(†) Holy Pascha; (†) Saint Athanasius III Patelarios, Patriarch of Constantinople; Virginmartyr Pelagia; Venerable Monica

Bright Tuesday

On Bright Tuesday, during the Divine Liturgy, the Gospel of the Road to Emaus is read:

Luke 24:12-35 (Gospel)

„But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened. Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him. And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?” Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?” And He said to them, “What things?” So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.” Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther. But they constrained Him, saying, “Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” And He went in to stay with them. Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight. And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread.”

Also, on Bright Tuesday is prepared the Holy Communion for the sick, which has been sanctified on Holy Thursday. It will remain in a small coffer on the Holy Altar Table for the whole year ahead.

Saint Athanasius III Patelarios, Patriarch of Constantinople

His commemoration has been moved this year from May 2 on May 4, since Easter 2021 coincides with his feast.

He was born in 1560 on the island of Crete, into the pious Greek family Patelarios. Despite his education and position in society, Alexis was attracted by the life of Christian ascetics. After his father’s death, he became a novice in one of the monasteries of Thessalonica with the name Ananias. From there, he later went to the monastery of Esphigmenou on Mt. Athos, where he fulfilled his obedience in the trapeza (dining area).

Troparion — Tone 4

In truth you were revealed to your flock as a rule of faith, / an image of humility and a teacher of abstinence; / your humility exalted you; / your poverty enriched you. / Hierarch Father Athanasius, / entreat Christ our God / that our souls may be saved.

From Athos he journeyed to the Palestinian monasteries, and he was tonsured with the name Athanasius. Upon his return to Thessalonica he was ordained presbyter and spread the Gospel of Christ among the Vlachs and the Moldovians, for whom he translated the PSALTER from the Greek. Sometimes, the saint went to Mt. Athos for solitude, and to ask God’s blessing on his pastoral work. The holiness of his life attracted many Christians who wished to see a true preacher of the Orthodox Faith.

By his remarkable abilities and spiritual gifts he attracted the attention of the Patriarch of Constantinople, Cyril I (Lukaris) (1621-1623). Summoning the ascetic, Patriarch Cyril appointed him a preacher of the Patriarchal throne. Soon Saint Athanasius was consecrated bishop and became Metropolitan of Thessalonica.

At this time Patriarch Cyril was slandered before the sultan and imprisoned on the island of Tenedos. Saint Athanasius assumed the Patriarchal throne on March 25, 1634, on the day of the Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos.

Patriarch Athanasius led an incessant struggle against heretics, Jesuits, and Moslems. After only forty days on the Patriarchal throne, he was deposed through the intrigues of the enemies of Orthodoxy, and Cyril I was returned.

The saint went to Athos, where for a certain time he pursued asceticism in solitude. Then he became Patriarch again, but was deposed after a year. After this, he returned to Thessalonica and renewed his connections with the Holy Mountain. In view of the intolerable persecution of Christians by the Moslems, Saint Athanasius was repeatedly (from 1633 to 1643) obliged to send petitions to the Russian tsar Michael (1613-1645) seeking alms for the hapless Church of Constantinople.

When living at Thessalonica became impossible for the saint, he was forced to journey to Moldavia under the protection of its sovereign, Basil Lukulos, and he settled there in the monastery of Saint Nicholas near Galats, but he longed for Mount Athos. He visited it often and hoped to finish his life there, but God ordained something else for him.

In 1652 after the death of Patriarch Cyril I, Saint Athanasius was returned to the patriarchal throne. He remained only fifteen days, since he was not acceptable to the Moslems and Catholics. During his final Patriarchal service he preached a sermon in which he denounced papal pretensions to universal jurisdiction over the whole Church.

Persecuted by the Moslems and Jesuits, physically weakened, he transferred the administration of the Church of Constantinople to Metropolitan Paisius of Laureia, and he withdrew to Moldavia, where he was appointed administrator of the monastery of Saint Nicholas at Galats.

Knowing the deep faith and responsiveness of the Russian nation, Saint Athanasius undertook a journey to Russia. In April 1653 he was met with great honor in Moscow by Patriarch Nikon (1652-1658) and Tsar Alexis Mikhailovich. Having received generous alms for the needs of the monastery, Patriarch Athanasius left for Galats in December 1653. On the way he fell ill and stayed at the Transfiguration Mgarsk monastery in the city of Lubno in February 1654.

Sensing his impending death, the saint wrote his last will, and he fell asleep in the Lord on April 5. Igumen Petronios and the brethren of the monastery buried the Patriarch. By Greek custom the saint was buried in a sitting position. On February 1, 1662 Saint Athanasius was glorified as a saint and his Feastday was designated as May 2, the Feast of Saint Athanasius the Great.

The relics of holy Patriarch Athansios, glorified by numerous miracles and signs, rest in the city of Kharkov, in the Annunciation cathedral church.

In 2004, 350 after his moving to the heavens, a fragment of his holy relics was brought from Kharkov to Galats, in the eastern part of Romania, by the river Danube.

Saint Pelagia of Tarsus in Cilicia (southeastern Asia Minor)

She lived in the third century, during the reign of Diocletian (284-305), and was the daughter of illustrious pagans. When she heard about Jesus Christ from her Christian friends, she believed in Him and desired to preserve her virginity, dedicating her whole life to the Lord.

Troparion — Tone 3

Through your knowledge of the Faith you abandoned the darkness of ignorance, / fairest virgin of Christ. / You were refreshed by dew and finished your contest by fire. / Glorious martyr Pelagia, / entreat Christ our God to grant us His great mercy!

