January 23 2020 - January 10 2020
Sainted Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa (+ 395). Monk Dometian, Bishop of Meletineia (+ 601). Monk Marcian the Presbyter (V).
Monk Paul of Komel’sk, or Obnorsk (+ 1429). Monk Makarii of Pisemsk (XIV).
Blessed Theozua the Deaconess, Sister of Saint Gregory of Nyssa (+ 385). Monk Ammonios the Hermit.
Sainted Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa, was a younger brother of Saint Basil the Great (Comm. 1 January). His birth and time of upbringing coincided with the very heights of the Arian disputes. Having received an excellent education, he was at one time a teacher of rhetorical eloquence. In the year 372 he was ordained by Saint Basil the Great as bishop of the city of Nyssa in Cappadocia.
Saint Gregory was an ardent advocate for Orthodoxy, and together with his brother Saint Basil the great he fought against the Arian heresy. He suffered persecution by the Arians, by whom he was falsely accused in the year 376 of improper useage of church property, and thereby deprived of his cathedra-seat and sent off to Ancyra. In the following year Saint Gregory was again in absentia deposed by a church-council of Arian bishops, but he continued to encourage his flock in Orthodoxy, wandering about from place to place. After the death of the emperor Valens (378), Saint Gregory was restored to his cathedra-seat and joyously received by his flock. In the year 379 his brother Saint Basil the Great died. Only with difficulty did Saint Gregory survive the loss of his brother and guide. He crafted a funeral oration to him and completed compilation of Saint Basil’s study of the Six Days of Creation, the so-called “Hexaemeron”. This same year Saint Gregory participated in the Council of Antioch, against heretics that disdained to honour the immaculate virginity of the Mother of God, and others at the opposite extreme that worshipped the Mother of God as Herself being God. He was chosen by the Council for an examination of churches in Arabia and Palestine to assert the Orthodox teaching about the MostHoly Mother of God. On his return journey Saint Gregory visited Jerusalem and the Holy Places.
In the year 381 Saint Gregory was one of the chief figures of the Second OEcumenical Council, convened at Constantinople against the heresy of Macedonias, who incorrectly taught concerning the Holy Spirit. At this Council, on the initiative of Saint Gregory, was completed the Nicean Symbol of Faith (i.e. the Creed).
Together with the other bishops Saint Gregory affirmed Sainted Gregory the Theologian in the dignity of Archpastor of Constantinople.
In the year 383 Saint Gregory of Nyssa was a participant in a Council at Constantinople, where he spoke a sermon about the Divinity of the Son and the Holy Spirit. In the year 386 he was again at Constantinople, and to him was entrusted to speak the funeral oration in memory of the empress Placilla. And again in 394 Saint Gregory was present in Constantinople at a Local Council, convened for resolving church matters in Arabia.
Sainted Gregory of Nyssa was a fiery defender of Orthodox dogmas and a zealous teacher to his flock, a kind and compassionate father to his spiritual children, and their intercessor before the courts. He was distinguished by his magnanimity, patience and love for peace.
Having reached old age, Saint Gregory of Nyssa died peacefully, soon after the Constantinople Council. Together with his great contemporaries – Saints Basil the Great and Gregory the Theologian, Saint Gregory of Nyssa had a significant influence on the Church life of his time. His sister, Saint Macrina, wrote to him: “Thou art reknown both in the cities, and gatherings of people, and throughout entire districts; Churches do send off and summon thee for help”. Saint Gregory has come down in history as one of the most obvious and active Christian thinkers of the IV Century. Endowed with a profound philosophical talent, he perceived philosophy but as a means for a deeper penetration into the authentic meaning of Divine revelation.
Saint Gregory left behind him many works of dogmatic character, as well as sermons and discourses.
The Monk Dometian, Bishop of Meletineia, was born and lived during the VI Century, during the time of the emperor Justin the Younger. He was married but early on widowed, thereafter accepting monasticism and living a strict and holy life. At thirty years of age he was chosen bishop of the city of Meletineia (Great Armenia). Wise and zealous in questions of faith, strong in word and deed, Saint Dometian quickly gained fame as a good and ardent pastor. More than once he carried out government commissions in Persia to avoid conflicts with the Greeks. Beloved by everyone, the Monk Dometian often received rich gifts, which he distributed for the welfare of the poor. Both during his lifetime and after his death, occurring in the year 601, Saint Dometian was glorified by God with miracles.
