Sts Ripsimia and Her Companions

Troparion — Tone 4
Your holy martyrs, O Lord, / through their sufferings have received incorruptible crowns from You, our God. / For having Your strength, they laid low their adversaries, / and shattered the powerless boldness of demons. / Through their intercessions, save our souls!

17th Week after Pentecost. Tone seven.
Fast. Food with Oil

Hieromartyr Gregory, bishop of Greater Armenia (335). Venerable Gregory, abbot of Pelshme, wonderworker of Vologda (1442). St. Michael, first metropolitan of Kiev (992). New Hieromartyr Prokopius priest (1918). New Hieromartyrs Peter, Viacheslav, Peter, Symeon, Basil priests, Seraphim deacon, Virgin-martyr Alexandra, Martyrs Alexis and Matthew, Virgin Apollinaris (1937). Martyrs Rhipsima and Gaiana and companions, of Armenia (4th c.).

The Scripture Readings

Ephesians 3:8-21
Luke 5:33-39
Thursday Reading
Ephesians 4:14-19
Luke 6:12-19

Saint Ripsimia

Commemorated on September 30

      Saint Ripsimia had fled to Armenia, together with her hegumeness and fellow sisters, to avoid entering into marriage with the emperor Diocletian (284-305), who was charmed by her beauty. Concerning this, Diocletian sent a report to the Armenian emperor Tiridates suggesting that he either send Ripsimia back, or wed her himself. The servants of the emperor found the fugitives and they began to urge Ripsimia to submit to the will of the emperor. The saint answered, that she, just like all her monastic sisters, was betrothed to the Heavenly Bridegroom and so to enter into marriage was not possible. Then from the heavens resounded a Voice: “Be brave and fear not, for I am with thee”. The messengers in fear withdrew. Tiridates gave the maiden over to cruelest torments: they plucked out her tongue, cut open her stomach, blinded and killed her, chopping her body into pieces. After this, inspired by Ripsimia to bravely endure torments for Christ, the hegumeness Saint Gaiania and two other monastic sisters were given over to similar tortures, after which they were beheaded. The remaining 33 sisters were run through with swords and their bodies thrown for devouring by wild beasts. The wrath of God befell emperor Tiridates, and likewise those of his associates and soldiers, who had participated in the tormenting of the saints. Beset by demons, they became like wild boars (as once with Nebuchadnessar, Dan. 4: 30), ranging through the forests, rending their clothes and gnawing at their own bodies. After the passage of a certain while, it was announced in a dream to Tiridates’ sister Kusarodukhta: “If Gregory be not taken out of the pit, emperor Tiridates will not be healed”. Then those close to the emperor approached the pit and asked: “Gregory, art thou alive?” Gregory answered: “By the grace of my God I am alive”. Then they brought out the holy martyr – unshaven, darkened and very withered, but as before steadfast of spirit.
      The saint ordered the remains of the martyred virgins to be gathered up, which they venerably buried, and on the place of burial they built a church. At this church Saint Gregory greeted the demon-possessed emperor and commanded him to pray to the holy martyrs. Tiridates was healed, repenting of his offenses against God, and with his whole household he accepted holy Baptism. Following the example of the emperor, all the whole Armenian people was baptised. Through the efforts of Saint Gregory in the year 301 there was erected the Echmiadzin cathedral in honour of the Descent of the Holy Spirit. In the year 305 Saint Gregory journeyed to Caesarea Cappadocia and there was installed by archbishop Leontios as bishop of Armenia. For his apostolic works he received the title of Enlightener of Armenia. Saint Gregory likewise converted to Christ many people from the surrounding lands of Persia and Assyria. In organising the Armenian Church Saint Gregory summoned to serve as bishop his own son, Arostanes the wilderness-dweller, and he himself retired into the wilderness. Saint Arostanes in the year 325 was a participant in the First OEcumenical Council, which condemned the heresy of Arius. Saint Gregory, having retired to the wilderness, died in the year 335. The right hand and part of his holy relics rest now in a reliquary Echmiadzin cathedral church in Armenia. In the tradition of the Armenian Apostolic Church, preserved up to the present, the Supreme Katholikos-Patriarch of all the Armenians blesses with this right hand the holy myrh at the time of the myrh-boiling.

© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

Hawaiian” Myrrh-streaming Iveron Ikon of the Theotokos.