Emperor Diocletian’s heir (a boy he adopted), saw the maiden Pelagia, was captivated by her beauty and wanted her to be his wife. The holy virgin told the youth that she was betrothed to Christ the Immortal Bridegroom, and had renounced earthly marriage.

Pelagia’s reply greatly angered the young man, but he decided to leave her in peace for awhile, hoping that she would change her mind. At the same time, Pelagia convinced her mother to let her visit the nurse who had raised her in childhood. She secretly hoped to find Bishop Linus of Tarsus, who had fled to a mountain during a persecution against Christians, and to be baptized by him.

She had seen the face of Bishop Linus in a dream, which made a profound impression upon her. The holy bishop told her to be baptized. Saint Pelagia traveled in a chariot to visit her nurse, dressed in rich clothes and accompanied by a whole retinue of servants, as her mother wished.

Along the way Saint Pelagia, by the grace of God, met Bishop Linus. Pelagia immediately recognized the bishop who had appeared to her in the dream. She fell at his feet, requesting Baptism. At the bishop’s prayer a spring of water flowed from the ground.

Bishop Linus made the Sign of the Cross over Saint Pelagia, and during the Mystery of Baptism, angels appeared and covered the chosen one of God with a bright mantle. After giving the pious virgin Holy Communion, Bishop Linus offered a prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord with her, and then sent her to continue her journey. She then exchanged her expensive clothing for a simple white garment, and distributed her possessions to the poor. Returning to her servants, Saint Pelagia told them about Christ, and many of them were converted and believed.

She tried to convert her own mother to Christ, but the obdurate woman sent a message to Diocletian’s son that Pelagia was a Christian and did not wish to be his wife. The youth realized that Pelagia was lost to him, and he fell upon his sword in his despair.

Pelagia’s mother feared the emperor’s wrath, so she tied her daughter up and led her to Diocletian’s court as a Christian who was also responsible for the death of the heir to the throne. The emperor was captivated by the unusual beauty of the virgin and tried to turn her from her faith in Christ, promising her every earthly blessing if she would become his wife.

The holy virgin refused the emperor’s offer with contempt and said, “You are insane, Emperor, saying such things to me. I will not do your bidding, and I loathe your vile marriage, since I have Christ, the King of Heaven, as my Bridegroom. I do not desire your worldly crowns which last only a short while.

The Lord in His heavenly Kingdom has prepared three imperishable crowns for me. The first is for faith, since I have believed in the true God with all my heart; the second is for purity, because I have dedicated my virginity to Him; the third is for martyrdom, since I want to accept every suffering for Him and offer up my soul because of my love for Him.”

Diocletian sentenced Pelagia to be burned in a red-hot bronze bull. Not permitting the executioners to touch her body, the holy martyr signed herself with the Sign of the Cross, and went into the brazen bull and her flesh melted like myrrh, filling the whole city with fragrance.

Saint Pelagia’s bones remained unharmed and were removed by the pagans to a place outside the city. Four lions then came out of the wilderness and sat around the bones letting neither bird nor wild beast get at them. The lions protected the relics of the saint until Bishop Linus came to that place. He gathered them up and buried them with honor. Later, a church was built over her holy relics.

The Service to the holy Virgin Martyr Pelagia of Tarsus says that she was “deemed worthy of most strange and divine visions.” She is also commemorated on October 7.

During the reign of Emperor Constantine (306-337), when the persecutions against Christians had stopped, a church was built at Saint Pelagia’s burial place.

Saint Monica, mother of Blessed Augustine

Saint Monica, the mother of Blessed Augustine of Hippo (June 15), was born in 322 in Tagaste, North Africa. Her parents were Christians, but little is known of her early life. Most of our information about her comes from Book IX of her son’s Confessions.

Saint Monica was married to a pagan official named Patritius, who had a short temper and lived an immoral life. At first, her mother-in-law did not like her, but Monica won her over by her gentle disposition.

Saint Monica and Patritius had three children: Saint Augustine, Navigius and Perpetua. It was a source of great sorrow to her that Patritius would not permit them to be baptized. She worried about Augustine, who lived with a young woman in Carthage and had an illegitimate son with her. Her constant prayers and tears for her son had the effect of converting her husband to Christ before his death. Augustine, however, continued on the path that led away from Christ.

While in Carthage, Augustine fell under the influence of the heretical Manichean sect. His mother was horrified and tried to turn him away from his error. She had a dream in which she was told to be patient and gentle with her son. Augustine, however, paid little attention to her arguments, and remained in his delusion for nine years. Saint Monica must have felt disheartened and disappointed, but she never gave up on him. She even tried to enlist the help of a bishop who had once been a Manichean himself, but he would not dispute with Augustine. He said he couldn’t reason with the young man, because he was still attracted by the novelty of the heresy. He did reassure her saying, “Go on your way, and God bless you, for it is not possible that the son of these tears should be lost.”

Saint Monica went to Rome with Augustine when he lectured there in 383. Later, he received an appointment to Milan, where he met Saint Ambrose (December 7) and was greatly impressed by his preaching. Bishop Ambrose came to have a high regard for Saint Monica, and often congratulated Augustine on having such a virtuous mother.

One day Augustine was reading the New Testament in a garden, and came to Romans 13:12-14. There and then Augustine decided to “cast off the works of darkness,” and to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” He was baptized on the eve of Pascha in 387.

After his baptism, Augustine and his mother planned to return to Africa. They stopped to rest in Ostia, where Saint Monica fell asleep in the Lord at the age of fifty-six. She was buried at Ostia, and her holy relics were transferred to the crypt of a church in the sixth century. Nine centuries later, Saint Monica’s relics were translated to Rome.

In the West, Saint Monica is considered the patron saint of wives and mothers whose husbands or sons have gone astray.

Tr by oca.org.

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