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The Shepherd's Guild

Saints of April

A listing of a few saints commemorated in the month of April:

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St. Mary of Egypt

Commemorated on April 1 and on the Sunday of St. Mary of Egypt,  the fifth Sunday in Great Lent

St. Mary of Egypt was a desert ascetic who repented of a life of prostitution. She lived during the sixth century, and passed away in a remarkable manner in 522. The Church celebrates her feast day on the day of her repose, April 1; additionally, she is commemorated on the Sunday of St. Mary of Egypt,  the fifth Sunday in Great Lent.

She began her life as a young woman who followed the passions of the body, running away from her parents at age twelve for Alexandria. There she lived as a harlot for seventeen years, refusing money from the men that she copulated with, instead living by begging and spinning flax.

One day, however, she met a group of young men heading toward the sea to sail to Jerusalem for the veneration of the Holy Cross. Mary went along for the ride, seducing the men as they traveled for the fun of it. But when the group reached Jerusalem and actually went towards the church, Mary was prohibited from entering by an unseen force. After three such attempts, she remained outside on the church patio, where she looked up and saw an icon of the Theotokos. She began to weep and prayed with all her might that the Theotokos might allow her to see the True Cross; afterwards, she promised, she would renounce her worldly desires and go wherever the Theotokos may lead her.

After this heart-felt conversion at the doors of the church, she fled into the desert to live as an ascetic. She survived for years on only three loaves of bread and thereafter on scarce herbs of the land. For another seventeen years, Mary was tormented by "wild beasts—mad desires and passions." After these years of temptation, however, she overcame the passions and was led by the Theotokos in all things.

Following 47 years in solitude, she met the priest St. Zosima in the desert, who pleaded with her to tell him of her life. She recounted her story with great humility while also demonstrating her gift of clairvoyance; she knew who Zosima was and his life story despite never having met him before. Finally, she asked Zosima to meet her again the following year at sunset on Holy Thursday by the banks of the Jordan.

Zosima did exactly this, though he began to doubt his experience as the sun began to go that night. Then Mary appeared on the opposite side of the Jordan; crossing herself, she miraculously walked across the water and met Zosima. When he attempted to bow, she rebuked him, saying that as a priest he was far superior, and furthermore, he was holding the Holy Mysteries. Mary then received communion and walked back across the Jordan after giving Zosima instructions about his monastery and that he should return to where they first met exactly a year later. When he did so, he found Mary's body with a message written on the sand asking him for burial and revealing that she had died immediately after receiving the Holy Mysteries the year before (and thus had been miraculously transported to the spot where she now lay). So Zosima, amazed, began to dig, but soon tired; then a lion approached and began to help him, that is, after Zosima had recovered from his fear of the creature. Thus St. Mary of Egypt was buried. Zosima returned to the monastery, told all he had seen, and improved the faults of the monks and abbot there. He died at almost a hundred years old in the same monastery.

Source: OrthodoxWiki

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Saint James, son of Zebedee

Commemorated on April 30
 
    He was the brother of John and the son of Zebedee. Together with Simon Peter and  Andrew, he was a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee. With the others, he heard Christ's call in Galilee and promptly gave up all to follow Him (Matt.  4:18-22). He was appointed to be one of the Twelve and, together with his brother John and Peter, formed a closer inner circle of Christ's friends. They alone witnessed the Transfiguration and the raising of Jairus's daudhter (Matt. 17:1ff., Mark 5:37ff.).
He ansd his brother were quite warm and impulsive (he would have called down fire from heaven to destroy a Samaritan town that Christ---Luke 9:51ff.) and our Lord nicknamed them Boanerges---sons of thunder. At first he shared with the other Twelve a desire for preeminence and had his mother ask Christ to give him and his brother the chief places in His kingdom. Our Lord, howerver, rejected the ways of ambition and favoritism and said that those places were for those the Father had parpared. He called them instead to the self-denial that would lead to martyrdom. This "cup of suffering" they said they were ready to drink (Matt. 20:20ff.). James did indeed drink this glorious cup---he was the first of the apostles to suffer martyrdom, being slain with the sword by King Herod in about 44 (Acts 12:2). Thus did he fulfill his service to his Lord and inherit the crown.
 
Source: "A Daily Calendar of Saints" by Rev. Lawrence R. Farley

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St Tikhon the Patriarch of Moscow, and Enlightener of North America
 
April 7

The American Orthodox Church was blessed to have as its bishop for 9 years, the recently glorified ST. TIKHON, PATRIARCH OF MOSCOW (1865-1925). Throughout his life he was known for his simplicity, humility, kindness, uncompromising devotion to Truth, and a boundless love for the Church and Her people. In 1898 the young Bishop Tikhon, named for St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, arrived in America as the bishop of the one, united Orthodox Diocese. He did much for the Church in America. He established a seminary in Minneapolis, a monastery in South Canaan, Pennsylvania, dedicated to St. Tikhon, and the St. Nicholas Cathedral in New York City. He consecrated 2 auxiliary bishops to serve Alaska and non-Slavic immigrants. With true spiritual vision, he stressed the unique missionary nature of the American diocese, its need for multi-ethnic unity and its destiny to be self-governing.

