A Homily on the Holy Forefathers of Christ

“O ye faithful, let us praise today all the fathers of the old Law: Abraham, the beloved of God, and Isaac, who was born according to the promise, and Jacob and the twelve patriarchs, the most meek David, and Daniel, the prophet of desires,  glorifying with them the three youths that transformed the furnace into dew, and who ask remission of Christ God, Who is glorified in His saints.”

(Doxasticon on ‘Lord, I have cried’)

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Dear brothers and sisters,

On this Sunday of the Holy Forefathers of Christ, we celebrate the righteous forebears of the Saviour, who in their succeeding generations formed the ladder by which Christ descended into the world at His Incarnation and Nativity.

Even though He was the Eternal Logos “by whom all things were made”, He ‘came down’ from heaven, through the genealogical ladder of human generations; in the successive steps of father to son in the patriarchs, through the tribe of Judah and the holy king and prophet, David, through the many generations which we will recount in the Gospel of the Genealogy on the coming Sunday before Christmas.

Today, the faithful come together to remember the generations of the righteous, and we are called to celebrate their memory by the hymns of the Church.

In the invitatory words of the hymns we are called to remember the lives of the holy forefathers with joy:

“Come, ye lovers of the feasts of the Church, and with psalms let us praise the assembly of the forefathers: Adam, the forefather of us all, Enoch, Noah, Melchizedek, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; and, after the Law, Moses and Aaron, Joshua, Samuel and David, and, with them, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and the twelve prophets, together with Elijah, Elisha and all the rest, Zachariah and the Forerunner; who all preached Christ, the Life and Resurrection of our race.”

(Doxasticon of the vespers aposticha)

As we celebrate their memory, the liturgical texts recognise that the forefathers were not simply agents of Christ’s human descent and incarnation, but were righteous and holy men and women who knew Christ, before His Incarnation, as He spoke to them and led them forward through the generations of the Advent of His coming in the flesh.

In the Prologue of the Gospel of St John, the Beloved Disciple reminds us that

“No man hath seen God (that is the Father) at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”

And so, from the beginning, the Church understood the appearance of Christ, the Eternal Logos, in the encounters between God and the patriarchs, prophets, judges, kings and His people Israel.

It is Christ the Logos ( the Word) who was in the beginning, who was with God, and who was God – who was the divine-voice heard, or not heard, by the sons and daughters of God.

In the Christophanies before the Incarnation, the Saviour, as Yahweh; as the Word of God; as the Holy Wisdom; as the Angel of Great Council; communicated, visited, inspired, blessed, corrected, and walked with His people.

Thus, the Church understands that it Christ who Himself was the Creative Word who formed the first-forefather and first-mother, as the apex and completion of creation.

It is Christ-Yahweh, who talked with Adam and Eve in the garden and who walked in Paradise in the cool of the day.

It is Christ, the Word of God, who commanded Noah to build the ark, which was to be a type and fore-shadowing of the Church; who commanded Noah, his family and the animals to leave the ark after the flood and established His covenant.

It was Christ as the Divine Messenger – the angelos – who came to Abraham and Sarah with the promise of a son, and who – as the same Divine Voice – tested Abraham with the command to sacrifice Isaac, saving the child as He commanded Abraham to stop, saying, “…now I know that you fear God seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son from me.”

It was Christ the Logos, who appeared to the Patriarch Jacob in a dream, and said “I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and made a vow to me” and with whom Jacob wrestled all night, so that he could say: “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered”.

It was Christ, the Angel of God, who spoke to Moses from the midst of the burning bush and said, “I am the God of your Father, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac” and Who continued to speak and guide Israel in the Christophanies of the Book of Exodus.

It was Christ whom the prophet Ezekiel saw seated upon the great chariot-throne in the midst of the storm-cloud, flashing with lightning and fire, amidst the winged living-beings with the faces of a bull, a lion, an eagle, and a man.

It was Christ as the Ancient of Days, whom the prophet Daniel beheld, seated on His fiery throne: “And the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, And the hair of His “head was like pure wool.”

