The miraculous Icon of Panagia Prousiotissa from Prousa in Minor Asia (“Prusa” Holy Icon of the Mother of God )
Saint Anthusa the Nun of Tarsus in Cilicia
Hieromartyr Athanasius the Bishop of Tarsus in Cilicia, who baptized the holy Nun Anthusa
Martyrs Charesimus Neophytus, the Servants of Anthusa the Nun
Commemorated on August 22
‘My Beloved is mine, and I am His. He pastures His flock among the lilies’ (Song of Songs 2:16).
The life of the dwellers in the wilderness is a blessed one, for by divine love they are carried up.
(Anavathmoi. Plagal of the First Tone)
The Hieromartyr Athanasius, bishop of the Cilician city of Tarsus, who baptized the holy Nun Anthusa, was beheaded by the sword under the emperor Valerianus Augustus (253 – 260).
Saint Anthusa, was born to the city of Seleucia (in Syria) in 3rd century, was the daughter of illustrious pagans. Learning of the teachings of Christ, she under pretense of visiting her benefactress, journeyed instead to Tarsus to Saint Athanasius accompanied by two servants. Along the way, she was met by Bishop Athanasios of Tarsus and told him of her desire. Athanasios agreed, but since there was no water nearby, he prayed, and a spring of fresh water came out of the ground. Saint Anthousa and her servants received Baptism from him. She gave the wealth that she inherited to her servants and the poor.
Her parents were enraged at their daughter for becoming a Christian. She received monastic tonsure from Saint Athanasius, thereafter She lived in the desert in asceticism for over twenty years. She endured many trials from the demons, and she was miraculously fed. She died at the end of the third century while she was praying.
The famous anchoress Polychronia, who was also practicing ascetic life in the same mountains, informed in the divine way about her repose, Polychronia was a hermitess in the mountains where she lived a life of prayer , stillness and holiness in desert. This anchoress, poured out abundant spiritual joy on everybody, being a chosen vessel of the Holy Spirit himself. Immediately gets up and goes to the cave. From there comes out a leopard, catches with teeth her ragged robe and leads her inside in front of the body of Saint. As she found it warm as if she had just reposed, and after she had embraced and kissed her many times and washed with her tears, she runs fast and meets the famous among the monks Abramios and narrates the event.
He takes three brothers and cames along with Polychronia to the cave. After doing what he has to do, he handles to the earth the flourishing body of the Anthousa and returns to his cell.
The Martyrs Charesimus and Neophytus, who had been baptized together with the Nun Anthusa, were her servants, and they too accepted death for Christ.
These saints, by their holy and unconventional lives, conferred peace upon the land and the creatures because they had been liberated, from their fallen human nature. As the Apostle Paul succinctly states: “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God… because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God.” (Romans 8:19,21).
Acta Sanctorum – vol 38– August part 4 (Aug 20-24) P. 503 – 504 – https://archive.org/stream/actasanctorum38unse#page/n529/mode/2upSaint Nikolai Velimirovič
A Christian is similar to betrothed maiden. As a betrothed maiden continually thinks about her betrothed, so does the Christian continually think about Christ. Even if the betrothed is far away beyond ten hills, it is all the same, the maiden behaves as though he is constantly there; by her and with her. She thinks about him, sings to him, talks about him, dreams about him and prepares gifts for him. In the same way a Christian behaves toward Christ. As the betrothed maiden knows that she first must leave and distance herself from the home where she was born in order to meet and totally unite with her betrothed, so the Christian knows that even he cannot totally unite with Christ until death separates him from the body, i.e., from the material home in which his soul, resided and grew from birth.
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič
Saint Paisios of Mount Athos
– Geron, is “divine eros” the love we feel for God?
