Orthodox Calendar

Sept. 5, 2024
Thursday of the 11th week after Pentecost

No Fast

Commemorations

  • Prophet Zachariah
  • Holy Hieromartyr Athanasius of Brest-Litovsk (1649)
  • Holy Martyrs Abda the bishop, Hormizd and Sunin of Persia (4th c)

Scripture Readings (KJV)

2 Corinthians 4.1-6 (Epistle)

1Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; 2But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 3But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. 5For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Matthew 24.13-28 (Gospel)

13But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. 14And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. 15When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) 16Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: 17Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: 18Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. 19And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! 20But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: 21For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. 23Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. 24For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. 25Behold, I have told you before. 26Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. 27For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 28For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

Commemorations (abbamoses.com)

Holy and Glorious Prophet Zacharias, Father of St John the Baptist

Much of his story is told in the first chapter of Luke’s Gospel. The Synaxarion continues:

‘After the birth of Christ, Zacharias plainly declared the virginity of Mary and showed her truly to be the Mother of God; for he appointed her a place in that part of the Temple reserved for the virgins and so brought upon himself the hatred of the priests and levites.

‘When John was six months old, Zacharias hid him and his mother in a cave beyond the Jordan because King Herod, hearing of the birth in Bethlehem of the king of the Jews and fearing a rival of his own worldly power, sent soldiers to kill all the male children of Bethlehem. His enemies seized this opportunity to denounce Zacharias to Herod, who had him pursued and put to death within the precinct of the Temple, at the very place the Mother of God abode for a witnes to her virginity. As the Prophet’s blood flowed within the sanctuary, it signified the withdrawing of the divine Presence. Priests came to take up his body and they buried him with his fathers. From that moment signs and prodigies occurred in the Temple, indicating that the rites of the Law would soon be abolished. No longer would the priests behold the angels of God, or have the grace of prophecy; no longer would they be able to deliver oracles or enlighten the people upon the dark places of holy Scripture, as they had been wont to do.’

Holy Hieromartyr Athanasius of Brest-Litovsk (1649)

“Saint Athanasius was born in the province of Minsk in 1596, the same year as the false Union of Brest-Litovsk was concluded between Rome and some Russian bishops. His father was a Lithuanian nobleman of modest means, but Athanasius acquired a breadth and depth of learning that were exceptional at that time. Besides modern and ancient languages and the writings of the holy Fathers, he was familiar with the works of Western philosophers and theologians.

“In 1627, after spending several years as a private tutor, he became a monk at the Monastery of Khutyn near Orsha in Little Russia. This monastery was independent of the Polish occupying forces and, by tradition, deeply committed to the preservation of Orthodoxy, so that it was able to offer great encouragement to the Orthodox people in the face of Roman Catholic propaganda. Athanasius went on to follow his monastic path in other renowned monasteries, and was ordained priest. The Metropolitan of Kiev, Peter Moghila, gave him the task of restoring the Monastery of Kupyatitsk. In obedience to a divine revelation, Athanasius set out for Moscow, a long and dangerous journey through territory under Polish occupation, in order to ask for financial assistance for the restoration, and to acquaint the Tsar with the fate intended for the Orthodox Church in the lands to the south-west of Russia. He was successful in his quest and with the help of the Mother of God, the restoration works were begun. Two years later, Athanasius was appointed Abbot of the Monastery of St Symeon the Stylite in Brest-Litovsk. From then on, he was to be a resolute and tireless fighter against Roman proselytism, clothed in Orthodox rites and customs known as the Unia. For the next eight years, by prayer, preaching and through his writings, the Saint devoted all his strength to refuting the false Union, and to bringing back to the holy sheep-fold of Christ those who had strayed.

“The population of the occupied territories was brutally treated by the Polish soldiers and colonists, nor did the Jesuit missionaries, for their part, abstain from any measure that might serve to lead the peoples of Little Russia to accept their faith. In this situation, Saint Athanasius decided to petition the King of Poland, Vladislav IV, that the Orthodox be treated with more humanity. The King was moved by his request and issued a decree forbidding the abuses that had occurred, but his officials ignored it. The condition of the Orthodox in Warsaw was particularly bad. It was not unknown for the Poles and Uniates to set fire to Orthodox churches on feast days when they were full of the faithful, just as had happened in the time of the great Persecutions.

“Athanasius kept up the fight, aided and comforted by none but the Mother of God, and in 1643, following a new revelation, he again appealed for redress on behalf of the Orthodox to the Polish Council of State. He received a favourable hearing and the Orthodox were granted some legal protection. But certain Orthodox men of rank, fearing for their privileges, claimed that the Saint was mad and succeeded in having him deprived of his abbacy, deposed from the priesthood and sent to Kiev to answer before a church court.

“The humble Athanasius was completely exonerated and restored to his position, but he did not have peace for long, since persecution of the Orthodox soon began again. He drew up a petition intended for the King of Poland, but was arrested and thrown into prison before he was able to complete it. He was released after three years’ detention but, in 1648, a persecution broke out that was more terrible than ever before. So bloody was it that the people of Little Russia rose up and demanded the departure of the Polish-Lithuanian army and the restoration of Russian territory to the Tsar. The Polish authorities immediately arrested the rebel leaders and prominent Orthodox dignitaries. Saint Athanasius was imprisoned, and endured physical and mental torments of all kinds at the hands of his gaolers and of the Roman Catholic authorities, but he never ceased to cry, ‘Anathema to the Union!’ After being tortured with red-hot coals, he was flayed and burnt alive. As he was still not dead, his executioners shot him.

“They threw his decapitated corpse into a pit, where it was found some time later incorrupt. In the years that followed, the relics of the holy Martyr worked many miracles.” (Synaxarion)

Holy Martyrs Abda the bishop, Hormizd and Sunin of Persia (4th c)

Saint Abda lived in Persia during the reign of the Emperor Theodosius II and of the Persian king Yazgerd I; as bishop of the Christians there, he labored tirelessly to care for his own flock and bring the pagans to Christ. One day, full of zeal, he entered the temple at which the king made sacrifice, overturned the sacred fire and set the temple on fire. The enraged king forbade the worship of the Christian God, ordered the destruction of all the churches and monasteries, and arrested all of the clergy. Abda was brought before the king and ordered to rebuild the pagan temple; when he refused, he was cruelly and lengthily tortured until he gave up his soul to God. This was the beginning of a thirty-year period of terrible persecution for Christians in Persia.

Saint Hormizd was the son of a Persian governor who became a Christian in his youth. For this, his father condemned him to labor as a naked camel-herder in the desert. Some time later, the King sent Hormizd a linen tunic, promising to restore him to favor if he would return to the religion of the Persians. The Saint tore up the tunic and retured it to the king, for which he was executed.

Saint Sunin was a high Persian official who turned to Christ and was rewarded with a crown of martyrdom.