ON THIS DATE: From the Prologue to Ohrid/Ochrid

An online Synaxaristes including martyrologies and hagiographies of the lives of the Orthodox Church's saints. All Forum Rules apply. No polemics. No heated discussions. No name-calling.

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Justin Kissel

March 23/ April 5

Postby Justin Kissel » Thu 8 April 2004 4:22 pm

1. THE HOLY PRIESTLY-MARTYR NICON

Nicon was born in Naples of a pagan father and Christian mother. Nicon was a Roman officer in Naples and was not baptized, even though his mother tutored him secretly from his father in the Faith of Christ. Once, when Nicon was sent into battle with his troops, his mother counseled him to make the sign of the cross and to call upon Christ for help if any misfortune would befall him. And, indeed, while in battle, Nicon's troops were completely surrounded; and, toward the end of the battle, Nicon made the sign of the cross in his heart and cried out to Christ. Immediately, he was filled with unusual strength and pursued his enemies. Some he slew and others he forced to flee. Returning to his home, Nicon continuously cried out in amazement, "Great is the Christian God." Since he had made his mother happy with the news of his victory with the help of the Cross of Christ, he secretly sailed to Asia where Theodosius the Bishop of Cyzicus baptized him. Following his baptism, he secluded himself in a monastery where he devoted himself to study and asceticism. Before his death Theodosius had a vision in which he was told to ordain Nicon as his successor. Immediately the aged Theodosius summoned Nicon and ordained him a deacon; after that, a priest, and then, a bishop. Shortly thereafter, according to God's Providence, Nicon came to Naples where he discovered that his mother was still living. Following his mother's death, Nicon, with nine disciples, his former war companions, withdrew to Sicily and there dedicated himself to preaching the Gospel. However, at that time there was a terrible persecution of Christians. Prince Quintianus captured Nicon with his companions and inflicted great pain and suffering upon them. His one-hundred ninety disciples and companions were beheaded. The tormentor tied Nicon to the tail of a horse, hurled him from a steep wall into a gorge, beat him, and skinned him; but Nicon survived all of these tortures. Finally, he was beheaded and took up habitation with the Lord. His body was left in the fields to be devoured by the birds. A certain herdsman, with a rabid evil spirit, tripped and fell over the dead body of Christ's martyr and immediately the herdsman was healed. Proclaiming the news about Nicon's body, Christians came forth and honorably buried the body of Nicon. St. Nicon suffered during the reign of the Emperor Decius.

2. THE VENERABLE NICON OF THE MONASTERY OF THE CAVES IN KIEV

Nicon was a companion of St. Anthony of the Caves and a spiritual father to the Venerable Theodosius. Because of the monastic tonsuring of the Boyar Barlaam and of the eunuch Ephrem, Nicon was threatened by Prince Izjaslav; but his wife, the princess, turned the anger of the prince into the fear of God. Then Nicon, the holy one, was left in peace. Wanting to adorn the church with icons, Nicon implored God for assistance. As a result of his prayers, certain Greek iconographers unexpectedly came to Kiev from Constantinople. St. Anthony and St. Theodosius appeared to these iconographers in a vision and directed them to Nicon in Kiev.(*) Nicon was praised because of his courageous asceticism and spiritual wisdom. Against his will, Nicon, in his old age, became the abbot of Pecer. He presented himself to the Lord in the year 1066 A.D. His incorruptible relics are persevered in the Monastery of the Caves in Kiev.

(*) In the Greek Synaxarion and the Athonite Patericon, the Neo-martyr Luke, who was born in Jedren is commemorated on this day. As a child he was captured in Constantinople by the Turks and was circumcised. Because of this, he had bitter pangs of conscience. He considered circumcision the devil's mark on him which could only be destroyed through martyrdom for Christ. Tonsured a monk on Mt. Athos, he went with his Elder Bessarion to Mytilene and there was hanged by the Turks on March 23, 1802. Hanging in the air, the body of the martyr emitted a fragrant oil [Chrism].

HYMN OF PRAISE

SAINT NICON

In the dungeon, Nicon languished,

And day and night he prayed to God.

For his defense, did not pray to God,

Nor to revenge Quintianus, the wicked,

But for strength, to endure sufferings.

Nicon's sighings, God heard.

One time Nicon dreamed in prayer:

To him, the Virgin appeared in light,

Than the sun, more beautiful and brighter.

Than a lamb, whiter and gentler,

At her side, two archangels are,

Their faces, radiant and joyful,

With their height, to the heavens they reach,

The river they point out, one to the other:

That is the wavy river Psimif!

Then, one archangel to the Virgin says,

To Quintianus, were we sent to slay

In the waves of the raging Psimif.

But, behold, we are looking over the river

And nowhere Quintianus do we see?

As honey flowing from her mouth, the Virgin spoke:

To the river, soon, he will come,

Through the waves, he will attempt to cross,

But, beneath him, his horse will become enraged,

His face, by his teeth, will he disfigure,

Him, the river will drown,

And thus, your task, you will complete.

That is the end of the evil torturer of Nicon, my saint.

