A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
St Irenaeus (Εἰρηναῖος) (c130-c 202). Lutheran Commemoration, Roman Catholic and Anglican Communion Feast Day and Church of England Lesser Festival for Turkish Christian Trinitarian priest of the Church of Lugdunum (Lyon) and second Bishop of Lyon noted for his role in guiding and expanding Christian communities in what is now the south of France and, more widely, for the development of Christian theology by combating heresy and defining orthodoxy. As Bishop, he divided his time between the duties of a pastor and those of a missionary, almost all his writings being directed against Gnosticism, including his famous Adversus Haereses (Against Heresies). Irenaeus died in Lyon and was buried there under the Church of St John, which was later renamed St Irenaeus in his honour. The tomb and his remains were totally destroyed by the Huguenots in 1562. Venerated in Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Catholicism, Assyrian Church of the East, Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches, Lutheran Church, Anglican Communion. The Catholic Church named Irenaeus as a Father of the Church and Teacher of the Faith, regarding him as martyr, as do some within the Orthodox Church. Feast Day 23 August Eastern Catholic, Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches. Image: catholicnewsagency.com.
St Lazar of Serbia (Tzar Lazar, Lazarus, Lazar of Kosovo) (1329-89). Feast Day for the holy, glorious and right-victorious Great Martyr Lazar, Prince of Serbia (Свети Великомученик кнез Лазар), a Serbian nobleman who became the de facto ruler of Serbia. He called a synod that elected a new patriarch and sent a delegation to Constantinople seeking to heal the Serbian-Constantinople Schism of 1352. In 1375, full communion between Peć and Constantinople was re-established in the Holy Archangels Monastery. Lazar restored the monasteries of Hilandar on Mt Athos and Gornjak. He built others at Ravanica and Lazarica in Kruševac and was a benefactor of the Russian monastery of St Pantaleon on Mt Athos, as well as many other churches and monasteries. In the 1389 Battle of Kosovo, Lazar fought against the Turkish powers on several occasions in order to protect his people. Finally, he was defeated by the Turkish Emperor on the Field of Blackbirds (Kosovo Polje, Fushë Kosovë), Косово Поље) and afterwards he was beheaded. Lazar, during a visit by an Angel of God on the night before the battle, had been offered the choice between an earthly and a Heavenly kingdom. He opted for the latter, as: “Perishable is earthly kingdom, but forever and ever is Kingdom of Heaven! (“Земаљско је за малена царство, а Небеско увијек и довијека!“). On the battlefield, he said: “We die with Christ, to live forever.” Lazar’s body was interred in Ravanica, in his memorial church near Ćuprija, Central Serbia (Uža Srbija), and later translated to Šišatovac in Srem. From there, during World War II, his body was translated to Belgrade and placed in the Cathedral Church of the Holy Archangel Michael. In 1989, on the six-hundredth anniversary of his martyrdom, St Lazar’s relics were again translated to the Monastery of Ravanica in Ćuprija. It rests incorrupt and extends comfort and healing to all those who turn to him with prayer. Alternative Feast Day 15 June. Image: spc.rs.
Prayer Longing for the beauty of God’s glory, you were found pleasing to Him while yet in the flesh and by good deeds multiplied the talents entrusted to you. Having suffered greatly, even to the shedding of your blood, you received the crown of martyrdom from Christ. By your prayers, O Lazar, entreat Him to save us who pray to you. Your flock glorifies you as a valiant champion of true piety and a glorious martyr, O most wise Lazar. Since you have boldness before Christ our God, entreat Him to grant peace to those who praise you, that we may cry: “Rejoice, O praise-worthy Lazar!” Amen
Sts Peter and Paul Fast (Fast of the Holy Apostles). This Fast lasts until 29 June, the Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and is of variable duration depending on the date of Pascha (Easter), beginning as early as 18 May. The Apostles Fast dates from at least the Fifth Century and is observed by Eastern, Oriental and Reformed Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Christians. In the Byzantine tradition, the Fast begins on the Second Monday after the 20 June Pentecost, the day after All Saints’ Sunday, whereas in the Coptic and old Syriac traditions it begins on the first Monday after Pentecost, 14 Paoni 1737 in the Coptic calendar. Having rejoiced for fifty days following Pascha, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Apostles began to prepare for their leaving Jerusalem to spread Christ’s message. According to Sacred Tradition, as part of their preparation they began a prayerful fast to ask God to strengthen their resolve and to be with them in their missionary undertakings. The scriptural foundation for the Fast is found in the Synoptic Gospels, when the Pharisees criticised the Apostles for not fasting and Jesus said to them: “Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom shall be taken from them and then shall they fast.” Although Christ was referring to His being taken to be crucified, this is in the wider sense understood in terms of His Ascension into heaven with His commission to preach the Gospel that can only be accomplished with prayer and fasting. The Apostles Fast follows rules similar to those observed during the Nativity Fast and is not as strict as the Great Lent or the Dormition Fast but entails fasting from red meat, poultry, meat products, eggs, dairy products, fish, oil and wine. For many Orthodox, fish, wine and oil are allowed on all days except Wednesdays and Fridays. Some other Orthodox, such as the Antiochians, have slightly stricter rules, with fish only allowed on certain weekends. As with the three other fasting seasons of the Church year, there is a Great Feast during the Apostles Fast, the 24 June Feast of the Nativity of the Venerable and Glorious Prophet and Forerunner John the Baptist. Image: pravmir.com.