It was Christ, who appeared with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery-furnace, causing the astounded King Nebuchadnezzar to exclaim: “Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”

It was Christ whom Isaiah beheld when we read that he “saw the Lord high and exalted and seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. And the angels surrounded him. And day and night they worship him, crying out: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD God Almighty; heaven and earth are full of his glory!’”

Thus, the men and women whom we celebrate each year on this Sunday were not strangers to Christ. They were Christ-Lovers who knew Him as He appeared to them, spoke to them, and in the case of Abraham and Sarah, sat and ate with them. Though He was yet to be born and ‘clothed in Adam’, He was the face and voice of God through which the righteous of the Old Testament encountered the Divine.

To return to the first step on the ladder of Christ’s descent – “Adam, the forefather of us all” – the first-father and first mother are so often only thought of as the agents of the earthly rebellion against God, remembered as rebels and outcasts. Yet we fail to remember that though they were guilty, it does not mean that they were rejected by God, becoming apostates and untouchables.

Despite their rebellion they remained the children of God, created in His image and likeness, knowing him in a relationship that we will never understand. Though they knew the consequences of their disobedience, and lived with those consequences in exile, they nevertheless existed as an expression of God’s creative-power and creative-love, and continued to know that love at the same time that they experienced divine justice. They remained creations in His image and likeness, with Him as their sole cause and origin.

Can we even begin to appreciate the depth of their repentance, given what they had lost, and what they had known and experienced in their relationship with the Creator? Equally, can we even begin to appreciate their mourning and tears of sorrow – penthos – for their single-disobedience. How much more are the multitudes of our disobediences and rebellions against God?

After the fall, God immediately sought to reclaim and redeem Adam and Eve and their descendants, with the first expression of the economy of salvation, looking forward to the Mother of God – the second Eve – and her Son, who would be the Second Adam: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:15)

With this proclamation (Protoevangelion/Protogospel) the place of Adam and Eve in their own restoration, and that of the generations of their descendants until the end of time is declared.

Though driven from Paradise and burdened with the labours of life, pain, illness and death, Adam and Eve, Seth, Enos, Enoch, Noah, Shem, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Judah, David and the righteous ancestors of the Lord are blessed, as they become instrumental in the preparation for the coming of the Christ of whom the Holy Prophet Isaiah spoke: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel.”

In speaking of the Incarnate Word in the Prologue of St John, St Polycarp of Smyrna wrote,

“This is He who was from the beginning, who appeared as if new, and was found old, and yet who is ever born afresh in the hearts of the saints.”

Though He appeared as if new when He was laid in the manger, Christ the Word who was of old, was not only born afresh in the hearts of the saints of each coming generation, but had already been known in the hearts of those who had come before Him and long-awaited His coming.

In His Incarnation, they saw fulfilment and completion, as He who in His humanity is their child, flesh of their flesh and bone of their bone, entered the world in the darkness of the Cave of Bethlehem and was laid in the manger.

The forefathers’ experience and knowledge of Christ, the Only-Begotten Son and Word of God, may only be considered a foretaste of the knowledge that which was made manifest when “The word was made flesh and dwelt among us…”, but their knowledge and experience of Christ the Word was real, and their relationship was personal and blessed by their being steps on which the Creator would descend to earth, clothed in their flesh, even though He Himself had created it.

In his first homily on the feast of the Nativity, St Ephrem the Syrian frames this fulfilment in the Incarnation within the expectation and longing of the forefathers, who – as the descendants of the first-father and first mother – knew that the original life of humanity and its communion with God was unique to Paradise: a restored communion for which they longed, as they waited in expectation of the Second Adam who would put aside the Fiery Angel from the Gates of Paradise, so that they could approach once more.

From thy treasure-house put forth, Lord, from the coffers of Thy Scriptures, names of righteous men of old, who looked to see Thy coming!

Seth who was in Abel’s stead shadowed out the Son as slain, by Whose death was dulled the envy Cain had brought into the world!

Noah saw the sons of God, saints that sudden waxed wanton, and the Holy Son he looked for, by whom lewd men were turned to holiness.