All of this took place as the Virgin said,

Everything that Nicon dreamed became a reality.


REFLECTION

St. Paphnutius prayed to God to reveal to him, who it is that he [Paphnutius] resembled. He heard a voice which spoke to him, "You are similar to a merchant who seeks good pearls; arise and do not be idle!" But why would not God say to everyone of us that we are similar to a merchant who seeks good pearls? Because many of us do not seek pearls, rather we gorge ourselves with heavy layers of cheap dust. Not everything which the net raises up from the bottom of the sea is a pearl; sometimes, it is only mud and sand. The ignorant vie for that mud and sand as though it were a pearl. Only the merchant who recognizes a true pearl casts the net into the sea untold number of times. He hauls it up, sifts it of mud and sand, until he finds one seed of pearl! Why does God compare Paphnutius to a merchant? Because Paphnutius gave away all of his possessions, invested all of his effort and all of his time, in order to find that one seed of the true pearl. That true pearl is the heart cleansed of all passions and of evil thoughts and warmed by the flame of love toward God. Arise also, you man, and do not be lazy! Your marketing day is approaching its twilight.

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the Lord Jesus crucified on the cross:

1. How His compassionate love for mankind did not diminish because of His sufferings;

2. How, with love, He offers comfort to His mother, commending John to her, as a son, in place of Himself;

3. How, with love, He prays to the Father for mankind: " Father, forgive them, they know not what they do" (St. Luke 23:24).

HOMILY

About the weakness of man before the majesty of God

"When I caught sight of Him,I fell down at His feet asthough dead" (Revelation 1:17).

It was St. John who fell as though dead when he saw the Lord Jesus in glory. St. John, the Beloved Disciple of Jesus, The Evangelist, The Chaste One, The one who loved the Lord, and a zealot for holiness - could not stand on his feet nor compose himself when he saw his Teacher in His heavenly glory and power! But, "fell, as though dead." How will they, therefore, endure the presence of the Lord and His eyes "a fiery flame," they who sin against Him, they who rise up against Him, they who ridicule His Name, they who despise His love and sacrifice, they who mock His cross, they who trample upon His commandments, they who persecute His Church, they who shame His priests, and they who kill His faithful? What will happen to them before the face of the Lord when St. John fell as dead when he caught sight of Him? What will happen to the literate who corrupt? What will happen to teachers who destroy the Faith in young souls? What will happen to skeptics who through their doubt poison the minds of men? What will happen to thieves and robbers and what will happen to the immoral and what will happen to the child-killers? What will happen to the enemies of Christ when the friend of Jesus falls, as though dead, before His indescribable, glistening glory? Such is the glory, power, authority, beauty, lordship, light and majesty of the Lord Jesus, resurrected and ascended, that His closest companions who for three years on earth gazed upon His face without fear, now fall as though dead when they see His face in the heavens following His passion, death and victory!

O Lord All-glorious and Almighty illuminate us and enliven us by Your power and glory.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.

Justin Kissel

March 24/ April 6th

Postby Justin Kissel » Thu 8 April 2004 4:22 pm

1. SAINT ARTEMON BISHOP OF SELEUCIA

Artemon was born and educated in Seleucia. When the Apostle Paul came to that city, he met Artemon, strengthened him even more in the Faith of Christ and appointed him bishop of that city. Artemon governed his entrusted flock with love and zeal. He was a physician of the souls as well as the bodies of men. He entered into eternity in ripe old age.

2. VENERABLE JAMES, THE CONFESSOR

James suffered while defending icons under Leo the Armenian. He was a monk and a member of the brotherhood of the Studite Monastery. When the Studite Theodore the Great was in exile, James was subjected to severe tortures in order to persuade him to renounce the veneration of icons. To the end he remained steadfast and faithful to Orthodoxy. Beaten and tortured, he was finally sent back to the monastery after the wicked Emperor Leo came to a wretched end. As a result of severe blows, he died in the monastery and took up habitation among the heavenly citizens.

3. THE PRIESTLY-MARTYR PARTHENIUS, PATRIARCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE

Parthenius was born on the Island of Mytilene. He was the bishop of Chios for a long time. Afterwards he was elected patriarch of Constantinople. Because of false rumors that he allegedly worked against the State, the Turks initially proposed that he become a Muslim. When he adamantly refused, they hanged him in the year 1657 A.D.

4. THE COMMEMORATION OF THE MIRACLE IN THE MONASTERY OF THE CAVES IN KIEV

Two companions, John and Sergius, vowed to adopt each other as blood brothers before an icon of the Holy Mother of God in this monastery. John was a wealthy man, and he had a five year old son Zacharias. John became very ill. Before his death, John commended his son to the care of Sergius and bequeathed a large amount of gold and silver to him for safe keeping so that Sergius would hand it over to his son Zacharias when he reached maturity. When Zacharias reached maturity, Sergius denied that he received anything from the deceased John. Then Zacharias said, "Let him swear before that very icon of the All-Holy Mother of God, before whom he entered into a blood-brother relationship with my deceased father; and if he swears that he did not receive anything from my father John, then I will not seek anything from him." Sergius agreed. When Sergius swore this, he wanted to approach and venerate the icon, but a force held him back and would not allow it. Sergius then began to cry out in a crazed manner to the Holy Fathers, Anthony and Theodosius; "Do not allow this unmerciful angel to destroy me!" That was the demon that attacked him by God's permission. After that, Sergius showed them all the money that John entrusted to him. When they opened the chest, they discovered that the amount had doubled. This amount was doubled by God's Providence. After receiving the money, Zacharias gave it to the monastery and was then tonsured a monk. Zacharias lived for a long time and was made worthy of the great gifts of God and was translated peacefully into eternity.

