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28 iulie: TROPARUL ŞI VIAŢA CUV. IRINA DIN HRISOVALANT (Gr, Ro, En)

Απολυτίκιο Αγ. Ειρήνης της Χρυσοβαλάντου – 28 ΙΟΥΛΙΟΥ

TROPARUL ŞI VIAŢA CUV. IRINA DIN HRISOVALANT

28 iulie

 Pomenirea Cuvioasei Maicii noastre Irina, care era din Capadocia si se afla în Manastirea lui Hrisovalant.

IrinaSfânta Irina traia in Capadocia, in sânul unei familii instarite si de neam ales, in vremea de dupa moartea imparatului iconoclast Teofil (842). Teodora, asigurând regenta, cauta in intreaga Imparatie o sotie pentru fiul sau, imparatul Mihail al III lea (842-867). Remarcata de trimisii Curtii pentru frumusetea sa si pentru nobletea deprinderilor sale, Irina fu trimisa la Constantinopol impreuna cu sora sa, care s-a casatorit mai târziu cu imparatul Bardas, fratele Teodorei. Fiind in trecere pe lânga Muntele Olimp din Bitinia, facu o vizita sfântului Ioanichie  cel Mare (cf. 4 noiembrie) care o saluta prezicându-i ca avea sa devina Stareta a Manastirii lui Hrisovalant. Providenta impiedicase casatoria ei cu imparatul si cu inima usurata si plina de bucurie ea isi imparti averea si se retrase la manastirea lui Hrisovalant, ctitorita de patriciul Nicetas (Nicolae), in apropierea rezervorului de apa ce poarta numele lui Aspar, intr-un loc placut, departe de pietele publice si de locurile zgomotoase. Cu ocazia consacrarii in monahism, preafericita taie, odata cu podoaba parului sau, orice legatura care o mai tinea legata de lume si se deda cu sârguinta lucrarii ascezei, stiind ca in masura in care trupul este slabit, omul interior se reînnoieste si se apropie de Dumnezeu. Invesmântata cu o singura tunica, pe care o schimba o data pe an, hranindu-se doar  cu pîine si apa,  se supunea de bunavoie, cu bucurie, la tot ce i se oferea, fara sa se împotriveasca sau sa cârteasca.  Cainta ei neincetata ii umplea inima de bucurie si facea sa-i straluceasca fata ; asemeni unui pamânt fertil, ea rodea fructele imbelsugate ale sfintelor virtuti. Le privea pe toate maicutele ca pe niste regine si se considera slujitoarea lor, dedându-se celor mai grele munci pentru a le ajuta. Din gura sa nu ieseau decât cuvintele Evangheliei sau ale Sfintilor Parinti, la care medita neincetat. Pe când se afla de mai putin de un an in manastire, citind plina de admiratie viata Sfântului Arsenie cel Mare (cf. 8 mai) care se ruga de la apusul soarelui pâna a doua zi dimineata, ea se puse sa faca asemenea. Cu ajutorul harului lui Dumnezeu, ajunse incet-incet sa ramâna in picioare, cu mâinile intinse in rugaciune, toata ziua si toata noaptea. Lupta cu atâta iscusinta pentru a-si supune trupul la aplecarea ce o avea  sufletul ei catre Dumnezeu, incât nici o uneltire diavoleasca nu putea sa o atinga. Când diavolul ii aducea in minte marirea si usurinta vietii pe care ea o lasase in urma, se ducea sa isi marturisesasca aceste gânduri Staretei  sale indoindu-si efortul in asceza, si astfel era pe data izbavita.

