Orthodox River


September 10 2020 - August 28 2020

Monk Moses Murin the Black (+ c. 400).

Sobor-Assemblage of the Monastic Fathers of the Kievo-Pechersk Monastery, Reposed in the Farther Caves of the Monk Theodosii (Feodosii): Theodosii named the Great (+ 1074), Moisei (Moses) the Wonderworker (XIII-XIV), Lavrentii (Lawrence) the Hermit (XIII-XIV), Ilarion the SchemaMonk (+ 1066), Paphnutii the Hermit (XIII), Martyrii the Deacon (XIV), Theodore (Feodor) the Prince of Ostrozhsk (+ c. 1483), Athanasii (Afanasii) the Hermit (XIII), PriestMonk Dionysii the Hermit (XV), Theophil – Archbishop of Novgorod (+ c. 1482), Zinon the Faster (XIV), Grigorii (Gregory) the Wonderworker (XIV), Ipatii the Healer (XIV), PriestMartyr Lukian (+ 1243), Iosif (Joseph) the Much-Sick (XIV), Paul the Obedient (XIII), Sisoi the SchemaMonk (XIII), Nestor the Illiterate (XIV), Pamva the Hermit (+ 1241), Theodore (Feodor) the Silent (XIII), Sophronii the Hermit (XIII), PriestMonk Pankratii the Hermit (XIII), Anatolii the Hermit (XIII), Ammon the Hermit (XIII), Mardarii the Hermit (XIII), Pior the Hermit (XIII), Martyrii the Hermit (XIII-XIV), Ruphus the Hermit (XIV), Veniamin (Benjamin) the Hermit (XIV), Kassian the Hermit (XIII-XIV), Arsenii the Lover-of-Toil (XIV), Evphymii the SchemaMonk (XIV), Tito the Soldier (XIV), Akhila the Deacon (XIV), Paisii the God-Pleasing (XIV), Merkurii the Faster (XIV), Makarii the Deacon (XIII-XIV), Pimen the Faster (XII), Leontii and Gerontii the Canonarchs (XIV), Zakharii the Faster (XIII-XIV), Siluan the SchemaMonk (XIII-XIV), Agathon the Wonderworker (XIII-XIV), Ignatii the Archimandrite (+ 1435) and Longin the Gate-Keeper (XIII-XIV).

Monk Savva of Krypetsk, Pskov (+ 1495).

Monk Job of Pochaev (Uncovering of Relics, 1659). Righteous Anna the Prophetess, Daughter of Phanuel, Meeting the Lord Jesus Christ at the Jerusalem Temple (I). Martyress Shushanika, Princess of Rana (V). Righteous Hezekiah, King of Judea (721-691 B.C.). Martyrs Diomedes and Laurentios. 33 Martyrs from Heracleia. Saint Julitta. Martyr Quintilian. Martyr Damas.

The Monk Moses Murin the Black lived during the IV Century in Egypt. He was an Ethiopian, and he was black of skin and therefore called “Murin” (meaning “like an Ethiopian”). In his youth he was the slave of an important man, but after he committed a murder, his master banished him, and he joined in with a band of robbers. Because of his mean streak and great physical strength they chose him as their leader. Moses with his band of brigands did many an evil deed – both murders and robberies, so much so that people were afraid even at the mere mention of his name. Moses the brigand spent several years leading suchlike a sinful life, but through the great mercy of God he repented, leaving his band of robbers and going off to one of the wilderness monasteries. And here for a long time he wept, beseeching that they admit him amidst the number of the brethren. The monks were not convinced of the sincerity of his repentance; but the former robber was not to be driven away nor silenced, in demanding that they should accept him. In the monastery the Monk Moses was completely obedient to the hegumen and the brethren, and he poured forth many a tear, bewailing his sinful life. After a certain while the Monk Moses withdrew to a solitary cell, where he spent the time in prayer and the strictest of fasting in a very austere lifestyle. One time 4 of the robbers of his former band descended upon the cell of the Monk Moses and he, not having lost his great physical strength, he tied them all up and taking them over his shoulder, he brought them to the monastery, where he asked of the elders what to do with them. The elders ordered that they be set free. The robbers, learning that they had chanced upon their former ringleader, and that he had dealt kindly with them, – they themselves followed his example: they repented and became monks. And later, when the rest of the band of robbers heard about the repentance of the Monk Moses, then they too gave up their brigandage and became fervent monks.

