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October 21st (XI - 3)

Icon of the saint of the day.

Icon of the Martyr Socrates the Presbyter and Monk Ilarion (Hilary) the Great

Monk Ilarion (Hilary) the Great (+ 371-372). Transfer of Relics of Sainted Ilarion, Bishop of Meglina (1206). Sainted Ilarion, Metropolitan of Kiev (XI). Monk Ilarion, Schema-monk of Pechersk, in Farther Caves (XI). Monk Ilarion of Pskovoezersk, Gdovsk. Monks Theophil and Iakov (James) of Omucha (c. 1412). Monk Philotheos of Athos. Monk Baruch. Martyrs Dasias, Caius and Zoticus (303). Martyrs Theodota and Socrates the Presbyter (+ 111). MonkMartyr Eucrates. MonkMartyr Zacharios. Martyress Aza. Martyr John of Peloponnesus (+ 1773). 60 Martyred Jerusalem Pilgrims (+ 723).

The Monk Ilarion the Great was born in the year 291 in the Palestinian village of Tabath. He was sent for study to Alexandria, where he became acquainted with Christianity and accepted holy Baptism. Hearing an account of the angelic life of the Monk Anthony the Great (Comm. 17 January), Ilarion set out to him, in order to study that which is pleasing to God. Ilarion soon returned to his native-land. His parents had already died. Having distributed his familial inheritance to the poor, Ilarion set out into the wilderness surrounding he city of Maium. The monk struggled intensely with impure thoughts, vexations of the mind and the burning of the flesh, defeating them with heavy toil, fasting and fervent prayer. The devil sought to terrorise the saint with phantoms and apparitions. During times of prayer Saint Ilarion heard children crying, women wailing, and the growling of lions and other wild beasts. The monk perceived that it was the demons causing these terrors, in order to drive him away from the wilderness, and therefore he overcame his fear with the help of fervent prayer.

One time robbers fell upon the Monk Ilarion, and he by the power of his words persuaded them to forsake the life of crime.

Soon all Palestine learned about the holy ascetic. The Lord vouchsafed to the Monk Ilarion the power to cast out unclean spirits. With this graced gift he loosed the bounds of many of the afflicted. The sick came for healing, and the monk cured them free of charge, saying, that the grace of God is not for sale. By means of smell the saint learned with which passion this or that man was afflicted. And they came to the Monk Ilarion wanting to save their soul under his guidance. With the blessing of the Monk Ilarion, monasteries began to spring up throughout all of Palestine. Going from one monastery to another, he set in them a strict ascetic manner of life. About seven years before his death (+ 371-372) the Monk Ilarion resettled to Cyprus, where he asceticised in a solitary place, until the Lord summoned him to Himself.

The Transfer of the Relics of Sainted Ilarion, Bishop of Meglina, to the Bulgarian city of Tirnovo, occurred in the year 1206. Prior to this event the body of the saint rested in the city of Meglina.

Saint Ilarion had received a fine Christian upbringing. In his 18th year of life he left the world and withdrew to a monastery, which he was soon chosen to head because of his virtuous and strict life. Concerning himself over the salvation of the souls entrusted to him, he unceasingly exhorted the monks not to waste the precious time intended for salvation. With a particular persistence Ilarion eradicated drunkenness. In the year 1134 he was ordained bishop of Meglina. At this time the Bogomil heresy was spreading through Bulgaria. The heretics followed a false teaching, in which good and evil manifest themselves of independent principles, and between which ensues a struggle. With an apostolic zeal and fervent prayer Saint Ilarion rose up in struggle against the heretical pseudo-teaching. He untiringly unmasked the heresy of the Bogomils, snatching from them their hypocritical guise of piety. In refuting the teaching of the heretics, Saint Ilarion said: "Ye be not Christians at all, since ye are hostile to the Cross of Christ the Saviour, ye acknowledge not the One God, ye slander the ancient Revelation (Old Testament), venerated by Christians. Ye do deceive simple people by hypocritical meekness, whilst full of pride. True piety is not possible in those, who see not in themselves corruption of heart, nor beseech the grace of God by prayer and humility. Evil thoughts, envy, vanity, greed, lie -- are not the deed of some evil thing within man and to be conquered by mere fasting. These vices -- are the fruit of self-love which therefore demands rooting-out by spiritual efforts".

