On Aug 2, we recall the Translation of the relics of Holy ProtoMartyr and Archdeacon Stephen. The story of his martyrdom, and boldness before the Lord is well known, since it is recounted in the Acts (Acts 6:6 - 8:60 ). Holy Tradition preserves the rest of the story.
After St. Stephen was stoned to death, his body was left outside the city for the dogs to eat. After a night and two days, Gamaliel, Paul's teacher, and a secret Christian, reverently took the body and buried it in Caphargamala, in a cave, on his own land. In this way, he acted like a second Nicodemus, and later, he also buried his good friend, in the same cave. Upon His death, according to his wishes, he was also laid to rest there.
After centuries, the whereabouts of Stephen's cave was lost in the mist of history. In 415, Gamaliel appeared three times in a dream to a priest, Lucian, in Caphargamala. The Patriarch was informed, and the graves were dug up, and a strong fragrant odor arose in the cave. The relics of St. Stephen were taken to Sion, and there buried with honor, while the relics of the others were buried at a hill above the cave, by a church there. Later, the relics were taken to Constantinople.
St. Moses the Black is remembered on Aug 28. He is also known as "St. Moses the Ethiopian".
He shines as one of the brightest stars among the Egyptian fathers. His formerly prodigal life as a thief and murderer, drunkard and fornicator, addicted to anger, violence and carnal dissipation, and the heights to which he obtained should make anyone who calls himself a lover of God to consider the following things carefully.
God will save any man who repents of his sins, no matter how long-standing and terrible they are, and the exploits of the Saints leave us with no excuse. God wishes for every man the blessings and peace he gave to the great Moses, and we have this athlete of Egypt as our sure guide. His life and strenuous repentance teach us that our salvation is waiting to be attained, if we make great efforts, for we have no excuses, nor any higher calling. Great Moses shows us the ONLY way to win the kingdom. The kingdom of heaven is won by violence, by those with ardent love, and the strong take it by force. (cf., Mat 11:12)
O Christian, be violent against your passions, and when you falter, remember Moses and the legacy he left for you, and ask his intercession before the throne of God, because he is very near to it.
Having wisely abandoned the adornments of the world, / Moses of great renown subdued the carnal passions / by the mighty pangs of abstinence, / and having cast down the greatly crafty one, / he received a crown of victory. // Through his prayers, O Lord, grant great mercy unto all.
Covered by the hand of God, O father Moses, thou didst pass unscathed /
through the wiles, assaults and pursuit of the demons, / and, adorned with
dispassion, / thou hast been numbered among the venerable. // Pray thou that
great mercy be granted to those who honor thee with faith.
(Stichera from Lord I have cried, for St. Moses, Tone 8, Special melody "Thy martyrs")
Troparion, Tone 1:
A desert-dweller, an angel in the flesh and a wonderworker / wast thou shown to be, O our God-bearing father Moses. / For, having acquired heavenly gifts through fasting, vigilance and prayer, / thou dost heal the infirm and the souls of those who have recourse to thee with faith. / Glory to Him Who gaveth thee strength! / Glory to Him Who crowned thee! // Glory to Him Who worketh healings for all through thee!
We remember the Beheading of St. John the Baptist on Aug 29, and because of our great respect for the honorable one, keep this day as a fast, no matter when it falls.
While the birthday of the shameless Herod was being celebrated, the oath he swore to the vile dancer was fulfilled; for the head of the forerunner, having been cut off, was borne, like food, upon a platter, to those reclining there. O abominable feast, unholy act, full of murder! Yet, honoring the Baptist as the greatest born of women, we call him blessed, as is meet. (Lord I have cried, Sticheron for St. John, Tone 6)
John the Baptist, preacher of repentance, when thy head was cut off thou didst sanctify the earth, for thou didst make the law of God clear to the faithful and didst uproot iniquity. And, standing before the throne of Christ the King, entreat Him, that He have mercy upon our souls. (Aposticha, Tone 1)
Troparion, Tone 2:
The memory of the righteous is celebrated with hymns of praise, but the Lord's testimony is sufficient for thee, O forerunner. For thou wast truly shown to be more honorable than the prophets, in that thou wast counted worthy to baptize in the streams Him Whom thou didst proclaim. Wherefore, having suffered, rejoicing, for the those, even unto those in hades thou didst proclaim God, Who had manifested Himself in the flesh, Who taketh away the sin of the world and granteth us great mercy.
Out Holy Father, Maximus the Confessor is remembered on Aug 13, and also, by some, on Jan 21.
He was at first a high ranking member of the court of the Emperor Heraclius, but this did not suit his finely tempered soul, and he became a monk. He defended the church form the Monothelite heresy, which had as it's father the heresy of Eutyches. Whereas Eutyches stated impiously that Christ had one nature, the Monothelites maintained that he had only one will. This is actually a subtle restatement of the Monophysite heresy.
St. Maximus found himself opposed to both the emperor and the Patriarch, as they had succumbed to false thinking about the Savior. In the midst of terrible trials, he continued to hold up the Orthodox faith. Eventually, through his efforts and the greatness of his faith, two councils, one in Carthage, and the other in Rome, anathematized the Monothelite teaching.
St. Maximus' sufferings cannot be comprehended or fully described. He was tortured by hierarchs. Beaten and imprisoned, and had his tongue and one hand cut off. He was exiles for life to a remote place, where his much suffering body was laid to rest in the year 662.