– Divine eros is something far superior to one’s love for God. It is a kind of madness. “Love – eros – madness” – is along the same lines as “envy – hatred – murder”. A precise love of God – complete with sacrifices – simmers slowly inside the heart; then, just like steam, divine eros (which cannot be held back) bursts forth and unites with God. Divine eros can soften even the toughest bones so much, that a person can no longer stand upright; he actually falls down! He then resembles a wax candle in a warm environment, which cannot stand firmly upright. It falls to one side, then it falls to the other side… you straighten it, but again it bends, again it falls, because of the heat of its environment, which is too hot for it to bear.. When a person finds himself in such a state and he needs to go somewhere or do something, he cannot… He struggles; he has to actually struggle to get out of that state….
– Geron, when someone is in a state of divine eros, and if he is in pain, can he feel that pain?
– If the pain is very intense, it is subdued and becomes tolerable. If the pain is minimal, it disappears altogether… Haven’t you seen how people who are in love with each other are entirely oblivious? They can hardly sleep… A monk once told me: “Geron, a brother of mine has fallen in love with a gypsy girl and has lost his sleep over her. He keeps repeating her name, over and over again… Is he perhaps bewitched? I have been a monk for so many years, and even I don’t feel that much love for the Holy Mother as he feels for that gypsy! I don’t feel my heart leaping like that!”
Unfortunately, there are spiritual people who are scandalized by the term “divine eros”. They haven’t perceived what “divine eros” means, and they are attempting to remove this term from the Menaia and the Paracletic texts, because they claim that it scandalizes. Where have things come to! On the contrary, if you speak to secular people (who have experienced “secular eros”) about divine eros, they immediately say: “That must be something a far superior thing.” There have been so many youngsters who have experienced “secular eros”, whom I immediately “aligned” when I mentioned divine eros to them! I ask them: “Have you ever lost your footing on account of the love that you felt for someone? Have you ever felt that you cannot move and you cannot do absolutely anything?” They then immediately comprehend how this must be a really superior state, and we understand each other perfectly thereafter. They usually respond with: “If we feel that way with something secular, imagine what that celestial feeling must be like!”
– How can one become dotty, Geron, by their love for God?
– Well, by keeping company with …other dotty ones, who will infect you with their spiritual dottiness! I will pray to one day see you… a complete madman! Amen…
I too have a small experience of spiritual madness, which comes from divine eros. In that state, a person reaches the stage of divine absentmindedness and wants to think of nothing else except God, the divine, the spiritual, the celestial… While divinely in love, he is deliciously ablaze internally, and he explodes externally in a mad manner – within the divine confines of modesty – and glorifies his God and Maker like an angel, day and night….
– Is that what we call “ecstasy”, Geron?
– Yes. That is when a person “takes leave of himself” – in the good sense, of course. That is also what we mean by ….”stand aside and shudder, o heavens” (έκστηθι φρίττων ουρανέ) [from the Eirmos of the 8th Ode of the Canon of Easter Saturday].
Divine madness takes a person beyond the earth’s pull; it lifts him up to the Throne of God, and makes him feel like a puppy at his master’s feet; a puppy licking His Feet joyfully and with reverence…
Source: Counsels of the Elder, Geron Paisios of the Holy Mountain, vol.5 p.205-206, Translation by A. N.
(Source: Saint Paisios of Mount Athos : Spiritual Counsels Vol. V: Passions and Virtues Holy Monastery “Evangelist John the Theologian”, Souroti, Thessaloniki, Greece.)
On “Lord, I have cried …”, the Stichera, In Tone VIII:
The shrine of thy relics * pours forth recovery of sight to the blind, * and cures for all the sick who approach them with faith * and implore thy visitation, * O holy and wonder-worthy mother Anthusa; * wherefore we implore thee that by thy prayers * we may be granted healing and great mercy.
Thou hast acquired mercy towards thy neighbor, * and Orthodox faith and love towards God, * O God-blessed, honored Polychronia; * therefore the spiritual grace of God rested upon thee, * O holy mother; * wherefore we implore thee that by thy prayers * those who bless thee may be preserved in the faith.
Glory …, In Tone VI:
Thy sacred celebration hath today shone forth * more brightly than the sun, * illumining those in darkness, * and vanquishing the mist of demons, * O wonder-worthy one.