September 9th (IX - 22)
Icon of the Righteous Parents Joachim & Anna
Holy and Righteous Ancestors of God, Joakim and Anna. Martyrs Severian (+ 320) and Chariton. Monk Joseph, Hegumen of Volokolamsk, Wonderworker (+ 1515). Sainted Theodosii (Feodosii), Archbishop of Chernigov (Glorified 1896). Monk Joakim of Opochsk (+ c. 1550). Monk Theophanes the Confessor (+ c. 300). Martyr Stratorus (i.e. Stratonikes). Blessed Nikita at Tsargrad (XII). Remembrance of the Third OEcumenical Council (431). Martyrs the Brothers Ruphos and Ruphinian. Martyrs Seviros and Artemidoros. Martyr Athanasias of Soluneia (+ 1774). Saint Marinos.
Righteous Saint Joakim, son of Barpathir, was a descendant of King David, to whom God had revealed that from the descendants of his line would be born the Saviour of the world. Righteous Saint Anna was the daughter of Matthan and through her father she was of the tribe of Levi, and through her mother -- of the tribe of Judah. The spouses lived at Nazareth in Galilee. They were childless into their old age and all their life they grieved over this. They had to endure derision and scorn, since at that time childlessness was considered a disgrace. But they never grumbled and only but fervently prayed to God, humbly trusting on His will. Once during the time of a great feast, the gifts which Righteous Joakim took to Jerusalem for offering to God were not accepted by the priest Ruben, who considered that a childless man was not worthy to offer sacrifice to God. This pained the old man very much, and he, regarding himself the most sinful of people, decided not to return home, but to settle in solitude in a desolate place. His righteous spouse Anna, having learned, what sort of humiliation her husband had endured, in prayer and fasting began sorrowfully to pray to God for granting her a child. In his desolate solitude and with fasting Righteous Joakim also besought God for this. And the prayer of the saintly couple was heard: to both of them an Angel announced, that there would be born of them a Daughter, Who would bless all the race of mankind. By order of this Heavenly Messenger, Righteous Joakim and Anna met at Jerusalem, where through the promise of God was born to them the Daughter, named Mary.
Saint Joakim died a few years later after the Entry into the Temple of his Blessed Daughter, at about age 80. Saint Anna died at age 70, two years after him, spending the time in the Temple alongside her Daughter.
The Monk Joseph, Hegumen of Volokolamsk -- the account about him is located under 18 October.
The Holy Martyr Severian (+ 320) suffered for Christ in Armenian Sebasteia under a governor named Licius during a time of persecution against Christians under the emperor Licinius. Even prior to his martyr's deed, Saint Severian had shown sincere compassion for 40 Christian soldiers, suffering for confessing the Name of Christ. He visited the captives in prison, raised their spirits, and appealed to their valour and stoic strength. These martyrs met their suffering end at Lake Sebasteia (Comm. 9 March). Half a year later Severian was likewise brought to trial for confessing the Christian faith and he was subjected to cruel tortures. Deeply devoted to the Will of God, Saint Severian during the time of torment called out to the Lord, imploring of Him the strength to bear the suffering and to go through his deed of martyrdom to the end. After intense torture, and unbroken in his faith, the holy martyr was suspended with a stone about the neck head downwards upon the city wall and thus he died. His body was carried by Sebasteia Christians to his home, whither thronged the local inhabitants to take their leave of him and to ask for his holy prayers. Amidst all this there arose a dead man, a servant of Saint Severian as yet unburied, who took up his death-cot and came to go along the final path of his master. He continued to live yet another 15 years even, never leaving the place of burial of the holy martyr.
The Monk Theophanes, Confessor and Faster, was born into a family of pagans. In his youth Theophanes came to believe in Christ, was baptised and secretly left his pagan parents to go to Mount Dabis to an hermit-elder, who had asceticised there over the course of 75 years. The ascetic taught the lad the reading of the Scriptural books and the rules of monastic life. Five years later the elder died, and Saint Theophanes spent the next 58 years in his cave in solitude. Then he came down from the mountain and began to preach the faith in Christ amongst the pagans and he converted many to Christianity. By order of the Roman emperors Carlus (282-283) and his sons Numerian and Carlinus (283?284), Saint Theophanes was seized and subjected to torture. The holy confessor bravely endured his sufferings and was released alive. Having returned to the mountain, Saint Theophanes lived there yet another 17 years and peacefully died (c. year 300).
