28 August 2021

Eastern Rite - Feasts of 28 August AM 7529

Today is the Feasts of Our Venerable Father Moses the Black, Our Holy Father Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, the Holy Martyr Gebre Michael, Illuminator of Ethiopia, the Synaxis of Our Venerable Fathers of the Monastery of the Caves at Kyiv Who Repose in the Further Caves and the Passing into Eternal Life (1952) of Sister Lavrentia (Harasymiv) of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Khyriv and Confessor of the Toms’k Region.

Saint Moses lived in Egypt during the fourth century. He was an Ethiopian, and since he was black of skin he was called “Murin” (meaning “like an Ethiopian”). In his youth, he was the slave of an important man, but after he committed a murder, his master banished him, and he joined a band of robbers.

Because of his bad character and great physical strength, they chose him as their leader. Moses and his band of brigands were feared because of their many evil exploits, including murders and robberies. People trembled at the mere mention of his name.

Moses the brigand spent several years leading a sinful life, but through the great mercy of God he repented, left his band of robbers and went to one of the desert monasteries. Here he wept for a long time, begging to be admitted as one of the brethren. The monks were not convinced of the sincerity of his repentance, but the former robber would neither be driven away nor silenced. He continued to implore that they accept him.

Saint Moses was completely obedient to the igumen and the brethren, and he poured forth many tears of sorrow for his sinful life. After a certain while, Saint Moses withdrew to a solitary cell, where he spent his time in prayer and the strictest fasting.

Once, four of the robbers of his former band descended upon the cell of Saint Moses. He had lost none of his great physical strength, so he tied them all up. Throwing them over his shoulder, he brought them to the monastery, where he asked the Elders what to do with them. The Elders ordered that they be set free. The robbers, learning that they had chanced upon their former ringleader, and that he had dealt kindly with them, followed his example: they repented and became monks. Later, when the rest of the band of robbers heard about Saint Moses’ repentance, then they also gave up their thievery and became fervent monks.

Saint Moses was not quickly freed from the passions. He went often to the igumen, Abba Isidore, seeking advice on how to be delivered from the passions of profligacy. Being experienced in the spiritual struggle, the Elder taught him never to eat too much food, to remain partly hungry while observing the strictest restraint. But the passions did not cease to trouble Saint Moses in his dreams.

Then Abba Isidore taught him the all-night vigil. The monk stood the whole night at prayer, so he would not fall asleep. As a result of his prolonged struggles, Saint Moses fell into despondency, and when he began to have thoughts about leaving his solitary cell, Abba Isidore instead strengthened the resolve of his disciple.

In a vision he showed him many demons in the west, prepared for battle, and in the east a still greater quantity of holy angels, also ready for fighting. Abba Isidore explained to Saint Moses that the power of the angels would prevail over the power of the demons, and in the long struggle with the passions it was necessary for him to become completely cleansed of his former sins.

Saint Moses drove himself to additional labours. Making the rounds of the wilderness cells at night, he carried water from the well to each brother. He did this especially for the Elders, who lived far from the well and who were not easily able to carry their own water. Once, kneeling over the well, Saint Moses felt a powerful blow upon his back and he fell down at the well like one dead, laying there in that position until dawn. Thus did the devils take revenge upon the monk for his victory over them. In the morning the brethren carried him to his cell, and he lay there crippled for a whole year. After he recovered, the monk with firm resolve confessed to the igumen, that he would continue with his ascetic struggles. But the Lord Himself put limits to this toil that lasted for many years: Abba Isidore blessed his disciple and told him that the passions had already left him. The Elder commanded him to receive the Holy Mysteries and to go to his own cell in peace. From that time, Saint Moses received from the Lord power over demons.

Accounts about his exploits spread among the monks and even beyond the bounds of the wilderness. The governor of the land wanted to see the saint. When he heard of this, Saint Moses decided to hide from any visitors, and he departed his own cell. Along the way, he met servants of the governor, who asked him how to get to the cell of the desert-dweller Moses. The monk answered them: “Go no farther to see this false and unworthy monk.” The servants returned to the monastery where the governor was waiting, and they told him the words of the Elder they had chanced to meet. The brethren, hearing a description of the Elder’s appearance, told them that they had encountered Saint Moses himself.