After being recalled to Russia, he was elected Metropolitan of Moscow in 1917, and, in the middle of the Communist Revolution, presided at the 1917-18 Council that re-established the Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church. He was chosen by lot to become the first Patriarch in 200 years. Under the Soviet regime, he defended the Church and its people and refused to compromise the Faith, for which he was tortured and imprisoned. Even while in prison, his peacefulness, patience, humility, compassion, strength and faith during great suffering were an example and inspiration to his people, then and now. He was buried at the Donskoi Men's Monastery, and now his relics have been placed in a beautiful reliquary and transferred to the main Cathedral of the monastery, up front, on the left, by the solea.

source: firebirdvideos.com

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St. Ignatius Brianchaninov

April 30

St. Ignatius Brianchaninov was born Dimitri Alexandrovich Brianchaninov, on the February 15, 1807, in the province of Vologda, the son of an aristocratic landowner. Intellectually gifted, peaceful and reflective by character, from early childhood he was drawn to a life of prayer and stillness. However, his father planned a military career for Dimitri, and so, when Dimitri was 15 years of age, his father enrolled him in the Imperial School of Military Engineers in St. Petersburg. There Dimitri excelled, even attracting the attention of Grand Duke Nicholas Pavlovich, the future Tsar Nicholas I. Nonetheless, Dimtri felt called to the monastic life (uncommon for a Russian aristocrat at that time), and he became deeply depressed at the seemingly inevitable prospect of a career as a military officer.

In 1826, Dimitri fell gravely ill, but nonetheless graduated first among all candidates at the School of Engineers and received his commission. Immediately, Dimitri attempted to resign this commission, but his resignation was refused on orders of Tsar Nicholas. However, in 1827, Dimtri became critically ill once more, and this time his resignation was accepted by the imperial authorities.

During the next four years, Dimitri lived as a novice in various monasteries, without settling permanently in any of them, partly because of ill health, and partly because he failed to find a spiritual father in whom he could place unreserved trust. For the remainder of his life, St. Ignatius would lament the scarcity of true spirit-bearing elders in his day. Finally, in 1831, Dimitri was professed monk by the ruling hierarch of his home province, Bishop Stephen of Vologda, and he received the monastic name of "Ignatius." Shortly after that Monk Ignatius was ordained deacon, then priest. All this took place without the approval of his parents. In 1832, Hieromonk Ignatius was appointed superior of a small monastery in the Vologda diocese. However, the damp climate brought about ill-health which quickly forced his resignation.

Then, in autumn of 1833, the most unexpected thing happened. Tsar Nicholas, during a trip to the School of Military Engineers in St. Petersburg, enquired into what had become of the promising student Dimitri Alexandrovich. Upon learning of his monastic profession and hieratic ordination, the tsar ordered Hieromonk Ignatius to return to the imperial capital, where, aged 26, he was raised to the rank of Archimandrite and made igumen of the St. Sergius Monastery, one of the most important in St. Petersburg, and one which enjoyed great imperial patronage. Tsar Nicholas entrusted Archimandrite Ignatius with the task of transforming this monastery into a model community, where visitors to the Imperial Court could see monasticism as it should be.

Over the next 24 years, and amid what was often taxing circumstances, Archimandrite Ignatius fulfilled his duties as igumen of the St. Sergius Monastery, giving particular attention to the beauty of the Liturgy. During this time he was a prolific author, writing much of the material in the five volumes of his collected works.

Finally, however, in 1857, and exhausted by his responsibilities as igumen, Archimandrite Ignatius was elevated to the episcopacy, to serve as Bishop of the Caucasus and Black Sea—a vast, unorganized diocese, whose administrative burdens were particularly difficult for someone afflicted with Bp. Ignatius' ill-health.

Thus, it was no surprise when, after four years of episcopal service, Bp. Ignatius submitted his resignation in 1861. The resignation was accepted, and Bp. Ignatius was allowed to retire to spend the remaining six years of his life in seclusion at the Nicolo-Babaevsky Monastery of the Kostroma diocese, where he devoted his time to writing and a wide correspondence with spiritual children. He reposed in the Lord on April 30, 1867.

Bp. Ignatius was glorified as a saint by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1988, and is commemorated on April 30.

source: OrthodoxWiki