Saint Theophylactus, Bishop Of Nicomedia When the emperor’s advisor Tarasius, a layman, was elected Patriarch of Constantinople, then many of his friends, admirers, and other laymen received the monastic tonsure either with him or by him. Among them was Theophylactus. Tarasius appointed him Bishop of Nicomedia. As a bishop, Theophylactus was a good shepherd to his entrusted flock and proved to be exceptionally compassionate toward the less fortunate and indigent. After the death of St. Tarasius, the patriarchal throne was occupied by Nicephorus. Shortly after that, the imperial throne was occupied by Leo the Armenian, an iconoclast. As such, he raised up an absolute storm in the Church of Christ. Even though iconoclasm had been anathematized by the Seventh Ecumenical Council [Nicaea, 787 A.D.], nevertheless, Emperor Leo reinstated it and wanted thereby to supplant Orthodoxy. St. Theophylactus opposed the emperor to his face. When the emperor would not yield, Theophylactus said to him: “O Emperor, great ruin will unexpectedly befall you, and you will find no one to deliver you from it.” Because of these words and by the order of the emperor, Theophylactus was removed from his see and sent into exile. There he spent thirty years undergoing many hardships and insults, and in the end he rendered his soul to the Lord in about the year 845 A.D.
The Holy Hieromartyr [Priest-Martyr] Theodoretus*) The Emperor Constantine built a cathedral church of exceptional beauty in Antioch. The people called this church “the Golden Church” because of the gold- plated exterior and interior and because of the many gold and silver adornments housed in it. The emperor donated a great deal of land to this church for the upkeep of the clergy, whose number was significant. The custodian of these accoutrements and all the other precious items in the church was the presbyter Theodoretus, a priest of great faith and rare devotion. When Julian the Apostate began his reign, he (Julian) denied Christ and, even though he was baptized, stirred up a persecution against the Christians. The apostate’s uncle, also named Julian, came to Antioch and began to plunder the Golden Church. He summoned Theodoretus, the custodian of the treasury, to court and counseled him to deny Christ. Not only did Theodoretus refuse to deny Christ, but he also insulted the Emperor Julian because of his apostasy from the true Faith and his return to idolatry. He compared him to a dog returning to his own vomit. When the wicked uncle, out of unruliness, urinated in the Golden Church, St. Theodoretus prophesied a horrible death for him, which shortly came to pass. Theodoretus was beheaded with an axe for his faith in Christ. From the time that judge Julian urinated in the church, he felt pains in the lower part of his body. The entire lower half of his body was eaten away by worms, so that he vomited up his apostate soul in the most horrible pains. Also, in accordance with the prophecy of Theodoretus, Felix, Julian’s assistant, died from a hemorrhage of the mouth immediately after this righteous man was beheaded. St. Theodoretus was beheaded in the year 362 A.D. and went to the all-glorious Kingdom of Christ the King.
*) In the Greek Synaxarion, St. Theodoretus is commemorated on March 3.
Hymn Of Praise Adam’S Lament Outside empty Paradise, Adam folded his hands. Banished and alienated, he throbbed with pain. The angels of heaven, until then his companions, As beautiful dreams flew hurriedly away– Away from the banished one, away from the cursed one, Who, until yesterday, was the mighty proprietor of Paradise! And Adam sobbed on the cold boulder: “Woe to my descendants! Woe to me, a sinner! For one moment I despised my Creator, To be despised by all that was created Throughout the days and nights, throughout the long centuries. Instead of God, to have a serpent for a companion! Instead of me ruling over all created things, Now everything will rule over me: The winds and the heat, the elements of nature, The beasts and scorpions, repulsive things and serpents. Instead of freedom, behold, fear grips me, And confuses my thoughts and chills me to the bone. There is only One Who is able to help: The One Whom I offended. Have mercy, O God!”
Reflection Be more confiding in the Lord than in your own mother. Confess all to Him. He will not betray you. Embrace all of His commandments as beneficial. They will not deceive you. Inasmuch as you trust in God, so also be vigilant toward your enemies–the flesh, the world and the demons. All of this was expressed much better by the glorious saint of God, Ephraim the Syrian: “In embracing the commandments of God, have simplicity; and, in warding off hostile intrigues, have cunning (as with the dove and the serpent).”
Contemplation Contemplate the Lord Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane:
- How He repeatedly commanded the disciples to watch and pray to God;
- How He rose three times from His sweat-inducing prayer, returned to the disciples and found that they were asleep;
- How they were all overcome by temptation because they forsook their Teacher and fled, for they were not prepared to overcome their fear of men;
- How we, too, become lazy and are not vigilant and do not pray to God, for when temptation comes we forsake the Lord Christ.
Homily on the vision of the eyes and the vision of the soul “And being found in fashion as a man” (Philippians 2:7). This the Apostle Paul said. He is that same apostle who said about the Lord Jesus that He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation (Colossians 1:15), and in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9). This is the Lord according to His Essence and according to His internal Nature, but He was made in the likeness of men. Men, whose hearts are hardened like stone and whose minds are darkened, recognize objects around themselves only through their eyes. Such men, in those days, looked with their eyes and saw Jesus as a man. It was not given to them to know anything more about Him than that which their physical eyes saw. Physical man saw Jesus and beheld only the body, but saw neither God nor a perfect and sinless man in that body. Even today, whosoever judges only by that which he sees, denies to Jesus all that he cannot see in other men. No one who judges the Lord with only his eyes can speak the truth about Him. That which the eyes can see of Him is but a small veil, behind which is hidden the eternal mysteries of heaven and the greatest mysteries of time and earth. In order to see that which is hidden in Him, behind the physical veil, one must have spiritual vision. That is the Spirit of God in one’s heart, the Spirit Who draws back the veil and reveals the mysteries. O Lord, Mystery most sweet, make us worthy to be visited by Thy Holy Spirit. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.