My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
On the 12th Day of the Month of December
Our Holy Orthodox Church commemorates our Father
among the Saints, SPYRIDON, the Wonder-worker, and Bishop of Tremethus.
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn
Thou was shown forth as a champion of the First Council and a
wonderworker, O Spyridon, our God-bearing Father. Wherefore,
thou didst speak unto one dead in the grave, and didst change a
serpent to gold. And while chanting thy holy prayers, thou hadst
Angels serving with thee, O most sacred one. Glory to Him that
hath glorified thee, Glory to Him that hath crowned thee, Glory to
Him that worketh healings for all through thee.
Pierced through with the love of Christ, O sacred Spyridon, thou
gavest thy mind diving wings with the Spirit’s Light; in the active
vision of God were all thy labors, O inspired of God, whereby thou
becamest the Lord’s divine altar, asking divine light for all.
The island of Cyprus was the homeland of the wondrous Spyridon. The son of simple parents, Spyridon was himself simple-hearted, humble, and virtuous. From childhood he labored as a shepherd, and reaching manhood, he entered into lawful wedlock and begot a daughter. Living in an honorable and God-pleasing manner, Spyridon emulated David’s meekness, Jacob’s purity of heart, and Abraham’s hospitality. After a few years, his wife died, freeing him to toil even more diligently in the Lord’s service, doing good deeds, and expanding his means on the care of strangers and the poor. So greatly did he please God that while still a layman he was granted the gift of working miracles. Because he could heal every disease and expel demons by a word, he was CONSECRATED BISHOP OF TREMITHUS. Saint Spyridon was a shepherd of the flock of Christ in that city while Constantine the Great and his son, Constantius, reigned, during which time he continued to work the most marvelous Wonders (Thavmata or Miracles).
Once there was no rain in Cyprus for a long time, and this drought caused famine. A multitude of people perished from starvation, and a second Elijah was needed who could open the heavens by his entreaties. Such a man was Saint Spyridon, who, seeing the tribulation that had befallen the people and filled with pity for the dying, turned to our Good God in fervent prayer. Immediately the sky filled with clouds and plentiful rain fell, soaking the ground for many days. When the Saint ceased and the sun shone once more. Soon the earth produced its fruits: grain sprouted in the fields, gardens were filled with vegetables, and the vines were heavy with grapes. The famine came to an end, and through the prayers of God’s favorite Spyridon, there was an abundance of food. A few years later, however, the Lord permitted hunger to strike the land once more because of the sins of the people. The wealthy grain merchants rejoiced since they had been hoarding wheat during the years of good harvests, and opening their storehouses, they began to sell at high prices.
Now there lived in Tremithus a merchant whose avarice and appetite for pleasures were insatiable. This merchant took advantage of the famine and starvation and began selling the grain which he had stored at the highest price possible. One day, a poor man came to him and fell down at his feet in tears, begging for a little grain so that he, his wife, and his children might not die of hunger. The pitiless merchant refused to show compassion on him and sneered, "Bring money, and you may have as much as you can pay for."
The starving man went to Saint Spyridon and tearfully explained his plight. The Saint assured him, "Return home and weep no more. The Holy Spirit has revealed to me that tomorrow you will have as much grain as your wish. The merchant will beg you to take his wheat without payment."
The poor man sighed and went back to his house. Just after dark, by God’s command, a mighty rain began beating down on the earth, undermining the foundations of granaries owned by the pitiless miser, causing them to fall, and sweeping away all the wheat. The merchant, seeing poverty stare him in the face, ran through the city crying out for help, but the poor were too busy gathering up wheat from the gutters to pay him any heed. He came upon the man who had begged him to show compassion the day before, and convinced that he had been punished by the Lord for not being merciful, insisted that his suppliant take as much grain as he desired without payment. The poor man took a large quantity of wheat and thus escaped starvation, as the Saint had prophesied.
During the reign of Constantine the Great, the First Christian Emperor the Glorious First Ecumenical Synod was convened in the city of Nicaea to DENOUNCE THE GODLESS AND HERETIC ARIUS, who referred to the Son of God not as the Creator, but AS A CREATED BEING. This Synod met and AFFIRMED THAT THE Son of God IS OF THE SAME NATURE AS GOD THE Father. Among the champions of piety, there were numerous clergymen renowned for their virtue and learning, such as the priest Alexander, legate of Saint Metrophanes, Patriarch of Constantinople, and glorious Athanasius, who at this time still served as Deacon of the Church of Alexandria. No less eminent was the great Spyridon, whose virtuous life proved mightier and more convincing in REFUTING THE HERETICS THAN DID THE SPEECHES, PROOFS, AND ELOQUENCE OF OTHERS. Although the Blessed Spyridon was an UNEDUCATED MAN, who knew only Jesus Christ crucified, he asked the holy Fathers of the Synod permission to enter into debate. Saint Spyridon, certain of the power of Heavenly Wisdom and the feebleness of human erudition by comparison, turned to the sophist present and declared: "IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST, O philosopher listen to my words! There is One God, Who created heaven and earth, and fashioned man from dust, by His Word and Spirit He has ordered all things visible and invisible. We believe that His Logos (Word) is the Son of God and God, Who, taking pity on those who have gone astray, deigned to be born of a virgin, live among men, suffer, die for our salvation, and rise again, resurrecting with Himself the whole race of man. We wait for Him to come and judge all men justly, rewarding each according to his deeds; and we believe that He IS OF ONE ESSENCE WITH THE Father and is His EQUAL IN AUTHORITY AND HONOR. Confessing these truths, we do not dare probe further into these mysteries with a curious mind, for they are above all reasoning and understanding."
When the work of the Glorious Synod was concluded and the heretic Arius had been condemned and expelled from the Church, all the holy Fathers, including Saint Spyridon, returned to their homes. At that time the Saint’s daughter Irene died. Having passed the days of youth in pure virginity, she was deemed worthy to enter the Bridal Chamber of Heaven. After her death a woman came in tears to the Saint, saying that she had entrusted to Irene a number of golden ornaments for safekeeping. Because the girl had died without warning, no one knew where to look for them. Saint Spyridon himself searched the house but found nothing. Then, seeing the woman crying and lamenting, he took pity on her and went to his daughter’s grave, accompanied by servants. Like Christ crying to Lazaros he called out to the maiden as though she were alive, "Irene, my daughter! Where are the gold ornaments entrusted to your keeping?"
Risinig lke one wakened from a sound sleep, she replied, "I hid them at home, my lord," and described their exact location; whereupon the Saint order her, "Back to sleep, daughter, until the Lord of All calls for you a the General Resurrection." Fear came upon those present, and they marveled at the wondrous miracle. The Saint found the hidden items at the place inficated and gave them to the woman. [ Source: The Great Collection of The Lives of the Saints)
(To be continued)
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God