The Monk Moses did not quickly become free from the passions. He went often to the monastery hegumen, Abba Isidor, seeking advice on how to be delivered from the passions of profligacy. Being experienced in the spiritual struggle, the elder taught him never to overeat of food, to be partly hungry whilst observing the strictest moderation. But the passions would not cease for the Monk Moses in his dreams. Then Abba Isidor taught him the all-night vigil. The monk stood the whole night at prayer, not being on bended knees so as not to drop off to sleep. From his prolonged struggles the Monk Moses fell into despondency, and when there arose thoughts about leaving his solitary cell, Abba Isidor instead strengthened the resolve of his student. In a vision he showed him many a demon in the west, prepared for battle, and in the East a still greater quantity of holy Angels, likewise readied for fighting. Abba Isidor explained to the Monk Moses, that the power of the Angels would prevail over the power of the demons, and in the long struggle with the passions it was necessary for him to become completely cleansed of his former sins.

The Monk Moses undertook a new effort. Making the rounds by night of the wilderness cells, he carried water from the well to each brother. He did this especially for the elders, who lived far off from the well and who were not easily able to carry their own water. One time, kneeling over the well, the Monk Moses felt a powerful blow upon his back and he fell down at the well like one dead, laying there in that position until dawn. Thus did the devils take revenge upon the monk for his victory over them. In the morning the brethren carried him to his cell, and he lay there a whole year crippled up. Having recovered, the monk with firm resolve confessed to the hegumen, that he would continue to asceticise. But the Lord Himself put limits to this struggle of many years: Abba Isidor blessed his student and said to him, that the profligate passions had already gone from him. The elder commanded him to commune the Holy Mysteries and in peace to go to his own cell. And from that time the Monk Moses received from the Lord the power over demons.

Accounts about his exploits spread amongst the monks and even beyond the bounds of the wilderness. The governor of the land wanted to see the saint. Having learned about this, the Monk Moses decided to hide away from any visitors and he departed his own cell. Along the way he met up with servants of the governor, who asked him, how to get to the cell of the wilderness-dweller Moses. The monk answered them: “Go on no further to this false and unworthy monk”. The servants returned to the monastery, where the governor was waiting, and they conveyed to him the words of the elder they had chanced upon. The brethren, hearing a description of the elder’s appearance, all as one acknowledged that they had come upon the Monk Moses himself.

Having spent many a year at monastic exploits, the Monk Moses was ordained deacon. The bishop attired him in white vesture and said: “Abba Moses is now entirely white”. The saint answered: “Vladyka, what makes it purely white – the outer or the inner?” Through humility the saint reckoned himself unworthy to accept the dignity of deacon. One time the bishop decided to test him and he bid the clergy to drive him out of the altar, whilst reviling him for being an unworthy black-Ethiopian. With full humility the monk accepted the abuse. Having put him to the test, the bishop then ordained the monk to be presbyter. And in this dignity the Monk Moses asceticised for 15 years and gathered round himself 75 disciples.

When the monk reached age 75, he forewarned his monks, that soon brigands would descend upon the skete and murder all that were there. The saint blessed his monks to leave in good time, so as to avoid the violent death, His disciples began to beseech the monk to leave together with them, but he replied: “I many a year already have awaited the time, when upon me there should be fulfilled the words which my Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, did speak: “All, who take up the sword, shalt perish by the sword” (Mt. 26: 52). After this seven of the brethren remained with the monk, and one of these hid not far off during the coming of the robbers, The robbers killed the Monk Moses and the six monks that remained with him. Their death occurred in about the year 400.

The Monk Savva of Krypetsk was tonsured at Athos, and from there he came to Pskov. He began to asceticise on Mount Snetna at the Mother of God monastery, near Pskov, and thereafter he went off to a more remote spot along the River Tolva, at the monastery of the Monk Evphrosyn (Comm. 15 May). Finally, he withdrew for complete solitude to the Krypetsk wilderness, 15 versts from the Tolva, and he settled alone in a small cave in the impenetrable forest. For food the hermit had bread and water, and on Wednesdays and Fridays he ate nothing. Living the life of an hermit he was much assailed by unclean spirits, but always he prevailed over them through prayer. And after several years in the solitary life, those zealous for wilderness life began to gather round the Monk Savva. They besought him to form a monastery and build a church, in honour of the Apostle John the Theologian. The monk refused to be hegumen of the monastery and entrusted its guidance to the monk Kassian. Many came out from Pskov to the austere starets-elder, and he healed and admonished them, but never did he accept gifts from them.