Commemorated on September 23

      The Miracleworking Hawaiian Myrrh-streaming Iveron Icon of the Theotokos appeared inexplicably giving myrrh in the home of a pious Orthodox Christian couple on Sep. 23 / Oct 6, 2007, in Honolulu, Hawaii. Since it’s manifestation, it has been recognized by the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia as miraculous and genuine. This icon is well known to have cured many pious individuals of cancer, blindness, kidney and liver diseases, chronic pain, and demonic possession. It currently resides at the Russian Orthodox Church in Honolulu, but frequently travels throughout the world bringing forth healings and cures to all who have shown faith and love to Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Most holy Mother.

© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

HYMN OF PRAISE

SAINT GREGORY THE ENLIGHTENER
 Gregory was a great light  

To his people and his nation. 

He spurned glory and riches 

For the poverty of Christ the Crucified,

 Preferring eternal riches in heaven. 

He raised his mind to heaven and thoughts of God, 

And endured much physical torture, 

As if it all were painless. 

He was strong with the power of God’s grace, 

And nourished by God’s heavenly food, 

And armored against evil by God’s providence. 

He was lowered into the pit from his glory,

 And from the pit he was elevated to the heights– 

The heights of eternal glory. 

Gregory, great and holy, 

Enlightened Armenia with Jesus. 

Even the wild boar, Tiridates, 

Was baptized under the Cross and became a lamb. 

With great glory,

the land of Armenia

glorifies Its miracle-worker,

St. Gregory.

REFLECTION

Marvelous changes occur daily in the destiny of men–in the present, as in times past. Those humiliated for the sake of God’s righteousness are raised to great heights, and the blasphemers of the Faith are converted to servants of the Faith. King Tiridates threw St. Gregory into a deep pit. The saint spent fourteen years in that pit, forgotten by the entire world, but not by God. Who among men could have thought that the greatest light of the Armenian people was to be found in the darkness of a pit? And who would have ever thought that the powerful and tyrannical King Tiridates would one day save the life of that same Gregory, whom he had condemned to death, and would help him more than the rest of the whole world could help him? After fourteen years, God revealed Gregory as still alive. Gregory then miraculously healed the insane king. King Tiridates, the unrestrained persecutor of Christ, was baptized and became the greatest zealot for the Christian Faith! It could be said that, with God’s help, Gregory and Tiridates were both drawn out of the pit of darkness–Gregory a physical one, and Tiridates a spiritual one. Oh, the infinite wisdom of God in governing the destinies of men! The formerly wild and passionate Tiridates was softened and ennobled so much by repentance and the Christian Faith, that he came to resemble St. Gregory more than his old, unrepentant self. 

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the righteousness of King Jotham and God’s reward for him (II Chronicles 27):

1. How Jotham did that which is right in the sight of the Lord, and cared for the Temple of the Lord;

2. How God helped him, so that he was successful in war and in peace: in war he conquered, and in peace he enriched and strengthened his people.

HOMILY

on the Kingdom not of this world

My Kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36).

He who has great wealth also has little wealth. Therefore, let no one think that Christ the Lord does not have royal authority over this world, even though He told Pilate: My Kingdom is not of this world. He who possesses the eternal also rules over the temporal. Here, the Lord speaks of His Eternal Kingdom, independent of time, decay, injustice, illusion and death. It is as if someone were to say: “My wealth is not in paper but rather in gold.” If he has gold, can he not afford paper? Is not gold worth more than paper? Therefore, the Lord does not tell Pilate that He is a king, but on the contrary says that He is a higher King than all earthly kings, and that His Kingdom is greater, more powerful and more enduring than all earthly kingdoms. He is indicating His principal Kingdom, upon which all earthly kingdoms depend, in time and in space. My Kingdom is not of this world. This does not mean that He has no power over this world, but on the contrary confirms His awesome power over this world. All His works on earth manifest His unparalleled, lordly power over the world. Tell me, in what other king’s presence is the wind quieted and the sea calmed? And have you forgotten His words in Gethsemane? Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and He shall presently give Me more than twelve legions of angels? (Matthew 26:53). And just one angel has greater power than all the universe! The Lord of the soul is also the Lord of the body. The Lord of eternity is also the Lord of time. The Lord of the greatest good is also the Lord of the lesser good. Brethren, nothing can escape the power of the Almighty Jesus Christ our Lord, Who by His own will suffered for us, and by His own power rose from the grave.

O Lord Jesus Christ, our Almighty Savior, help us to seek Thy Heavenly Kingdom, and to be eternally with Thee where there is neither sin nor death, but life and joy and peace.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

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