After many years of monastic exploits, Saint Moses was ordained deacon. The bishop clothed him in white vestments and said, “Now Abba Moses is entirely white!” The saint replied, “Only outwardly, for God knows that I am still dark within.”

Through humility, the saint believed himself unworthy of the office of deacon. Once, the bishop decided to test him and he bade the clergy to drive him out of the altar, reviling him as an unworthy Ethiopian. In all humility, the monk accepted the abuse. Having put him to the test, the bishop then ordained Saint Moses to the priesthood. Saint Moses laboured for fifteen years in this rank and gathered 75 disciples around himself.

When the saint reached the age of 75, he warned his monks that soon brigands would descend upon the skete and murder all those who remained there. The saint blessed his monks to leave, in order to avoid violent death. His disciples begged the saint to leave with them, but he replied: “For many years now, I have awaited the time when the words spoken by my Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, should be fulfilled: 'All who take up the sword, shall perish by the sword' (Matt. 26: 52). After this, seven of the brethren remained with Saint Moses, and one of them hid nearby during the attack of the robbers. The robbers killed Saint Moses and the six monks who remained with him. Their death occurred about the year 400.

Troparion — Tone 1

You abandoned the Egypt of the passions, O Father, / ascending the mount of the virtues with fervent faith, / taking the Cross of Christ upon your shoulders; / and being glorified in godly works, / you proved to be a model for monastics, O summit of the fathers. / Pray unceasingly with them that our souls may find mercy!

Kontakion — Tone 3

Your mind was filled with a holy inspiration from God, / turning you from the lust and pleasures of the flesh, / bringing you to the height of the city of God! / O Holy Father Moses, intercede with Christ God that He may grant us great mercy!

Saint Augustine was born in the city of Thagaste in northern Africa. He was raised by his mother, Saint Monica (May 4), and he received his education at Carthage. In the capacity of professor of rhetoric, Augustine arrived at Milan, Italy where Saint Ambrose (December 7) was bishop. Under the guidance of Saint Ambrose, Augustine studied the Holy Scriptures. The Word of God produced in his soul a radical crisis; he accepted holy Baptism, gave all his wealth to the poor and was tonsured as a monk.

In the year 391 Valerian, Bishop of Hippo, ordained Saint Augustine a priest, and in 395, appointed him vicar bishop of the see of Hippo. After the death of Bishop Valerian, Saint Augustine took his place.

During his 35 years as bishop, Saint Augustine wrote many works devoted to combating the Donatist, Manichaean and Pelagian heresies.

Saint Augustine wrote many works (according to his student and biographer Possidias, the number approached 1030). Of his works, the best known are: The City of God (De civitate Dei), The Confessions, 17 Books against the Pelagians and Handbook of Christian Knowledge (The Enchiridion). Saint Augustine was concerned above all else that his writings be intelligent and edifying. “It is better,” he said, “for them to condemn our grammar, than for people not to understand.” Saint Augustine died on August 28, 430.

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 Augustine, / entreat Christ our God / that our souls may be saved.
Blessed Ghébrē-Michael (1791 - 30 July 1855) was an Ethiopian priest and postulant from the Congregation of the Mission. He became a monk in the Coptic Orthodox Church in 1813 when he became professed and later met Giustino de Jacobis on a pilgrimage. That chance meeting later happened to transform his life since de Jacobis would later receive him into Catholicism and ordain him as a priest. But the Coptic Orthodox bishop - the single Orthodox bishop in Ethiopia - took an intense disliking of him and set out to eliminate both him and his patron de Jacobis. He was soon imprisoned and tortured and later died in prison due to ill-treatment under a cedar tree.

His beatification process launched in 1920 under Pope Benedict XV and Pope Pius XI later beatified him not long after on 3 October 1926

On this day the Church celebrates the Synaxis of the Holy Fathers of the Kyiv Caves, whose relics repose in the Far Caves of Saint Theodosius. They have their own individual days of commemoration, but today we honour the whole assembly of these monastic saints who were a light upon the earth, guiding us on the path of salvation.