La moartea Staretei,  ea fu desemnata, impotriva vointei ei, sa ii urmeze si primi consacrarea de la Patriarhul Sfântul Metodie (cf. 14 iunie). Amintindu-si atunci de profetia Sfântului Ioanichie si considerând de datoria ei sa nu caute placerea ci sa „duca slabiciunile celor ce nu aveau forta ei” (Romani 15, 1), ea trai de-acum ca un inger pamântesc, prelungindu-si posturile, rugându-se toata noaptea si facând nenumarate metanii. Prin aceste mijloace ea isi atrase bunavointa lui Dumnezeu si primi atâta intelepciune încât fu in stare sa conduca nenumarate suflete pe calea Mântuirii. Ea cerea maicutelor sa nu o considere ca o stapâna, ci ca una dintre ele, care fusese pusa in slujba lor. Cu blândete si rabdare le incuraja sa se conduca in tot ceea ce infaptuiau dupa spiritul Evangheliei. Refuzând desertaciunea laudei si cinstei din partea oamenilor, pentru a nu fi renuntat la lume decât in aparenta, ele trebuiau sa se ingrijeasca sa-si pastreze nu doar curatia ci si blândetea, virtuti superioare celor ale naturii, pe care Hristos le da in dar celor care se roaga lui cu credinta. Orice reusita vor fi avut, ea le sfatuia sa o considere ca un dar al lui Dumnezeu si sa ramâna in cainta si rugaciuni de multumire neincetate. Ea le interzicea, dealtfel, sa se roage pentru sanatatea lor, caci nimic nu e mai folositor sufletului, spunea ea, decât boala acceptata cu recunostinta.

Primind de la un Înger darul de a fi vazatoare cu duhul, Sfânta era ca un Profet al lui Dumnezeu in Manastirea sa. Dupa ce se odihnea putin la terminarea slujbei de dimineata, ea le chema pe maicute una câte una si, cu multa arta si intelepciune, le ajuta sa se arate in fata lui Dumnezeu curate si fara prefacatorie, scotându-le la iveala gândurile lor cele mai tainice. Ea deveni la scurt timp renumita in toata capitala pentru virtutile sale si pentru intelepciunea cu care isi conducea comunitatea, si toate felurile de oameni, bogati si saraci, simpli si nobili, veneau catre ea pentru a-i primi sfaturile si sa se marturiseasca in rugaciunile ei. Pe toti ii invata folosul pocaintei si a convertirii care, in orice clipa, pot sa ni-l aduca pe Dumnezeu in ajutor.

Sprijinita de harul dumnezeiesc, ea facea neincetate progrese in asceza si in rugaciunea curata. In timpul Postului Mare, pâna la Pasti, ea nu mânca pâine ci doar câteva legume, o data pe saptamâna. Privegherea in fiecare noapte ii devenise la fel de naturala ca somnul pentru ceilalti oameni si ea isi petrecea toate noptile, cu mâinile intinse spre cer, cufundata in sfinte contemplatii. Uneori ramânea in aceasta stare si doua zile la rând, ba chiar o saptamâna intreaga, incât una din maicute trebuia sa o ajute sa isi lase in jos bratele amortite. Intr-o noapte o monahie privi in curte si o vazu pe Sfânta Irina in rugaciune, ridicata de la pamânt in chip minunat iar cei doi falnici chiparosi care se inaltau in curtea Manastirii isi aplecasera vârfurile lor pâna la pamânt si nu le-au ridicat decât dupa ce Sfânta i-a insemnat cu semnul Crucii. Aceasta rugaciune din noapte era inspaimântoare pentru diavoli, care isi inmulteau asalturile in timpul noptii. O data unul dintre ei arunca pe ea fitilul aprins al unei candele. Vesmintele Irinei incepura imediat sa arda. Dar ea ramase neclintita si ar fi fost arsa de vie daca o monahie, trezita de mirosul carnii si a hainelor calcinate, nu ar fi fortat usa sa intre in chilia ei. In mijlocul fumului des, ea o vazu cu surprindere pe Sfânta in flacari, in picioare si nemiscata in rugaciunea sa. Cum era deranjata de maicuta ce se straduia sa stinga flacarile, Irina isi lasa bratele in jos si ii spuse pe un ton de repros : „De ce m-ai lipsit de o asemenea bucurie prin venirea ta neasteptata ? Un Inger se tinea inaintea mea, impletindu-mi o cununa de flori nemuritoare, nemaivazute de ochiul omenesc si era gata sa ma ia când tu l-ai alungat”. Iar cind maicuta smulse zdrentele de haine lipite de carnea ei, o mireasma placuta cuprinse toata Manastirea.

