Orthodox River


July 02 2020 - June 19 2020

Apostle Jude, Brother of the Lord (+ c. 80). Righteous Maria, Mother of Josiah (I). Martyr Zosima (II). PriestMartyr Asinkrites and others. Monks Zinon the WonderWorker; Paisias the Great (V); John the Hermit (VI); Varlaam of Vazhsk and Shenkursk (+ 1462); Paisii of Khilendaria (Bulgaria) (XVIII).

The Holy Apostle Jude, among the rank of the 12 disciples of Christ, is descended from the lineage of King David and Solomon, and was the son of Righteous Joseph the Affianced from his first wife.

The Holy Apostle John the Theologian writes in his Gospel: “For none of his brethren believe on Him” (Jn. 7, 5). Sainted Theophilact, ArchBishop of Bulgaria, explains these words thus: at the beginning of the worldly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ – the sons of Joseph, among whose number was Jude, did not believe in His Divine essence. The tradition relates that when Righteous Joseph the Affianced, having returned from Egypt, began to divide among his sons the worldly things belonging to him, he wanted to alot part also to Christ the Saviour, born miraculously and incorruptibly from the All-Pure Virgin Mary. The brothers were opposed to this and only the eldest of them, James, accepted Christ Jesus in a joint ownership of his allotment, and for this he was termed Brother of the Lord. Later on Jude believed in Christ the Saviour as the awaited Messiah, and with all his heart he turned to Him and was chosen by Him into the number of the closest 12 disciples. But mindful of his sin, the Apostle Jude considered himself unworthy to be termed a brother with God and in his own soborno-catholic Epistle he calls himself merely the brother of James.

The Holy Apostle Jude also had other names: the Evangelist Matthew terms him “Levi, nicknamed Thaddeus” (Mt. 10, 3). The Holy Evangelist Mark also calls him Thaddeus (Mk. 3, 18), and in the Acts of the Holy Apostles he is mentioned under the name Barsaba (Acts 15, 22). This was customary at that time.

After the Ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Apostle Jude set off preaching the Gospel. He propagated the faith in Christ at first in Judea, Galilee, Samaria and Idumeia, and later – in the lands of Arabia, Syria and Mesopotamia, and finally he went to the city of Edessa. Here he finished that which was not completed by his predecessor, the disciple from the 70 – Thaddeus. There is preserved an account, that the Holy Apostle Jude went preaching to Persia and from there wrote in the Greek language his soborno-catholic Epistle, in the brief wording of which consisted much profound truth. It contained dogmatic teaching about the Holy Trinity, about the Incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ, about the separation of Angels good and bad, and about the Dread Last-Judgement. In its moral content the Apostle urges believers to guard themselves against fleshly impurity, to be diligent in their obligations in prayer, faith and love, to convert the lost to the way of salvation, and to guard themselves from the teachings of heretics. The Apostle Jude taught that faith alone in Christ is not sufficient, good works also are necessary, the evidence to Christian teaching.

The Holy Apostle Jude died a martyr about the year 80 in Armenia in the city of Arata, where he was crucified on a cross and pierced by arrows.

The Martyr Zosima lived in the city of Apollona (Thrace) during the time of the reign of the persecutor of Christians Trajan (89-117). The saint was consumed with the desire to become a Christian. Having heard about the commensing of a persecution of Christians, he left military service, accepted Baptism and with all his soul devoted himself to prayer and good deeds. It was reported to the governor of Antioch Domitianus that the soldier Zosima had betrayed the emperor, having taken off his military insignia and attached himself to Christians. At the trial Saint Zosima manfully confessed his faith in Christ and refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. He was subjected to fierce torments but, strengthened by the grace of God, he did not feel the pain. The governor gave orders to make a copper bed red-hot and to put the saint on it. The martyr, having made the sign of the cross, lay down, but remained unharmed.

Departing the city, Domitianus gave orders to put on the martyr shoes with iron sandals, having sharp nails driven into the soles, and to follow him. The Lord gave Saint Zosima the strength to easily and quickly follow after the horses. The martyr was locked up in prison, where they tormented him with hunger and thirst, but an Angel of the Lord fortified his strength with bread and water. Saint Zosima resolutely refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. After long and fierce torments he was beheaded and with prayer gave up his soul to God.

The Monk Paisias the Great lived in Egypt. His parents, Christians, distributed generous alms to all the needy.

After the death of her husband his mother, on the suggestion of an Angel, gave over her young son Paisias to clergy of the church.

The youth Paisias loved monastic life and spent his time in one of the Egyptian sketes. Disavowing his own will, he lived under the spiritual guidance of Saint Pambos (Comm. 18 July), finishing all the tasks assigned him. The starets/elder said, that a newly-begun monk in particular needs to preserve his sight, so as to guard his senses from temptation, and Paisias, heeding the instruction, went for three years with his eyes cast downwards. The saintly ascetic diligently read spiritual books and he was especially notable for ascetic fasting and prayer. At first he did not taste of food during the course of a week, then – of two, and sometimes after partaking of the Holy Mysteries of Christ, he remained without food for seventy days.

In search of solitary quiet the Monk Paisias went into the Nitreian wilderness, where he lived in a cave carved out by his own hands. There the monk was vouchsafed a wondrous vision – the Lord Jesus Christ revealed to him, that because of his labours all the Nitreian wilderness would become inhabited by ascetics. The monk was impelled to ask the Lord where in the wilderness would the monks obtain the necessities of life? The Lord answered, that if they would fulfill all His commandments, He Himself would obtain for them all the necessities, to put them beyond demonic temptations and cunning.

