Daily Reading: Monday, December 25 / December 12 (Church Calendar) Holy Saint Spyridon.


Prayer Before Reading the Holy Scriptures

Make to shine in our hearts, O Master who lovest man, the incorrupt light of Thy divine knowledge, and open the eyes of our mind to the comprehension of the preaching of Thy Gospel. Implant also in us the fear of Thy blessed commandments that, trampling down all carnal desires, we may pursue a spiritual way of life, both thinking and doing all things well-pleasing unto Thee. For Thou art the enlightenment of our souls and bodies, O Christ God, and unto Thee do we send up glory, together with Thy Father, who is without beginning, and Thine all-holy, and good, and life-creating Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages.

 

Saints of the Day

Commemorated Today

St. Spyridon (Spiridon) the Wonderworker of Tremithon. St. Herman of Alaska; Hieromartyr Juvenal; Martyr Peter the Aleut; New-Martyr Anatole of Irkutsk and Seraphim of Uglich. Hieromartyr Alexander, Bishop of Jerusalem; Martyr Synesius (Razumnik) of Rome. St. Therapontes, abbot of Monza. Greek Calendar: Saints Amonathus and Anthus, monks. St. John, Metropolitan of Zichon, founder of the Monastery of the Forerunner on Mt. Menikion. Desert-dweller Flegont of Maksha River, Penza.

O Holy God-Pleasers, Pray to God for Us!

  

Prologue from Ochrid


1. St Spiridon the Wonderworker, Bishop of Tremithus.

The island of Cyprus was both the birthplace of this famous saint, and the place in which he spent his life in the service of the Church. He was of simple farming stock, and remained simple and humble to the end of his days. He married young and had children, but, when his wife died, he devoted himself entirely to the service of God.

He was chosen for his devotion as Bishop of Tremithus, and even as a bishop did not change his simple style of life, taking charge of his cattle himself and tilling his own land. He consumed very little of his own produce, giving the greater part to the poor. He performed great wonders by God's power, making rain fall in a drought, stopping the course of a river, raising several of the dead, healing the Emperor Constans of a grave sickness, seeing and hearing angels, foreseeing future events and penetrating the secrets of the human heart. He turned many to the true Faith, and did much else.

He was present at the first Ecumenical Council in Nicaea in 325, and, by his simple and clear expositions of the Faith, as well as by convincing miracles, brought back many heretics to Orthodoxy. He dressed so simply that once, when he was invited by the Emperor to the imperial court, a soldier took him for a beggar and struck him a blow. The meek and guileless Spiridon turned him the other cheek.

He glorified God with many miracles, and was of great aid both to individuals and to the whole Church of God. He entered into rest in the Lord in 348, and his wonderworking relics now lie on the island of Corfu and continue to glorify God with many wonders.

 

2. The Hieromartyr Alexander, Bishop of Jerusalem.

He was at first bishop in Cappadocia, but, during the persecution under Severus in 203, was thrown into prison and then exiled. After that, he accepted the see of Jerusalem, and there founded a famous library that was of great use to Eusebius when he was writing his Ecclesiastical History. He was tortured in various ways during the reign of Decius, and was thrown to the wild beasts. Alive and unharmed, he was cast back into prison, where he finished his earthly course and went to the Lord in the year 251.

3. The Holy Martyr Synesius.

He boldly preached the truth of Christ as a young reader in Rome, and denounced the idolaters. He was beheaded for his outspokenness during the reign of Aurelian, towards the end of the third century

  

Daily Scripture Readings


Hebrews 3:5-11

3:5 And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; 3:6 But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. 3:7 Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, Today if ye will hear his voice, 3:8 Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: 3:9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. 3:10 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. 3:11 So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.) 3:12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.

 

Luke 20:27-44

20:27 Then came to him certain of the Sadducees, which deny that there is any resurrection; and they asked him, 20:28 Saying, Master, Moses wrote unto us, If any mans brother die, having a wife, and he die without children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. 20:29 There were therefore seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and died without children. 20:30 And the second took her to wife, and he died childless. 20:31 And the third took her; and in like manner the seven also: and they left no children, and died. 20:32 Last of all the woman died also. 20:33 Therefore in the resurrection whose wife of them is she? for seven had her to wife. 20:34 And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: 20:35 But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: 20:36 Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection. 20:37 Now that the dead are raised, even Moses shewed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. 20:38 For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him.

20:39 Then certain of the scribes answering said, Master, thou hast well said. 20:40 And after that they durst not ask him any question at all. 20:41 And he said unto them, How say they that Christ is Davids son? 20:42 And David himself saith in the book of Psalms, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, 20:43 Till I make thine enemies thy footstool. 20:44 David therefore calleth him Lord, how is he then his son?

 

Commemorated on December 12


Saint Spyridon of Tremithus was born towards the end of the third century on the island of Cyprus. He was a shepherd, and had a wife and children. He used all his substance for the needs of his neighbors and the homeless, for which the Lord rewarded him with a gift of wonderworking. He healed those who were incurably sick, and cast out demons.

After the death of his wife, during the reign of Constantine the Great (306-337), he was made Bishop of Tremithus, Cyprus. As a bishop, the saint did not alter his manner of life, but combined pastoral service with deeds of charity.

According to the witness of Church historians, St Spyridon participated in the sessions of the First Ecumenical Council in the year 325. At the Council, the saint entered into a dispute with a Greek philosopher who was defending the Arian heresy. The power of St Spyridon's plain, direct speech showed everyone the importance of human wisdom before God's Wisdom: "Listen, philosopher, to what I tell you.