One time the Pskov prince Yaroslav Vasil’evich Obolensky, who frequently visited at the monastery, made journey with his sick wife to the saint. The Monk Savva sent off to him a message saying: “The starets, the sinner Savva, telleth thee, prince, enter not into the monastery with the princess; such is our rule here – women are not to enter the monastery; if thou transgress this fatherly command, thy princess wilt not receive healing”. The prince asked forgiveness, since it was through ignorance that he was on the point of transgressing the rule. The Monk Savva came out through the monastery gates together with the brethren and there served a molieben. The princess was healed. Through the mediation of the prince, in 1487 Pskov received a grammota-deed to the lands for the monastery.

The monk taught layfolk to watch over their purity, reminding them about the injunction of the Apostle against the defilers of the body. He told the rich and the judges, not to make their living at the expense of the poor and to preserve rightful truth. He frequently reminded everyone to avoid quarrels and enmity, to preserve love and peace and to overlook the faults of others by courtesy, even as they in turn have forgiven us. At the monastery from the very beginning there had been introduced a strict life-in-common. And then, when sufficient brethren and means had been gathered, there was nothing in the cell of the monk save for two icons, his monk’s garb and the cot, upon which he lay down to take his rest. By suchlike poverty he taught the brethren. The monk commanded them to work the land with their own hands. He said: “For how can we call the ancient ascetics our fathers, when we live not by their manner of life, how then can we be accounted their children? They were homeless and poor, they spent their time in caves and in the wilderness and for the Lord with all their strength they subjected their flesh to spirit. And they knew respite neither by day, nor by night. We should love the good Lord, children, not by sounds only nor by our manner of attire for showing off our love for Him, but by deeds: by love one for another, by tears, by fasting, by every manner of temperance, just as the ancient fathers did this”.

The grateful prince built through the fens and the swamps a bridge to the monastery 1400 sazhen [1 sazhen = 7 feet] in length. After his death (+ 28 August 1495), the Monk Savva did not forsake the monastery, and many a time came to its defense. At night one time robbers approached the monastery, but they then caught sight of an august elder, who held in hand a staff and threateningly ordered them to repent. In the morning they learned that there was no suchlike elder at the monastery, and they realised, that this had been the Monk Savva himself. The leader of the robbers made his repentance to the hegumen and remained to live at the monastery.

The Monk Savva was tall of stature, with a beard grey as snow, roundish and thick and not very long. In suchlike visage he appeared in the mid-XVI Century to the monk Isaiah, in showing him where to find his undecayed relics. Thereafter, in the year 1555, at the request of the Krypetsk brethren, the Pskov priest Vasilii compiled the life of the Monk Savva, and the feastday to him was established.

The Monk Job of Pochaev died on 28 October 1651. On 28 August 1833 the relics of the Monk Job were solemnly opened for general veneration. In the year 1902 the Holy Synod decreed on this day to carry the holy relics of the Monk Job round the Uspensk cathedral of the Pochaev Lavra-monastery after the Divine Liturgy.

Righteous Anna the Prophetess was descended from the tribe of Aser, and was the daughter of Phanuel. Having married, she lived with her husband for 7 years until his death. After his death, Righteous Anna led a strict and pious life, “not leaving the Temple, and serving God both day and night in fasting and prayer” (Lk. 2: 37). When Righteous Anna was 84 years old, she was vouchsafed to see at the Jerusalem Temple the Infant Jesus Christ, brought for dedication to God as a firstborn under the Mosaic law. Righteous Anna heard the prophetic words of Saint Simeon the God-Receiver, spoken to the MostHoly Mother of God. The Prophetess Anna together with Saint Simeon glorified God, and told everyone, that the Messiah was come into the world (Lk. 2: 38).

The memory of Righteous Anna occurs also on 3 February, when she is remembered together with Righteous Simeon the God-Receiver, on the Afterfeast of the Sretenie-Meeting of the Lord.

The GreatMartyress Shushanika, Princess of Rana (+ 475), was the daughter of the reknown Armenian military-commander Vardanes. Her actual name – was Vardandukht, but the name she was fond of using – was Shushanika. From her childhood years Saint Shushanika distinguished herself by her fear of God and her piety.

