Today we remember all pious and Orthodox Christians who have fallen asleep in the Lord, and also recall the dread Day of Judgment. May Christ our God be merciful to them, and to us.
Two Epistles (Acts 28:1-31, I Thess. 4:13-17) and two Gospels (JN 21:14-25, JN 5:24-30) are appointed to be read at Liturgy. The readings from Acts and the Gospel of Saint John, which began on Pascha, now come to an end. The book of Acts does not end, as might be expected, with the death of Saints Peter and Paul, but remains open-ended.
Troparion — Tone 8
Only Creator, with wisdom profound, You mercifully order all things, / and give that which is needed to all men: / Give rest, O Lord, to the souls of Your servants who have fallen asleep, / for they have placed their trust in You, our Maker and Fashioner, and our God.
In his article “With all the Saints,” Father Justin Popovich says that the Lives of the Saints are nothing less than a “continuation of the Acts of the Apostles.” Just as the book of Acts describes the works of Christ which the Apostles accomplished through Christ, Who was dwelling in them and working through them, the saints also preach the same Gospel, live the same life, manifest the same righteousness, love, and power from on High. As we prepare for the Sunday of All Saints, we are reminded that each of us is called to a life of holiness.
On this seventh Saturday of Pascha, Saint John Chrysostom’s “Homily on Patience and Gratitude” is appointed to be read in church. It is also prescribed to be read at the funeral service of an Orthodox Christian.
Apostle Jude the Brother of the Lord
The Holy Apostle Jude, one of the twelve apostles of Christ, is descended from King David and Solomon, and was the son of Righteous Joseph the Betrothed (Sunday after the Nativity of the Lord) by his first wife.
The Holy Apostle John the Theologian writes in his Gospel, “… neither did his brethren believe in Him” (John. 7:5). Saint Theophylact, Archbishop of Bulgaria, explains this passage. He says that at the beginning of the Lord Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry, Joseph’s sons, Jude among them, did not believe in His divine nature.
Troparion — Tone 1
Divinely we praise you, O Jude, as a faithful witness, / knowing you to be the brother of Christ. / You trampled on delusion, / and so preserved the faith. / Today as we celebrate your holy memory, / by your intercessions we receive remission of sins.
Tradition says that when Saint Joseph returned from Egypt, he began to divide his possessions among his sons. He wanted to allot a share to Christ the Savior, born miraculously and incorruptibly from the All-Pure Virgin Mary. The brothers were opposed to this because Jesus was born of another mother. Only James, later called “The Brother of God,” offered to share his portion with Him.
Jude came to believe in Christ the Savior as the awaited Messiah, and he followed Him and was chosen as one of the twelve Apostles. Mindful of his sin, the Apostle Jude considered himself unworthy to be called the Lord’s brother, and in his Epistle he calls himself merely the brother of James.
The Holy Apostle Jude also had other names: the Evangelist Matthew terms him “Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddeus” (Mt. 10:3). The Holy Evangelist Mark also calls him Thaddeus (Mark 3:18), and in the Acts of the Holy Apostles he is called Barsabas (Acts 15: 22). This was customary at that time.
After the Ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ, Saint Jude traveled about preaching the Gospel. He propagated the faith in Christ at first in Judea, Galilee, Samaria and Idumaia, and later in the lands of Arabia, Syria and Mesopotamia. Finally, he went to the city of Edessa.
Here he finished the work that was not completed by his predecessor, Saint Thaddeus, Apostle of the Seventy (August 21). There is a tradition that Saint Jude went to Persia, where he wrote his catholic Epistle in Greek. In the Epistle much profound truth was expressed in a few words.
Saint Jude’s Epistle speaks about the Holy Trinity, about the Incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ, about the good and bad angels, and about the dread Last Judgment. The Apostle urges believers to guard themselves against fleshly impurity, to be diligent in prayer, faith and love, to convert the lost to the path of salvation, and to guard themselves from the teachings of heretics.
He also says that it is not enough just to be converted to Christianity, but faith must be demonstrated by good works. He cites the rebellious angels and men punished by God (verse 6) to support this.
The Holy Apostle Jude died as a martyr around the year 80 near Mt. Ararat in Armenia, where he was crucified and pierced by arrows.
Venerable Paisius the Great
Saint Paisius 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 her young son Paisius to the clergy of the church.
The youth Paisius loved monastic life and spent his time in one of the Egyptian sketes. Renouncing his own will, he lived under the spiritual guidance of Saint Pambo (July 18), finishing all the tasks assigned him. The Elder said that a new monk in particular needs to preserve his sight, in order to guard his senses from temptation.
Troparion — Tone 4
The sublime monk and incarnate angel, / the bodiless man and citizen of heaven, / as he celebrates with us today, / grants grace to all who honor him. / Let us fervently magnify him!
Paisius, heeding the instruction, went for three years with his eyes cast downwards. The saintly ascetic read spiritual books, and he was known for his ascetic fasting and prayer. At first he did not eat any food for a week, then two weeks. Sometimes, after partaking of the Holy Mysteries of Christ, he survived without food for seventy days.
Saint Paisius went into the Nitrian desert in search of solitude. There he lived in a cave carved out by his own hands. The saint was granted a wondrous vision: the Lord Jesus Christ revealed to him that through his labors the Nitrian wilderness would become inhabited by ascetics.
He asked the Lord where the monks would obtain the necessities of life in the desert. The Lord said that if they would fulfill all His commandments, He Himself would provide all their necessities, and would deliver them from demonic temptations and cunning.
In time, a number of monks and laymen gathered around Saint Paisius, and a monastery was established. The most important rule of Saint Paisius was that no one would do anything by his own will, but in all things would fulfill the will of his elders.
Since his tranquility was being disturbed by so many people, the saint withdrew to another cave farther away. Once, he was transported to a paradisical monastery and partook of the immaterial divine food. After his ascetic labors for salvation, the Lord granted His saint the gift of prescience and healing the souls of men.
One of his disciples, with the saint’s blessing, went to sell his handicrafts in Egypt. On the way he encountered a Jew, who told the simple-minded monk that Christ the Savior is not the Messiah, and that another Messiah will come.
Confused, the monk said, “Maybe what you say is true,” but he did not attribute any particular significance to his words. When he returned, he saw that Saint Paisius would not acknowledge his arrival, and he asked the reason for his anger.
The saint said, “My disciple was a Christian. You are not a Christian, for the grace of Baptism has departed from you.” The monk repented with tears, and begged to have his sin forgiven. Only then did the holy Elder pray and ask the Lord to forgive the monk.
A certain monk on his own initiative left the desert and moved near a city. There he had encounters with a woman, who hated and blasphemed Christ the Savior. Under her influence, he not only left the monastery, but also scorned faith in Christ, and finally he reached a state of total disbelief.
Once, through the blessed Providence of God, Nitrian monks came by his home. Seeing them, the sinner remembered his own former life and he asked the monks to ask Saint Paisius to pray for him to the Lord. On hearing the request, the saint prayed fervently, and his 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 desert where, weeping and distressed for his sins, he began to labor at deeds of repentance.
Saint Paisius distinguished himself by his great humility, and performed ascetic deeds of fasting and prayer, but he concealed them from others as far as possible. When the monks asked which virtue is the highest of all, the saint replied, “Those which are done in secret, and about which no one knows.”
Saint Paisius died in the fifth century at a great old age, and he was buried by the monks. After some time his relics were transferred by Saint Isidore of Pelusium (February 4) to his own monastery and placed beside the relics of his friend Saint Paul, with whom Saint Paisius was particularly close during his life.
Translated into English by oca.org