 

There is one God Who created man from dust. He has ordered all things, both visible and invisible, by His Word and His Spirit. The Word is the Son of God, Who came down upon the earth on account of our sins. He was born of a Virgin, He lived among men, and suffered and died for our salvation, and then He arose from the dead, and He has resurrected the human race with Him. We believe that He is one in essence (consubstantial) with the Father, and equal to Him in authority and honor. We believe this without any sly rationalizations, for it is impossible to grasp this mystery by human reason."


As a result of their discussion, the opponent of Christianity became the saint's zealous defender and later received holy Baptism. After his conversation with St Spyridon, the philosopher turned to his companions and said, "Listen! Until now my rivals have presented their arguments, and I was able to refute their proofs with other proofs. But instead of proofs from reason, the words of this Elder are filled with some sort of special power, and no one can refute them, since it is impossible for man to oppose God. If any of you thinks as I do now, let him believe in Christ and join me in following this man, for God Himself speaks through his lips."


At this Council, St Spyridon displayed the unity of the Holy Trinity in a remarkable way. He took a brick in his hand and squeezed it. At that instant fire shot up from it, water dripped on the ground, and only dust remained in the hands of the wonderworker. "There was only one brick," St Spyridon said, "but it was composed of three elements. In the Holy Trinity there are three Persons, but only one God."


The saint cared for his flock with great love. Through his prayer, drought was replaced by abundant rains, and incessant rains were replaced by fair weather. Through his prayers the sick were healed and demons cast out.

A woman once came up to him with a dead child in her arms, imploring the intercession of the saint. He prayed, and the infant was restored to life. The mother, overcome with joy, collapsed lifeless. Through the prayer of the saint of God the mother was restored to life.


Another time, hastening to save his friend, who had been falsely accused and sentenced to death, the saint was hindered on his way by the unanticipated flooding of a stream. The saint commanded the water: "Halt! For the Lord of all the world commands that you permit me to cross so that a man may be saved." The will of the saint was fulfilled, and he crossed over happily to the other shore. The judge, apprised of the miracle that had occurred, received St Spyridon with esteem and set his friend free.


Similar instances are known from the life of the saint. Once, he went into an empty church, and ordered that the lampadas and candles be lit, and then he began the service. When he said, "Peace be unto all," both he and the deacon heard from above the resounding of "a great multitude of voices saying, "And with thy spirit." This choir was majestic and more sweetly melodious than any human choir.

 

To each petition of the litanies, the invisible choir sang, "Lord, have mercy." Attracted by the church singing, the people who lived nearby hastened towards it. As they got closer and closer to the church, the wondrous singing filled their ears and gladdened their hearts. But when they entered into the church, they saw no one but the bishop and several church servers, and they no longer heard the singing which had greatly astonished them."


St Simeon Metaphrastes (November 9), the author of his Life, likened St Spyridon to the Patriarch Abraham in his hospitality. Sozomen, in his CHURCH HISTORY, offers an amazing example from the life of the saint of how he received strangers. One time, at the start of the Forty-day Fast, a stranger knocked at his door. Seeing that the traveller was very exhausted, St Spyridon said to his daughter, "Wash the feet of this man, so he may recline to dine."

 

But since it was Lent there were none of the necessary provisions, for the saint "partook of food only on certain days, and on other days he went without food." His daughter replied that there was no bread or flour in the house. Then St Spyridon, apologizing to his guest, ordered his daughter to cook a salted ham from their larder. After seating the stranger at table, he began to eat, urging that man to do the same. When the latter refused, calling himself a Christian, the saint rejoined, "It is not proper to refuse this, for the Word of God proclaims, "Unto the pure all things are pure" (Titus 1:15).


Another historical detail reported by Sozomen, was characteristic of the saint. It was his custom to distribute one part of the gathered harvest to the destitute, and another portion to those having need while in debt. He did not take a portion for himself, but simply showed them the entrance to his storeroom, where each could take as much as was needed, and could later pay it back in the same way, without records or accountings.

There is also the tale by Socrates Scholasticus about how robbers planned to steal the sheep of St Spyridon. They broke into the sheepfold at night, but here they found themselves all tied up by some invisible power. When morning came the saint went to his flock, and seeing the tied-up robbers, he prayed and released them. For a long while he advised them to leave their path of iniquity and earn their livelihood by respectable work. Then he made them a gift of a sheep and sending them off, the saint said kindly, "Take this for your trouble, so that you did not spend a sleepless night in vain."


All the Lives of the saint speak of the amazing simplicity and the gift of wonderworking granted him by God. Through a word of the saint the dead were awakened, the elements of nature tamed, the idols smashed. At one point, a Council had been convened at Alexandria by the Patriarch to discuss what to do about the idols and pagan temples there.

 

Through the prayers of the Fathers of the Council all the idols fell down except one, which was very much revered. It was revealed to the Patriarch in a vision that this idol had to be shattered by St Spyridon of Tremithus. Invited by the Council, the saint set sail on a ship, and at the moment the ship touched shore and the saint stepped out on land, the idol in Alexandria with all its offerings turned to dust, which then was reported to the Patriarch and all the bishops.


St Spyridon lived his earthly life in righteousness and sanctity, and prayerfully surrendered his soul to the Lord. His relics repose on the island of Corfu (Kerkyra), in a church named after him (His right hand, however, is located in Rome). His memory is also celebrated on Cheesefare Saturday.

 

 

LUCH 2006