The Monk Marcian, Presbyter and Steward of the Great Church (in Constantinople), was born at Rome and in his youth he received a first-rate education in Constantinople. After the death of his parents, the Monk Marcian used his rich inheritance on the building, renovation and embellishment of churches. Thus, he built a church in the name of the holy Martyress Anastasia, richly adorned it, and had the holy relics of the saint transferred into it. He built likewise a church of the holy Martyress Irene. His moral purity and strict ascetic life brought him to the attention of the patriarch, who ordained the Saint Marcian a presbyter and appointed him steward of the Great (Patriarchal) Church in Constantinople.
From his wealth Saint Marcian distributed generous alms, and distinguished himself by non-covetousness, denying himself in everything. In accord with the command of the Saviour, he did not even have an extra set of clothes, as might be necessary should he be drenched in inclement weather. Having received a gift of wonderworking, the Monk Marcian healed the sick and cast out devils. Saint Marcian died during the years 472-474 and was buried at the monastery of Saint John the ForeRunner at Constantinople.
The Monk Paul of Komel’sk, a famed student of the Monk Sergei of Radonezh, was born at Moscow in the year 1317. From his youthful years he distinguished himself by his piety and kindliness towards the poor and suffering. His rich parents prepared him for a secular life, but at twenty-two years of age he secretly left his parental home and received tonsure at the Nativity monastery on the Volga (in Yaroslavsk diocese).
From there Paul transferred to the Holy Trinity monastery to the Monk Sergei of Radonezh, spending several years with him as a cell-obedient, in everything obeying the wise guidance of the holy starets (elder). With the blessing of the Monk Sergei, he settled a way off from the monastery in a separate cell, where he spent fifteen years as an hermit. Having asked the blessing of the Monk Sergei to go off into the wilderness for a quiet and solitary life, the Monk Paul wandered about for a long while, seeking for himself the place of solitude. He went much about the wilderness, he spent time with the Monk Avraamii of Chukhlomsk (Comm. 20 July) and finally, he remained in the Komel’sk forest. At the Gryazovitsa River, in the hollow of an old linden tree, the monk made himself a small cell and dwelt there for three years in complete silence, “not giving his body rest, for which to receive future rest”. Then he moved on to the River Nurma, where he built himself an hut and dug out a well. He spent his days in vigil and prayer. Five days out of the week he went without food, and only on Saturday and Sunday did he partake of some bread and water. The news spread widely about the hermit, and there begin coming to him those wishing spiritual guidance of him. Despite his love for the solitary life, the Monk Paul never refused anyone in spiritual consolation and guidance. He was visited here also by the Monk Sergei of Nuromsk, who likewise had sought solitude with the blessing of their teacher the Monk Sergei of Radonezh, and who likewise passed his ascetic life in these locales.
With the blessing of the Monk Sergei and the agreement of Metropolitan Photii, the Monk Paul in 1414 built the Holy Trinity Church, around which grew up a monastery, receiving the name of Pavlo-Obnorsk. Having written for the brethren a strict ustav (monastic rule), the Monk Paul entrusted the guidance of the new monastery to his disciple Aleksei, while he himself continued as before to live in a solitary cell on an hill, meanwhile remaining a responsive and good counsellor for anyone needing his healing help. The Monk Paul died at 112 years of age. His final words were: “Brethren, have love one for another and keep to the rule of the monastic community”.
The Life of the saint was written in about the year 1546, and his glorification occurred in 1547.
The Monk Makarii of Pisemsk and Kostroma – was a co-ascetic of the Monk Paul of Obnorsk. He was the founder, in the second half of the XIV Century, of the Makar’ev Transfiguration wilderness monastery at the River Pis’ma in the Kostroma outskirts.
Blessed Theozua the Deaconess was the sister by birth of Saints Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, and Paul, Bishop of Sebasteia. She was a virgin and served Holy Church as a deaconess, caring for the sick, distributing food to vagrants, raising orphans and preparing women for holy Baptism. When her brother, Saint Gregory of Nyssa, was in exile for three years, Saint Theozua was with him and she shared in all the tribulations of a life of wandering. Saint Theozua died in the year 385, and Sainted Gregory the Theologian honoured her memory in an eulogy.
© 1999 by translator Fr. S. Janos