Igumen Theodosius, the Founder (May 3, August 14, September 2)

Monk Agathon the Wonderworker (February 20)

Archimandrite Acindynus (+1235)

Monk Ammon (October 4)

Bishop Amphilochius of Vladimir, Volhynia (October 10)

Monk Anatolius the Recluse (July 3)

Monk Aquila the Deacon (January 4)

Monk Arsenius, Lover of Labor (May 8)

Monk Athanasius the Recluse (December 2)

Monk Benjamin the Recluse (October 13)

Monk Cassian the Recluse (February 29, May 8)

Elder Daniel (14th Century)

Hieromonk Dionysius the Recluse (October 3)

Archimandrite Dositheus (+ 1218)

Elder Eulogius (14th Century)

Hieroschemamonk Euthymius (January 20)

Monk Gerontius the Canonarch (April 1)

Monk Gregory the Recluse (January 8, August 8)

Schemamonk Hilarion (October 21)

Monk Hypatius the Healer (March 31)

Archimandrite Ignatius (December 20)

Monk Isidore the Recluse (12th-13th Centuries)

Monk Joseph the Much-Ailing (April 4)

Monk Laurence the Recluse (January 20)

Monk Leontius the Canonarch (April 1, June 18)

Monk Longinus the Gate-Keeper (October 16)

Hieromartyr Lucian the Priest (October 15)

Monk Macarius the Deacon (January 19)

Monk Mardarius the Recluse (December 13)

Monk Martyrius the Recluse (October 25)

Monk Martyrius the Deacon (October 25)

Monk Mercurius the Faster (November 4, 24)

Monk Moses the Wonderworker (July 26, 28)

Monk Nestor the Unlearned (October 29)

Monk Paisius (July 19)

Hieromonk Pambo the Recluse (July 18)

Hieromonk Pancratius the Recluse (February 9)

Monk Paphnutius the Recluse (February 15)

Monk Paul the Obedient (September 10)

Igumen Pimen the Faster (May 8, August 7)

Monk Pior the Recluse (October 4)

Monk Rufus the Obedient (April 8)

Schemamonk Silvanus (June 10, July 10)

Schemamonk Sisoes (July 6)

Monk Sophronius the Recluse (March 11, May 11)

Monk Theodore the Silent (February 17)

Monk Theodosius (Prince Theodore) (August 11)

Archbishop Theophilus of Novgorod (October 26)

Igumen Timothy (+ 1132)

Monk Titus the Soldier (January 27, February 27)

Monk Zachariah the Faster (March 24)

Monk Zeno the Faster (January 30)

Nun and New-Martyr Sister Lavrentia Herasymiv was born on September 31, 1911, in the village of Rudnyky, Lviv District. In 1931 she entered the congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Tsebliv. In 1933 she made her first vows. Together with Sister Olympia, in 1938 she went to the house in Khyriv, and their fates were crossed until death. In 1950 she was arrested by the agents of the NKVD and sent to Boryslav.

Eventually, together with her fellow sister, she was sentenced to lifelong exile in the Tomsk region. She was sick with tuberculosis when she arrived at her designated place of exile and so only one family would agree to give her a roof over her head. This was in a room where a paralyzed man lay behind a partition. She prayed much and performed various forms of manual labor. She patiently endured the inhuman living conditions and the lack of medical attention. She died on August 28, 1952, as a martyr for the faith in the village of Kharsk in Siberia’s Tomsk Region.

“The NKVD agents attacked our convent. They spent a long time breaking down the door. It was nighttime; the sisters were terrified. Sister Lavrentia ran to the cellar and escaped into the garden through a little window. A cold rain started to fall. When the NKVD broke into the house they immediately noticed the open window and ran to look for her. It was dark and with their bayonets, they poked every bush. A few times the bayonet was right in front of Sister’s eyes. Not finding her, the NKVD went away, but Sister was out in the rain until the morning. She came to the house exhausted and frozen. After this incident, she got seriously ill, and lay in bed. They took her to prison when she was infirm.” – From the memories of a relative, Anna Harasymiv.

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