Alta data, un calator pe mare venit din Patmos se prezenta la Manastire si dadu Sfintei trei mere delicioase, pe care Sfântul  Apostol Ioan il insarcinase sa i le inmâneze. Primul mar ii ajunse sa o hraneasca 40 de zile, timp in care gura ei raspândi o mireasma nemaiîntâlnita, pe cel de al doilea il imparti comunitatii in Joia Mare si il pastra pe al treilea ca pe un talisman de pret, zalog al bunurilor nepieritoare ale Raiului.

Cu simtul sau profetic, preafericita Irina implini un mare numar de alte minuni si prezise in mod special asasinarea lui Bardas, urmata la putina vreme de cea a lui Mihai al III-lea (867) precum si preluarea puterii de catre Vasile Macedoneanul. Ajutata de Sfântul Vasile cel Mare si de Sfânta Anastasia Farmacolitria ea vindeca pe posedati si salva pe una din rudele sale – pe care imparatul planuia sa o omoare acuzata de tradare – aparând in fata suveranului, stralucitoare si plina de marire. Imparatul Vasile isi recunoscu greseala, ceru iertare, si apoi isi arata bunavointa in ajutorul Manastirii.

Sfânta Irina ajunse la vârsta de 103 ani, pastrându-si toata prospetimea si frumusetea trupeasca, semn al frumusetii sufletului sau. Ingerul sau pazitor o prevenise cu un an inainte de ziua exacta a mortii sale si când veni ziua aceea ea isi aduna maicutele, le numi Stareta pe care o alesese Dumnezeu si dupa ce le-a incurajat sa dispretuiasca tot ce este trecator pentru a nu trai decât pentru Mirele lor prea iubit, ea inchise linistit ochii si isi dadu sufletul in mâinile Domnului. Inhumata in biserica Sfântului Mucenic Teodor, mormântul sau raspândea in permanenta o aroma suava, aratând tuturor ca se facuse bineplacuta lui Dumnezeu. Pâna in zilele noastre Sfânta Irina nu a incetat sa intervina in ajutorul celor care o cheama cu incredere.

Ὑπῆρξε στὰ χρόνια τῆς βασίλισσας Θεοδώρας, ποὺ ἀναστήλωσε τὶς ἅγιες εἰκόνες.

Ἡ Εἰρήνη καταγόταν ἀπὸ τὴν Καππαδοκία καὶ διακρινόταν ὄχι μόνο γιὰ τὴν εὐσέβειά της, ἀλλὰ καὶ γιὰ τὴν σωματικὴ ὡραιότητά της καὶ γιὰ τὴν εὐγενῆ ἀνατροφή της. Εἶχε ζητηθεῖ λοιπὸν σὲ γάμο, ἀπὸ διακεκριμένο ἄνδρα τοῦ παλατιοῦ καὶ ξεκίνησε γιὰ τὸ Βυζάντιο. Στὴ διαδρομὴ ὅμως, πέρασε ἀπὸ τὴ Μονὴ τοῦ Χρυσοβαλάντου καὶ τόσο ἑλκύστηκε ἀπὸ τὴ συναναστροφὴ τῶν καλογριῶν, ὥστε πῆρε τὴ μεγάλη ἀπόφαση νὰ παραμείνει μαζί τους. Ἔτσι ἀπέρριψε τὶς κοσμικὲς δόξες, γύρισε στὴν πατρίδα της, πούλησε τὰ ὑπάρχοντά της, βοηθώντας πολλοὺς φτωχοὺς καὶ τὰ ὑπόλοιπα χρήματα τὰ ἐναπόθεσε στὴ Μονή.

Ἔγινε μοναχὴ καὶ ἡ ζωὴ τῆς μέσα στὸ μοναστήρι ὑπῆρξε πολὺ ἀσκητικὴ καὶ ἁγία. Ὅταν πέθανε ἡ ἡγουμένη, ἡ Εἰρήνη, παρὰ τὴν ἄρνησή της, ὁρίστηκε διάδοχός της. Ἀπὸ τὴ νέα της θέση, ἐπετέλεσε τὰ καθήκοντά της ἄριστα. Ὁ Θεὸς μάλιστα, τὴν προίκισε μὲ τὸ προφητικὸ καὶ θαυματουργικὸ χάρισμα. Ἔτσι διὰ τῆς προσευχῆς της, ἀπάλλαξε πολλοὺς ἀπὸ τὰ δαιμόνια.
Προαισθάνθηκε τὸν θάνατό της καὶ ἀπεβίωσε εἰρηνικά, γεμάτη χαρὰ γιὰ τὸ εὐχάριστο οὐράνιο ταξίδι της.