5. THE VENERABLE ZACHARIAS

Zacharias was the son of Carion the Egyptian. Zacharias left his wife and children and became a monk. He took his father with him because his mother was unable to care for him. Even though Zacharias was younger than most of the elders in the Scete, he was favored with greater gifts of Grace than many of the others were. He felt that his whole being was on fire with the Grace of God. To the question of St. Macarius: "Who is the ideal monk?" Zacharias replied, "He who continually compels himself to fulfill the commandments of God." To the question of Abba Moses: "What does it mean to be a monk?" Zacharias removed his monastic head gear [Kamilavka] and trampled it underfoot and said, "If a man is not shattered as this, he cannot be a monk." He was a great light among the monks of the wilderness and while still young died to the Lord.

HYMN OF PRAISE

VANITY

What is the worth of man, O Lord, You said,

That the whole vast world as his property, he acquires,

When, either today or tomorrow, he must die,

And the accumulated wealth outlive him will.

What worth is it that upon his head, a crown he sets,

When behind him, he must leave it?

To him, what good is gold and a pile of silver,

When through his withered ribs, grass grows?

What good is silk, pearls and food,

When, upon him alive, the sun does not gaze?

Of what help is the world, if he loses his soul.

Without the soul, the body is lowered into the grave.

His body and soul, both have died,

And to its grave, each of them hurries.

Two lifeless ones, then men, do bury,

For neither of them, do men bitterly mourn.

Anyone who has a mind, over his soul, let him guard,

You gave to all a reminder clear:

The soul is the only thing that can be saved,

All else in the world, and even the world itself will perish.

When we know Your counsel, O dear Lord,

Still, Your power and help we need.

Help our sinful soul, O Good One,

That the smoke of vanity suffocate it not.

REFLECTION

Abba Daniel and Abba Ammoe were traveling. Abba Ammoe said, "Father, when will we arrive at the cell?" (that is, so that they could to pray to God). Abba Daniel replied, "And who is taking God away from us now?" The same God is in the cell and outside the cell.. By this we are taught uninterruptedness of prayer, thoughts about God, and contemplation of God's works in us and around us. The Church facilitates prayer and intensifies it. So it is the same with solitude and confinement; each in its own way facilitates and intensifies it. He who does not want to pray will not be bound either by a church or a cell. Neither will he who has felt the pleasure of prayer be able to separate his nature or journeying from prayer.

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the Lord Jesus on the cross crucified:

1. Counting the drops of His All-Holy Blood and counting my sins;

2. Counting His painful sighs and counting the stupid days of my laughter.

HOMILY

About faithfulness in suffering and the crown of life

"Do not be afraid of anythingthat you are going to suffer.Remain faithful until death,and I will give you the crown of life" (Revelation 2:10).

By His suffering our Lord eased our suffering. He endured the greatest of pain and emerged as the Victor. That is why He can encourage us in our lesser sufferings. He suffered and endured in righteousness while we suffer and endure in expiating our own sins. This is why He can doubly remind us to endure to the end as He, the Sinless One, endured. Not one of us has helped nor alleviated His pains and endurance, yet He stands along side each one of us when we suffer and alleviates our pains and misfortunes. That is why He has the right to tell each one who suffers for His Name's sake: "Do not be afraid! Do not be afraid of anything that you are going to suffer," says Christ, for I alone have endured all suffering and am familiar with them. I was not frightened at not a single suffering. I received them upon Myself and, in the end, overcame them all. I did not overcome them by dismissing them or fleeing from them but receiving them all upon Myself voluntarily and enduring them all to the end. And so you also should accept voluntary suffering, for I see and know how much and for how long you can endure.

If your suffering should continue to death itself and if it is the cause of your death, nevertheless, do not be afraid; "I will give you the crown of life." I will crown you with immortal life in which I reign eternally with the Father and the Life-Giving Spirit. God did not send you to earth to live comfortably, rather to prepare for eternal life. It would be a great tragedy if your Creator were unable to give you a better, longer, and brighter life than that which is on earth which reeks of decay and death and is shorter than the life of a raven.

O my brethren, let us listen to the words of the Lord and all of our sufferings will be alleviated. If the blows of the world seem as hard as stones, they will become as the foam of the sea when we obey the Lord.

O Victorious Lord, teach us more about Your long-suffering; and when we become exhausted, extend Your hand and sustain us.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.

Justin Kissel

Postby Justin Kissel » Thu 8 April 2004 4:23 pm

Really, you could just start at the beginning of the thread now... ;)


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