Venerable Hilarion the New, Abbot of the Dalmatian Monastery; Venerable Bessarion, Wonderworker of Egypt (Sunday of the Blind Man

Sunday of the Blind Man

At the end of Chapter 8 in Gospel of Saint John, the Savior was disputing with the Pharisees in the Temple during the Feast of Tabernacles. He told them, “Your father Abraham was glad that he should see my day; and he saw it and rejoiced” (John 8:56).

The Jews said that Jesus was not even fifty years old, so how could He claim to have seen Abraham? The Lord replied, “Before Abraham was, I am.” I am, of course, is the name that God revealed to Moses in the Burning Bush. When the Jews picked up stones to throw at Him, He hid Himself and went out of the Temple.

Christ’s disciples asked Him who had sinned, the blind man or his parents that he had been born blind. Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God might be manifested in him” (John 9:3).

It was thought that a person who had some affliction must have sinned (or his parents did) to deserve such punishment. In the Book of Exodus (20:5), God said that he would visit “the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.” This, however, applied to the sin of idolatry, if the children emulated their parents’ behavior.

The blind man was not born blind just so the miracle could be performed, but seeing the man in such a condition, the Lord decided to use him in a way that would manifest God’s glory. He Who is the Light of the world healed the blind man and enlightened him. Giving sight to the blind was one of the signs which would identify the Messiah (Matthew 11:4-6).

The Lord made clay when He spat on the ground, and placed it in the man’s empty eye sockets and sent him to the pool of Siloam to wash. Most versions of the Gospels translate the word επεθηκεν as “anointed,” but it can also mean “to spread on,” or “to smear.” Siloam means “sent,” and in Saint John’s Gospel Christ says about forty times that He Himself had been sent by the Father.”

This manner of healing reminds us of the way God created man by fashioning him from the dust of the earth. In the Old Testament God created man from the dust of the earth, now Christ, the same God, fashions eyes from the clay and places them in the blind man’s empty sockets. Here are some quotes from the Pentecostarion:

At the Oikos of Matins: “He receives physical eyes as well as those of the soul.”

Saint Hilarion the New, Abbot of the Dalmatian Monastery

He was born of pious parents, Peter and Theodosia, who raised him in the virtues and instructed him in Holy Scripture.

At twelve years of age Saint Hilarion was tonsured as a monk at the Hesychius monastery near Constantinople, and from there he transferred to the Dalmatus monastery, where he received the Great Schema and became a disciple of Saint Gregory the Dekapolite (November 20).

Troparion — Tone 4

O God of our Fathers, / always act with kindness towards us; / take not Your mercy from us, / but guide our lives in peace / through the prayers of the venerable Bessarion and Hilarion the New.

The monk deeply venerated his God-bearing patron Saint Hilarion the Great (October 21), and he strove to imitate his life, so he came to be called Hilarion the New. At the Dalmatus monastery, he was ordained presbyter. After the death of the igumen the brethren wanted to elect Saint Hilarion to this position, but learning of this, he secretly fled to Constantinople.

Then the monks of Dalmatus monastery sent a petition to Patriarch Nicephorus, asking that Saint Hilarion be assigned as igumen. The Patriarch summoned the saint and persuaded him to give his assent. Saint Hilarion submitted out of holy obedience.

For eight years he peacefully guided the monastery, but in the year 813 the iconoclast Leo the Armenian (813-820) occupied the imperial throne. The saint refused to dishonor the holy icons, and he boldly accused the emperor of heresy, for which he endured many torments. They locked him up in prison for awhile, and vexed him with hunger and thirst.

The impious Patriarch Theodotus, who replaced the exiled Patriarch Nicephorus, caused the monk much suffering in demanding that he abandon Orthodoxy. The monks of the Dalmatus monastery went to the emperor and asked him to release the saint, promising to submit to the imperial will.

After they returned to the monastery, however, Saint Hilarion and the monks continued to venerate the holy icons. The enraged emperor again threw the monk into prison. He gave the saint over to torture with all the means at his disposal, hoping to change his mind.

The wrath of God soon overtook the wicked emperor. He was cut down by his own soldiers in church at the very spot where he had once thrown down a holy icon.

The new emperor Michael II (820-829) freed Saint Hilarion from his imprisonment, and the saint settled into a monastic cell. Upon the death of Saint Theodore the Studite (November 11), who also suffered for the holy icons, Saint Hilarion beheld holy angels taking the soul of Saint Theodore to Heaven.

Under the iconoclast emperor Theophilus (829-842), Saint Hilarion was again put under guard and beaten terribly, then they confined him on the island of Aphousia.

After the death of Theophilus, the holy empress Saint Theodora (842-855) gave orders to recall the confessors from exile. Saint Hilarion returned to the Dalmatus monastery, again agreeing to be igumen. He departed peacefully in the year 845.

Venerable Bessarion, Wonderworker of Egypt

Saint Bessarion, Wonderworker of Egypt was an Egyptian. He was baptized while still in his youth, and he led a strict life, striving to preserve the grace given him during Baptism. Seeking to become more closely acquainted with the monastic life, he journeyed to the holy places. He was in Jerusalem, he visited Saint Gerasimus (March 4) in the Jordanian wilderness, he viewed other desert monasteries, and assimilated all the rules of monastic life.

Troparion — Tone 4

O God of our Fathers, / always act with kindness towards us; / take not Your mercy from us, / but guide our lives in peace / through the prayers of the venerable Bessarion and Hilarion the New.

Upon his return, he received monastic tonsure and became a disciple of Saint Isidore of Pelusium (February 4). Saint Bessarion took a vow of silence, and partook of food only once a week. Sometimes he remained without food or drink for forty days. Once, the saint stood motionless for forty days and forty nights without food or sleep, immersed in prayer.

Saint Bessarion received from God the gift of wonderworking. When his disciple was very thirsty, he sweetened bitter water. By his prayer the Lord sent rain upon the earth, and he could cross a river as if on dry land. With a single word he cast out devils, but he did this privately to avoid glory.

His humility was so great that once, when a priest ordered someone from the skete to leave church for having fallen into sin, Bessarion also went with him saying, “I am a sinner, too.” Saint Bessarion slept only while standing or sitting. A large portion of his life was spent under the open sky in prayerful solitude. He peacefully departed to the Lord in his old age.

Tr by oca.org

Facebook comments


Latest News