March 4 (old calendar) / March 17 (new)
FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT — Tone 1. Sunday of Orthodoxy
Ven. Gerasimus of the Jordan (475). Ven. Gerásim of Vologdá (1178). Ven. Joasaph of Snetogórsk (Pskov—1299). Rt. Blv. Prince Basil (Vasilko) of Rostov (1238). Rt. Blv. Prince Daniel of Moscow (1303). Martyrs Paul and his sister, Juliana (ca. 273). St. James (Jacob) the Faster of Phœnicia (Syria—6th c.). Translation of the Relics of Rt. Blv. Prince St. Wenceslaus (Viacheslav), Prince of the Czechs (935). St. Gregory, Bishop of Constantius in Cyprus.
Saint Gerasimus was a native of Lycia (Asia Minor). From his early years he was distinguished for his piety. Having received monastic tonsure, he withdrew into the desert of the Thebaid (in Egypt). Thereafter, in about the year 450, the monk arrived in Palestine and settled at the Jordan, where he founded a monastery.
For a certain while Saint Gerasimus was tempted by the heresy of Eutyches and Dioscorus, which acknowledged only the divine nature in Jesus Christ, but not His human nature (i.e. the Monophysite heresy). Saint Euthymius the Great (January 20) helped him to return to the true Faith.
Saint Gerasimus established a strict monastic Rule. He spent five days of the week in solitude, occupying himself with handicrafts and prayer. On these days the wilderness dwellers did not eat cooked food, nor did they kindle a fire, but ate only dry bread, roots and water.
On Saturday and Sunday all gathered at the monastery for Divine Liturgy and to partake of the Holy Mysteries of Christ. In the afternoon, taking a supply of bread, tubers, water and an armload of date-palm branches for weaving baskets, the desert-dwellers returned to their own cells. Each had only old clothes and a mat, upon which he slept. When they left their cells, the door was never locked, so that anyone could enter and rest, or take whatever he needed.
Saint Gerasimus himself attained a high level of asceticism. During Great Lent he ate nothing until the very day of the All-Radiant Resurrection of Christ, when he received the Holy Mysteries. Going out into the desert for all of Great Lent, Saint Gerasimus took with him his beloved disciple Saint Cyriacus (September 29), whom Saint Euthymius had sent to him.
When Saint Euthymius the Great died, Saint Gerasimus saw how angels carried the soul of the departed up to Heaven. Taking Cyriacus with him, the monk immediately set off to the monastery of Saint Euthymius and consigned his body to the earth.
Saint Gerasimus died peacefully, mourned by his brethren and disciples. Before his death, a lion had aided Saint Gerasimus in his tasks, and upon the death of the Elder it died at his grave and was buried nearby. Therefore the lion is depicted on icons of the saint, at his feet.
Troparion of the saint, tone 1
Dweller of the desert and angel in the body, / you were shown to be a wonderworker, our God-bearing Father Gerasimus. / You received heavenly gifts through fasting, vigil, and prayer: / healing the sick and the souls of those drawn to you by faith. / Glory to Him who gave you strength! / Glory to Him who granted you a crown! / Glory to Him who through you grants healing to all!
Kontakion of the saint, tone 4
Father, you burned with heavenly love, / preferring the harshness of the Jordan desert to all the delights of the world. / Therefore, a wild beast served you until your death; he died in obedience / in grief on your grave. / Thus God has glorified you, / and when you pray to Him / remember us, Father Gerasimus.
TROPARIA AND KONTAKIA
Troparion of the Sunday, Tone 1
When the stone had been sealed by the Jews; / while the soldiers were guarding Thy most pure Body; / Thou didst rise on the third day, O Savior, / granting life to the world. / The powers of heaven therefore cried to Thee, O Giver of Life: / Glory to Thy Resurrection, O Christ! / Glory to Thy Kingdom! / Glory to Thy dispensation, O Thou Who lovest mankind.
The First Sunday of Great Lent, Troparion, Tone 2
We worship Thy immaculate Image, O Good One, and ask forgiveness of our sins, O Christ God; for of Thy own will Thou wast pleased to ascend the Cross in the flesh, to deliver from slavery to the enemy those whom Thou hadst created. Therefore we thankfully cry to Thee: Thou hast filled all things with joy, O our Saviour, by coming to save the world.
Kontakion of the Sunday, Tone 1
As God, Thou didst rise from the tomb in glory, / raising the world with Thyself. / Human nature praises Thee as God, for death has vanished! / Adam exults, O Master! / Eve rejoices, for she is freed from bondage, and cries to Thee: / Thou art the Giver of Resurrection to all, O Christ!
Kontakion, Tone 8
The illimitable Word of the Father accepted limitations by incarnation from thee, O Mother of God; and He transformed our defiled image to its original state and transfused it with the divine beauty. But we confess and give thanks for our salvation, and we proclaim it by deed and word.
Hebrews 11:24-26, 32-12:2 (Epistle)
- By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter,
- choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin,
- esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.
- And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets:
- who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
- quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
- Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.
- Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment.
- They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented –
- of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.
- And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise,
- God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.
- Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
- looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
John 1:43-51 (Gospel)
- The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.”
- Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.
- Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
- And Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
- Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!”
- Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”
- Nathanael answered and said to Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”
- Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.”
- And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”