After the saint's exhortations many of the heretics abandoned their pseudo-teaching and returned to the bosom of Holy Church. Saint Ilarion the same way also untiringly and successfully struggled against the rise in Bulgaria of the Armenian Monophysite heretics, who acknowledged in Christ only the Divine nature. The saint reposed in the year 1164.

Sainted Ilarion, Metropolitan of Kiev and All Russia, lived during the era of the Great-prince Yaroslav the Wise (+ 1054), son of the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Vladimir. In the history of the Russian Church he enters in as the first of its Russian representatives, installed as Metropolitan by a Sobor-Council of Russian bishops.

The Russian Church up to that time had been a metropolitan see, under the Constantinople patriarchate. Russia's first metropolitans were Greeks, and their appointment was made at Tsar'grad. Saint Ilarion, priest of the prince's village of Berestovo, nigh to Kiev, was the spiritual father and a companion of prince Yaroslav. "God-loving prince Yaroslav loved Berestovo, and put there the church of the Holy Apostles and many priests he did honour and maintain, -- relates the Monk Nestor the Chronicler. -- Amongst them was the presbyter by name Ilarion, a man of virtue, and book-learned, and given to fasting. He made his way from Berestovo to the Dniepr, where is now the old Pechersk monastery, and here he made his prayer in the deep forest. Having dug out a shallow two-sashen (14 foot) cave, and having come from Berestovo, he intoned here the hours and did pray in solitude to God...".

Saint Ilarion, as attest his works, was not simply a "man of books", but was endowed with great spiritual gifts, and profound theological knowledge. He devoted all is efforts to the service of the Russian Church. When metropolitan Theopemptos died, Rus' was in a state of war against Byzantium. By decision of a Sobor-Council of Russian hierarchs of the Russian Church, resolution was made to establish a metropolitan at Kiev, not subject to Tsar'grad. Saint Ilarion was famed amongst the Russian clergy for his heightened spiritual life and gift for preaching. A short while before this, he had uttered in the Desyatin-Tithe church an eulogy to holy Prince Vladimir with his acclaimed "Discourse concerning Law and Grace", in which he provided a theological explanation of the place of the Russian Church in the history of the Divine Economy of Salvation.

The choice of the Sobor-Council hierarchs was dear to the heart of Yaroslav the Wise. The ascetic was installed as Metropolitan at Saint Sophia in the year 1051. Saint Ilarion was later affirmed by the Constantinople patriarch. But he was not the primate of the Russian Church for long. The chronicle does not mention the year of his death, but the saint was already not at the death of prince Yaroslav the Wise (+ 20 February 1054), and in the year 1055 a new metropolitan had arrived at Kiev. Evidently, Saint Ilarion had expired to the Lord in 1053.

His spiritual legacy lives on in the Russian Church. And foremost, a fine work of old-Russian churchly literature -- the "Discourse concerning Law and Grace". Its content is profound and many-sided. At the centre of the "Discourse" -- is the teaching concerning salvation and grace. Great attention is devoted to the question about the superiority of Christianity over Judaism. This theme was essential at these times for Kievan Rus': the Jews had approached Saint Vladimir, hoping to convert him to their faith, and the Monk Theodosii of Pechersk (+ 1074) went also to the "Jewish Quarter" in Kiev with the preaching of Christ Crucified. It is known likewise, that the Jews had attempted to convert to Judaism Sainted-hierarch Nikita the Hermit, when he was still a monk of the Pechersk monastery (1088). Saint Simon relates about this in the "Kievo-Pechersk Paterikon". Hence therefore the attention, which Saint Ilarion devotes to the question "about the law, given to Moses, and about grace and truth, through the coming of Jesus Christ". And finally, the third theme, the occasion of the uttering of the "Discourse" -- was to the glorification of the apostolic work of holy Prince Vladimir.