Ἀπολυτίκιον. Ἦχος γ’. Θείας πίστεως.
Δόξαν ῥέουσαν, ὑπεριδοῦσα, νύμφη ἄμωμος, ὤφθης Κυρίου, δι’ ἀσκήσεως Ὀσία ἐκλάμψασα· ὡς οὖν Εἰρήνη τυχοῦσα τοῦ πόθου σου, ἐν ὁμονοίᾳ ἡμᾶς διαφύλαττε, ἀξιάγαστε, Χριστῷ τῷ Θεῷ πρεσβεύουσα, δωρήσασθε ἡμῖν τὸ μέγα ἔλεος.

Κοντάκιον. Ἦχος γ’. Ἡ Παρθένος σήμερον.
Τὴν τοῦ κόσμου εὔκλειαν, καταλιποῦσα Ὁσία, τῷ Χριστῷ νενύμφευσαι, τῷ Βασιλεῖ τῷ ἀφθάρτῳ, κάλλεσι, τῆς παρθενίας λελαμπρυσμένη, σκάμμασι, τῆς ἐγκρατείας πεποικιλμένη· διὰ τοῦτό σε Εἰρήνη, ὁ σὸς Νυμφίος λαμπρῶς ἐδόξασε.

Μεγαλυνάριον.
Τῆς Καππαδοκίας τὴν καλλονήν, καὶ Χρυσοβαλάντου, ὀδηγίαν τὴν ἀσφαλῆ, τὴν πηγὴν θαυμάτων, πηγάζουσαν τῷ κόσμῳ, Εἰρήνην τὴν Ὁσίαν, ὕμνοις τιμήσωμεν.

Saint Irene was the daughter of a wealthy family from Cappadocia, and was born in the ninth century. 

After the death of her husband Theophilus, the empress Theodora ruled the Byzantine Empire as regent for her young son Michael. St Theodora (February 11) helped to defeat the iconoclast heresy, and to restore the holy icons. We commemorate this Triumph of Orthodoxy on the first Sunday of Great Lent. 

When Michael was twelve years of age, St Theodora sent messengers throughout the Empire to find a suitably virtuous and refined girl to be his wife. St Irene was chosen, and she agreed to the marriage. While passing Mt. Olympus in Asia Minor, Irene asked to stop so she could receive the blessing of St Joannicius (November 4), who lived on the mountain. The saint, who showed himself only to the most worthy pilgrims, foresaw the arrival of St Irene, and also her future life. 

The holy ascetic welcomed her and told her to proceed to Constantinople, where the women’s monastery of Chrysovalantou had need of her. Amazed at his clairvoyance, Irene fell to the ground and asked St Joannicius for his blessing. After blessing her and giving her spiritual counsel, he sent her on her way. 

When the party arrived in Constantinople, Irene’s relatives met her with great ceremony. Since „the steps of a man are rightly ordered by the Lord” (Ps. 36/37:23), God arranged for Michael to marry another girl a few days before, so that Irene might be free to become a bride of Christ. Far from being disappointed, Irene rejoiced at this turn of events. 

Remembering the words of St Joannicius, Irene visited the Monastery of Chrysovalantou. She was so impressed by the nuns and their way of life that she freed her slaves and distributed her wealth to the poor. She exchanged her fine clothing for the simple garb of a nun, and served the sisters with great humility and obedience. The abbess was impressed with the way that Irene performed the most menial and disagreeable tasks without complaint. 

St Irene often read the Lives of the Saints in her cell, imitating their virtues to the best of her ability. She often stood in prayer all night with her hands raised like Moses on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 17:11-13). St Irene spent the next few years in spiritual struggles defeating the assaults of the demons, and bringing forth the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). 

When the abbess sensed the approach of death, she told the other nuns that they should not accept anyone but Irene as the new abbess. Irene was not told of the abbess’s instructions, and when she died the community sent representatives to go and seek the advice of the patriarch, St Methodius (June 14). He asked them whom they wanted as their superior. They replied that they believed he would be guided by the Holy Spirit. Without knowing of the late abbess’s instructions to the nuns, he asked if there was a humble nun by the name of Irene in their monastery. If so, he said, they should choose her. The nuns rejoiced and gave thanks to God. St Methodius elevated Irene to the rank of abbess and advised her how to guide those in her charge. 

Returning to the monastery, Irene prayed that God would help her to care for those under her, and redoubled her own spiritual efforts. She displayed great wisdom in leading the nuns, and received many revelations from God to assist her in carrying out her duties. She also asked for the gift of clairvoyance so that she would know what trials awaited her nuns. Thus, she was in a better position to give them the proper advice. She never used this knowledge to embarrass others, but only to correct their confessions in a way which let them know that she possessed certain spiritual gifts. 

Although St Irene performed many miracles during her life, let us mention only one. On great Feasts it was her habit to keep vigil in the monastery courtyard under the starry skies. Once, a nun who was unable to sleep left her cell and went into the courtyard. There she saw Abbess Irene levitating a few feet above the ground, completely absorbed in prayer. The astonished nun also noticed that two cypress trees had bowed their heads to the ground, as if in homage. When she finished praying, Irene blessed the trees and they returned to their upright position. 

Afraid that this might be a temptation from the demons, the nun returned the next night to see if she had been mistaken. Again she saw Irene levitating as she prayed, and the cypress trees bowing down. The nun tied handkerchiefs to the tops of the two trees before they went back to their places. When the other sisters saw the handkerchiefs atop the trees, they began to wonder who had put them there. Then the nun who had witnessed these strange events revealed to the others what she had seen. When St Irene learned that the nun had witnessed the miracle and told the others, she was very upset. She warned them not to speak of it to anyone until after her death. 

St Irene observed the Feast of St Basil (January 1) with great devotion, since he also came from Cappadocia. One year, after celebrating the feast, St Irene heard a voice during the night telling her to welcome the sailor who would come to the door the next day. She was told to rejoice and eat the fruit which the sailor would bring her. During Matins, a sailor did come to the door and remained in church until after Liturgy. He told her that he had come from Patmos, where he boarded a ship. As the ship set sail, he noticed an old man on the shore calling for them to stop. In spite of a good wind, the ship came to a sudden halt. Then the old man walked across the water and entered the ship. He gave the sailor three apples which God was sending to the patriarch „from His beloved disciple John.” Then the old man gave the sailor three more apples for the abbess of Chrysovalantou. He told the sailor that if Irene ate the apples, all that her soul desired would be granted, „for this gift comes from John in Paradise.” 

St Irene fasted for a week, giving thanks to God for this wonderful gift. For forty days, she ate small pieces of the first apple every day. During this time she had nothing else to eat or drink. On Holy Thursday, she told the nuns to receive the Holy Mysteries, then gave each one a piece of the second apple. They noticed an unusual sweetness, and felt as if their very souls were being nourished. 

An angel informed St Irene that she would be called to the Lord on the day after St Panteleimon’s feast. The monastery’s feast day fell on July 26, so St Irene prepared by fasting for a week beforehand. She took only a little water and small pieces of the third apple sent to her by St John. The whole monastery was filled with a heavenly fragrance, and all discord disappeared. 

On July 28, St Irene called the nuns together in order to bid them farewell. She also told them to select Sister Mary as her successor, for she would keep them on the narrow way which leads to life (Matthew 7:14). After entreating God to protect her flock from the power of the devil, she smiled when she saw the angels who had been sent to receive her soul. Then she closed her eyes and surrendered her soul to God. 

St Irene was more than 101 years old when she died, yet her face appeared young and beautiful. A great crowd of people came for her funeral, and many miracles took place at her tomb. 

In some parishes it is customary to bless apples on the feast of St Irene Chrysovalantou.

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