Shem and Japhet, being gracious, looked for the gracious Son, Who should come and set free Canaan from the servitude of sin.

Melchizedek expected Him; as His vicegerent, looked that he might see the Priesthood’s Lord whose hyssop purifies the world.

Lot beheld the Sodomites how they perverted nature: for nature’s Lord he looked who gave a holiness not natural.

Him Aaron looked for, for he saw that if his rod ate serpents up, His cross would eat the Serpent up that had eaten Adam and Eve.

Moses saw the uplifted serpent that had cured the bites of asps, and he looked to see Him who would heal the ancient Serpent’s wound.

Caleb the spy bore the cluster on the staff, and came and longed to see the Cluster, Whose wine should comfort the world.

Him did Jesus (Yeheshua/Joshua) the son of Nun long for, that he might conceive the force of his own surname: for if by His name he waxed so mighty, how much more would He by His Birth?

This Jesus that gathered and carried, and brought with him of the fruit, was longing for the Tree of Life to taste the Fruit that quickens all.

For Him Rahab too was looking; for when the scarlet thread in type redeemed her from wrath, in type she tasted of the Truth.

For Him Elijah longed, and when Him on earth he saw not, he, through faith most thoroughly cleansed, mounted up in heaven to see Him.

Moses saw Him and Elijah; the meek man from the depth ascended, the zealous from on high descended, and in the midst beheld the Son.

Adam looked for Him, for He is the Cherub’s Lord, and could minister an entrance and a residence hard by the branches of the Tree of life.

Abel longed after Him, that in his days He might come; that instead of that lamb that he offered, the Lamb of God he might behold.

For Him Eve also looked; for woman’s nakedness was sore, and He capable to clothe them; not with leaves, but with that same glory that they had exchanged away.

Seth and Enos, Cainan too, were surnamed sons of God; for the Son of God they looked, that they by grace might be His brethren.

But little short of a thousand years did Methuselah live: He looked for the Son Who makes heirs of life that never ends!

Grace itself in hidden mystery was beseeching on their behalf that their Lord might come in their age and fill up their shortcomings.

For the Holy Spirit in them, in their stead, besought with meditation: He stirred them up, and in Him did they look on that Redeemer, after whom they longed.”

We celebrate the fulfilment of their looking, expectation and longing in the Nativity itself, and the opening of St Ephrem’s homily celebrates this fulfilment:

“This is the day that gladdened them, the Prophets, Kings, and Priests, for in it were their words fulfilled, and thus were the whole of them indeed performed! For the Virgin this day brought forth Immanuel in Bethlehem.”

This, echoes the Saviour’s words in John’s Gospel, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.” (John 8:56)

St Irenaeus wrote:

“the rejoicing of Abraham descending upon those who sprang from him … while, on the other hand, there was a reciprocal rejoicing which passed backwards from the children to Abraham, who did also desire to see the day of Christ’s coming.”

(In Against Heresies (Book IV, Chapter 7)

This rejoicing finds its ultimate meaning and its realisation in the victory of the Saviour (their child according to the flesh) over death and His conquest of hell – represented in the icon of Holy Pascha.

Christ descends into Hades in the Harrowing of Hell and raises those whom we celebrate in these two Sundays before the Nativity, so that His ancestral-descent from them became their spiritual ascent into the Kingdom of Heaven; His condescension the means of their ascension; His coming down the means of their rising up.

In the icon, we see Him taking Adam and Eve by the hands or wrists, together the righteous of the Old Testament – with the Forerunner, the Righteous Abel, Daniel the Prophet, King Solomon, King David so readily identifiable – ushering them out of the realm and darkness of death into the light of the resurrection.

In Christ, through their own humanity, united to His divinity, they found the bridge leading from earth to heaven; they experienced their restoration with the First-Adam, through the Second-Adam, who had put on the flesh of His forefather.

Let us joyfully greet the holy forefathers and mothers, together with the heralds of His coming, asking them to pray for us, in their knowledge and experience of the Paschal victory of the Messiah, as we approach the celebration of His Nativity in  the remaining days of the Fast.

