Saint Tarasius, Patriarch Of Constantinople His predecessor, Patriarch Paul, secretly relinquished the throne, entered a monastery and received the schema [The Great Angelic Habit]. Irene and Constantine Vi reigned at the time. By Paul’s counsel, Tarasius, who was then a senator and royal advisor, was chosen to be patriarch in the year 783 A.D. He was quickly raised through the ecclesiastical ranks and consecrated as patriarch. A man of great learning and great zeal in the Orthodox Faith, Tarasius reluctantly accepted this rank in order to help Orthodoxy in the struggle against heresies, especially against iconoclasm. During his reign the Seventh Ecumenical Council [Nicaea, 787 A.D.] was convened. There iconoclasm was condemned, and the veneration of holy icons was confirmed and restored. Tarasius was very charitable toward orphans and the poor, creating shelters and distributing food to them. Toward the powerful, Tarasius was decisive in his defense of faith and morals. When Emperor Constantine banished Maria, his lawful wife, and took a kinswoman to live with him, he sought a blessing for marriage from the patriarch. Tarasius not only refused him a blessing but first counseled him, then reproached him, and finally forbade him to receive Holy Communion. Before his death, many saw how Tarasius replied to the demons, saying: “I am not guilty of this sin; neither am I guilty of that sin,” until his weakened tongue could not longer speak. He then began to defend himself with his hands, driving away the demons. When he reposed, his face lit up like the sun. This truly great hierarch died in the year 806 A.D. He governed the Church for twenty-two years and four months.
The Venerable Paphnutius Of Kephala This great saint was a contemporary of St. Anthony the Great. It is said about him that he wore the same robe [cassock] for eighty years. St. Anthony greatly respected him and used to say to all that Paphnutius was a true ascetic, who was able to heal and save souls.
Hymn Of Praise To God The Creator The Creator radiant, crowned with light, Described by no one, expressed by nothing: He raises the wise builders of the Church, Zealous defenders and good shepherds. He permits sufferings, because of our sins, Even though in essence He is Mercy and Goodness. Just as He prepares the unworkable earth with bitter frost, Making it workable and ready for crops, In the same way He mellows our hearts with bitter sufferings, But by His tender hand leads all to good. Through the darkness of sin, He gazes into the light, And after a designated time He no longer permits the darkness to linger. He discerns joy through sorrow and tears. He sees the end of every beginning, For He began all, desires to complete all. Who will oppose Him when He commands? One would say He is weak, for He adroitly conceals Himself: With a shadow of a deed, He conceals and blocks the view of Himself. When the shadow passes and the world reaches its end, And the Church triumphant is lifted to heaven, Then the Sun of Righteousness, which is never extinguished, Will cover Himself with the Church, as with porphyry.
Reflection A Christian is similar to a betrothed maiden. As a betrothed maiden continually thinks about her betrothed, so the Christian continually thinks about Christ. Even if the betrothed is far away beyond ten hills, it is all the same: the maiden behaves as though he is constantly by her and with her. She thinks about him, sings to him, talks about him, dreams about him and prepares gifts for him. A Christian behaves in the same way toward Christ. As the betrothed maiden knows that she first must leave and distance herself from the home where she was born to meet and totally unite with her betrothed, so the Christian knows that he cannot totally unite with Christ until death separates him from the body, that is, from the material home in which his soul resides and has grown from birth.
Contemplation Contemplate the Lord Jesus sitting in the boat, teaching the people on the shore (Mark 4:1).
- How a great multitude of people crowded around to hear Him, so that He had to enter the boat;
- How He taught them in parables about the sower, the seed and the ground, i.e., by those comparisons and examples which, day in and day out, have been repeated from the beginning of the world and will be repeated until the end;
- How He does not teach them with the aid of some rare and strange events, but with ordinary ones, which entered into time along with man and will exit time along with him.
Homily on the impossibility of secrets “For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested” (Mark 4:22). All the secret works of man will be revealed one day. None of man’s works can be hidden. The Jews thought that they could conceal from God the slaying of so many prophets, and that their bloody, villainous deed against Christ could be hidden from God and man. However, that which they thought to hide has become a daily and nightly tale, both in the heavens and on earth for thousands of years. Judas thought to hide the traitorous agreement he had made against his Lord, but the Lord discerned this agreement and declared it to his face. Jesus said to him, ‘Judas, betrayest thou the Son of Man with a kiss?’ (Luke 22:48). The Lord also discerned the hearts of the Pharisees and read their evil thoughts. Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? (Matthew 9:4). What works, what things, what events in this world can be hidden from Him Who sees and reveals even the most secret thoughts in the hearts of men? For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested. Because of this we need to fear, and because of this we need to rejoice. To fear–for all of our secret evil deeds, evil desires and evil thoughts will be brought out into the open. To rejoice–for all the good that we have performed, desired or thought in secret will be brought out into the open. If it is not brought out into the open before men, it will be brought out before the heavenly angels. The greater the fear for sinners, the greater the joy for the righteous. O Lord, Lover of mankind, forgive us our sins and do not announce them for our destruction and to the sorrow of Thy holy angels. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.