Scripture Readings (KJV)
2 Corinthians 3.4-11 (Epistle)
4And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward:
5Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;
6Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.
7But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away:
8How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?
9For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.
10For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth.
11For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.
Matthew 23.29-39 (Gospel)
29Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,
30And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.
31Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.
32Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.
33Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
34Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:
35That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.
36Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.
37O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!
38Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.
39For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
Hieromartyr Babylas, bishop of Antioch, and those with him (251)
He was archbishop of Antioch at the time of the wicked Emperor Numerian. Once the Emperor came to Antioch and attempted to enter a church where Babylas was serving. Coming to the door, the Archbishop forbade the Emperor, as a pagan and a shedder of innocent blood, to enter the house where the True God was worshipped. Retreating in humiliation, the Emperor determined to take his revenge. Shortly after he had Babylas imprisoned along with several Christian children. Babylas was made to watch the beheading of each of the children. Having given them encouragement he submitted himself to beheading. At his own request he was buried in the chains with which he had been bound.
After the establishment of Christianity in the Roman Empire, the Emperor Gallus had a church built in honor of Babylas near the site of a temple to Apollos at Daphne, outside Antioch. (This was where, according to pagan legend, the maiden Daphne had been turned into a tree to escape the lust of Apollos). When Julian the Apostate came to Antioch in 362 to consult a famous oracle there, he found that the oracle had been deprived of its power by the presence of a Christian church nearby. He ordered the relics of St Babylas to be dug up and removed from the Church. As soon as this had been done a thunderbolt destroyed the shrine of Apollo, which Julian did not dare to rebuild. Saint John Chrysostom, then Archbishop of Antioch, preached a sermon on these events within a generation after their occurrence.
Holy Prophet Moses, who beheld God.
What can we say of Moses? For his story read the Old Testament books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. The Church holds him to be the author of the Pentateuch or Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament.
St John Mavropos, Metropolitan of Euchaita (1100)
He is best known for his part in the institution of the Synaxis of Sts Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom (see January 30). The three holy hierarchs appeared to him and revealed that all three are united and equally honored in heaven, thus dispelling a spirit of factionalism that was disturbing Constantinople. He is the composer of the Canon to the Most Sweet Jesus and the Canon to the Guardian Angel, both found in many prayer books. He reposed in peace. Mavropos is a nickname meaning ‘Black-foot’.
He is commemorated on June 14 on the Slavic Calendar.
St Hermione, daughter of Apostle Philip (1st c.)
She was one of the four daughters of the Apostle Philip the Deacon (October 11). As we read in the Acts of the Apostles (21:8), all four were virgins and prophets. Her fame as a prophetess and a worker of miraculous healings attracted the attention of the Emperor Hadrian, under whose tribunal she was cruelly tortured. It is written that throughout her torments the only sounds that came from her lips were verses of the Psalms. At last she was sentenced to death; when the executioners raised the sword to behead her they were struck with paralysis, but St Hermione healed them by her prayer. At this, the executioners believed in Christ and laid down the sword. Saint Hermione was buried at Ephesus.
Venerable Anthimos the Blind, New Ascetic (1782)
He was born on the island of Kephalonia in 1727, with the name Athanasios Kourouklis. At the age of seven he became blind as a result of smallpox. His devout mother prayed for his healing, and asked her priest to serve forty Ligurgies for her son’s healing. At the fortieth Liturgy, as the priest said ‘In the fear of God and with faith and love draw near,’ Athanasius cried out that he could see the priest’s vestments and chalice. He had recovered sight in his right eye. For a time he followed his father’s occupation as a seaman, but then took up the life of a monk, receiving the name Anthimos. At some point he went blind again, and soon thereafter had a vision: he was praying for the restoration of his sight before an icon of the Theotokos when two young men in radiant garments appeared and led him to the Mother of God herself, who told him ‘Depart, for your continual prayer that I restore your sight is not profitable to you.’ But the two young men pleaded for him, and the Theotokos said ‘Anthimos, because of your great piety and many prayers, I will restore your sight in part, but do not forget that, having gained temporal vision, you can lose that which is eternal.’ Thereafter, though Anthimos was almost completely blind, he could dimly discern the outlines of objects; but in compensation he was granted the gift of spiritual insight,and was able to predict the future and call by name those he had never met.
Saint Anthimos was about twenty when he entered monastic life, and lived on Mt Athos for awhile. Despite his blindness, he then took up a life of missionary work that took him throughout the Greek mainland and islands. Traveling from place to place he preached the Gospel, healed the sick, founded several monasteries. Once he restored a blind woman’s sight by his prayers, though he himself remained blind throughout his life. Throughout his amazing labors he maintained a life of the most severe asceticism, eating little, sleeping on a plank or on the floor.
In 1782, in the course of one of his many sea journeys, he told the sailors to change course for Kephalonia, saying ‘God’s will is not that I concern myself with [the mission he had undertaken], but that I go back and die in my monastery.’ On returning he fell ill and called his spiritual children to him. ‘My children, the hour has come for me to go where the Lord ordains. Death is the common lot of us all and is nothing to be afraid of. It is important rather to do your best to keep your promises and your monastic vows. The one thing necessary in this life is to please God and save your souls.’ Having said this, he fell asleep in peace, at the age of fifty-four. He was glorified as a Saint in 1976.
Note: It is sometimes said that celebrating Divine Liturgies for special intentions is ‘not Orthodox.’ The example of St Anthimos’ mother shows that the practice is a both traditional and efficacious.
Holy New Martyr Gorazd, Bishop of Slovakia and the Czech Lands (1942) (August 22 OC)
He was born in 1879 in Moravia and given the name Matthew Pavlik. He became a Roman Catholic priest, active in a movement for reform within the Roman Catholic Church. When Czechoslovakia became an independent state in 1919, about 800,000 Christians, including Fr Matthew, approached Bishop Dositheus of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Serbia, asking to be received into the Orthodox faith. Father Matthew was received into the Church in 1920; a year later was made Bishop of the Orthodox of Moravia and Silesia by Patriarch Demetrius of Serbia, and was named for St Gorazd, a disciple of St Methodius (July 27). Though many of the original ‘reform’ leaders turned back, finding the demands of Orthodoxy too difficult, Bishop Gorazd labored mightily for the restoration of Orthodoxy in Czechoslovakia: he established eleven parishes, translated the divine services into Czech, and published a Czech Prayer Book.
During the Second World War, two priests of the Orthodox Cathedral in Prague were arrested because some of the Czech resistance had taken refuge in the Cathedral. It was clear that the Nazis were planning retaliation against the entire Orthodox Church. Bishop Gorazd presented himself to the Nazis and, to save his priests, took full responsibility for the events in the Cathedral. He was arrested, tortured and finally shot on September 4 1942 (August 22 OC). Despite his selfless sacrifice, the Orthodox Church was severely persecuted by the Nazis: all the churches were closed and the priests sent to concentration camps in Germany.
Saint Gorazd was glorified by the Church of Serbia in 1961 and by the Patriarchate of Constantinople in 1987.