The kingdom of nature, the kingdom of grace and the future Kingdom of Glory are perceived in the spiritual experience of the Church as coalesced inseparably. The law -- is but the forerunner and servant of grace and truth. Truth and grace -- are but servants of the future age and true life. Saint Ilarion teaches thus about the superiority of the Church: "Moses and the prophets did foretell the Coming of Christ, whereas Christ and His Apostles -- did witness about the Resurrection and about the future age".

From the moment, when the Saviour was come into he world, the Old (preliminary) Covenant of man with God ceased to be in effect. With the theological symbols of the Old and New Covenant-Testaments the saint employs images borrowed from the holy Apostle Paul relating to the two wives of Abraham: the freeborn Sarah and the maid-servant Agar. "Agar was cast out, a slave, together with her son Ishmael, and Isaac, the free son, was heir to Abraham. Thus also were the Jews cast out and dispersed through the lands, whereas the sons of grace, the Christians, are become heirs to God the Father. As the light of the moon doth fade amidst the shining forth of the sun, so also the law -- doth fade amidst the shining forth of grace; the cold of night doth vanish from the warmth of the sun, heating the earth, -- and mankind be no longer bent over under the burden of the law, but instead in grace walketh freely".

The joy of Christ fills the holy preacher, when he speaks about the entry of his native Rus' into the host of Christian peoples. "The grace of Christ hath filled all the earth", and foremost, the youthfully alive peoples, to which also is regarded the Russian people. "It becometh grace and truth to shine forth in new peoples. They do not, in the words of the Lord, pour new wine -- this being the teaching of grace -- into old wine-skins, referring to the Jews, but the rather put the new teaching, into new wine-skins, into new peoples". Thus the graced faith "throughout all the earth hath spread and reached our Russian tongue. Here now we too with all Christians do glorify the Holy Trinity, and the Jews be silent; pagans be accepted, but Jews -- art spurned".

Russian Orthodox at present "be not termed idolators, but rather Christians, no longer do we build heathen temples, but rather the churches of Christ; no longer do we sacrifice others to the demons (vide Comm. Varangian Martyrs, 12 July), but Christ for us instead hath been slain in sacrifice to God and Father. The Blessed God hath had mercy on all lands -- and us too hath not despised, for He did desire likewise to save us and bring us to our senses in truth". The great apostolic exploit of the enlightening of the Russian Land was made by holy Prince Vladimir (Comm. 15 July), "like to holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Constantine", who "did command throughout all his land that they be baptised in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and clearly and loudly in voice in all the cities to glorify the Holy Trinity and to all be Christians -- the small and great, slave and free, young and old, rich and poor". Saint Ilarion speaks with pride about his native land: "Saint Vladimir did not exercise sovereignty in a bad or ignorant land, but the rather in Russia, which is known and heard of by all the ends of the earth".