She entered into marriage with the pitiakhshah (governor of outlying districts of Gruzia) named Varxenes, who renounced Christ and became an apostate to the faith. In the eighth year of the rule of the shah Peroz, Varxenes set off to Kteziphon, whereat was the residence of the Persian shah, and he became a Mazdaeite (fire-worshipper), so as to please the shah. Having learned about this upon the return of her husband, Saint Shushanika did not want to continue married life with an apostate from God. She left the palace and began to live in a small cell, not far off from the palace church. The priest of the empress, named Yakov-James Tsurtaveli (afterwards the author of her vita), relates that the holy empress, learning of her husband’s intent to resort to force, was filled with determination to stand firmly in the faith, despite any sort of entreaties, threats or tortures. Rejecting the offers of Varxenes, on 8 January 469 she was subjected to a beating by him and thrown into chains, and on 14 April 469 she was locked up in a prison fortress, where she remained for six and an half years. “Six years she spent imprisoned and yet adorned with virtues: by fasting, by vigilance, standing on her feet, with unflagging prostrations and the incessant reading of books. She was wrought into a spiritual flute, sanctified and embellished by prison”. To the prison came many of the afflicted, “and each, through the prayers of Blessed Shushanika, received from God the Lover-of-Mankind that in which they were in need of: the childless – children, the sick – health, the blind – sight”. By this time Varxenes had converted to fire-worship the children of Saint Shushanika, and they ceased to visit their imprisoned mother. In the seventh year of the imprisonment of Saint Shushanika sores began to appear on her legs and body. Jodjik, the brother of the pitiakhshah Varxenes, having learned that Blessed Shushanika was close to death, managed to get into the prison with his wife and children and he besought of Saint Shushanika: “Forgive us our guilt and bless us”. Saint Shushanika forgave them and blessed them, saying: “All the present life is transient and inconstant, like a flower of the fields; one plants it, and another is pleased, one squanders it on trivia while another doth gather, one uses it for oneself, but another doth find…”.

On the eve of the blessed death of the holy martyress, she was visited in prison by the Gruzia Katholikos-Archbishop Samuel I (474-502), by Bishop John and by the priest of the martyress Yakov-James Tsurtaveli (over the course of all six years he had constantly visited and consoled her). The court bishop Athots (Photios) communed Saint Shushanika. Her last words were: “Blest be the Lord my God, wherefore with peace I do repose and sleep”. The end of the blessed martyress ensued on 17 October, on the feastday of the Unmercenary Martyrs Cosmas and Damian, and it was particularly on this day that the ancient Church celebrated her memory.

The relics of the holy Martyress Shushanika rested at first in a church in the city of Tsortag. The Tsortag church after a certain while fell under the lead of an Armenian bishop – a Monophysite, and the Katholikos-Archbishop of Gruzia Samuel IV (582-591) transferred the holy relics of Saint Shushanika to the city of Tbilisi, where in the year 586 they were put into a chapel of the Metekh church, on the south side of the altar. And indeed, it is in connection with this event that the memory of Saint Shushanika was transferred from 17 October to 28 August.

Righteous Hezekiah (721-691 B.C.) was the son of the impious king Ahaz. The life of Righteous Hezekiah is described in the Bible (4 [2] Kings 18-20).

At age 25 he became king of Judah and he reigned at Jerusalem for 29 years. A zealous worshipper of the True God, Righteous Hezekiah reopened for Divine-services the Solomon Temple. During the time of the celebration of the Passover, to which he summoned all the subjects of the kingdom of Israel, Righteous Hezekiah gave orders to destroy the idols throughout all his kingdom, while reminding the people about the chastisements which befell their ancestors for forsaking the True God. After this, idol-worship ceased not only in the kingdom of Judah, but also in many places in the kingdom of Israel. For this, God delivered him from his enemies and fulfilled his petitions. Thus, in the 14th year of the reign of Hezekiah, the Assyrian king Sennacherib son of Salmanassar, having conquered Israel, gathered his forces to make war upon Hezekiah. The Assyrian king took the fortress of Lachis and sent an army towards Jerusalem, demanding that the Jewish king surrender. Righteous Hezekiah turned in prayer to God, and an Angel of the Lord struck down 185,000 soldiers in the Assyrian camp. Soon after the withdrawal of Sennacherib, Righteous Hezekiah fell ill. The Prophet Isaiah came to him through the will of God and bid him make a deathbed testament. But the power of the prayer of Righteous Hezekiah was so great that God prolonged his life for another 15 years. His prayer was fervent, when he besought God to help him. But even more blazing was his prayer of thanks. Righteous Hezekiah died at age 54 and was buried with great reverence at Jerusalem. The memory of Righteous Hezekiah is likewise celebrated on Cheesefare Saturday.

© 1999 by translator Fr. S. Janos