With time there gathered to the Monk Paisias a number of monks and laymen, and thus was established a monastery. The primary covenant of the Monk Paisias was one: no one would do anything by his own will, but in all things would fulfill the will of his mentors. Burdened by the disturbance of the quiet, the monk withdrew to a yet farther cave. One time he was transported to a paradaisical monastery and vouchsafed there to partake of the non-material Divine food. After his ascetic labours for salvation, the Lord granted His saint the gift of foresight and healing the souls of men. In the life of the ascetic is reported an instance when one of his disciples, with the blessing of the monk, set off to sell handicrafts in Egypt and on the way he encountered a Jew, who suggested to the simple-minded monk that Christ the Saviour is not the Messiah, and that another one, a true one, will come. Confused, the monk uttered: “Perhaps it is true what thou sayest”, – yet he did not attribute any particular significance to his words. Having returned, he saw with grief that the Monk Paisias would not acknowledge his arrival, and he asked the reason for his anger. The monk said: “My disciple was a Christian, thou art not a Christian, from thee hath departed the grace of Baptism”. Having repented, the monk with tears besought to have absolved his sin. Only then did the holy elder rise up to prayer and seek forgiveness of the Lord for the monk.

A certain monk on his own initiative left the wilderness and re-settled not far from a city. There he had encounters with a woman, who hated and blasphemed Christ the Saviour. Having fallen under her influence, he not only left monasticism, but also scorned faith in Christ and finally he arrived at total disbelief. One time, through the blessed Providence of God, Nitreian monks came past his home. Seeing them, the sinner remembered his own former life and he asked the monks to convey to the Monk Paisias, that he pray for him to the Lord. Hearing the request, the monk began to pray fervently, and his efficacious prayer was heard. The Lord, appearing to His saint, promised to forgive the sinner. Soon the seduced-monk’s woman-companion died, and he returned to the wilderness where, weeping and distressed about his sins, he began to labour at deeds of repentance.

The Monk Paisias distinguished himself by great humility, and accomplished ascetic deeds of fasting and prayer, but as far as possible, he concealed them from those aside. To a question of the monks, which virtue is highest of all, the monk answered: “those, which are done in secret and about which no one knows”.

The Monk Paisias died in the V Cent. in extreme old age and he was buried with veneration by many of the gathered monks. After some while his relics were transferred by the Monk Isidoros Pelusiotes (Comm. 4 February) to the Pelusiot Monastery and placed alongside the relics of the Monk Paul of the Wilderness, with whom the Monk Paisias in life was in particular spiritually close.

The Monk John the Hermit practised asceticism in Palestine. He passed his days in fasting and prayer in a cave not far from Jerusalem. The un-covetous ascetic had only an image of the MostHoly Mother of God, before which always was lighted a lampada. The holy elder often visited the holy places of Jerusalem, and Mount Sinai, and he went to pray at the grave-sites of the holy martyrs and ascetics. In departing, the monk left the lampada burning before the image of the Queen of Heaven and he asked a blessing for the journey. Having returned after a month or even after six months, the elder found the lampada burning and filled with oil. One time he happened to go on a narrow trail, with two sides overgrown with thickets, such that it was impossible for two persons on foot to pass by each other. Towards the monk came a lion. The beast stood up on its hind legs and freed the way for the saint.

Once there came a monk to the cave to Saint John, and not detecting even the vital necessities for life, he asked the abba why he lived in such poverty. To this the holy elder answered that his cave contained spiritual riches more dear than earthly blessings.

The Monk John the Hermit expired in the VI Cent. in extreme old age and was enumerated by the Church to the choir of the saints.

The Monk Paisii of Khilendaria was born in the year 1722 in Bansko into a pious family. One brother of the monk – Lavrentii, was hegumen of Khilendaria Monastery, and another was noted as a generous benefactor of Orthodox temples and monasteries. But the Monk Paisii himself went through his obedience at Ryl’sk Monastery. In 1745 at age 23, Saint Paisii went across to his brother in the Khilendaria Monastery on Mount Athos, where he took monastic vows. On the Holy Mountain the ascetic matured spiritually; he deeply studied Holy Scripture and he was vouchsafed the priestly dignity. In the year 1762 the Monk Paisii wrote: “The History of the Slavo-Bulgarians” – a book, upholding the Christian faith and awakening the national self-awareness of the subjugated Bulgarian nation. Amidst the darkness of foreign oppression the monk again re-kindled the lamp of Orthodoxy, lit formerly by the Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Kirill and Methodios (Comm. 11 May). The time and place of the blessed end of the monk from that time is unknown. On 26 June 1962 the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church under the presiding of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill and with the participation of all Their Eminences the Metropolitans, expressing indebtedness to the merit of Saint Paisii before Church and native-country, made decree to venerate Paisii of Khilendarsk and Bulgaria in the rank of monastic saints and it directed that celebration of his memory be made on 19 June, “when, according to the universal-Orthodox Mesyatseslov / Saints-Kalendar, there is celebrated the memory of the Monk Paisias the Great”. The name of Saint Paisii is borne by a state university in Plovdiv and many institutes and schools in other cities and villages of Bulgaria, which testifies to the deep veneration of the ascetic by the Bulgarian nation.

© 1999 by translator Fr. S. Janos