The Venerable Theophanes The Confessor Theophanes is called the Sigrian because of Sigriane was his birthplace. He was a kinsman of the Emperor Leo the Isaurian and his son Copronymos. He possessed great wealth and splendor. But all of this lost its worth for Theophanes when the Lord Christ began to reign in his soul. He resisted his own marriage, and when he was compelled to marry, succeeded in counseling his bride to live with him in chastity, as brother and sister. As soon as his parents died, his wife entered a convent and he, a monastery. His monastery was located in the Sigrian Mountains in the Province of Cyzicus. The once-glorious and wealthy Theophanes lived in this monastery as the least of the poor. All were amazed at the change in him. Having become renowned because of his strong faith, abstinence and wisdom, he was summoned to the Seventh Ecumenical Council [Nicaea, 787 A.D.], where the veneration of icons was confirmed. Because of his purity and chastity, God bestowed upon him the gift of performing miracles, by which he cured all diseases, especially maniacal disorders and insanity. He prayed to God for all the sick and the unfortunate, and through his prayers he helped them. Only when he himself became ill and his illness was prolonged did he refuse to pray to God for the restoration of his own health but endured his illness with gratitude. When the persecution by the iconoclasts resumed again under the wicked Leo the Armenian, Theophanes was brought to Constantinople and cast into prison, where he languished for two years in hardships, pain and humiliation. Then the emperor exiled him to the island of Samothrace. This banishment he had earlier foreseen in his spirit and had foretold it to his jailers. After he arrived at Samothrace, he lived for twenty-three days and then departed to His Lord and Creator to receive his merited wreath of glory.
The Venerable Simeon The New Theologian This God-bearing and great Father of the Church was born in Galatia, Paphlagonia. Simeon was educated in Constantinople and was assigned as a courtier in attendance to the Emperors Basil and Constantine Porphyrogenitus. Simeon left all for the sake of Christ and retreated to a monastery. He lived a life of asceticism under the direction of the Elder Simeon, after which he became the abbot of the Monastery of St. Mamas and in the end became a recluse. He is the greatest theologian since St. Gregory the Theologian. Simeon felt God’s grace in his heart. His words are true spiritual and theological revelations. He died in 1032 A.D. His relics are miracle-working.
Saint Gregory The Dialogist, Pope Of Rome He was the son of Senator Gordianus and afterward a senator himself and mayor of the city of Rome. As soon as his father died, Gregory surrendered himself to the spiritual life. From his wealth he built six monasteries in Sicily, and built a seventh in the city of Rome in honor of St. Andrew the Apostle, where he was tonsured a monk. Sylvia, his mother, entered a convent and was tonsured a nun. After the death of Pope Pelagius Ii, Gregory was chosen pope. He fled from this honor and authority, hiding himself in the mountains and ravines. Nevertheless, the Lord revealed him to those who were seeking him in the following manner: a fiery column arose from earth to heaven at the place where Gregory hid himself. He was exceptionally charitable. All of his income was used for building shelters and hospices for the needy. Often he invited less fortunate men and served them at the table. He spent his time writing beneficial books. He is also called the Dialogist because he wrote a book called The Dialogues, in which he extolled the miracles of the Italian saints. He also composed the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, which is celebrated on Wednesdays and Fridays of Great Lent. His Archdeacon Peter saw a dove flying above Gregory’s head as he was seated writing. He presented himself to the Lord in the year 604 A.D.
Hymn Of Praise Saint Theophanes Leo the Armenian offers Theophanes As many riches as he wants, If only he will sign his name On the evil roster of the iconoclasts. From the dungeon Theophanes writes to him: “O Emperor, I cannot please you, I cannot be true both to you and to God. While I was young and agreeable to the world, I had immense wealth. I left all and turned to God; I distributed all and withdrew to the wilderness, Yet in the wilderness I had no hunger: God feeds and sweetens me with Himself. In my old age, what do you offer me? Dust that I despised in my early youth! There is nothing, O Emperor, that you can give me That the Lord does not give me a hundredfold, Except tortures, for which I waited so long. Tortures will separate me from the world And unite me with the All-precious Lord. O Emperor, why do you wage war against icons? Was not Christ Himself as an icon, As an icon of the Eternal Hypostases, As an icon of the Trinity Almighty, As an icon of the unseen God, Unseen and unapproachable. He will judge both you and me. Rule, O Emperor, but give way to your replacement. The world passes, and only God remains. Whoever is with God does not fear the world.”
Reflection No one, not even the Lord Himself, takes pleasure in instructing the proud. No one wants to give instruction to him who cries out that he knows everything. Mysteries shall be revealed to the meek, says the wise Sirach (The Book of Ecclesiasticus - Sirach 3:19). David also speaks of God, saying: He guides the meek to justice, He teaches the meek His way (Psalm 25:9). The proud person is he who wants to teach everyone yet does not want to be taught anything by anyone. The humble man is he who does not wish to teach anyone but continually desires to be taught by someone, no matter whom. An empty ear of corn raises its head above the field, and the full ear of corn hangs down with bowed head. O proud man, if only your guardian angel would somehow remove the veil from your eyes and show you the endless open sea of all that you do not know. You would kneel before every man before whom you have exhibited pride and kneel before every man whom you have belittled. You would cry out lamenting: “Forgive me, forgive me! I do not know anything!” Often the humble and pious have the time of their death revealed to them, but the death of the proud comes unexpectedly and without warning. St. Gregory the Dialogist speaks of a bishop, Carpus, who daily celebrated the Divine Liturgy, and how suddenly One appeared from the other world and said: “Continue in the way you are serving Me and may your legs never grow tired or your hands grow weak. On the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos you will come to Me and I will give you your reward in My Heavenly Kingdom, together with all of those for whom you have prayed at the divine services.” After a year, on the Feast of the Dormition, Bishop Carpus celebrated the Divine Liturgy of God, sought forgiveness from his priests, and gave up his soul to God. His face shone like the sun.
Contemplation Contemplate the Lord Jesus before Pilate:
- How the Jews accused Him before Pilate and how He did not say anything;
- How He did not reply, even to Pilate’s questions;
- How our Lord speaks when it is necessary to defend men from the devil, from sin, from disease and death, but is silent when He Who is the Defender of Men is asked to protect Himself from man.
Homily on the Second Coming of Christ “And before Him shall be gathered all nations” (Matthew 25:32). All the nations will be assembled before the Lord Jesus when He appears in His glory, surrounded by the holy angels, sitting on a throne as the Judge of all the living and the dead. All the nations will be assembled–all, without exception. Not only the Jews who tormented Him, not only the Christians who glorified Him, but also the heathen who neither knew Him nor acknowledged Him. For if He were not to appear to all nations, He would have to send someone or give something to all nations for them to know God’s will and receive the message of salvation. That is why all the nations must appear before Him for judgment. Oh, what an awesome and majestic spectacle, when all the nations and all the tribes on earth are assembled before the Lord, Who is brighter than many suns. What joy for the holy martyrs and confessors when they see how, in this countless mass of nations, there is not one tongue left to deny the divinity of the Lord Jesus! But it will be of no value to anyone in that hour and place to recognize and to confess the divinity of our great Lord, if they denied Him on earth. Accounts will settled there and then, with no gain and no loss. With whatever one appears before the Lord, with that he will be either condemned or justified. Now is the time to acknowledge the divinity of the Lord Jesus–now, when many deny Him and when His divinity is doubted by many. They who love the Lord and who trust in all of His words will easily acknowledge this. For when He says this, what do those who love Him have to worry, to doubt, or to hesitate about? O Lord, Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us! To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.