Let us never, forget their place in our salvation, and let us be thankful for the righteous men and women of the Old Covenant, who were the God-loving children of the Lord, forming the path by which the Saviour become Emmanuel: God-With-Us.

“All creation is sanctified by your memory and, keeping festival, doth call out, crying aloud as befitteth a servant: Ever offer entreaty unto the Lord, O blessed ones, that those who praise you may receive eternal blessings!”

(Doxasticon Ode 9. Canon)

Amen.

 

The Advent Journey With the Saints: The Holy Martyrs Thyrsus, Lucius, Philemon & those with them.

Monday 14/27 December: The Holy Martyrs Thyrsus, Lucius, Philemon & those with them.

The Holy Martyrs Thyrsus, Leucius and Callinicus suffered for Christ under the emperor Decius (249-251) at Caesarea in Bithynia.

Saint Leucius, having reproached the prefect Cumbricius for his unjust persecution of Christians, was executed after being tortured. As soon as his head was cut off, his soul departed to heaven.

Saint Thyrsus, who was still a catechumen, was nonetheless eager for martyrdom. He was sentenced to cruel tortures and torments after refusing to offer sacrifice to the idols. Citing the words of the Prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 2:27), he ridiculed those who worshiped wood and stone.

The saint’s arms and legs were pulled out of their sockets, his eyes were plucked out, and his teeth were shattered with a hammer. He was taken to a heathen temple, where, by his prayers, he toppled a statue of Apollo. Cumbricius was enraged by this, and he ordered that greater torments be devised for the athlete of Christ. He endured them all and died peacefully after making the Sign of the Cross. The pagan priest Callinicus, seeing the bravery and the miracle involving Saint Thyrsus, believed in Christ and boldly confessed the true Faith, for which he was beheaded.

Source: Orthodox Church in America

Canon of the martyrs, the composition of Theophanes, in Tone VI.

Ode I, 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.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Standing before the throne of God, arrayed in the beauties of martyrdom and resplendent with divine effulgence, O passion-bearers, illumine us who hymn your memory.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Desiring divine beauty, ye reckoned the beauties of life to be as naught, O spiritual athletes of Christ; and dying in body, ye have been deemed worthy to receive life without end.

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

Denouncing the delusion of idolatry in a godly manner, O passion-bearing martyrs, ye endured the burning of manifold pangs and have now attained the life which is devoid of pain.

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

O pure one, thou hast given birth to the uncircumscribable Word, Who became circumscribed in a human body. Him do thou beseech, that those who glorify thee be delivered from corruption and the assault of the passions.

Ode III, 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.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

The minions of darkness, cruelly lacerating thy body, O Thyrsus mighty in love, were unable to weaken the strength of thy mind, which was fortified by divine love.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

O wondrous martyr Philemon, thy faith in the Lord was truly constant, and thereby thou didst put the false religion of the enemy to shame, crying aloud: “I am a servant of Christ!”

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

Thou didst go forth boldly to do battle with the enemy, O martyr, armed not with shield and spear, but divinely defending thyself with steadfast faith; and thou didst manfully cast him down to the ground.

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

One of the Holy Trinity, having become incarnate through thy pure blood in two natures, O all-pure one, hath issued forth divinely, saving the descendants of Adam in His goodness.

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

Sessional Hymn, in Tone IV: Spec. Mel.: “Joseph marvelled …”: Protected well by the shield of piety, and arrayed in the armour of the Cross, the right wondrous martyrs of Christ humbled the legions of the tyrant; and, crowned by Him with the wreath of victory, they join chorus unceasingly with the hosts on high, and entreat the Saviour to save our souls.

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.

Theotokion in Tone IV: Tempest-tossed by the threefold-waves of the passions, * I who lack conscience fervently call upon thee, O most pure one: * Disdain me not, lest I perish, wretch that I am, * O thou who hast given birth to the Abyss of mercy; * for I have no other hope than thee. * Let me not become a joy unto mine enemies, * nor a byword, for I trust in thee. * For whatsoever thou desirest thou canst do, ** in that thou art the Mother of the God of all.

