later he emerged unharmed from a cauldron of boiling oil, into which he had been thrown on orders from the torturer. After this, they sent the Apostle John off to imprisonment to the island of Patmos, where he spent many years. Proceeding along on his way to the place of exile, the Apostle John worked many miracles. On the island of Patmos, his preaching accompanied by miracles attracted to him all the inhabitants of the island, and he enlightened them with the light of the Gospel. He cast out many a devil from the pagan-idol temples, and he healed a great multitude of the sick. Sorcerer-magicians with diverse demonic powers showed great hostility to the preaching of the holy apostle. He gave especial fright to the chief sorcerer of them all, named Kinops, who boasted that they would destroy the apostle. But the great John - the Son of Thunder, as the Lord Himself had named him - by the grace of God acting through him destroyed all the demonic artifices to which Kinops resorted, and the haughty sorcerer perished exhausted in the depths of the sea. 

The Apostle John withdrew with his disciple Prochorus to a desolate height, where he imposed upon himself a three-day fast. During the time of the Apostle John's prayer the earth quaked and thunder boomed. Prochorus in fright fell to the ground. The Apostle John lifted him up and bid him to write down, that which he was to speak. "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, saith the Lord, Which is and Which was and Which is to come, the Almighty" (Rev.1:8), proclaimed the Spirit of God through the Apostle John. Thus in about the year 67 was written the Apocalypse of the holy Apostle John the Theologian. In this Book was a revealing of the tribulations of the Church and of the end of the world.

After his prolonged exile, the Apostle John received his freedom and returned to Ephesus, where he continued with his activity, instructing Christians to guard against false teachers and their false teachings. In about the year 95, the Apostle John wrote his Gospel at Ephesus. He called for all Christians to love the Lord and one another, and by this to fulfill the commands of Christ. The Church entitles Saint John the "Apostle of Love," since he constantly taught, that without love man cannot come nigh to God. In his three Epistles he speaks about the significance of love for God and for neighbour. 

Already in his old age, and having learned of a youth who had strayed from the true path to begin following the leader of a band of robbers, the Apostle John went out into the wilderness to seek him. Catching sight of the holy elder, the culprit tried to hide himself, but the Apostle John ran after him and besought him to stop, and promising to take the sins of the youth upon himself, if only he should but repent and not bring ruination upon his soul. Shaken by the intense love of the holy elder, the youth actually did repent and turn his life around.

The holy Apostle John died at more than an hundred years old. He far outlived the other remaining eye-witnesses of the Lord, and for a long time he remained the sole remaining eye-witness of the earthly paths of the Saviour. 

When it became time for the departure of the Apostle John, he withdrew out beyond the city limits of Ephesus, being together with the families of his disciples. He bid them prepare for him a cross-shaped grave, in which he lay, telling his disciples that they should cover him over with the soil. The students with tears kissed their beloved teacher, but not wanting to be disobedient, they fulfilled his bidding. They covered the face of the saint with a cloth and filled in the grave. Learning of this, other students of the Apostle John came to the place of his burial, but opening the grave they found it empty.

Each year from the grave of the holy Apostle John on 8 May there came forth a fine ash-dust, which believers gathered up and were healed of sicknesses by it. Therefore the Church celebrates the memory of the holy Apostle John the Theologian still even also on 8 May.

The Lord bestowed on His beloved disciple John and John's brother James the name "Sons of Thunder" - as an awesome messenger in its cleansing power of the heavenly fire. And precisely by this the Saviour pointed out the flaming, fiery, sacrificial character of Christian love, - the preacher of which was the Apostle John the Theologian. The eagle - symbol of the lofty soaring of his theological thought - is the iconographic symbol of the Evangelist John the Theologian. The appellation "Theologian" is bestowed by Holy Church only to Saint John among the immediate Disciples and Apostles of Christ, as being the seer of the mysteried Judgements of God.

2019-10-07

Science of the Saints, 8-X (25 Sep.), St Euphrosyne Of Alexandria


The Nun Euphrosyne was born at the beginning of the fifth century in the city of Alexandria. 

She was the only child in her family of illustrious and rich parents. Her mother died early. She was raised by her father, Paphnutius, a deeply believing and pious Christian. He frequented a monastery, the hegumen of which was his spiritual guide. 

When Euphrosyne turned age eighteen, her father wanted her to marry. He set off to the monastery to his spiritual guide to receive blessing for the planned wedding of his daughter. The hegumen conversed with the daughter and gave her his blessing, but Saint Euphrosyne yearned for the monastic life. Secretly having accepted tonsure from a wandering monk, she left her father's house and decided to enter a monastery in order to lead her life in solitude and prayer. 

She feared, however, that in a women's monastery her father would find her. Calling herself the eunuch Izmaragdus, she went to that very selfsame men's monastery, which since childhood she had visited with her father. The monks did not recognise Euphrosyne dressed in men's garb, and so they accepted her into the monastery. Here in a solitary cell, in works, fasting and prayer, Saint Euphrosyne spent thirty-eight years and attained to high spiritual accomplishment. 

Her father grieved over the loss of his beloved daughter and more than once, on the advice of the hegumen, he conversed with the monk Izmaragdus, revealing his grief and receiving spiritual comfort. 

Before her death, the Nun Euphrosyne revealed her secret to her grieving father and asked that no one except him should prepare her body for burial. Having buried his daughter, Paphnutius distributed all his wealth to both the poor and to the monastery, and then he accepted monasticism. For ten years right up to his own death, he asceticised in the cell of his daughter.