Our holy father Tarasius, Patriarch of Constantinople was of illustrious lineage. He was born and raised in Constantinople, where he received a fine education. He was rapidly promoted at the court of emperor Constantine VI (780-797) and Constantine’s mother, the holy Empress Irene, and the saint attained the rank of senator. Proceeding through all the clerical ranks in a short while, St. Tarasius was elevated to the patriarchal throne in the year 784. In the year 787, the Seventh Ecumenical Council was convened in the city of Nicea, with Patriarch Tarasius presiding and 367 bishops attending. The veneration of holy icons was confirmed at this council ending the iconoclasm heresy. St. Tarasius wisely governed the Church for twenty-two years. He led a strict ascetic life. He spent all his money on God-pleasing ends, feeding and giving comfort to the aged, of the impoverished, to widows and orphans, and on Holy Pascha he set out a meal for them, and he served them himself. St. Tarasius died in the year 806. Mourned by the Church, he was buried in a monastery he built on the Bosphorus. Many miracles took place at his tomb. (Normally, St. Tarasius is celebrated on Feb. 25, but his celebration is moved this year so the First and Second finding of the Head of John the Baptist doesn’t fall during Clean Week.)
The sincerity of your deeds has revealed you to your people as a teacher of moderation, a model of faith, and an example of virtue. Therefore, you attained greatness through humility, and wealth through poverty. O father and archbishop Tarasius, ask Christ our God to save our souls.
O blessed Tarasius, you filled the Church with joy by preaching holy doctrine. You taught us all to bow before the venerable icon of Christ and to honor it. You vanquished the iconoclastic heresy. Therefore, we cry out: Rejoice, Tarasius, our wise father.
The man gave names to all the tame animals, all the birds of the air, and all the wild animals; but none proved to be a helper suited to the man.
So the Lord God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. The Lord God then built the rib which he had taken from the man into a woman. When he brought her to the man, the man said”
“This one, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;
This one shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of man this one has been taken.”
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.
The man and his wife were both naked, yet they felt no shame.
Now the snake was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He asked the woman,” Did God really say, ‘You shall not eat from any of the trees in the garden’?” The woman answered the snake: “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; it is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘You shall not eat it or even touch it, or else you will die.’” But the snake said to the woman: “You certainly will not die! God knows well that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, who know good and evil.” The woman saw that the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes, and the tree was desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.
When they heard the sound of the Lord God walking about in the garden at the breezy time of the day, the man and his wife hid themselves from the Lord God then called to the man and asked him: Where are you? He answered, “I heard you in the garden; but I was afraid, because I am naked, so I hid.” Then God asked: Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat? The man replied, “The woman who you put here with me– she gave me fruit from the tree, so I ate it.” The Lord God then asked the woman: What is this you have done? The woman answered, “The snake tricked me, so I ate it.”
Then the Lord God said to the snake:
Because you have done this, cursed are you among all the animals, tame or wild;
On your belly you shall crawl, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers;
They will strike at your head, while you strike at their heel.
To the woman he said:
I will intensify your toil in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children.
Yet your urge shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.
To the man he said: Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, You shall not eat from it,
Cursed is the ground because of you!
In toil you shall eat its yield all the days of your life.
Thorns and thistles it shall bear for you,
And you shall eat the grass of the field.
By the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread,
Until you return to the ground, from which you were taken;
For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.
The man gave his wife the name “Eve,” because she was the mother of all the living.
The Lord by wisdom founded the earth, established the heavens by understanding;
By his knowledge the depths are split, and the clouds drop down dew.
My son, do not let these slip from your sight: hold deliberation and planning;
So will they be life to your soul, and an adornment for your neck.
Then you may go your way securely; your foot will never stumble;
When you lie down, you will not be afraid, when you rest, your sleep will be sweet.
Do not withhold any goods from the owner when it is in your power to act.
Say not to your neighbor, “Go, come back tomorrow, and will give it to you,” when all the while you have it.
Do not plot evil against your neighbors, when they live at peace with you.
Do not contend with someone without cause, with one who has done you no harm.
Do not envy the violent and choose none of their ways:
To the Lord the devious are an abomination, but the upright are close to him.
The curse of the Lord is on the house of the wicked, but the dwelling of the just he blesses;
Those who scoff, he scoffs at, but the lowly he favors.
Icon courtesy of Jack Figel, Eastern Christian Publications – ecpubs.com
Thursday, February 23 –