May God grant us courage when we are tried for our faith, through the prayers of the Holy confessor, Maximus.
On Aug 27th, according to the Greek Synaxarion, we remember the Holy Martyr Phanurius. He appeared to people on the island of Rhodes in 1500.
There is a tradition concerning him and his mother, who was a great sinner. His love for his mother caused him to pray for her incessantly. At the time of his martyric death by stoning, he could not even then forget his mother, and with the boldness that is peculiar to athletes of Christ, prayed: "For the sake of these my sufferings, Lord, help all those who will pray to Thee for the salvation of Phanurius' sinful mother".
Many to this day pray for his mother, and present her name for commemoration at the Divine Liturgy.
On Aug 28th, St. Job of Pochaev is remembered.
Unfortunately, I do not remember biographical details of this Saint, and would appreciate it if anyone would provide them. I am sure Orthodox Life has his life somewhere, but, as is usual, do not have the index handy (what a GREAT thing to put on the web).
The Holy Apostles Bartholomew and Titus of the seventy are commemorated on Aug 25. The main feast for St. Bartholomew is June 11th - on this day the translation of his relics is remembered.
Holy Titus was much beloved by St. Paul, who called him his son and brother. He was from Crete. After St. Paul's martyrdom in Rome, he ministered in Crete, and went to his rest and reward in ripe old age.
Our Holy Father John of Rila is remembered on August 18th. St. John of Kronstadt was named after him.
He was born in Sophia, and after the death of his parents, became an ascetic in a cave upon a mountain. There he endured the cold and wind, and assaults form robbers and demons. He later moved to the mountains of Rila, and lived in a hollow tree, eating only the herbs and berries that grew in the vicinity. He was alone with God for many years, and no man saw his face. By God's providence, the light did not remain hidden, as he was discovered by a herdsman. Many came to him for healing and guidance, including even the Bulgarian King, Peter. As often happens among the holy fathers who exile themselves, a monastery was founded in the area where he was discovered. St. John entered into rest at the age of seventy, on August 18, 946.
The Holy Prophet Samuel is remembered on Aug 20.
"And the Lord called Samuel. And he answered: Here am I. 3:5. And he ran to Heli, and said: Here am I: for thou didst call me. He said: I did not call: go back and sleep. And he went and slept. 3:6. And the Lord called Samuel again. And Samuel arose and went to Heli, and said: Here am I: for thou calledst me. He answered: I did not call thee, my son: return and sleep. 3:7. Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, neither had the word of the Lord been revealed to him. 3:8. And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. And he arose up and went to Heli, 3:9. And said: Here am I: for thou didst call me. Then Heli understood that the Lord called the child, and he said to Samuel: Go, and sleep: and if he shall call thee any more, thou shalt say: Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth. So Samuel went, and slept in his place." (1 Kings 3:4-9, Douay-Reims)
"And the Lord said to Samuel: How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, whom I have rejected from reigning over Israel? fill thy horn with oil, and come, that I may send thee to Isai, the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons. 16:2. And Samuel said: How shall I go? for Saul will hear of it, and he will kill me. And the Lord said: Thou shalt take with thee a calf of the herd, and thou shalt say: I am come to sacrifice to the Lord. 16:3. And thou shalt call Isai to the sacrifice, and I will shew thee what thou art to do, and thou shalt anoint him whom I shall shew to thee. 16:4. Then Samuel did as the Lord had said to him. And he came to Bethlehem, and the ancients of the city wondered, and meeting him, they said: Is thy coming hither peaceable? 16:5. And he said: It is peaceable: I am come to offer sacrifice to the Lord, be ye sanctified, and come with me to the sacrifice. And he sanctified Isai and his sons, and called them to the sacrifice. 16:6. And when they were come in, he saw Eliab, and said: Is the Lord's anointed before him? 16:7. And the Lord said to Samuel: Look not on his countenance, nor on the height of his stature: because I have rejected him, nor do I judge according to the look of man: for man seeth those things that appear, but the Lord beholdeth the heart. 16:8. And Isai called Abinadab, and brought him before Samuel. And he said: Neither hath the Lord chosen this, 16:9. And Isai brought Samma, and he said of him: Neither hath the Lord chosen this. 16:10. Isai therefore brought his seven sons before Samuel: and Samuel said to Isai: The Lord hath not chosen any one of these. 16:11. And Samuel said to Isai: Are here all thy sons? He answered: There remaineth yet a young one, who keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said to Isai: Send, and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither. 16:12. He sent therefore and brought him. Now he was ruddy and beautiful to behold, and of a comely face. And the Lord said: Arise, and anoint him, for this is he. 16:13. Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward: and Samuel rose up, and went to Ramatha." (1 Kings 16:1-13, Douay-Reims)
We remember the Holy Prophet Michah on Aug 14. He was a contemporary of the prophets Isaiah, Amos and Hosea.
"And thou Bethlehem Ephrata, art a little one among the thousands of Juda, out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be the ruler in Israel: and his going forth is from the beginning, from the days of eternity." (Michah 5:2)
"What shall I offer to the Lord that is worthy? wherewith shall I kneel before the high God? shall I offer holocausts unto him, and calves of a year old?. May the Lord be appeased with thousands of rams, or with many thousands of fat he goats? shall I give my firstborn for my wickedness, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? . I will shew thee, O man, what is good, and what the Lord requireth of thee: Verily to do judgment, and to love mercy, and to walk solicitous with thy God." (Michah 6:6-8)
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