Blessed Nikita lived at Constantinople and occupied the position of "khartularium" ("letter-writer"). They call him "secretive" because, living in the world amidst the bustle of the city, with secret exploits of faith he reached spiritual perfection and was a great saint of God. His saintly life was revealed through unusual circumstances. Two friends, a certain priest and the deacon Sozontos, had quarreled. The priest died, and the deacon grieved that they had not been able to be reconciled. He told about the tormenting sin on his conscience to an experienced ascetic-elder. This one gave him a letter and ordered him to give it to the first person, whom Sozontos would meet at midnight at the temple of Hagia Sophia, the Wisdom of God. Saint Nikita the Khartularian appeared before him. Having read the letter, he began weeping and said, that it makes him responsible for this, and that it exceeds his strength, but with the prayers of the elder who had sent Sozontos, he would strive to accomplish this. Making a prostration before the church doors, Saint Nikita said: "Lord, open to us the doors of Thine mercy", -- and the doors of the temple flew open by themselves. Leaving the deacon at the thresh-hold, Saint Nikita began to pray, and Sozontos beheld, how he shone with a strange light. Afterwards they went from the church, and the doors again closed. Approaching the church of the Blakhernae Mother of God, Saint Nikita again began praying and again the doors opened in front of them. In the church there shone a light, and from the altar there came out two rows of priests, among whom deacon Sozontos recognised his dead friend. Saint Nikita quietly said: "Father presbyter, chat with thine brother, and cease the enmity which ye have between ye". Immediately the priest and deacon Sozontos greeted each other. They hugged with love and were reconciled. The priest went back, and the doors closed by themselves. Blessed Nikita said to the deacon: "Brother Sozontos, save thine soul both for thyself and for my benefit. To the father that did send thee, say, that the purity of his holy prayers and his trust on God made possible the return of the dead". After these words Blessed Nikita became invisible for Sozontos. Having returned to his spiritual father the elder, the deacon with tears gave him thanks, that through his prayers, the great secret saint of God Nikita the Khartularian had done away with the sin from both the living and the dead.
The Third OEcumenical Council was convened in the year 431 in the city of Ephesus (Asia Minor) during the reign of the emperor Theodosius the Younger (408?450). The Council was convened for the purpose of an investigation by the Church of the false-teachings of the Constantinople patriarch Nestorius (428-431). Contrary to the dogmas of the OEcumenical Church, Nestorius dared to assert that the Son of God Jesus Christ is not one Person (Hypostasis), as Holy Church teaches, but is rather two distinct persons -- the one Divine, and the other human. Regarding the Mother of God, he impiously asserted, that She ought not to be called the Mother of God but rather only the mother of the man Christ. The heresy of Nestorius conflicts against one of the basic dogmas of the Christian faith -- against the dogma of the God-manhood of our Lord Jesus Christ, since according to the false-teaching of Nestorius, Jesus Christ was born as an ordinary man, and afterwards because of sanctity of life the he was conjoined with the Divinity, and abode in Him. With this blasphemous teaching of Nestorius the enemy of the race of man the devil attempted to undermine the Christian faith on these points: that the Praeternal God the Word, the Son of God, actually was incarnated in the flesh from the All-Pure Birthgiver of God, having therein become Man, He thereby redeemed by His suffering and death the human race from slavery to sin and death, and by His glorious resurrection He trampled down Hades and death and opened to believers in Him, and those striving to live in accord with His commandments, the path to the Kingdom of Heaven.
A long while prior to the convening of the OEcumeical Council, Saint Cyril, Archbishop of Alexandria, repeatedly tried to reason with the heretic Nestorius. Saint Cyril in his letters explained the mistakes of judgement by Nestorius, but Nestorius stubbornly continued with his pseudo-teachings. Saint Cyril wrote about the danger of the rising heresy to Celestine, the Pope of Rome, and to other Orthodox bishops, who also attempted to reason with Nestorius. When it became clear, that Nestorius would continue with his pseudo-teachings and that they were becoming widespread, the Orthodox bishops appealed to the emperor Theodosius the Younger for permission to convene an OEcumenical Council. The Council was convened on the Day of the MostHoly Trinity, 7 June 431. At the Council arrived 200 bishops. Nestorius also arrived in Ephesus, but despite the fact that the fathers of the Council three times suggested that he attend the sessions there, he did not appear. Then the fathers began to sort out matters concerning the heresy in the absence of the heretic. The sessions of the Council continued from 22 June to 31 August. At the Ephesus Council were present such famed fathers of the Church, as the Saint Cyril of Alexandria, Juvenal of Jerusalem, Memnon of Ephesus (Saint Celestine, Pope of Rome, was unable to attend because of illness, but he sent papal legates). The Third OEcumenical Council condemned the heresy of Nestorius and confirmed the Orthodox teaching on these matters: that it is necessary to confess the Lord Jesus Christ as One Person (Hypostasis) and of two natures -- the Divine and the Human, and that the All-Pure Mother of the Lord be acclaimed as Ever-Virgin and in truth the Birthgiver of God. In the guidance of the Church the holy fathers issued 8 rule-canons, and the "Twelve Anathemas against Nestorius" by Saint Cyril of Alexandria.
© 2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos