9/22 January: St Philip, Metropolitan of Moscow & All Russia

9/22 January: Our Holy Father Among the Saints, Philip, Metropolitan of Moscow & All Russia, the New Confessor.

Dear brothers and sisters, greetings to you, as we celebrate the feast of the Holy New-Hieromartyr, Philip, Metropolitan of Moscow, a great and inspiring model of Christian life, who put Truth and faithfulness to the Saviour and the Gospel above all earthly comforts, reputation, security and even life itself.

He is not only a model for all true hierarchs, but for all Christian people in new times of uncertainty – when injustice, inequality and tyranny rear their heads, and the prophetic voice of the Church is needed, but little heard.

May he pray for us, and may his example give us the courage to live the Christian life with all of the risks and dangers that professing the Gospel and swimming against the political, sociological and ideological tide pose for us – and may we have the courage to do so heedless of the threats of governments, societies, and even those in the Church who oppose the Gospel with agendas that betray the Orthodox Faith of the Holy Fathers, of the Sacred Councils, and of the Saints, among whom St Philip is glorified, having received his crown and the reward of shedding his blood in the name of Truth, justice and righteousness!

We commend our Bishop, clergy and faithful to the intercessions of St Philip, rejoicing in his radiant memory, and confident in his prayers.

Holy Hieromartyr and Wonderworker Philip, pray to God for us!

 

Saint Philip, Metropolitan of Moscow, in the world Theodore, was descended from the illustrious noble lineage of the Kolichevi, occupying a prominent place in the Boyar duma at the court of the Moscow sovereigns. He was born in the year 1507. His father, Stephen Ivanovich, “a man enlightened and filled with military spirit,” attentively prepared his son for government service.

Theodore’s pious mother Barbara, who ended her days as a nun with the name Barsanouphia, implanted in the soul of her son a sincere faith and deep piety. Young Theodore Kolichev applied himself diligently to the Holy Scripture and to the writings of the holy Fathers. The Moscow Great Prince Basil III, the father of Ivan the Terrible, brought young Theodore into the court, but he was not attracted to court life. Conscious of its vanity and sinfulness, Theodore all the more deeply immersed himself in the reading of books and visiting the churches of God. Life in Moscow repelled the young ascetic. The young Prince Ivan’s sincere devotion to him, promising him a great future in government service, could not deter him from seeking the Heavenly City.

On Sunday, June 5, 1537, in church for Divine Liturgy, Theodore felt intensely in his soul the words of the Savior: “No man can serve two masters” (Mt.6:24), which determined his ultimate destiny. Praying fervently to the Moscow wonderworkers, and without bidding farewell to his relatives, he secretly left Moscow in the attire of a peasant, and for a while he hid himself away from the world in the village of Khizna, near Lake Onega, earning his livelihood as a shepherd.

His thirst for ascetic deeds led him to the renowned Solovki monastery on the White Sea. There he fulfilled very difficult obediences: he chopped firewood, dug the ground, and worked in the mill. After a year and a half of testing, the igumen Alexis tonsured him, giving him the monastic name Philip and entrusting him in obedience to the Elder Jonah Shamina, a converser with Saint Alexander of Svir (August 30).

Under the guidance of experienced elders Philip grew spiritually, and progressed in fasting and prayer. Igumen Alexis sent him to work at the monastery forge, where Saint Philip combined the activity of unceasing prayer with his work with a heavy hammer.

He was always the first one in church for the services, and was the last to leave. He toiled also in the bakery, where the humble ascetic was comforted with a heavenly sign. In the monastery afterwards they displayed the “Bakery” image of the Mother of God, through which the heavenly Mediatrix bestowed Her blessing upon the humble baker Philip. With the blessing of the igumen, Saint Philip spent a certain while in wilderness solitude, attending to himself and to God.

In 1546 at Novgorod the Great, Archbishop Theodosius made Philip igumen of the Solovki monastery. The new igumen strove with all his might to exalt the spiritual significance of the monastery and its founders, Saints Sabbatius and Zosimus of Solovki (September 27, April 17). He searched for the Hodigitria icon of the Mother of God brought to the island by the first head of Solovki, Saint Sabbatius. He located the stone cross which once stood before the saint’s cell. The Psalter belonging to Saint Zosimus (+1478), the first igumen of Solovki, was also found. His robe, in which igumens would vest during the service on the days when Saint Zosimus was commemorated, was also discovered.

The monastery experienced a spiritual revival. A new monastic Rule was adopted to regulate life at the monastery. Saint Philip built majestic temples: a church of the Dormition of the Mother of God, consecrated in the year 1557, and a church of the Transfiguration of the Lord. The igumen himself worked as a simple laborer, helping to build the walls of the Transfiguration church. Beneath the north portico he dug himself a grave beside that of his guide, the Elder Jonah. Spiritual life in these years flourished at the monastery: struggling with the brethren with the disciples of Igumen Philip were Saints John and Longinus of Yarenga (July 3) and Bassian and Jonah of Pertominsk (July 12).

Saint Philip often withdrew to a desolate wilderness spot for quiet prayer, two versts from the monastery, which was later known as the Philippov wilderness.

But the Lord was preparing the saint for other work. In Moscow, Tsar Ivan the Terrible fondly remembered the Solovki hermit from his childhood. The Tsar hoped to find in Saint Philip a true companion, confessor and counsellor, who in his exalted monastic life had nothing in common with the sedition of the nobles. The Metropolitan of Moscow, in Ivan’s opinion, ought to have a certain spiritual meekness to quell the treachery and malice within the Boyar soul. The choice of Saint Philip as archpastor of the Russian Church seemed to him the best possible.

For a long time the saint refused to assume the great burden of the primacy of the Russian Church. He did not sense any spiritual affinity with Ivan. He attempted to get the Tsar to abolish the Oprichniki [secret police]. Ivan the Terrible attempted to argue its civil necessity. Finally, the dread Tsar and the holy Metropolitan came to an agreement: Saint Philip would not meddle in the affairs of the Oprichniki and the running of the government, he would not resign as Metropolitan in case the Tsar could not fulfill his wishes, and that he would be a support and counsellor of the Tsar, just as former Metropolitans supported the Moscow sovereigns. On July 25, 1566 Saint Philip was consecrated for the cathedra of Moscow’s hierarch saints, whose number he was soon to join.

Ivan the Terrible, one of the greatest and most contradictory figures in Russian history, lived an intensely busy life. He was a talented writer and bibliophile , he was involved in compiling the Chronicles (and himself suddenly cut the thread of the Moscow chronicle writing), he examined the intricacies of the monastic Rule, and more than once he thought about abdicating the throne for the monastic life.

Every aspect of governmental service, all the measures undertaken to restructure civil and social life, Ivan the Terrible tried to rationalize as a manifestation of Divine Providence, as God acting in history. His beloved spiritual heroes were Saint Michael of Chernigov (September 20) and Saint Theodore the Black (September 19), military men active with complex contradictory destinies, moving toward their ends through whatever the obstacles before them, and fulfilling their duties to the nation and to the Church.

The more the darkness thickened around Ivan, the more resolutely he demanded cleansing and redemption of his soul. Journeying on pilgrimage to the Saint Cyril of White Lake monastery, he declared his wish to become a monk to the igumen and the brethren. The haughty autocrat fell on his knees before the igumen, who blessed his intent. Ivan wrote, “it seems to me, an accursed sinner, that I am already robed in black.”

Ivan imagined the Oprichnina in the form of a monastic brotherhood, serving God with weapons and military deeds. The Oprichniki were required to dress in monastic garb and attend long and tiring church services, lasting from 4 to 10 o’clock in the morning. “Brethren” not in church at 4 o’clock in the morning, were given a penance by the Tsar. Ivan and his sons fervently wished to pray and sing in the church choir. From church they went to the trapeza, and while the Oprichniki ate, the Tsar stood beside them. The Oprichniki gathered leftover food from the table and distributed it to the poor at the doorway of the trapeza.

Ivan, with tears of repentance and wanting to be an esteemer of the holy ascetics, the teachers of repentance, wanted to wash and burn away his own sins and those of his companions, cherishing the assurance that even his terribly cruel actions would prove to be for the welfare of Russia and the triumph of Orthodoxy. The most clearly spiritual action and monastic sobriety of Ivan the Terrible is revealed in his “Synodikon.” Shortly before his death, he ordered full lists compiled of the people murdered by him and his Oprichniki. These were then distributed to all the Russian monasteries. Ivan acknowledged all his sins against the nation, and besought the holy monks to pray to God for the forgiveness of his tormented soul.

The pseudo-monasticism of Ivan the Terrible, a dark most grievous oppression over Russia, tormented Saint Philip, who considered it impossible to mix the earthly and the heavenly, serving the Cross and serving the sword. Saint Philip saw how much unrepentant malice and envy was concealed beneath the black cowls of the Oprichniki. There were outright murderers among them, hardened in lawless bloodletting, and profiteers seeking gain, rooted in sin and transgressions. By the sufferance of God, history is often made by the hands of the impious, and Ivan the Terrible wanted to whiten his black brotherhood before God. The blood spilled by its thugs and fanatics cried out to Heaven.

Saint Philip decided to oppose Ivan. This was prompted by a new wave of executions in the years 1567-1568. In the autumn of 1567, just as the Tsar was setting out on a campaign against Livonia, he learned about a boyar conspiracy. The plotters intended to seize the Tsar and deliver him to the Polish king, who already was on the move with an army towards Russian territory.

Ivan dealt severely with the conspirators, and again he shed much blood. It was bitter for Saint Philip, and the conscience of the saint compelled him boldly to enter into defense of the executed. The final rift occurred in the spring of 1568. On the Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross, March 2, 1568, when the Tsar with his Oprichniki entered the Dormition cathedral in monastic garb, as was their custom, Saint Philip refused to bless him, and began openly to denounce the lawless acts committed by the Oprichniki. The accusations of the hierarch shattered the harmony of the church service. In a rage Ivan retorted, “Would you oppose us? We shall see your firmness! I have been too soft on you.”

The Tsar began to show ever greater cruelty in persecuting all those who opposed him. Executions followed one after the other. The fate of the saintly confessor was sealed. But Ivan wanted to preserve a semblance of canonical propriety. The Boyar Duma obediently carried out his decision to place the Primate of the Russian Church on trial. A cathedral court was set up to try Metropolitan Philip in the presence of a diminished Boyar Duma, and false witnesses were found. To the deep sorrow of the saint, these were monks of the Solovki monastery, his former disciples and novices whom he loved. They accused Saint Philip of a multitude of transgressions, including sorcery.

“Like all my ancestors,” the saint declared, “I came into this world prepared to suffer for truth.” Having refuted all the accusations, the holy sufferer attempted to halt the trial by volunteering to resign his office. His resignation was not accepted, however, and new abuse awaited the martyr.

Even after a sentence of life imprisonment had been handed down, they compelled Saint Philip to serve Liturgy in the Dormition cathedral. This was on November 8, 1568. In the middle of the service, the Oprichniki burst into the temple, they publicly read the council’s sentence of condemnation, and then abused the saint. Tearing his vestments off, they dressed him in rags, dragged him out of the church and drove him off to the Theophany monastery on a simple peasant’s sledge.

For a long while they held the martyr in the cellars of the Moscow monasteries. They placed his feet into stocks, they held him in chains, and put a heavy chain around his neck. Finally, they drove him off to the Tver Otroch monastery. And there a year later, on December 23,1569, the saint was put to death at the hands of Maliuta Skuratov. Only three days before this the saint foresaw the end of his earthly life and received the Holy Mysteries. At first, his relics were committed to earth there at the monastery, beyond the church altar. Later, they were transferred to the Solovki monastery (August 11, 1591) and from there to Moscow (July 3, 1652).

Initially, the memory of Saint Philip was celebrated by the Russian Church on December 23, the day of his martyric death. In 1660, the celebration was transferred to January 9.

Source: The Orthodox Church in America

Canon of the holy hierarch, in Tone VIII.

Ode I, Irmos: That which had been hewn down divided the undivided, * and land unseen was seen by the sun; * water engulfed the cruel enemy, * and Israel traversed the impassable, chanting a hymn: * Let us sing unto the Lord, * for gloriously hath He been glorified!

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

O Lamb and Word of God, through the effulgence of Thy Holy Spirit send down upon my mind a brilliant ray of light, and inspire within me the words to praise him whom Thou hast chosen and taken to Thyself: the sacred passion-bearer Philip.

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

O holy one, ask of God divine grace for thy servant, and fill my soul with understanding, that I may praise thy life, O holy hierarch Philip, wherein, by thy struggles, thou didst astonish all, chanting unto the Lord: For gloriously hast Thou been glorified!

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Kings marvelled at thy mighty courage and the effulgence of the great virtues which illumined thy works, O venerable one, for thy tongue never ceased to admonish them, and thou didst chant unto the Lord: For gloriously hast Thou been glorified!

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

The words of the divinely eloquent preachers’ have been fulfilled in thee, O Mother of God; for, lo! thou hast given birth, O Virgin, to a little Babe Who is older than ancient Adam and is co-enthroned with the Father, unto the salvation of the whole world and the abolition of corruption.

Ode III, Irmos: My heart is established in the Lord, * my horn is exalted in my God, * my mouth is enlarged against mine enemies, * and I rejoice in Thy salvation.

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

Thou didst hasten to ascend the mountain of the virtues, and enter the darkness of vision, O holy hierarch Philip, and didst come to know, as far as it is possible, the nature of the Unapproachable One; and full of light, O father, thou didst receive divine grace.

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

Seeking the one God of goodness, and desiring to receive His glory alone, O blessed one, thou didst forsake the honour of thine earthly sojourn as something fleeting, and didst shine forth as a favoured  one of Christ, the Master of all.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

With desire for the Spirit, thou didst cause the desire of the flesh to wither away, O blessed one, and within thyself thou didst wed purity as thy bride; and through purity were all the virtues begotten in thee, O ever glorious one, making thee a child of the immaterial Light.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Thou didst slay the noetic serpent who brought death upon Adam in paradise and grief upon Eve, our first mother. And having caused Life to spring forth, O pure Virgin, thou hast freed us from corruption, for God ineffably issued forth from thy womb.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Sessional Hymn of the saint, in Tone VIII: Spec. Mel.: “Of the Wisdom …”: As the namesake and emulator of a chosen apostle, O father, thou didst endure tribulation and persecution. And emulating the zeal of the Prophet Elijah and the Baptist, thou didst manfully denounce the iniquitous, and didst govern well the see entrusted to thee, running the good race until the end. And thou hast left thy body behind like a mantle, emitting myrrh redolent of perfumes, and pourest forth the grace of the Spirit like rain, mystically watering the furrows of our hearts. O holy hierarch Philip, entreat Christ God, that He grant forgiveness of sins unto those who with love honour thy holy memory.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Repeat…

Ode IV, Irmos: With noetic eyes the Prophet Habbakuk * foresaw Thy coming, O Lord; * wherefore he cried aloud: * ‘God shall come out of Theman!’ Glory to Thy power! * Glory to Thy condescension!

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

Those moved by malice against thee, the innocent lamb, rose up like wild beasts against thee, and, unable to bear being pierced by thy words as with a pike, they were provoked to rage, O divinely wise and holy hierarch.

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

The whole world hath thee as its ally and help amid perils, for, as a faithful champion and a speedy intercessor, by thy sacred supplications thou dost rescue from dangers and misfortunes those who have recourse to thy care.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Having carried out the goodly struggles of Him Whom thou didst desire, O divinely wise namesake, thou hast been granted immortality, where, rejoicing, thou hast received the crown of victory, and criest aloud: Glory to Thine advent, O Christ!

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Cast down the might of all the enemies who bring grief to those who hymn thee as her who gave birth to the Lord of glory, O Mother of God, and preserve thy flock, unharmed by the assaults of the wicked, that we may bless thee as is meet.

Ode V, Irmos: Disperse, O Word, the darkness from my soul, * O Christ God, the Light-Giver, * Having driven out the primordial darkness of the abyss, * grant unto me the light of Thy commandments, * that early in the morning I may glorify Thee.

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

Thine intercession hath been shown to be like a ray of the Sun of righteousness, shining with the splendours of the virtues, O holy hierarch Philip, dispelling the cloud of the misfortunes which assail us. Preserve now in peace those who hymn thee, glorify and illumine them with beauty.

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

Thy tongue was shown to be a two-edged sword, O blessed one, for, armed with the fear of Christ, thou didst wisely denounce rulers, calling upon Christ, the King of all, as witness, and His divine apostles.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Thou wast shown to be a new man of zeal, like a second Moses, causing us to wonder not by performing awesome signs, but instructing us with the teachings of godly discourses, and leading us forth from the passions of Egypt to the calm haven of the new Israel.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

We call thee the noetic cloud, for from thee did Christ shine forth, O all-immaculate one, and show thee to be more spacious than the heavens: for without knowing a man, O pure one, thou hast given birth to Him Who became incarnate in His indescribable loving-kindness.

Ode VI, Irmos: Thou O Lord, didst place Jonah alone within the sea monster. * Do Thou save me, * who am ensnared in the nets of the enemy, * as thou didst save him from corruption.

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

Thou didst make thy general concern that those cared for by thee be one in soul and heart, O glorious one, abiding in the one Faith of Christ; thou didst uproot heathen customs, O wise one, and didst teach them to avoid divisions.

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

Moved by zeal for Christ, thou didst try to turn the rage of the ruler into meekness, and wast in nowise daunted by the threats of the tsar, for, in that thou art a doer of the commandments of Christ, thou didst show thyself to be a mighty and brave warrior, suffering for thy flock even unto death with rejoicing.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

We see thee, O holy hierarch Philip, as a light-bearing ray shining upon those in the darkness of life, and as an inextinguishable lamp burning with the immaterial Light, illumining all the ends of the earth and removing the gloom of ignorance.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

In a godly manner Moses, among the prophets, once prefigured thee, O all-immaculate one, as a tablet of the law, the lampstand of the Light, the tabernacle, the rod which budded forth, the jar containing the Manna, and the ladder whereby we are led up from earth to the heights of heaven.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Kontakion of the holy hierarch, in Tone III: Spec. Mel.: “Today the Virgin …”: Let us praise the most wise Philip, * the instructor of Orthodoxy, * the proclaimer of the Truth, the luminary of Russia, * who noetically feedeth his children with the food of his words; * for with his tongue he sang praise, * and with his lips he chanted hymnody, ** as an initiate of the mysteries of the grace of God.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Ikos: Come, ye who love the martyrs, and, celebrating the memory of the hieromartyr with hymnody and spiritual songs, let us rejoice in a godly manner. The time of our gladness and reward hath arrived, wherein we shall receive the gift of release from sufferings; for the pillar of fire hath appeared, consuming the heads of the iniquitous, but illumining the souls of the faithful with teachings of divine knowledge, and leading us, the New Israel, to the divine city, the heavenly Jerusalem, in that he is a disciple of the grace of God.

Ode VII, Irmos: On the plain of Dura the tyrant once placed a furnace * to torment the God-bearers; * and therein the three youths chanted hymns unto the one God, * and the three together, chanted saying: * O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

Thou didst stand before the Lord, adorned with the struggles of virtue and wearing a crown inlaid with drops of thy blood, O holy hierarch Philip. Wherefore, be thou ever mindful of those who celebrate thy radiant memorial, and chant: O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

Having fled the hordes of the noetic Pharaoh, O blessed one, thou didst easily pass over to the heavens, making thine abode there, receiving the honour of glory in the light of the righteous for thy patience, chanting in joy with the saints: O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Those who have recourse to thy shrine praise thee, blessing thee with love, O blessed one, for, kissing thy relics which lie therein, they receive abundant grace: for by thy touch thou hast healed diseases of the eyes and cured pain of the teeth for those who chant: O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

From the love of my soul I cry to thee, O Lady: O cloud of the supremely radiant Sun, portal of salvation, gate of heaven, noetic ladder, accept the entreaty of all Christians who bless thee, the hope of our souls, and who cry aloud to thy Son: O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Ode VIII, Irmos: O Thou who dost cover Thy chambers on high with the waters, * Thou Who hast set the sands to bound the sea * and Who upholdest all things: * the sun doth sing Thy praises, * the moon giveth Thee glory, * every creature offereth a hymn unto Thee, * as their Fashioner, throughout the ages.

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

Thou dost freely heal those who call upon thee with faith, as, appearing to the paralytic, thou didst straightway raise him up, didst heal one suffering from a complaint of the liver by the touch of thy hand, and by thine appearance didst move to joy one suffering from despondency, O blessed one, ever doing these things for all, throughout the ages.

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

In that thou wast a victor, O all-blessed one, with His life-bearing right hand the Creator hath set upon thy head the crown of suffering, an honour beyond price; and He hath preserved thy body unharmed by earthly wolves, emitting the sweet savour of perfumes. And thus, hath the Judge of the contest glorified thee throughout the ages.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

As a true pastor, O blessed one, do thou subdue arrogance and civil strife; drive away the wolves which rage against thy flock with the staff of thy supplications; make mighty the rule of our civil authorities, and put down the uprisings of the heathen, that we may hymn thee as our intercessor throughout the ages.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

With the shield of the Faith do thou preserve thy holy temple, O Virgin Theotokos; vouchsafe thy glory unto those who together glorify thee therein, and deliver us from the assault and retribution of the barbarians; and still thou the raging waves of our mind by thy supplication, O all-hymned one.

Ode IX, Irmos: Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, * Who hath exalted the horn of salvation on our behalf * in the house of His child David, * wherein the Dayspring from on high hath visited us, * and guided us on the path of peace.

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

Thou didst theologize concerning the one essence of the Trinity, and boldly denouncing those who taught vain things, O all-wise one, and exhorting the faithful with thy godly instructions, thou didst wisely strengthen them. O holy hierarch Philip, dweller with the angels, preserve in peace those who celebrate thy memory.

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

For youths silence is a relative attainment, yet for fathers is it truly wondrous; wherefore, do thou accept this our thanksgiving, O father, not as truly worthy to serve for thy praise, but as offered unto thee with fervour; for we are unable to praise and magnify thee as is meet.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

As one co-enthroned with the apostles, equally enrolled in the choir of the martyrs, and equal in honour with the holy hierarchs, O passion-bearer Philip, by thine intercession preserve those who hymn thee in peace, lift up the horn of our civil authorities, and set at naught the savagery of the barbarians, that, rejoicing, we may hymn and magnify thee.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O receptacle of the Light, divinely joyous Lady, true confirmation of holy hierarchs and boast of all the venerable: save us who hymn thee, the all-hymned one, from misfortunes and evil circumstances, and from the invasion of the heathen.

Troparion, in Tone VIII: O successor of the primates of Russia, pillar of orthodoxy, * champion of the truth, new confessor, holy hierarch Philip, * thou didst lay down thy life for thy flock. * Wherefore, as thou hast boldness before Christ, pray thou for this city, ** and the people who honour thy holy memory as is meet.

St Ephrem the Syrian: Hymn 14 of the Epiphany, concerning our Lord and John.

1. My thought bore me to Jordan,
and I saw a marvel when there was revealed
the glorious Bridegroom who to the Bride
shall bring freedom and holiness.

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

2. I saw John filled with wonder
and the multitudes standing about him
and the glorious Bridegroom bowed down
to the Son of the barren that he might baptise Him.

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

3. At the Word and the Voice my thought marvelled:
for lo! John was the Voice;
our Lord was manifested as the Word,
that what was hidden should become revealed.

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

4. The Bride was espoused but knew not
who was the Bridegroom on whom she gazed:
the guests were assembled, the desert was filled
and our Lord was hidden among them.
                                                              

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy

5. Then the Bridegroom revealed Himself
and to John at the voice He drew near:
and the Forerunner was moved and said of Him
This is the Bridegroom Whom I proclaimed.

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

6. He came to baptism Who baptises all
and He showed Himself at Jordan.
John saw Him and drew back
deprecating, and thus he spoke:

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

7. How, my Lord, dost Thou will to be baptised
Thou Who in Thy baptism atonest all?
Baptism looks unto Thee
do Thou shed on it holiness and perfection?

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

8. Our Lord said I will it so
draw near, baptise Me that My Will may be done.
Resist My Will thou cannot:
I shall be baptised of thee, for thus I will it.

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

9. I entreat, my Lord, that I be not compelled
for this is hard that Thou hast said to me
‘I need thee to baptise Me;’
for it is Thou that with Thy hyssop purifiest all.

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

10. I have asked it, and it pleases Me that thus it should be
and thou, John, why dost thou gainsay?
Allow righteousness to be fulfilled
and come, baptise Me; why art thou standing there?

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

11. How can one openly grasp
in his hands the fire that burns?
O Thou that art fire have mercy on me
and bid me not come near Thee, for it is hard for me!

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

12. I have revealed to thee My Will;
what dost thou question?
Draw near, baptise Me, and thou shalt not be burned.
The bridechamber is ready; keep Me not back
from the wedding-feast that has been made ready.

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

13. The Watchers fear and dare not
gaze on Thee lest they be blinded
and I, how, O my Lord, shall I baptise Thee?
I am too weak to draw near; blame me not!

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

14. Thou fearest; therefore gainsay not
against My Will in what I desire:
and Baptism hath respect unto Me.
Accomplish the work to which thou hast been called!

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

15. Lo! I proclaimed Thee at Jordan
in the ears of the people that believed not
and if they shall see Thee baptised of me
they will doubt that Thou art the Lord.

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

16. Lo! I am to be baptised in their sight
and the Father Who sent Me bears witness of Me
that I am His Son and in Me He is well pleased
to reconcile Adam who was under His wrath.

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

17. It becomest, me, O my Lord, to know my nature
that I am moulded out of the ground
and Thee the moulder Who formest all things:
I, then, why should I baptise Thee in water?

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

18. It becomes thee to know why I have come
and for what cause I have desired that thou shouldst baptise Me.
It is the middle of the way wherein I have walked
withhold not Baptism.

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

19. Small is the river whereto Thou hast come
that Thou shouldst lodge therein and it should cleanse Thee.
The heavens suffice not for Thy mightiness;
how much less shall Baptism contain Thee!

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

20. The womb is smaller than Jordan;
yet was I willing to lodge in the Virgin:
and as I was born from woman
so too am I to be baptised in Jordan.

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

21. Lo! The hosts are standing!
the ranks of Watchers, lo! They worship!
And if I draw near, my Lord, to baptise Thee
I tremble for myself with quaking.

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

22. The hosts and multitudes call thee happy
all of them, for that thou baptisest Me.
For this I have chosen thee from the womb:
fear not, for I have willed it.

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

23. I have prepared the way as I was sent:
I have betrothed the Bride as I was commanded.
May Thine Epiphany be spread over the world
now that Thou hast come, and let me not baptise Thee!

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

24. This is My preparation, for so have I willed;
I will go down and be baptised in Jordan,
and make bright the armour for them that are baptised
that they may be white in Me and I not be conquered.

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

25. Son of the Father, why should I baptise Thee?
for lo! Thou art in Thy Father and Thy Father in Thee.
Holiness unto the priests Thou givest –
why dost Thou ask for water that is common?

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

  1. The children of Adam look unto Me
    that I should work for them the new birth.
    A way in the waters I will search out for them
    and if I be not baptised this cannot be.

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

27. High-priests of Thee are consecrated
priests by Thy hyssop are purified –
the anointed and the kings Thou makest.
Baptism, how shall it profit Thee?

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

28. The Bride thou didst betroth to Me awaits Me
that I should go down, be baptised, and sanctify her.
Friend of the Bridegroom withhold Me not
from the washing that awaits Me.

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

29. I am not able, for I am weak
Thou blazest in my hands to grasp.
Lo! Thy legions are as flame
bid one of the Watchers baptise Thee!

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

30. Not from the Watchers was My Body assumed,
that I should summon a Watcher to baptise Me.
The body of Adam, lo! I have put on
and thou, son of Adam, art to baptise Me.

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

31. The waters saw Thee, and greatly feared;
the waters saw Thee, and lo! They tremble!
The river foams in its terror
and I that am weak, how shall I baptise Thee?

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

32. The waters in My Baptism are sanctified,
and fire and the Spirit from Me shall they receive
and if I be not baptised they are not made perfect
to be fruitful of children that shall not die.

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

33. Fire, if to Thy fire it draw near
shall be burnt up of it as stubble.
The mountains of Sinai endured Thee not
and I that am weak, wherein shall I baptise Thee?

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

34. I am the flaming fire
yet for man’s sake I became a babe
in the virgin womb of the maiden.
And now I am to be baptised in Jordan.

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

35. It is very meet that Thou shouldst baptise me
for Thou hast holiness to purify all.
In Thee it is that the defiled are made holy;
but Thou that art holy, why art Thou to be baptised?

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

36. It is very right that thou shouldst baptise Me
as I bid, and should not gainsay.
Lo! I baptised thee within the womb –
baptise me in Jordan!

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

37. I am a bondman and I am weak.
Thou that freest all have mercy on me!
Thy latchets to unloose I am not able
Thine exalted head who will make me worthy to touch?

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

38. Bondmen in My Baptism are set free
handwritings in My washing are blotted out
manumissions in the water are sealed;
and if I be not baptised all these come to nought.

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

39. A mantle of fire the air wears
and waits for Thee, above Jordan;
and if Thou consent to it and will to be baptised
Thou shall baptise Thyself and fulfil all.

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

40. This is meet, that thou should baptise Me
that none may err and say concerning Me –
‘Had He not been alien from the Father’s house –
why feared the Levite to baptise Him?’

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

41. The prayer, then, when Thou art baptised-
how shall I complete over Jordan?
When the Father and the Spirit are seen over Thee –
Whom shall I call on, as priest?

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

42. The prayer in silence is to be completed:
come, thy hand alone lay on Me,
and the Father shall utter in the priest’s stead –
that which is meet concerning His Son.

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

43. They that are bidden, lo! All of them stand –
the Bridegroom’s guests, lo! They bear witness
that day by day I said among them,
‘I am the Voice and not the Word.’

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

44. Voice of him that criest in the wilderness
fulfil the work for which thou didst come –
that the desert whereunto thou didst go out may resound
with the mighty peace thou didst preach therein.

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

45. The shout of the Watchers has come to my ears –
lo! I hear from the Father’s house –
the hosts that sound forth the cry,
‘In Thine Epiphany, O Bridegroom, the worlds have life.’

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

46. The time hastes on, and the marriage guests
look to Me to see what is doing.
Come, baptise Me, that they may give praise
to the Voice of the Father when it is heard!

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

47. I hearken, my Lord, according to Thy Word:
come to Baptism as Thy love constrainest Thee!
The dust worships that whereunto he has attained
that on Him Who fashioned him he should lay his hand.

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

48. The heavenly ranks were silent as they stood
and the Bridegroom went down into Jordan;
the Holy One was baptised and straightway went up
and His Light shone forth on the world.

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

49. The doors of the highest were opened above
and the voice of the Father was heard –
This is my Beloved in Whom I am well pleased.
All ye peoples, come and worship Him.

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

50. They that saw were amazed as they stood,
at the Spirit Who came down and bore witness to Him.
Praise to Thine Epiphany that gladdens all –
Thou in Whose revelation the worlds are lightened!

Response:  Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Heaven and earth worship Thee with joy!

Greetings on the feast of Theophany

Dear brothers and sisters, greetings for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord!

It is only a matter of days since we celebrated the Circumcision of the Saviour, according to the Law, even though He is the Giver of the Law, and today we celebrate His Baptism in the Jordan, despite His sinlessness, and the reality that He is the very Creator of the waters into which He descended.

The old seal of circumcision, limited to the chosen people of the Old Israel, is replaced by the universal cleansing of baptism, to which all people are called by the Lord leading by image and example, consecrating the waters of creation as He – the Creator – enters the Jordan, not simply as man, but as God.

St Proclus, Patriarch of Constantinople, wrote:

“Today’s feast of the Epiphany manifests even more wonders than the feast of Christmas… On the feast of the Saviour’s birth, the earth rejoiced because it bore the Lord in a manger; but on today’s feast of the Epiphany, it is the sea that is glad and leaps for joy; the sea is glad because it receives the blessing of holiness in the river Jordan.”

What was lacking in the ritual bathing of the Jews and the baptism of repentance of the Forerunner is made complete, as the Trinity is manifested at the River Jordan, so that the waters of baptism are not only a source of holiness for us, but through the operation of the Holy Spirit, they are the effectual means of our cleansing from sin and clothing in Christ, as we are baptised in the Name of the Father, and of Son, and of the Holy Spirit, who acted in Divine Unity in this glorious feast.

Creation rejoiced as it was sanctified by Christ our God in His immeasurable holiness, descending into the river, as ‘the worship of the Trinity was made manifest’ – the Father speaking as Heaven opened, the Saviour’s Sonship confirmed by His words, and the Holy Spirit’s descent and visible anointing of the Messiah.

In his 6th Hymn for the feast, St Ephrem connects our baptism with that of the Lord, and with his characteristic uses of paradox, he explores the blessings of both our descent and ascent in imitating the Saviour’s journey into the very heart of the Jordan, to which we are called and in which we are immersed in our own baptism:

“The baptised when they come up are sanctified;
the sealed when they go down are pardoned.
They who come up have put on glory
they who go down have cast off sin.
Adam put off his glory in a moment
you have been clothed with glory in a moment.”

Having descended into the cleansing waters of baptism – year by year – this feast calls us to a continuing spiritual ascent into the Light of Christ, in purity and holiness, and St Ephrem reminds us to struggle to maintain the whiteness of our baptismal robe, calling those who have stained it to cleanse it by tears of repentance.

“Today, lo! Your offenses are blotted out
and your names are written down.
The priest blots out in the water
and Christ writes down in Heaven.
By the blotting out and the writing down
lo! Doubled is your rejoicing…

The gift that you have received freely
cease not from watching over it:
this pearl if it shall be lost
cannot again be sought out
for it is like to virginity
which if it be lost is not to be found.

May you from all defilement
be kept by the power of your white robes!
and he whose freedom has defiled itself
may it be able to wash itself clean by his weeping!”

May this feast call us to watchfulness and attention to the great gift we have received in baptism, and where we have stained our baptismal robe, may it call us to the restorative laver of repentance, confession and communion of the Holy Mysteries – which like Baptism, are a foretaste of Christ’s resurrection into which we are baptised and the Kingdom of Heaven – Heaven which opened ‘today’,

The Father declared His pleasure in the Incarnate Word, whose obedience brought Him in the flesh: to the Cave of Bethlehem, to His Circumcision on the eight day, to the arms of the righteous Symeon, to  the baptismal waters of the Jordan, and subsequently to the cross and tomb, before His Ascension – and this Ascension in glory, clothed in the flesh of Adam, robed in our humanity, is the wonder to which this feast of the Lord’s Baptism calls us.

Let us be attentive, in humility, obedience, striving in holiness and the life of the Gospel, so that our ascent from the baptismal waters lead us into the Heavens that opened on this glorious feast, so that the Father may say of each of us – “This is my son. This is my daughter – in whom I am well pleased.”

Rising from the Jordan, let each of strive to clamber toward the Kingdom of Heaven.

May God bless you on this glorious feast!

With love in Christ – Fr Mark

 

 

ST EPHREM THE SYRIAN: HYMN 6 ON THE EPIPHANY

1. The Spirit came down from on high
and hallowed the waters by His brooding.
In the baptism of John,
He passed by the rest and abode on One:
but now He has descended and abode
on all that are born of the water.

Response: Blessed be He Who was baptised that He might baptise you, that you should be absolved from your offenses.

2. Out of all that John baptised
on One it was that the Spirit dwelt:
but now He has flown and come down
that He may dwell on the many
and as each after each comes up, He loves him and abides on him.

Response: Blessed be He Who was baptised that He might baptise you, that you should be absolved from your offenses.

3. A marvel it is that surpasses all!
To the water He went down and was baptised.
The seas declared it blessed,
that river wherein Thou wast baptised:
even the waters that were in heaven envied
because they were not worthy to be Thy bath.

Response: Blessed be He Who was baptised that He might baptise you, that you should be absolved from your offenses.

4. A marvel it is, O my Lord, now also
that while the fountains are full of water
it is the water of baptism
that alone is able to atone.
Mighty is the water in the seas
yet is it too weak for atonement.

Response: Blessed be He Who was baptised that He might baptise you, that you should be absolved from your offenses.

5. Thy might, O my Lord, if it abides
within the humble it exalts him
like as royalty if it abide
within the desert gives it peace.
Water by Thy might has triumphed
over sin, for Life has encompassed it.

Response: Blessed be He Who was baptised that He might baptise you, that you should be absolved from your offenses.

6. The sheep exulted when they saw
the hand draw near to baptise them.
Receive, O you sheep, your sealing; enter and be mingled in the flock!
for more than over all the flock
over you rejoice the Watchers today.

Response: Blessed be He Who was baptised that He might baptise you, that you should be absolved from your offenses.

7. The Angels and the Watchers rejoice
over that which is born of the Spirit and of water:
they rejoice that by fire and by the Spirit
the corporeal have become spiritual.
The Seraphim who sing Holy rejoice
that they who are made holy have been increased.

Response: Blessed be He Who was baptised that He might baptise you, that you should be absolved from your offenses.

8. For lo! The Angels rejoice
over one sinner if he repent:
how much more do they now rejoice
that in all churches and congregations
lo! Baptism is bringing forth
the heavenly from the earthly!

Response: Blessed be He Who was baptised that He might baptise you, that you should be absolved from your offenses.

9. The baptised when they come up are sanctified;
the sealed when they go down are pardoned.
They who come up have put on glory
they who go down have cast off sin.
Adam put off his glory in a moment
you have been clothed with glory in a moment.

Response: Blessed be He Who was baptised that He might baptise you, that you should be absolved from your offenses.

10. A house that is of dust when it has fallen
by means of water can be renewed:
the body of Adam that was of dust
which had fallen by water has been renewed.
Lo! The priests as builders
afresh renew your bodies.

Response: Blessed be He Who was baptised that He might baptise you, that you should be absolved from your offenses.

11. A great marvel is this of the wool
that it can take every dye
as the mind takes every discourse.
By the name of its dye it is called
as you who were
baptised when Hearers,
have gained the name of Recipients.

Response: Blessed be He Who was baptised that He might baptise you, that you should be absolved from your offenses.

12. The common waters he sanctified
even Elisha through the Name that is secret.
In them washed the leper openly
and was cleansed by the Power that is secret:
the leprosy was done away in the water, as transgressions in Baptism.

Response: Blessed be He Who was baptised that He might baptise you, that you should be absolved from your offenses.

13. Today, lo! Your offenses are blotted out
and your names are written down.
The priest blots out in the water
and Christ writes down in Heaven.
By the blotting out and the writing down
lo! Doubled is your rejoicing.

Response: Blessed be He Who was baptised that He might baptise you, that you should be absolved from your offenses.

14. Lo! Mercy has dawned today
and from bound to bound it stretches:
the sun has sunk and mercy has dawned.
Justice has drawn in her wrath; Grace has spread forth her love
lo! she pardons and quickens freely.

Response: Blessed be He Who was baptised that He might baptise you, that you should be absolved from your offenses.

15. The sheep that beforetime were in the fold
lo! They hasten forth to greet
the new lambs that have been added to it.
They are white and are clad in white
within and without white are your bodies as your vestments.

Response: Blessed be He Who was baptised that He might baptise you, that you should be absolved from your offenses.

16. From every mouth Blessed are you,
on every side Blessed are you.
Sin from you is driven out
and the Holy Spirit on you is dwelling.
The Evil One has become sad of countenance;
the Good God makes glad your countenance.

Response: Blessed be He Who was baptised that He might baptise you, that you should be absolved from your offenses.

17. The gift that you have received freely
cease not from watching over it:
this pearl if it shall be lost
cannot again be sought out
for it is like to virginity
which if it be lost is not to be found.

Response: Blessed be He Who was baptised that He might baptise you, that you should be absolved from your offenses.

18. May you from all defilement
be kept by the power of your white robes!
and he whose freedom has defiled itself
may it be able to wash itself clean by his weeping!
For me who am servant of the community
may the supplication of the community win pardon!

Response: Blessed be He Who was baptised that He might baptise you, that you should be absolved from your offenses.

19. To the author who has toiled in words
be reconciliation in rest!
to the teacher who has toiled with voice
be forgiveness through grace!
to the priest who has toiled in baptizing
let there come the crown of righteousness!

Response: Blessed be He Who was baptised that He might baptise you, that you should be absolved from your offenses.

20. From every mouth with one consent,
of those beneath and those above
Watchers, Cherubim, and Seraphim
the baptised, the sealed, and the hearers
let each of us cry aloud and say
Glory to the Lord of our feasts!

Response: Blessed be He Who was baptised that He might baptise you, that you should be absolved from your offenses.

Christmas Thanks

Dear brothers and sisters, Христос Рождается!

After a busy couple of days for our parishes, I would like to thank all who worked so incredibly hard for Nativity celebrations in Cardiff and Cheltenham – singers, readers, servers, bakers, cooks, and flower-arrangers. Thanks also to all who brought candles with which to light St John’s.

Our Nativity services made for a long night, with the vigil followed by the Liturgy, and we are indebted to Father Luke for confessing parishioners for much of the vigil, before serving the proskomedia.

Saturday saw our Nativity Liturgy in Cheltenham, before a festive visit to Fr Robert and a parish visit on the way home, and Sunday was blessed with a very prayerful and joyful Liturgy back in Carrdiff.

I now look forward to enjoying the sviatky with parishioners around our rather wide parish.

I would like to repeat the thanks expressed at Liturgy for the extraordinary generosity of parishioners in their Christmas giving. It sounds like the Generation Game if one goes through the catalogue of presents – icons, tea, beeswax candles, chocolates, dates, wine, vodka, prianniky, soaps, conserves… but no teasmade or cuddly toy. The generous monetary gifts will pay for an icon of three of the Moscow holy-fools: Tsar Feodor Ioannovich, Vasily Blazhenny and Maxim Blazhenny.

Next Sunday’s service will be at the usual time of 11:00, with the Liturgy following the Hours.

May I ask local parishioners who require confession to email as soon as possible – otetzmark@hotmail.com – so that I may make arrangements for Friday and Saturday? May I also ask those requiring Sunday confession to forewarn the clergy?

Wishing you continuing joy and blessings in the holy-days following the Nativity.

With love in Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Nativity Greetings

Dear brothers and sisters, 

I greet you all with the joy of the feast of the Nativity of Our Lord, and God, and Saviour, Jesus Christ, in which we celebrate the enfleshment of God’s love in the Incarnation of God-Man who shared His humanity, earthly life and Good News with us – born in a cave and laid in the manger of dumb beasts. 

We approach this feast with the shepherds and the magi, and like them we are surrounded by great darkness. But, for us it is not the darkness of the night sky, in which the magi watched the stars or the physical darkness of the Judaean night in which the shepherds watched for wild animals or thieves, but spiritual-darkness, uncertainty and fear that surrounds us.  

Not wolves and lions, but a myriad of spiritual dangers and forces wait to attack us on every side, but though we may not be able to change the exterior darkness, it is for each us to choose whether to be watchful and vigilant, to seek the inner-light, or to abandon ourselves to the danger-filled blackness of the spiritual night. 

Through this darkness, the Lord calls out to us, “Fear not!” and it is the Incarnate Saviour, Himself, who has become the messenger/angelos that brings the tidings of joy and true peace, possible in the hearts of the faithful, even in the most terrifying, violent and threatening of times.  

It is the Saviour Himself who has become the day-star from on high, the Light of the world, guiding us through the perils and dangers, dispelling the shadows for those who seek Him and rejoice in His birth. 

Knowing that He remains Emmanuel – God-with-us – we are called to rise up and hasten to Him, to bow down and worship Him, and like the shepherds and magi, to put aside everything that previously seemed important and pressing.  

The magi left behind all that was familiar, secure and comfortable, in order to seek Truth, willing to face risks and dangers to arrive at the place where they would find that Truth and offer Him their gifts as they bowed down and worshipped Him. 

The shepherds willingly left the light and security of the fireside and the protection of the sheep-fold to stumble through the darkness to search for the Light of the World.  

Like them both, we must struggle through the night to bring whatever gifts we have, however great and noble, or more likely poor and humble – for poverty and humility are at the heart of this feast.  

The Only-Begotten Son and Word of God, hid the glory of his divinity within the vulnerable body of a baby, whose extreme-humility and obedience saw Him silent and suffering on the journey to the Cross and Life-Giving Tomb, in which He was be placed in the swaddling-bands of His grave-clothes, and through which humanity received its own new nativity in the Saviour’s rising on the third day. 

For, what was the meaning of this earthward ‘journey’ of the Saviour, revealed in the manger in the cave of Bethlehem? It was to storm the gates of death and hell, and to raise up fallen-Adam and the generations of his children, past, present and yet to come. It was to be born so that mankind may live, and to become man, that man might become god. 

And so, through this feast Christ-God ‘leaps’ down to the Virgin’s womb, so that humanity might may leap into the heights of heaven, and as the Paschal icon shows Christ take Adam and Eve by the hand in the dark shades of hades, in His Nativity He reaches out to each of us, to take us by the hand. 

Let us place our hands in His and – letting go of all that chains us down and holds us back – allow Him to lead us from darkness into the Light, and like the shepherds and magi, let us go away from this feast changed by our encounter with the Incarnate Word, illumined  by Christ the true Light come into the world.

Wishing you a joyful Nativity. 

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark 

The Advent Journey With the Saints: The Holy Venerable-Martyr Eugenia

Thursday 24 December / 6 January: Forefeast of the Nativity of Christ and the Holy Venerable-Martyr Eugenia

The Holy Martyr Eugenia, was a Roman by birth. She lived at Alexandria, where her father Philip was sent by the emperor Commodus (180-192) to be Prefect of Egypt. Eugenia received a fine upbringing and was noted for her beauty and good disposition. Many illustrious youths sought her hand, but she did not wish to marry anyone, for she was determined to preserve her virginity.

Providentially, she became acquainted with the Epistles of the Apostle Paul. She yearned with all her soul to become a Christian, but kept this a secret from her parents. At that time, Christians were banished from Alexandria by the command of the emperor. Wishing to learn more about Christian teachings, she asked permission to visit one of the family estates outside the city, supposedly to enjoy the countryside. She left in the company of her two servants Protus and Hyacinthus, dressed in men’s clothes. She and her companions were baptized at a certain monastery by Bishop Elias (July 14), who learned about her in a vision. He blessed her to pursue asceticism at the monastery disguised as the monk Eugene.

By her ascetic labours, Saint Eugenia acquired the gift of healing. Once, a rich young woman named Melanthia turned to her for help. Seeing “Eugene,” this woman burned with an impure passion, and when she was spurned, she falsely accused the saint of attempted rape. Saint Eugenia came to trial before the Prefect of Egypt (her father), and she was forced to reveal her secret. Her parents and brothers rejoiced to find the one for whom they had long grieved.

After a while they all accepted holy Baptism. But Philip, after being denounced by pagans, was dismissed from his post. The Alexandrian Christians chose him as their bishop. The new Prefect, fearing the wrath of the people, did not dare to execute Philip openly, but sent assassins to kill him. They inflicted wounds upon Saint Philip while he was praying, from which he died three days later.

Saint Claudia went to Rome with her sons, daughter, and her servants. There Saint Eugenia continued with monastic life, and brought many young women to Christ. Claudia built a wanderers’ hostel and aided the poor. After several peaceful years, the emperor Galienus (260-268) intensified the persecution against Christians, and many of them found refuge with Saints Claudia and Eugenia.

Basilla, an orphaned Roman girl of imperial lineage, heard about the Christians and Saint Eugenia. She sent a trusted servant to the saint asking her to write her a letter explaining Christian teachings. Saint Eugenia sent her friends and co-ascetics, Protus and Hyacinthus, who enlightened Basilla, and she accepted holy Baptism.

Basilla’s servant then told her fiancé Pompey that his betrothed had become a Christian. Pompey then complained to the emperor against the Christians for preaching celibacy and denouncing idolatry. Basilla refused to enter into marriage with Pompey, and so they killed her with a sword.

They dragged Saints Protus and Hyacinthus into a temple to make them sacrifice to the idols, but just as they entered, the idol fell down and was shattered. The holy Martyrs Protus and Hyacinthus were beheaded. They also brought Saint Eugenia to the temple of Diana by force, but she had not even entered it, when the pagan temple collapsed with its idol.

They threw the holy martyr into the Tiber with a stone about her neck, but the stone became untied and she remained unharmed. She also remained unscathed in the fire. Then they cast her into a pit, where she remained for ten days. During this time the Savior Himself appeared to her and said that she would enter into the heavenly Kingdom on the day He was born. When this radiant Feast came, the executioner put her to death with a sword. After her death, Saint Eugenia appeared to her mother to tell her beforehand the day of her own death.

Source: The Orthodox Church in America

Canon of the forefeast, the acrostic whereof is the (Greek) alphabet, the composition of Joseph, in Tone II:

Ode 1, Irmos: In the deep of old the infinite Power overwhelmed Pharaoh’s whole army. * But the Incarnate Word annihilated pernicious sin. * Exceedingly glorious is the Lord, * for gloriously hath He been glorified.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Thou wast registered according to the edict of Caesar, desiring to enter mankind into the book of life, O King of all; and in a strange manner Thou didst come unto Thine own summoning to heaven him who had grievously been exiled from paradise.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Receive Christ, O Bethlehem, for He cometh to thee incarnate, opening Eden to me! Prepare thyself, O cave, for thou shalt behold the Infinite One most gloriously contained within thee, having now abased Himself in the richness of His compassion.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Christ cometh to be born, bestowing a strange regeneration upon the descendants of Adam, in that He is God. Be glad, O human nature, thou barren desert, for the Master hath come to make thee bear many children.

Canon of the martyr, the acrostic whereof is: “In songs I eminently hymn the great glory of Eugenia”, the composition of Theophanes, in the same tone:

Irmos: In the deep of old the infinite Power overwhelmed Pharaoh’s whole army. * But the Incarnate Word annihilated pernicious sin. * Exceedingly glorious is the Lord, * for gloriously hath He been glorified.

Venerable-Martyr, Eugenia, pray to God for us.

O Eugenia, martyr of Christ, joyfully dancing now with the angelic armies, as an immaculate virgin, as a most noetically rich and crowned martyr, pray thou, that He bestow grace upon, those who hymn thee with love.

Venerable-Martyr, Eugenia, pray to God for us.

Hearkening to divine hymnody, O bride of Christ, through thy nobility thou didst soar aloft to the Most High; for like light the theology of hymns of the Spirit shone in thy heart, driving away all ungodliness.

Venerable-Martyr, Eugenia, pray to God for us.

Unmindful of thy feminine nature, thy mind hastened to manly feats, having found courage through grace, being directed toward the providence of God, O martyr Eugenia, namesake of divine nobility.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Illumined with noetic light, O divinely wise one, thou didst cause a great many to partake of effulgence; delivering from sin those who hymn thee, by thine entreaties grant it.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

We the faithful who have been slain by the tree of knowledge, O pure one, have, by Christ God – the Tree of Life, Who sprang forth from thee in a manner past understanding, O Theotokos, been called back to life. Entreat Him with boldness, that our souls be saved.

Ode III, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: The desert of the barren Church of the nations * blossomed like a lily * at Thy coming, O Lord, * therein hath my heart been established.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Delivering me from the bonds of evil, O Lord Who lovest mankind, Thou comest to be wrapped as a babe in swaddling-bands. I worship Thy divine condescension!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

The Virgin cometh forth to give birth to Thee Who, though Thou hast shone forth timelessly from the Father, hast come under time, releasing our souls from the ancient passions.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Seeking me who have become lost through disobedience, Thou hast made the cave a dwelling-place, like unto heaven; preparing mansions for me there, O Compassionate and greatly Merciful One!

Canon of the Martyr, Irmos: Thou hast established me on the rock of faith, * and my mouth hath been emboldened against mine enemies. * For my spirit rejoiceth when I sing: * There is none as holy as our God * and none more righteous than Thee, O Lord.

Venerable-Martyr, Eugenia, pray to God for us.

With most perfect resolve thou didst offer thyself to the Master as an unblemished sacrifice, spurning corrupt wealth, O all-wise one, and crying aloud: Thou art our God, and there is none more holy than Thee, O Lord!

Venerable-Martyr, Eugenia, pray to God for us.

O all-pure one, thy purity was recognized, and the might of thy sufferings hath shone forth; for thou didst make thine activity an ascent of vision, crying: Thou art our God, and there is none more holy than Thee, O Lord!

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Held fast by desire for chastity, thou didst preserve the boast of purity, and didst become pleasing in wisdom, crying out to Christ: Thou art our God, and there is none more holy than Thee, O Lord!

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O ye divinely wise, let us hymn Mary, the pure Theotokos, who hath been revealed to be the mediatress of salvation, and let us cry aloud: There is none as pure as thee, O most pure one, and none more immaculate than thee, O Lady!

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Sessional Hymn of the martyr, in Tone VIII: Spec. Mel.: “Of the Wisdom …”: Confining thyself to feats of struggle, thou didst become glorious through the struggles of martyrdom, leading many of the saved to thy Creator; for, having forsaken transitory things with divine love, thou didst accomplish courageous struggles, O glorious one. Wherefore, after thine end thou hast found endless life, abiding ever with thy Bridegroom, O angelic Eugenia. Entreat Christ God, that He grant remission of sins unto those who honour thy most precious memory with love.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Sessional Hymn of the forefeast, in Tone VIII: Today the earth hath been shown forth as heaven for me, for therein the Creator is born and laid in a manger, in Bethlehem of Judah. Shepherds chant unceasingly with the angels: “Glory in the highest, and peace on earth!” For they beheld the star which journeyed with the magi, who hastened quickly to bring gifts of gold, myrrh and frankincense to the God of all, the eternal King and Creator of all things, Who in His tender compassion is born in a cave.

Ode IV, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: From a Virgin didst Thou come forth, not as an ambassador, * nor as an Angel, * but the very Lord himself incarnate, * and didst save me, the whole man; * wherefore I cry unto Thee: * Glory to Thy power, O Lord!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Now creation hath cast off all aging, beholding Thee, the Creator taking on our form and in newness becoming a babe, leading it back to its pristine beauty.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Marvelling at His most glorious nativity, the magi who had been led by the divine star stood and beheld the Sun shining forth from the cloud of the Virgin, and they offered gifts unto Him.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Behold, the Virgin cometh as a heifer, bearing in her womb the fatted Calf Who taketh away the sins of the world, that creation may rejoice, holding festival.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

The predictions of the prophets which proclaimed the manifestation of Christ have now received their salvific fulfilment; for He hath come in the flesh to enlighten those who languish in darkness.

Canon of the Martyr, Irmos: From a Virgin didst Thou come forth, not as an ambassador, * nor as an Angel, * but the very Lord himself incarnate, * and didst save me, the whole man; * wherefore I cry unto Thee: * Glory to Thy power, O Lord!

Venerable-Martyr, Eugenia, pray to God for us.

Thou hast come, taking flesh from the Virgin, O Most High, betrothing companies of virgins to Thyself, who loved Thee alone as their virginal Bridegroom.

Venerable-Martyr, Eugenia, pray to God for us.

Thou didst shed the raiment of thy fleshly birth, O all-glorious martyr, and by baptism didst splendidly clothe thyself in the incorrupt garment of regeneration.

Venerable-Martyr, Eugenia, pray to God for us.

Luminous radiance shone upon thy heart, with the effulgence of grace dispelling the gloom of delusion which had been poured forth, O Eugenia, martyr of Christ.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Thou didst illumine thy life with beauty and comeliness, having first caused the carnal passions to wither away through abstinence, and later shone forth most radiantly in suffering, O Eugenia.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Thou didst become more exalted than the angels, giving birth to the Angel of great Counsel, Who became a man in His exceeding loving-kindness, and is the Lover of mankind, O all-hymned one.

Ode V, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: O Christ God Thou art a mediator between God and man; * for by Thee, O Master, * we have been led from the night of ignorance, * to Thy Father, the Source of light.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Let the people who once sat in darkness behold the never-waning Light which hath shone forth, Whom the star announced of old to the Persian kings, the worshippers of fire.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

The great King maketh haste to enter the little cave, that the Supremely blessed One might magnify me who have become of little account, and with boundless wealth enrich me who have become poor.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Now is Christ born of Jacob, as Balaam said, and He hath dominion over the nations, and His kingdom, which abideth immutably, is exalted by grace.

Canon of the Martyr, Irmos: O Christ my Saviour, the enlightenment of those lying in the darkness of sin. * I rise early to hymn Thee O King of Peace, * enlighten me with Thy radiance, * for I know no other God than Thee.

Venerable-Martyr, Eugenia, pray to God for us.

Seeing thy journey leading to salvation, the soul-destroying serpent raised up divers temptations against thee, striving to weaken thy might, O passion-bearer; but thou didst trample him underfoot, O divinely wise and pure one.

Venerable-Martyr, Eugenia, pray to God for us.

To Christ, the Accomplisher of all good things, the Benefactor and Bridegroom of souls, thou didst appear as adorned in ascetic struggles by abstinence and resplendent with the suffering of martyrdom, O goodly virgin Eugenia, martyr of Christ.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

A crown of gifts was set upon thy brow, for thou didst cherish divine wisdom, disdaining the riches and glory of thy father; and with strength followed after thy beloved Bridegroom, O all-honoured one.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

The Life Who shone forth from thee upon the world, O Birthgiver of God, by communion calleth those who before were held fast by death to everlasting life, and who cry aloud with faith: We know none other God than Thee!

Ode VI, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: Whirled about in the abyss of sin, * I appeal to the unfathomable abyss of Thy compassion: * Raise me up from corruption, O God.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Christ cometh to His own in a strange manner. Let us estrange ourselves from sin and receive Him Who hath made His abode in the souls of the meek.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

In nowise shalt thou be the least among cities, O Bethlehem; for in thee is born the King and Lord, that He might shepherd His rich people.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

How doth a lowly cave receive Thee Whom the whole world cannot contain, O Immutable One? How dost thou behold as an infant the Beginningless One Who shareth the mind of the Father?

Canon of the Martyr, Irmos: Whirled about in the abyss of sin, * I appeal to the unfathomable abyss of Thy compassion: * Raise me up from corruption, O God.

Venerable-Martyr, Eugenia, pray to God for us.

Thou gavest no slumber to thine eyelids until thou didst extinguish all passionate attachments, and made of thyself a pure dwelling-place for thy Creator.

Venerable-Martyr, Eugenia, pray to God for us.

Emulating the morals of the wife of Potiphar, she who was black in deed and name violently slandered thine honourable life, O all-honoured one.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Showing forth steady radiance and enriched with the grace of healings and a wealth of faith, thou didst become the teacher of a company of nuns.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

All the prophets mystically learned of thine ineffable birthgiving, O all-pure one, in the Spirit describing and foretelling to all those things which were to come.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Kontakion of the forefeast, in Tone III: Spec. Mel.: “Today the Virgin …”: Today the Virgin cometh to the cave * to ineffably give birth unto the pre-eternal Word. * Having heard this, be glad, O thou ecumene, * and with the angels and shepherds glorify the pre-eternal God, ** Who is to appear as a little babe.

Ikos: The sacred sayings of the prophets have received their fulfillment, for, lo! The Virgin giveth birth to the Supremely perfect One in the city of Bethlehem, within a cave, refashioning all creation. Rejoice and be glad, The Master of all hath come to dwell with His servants, delivering from the dominion of the alien one, us who were cast down by corruption, and He is seen as an infant, wrapped in swaddling-clothes, in the manger, the pre-eternal God, the little babe.

Ode VII, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: The godless order of the lawless tyrant * fanned the roaring flame; * but Christ bedewed the God-fearing children with the Spirit, * therefore He is blessed and supremely exalted.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Let the clouds drop down water from on high! He Who doth honourably appoint the clouds for His ascent is borne by a cloud that is the Virgin, and cometh to shine never-waning light upon those who before were darkened and afflicted.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

O army of divine angels, prepare yourselves well to hymn the ineffable condescension of the Lord! Come, ye magi! Make haste, ye shepherds! Christ hath come as He should, the Expectation and Deliverance of the nations.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

“What is this strange wonder most great? How can I bear Thee Who bearest up all things by Thy word? Ineffable is Thy nativity, O my beginningless Son!” said the all-pure one, holding Christ in her arms with awe.

Canon of the Martyr, Irmos: The godless order of the lawless tyrant * fanned the roaring flame; * but Christ bedewed the God-fearing children with the Spirit, * therefore He is blessed and supremely exalted.

Venerable-Martyr, Eugenia, pray to God for us.

Thou madest clear to all the truth of the divinely inspired Scriptures, having rendered manly thy feminine nature, and didst most gloriously astonish those whom thou didst lead in splendour to Christ when they had believed on Him, O most noetically rich and honoured one.

Venerable-Martyr, Eugenia, pray to God for us.

By thy divine teachings thou didst manifestly denounce the madness of idolatry, O all-praised one, by the blood of thy martyrdom betrothing an innumerable and radiant multitude of virgins to Christ Who reigneth over all.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Beholding thy radiant life, the glorious Basilla, moved by divine zeal, betrothed herself to Christ, forsaking all the passionate attachments of the flesh; and she hath now been deemed worthy of the joy of the martyrs.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Having seedlessly given birth to hypostatic Life, O all-immaculate Virgin, pure Birthgiver of God, thou hast healed the pasturage of death. Wherefore, rejoicing, we call thee the well-spring of immortality.

Ode VIII, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: In Babylon, the activity of the fire was once divided, * for, by the command of God it consumed the Chaldeans, * but bedewed the faithful, who chant: * Bless ye the Lord, all ye works of the Lord!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Beholding the height of the truly ineffable mystery which covered the heavens with wisdom, the immaculate one marveled and said: “O my Son, how can I bear

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Thee Who sitteth upon the flaming throne of heaven?” “Thou bearest the likeness of the Father, O my Son. How hast Thou assumed the likeness of a servant, abasing Thyself? How can I lay Thee Who deliverest all from irrationality, in a manger of dumb beasts? I hymn Thy tender compassions!”

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Rejoice, all the earth! Lo! Christ draweth nigh to Bethlehem to be born! Be glad, O sea! Leap up, ye assembly of prophets, beholding today the fulfillment of your words, and rejoice, all ye righteous!

Canon of the Martyr, Irmos: God Who descended into the fiery furnace * with the Hebrew children, * and transformed the flame into dew, * do ye works hymn, * and supremely exalt as Lord throughout all ages.

Venerable-Martyr, Eugenia, pray to God for us.

Thine endurance was tested in the river and the fire; and, transcending nature, thou didst pass through them mightily, crying out: Hymn Christ, ye works, and supremely exalt Him throughout all ages!

Venerable-Martyr, Eugenia, pray to God for us.

Christ, Who appeared in strange manner unto thee who wast held in prison, richly nourished thee, and by His own nativity uniteth to the armies on high thee who glorify Him throughout all ages.

Venerable-Martyr, Eugenia, pray to God for us.

Thy Bridegroom doth magnificently adorn thee with twofold crowns, O divinely wise Eugenia, and in that He is righteous, He rightly bestoweth upon thee a splendid bridal-chamber. Him do we supremely exalt throughout all ages!

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

The grace of God, having radiantly illumined thee, now shineth in the mansions of heaven: Pray thou unceasingly, that by thy supplications those who celebrate thy memory may be filled therewith, O divinely wise one.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

We know thee to be a wellspring of the radiance of immortality, O Theotokos, for thou hast given birth to the Word of the immortal father, Who delivereth from death all who supremely exalt Him throughout all ages.

Ode IX, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: The Son of the Beginningless Father, God and Lord, * hath appeared to us incarnate of a Virgin, * to enlighten those in darkness, * and to gather the dispersed; * therefore the all-hymned Theotokos do we magnify

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Let all the kingdoms of the earth chant, rejoicing, and let the nations of the gentiles be glad. The mountains, valleys and hills, the rivers and the sea, and all creation, magnify the Lord Who is now born.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Thou wast seen in ages past insofar as the prophets were able to behold Thee; and, becoming a man in latter times, Thou hast revealed Thyself to all mankind in Bethlehem, the city of Judah, the star showing Thee forth to the astrologers, O Ineffable One.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

“O my most sweet Child, how can I feed Thee who nourishest all things? How can I hold Thee Who holdest all things in Thy hand? How can I wrap in swaddling-bands Thou Who wrappest the whole word in shadows?” cried the all-pure Lady, whom we magnify unceasingly.

Canon of the Martyr, Irmos: The Son of the Beginningless Father, God and Lord, * hath appeared to us incarnate of a Virgin, * to enlighten those in darkness, * and to gather the dispersed; * therefore the all-hymned Theotokos do we magnify.

Venerable-Martyr, Eugenia, pray to God for us.

Making thine abode in the mansions of heaven, O glorious one, as a martyr most true and an all-immaculate virgin among martyrs, thou hast now manifestly been deemed worthy of the sweetness of paradise with the virgins, O all-blessed Eugenia.

Venerable-Martyr, Eugenia, pray to God for us.

Thou hast obtained the Desire which transcends understanding and thought, standing in splendour before the Ultimate Desire, manifestly shining with the brilliant rays of the Sovereign Trinity, O divinely wise and goodly virgin Eugenia.

Venerable-Martyr, Eugenia, pray to God for us.

Keeping the lamp of virginity ever-burning, thou wast adorned with the crown of martyrdom. Cease thou never in thy prayers for those who with piety and love honour thee that we may be saved by thy supplications, O all-glorious Eugenia.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Thou hast now departed unto divine coolness, O most comely one, having passed through the unbearable fire of wounds and the surging waters of temptations, O martyr Eugenia. Wherefore, entreat Christ, that He save our souls.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Having conceived in thy womb the Rain of heaven which had descended upon the fleece, O all-immaculate one, thou hast given birth to Him Who granteth immortality, for us who piously hymn Him and magnify thee, the immaculate Theotokos.

Troparion, in Tone 4: Thy lamb Eugenia, O Jesus, calls out to Thee in a loud voice: I love Thee, O my bridegroom, and in seeking Thee, I endure suffering. In Baptism I was crucified so that I might reign in Thee, and died so that I might live with Thee. Accept me as a pure sacrifice, for I have offered myself in love. By her prayers save our souls, since Thou art merciful.

 

The Advent Journey With the Saints: St Nahum of Ochrid

Wednesday 23 December / 5 January: Forefeast of the Nativity of Christ and Commemoration of the Holy Hierarch, Nahum of Ochrid

Saint Nahum of Ochrid, a Bulgarian by descent, was one of the disciples of the holy Equals of the Apostles Cyril and Methodius (May 11), and he accompanied Saint Clement of Ochrid (July 27) when he preached the Gospel in Bulgaria. When Saint Clement set off to the southwestern regions, Saint Nahum remained in the then capital city of Plisk. Afterwards Saint Nahum succeeded Saint Clement in a monastery on the shores of Lake Ochrid, where he laboured for ten years.

Saint Nahum reposed on December 23, 910, and his relics were glorified by numerous miracles, especially healings of spiritual infirmities. The memory of the saint is also celebrated on December 23.

Canon of the forefeast, the acrostic whereof is the (Greek) alphabet, the composition of Joseph, in Tone VI:

Ode I, Irmos: He Who in ancient times * hid the pursuing tyrant beneath the waves of the sea, * is now concealed in a manger * for Herod seeketh to slay Him * But let us sing with the magi; chanting unto the Lord, * for gloriously hath He been glorified.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Judah shall not lack for a prince, for to him was a promise made, as hath been written before: Jesus Christ, the Expectation of the nations, hath come, and is born in a cave in His surpassing goodness.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Be glad with great joy, O Bethlehem; for in thee is Christ the Lord born! Let the whole world leap up, receiving deliverance, and let all creation dance, keeping festival!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Desiring to save the human race, the Supremely good One made His abode in the womb of the Virgin who knew not wedlock; and, lo! He cometh to be born. Let us worship Him, for gloriously hath He been glorified!

Canon of the venerable one, the acrostic whereof is “I, Constantine, archpastor of Bulgaria, do praise Nahum, the latter acquisition of God”, in Tone I:

Irmos: Let us all chant a triumphant hymn unto God * Who wrought wondrous miracles * with His upraised arm, * and saved Israel, * for He hath been glorified.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

O Nahum, who art full of the streams of the Holy Spirit, by thine entreaties show me to be a divine river, that I may proclaim thy works, praising thee with hymns.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Thou wast a follower of those who taught the Faith of Christ in the land of Bulgaria, O venerable one, sharing from thy youth in the labours and sufferings of Cyril and Methodius.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Thy life was angelic, thy life truly beyond that of men, and thy struggle truly like unto that of the martyrs, O venerable one; wherefore we hymn thee.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

As a teacher of perfect doctrines, O Nahum, thou and thy fellow initiates of the mysteries went up to the summit of divine cedars, and covered the mountains of Mresia.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

O most pure one, from ages past nature hath recognized thee as the one who in a manner transcending nature alone art Mother and Virgin; for thou hast given birth for us unto the Creator of all.

Canon II of the venerable one, which is connected to the foregoing canon and the acrostic whereof is a continuation of that of the former; in Tone IV:

Irmos: I shall open my mouth, * and be filled with the Spirit, * and utter discourse to the Queen and Mother; * and be seen radiantly keeping festival, * joyfully praising her wonders.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

O Christ Who of old dried up the deep for the people who were traveling on foot, dry up the abyss of my transgressions, and let fall a drop of understanding upon me, that with hymns I may praise Thy venerable one.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Desiring to behold the ineffable glory of God, O Nahum, thou didst endure tribulations, imprisonment and cruelties, and every earthly disgrace, and didst struggle for the sake of Christ’s name.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Solitary in spirit, yet burning with zeal for the Faith, thou didst bear the yoke of the grace of Christ and didst clear the souls of thy people of the brush of the demons and didst plant therein the seed of divine understanding.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

O blessed one, thou didst consider the whole world to be as dung; thou didst love Christ, and by withdrawing from it thou didst draw nigh unto Him Who draweth nigh unto all for the sake of their faith.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O Lady as thou hast given birth unto Life, give life unto me who have become dead through many and varied evils, and cause me to pass over to the life which is on high, that I may ever glorify thee as her who giveth me life.

Ode III, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: When creation beheld Thee, * Who founded the whole earth upon the waters, * born in the cave, * it was seized with awe, crying aloud: * None is holy save Thee, O Lord!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Thou didst desire to clothe Thyself in the guise of a servant, that Thou mightiest deliver me from slavery to the evil one. I hymn Thy loving-kindness, O Word Who art co-beginningless and consubstantial with the Father: Glory to Thy dispensation!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

The Virgin cometh to give birth to the Lord in the cave! Come forth, O ye magi! Ye shepherds, come forth! Ye angels, cry out hymns from on high: The Deliverance of mankind hath come!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Seeking me who have become lost and by my barren acts have been shown to be a den of thieves O Lover of mankind, Thou hast now arrived at the cave to be born today from the Virgin, O Master. Glory to Thy Nativity, O Word!

Canon I of the Saint, Irmos: Let my heart be established in Thy will O Christ God, * Who hath established a second heaven over the waters, * and founded the earth upon the waters, * O all-powerful One.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Thou didst pass beyond the bounds of nature, O blessed one, and draw nigh unto the mountains of divine knowledge through truly everlasting life; and bringing light to the mountains of ungodliness, thou didst protect the people with the mountains of faith.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Out of the cruel and waterless pit of ignorance didst thou draw the children of darkness, hard of heart, showing them to be habitations of Christ through their teachers and thy compatriots.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

The people of the West, who were in the darkness of ungodliness, didst thou enlighten, O father, and by thy holy and divine teaching thou didst make them temples.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

O Virgin, the prophets proclaimed thee to be the mountain, the jar, the table, the golden censer, and ark of holiness; and we hymn thee as the tabernacle which contained God.

Canon II of the Saint, Irmos: O Theotokos, thou living and plentiful fount, * establish in spiritual
fellowship those who sing hymns to thee, * and in thy divine glory * grant them crowns of glory.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

In latter times the land of Bulgaria became thy portion, O venerable one, and with thy teachers thou didst struggle, and didst strive to share in the ways of the apostles.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

The godly Nahum was the assistant of the holy hierarch Clement: he reached the lands of the West and, having illumined them with the light of preaching, is therefore glorified with him.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

The people of Bulgaria, whom for thy sake, O venerable Nahum, the Lord hath raised up from stones as children of Abraham, as the Forerunner said, now glorify thee, abiding in the knowledge of Him.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

The people of Bulgaria, who before sat in the darkness of grievous unbelief, O venerable one, through thee have beheld the light of understanding; wherefore, we honour thy memory with sweet hymns of joy.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Fill me with tranquillity, O Theotokos, for thou art the tranquillity of the souls of all peoples; and still the tempest of the demons which make war on me and in vain seek to thrust me into the abyss and pit of Hades, O Lady.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Kontakion of the forefeast, in Tone III: Spec. Mel.: “Today the Virgin …”: Today the Virgin cometh to the cave * to ineffably give birth unto the pre-eternal Word. * Having heard this, be glad, O thou ecumene, * and with the angels and shepherds glorify the pre-eternal God, ** Who is to appear as a little babe

Ikos: O truly awesome wonder past all telling! He Who giveth existence to all, in His goodness hath entered the womb of the holy Virgin, and cometh to be born in the cave and to be laid in a manger. And His star is a herald from on high to the magi who come to do Him homage with gifts, drawing from afar those who zealously follow the prophecy of Balaam who said: “A star will proclaim beforehand the little babe, the pre-eternal God!”

Sessional Hymn, in Tone VIII: Spec. Mel.: “Of the Wisdom …”: As one wise and intelligent, from the time of thy youth thou didst bow thyself beneath the easy yoke of thy Master, O father, and, filled with goodness, thou didst receive the godly Clement as thy fellow husbandman. With him thou didst plough the hearts of unbelievers and didst sow therein the seeds of Orthodoxy. Wherefore, thou hast passed over to the lands which are devoid of pain, ever reaping the reward of thy labours. O most blessed Nahum, entreat Christ God that He grant remission of offenses unto those who celebrate thy holy memory with love.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Sessional Hymn, in Tone IV: Spec. Mel.: “Joseph marvelled …”: O venerable Nahum, emulator of the apostles and rule of hierarchs, adornment of the venerable and fellow struggler with the spiritual athletes of God: thou wast crowned as a martyr though thou didst not shed thy blood, for thou wast buffeted by cruel tribulations, bearing the divine name of Christ and ever preaching with boldness the mystery of the Trinity, to Whom do thou never cease to pray on behalf of those who praise thee.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Sessional Hymn of the forefeast, in Tone I: Spec. Mel.: “Thy tomb, O Saviour …”:
Rejoice, O Sion! Adorn thyself, O Bethlehem! For the Sustainer of all, having sent forth a star, hath announced His infinite condescension, before which the hosts of heaven tremble: Truly He Who alone is the Lover of mankind is immutably born from the Virgin!

Ode IV, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: Foreseeing Thine advent from the Virgin, * Habbakuk cried out in awe: * Thou hast come from Theman incarnate, O Redeemer * to restoreAdam who had been expelled!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

The radiant cloud cometh forth to shine from her maternal womb Christ, the Sun of righteousness, Who illumineth the whole earth with the rays of divinity. God hath revealed Himself to be like unto men: He abaseth Himself by assuming flesh, that He might deify us, and is born in a cave. O ye faithful, let us receive Him with a pure heart.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Behold! Christ is born in the city of Bethlehem, that He might open Eden unto us, which of old was closed through the disobedience initiated by the serpent: Let us celebrate a divine festival!

Canon I of the Saint, Irmos: Foreseeing in the Spirit O Prophet Habbakuk, * the incarnation of the Word, * thou didst proclaim, crying aloud: * When the years draw nigh, Thou shalt be known; * when the season cometh, Thou shalt be shown forth! * Glory to Thy power, O Lord!

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Behold! by thy preaching have hard-hearted pagans been called and come to know God, O wise one; for, as Isaiah writeth, all the land is filled with divine understanding; wherefore, we glorify thy memory.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Full of higher wisdom, thou didst teach the all-simple people of Bulgaria to worship the Hypostases of the Triune-God Who is immutably One in nature, united without commingling; and they cry aloud: Glory to Thee, O Lord!

Like a divinely chosen steed thou didst stir up the sea of ungodliness, O wise Nahum, as the prophet saith; and thou didst draw forth as fish the men who were drowning in the depths of unbelief, who cry out: Glory be to thee O Lord!

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Thou wast shown to be a divine palace and a temple truly consecrated unto God, O Virgin Mary. Him do thou entreat on our behalf, that He wash away the defilement of our sins, that we also may become the abode and habitation of the Spirit.

Canon II of the Saint, Irmos: He who sitteth in glory upon the throne of the Godhead, * Jesus the
true God, * is come in a swift cloud * and with His sinless hands he hath saved those who cry: * Glory to Thy power, O Christ.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Thou wast shown to be an unshakable pillar of the Faith, in nowise toppled by the winds of temptations; enduring multifarious wounds, and opposing the enemies of the Holy Spirit.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Speaking of the mighty works of God before kings and nations, with simplicity of speech thou didst shut the mouths of the rhetors who uttered evil fables; and magnify piety and the glory of Christ.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

For piety’s sake, like an apostle and a preacher thou didst endure every tribulation; wherefore, we beseech thee, O venerable one: dispel every sorrow and illness from us who celebrate thy memory.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O pure Mother of God, strengthen the movement of my mind, illumine the senses of my soul, and make me strong against mine enemies, that I may cry out unto thee: Glory to thy birthgiving, O Virgin!

Ode V, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: I seek Thee early in the morning, * Who for our sake didst mercifully empty Thyself * and willingly submit to be baptized by the hand of a servant, * O Word of God, * Grant Thy peace unto me the fallen one, * O Lover of mankind.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Let the hearts of all mortals leap up, and let creation be glad! The Lord is born from the pure Maiden in the cave of Bethlehem, and the magi offer Him fitting gifts.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

O ye people, who of old sat in the shadow of death, behold the Light which hath shone forth upon us from the Virgin, and be filled with great sweetness of soul, ever magnifying the Word Who lowered Himself.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Thou comest to be contained in a little cave, O Thou Who art infinite by nature, that, in Thy boundless mercy, Thou mightest magnify me who have made myself insignificant through disobedience.

Canon I of the Saint, Irmos: Shine forth thy radiant and everlasting light * upon us who rise early at dawn, * unto the judgments of Thy commandments, * O Master, Lover of mankind, * Christ our God.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

O father, thou wast a new apostle, like unto the seventy; and, following Methodius as if he were Paul, thou wast an initiate of the mysteries of God, proclaiming Him by preaching.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Like the chosen vessel, thou wast truly shown to be a receptacle of grace, O most wise one, like the godly Prophet Nahum of old, whose name and goodly ways thou didst inherit, O Nahum.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Thou didst surpassingly love Christ with all thy heart, thy mind and soul, O venerable one, and thou wast accounted worthy to be surpassingly loved by Him,

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Tempest-tossed by violent changes, evil circumstances and long scattering, we flee to thy haven, O Lady, for thou art the hope of the hopeless.

Canon II of the Saint, Irmos: All creation stands in awe of thy divine glory; * for thou, O Virgin who hast not known wedlock, * didst contain within thy womb the God of all, * and gave birth to the timeless Son, * bestowing peace, upon all who hymn thee.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Thou didst sincerely hearken unto the all-wise teachings of the godly Methodius, who brought rebirth to Pannonia through holy baptism and the introduction of the written word, and thou didst emulate his way of life.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Thy feet became beautiful through the preaching of the divine Gospel, and they traversed divers lands, leading up to the divine Light those who in darkness had stumbled on the rocks of unbelief.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

The apostles went about the whole earth and ploughed it; and thou and the godly Clement sowed doctrines therein, O venerable one, and now take in the fruits of divine knowledge and everlasting hymnody.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O Lady, bestow a sword of goodwill upon us, strengthening us with thy compassions, help and aid; for evil circumstances pitilessly surround our lives.

Ode VI, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: The uttermost depths of sin have encompassed me; * and its stormy waves I can endure no more, * wherefore like Jonah I cry out to Thee, O Master: * Lead me up from corruption.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Transcending the laws of the flesh, O Lord, the Virgin cometh to give birth to Thee in the cave and to lay Thee in a manger as a babe in the flesh.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

In His mercy, the Supremely divine One, Who was born of the Maiden who knew not wedlock, showeth me to be a citizen of heaven, though I had become a stranger to God through disobedience.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Ye mountains, hills and valleys, be glad; for the Lord is born in the flesh, restoring creation which had become corrupt through wicked disobedience.

Canon I of the Saint, Irmos: Emulating the Prophet Jonah, I cry aloud: * Free Thou my life from
corruption, O Good One; * and save me who crieth out: * O Saviour of the world, Glory be to Thee!

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

O wise one, thou wast added to the four disciples of Cyril and Methodius, the preachers of Christ, the wise initiates of the holy mysteries, the godly fathers of the Bulgarians and Slavs.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

O preachers and initiates of the mysteries, ye were driven far away and endured imprisonment and beatings, suffering affliction for the procession of the Holy Spirit.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

With the most wise Cyril thou didst traverse far paths, from the North even unto Rome, sharing in his labours, O wise one; and with Methodius thou didst enlighten the Bulgarians.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Deliver us from the cruel assault of the evil one, from the temptations of the passions and all misfortunes, O most pure one, and quickly rescue us from every harm.

Canon II of the Saint, Irmos: Prefiguring Thy three-day burial * Prophet Jonah praying in the belly of the sea-monster cried aloud: * Deliver me from corruption * O Jesus Thou King of hosts.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

In thee also was the word of God fulfilled, for thy divine sound went forth into all the land of Bulgaria, and thy words even unto the ends of the earth.  

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

From the ends of the North even unto the ends of the West your paths were in the sea, O blessed ones, and ye entered Rome, proclaiming the New Testament.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

As a divine temple and precious divine habitation from thy youth, O God-bearing Nahum, by thy supplications make me a receptacle of the Holy Spirit.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

What will happen to me, who am ever beset on every side? Be thou a protection and refuge for me, O Bride of God, for thou art the invincible helper of the downtrodden.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Kontakion, in Tone III: Spec. Mel.: “Today the Virgin …”: Like a great sun doth the all-honoured memorial of thy splendid struggles * shine forth upon all; * it illumineth the faces of those who hymn thee * and driveth away the demons and every illness. ** Wherefore, assembling, we faithfully praise thee with love.

Ikos: Come, ye multitudes of the Slavs, and let us hasten together, rejoicing in our father Nahum, for he hath appeared today as the great intercessor and most splendid luminary; for he hath enlightened us all and dispelled the gloom of deception. He followed after Christ and gave himself up as a right acceptable sacrifice; and he now offereth unto all the faithful his most glorious memorial as a spiritual banquet. Let us all praise it with love!

Ode VII, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: In Babylon the Children feared not the fiery furnace; * but cast into the midst of the flames * they were bedewed and sang: * ‘O Lord God of our fathers, Blessed art Thou.’

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

How can the least of caves hold Thee, O Word, Who in Thine exceeding abasement assumed the poverty of Adam, enriching mankind with the wealth of divine grace?

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Hearing strange words, the shepherds hastened to Bethlehem to behold Him Who lieth in a manger of dumb beasts and releaseth all mankind from irrationality.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

With mouth and heart let us hasten to hymn and worship with faith Christ Who cometh to be born in the flesh from the Virgin Maiden, in the cave.

Canon I of the Saint, Irmos: Thy children who were in the furnace O Saviour, * were neither touched
nor troubled by the fire. * Whereupon the three sang, as with a single mouth * Thy praises and blessed Thee, saying: * ‘O God of our fathers, Blessed art Thou.’

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Working wonders, God miraculously delivered thee and thy friends from prison and arrest by the ungodly, O Nahum; for the fetters suddenly fell from your hands and feet, and ye were released.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Through the proclamation of divine doctrines thou didst become a teacher for people of evil ways, and by thy divine translations thou didst make them truly knowledgeable in things divine, transforming them from wild beasts into sheep of the meek O Christ.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Thou wast shown to be a chariot of God, O Nahum, bearing the name of Christ in writing against many pagan kings, and glorifying His works, and being gloriously glorified by Him.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

O most holy and pure one, accept the lowly entreaties of thy servants, and by thy supplications deliver us from the grievous sorrows which afflict us; and cause us to share in thy divine glory.

Canon II of the Saint, Irmos: O all-hymned Lord God of our fathers, * Who saved the children of
Abraham in the fire * and slew the Chaldeans, * blessed art Thou!

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

O father, thou didst mix the sweat of asceticism with the sweat of apostolic labour, and later thou wast shown to be a willing martyr, though thou didst not shed thy blood. And thou didst cry aloud: Blessed art Thou, O God!

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Thou didst manifestly cut off the deadly bonds of wicked thoughts, as Moses freed his feet of old; and thou didst truly understand God and command the people to chant: O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

He Who doeth the will of those who fear Him in nowise rejecteth thy prayers on our behalf, O father; wherefore, be thou ever mindful of those who hymn thee with all their heart and all their soul.

Ode VIII, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: Suffering affliction for the sake of the laws of their fathers, * the blessed Children in Babylon * scorned the foolish decree of the King. * Standing together in the midst of the flames, they remained unharmed, * and sang a song fitting for almighty God: * ‘O ye works of the Lord, praise ye the Lord * and supremely exalt Him throughout all ages.’

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Holding in thine arms, bowing down before, and kissing maternally the one Lord Who had become incarnate in a manner beyond all telling, and was clad in human likeness, O Maiden, thou didst say: “O my most sweet Child, how is it that I hold Thee Who holdest all creation in thy hand, while freeing it from the hand of bondage?”

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Make ready to chant to Him Who hath been born on earth, O divine angels! Guided by the star, bring ye gifts, O magi! Ye shepherds, hasten ye to behold Him sitting as a babe in His Mother’s arms, crying out: Hymn the Lord, ye works, and supremely exalt Him throughout all ages!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

O cloud of the Light, thou who knewest not wedlock, how canst thou wrap in swaddling-bands Him Who clothes the heavens with clouds by His ineffable will?

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

How canst thou lay in a manger of dumb beasts the Master Who in His boundless mercy doth deliver mankind from irrationality? Him Whom all creation worships with fear, hymning Him throughout all ages.

Canon I of the Saint, Irmos: Him of whom the angels and all the hosts of heaven are in awe * as their Lord and Creator, * ye priests hymn, ye children praise, * ye peoples bless and supremely exalt * throughout all ages.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Let us hymn Nahum, the divinely inspired instrument of the Holy Spirit, O ye faithful, crying out to the Lord in sacred words: By his supplications save those who hymn Thy might!

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

With Clement as thy companion, thou didst traverse all the lands of the Slavs, O most wise one, by thy preaching guiding Ochrid and the people round about it unto the straight path.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Taking thy cross upon thy shoulder, O Nahum, thou didst follow after Christ, the one King, struggling lawfully; and from Him thou hast received a crown of victory, O blessed one of God.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

The children who were in nowise burned prefigured thy womb which was in nowise consumed by the divine Fire, O most pure one, but was preserved as a habitation for the one God.

Canon II of the Saint, Irmos: The Offspring of the Theotokos * saved the holy children in the furnace. * He who was then prefigured hath now been born on earth, * and He gathereth all creation to hymn thee: * all ye works praise ye the Lord * and supremely exalt Him throughout all ages.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Desiring to deliver all peoples from irrationality, the Word of God gave thee a tongue of fire, whereby thou didst lead the people of Bulgaria to a knowledge of the Truth, teaching them to hymn Christ throughout all ages.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

By thine opposition thou didst overcome the savagery of the tyrants, O ever-memorable Nahum, and as a champion of the procession of the Holy Spirit from the divine Source of the uncaused Trinity thou didst endure wounding, beatings and imprisonment.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Thou didst in nowise escape all tribulation, pain and groaning, O Nahum; but Christ, accepting thy labours for Him, hath caused thee to dwell in the place of ineffable joy and delight, where the first-formed beings now abide.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Beset with violent tribulations by enemies visible and invisible, contending with sorrows, pain and evil circumstances, with ignorant injustices and bitter banishment, we cry out in pain of heart: Save us, O Compassionate One, through the supplications of the venerable Nahum.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Flight hath utterly failed me, and, as say the Scriptures, they that seek after me have multiplied; but be thou for me protection and strength, a refuge and confirmation, O Lady, a hope and the sure joy of salvation, that I may glorify thee throughout all ages.

Ode IX, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: Be not now amazed, O Mother, * beholding as an infant Him Whom the Father begat from within Himself * before the morning star; * for I have manifestly come to restore and glorify with Me * the nature of fallen mankind, * who with faith and love magnifieth thee.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Rejoice, O most pure one, thou receptacle of ineffable joy! For, lo! thou comest to give birth ineffably in the cave to the Master Who truly desires to restore all creation, which of old became corrupt through disobedience. Hymning Him with faith, we magnify thee.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

O all ye souls of the righteous, and those beneath the earth, rejoice! For, lo! The Deliverance of all hath appeared, born in the city of Bethlehem! And the star proclaimeth Him to the magi, who seek Him with piety; and, beholding Him in the cave, they are filled with joy.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

O Virgin, we hymn thee as another heaven, who in the morning shall shine forth the Sun of righteousness upon us from thy most pure womb, illumining those in the darkness of death and corruption. Wherefore, we magnify thee with praises, as is meet.

Canon I of the Saint Irmos: The light-bearing cloud upon whom * the beginningless Master of all descended from heaven, * like the dew upon the fleece, * and of whom He was incarnate, * becoming a man for our sake, * let us all magnify as the pure Mother of God.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

As is meet, the land of Bulgaria honoureth thy memory, O Nahum; for with the godly Clement, Gorazd the wonder-worker, and Angelarius the wise initiate of the sacred mysteries, thou wast its enlightener. By your supplications do thou save it!

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

Rome beheld your apostolic journeys, O godly Cyril, right blessed Methodius and glorious Nahum, and it stood in awe of the wonders of God wrought through you; wherefore, we honour you with annual hymnody.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

O blessed Nahum, the choirs of the fathers, the apostles, the venerable, the hierarchs, prophets and martyrs, have now received thee and those who suffered with thee; for thou didst emulate their manner of life. With them remember us all.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

We know thee to be the sacred ark of the covenant which beareth the word of God saving multitudes of the Slavs, and bringing them to the eternal promised land; wherefore, guided toward everlasting life, we venerate the shrine of thy relics.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

O most pure Theotokos, free all of us who trust in thee from iniquitous people and the assault of the demons, from the grievous oppression of multifarious passions, and from the cruel affliction of many temptations.

Canon II of the Saint, Irmos: Let every mortal born on earth, * radiant with light, in spirit leap for joy; * and let the host of the angelic powers * celebrate and honour the holy feast of the Mother of God, * and let them cry aloud: * Rejoice! O Theotokos, thou pure Ever-Virgin.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

O ye faithful, let us stand in the house of our God and let us glorify His mighty works and miracles in His courts; for He is wondrous in His saints, who submit to His commands.  With them the venerable Nahum rejoiceth.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

That, holding festival, we may honour thee, O Nahum, by thy supplications deliver us from all assaults and evil circumstances, perils and tribulations, and every other form of wrath, entreating Christ, Who hath revealed thee to be a keeper of His commandments.

Hierarch of Christ, Nahum, pray to God for us.

The people whom thou didst nurture with thy labours, whom thou didst water with thy sweat, and whom thou didst root firmly by thy sufferings, O all-blessed one, offer thee annual hymnody as the first-fruits of thy memory; wherefore, pray thou to God for them.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Loose me, O Christ, for Thou knowest mine infirmities, that through them I may find rest before my departure through the supplications of Nahum Thy favoured one, O Master; and let me not become a joy for mine enemies in this age or that which is to come.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

With faith we entreat thee, the true Mother of the Creator Who hath wrought all things by His will: In that thou art good, cause the counsels and pursuit of those who are at enmity with us to be in vain, O all-hymned one, and preserve all thy servants, thy pastors and flock, from the hands of our enemies.

Troparion of the saint, in Tone IV: Thou hast departed this world, cleaving unto Christ. * And having crucified thy flesh, thou livest for the Spirit, * O all-blessed Nahum. Thou didst strive to follow the course of the apostles, * and didst win countless multitudes in Bulgaria for the Faith. * Wherefore, by thy supplications ** deliver us from temptations.

Troparion of the forefeast, in the same tone: Make ready, O Bethlehem! * Be thou opened unto all, O Eden! * Adorn thyself, O Ephratha! * For in the cave the Tree of Life hath sprung forth from the Virgin. * Her womb is shown to be a noetic paradise, * in the midst of which is the divine Tree, * whereof eating, we shall live, and not die as did Adam. * Christ is born, that He might restore His image ** which of old fell!

The Advent Journey With the Saints: The Holy Great-Martyr Anastasia

22 December / 4 January: Forefeast of the Nativity of Christ and Commemoration of the Holy Great-Martyr Anastasia

The Great Martyr Anastasia the Deliverer from Potions, a Roman by birth, suffered for Christ at the time of Diocletian’s persecution of Christians. Her father was a pagan, but her mother was secretly a Christian. Saint Anastasia’s teacher in her youth was an educated and pious Christian named Chrysogonus. After the death of her mother, her father gave Saint Anastasia in marriage to a pagan named Publius, but feigning illness, she preserved her virginity.

Clothing herself in the garb of a beggar, and accompanied by only one servant, she visited the prisons. She fed, doctored and often ransomed captives who were suffering for their faith in Christ. When her servant told Publius about everything, he subjected his wife to a beating and locked her up at home. Saint Anastasia then began to correspond secretly with Chrysogonus, who told the saint to be patient, to cleave to the Cross of Christ, and to accept the Lord’s will. He also foretold the impending death of Publius in the sea. After a certain while Publius did indeed drown, as he was setting out with a delegation to Persia. After the death of her husband, Saint Anastasia began to distribute her property to the poor and suffering.

Diocletian was informed that the Christians who filled the prisons of Rome stoically endured tortures. He gave orders to kill them all in a single night, and for Chrysogonus to be sent to him at Aquileia. Saint Anastasia followed her teacher at a distance.

The emperor interrogated Chrysogonus personally, but could not make him renounce his faith. Therefore, he commanded that he be beheaded and thrown into the sea. The body and severed head of the holy martyr were carried to shore by the waves. There by divine Providence, the relics were found by a presbyter named Zoilus who placed them in a coffer, and concealed them at his home.

Saint Chrysogonus appeared to Zoilus and informed him that martyrdom was at hand for Agape, Chione and Irene (April 16), three sisters who lived nearby. He told him to send Saint Anastasia to them to encourage them. Saint Chrysogonus foretold that Zoilus would also die on the same day. Nine days later, the words of Saint Chrysogonus were fulfilled. Zoilus fell asleep in the Lord, and Saint Anastasia visited the three maidens before their tortures. When these three martyrs gave up their souls to the Lord, she buried them.

Having carried out her teacher’s request, the saint went from city to city ministering to Christian prisoners. Proficient in the medical arts of the time, she zealously cared for captives far and wide, healing their wounds and relieving their suffering. Because of her labors, Saint Anastasia received the name Deliverer from Potions (Pharmakolytria), since by her intercessions she has healed many from the effects of potions, poisons, and other harmful substances.

She made the acquaintance of the pious young widow Theodota, finding in her a faithful helper. Theodota was taken for questioning when it was learned that she was a Christian. Meanwhile, Saint Anastasia was arrested in Illyricum. This occurred just after all the Christian captives there had been murdered in a single night by order of Diocletian. Saint Anastasia had come to one of the prisons, and finding no one there, she began to weep loudly. The jailers realized that she was a Christian and took her to the prefect of the district, who tried to persuade her to deny Christ by threatening her with torture. After his unsuccessful attempts to persuade Saint Anastasia to offer sacrifice to idols, he handed her over to the pagan priest Ulpian in Rome.

The cunning pagan offered Saint Anastasia the choice between luxury and riches, or grievous sufferings. He set before her gold, precious stones and fine clothing, and also fearsome instruments of torture. The crafty man was put to shame by the bride of Christ. Saint Anastasia refused the riches and chose the tools of torture.

But the Lord prolonged the earthly life of the saint, and Ulpian gave her three days to reconsider. Charmed by Anastasia’s beauty, the pagan priest decided to defile her purity. However, when he tried to touch her he suddenly became blind. His head began to ache so severely that he screamed like a madman. He asked to be taken to a pagan temple to appeal to the idols for help, but on the way he fell down and died.

Saint Anastasia was set free and she and Theodota again devoted themselves to the care of imprisoned Christians. Before long, Saint Theodota and her three sons accepted a martyrdom. Her eldest son, Evodus, stood bravely before the judge and endured beatings without protest. After lengthy torture, they were all thrown into a red-hot oven.

Saint Anastasia was caught again and condemned to death by starvation. She remained in prison without food for sixty days. Saint Theodota appeared to the martyr every night and gave her courage. Seeing that hunger caused Saint Anastasia no harm whatsoever, the judge sentenced her to drowning together with other prisoners. Among them was Eutychianus, who was condemned for his Christian faith.

The prisoners were put into a boat which went out into the open sea. The soldiers bored holes in the boat and got into a galley. Saint Theodota appeared to the captives and steered the ship to shore. When they reached dry land, 120 men believed in Christ and were baptized by Saints Anastasia and Eutychianus. All were captured and received a martyr’s crown. Saint Anastasia was stretched between four pillars and burned alive. A certain pious woman named Apollinaria buried her body, which was unharmed by the fire, in the garden outside her house.

In the fifth century the relics of Saint Anastasia were transferred to Constantinople, where a church was built and dedicated to her. Later the head and a hand of the Great Martyr were transferred to the monastery of Saint Anastasia [Deliverer from Potions], near Mount Athos.

Source: The Orthodox Church in America

 

Ode I, Canon of the forefeast, in Tone VI: Irmos: When Israel walked on foot in the sea as on dry land, * on seeing their pursuer Pharaoh drowned, * they cried: * Let us sing to God * a song of
victory.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Jesus our enlightenment, the great Sun, hath shone forth upon us through the cloud of the Virgin; and we who are in darkness chant unto Him, brightly illumined with His splendours

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

The King of peace, the expectation of the gentiles, cometh to slay the enemy. Let us make haste to meet Him Who is born in Bethlehem for our salvation.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

The divine sayings of the prophets are fulfilled which foretold the awesome appearance of Christ; for the ewe-lamb draweth nigh to give birth unto the Lamb, the Redeemer and Lord of all.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

With faith we call thee blessed, O blessed of God, pure dove of the Master, honoured and immaculate and most comely among women, in that thou hast given birth to the God of all.

Canon of the Great-Martyr, the acrostic whereof is: “I hymn thee with love, O martyr Anastasia”, the composition of Joseph, in Tone VIII:

Irmos: Let us, O ye people, send up a hymn * unto our wondrous God * Who hath freed Israel from bondage, * chanting a hymn of victory * and crying aloud: * We sing unto Thee, O only Master.

Holy Great-Martyr, Anastasia, pray to God for us.

Let us send up hymnody unto God, Who desireth to be born in the flesh of the Virgin in the city of Bethlehem, and to be laid in an infant’s manger as a babe, that He may save the human race.

Holy Great-Martyr, Anastasia, pray to God for us.

Seeking the only desirable beauties, those of Christ, O glorious martyr Anastasia, with steadfast character thou didst pass by the beauties of the world and wast deemed worthy to inherit immortality.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Enlightened by the effulgence of the Spirit, thou didst pass intently through the night of the gloom of deception, O honoured one, and hast now made thine abode where the divine splendour of the uncreated Trinity doth shine.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

The invisible God hath appeared, born of thee supra-naturally in His great loving-kindness, O Virgin Mother. The Rich One hath beggared Himself, that He might enrich the race of mankind with immortality.

Ode III, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: There is none as holy as Thou, * O Lord my God, * who hast exalted the horn of The faithful O good One, * and strengthened us upon the rock * of Thy confession.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Christ Who stretched out the heavens by His word entereth the cave to recline in a manger of dumb beasts, desiring, in His tender compassion, to deliver us from folly.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

The prophet manifestly crieth aloud: “This is our God, and there is none other who can take His place! Uniting Himself to mankind, He hath disclosed every way of knowledge.”
Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

The cherubim cannot bear to gaze upon Thee, O Lord Who lovest mankind. How
 then can the manger hold Thee Who art infinite in nature but born for our sake from
the Virgin in Thy great loving-kindness?

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Daniel the prophet once foresaw thee, O Theotokos, all-pure Bride of God, as the mountain from whence the Stone was cut which crushed and destroyed the temples of idolatry.

Canon of the Great-Martyr, Irmos: O Lord, Creator of the vault of Heaven * and Builder of the Church, * do Thou strengthen me in Thy love, O Summit of desire, * O Support of the faithful, * O only Lover of mankind.

Holy Great-Martyr, Anastasia, pray to God for us.

The untouchable Lord desireth to be seen lying in the manger, an infant wrapped in swaddling-bands. Leap up, O ye mountains, and, filled with light, array yourselves in divine joy, O ye hills!

Holy Great-Martyr, Anastasia, pray to God for us.

Enriched by the Saviour’s words, with the boldness of piety thou didst blunt the darts of the persecutors’ burning words, O Anastasia, governing the movements of thy soul with divine love.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Thou didst simply cry out, O martyr: “I seek the Lord to Whose love alone I have bound my soul! With most desired simplicity, I go to be richly illumined by His all-pure splendours.”

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O Maiden who knewest not wedlock, thou didst bear within thy womb incarnate, Him Who holdeth all creation in His hand, the pre-eternal Babe Who, when He is born, Thou wilt lay in a manger.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Kontakion of the forefeast, in Tone III: Spec. Mel.: “Today the Virgin …”: Today the Virgin cometh to the cave * to ineffably give birth unto the pre-eternal Word. * Having heard this, be glad, O thou ecumene, * and with the angels and shepherds glorify the pre-eternal God, ** Who is to appear as a little babe.

Ikos: O wonder truly awesome and beyond all telling! He Who hath given existence unto all things hath, in His goodness, entered into the womb of the holy Virgin, and cometh to be born in a cave, and to be laid in a manger. From above the star heralds Him to the Magi who come to render Him homage with gifts, drawn from afar, following with care the prophecy of Balaam, who said: A star will announce beforehand the young Child, the pre-eternal God.

Sessional Hymn of the Great-Martyr, in Tone I: Spec. Mel.: “Thy tomb, O Saviour …”: We praise thee as a bride of Christ, O virgin, and we honour thee like the honoured Thecla, as is meet. Wherefore, rivers of healings pour forth by the power of the Spirit on the day of thy commemoration; for thou hast received grace, in that thou didst keep the commandments of the Lord.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Sessional Hymn of the forefeast, in Tone VIII: Spec. Mel.: “That which was mystically commanded …”: Celebrating the days of the forefeast of the nativity of Christ, let us hold festival, O ye faithful; and bearing the virtues as the magi did gifts, let us all worthily go forth to chant the greeting and new hymn of the angels to our God Who hath been born in Bethlehem from the divine Maiden and Virgin without seed. Him do all things glorify.

Ode IV, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: Christ is my power, * my God and my Lord, * the holy Church divinely singeth, * crying with a pure mind, * keeping festival in the Lord.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Behold! the star which wast proclaimed of old by Jacob, hath shone forth from afar. The infinite God, becoming a man, is seen wrapped in swaddling-bands.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

The Lord, the deliverance of all, is seen as a Babe, sitting in the bosom of the Virgin: He Who, as the Son, resteth in the bosom of the Father.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Open wide, O Eden, which once wast closed to me because of the theft of the fruit! For now, in Bethlehem, He is born Who hath clad Himself in me and hath set me apart to share in thy painless delights.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

The prophet Habbakuk foresaw thee in the Spirit, O Virgin, as the mountain overshadowed with the virtues, from whence He Who illumineth our souls hath appeared unto us.

Canon of the Great-Martyr, Irmos: O Lord, I have heard the mystery of Thy dispensation; * I have beheld Thy works, * and I have glorified Thy Divinity.

Holy Great-Martyr, Anastasia, pray to God for us.

Already fulfilled are the sayings of those who prophesied in the divine Spirit; for the Virgin cometh to give birth in the cave to the all-perfect One.

Holy Great-Martyr, Anastasia, pray to God for us.

Seeking after the glory of martyrdom with love, thou didst receive it, suffering steadfastly, with a fearless will, O thou who art patient of soul.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

When thy body was stripped, O all-praised spiritual athlete and martyr, thou wast truly vested in a robe of grace woven from on high.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O most pure one, the King of heaven cometh forth from thy light-bearing womb as a mortal, laying in a manger as though on a royal throne.

Ode V, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: Illumine with Thy divine light, I pray, O Good One, * the souls of those who with love rise early to pray to Thee, * that they may know Thee, O Word of God, * as the true God, * Who recalleth us from the darkness of sin.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

O Bethlehem, thou house of Ephratha, the Prince shall issue forth from thee unto Israel, summoning the rejected gentiles, as Micah foretold, illumined by the Spirit.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Jesus alone is born of the Virgin, to shepherd His flock with strength. Unto the end of the earth is He magnified, thus proclaimed the divinely eloquent prophet of old.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

The spirit of wisdom, the spirit of God, the spirit of strength and counsel, of knowledge and understanding, the spirit of the fear of God filled the Son Who was incarnate from thy womb, O Virgin.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Of a truth, O most pure, all-immaculate one, thou didst cause all the weaponry of the enemy to utterly fail; for thou hast given birth unto the God of all, Who with a spear hath brought low his savagery.

Canon of the Great-Martyr, Irmos: Rising early we cry to Thee, O Lord; * save us, for Thou art our God, * and we know none other besides Thee.

Holy Great-Martyr, Anastasia, pray to God for us.

The star of Judah hath shone forth from the land of Chaldea, moving the magi to worship, as it was written.

Holy Great-Martyr, Anastasia, pray to God for us.

Lawfully didst thou contend, vanquishing the iniquitous with the power of the Spirit, O all-glorious martyr.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

As is thy name, so didst thou show forth the resurrection of God, cursing the invisible foe, O all-praised one.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Christ cometh to be born of the Virgin in a subterranean cave, that all things maybe glad.

Ode VI, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: Beholding the sea of life surging with the tempest of temptations, * I run to Thy calm haven, and cry to Thee: * Raise up my life from corruption, * O Most Merciful One.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Behold! Christ cometh to His own. We are made His by grace and godly virtues, O faithful; and, illumined in soul and heart, we receive Him.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

The root of Jesse hath sprouted forth, and our God hath come forth from thence, the hope of the nations, their peace and honour, as Isaiah, divinely illumined, foretold of old.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Incarnate, O my Jesus, Thou didst make Thyself poor, enriching me who have become grievously impoverished through evil, and loosing the bonds of my many sins by Thy being wrapped in swaddling clothes.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

The winter of adverse thoughts doth beset my lowly heart with assaults of evil spirits, O right beloved Lady, tame it by thy mediations.

Canon of the Great-Martyr, Irmos: I will pour out my prayer unto the Lord, * and to Him will I proclaim my grief; * for my soul is filled with evils, * and my life unto Hades hath drawn nigh, * and like Jonah I pray unto Thee: * Raise me up from corruption, O God.

Holy Great-Martyr, Anastasia, pray to God for us.

The Compassionate One, Who doth form babes in their mothers’ wombs, took human nature from us and is seen as a babe; and wrapped in swaddling bands, He is laid in the manger, loosing the intricate bonds of my passions by grace.

Holy Great-Martyr, Anastasia, pray to God for us.

Patiently following the struggles of the holy martyrs for Christ’s sake, ministering to their needs, and cleansing their sores, O venerable one, thou wast most splendidly enriched, illumining them with glory.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Thou pourest forth drops of healing with showers of divine gifts, and dost hold in check the rivers of the passions, helping those who are in cruel misfortune, O all-glorious martyr of Christ, thou namesake of the divine resurrection.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Healing human nature which had become corrupt through the ancient transgression, a new Babe is born without corruption; and He sitteth in thy womb, as upon a throne, O unwedded one, without leaving the throne that He shares with the Father in His divinity.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Kontakion, in Tone II: Spec. Mel.: “Seeking the highest …”: When those who have recourse to thy temple, * find themselves in temptations and sorrows, * they receive precious gifts through the divine grace which dwelleth within thee, * O Anastasia. ** For thou ever pourest forth healings upon the world.

Ikos: As thou art the namesake of the resurrection of Christ, O martyr, by thy supplications, raise me up who have now fallen, letting the drops of thy miracles fall upon my soul, quenching the burning of grievous sin; for thou dost ever save the world from a multitude of sins, of which I am also tempted, for pouring forth healings upon the world, thou dost grant them abundantly to all.

Ode VII, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: An Angel made the furnace bedew the holy Children. * But the command of God consumed the Chaldeans * and prevailed upon the tyrant to cry: * O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

The most Perfect One is born as a babe, and wrapped in swaddling bands; and the Unoriginate One receiveth a beginning in time from the Virgin, seeking to deify that which He had taken upon Himself. Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Clad in the flesh as in a robe of royal purple, The King of peace cometh forth from thy womb, O Maiden, destroying His enemies, in that He is almighty, and bringing peace to our stormy life.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

God Who is with us is revealed to be incarnate! Understand, O ye hostile nations, and submit, withdrawing from our life! lo! our Restoration desireth to lay in the manger of Bethlehem as a babe!

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

The King Who made His abode within thy womb chose thee out of all generations to be His undefiled palace, O Maiden. To Him we now piously chant: O God of our fathers, Blessed art Thou!

Canon of the Great-Martyr, Irmos: The Hebrew children in the furnace * boldly trampled upon the flames, * changing the fire into dew, they cried aloud: * ‘Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, throughout the ages’.

Holy Great-Martyr, Anastasia, pray to God for us.

The choirs of the incorporeal ones give glory on high, and we on earth render homage, beholding Thee Who hast made Thyself like unto us mortals and liest in a manger, O Christ, Thou God of all.

Holy Great-Martyr, Anastasia, pray to God for us.

Thou didst reduce the fire of deception to ashes, partaking of the flame as did the children. And thou didst show forth thy fervent love, O divinely wise one, which thou didst have for thy Master and Bridegroom.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Thou pourest forth showers of healings, assuaging the fever of illness, ever causing the people to chant: Blessed art Thou, O Lord God, throughout the ages!

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

A wonder which amazeth the mind hath been wrought in thee, O Virgin Mother: thou shalt give birth to God and lay in a manger Him Who is unapproachable even to the cherubim and is infinite in His being.

Ode VIII, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: Thou didst make flame bedew the holy children, * and didst burn the sacrifice of a righteous man with water. * For Thou alone, O Christ, dost do all as Thou willest, * Thee do we supremely exalt throughout all ages.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

The sayings of the divinely eloquent prophets are now fulfilled: the Virgin draweth nigh to give birth to the Lord. Let all the earth joining chorus, be glad, and let it rejoice throughout all ages!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Shining with beams of divine grace and abolishing the shadow of the law, Christ the Bestower of light hath shone forth. O ye who are in darkness, behold the great Light!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

O Lord Who wast born in the cave, show me to be a temple of Thee and of the Father and Thy divine Spirit, even though I have become a lair of brigands, that I may glorify Thee throughout all ages.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

A heavenly Star hath shone forth from thy womb; and the astrologers have been moved to look upon it, illumined by the Spirit through the knowledge thereof, O most pure Virgin who art ever blessed.

Canon of the Great-Martyr, Irmos: Treading down the fiery flame in the furnace, * the divinely eloquent children sang: * ‘Bless the Lord, ye works of the Lord’.

Holy Great-Martyr, Anastasia, pray to God for us.

The cave holdeth the New-born, before Whom thousands and myriads of angels stand on high. O ye works Hymn Him unceasingly as Lord!  

Holy Great-Martyr, Anastasia, pray to God for us.

Thou wast shown to be a temple of the Trinity when in the temples of God thou didst exercise thyself in fasting and supplication, O Anastasia, crying aloud: Bless the Lord, ye works of the Lord!

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Strengthening Chrysogonus with thy fortifying words, O passion-bearer, thou didst trample upon the feeble cruelty of the idols, suffering valiantly.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O Maiden who held God within thyself: thou hast given birth unto the Babe Who created time, the immutable Lord Who, in His ineffable mercy, is born in the city of Bethlehem.

Ode IX, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: It is impossible for mankind to see God * upon Whom the orders of Angels dare not gaze; * but through thee, O all-pure one, * did the Word Incarnate become a man * and with the Heavenly Hosts * Him we magnify and thee we call blessed.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Behold! Christ, the restoration, cleansing, salvation and power of all, is come! The priceless Treasure is hidden within the cave! And the magi, enriched thereby, offer Him gold, as to a king.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Keep watch, O shepherds of Christ, and come ye noetically to the city of Bethlehem; and cry out to God in the highest: Glory and majesty be unto Him Whose good pleasure it hath been to reveal Himself as a babe for our sake, in His goodness!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Wrapped in swaddling clothes in the flesh, O Thou Who dost shroud the earth in darkness and settest bounds for the sea with sand, thou hast broken the bonds of mine evil deeds and with righteousness hast girded those who have become weak through the assaults of the enemy.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

O chamber and throne of the Ruler, mountain of God, chosen city, garden of paradise, most radiant cloud of the Sun: illumine my soul, dispelling the cloud of my manifold iniquities, O divinely joyous one.

Canon of the Great-Martyr, Irmos: Saved by thee, O pure Virgin, * we confess thee to be truly the Theotokos, * and together with the choirs of the bodiless hosts * thee do we magnify.

Holy Great-Martyr, Anastasia, pray to God for us.

Leap up in gladness, ye mountains, and gird yourselves about with joy, O ye hills! The Virgin now draweth nigh to give birth unto the Lord.

Holy Great-Martyr, Anastasia, pray to God for us.

Today, creation offereth thee gladness, O Anastasia, glorifying the memory of the Word Whom thou didst glorify with thy blood.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Illumined now with a most pure light, O right noble martyr, by thy supplications ask that we all receive illumination from on high.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Let all creation now rejoice in splendour! The Theotokos cometh to give birth to God the Word Who hath become a man through the will of God.

Troparion of the Great-martyr, in Tone IV: Thy ewe-lamb Anastasia O Jesus, crieth out with a loud voice: * “Thee do I love, O my Bridegroom, * and, seeking Thee, I endure suffering. * in Thy baptism I am crucified and buried with Thee. * I suffer for Thy sake, that I may reign with Thee; * I die for Thee, that I may live with Thee. * Accept me, who with love sacrifice myself for Thee, * as an unblemished offering!” ** By her supplications save Thou our souls, O most merciful One.

Troparion of the forefeast, in the same tone: Make ready, O Bethlehem! * Be thou opened unto all, O Eden! * Adorn thyself, O Ephratha! * For in the cave the Tree of Life hath sprung forth from the Virgin. * Her womb is shown to be a noetic paradise, * in the midst of which is the divine Tree, * whereof eating, we shall live, and not die as did Adam. * Christ is born, that He might restore His image ** which of old fell!

Troparion of the Great-martyr, in Tone IV: Thy ewe-lamb Anastasia O Jesus, crieth out with a loud voice: * “Thee do I love, O my Bridegroom, * and, seeking Thee, I endure suffering. * in Thy baptism I am crucified and buried with Thee. * I suffer for Thy sake, that I may reign with Thee; * I die for Thee, that I may live with Thee. * Accept me, who with love sacrifice myself for Thee, * as an unblemished offering!” ** By her supplications save Thou our souls, O most merciful One.

Troparion of the forefeast, in the same tone: Make ready, O Bethlehem! * Be thou opened unto all, O Eden! * Adorn thyself, O Ephratha! * For in the cave the Tree of Life hath sprung forth from the Virgin. * Her womb is shown to be a noetic paradise, * in the midst of which is the divine Tree, * whereof eating, we shall live, and not die as did Adam. * Christ is born, that He might restore His image ** which of old fell!

The Advent Journey With the Saints: St Peter, Metropolitan of Kiev

Monday, December 21 /January 3: Forefeast of the Nativity and the Commemoration of Saint Peter, Metropolitan of Kiev

Saint Peter, Metropolitan of Kiev, was born in Volhynia of pious parents, Theodore and Eupraxia. Even before the birth of her son, the Lord revealed to Eupraxia the preordained blessedness of her son. At the age of twelve, young Peter entered a monastery. He successfully studied the book sciences of those times and eagerly fulfilled his monastic obediences. The future saint devoted much time to an attentive study of the Holy Scriptures, and he also learned iconography. The icons painted by Saint Peter were distributed to the brethren and to Christians who visited the monastery.

Because of his virtuous and ascetic life, the igumen of the monastery had Saint Peter ordained as a hieromonk. After years of ascetic labours at the monastery, the hieromonk Peter, with the blessing of the igumen, left the monastery in search of a solitary place.

He built a cell at the Rata River and began to pursue asceticism in silence. Afterwards, at the place of his ascetic exploits, a monastery was formed, called the Novodvorsk. A church dedicated to the Savior was built for the monks who came to him. Chosen as igumen, Saint Peter guided his spiritual children, and never became angry with a guilty monk. Instead, he instructed the brethren by word and by example. The virtuous igumen and ascetic became known far beyond the vicinity of the monastery. Prince Yuri of Galicia frequently visited the monastery in order to receive spiritual instruction from the holy ascetic.

Once, in his travels through the Russian land, Metropolitan Maximus of Kiev and Vladimir (December 6) visited the monastery with words of instruction and edification. Having received the blessing of Saint Maximus, Saint Peter presented him with an icon of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, which he had painted. Saint Maximus prayed before the icon for the salvation of the Russian land entrusted to him by God until the end of his days.

When Metropolitan Maximus died, the See of Vladimir remained for a certain time unoccupied. An abbot named Gerontius, aspiring to become the primate of Russia, went to Constantinople with Saint Peter’s vestments, archpastoral staff, and the icon he had painted. The Great Prince of Vladimir, Saint Michael of Tver (November 22), sent him to the Patriarch of Constantinople with a petition that he be appointed as Metropolitan of Russia.

On the suggestion of Prince Yuri of Galicia, Igumen Peter reluctantly went to the Patriarch of Constantinople with a petition that he be consecrated as Metropolitan. God chose Saint Peter to nourish the Russian Church. The Mother of God appeared to Gerontius during a storm on the Black Sea and said, “You labour in vain, for you will never be bishop. The one who painted this icon, the Rata igumen Peter, shall be elevated to the throne of Kiev.”

The words of the Mother of God were fulfilled. Patriarch Athanasius of Constantinople (1289-1293) elevated Saint Peter as Metropolitan of Russia, bestowing upon him the hierarchal vestments, staff and icon, brought by Gerontius. Upon his return to Russia in 1308, Metropolitan Peter arrived at Kiev after a year, and then proceeded on to Vladimir.

The chief hierarch was tested by many trials during his first years of guiding the Russian metropolitanate. Suffering beneath the Tatar (Mongol) Yoke the Russian land was in turmoil, and Saint Peter was often obliged to change the place of his residence. During this period the saint’s labours and concerns to affirm the true Faith and morality in the realm were particularly important. On his journeys throughout the diocese, he incessantly instructed the people and clergy on preserving Christian piety. He also brought quarrelsome princes to peace and unity.

In the year 1312 the saint made a journey to the Horde, where he received a decree from Khan Uzbek, safeguarding the rights of the Russian clergy.

In 1325 Metropolitan Peter, at the request of Great Prince John Kalita (1328-1340), transferred the metropolitan See from Vladimir to Moscow. This event had very great significance for all the Russian land. Saint Peter prophetically predicted deliverance from the Tatar Yoke and that Moscow would become the foremost city in Russia.

With his blessing, the foundation of the cathedral of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos in the Moscow Kremlin was laid in August 1326 (According to Tradition, the foundations of stone churches are normally laid in the spring). This was a profoundly symbolic blessing by Saint Peter.

Saint Peter fell asleep in the Lord on December 21, 1326. The holy relics of the saint were buried in the Dormition cathedral in a stone crypt, which he himself had prepared. Many miracles were accomplished through the saint’s prayers. Many healings were even done secretly, which testifies to his profound humility even after death.

The veneration of the first hierarch of the Russian Church was affirmed and spread throughout the Russian land. In 1339, under Saint Theognostus (March 14), Saint Peter was numbered among the saints. Princes kissed the cross on the saint’s tomb as a sign of their fidelity to the Great Prince of Moscow.

As a particularly venerated protector of Moscow, Saint Peter was called on to witness the drawing up of government treaties. The people of Novgorod once had the right of nominating their own bishop in the cathedral of Saint Sophia. After their annexation to Moscow under Ivan III, they swore an oath that henceforth they would only consecrate their archbishops at the grave of Saint Peter the Wonderworker. And it was at the grave of the saint that the first hierarchs of Russia were named and chosen.

The Russian Chronicles mention him frequently, and no significant state undertaking was initiated without prayers at the grave of Saint Peter. The relics of Saint Peter were transferred in 1472 and 1479. In memory of these events, feast days were established for October 5 and August 24.

Source: The Orthodox Church in America

Canon of the forefeast, with the alphabet acrostic, by Joseph, in Tone IV:

Ode 1, Irmos: O Thou who wast born of the Virgin, * drown I implore Thee, in the depth of dispassion * the triune nature of my soul, * as Thou didst the mighty strongholds of the warriors, * that in the mortality of my flesh * as on a timbrel * I may chant a hymn of victory.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Rejoice, O heaven, and be glad, O earth! For our God, having taken on flesh, is born of the Virgin Maiden and is wrapped in swaddling bands, breaking the bonds of our transgressions, in that He is compassionate.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

The pure Queen giveth birth in a manner past understanding to the King of all Who openeth the kingdom on high to the faithful and utterly removeth the sin which ever accursedly reigneth within us.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

The writings of the prophets have attained their end; for, lo! Christ Whom they proclaimed beforehand is revealed, incarnate, in the city of Bethlehem. Let us now hasten today to celebrate the forefeast of His nativity with uprightness of mind.

Canon I of the Saint, in Tone VIII: Irmos: Having passed through the water as upon dry land, * and having escaped the malice of the Egyptians, * the Israelites cried aloud: * Unto our God and Redeemer let us sing.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

O divinely wise father, holy hierarch Peter, open thou mine unworthy lips, that I may hymn thee; and accept as incense of sweet savour that which, unworthy though I am, I offer unto thee out of my poverty.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Let us all hymn Peter, the great hierarch. Let us honour the helper and confirmation of the land of Russia, whom the Lord hath given to the city of Moscow as a vigilant guardian.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Thou didst follow the saving commandments of Christ, O most wise and holy hierarch Peter, and wast an intercessor for widows and orphans, and the great defence of the Russian land.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

O most pure Theotokos, who hast given birth unto the Creator and Saviour of all who hymn thee, from misfortunes save thy city, unceasingly praying to thy Son and our God for us.

Canon II of the Saint, in Tone I: Irmos: Christ is born, render ye glory. * Christ cometh from heaven, meet ye Him. * Christ is on earth, be ye exalted. * O all the earth, sing unto the Lord, * and sing praises in gladness, O ye people, * for He hath been glorified.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Taking the grace of the Spirit into thy heart, O father, holy hierarch of Christ, illumine the tongue and enlighten the heart of those who hymn thee, that with splendour we may hymn thy memory, O venerable Peter.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

The great Peter, the mighty pastor of the Church, summoneth shepherds and the flock, and the whole Church, to his memorial. Wherefore, having assembled let us with splendour keep the festival of our common father.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Even though thy corrections are beyond our words and thoughts, O father Peter, yet do thou accept with love the spiritual offering which we make unto thee according to our strength, O right wondrous one; for none of us are able to fashion fitting hymns for thee.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

The radiant Sun cometh, appearing from the gates which were shut; for His appearance hath abolished the night, and the day draweth nigh. Wherefore, O our corrupt nature, receive from the Virgin the Master Who is become man for thy sake.

Ode III, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: Likened to a barren woman * the Church from among the nations hath given birth, * and the assembly abundant in children, hath grown weak. * Let us cry out to our wondrous God: * Holy art Thou, O Lord!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Daniel beheld Thee, O Word, as the Stone cut from the mountain of the Virgin, which broke the temples of the idols in pieces by Thy might. Wherefore, we glorify Thee with fear.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Guided to Thee by the star, O Christ, Thou King of all, the magi from the East bring gifts; myrrh, gold and frankincense – marvelling at Thy condescension.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

The unploughed field beareth the life-bearing Grain; Mary cometh to give birth in the city of Bethlehem to Him Who feedeth the souls of all who cry: Holy art Thou, O Lord!

Canon I of the Saint, Irmos: O Lord, Creator of the vault of Heaven * and Builder of the Church, * do Thou strengthen me in Thy love, O Summit of desire, * O Support of the faithful, * O only Lover of mankind.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

By thy prayers to our Creator and God crush the Moslems and all our godless adversaries, O venerable Peter, show forth their power, which warreth against us, as impotent; and put down their wicked savagery.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

O Master, in a generation gone by Thou didst show forth a wonder-worker, the holy hierarch Peter, the confirmation of the Russian land, the upright rule of Thy Church, the leader of the priestly rank.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

The man who touched thee while thou wast in thy coffin was counted worthy to receive healing, O holy one; for by the grace of God thou didst grant that he be able to stretch forth his arms, which were bent in upon his breast.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Be thou for me a refuge and haven, an unassailable rampart and helper, O most pure Virgin who hast given birth in the flesh unto God, the most compassionate Redeemer and Saviour of those who hymn thee, O Bride of God.

Canon II of the Saint, Irmos: To the Son who was begotten of the Father * without change before all ages, * and in the last times, without seed, was made flesh of the Virgin, * to Christ our God let us cry aloud: * Thou hast raised up our horn, holy art Thou, O Lord.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

God, Who knoweth all things, knew thee in the womb before thou wast conceived, O God-bearer. And when thou wast born, He sanctified thee and made thee a great shepherd of His sheep; for He entrusted His sheep to thee, as He did to the Apostle Peter.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Parting the sea of the passions with the staff of abstinence, O blessed one, like Moses thou didst ascend the mountain of dispassion, and, having received noetic tablets, thou didst teach thy flock the law of God.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Thou wast shown to be humble, meek and gentle, O Peter; wherefore, the grace of the Spirit, abundantly poured forth upon thee, revealed thee to be a great man who shineth over our land with rays of miracles.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

God, Who is strong and mighty, hath now revealed Himself to those who are in the darkness of the shadow of death. O ye faithful, behold the great Light, Christ-in the cave, Who is to be born of the Virgin in an awesome manner. Let us hymn her with faith.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Kontakion of the forefeast, in Tone III: Spec. Mel.: “Today the Virgin …”: Today the Virgin cometh to the cave * to ineffably give birth unto the pre-eternal Word. * Having heard this, be glad, O thou ecumene, * and with the angels and shepherds glorify the pre-eternal God, ** Who is to appear as a little babe.

Ikos: O truly awesome wonder past all telling! He Who giveth existence to all, in His goodness hath entered the womb of the holy Virgin, and cometh to be born in the cave, and to be laid in a manger. And His star is herald from on high to the magi who come to do Him homage with gifts, drawing from afar those who zealously follow the prophecy of Balaam, who said: “A star will proclaim beforehand the little babe, the pre-eternal God!”

Sessional Hymn of the saint, in Tone IV: Spec. Mel.: “Go thou quickly before …”: Thou hast been revealed to the world to be a resplendent beacon, illumining the thoughts of the faithful with the brilliance of thy discourses, O holy hierarch Peter our father; wherefore, with joy we all celebrate thy sacred and divine memory today.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Sessional Hymn of the forefeast, in the same melody: O virgin, begin ye beforehand the joy of virgins; ye mothers, praise the coming forth of the Mother of Christ our God; rejoice, O magi, with the angels, and ye shepherds with us! For the Virgin cometh to give birth in the city of Bethlehem to a Son, the pre-eternal God, Who saveth the world from corruption.

Ode IV, Canon of the Forefeast Irmos: He who sitteth in glory upon the throne of the Godhead, * Jesus the true God, * is come in a swift cloud * and with His sinless hands he hath saved those who cry: * Glory to Thy power, O Christ.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

The holy phial of precious sanctity cometh to pour forth in the city of Bethlehem Him Who imparteth sanctity unto all of us who cry: Glory to Thy power, O Christ!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

O divinely eloquent Isaiah, beholding the fulfilment of thine honoured prophesies, rejoice and be glad! For without seed the Virgin hath given birth in the flesh to the Uncontainable One in the cave of Bethlehem.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Jesus is born in the flesh; the Timeless One is seen as an infant in time, and by His ineffable abasement deifieth me who, have become poor through corrupting disobedience.

Canon I of the Saint, Irmos: O Lord, I have heard the mystery of Thy dispensation; * I have beheld Thy works, * and I have glorified Thy Divinity.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

With the grace of the Spirit thou wast anointed a high priest, O most excellent Peter; for thou didst put on Christ because of thy pure life. Wherefore, thou didst teach all to glorify the one God in Trinity.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Deliver thy flock from the storm of sin, from tribulations and sorrows, O venerable hierarch Peter, leading us to the calm harbour of the divine will of Christ.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Thou wast shown to be a favoured one of Christ, O most sacred father Peter; wherefore, cease thou never to pray to the Lord, that He deliver thy flock from perils, misfortunes and sorrows, and from violent trials.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

The assemblies of hierarchs and the choirs of the venerable glorify thee in a sacred manner; for thou didst bear in thine arms, as an infant, the Creator of all, the Son and Word of God.

Canon II of the Saint, Irmos: Rod of the root of Jesse, * and flower that blossomed from his stem, * O Christ, Thou hast sprung from the Virgin. * From the Mountain overshadowed by the forest * Thou hast come, made flesh from her that knew not wedlock, * O God who art not formed from matter. * Glory to Thy power, O Lord.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Bowing to the laws of the Spirit from earliest childhood, O venerable one, thou didst pass over the laws of the flesh, which by mighty asceticism thou didst mortify in thy life. Wherefore, thou hast been given to the faithful as a great wonder-worker, O blessed Peter.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Thou gavest neither sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids, until the Creator of all found thy heart to be a tranquil place. And, having fittingly purified it, the eternal King and God showed it to be His habitation of glory.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Slay thou the incurable sensual knowledge of my flesh, O most wise one, and as thou art mighty and powerful, guide me to the divine ways. Make me subject to good laws, O blessed one, and show me, who art enslaved to cruel passions, to be a servant of Christ.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

As it is written, the Lord hath now sent deliverance unto peoples, tribes and nations; for He maketh all peoples for Himself, that they may worship the one incarnation of the Son and confess thee to be the Theotokos.

Ode V, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: The wicked will not behold Thy glory, O Christ, * but we who rise early to hymn Thee shall behold Thee, * the Only-Begotten effulgence of Thy Father’s divinity, * O Lover of mankind.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

God-Emmanuel is born from the Virgin, and laid in a manger; of His own will He worketh our restoration. Wherefore, we piously celebrate the forefeast of His nativity.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

O Thou Who art the Unoriginate Word, equal in essence with the Father, having been laid in a manger of dumb beasts thou hast released from irrationality us who piously celebrate the forefeast of Thy nativity.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Blessed was the root of Jesse which produced the pure one who beareth the divine Flower, Christ the Lord. And, rejoicing, we celebrate the forefeast of His nativity.

Canon I of the Saint, Irmos: O Light never-waning, * why hast Thou turned Thy face from me * and why hath the alien darkness surrounded me, * wretched though I be? * But do Thou guide my steps I implore Thee * and turn me back towards the light of Thy commandments.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Standing round about thy shrine, O venerable hierarch Peter, we have thee as a mediator before God, a help and an unshakable confirmation for the land of Russia.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

As thou wast merciful to the poor, O all-praised one, ask now the mercy of the Spirit; for in exercising almsgiving, O holy father Peter, thou didst set up a radiant lamp.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Thou wast truly the habitation of the Holy Spirit, O blessed Peter, and wast well enriched by the divine gifts revealed in Him.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

O most pure one, we call thee the myrrh, in that thou hast given birth in the flesh unto God, the gracious Myrrh poured forth upon all who have recourse to thy protection.

Canon II of the Saint, Irmos: As Thou art the God of peace and Father of compassions, * Thou hast sent unto us Thine Angel of great counsel, * granting us peace. * Wherefore guided towards the light of the knowledge of God, * and watching by night, we glorify Thee, * O Lover of mankind.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

The great wealth of thy compassions hath been shown forth in our land as an infinite outpouring of thy mercy, O servant of Christ; for thou dost answer those who petition thee, and dost strive to fulfill their requests, O blessed one.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Thou wast shown to be meek and humble in deed and word, and thereby drew all to thee. With love and good works thou didst subdue all, and by thy miracles thou didst gladden the hearts of those strengthened by thee.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Christ, the great Shepherd of all, showed thee forth as the shepherd and teacher of His reason-endowed sheep, O blessed one. As a compassionate shepherd, seek me out now, who am thy sheep lost in the mountains of perdition.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

In the abyss of His ineffable compassions, the great Shepherd of mankind and High Priest came forth as a man from the Virgin. Prepare thyself, O Bethlehem! Ye shepherds, raise a hymn proclaiming unto the ends of the earth our common exaltation!

Ode VI, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: I have reached the depths of the sea * and the tempest of my many sins hath engulfed me; * but do Thou raise up my life from the abyss * O Greatly merciful One.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Having been born for us as a little babe on earth, O Thou Who shone forth ineffably from the Father before all ages, free all from the ancient disobedience, in that Thou art compassionate.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Strange and most glorious things were heard in the city of Bethlehem when Thou wast born, O Unoriginate Word; for with the angels, shepherds offered up hymnody to Thee as Master.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

The star of righteousness ineffably proclaimeth to the magi the Sun Who hath been born, and, rejoicing, we now celebrate the forefeast of His honoured nativity.

Canon I of the Saint, Irmos: Cleanse me, O Saviour, * for many are mine iniquities; * lead me up from the abyss of evils I pray Thee, * for unto Thee have I cried, * and Thou hast hearkened unto me, * O God of my salvation.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Thou didst make thy life chaste, O thou who art manifest in sanctity, adorning thyself with righteousness and uniting to thyself the virtues by manliness of mind, O most blessed and holy hierarch Peter.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Preserve thy city from the predations of the ungodly infidels and from civil strife, O most blessed hierarch Peter, unceasingly entreating Christ the Master to grant peace to thy flock.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Glorified even after thy death as one living, thou workest miracles for the infirm and by the grace of God givest healing unto those who are crippled; for the Lord saith: I will glorify him who glorifieth Me.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Thou wast more exalted than the heavenly hosts, having conceived the ineffable Word of God, Who hath accomplished all things by His word, and Who was begotten of the Father before all ages. Him do thou never cease to entreat, O pure one.

Canon II of the Saint, Irmos: The sea monster spat forth Jonah as it had received him, * like a babe from the womb: * while the Word, having dwelt in the Virgin and taken flesh, * came forth from her yet kept her incorrupt. * For being Himself not subject to decay. * He preserved His Mother free from all harm.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Thou wast truly a father to orphans and a helper of widows, O glorious one, the sweet consolation of the grieving and those in sorrow, the healer of sufferings of soul and body; wherefore, we call upon thee to be our intercessor amid our adverse circumstances.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Joyfully celebrating thy memorial with the people today, sacred peoples keep festival, O father, and together with them true hermits and simple folk hymn thee in common as their intercessor and teacher.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

I alone am become a wicked child through vile passions, O glorious father, and for this cause am unworthy to participate in thy goodly and beautiful celebration; yet, having washed away the defilement of my soul and body, O venerable one, show me forth as worthy of thy festival.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O true wonder! Wonder surpassing all telling and all understanding! The Virgin is acknowledged to be both Virgin and Mother, and Him Who was born of her to be both God and man. Celebrating the forefeast of His radiant nativity, we sing hymns of joy.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Kontakion of the saint, in Tone VIII: Spec. Mel.: “To thee, the champion leader …”: Unto thee, the chosen and wondrous wonderworker of our land, * do we flee today with love, weaving hymns, O God-bearer, * as thou hast boldness before the Lord, * deliver us from multifarious evil circumstances that we may cry to thee: ** Rejoice, O confirmation of our city!

Ikos: Thou hast been revealed to be a new wonder-worker, imparting healings unto all who fervently approach thee in humility of heart. And, invisibly visiting the Christian people, O God-bearer, thou dost enlighten our land, that together we may cry out to thee thus: Rejoice, abode of the light of dispassion; Rejoice, dispeller of dark passions! Rejoice, thou who hast set at naught the wiles of the demons; Rejoice, thou who hast gladdened the ranks of the angels! Rejoice, summit of the pure vision of God; Rejoice, depths of humility, washing sicknesses away! Rejoice, for thou didst behold invisible things; Rejoice, for thou hast joined the choir of holy hierarchs! Rejoice, pastor and teacher of the Russian land; Rejoice, excellent boast of bishops! Rejoice, thou for whose sake God hath shown forth great miracles; Rejoice, thou in whom God is glorified! Rejoice, thou confirmation of our city.

Ode VII, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: The three youths in Babylon, * regarded the tyrant’s command as foolishness, * and cried aloud in the midst of the flame: * Blessed art Thou, O Lord God of our fathers!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

How can a cave contain Thee, the Uncontainable One, Who cometh to be born for our sake? How can the Virgin give suck to Thee, Who art the Nourisher of all, O compassionate Jesus?

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Following the words of the magus Balaam, the magi hastened to pay homage to Christ with gifts, perceiving that He is the One Who reigneth over all creatures.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

O human nature, barren of any of the virtues, rejoice and dance! For Christ cometh to be born in the flesh of the Virgin, that He might show thee to be right fruitful in good works.

Canon I of the Saint, Irmos: The Children of Judaea, * who of old came to dwell in Babylon, * trampled underfoot the flame of the furnace * through their faith in the Trinity, * as they sang: ‘O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou.’

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Open unto me the gates of repentance, O most blessed hierarch Peter, that I may wash away the defilement of my wretched soul and body, directing all my senses and my conscience to chant unto God: O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

We, thy servants, have thee as a fervent helper and the unassailable rampart and confirmation of thy city of Moscow; and we fear not the adverse foe, but vanquishing them by the power of Christ, we chant: O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Thou didst confirm the rules of the fathers, and with the magnificence of the priesthood didst build an all-beauteous church for the most holy Mother of God; and by thy teachings instructed the people to chant: O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Having thee now as a haven of salvation, O Virgin Theotokos, we flee the misfortunes and storms of life; and, escaping to the harbour of thy tranquillity, we cry out to thy Son: O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Canon II of the Saint, Irmos: Scorning the impious decree of the godless one, * the Children brought up together in godliness * feared not the threat of fire, * but standing in the midst of the flames, they sang: * O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Together our land and other countries proclaim thy wonders, O father, teaching all to chant unto Christ most joyously: O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

The Bridegroom Who surpasseth all the sons of mankind in beauty, as it is written, showed thee forth to His bride, the Church, as a most comely bridegroom who bore the likeness of His image.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Having adorned thy life with almsgiving, meekness and true love, thou wast shown to be an excellent emulator of the good Shepherd, having chosen well His virtues.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

The Master cometh to be born in the cave as a man. Let us go forth to greet the pure Virgin, O ye faithful, chanting unto her with joy: Rejoice, joy of the world! Rejoice, O Virgin Mother of Christ!

Ode VIII, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: O almighty Redeemer of all, * having descended and bedewed the children * in the midst of the flame, * Thou didst teach them to sing: * All ye works bless and hymn the Lord.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

In Thine ineffable loving-kindness, to save me who through my great disobedience have become a den of thieves, O Christ, it was Thy will to be born in a cave of the pure Virgin.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Signing a writ of complete remission for me, Thou, the Author of creation, didst register Thyself with servants in accordance with the edict of Caesar. O Master, I hymn the unfathomable abyss of Thy loving-kindness!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

O radiant palace of the Master, how is it that thou hast entered the least of caves to give birth to the Lord and King Who became incarnate for our sake, O all-holy Virgin Bride of God?

Canon I of the Saint, Irmos: Glorified in the holy mountain, * the Lord revealed the mystery of the Ever-Virgin unto Moses * in the flames of the burning bush: * praise ye and supremely exalt Him throughout all ages.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Though I have been overcome by the enemy through many transgressions due to the tumults of life, like Manasseh I approach Thee with faith, O Christ, and cry out to Thee in repentance: Hymn the Lord, O ye works, and supremely exalt Him throughout the ages!

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

O most blessed one, earnestly make supplications and entreaties unto God for thy servants, for, having thee as helper and ally amid griefs, we are saved from misfortunes, hymning the Lord and supremely exalting Him throughout the ages.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

The children of Hagar are arming themselves against thy humble people, O all-honoured hierarch, father Peter. Crush them with the invisible power of thy prayers to the Master on behalf of us, thy faithful servants, who hymn the Lord and supremely exalt Him throughout the ages.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

O most pure and most glorious Virgin Lady, with the holy hierarch Peter earnestly entreat thy Son and King, that from all need and tribulation He deliver thy loyal city of Moscow, which blesseth thee with faith, O Sovereign Lady, and doth hymn and supremely exalt thee throughout the ages.

Canon II of the Saint, Irmos: The furnace moist with dew * was an image and prefiguring of a wonder past nature, * burning not the Children whom it had received, * so the fire of the Godhead consumed not the Virgin’s womb * into which it had descended. * Therefore in song let us sing: * Let the whole creation bless the Lord * and supremely exalt Him throughout all ages.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

By thy supplication nurture this thy flock which is great in number; by thy prayers still thou the storm of contrary winds, both physical and spiritual; deliver us from all temptations and troubles, and preserve us utterly unharmed.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

The descendants of Hagar, who rise up against us and desire to vex thine inheritance, have fallen, vanquished by thy supplications, and are become a mockery and a byword, bewailing their fall; but we joyously hymn thy sacred memory.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Ineffable is thy love for thy children, surpassing paternal love, O father; wherefore, thou dost ever invisibly visit us, by thy constant supplications asking salvation for us, and giving us joy and tranquillity, O Peter.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Not disdaining that which He created in His own image – me who am wholly fallen and have perished, O pure Virgin Theotokos, God hath wholly restored me through thee. Wherefore, all creation continually hymneth thee, the cause of our salvation, saying: Blessed art thou among women, O all-immaculate Lady.

Ode IX, Canon of the Forefeast, Irmos: Eve dwelt under the curse of sin * because of the infirmity of disobedience; * but thou, O Virgin Theotokos, * hast through the Offspring of thy pregnancy * blossomed forth blessing upon the world. * Wherefore, we all magnify thee.

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

O ye faithful, let us dance, leap up and cry aloud together: The Salvation of all cometh! The Lord draweth nigh to be born, that He might save those who with godly wisdom celebrate His nativity!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Take up thy psaltery and harp, O holy David, and chant in hymnody: O house of Ephratha, be glad! For He Whom the Father begat from within Himself is most radiantly born in thee, incarnate of the Virgin!

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

Like a downpour, like a mighty rainfall hath the Master descended into thy womb, O Virgin Mother and Birthgiver of God, and He hath watered lands hardened by dark ungodliness, drying up the seas of falsehood.

Canon I of the Saint, Irmos: Heaven was stricken with awe, * and the ends of the earth were filled with amazement, * for God hath appeared in the flesh, * and thy womb was rendered more spacious than the heavens. * Wherefore, the ranks of men and of angels * magnify thee as the Theotokos.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Like the harlot, the thief and the publican I cry unto Thee from the depths of my heart: I have sinned! Forgive me my many offenses, O Master, and deliver me from all Thine anger through the prayers of the holy hierarch Peter, that I may unceasingly magnify Thee.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Come, all ye people of Moscow! And, gathering at the tomb of the blessed hierarch Peter, cry out unto God with tears, saying: O Lord, deliver Thy people from misfortunes, that we may magnify Thee forever!

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Thine own city of Moscow greatly rejoiceth in thee, O all-honoured father, holy hierarch Peter, having thee as an ally and helper. Depart not now in spirit from us, O master, making supplication for us to God, that He deliver us from the violence of the ungodly Moslems, our enemies, that we may ever magnify thee.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

O all-pure Mary, Sovereign Lady, by thine entreaties cleanse my defiled heart and soul, and make me an heir to life everlasting; and, remembering not my countless evils, beseech thy Son and God for me, wretch that I am, and preserve those who hymn thee, O most holy one.

Canon II of the Saint, Irmos: A strange and most wondrous mystery do I see: * the cave is heaven; * the Virgin the throne of the cherubim; * the manger a room, in which Christ God, * whom nothing can contain, is laid. * Whom we praise and magnify.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

It is not possible to hymn thy glory as is meet; for thou grantest a multitude of miracles and abundant healings unto those who with ardent faith approach thee, O holy hierarch Peter, thou boast of our land.

Hierarch of Christ, Peter, pray to God for us.

Christ hath set thee as the foundation of His Church and a mighty tower forever unshakable, protecting and making steadfast thy city, that it might remain utterly unshaken and unassailed by its enemies.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Let all of us; bishops, priests and monks, and all the people, men and women, the old and the young, of every age and every dignity, splendidly celebrate the memory of our holy hierarch.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Let us hasten to behold the greatest of wonders! For the Virgin cometh, bearing in her womb the Babe Who giveth life to babes. Angels join in common hymnody with shepherds, proclaiming the salvation made manifest in the cave.

Troparion of the saint, in Tone IV: Be glad now, O earth that before wast barren! * For, lo! Christ hath shown forth within thee a luminary * who shineth forth clearly in the world * healing our infirmities and ailments. * Wherefore, join chorus and rejoice with boldness; * for it is the high priest of the Most High ** who doeth these things.

Troparion of the forefeast, in the same tone: Make ready, O Bethlehem! * Be thou opened unto all, O Eden! * Adorn thyself, O Ephratha! * For in the cave the Tree of Life hath sprung forth from the Virgin. * Her womb is shown to be a noetic paradise, * in the midst of which is the divine Tree, * whereof eating, we shall live, and not die as did Adam. * Christ is born, that He might restore His image ** which of old fell!