The "Discourse concerning Law and Grace" -- is the first work of its time in the Russian Church in which the holy Baptiser of Rus' is acclaimed blessed amongst the rank of the equal-to-the-Apostles. "Rejoice thou midst sovereigns, O apostle, not in having dead bodies resurrected, but our deadened souls resurrecting: for by thee hath we been made alive in God and given to know life in Christ". Suchlike is the content of this remarkable memorial of ancient Russian theology. Among the other works of Saint Ilarion is known his archbishopal "Confession", having become the model for a bishop's vow in the Russian Church. And to the "Discourse concerning Law and Grace" in the manuscripts is usually appended the "Prayer of Saint Ilarion". This work of the saint likewise possesses a long history within the tradition of his native church. In the year 1555, upon his sending off to he newly-formed Kazan diocese, Saint Gurii ordered that there be read to him the prayer, "The Work of Metropolitan Ilarion the Russia", at Moscow and in the other cities, through which he was to travel. Saint Ilarion was buried in the Kiev caves. In the inscribed titles to his works, in the manuscripts of saintly literature and lists of sainted-hierarchs, Saint Ilarion is invariable termed a saint and predicated as a wonderworker. His assured literary veneration as a saint is evidenced in the services to the Kievo-Pechersk Monastics. Both in the service to the Sobor-Assembly of Fathers of the Nearer Caves (Comm. 28 September), and likewise in the service to all the Kievo-Pechersk Saints (2nd Sunday of Great Lent), Saint Ilarion is enumerated together with other saintly hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The Monk Ilarion, Schema-monk of Pechersk,trict ascetic, was a student and co-ascetic with the Monk Theodosii (+ 1074, Comm. 3 May). Copying the example of his teacher, the Monk Ilarion day and night prayed to God with tears, amidst the observing of a strict fast. His contemporaries knew him as a book-copyist, who day and night toiled over the copying of books in the cell of the Monk Theodosii. During this time his teacher intoned psalms and spun wool. The Monk Ilarion asceticised during the XI Century. His memory is made both on 28 August and on the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent.

The Monk Ilarion of Pskovoezersk, Gdovsk: account about him is located under 28 March.

The Monks Theophil and Iakov (James) of Omucha asceticised on the island of Konevetsa together with the Monk Arsenii (Comm. 12 June). In the year 1396 in Pskov diocese at the River Omucha, not far from the city of Porkhov, Saints Theophil and Iakov established a wilderness monastery in honour of the Uspenie-Dormition of the MostHoly Mother o God. Their demise occurred later in about the year 1412.

The Holy Martyrs Dasias, Caius and Zoticusaccepted a martyr's end in the year 303, under the emperor Diocletian (284-305), for the destruction of an idolous temple. After tortures the martyred were drowned in the sea.

The Monk Philotheos of Athoswas a native of Elateia. Fearing the Turks, his parents moved away to Chrysopolis in Macedonia, where soon his father died. The child Philotheos together with his brother, snatched by the Turks and thrown into prison, were delivered in a miraculous manner by the Mother of God Herself. She appeared to the children in the image of their mother and led them to the monastery of the MostHoly Mother of God in the city of Neapolis in Asia Minor. At this monastery the brothers accepted monastic tonsure and progressing through the obediences assigned by the hegumen they attained the position of ecclesiarchs (church key-holders). Meanwhile the mother of Philotheos, Eudocia, through mysterious guidance of Divine Providence, had herself settled into a women's monastery in this selfsame city, and for many years knew absolutely nothing about the fate of her children. During the time of a temple feastday, being together with several other nuns at the men's monastery, Eudocia recognised her sons. To her question as to how they chanced to be there, they answered: "Thou thyself best dost know, for did not thou, in freeing us from the Turks, lead us hither?" And thus Eudocia became convinced of the graced intercession of the Mother of God, in prayers to Whom she alone had found consolation. At this joyous encounter of the mother and children gathered round all the brethren, and having learned about the miraculous event, all glorified the Lord. Upon the repose of his mother, the Monk Philotheos set off to the Holy Mountain, where at first he entered in with the brethren of the Dionysiatikos monastery, and then withdrew into complete solitude. Devoting himself to deeds of prayer, the Monk Philotheos attained high spiritual perfection and was vouchsafed the gift of perspicacity. At the age of eighty-four the monk peacefully expired to the Lord, having bid his students not to bury his body, but rather to cast it dishonourably into the forest for devouring by beasts and birds. His students fulfilled the wish of their monastic elder, but the Lord glorified he relics of the saint with a wondrous radiance, after which his relics were returned to the monastery.

© 2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos



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