Stavrotheotokion: The Virgin and ewe-lamb, beholding on the Cross the Lamb Who was born of her without seed, His side pierced by a spear, was wounded and with grief and cried aloud, exclaiming amid her pain: “What is this new mystery? How is it that Thou diest Who alone art Lord of life? Wherefore, arise, raising up our fallen forefather!”

Ode IV, 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.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Desiring to confess the one Lord and God of all, Who alone is compassionate, through their sufferings the martyrs have received His kingdom.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Strengthened by the power of the Cross, O martyr Thyrsus who art most noetically rich, like a youth thou didst endure the laceration of thy body, the raging of the fire, and the onslaught of wild beasts and the sea.

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

Adorned with the wounds of thy struggles as a warrior of Christ, O martyred spiritual athlete Lucius, thou didst render thy soul more radiant than the brilliance of the sun.

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

O blessed Mary, thou art the setting aright of mortals, and we know thee, alone among women, to be the Mother who knew not a man, the immaculate Virgin, the undefiled Maiden.

Ode V, 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.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Sanctified in godly splendour by most divine rays, O all-praised martyrs, ye sailed across the inconstant abyss of ungodliness and have passed over to divine tranquillity

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Cruelly dragged across the ground and wounded by tortures, O all-praised martyrs, ye have received the honours of heaven, having now become fellow citizens with the angels.

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

Manifestly preferring to die for Christ Who loved thee, O divinely blessed martyr Philemon, thou didst treat the wounds inflicted on thy body as though they were made by the darts of children.

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

O Mary, good Lady of the word, save those who with all their soul confess thee to be the Theotokos; for thee, who art the Theotokos, have we acquired as our invincible intercessor.

ODE VI, 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.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Moved by the winds of the divine Spirit, O wise martyrs, ye most joyously saved the entry of your souls for the noetic havens, delighting together therein in deification.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Mounting the flaming chariot, O spiritual athletes, ye were caught up to the heavens by the blood ye shed, and having attained to the glory of God, ye have received crowns of victory from Him.

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

Philemon and Lucius, Apollonius and the ever-memorable Thyrsus, the four divine and radiant martyrs, have been enriched by partaking immaterially of the effulgence of the Trinity.

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

He Who as God transcendeth all creation, noetic and visible, passed, incarnate, through thy womb, O Virgin Mother, preserving thee incorrupt, as thou wast before birthgiving.

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.: “The steadfast …”: Reviling the impious tyrant, * O champions of faith and piety, * ye denounced his bestial thirst for blood, * and, fortified by the help of Christ, * O Thyrsus and Lucius, * ye vanquished his wrathful opposition. ** With those who suffered with you, pray ye on our behalf.

Ode VII, 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

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Thou. With divine rains ye extinguished the furnace of polytheism, all-joyously aflame with divine love, O spiritual athletes; and ye now chant: O God of our fathers, Blessed art Thou!

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Casting your divine net to ensnare the persecutor, O right wondrous ones, ye drew him forth from the depths of delusion and brought him to Christ, chanting with fervour: O God of our fathers, Blessed art Thou!

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

Showing unshakable resolve and a courageous mind, ye shook the foundations of delusion, O spiritual athletes, and ye now piously chant: O God of our fathers, Blessed art Thou!

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

Past description is thy conception, O Bride of God; for thou hast given birth to God the Word, Who hath delivered mankind from all irrationality, and thou givest us the words to cry aloud: O God of our fathers, Blessed art Thou!

Ode VIII, 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.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Defending yourselves with the shield of piety, and taking up the Cross as a spear, O Thyrsus of valiant mind, thou didst cut down the hordes of the invisible foe, O divine glory of the martyrs.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Aflame with love for the Almighty, thou didst manfully enter the tribunal of the tyrant, and, having suffered patiently, thou didst break asunder the great serpent, O spiritual athlete Philemon.

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

Showing forth the power of the enemy to be drowned in the depths of thy courage and patience, O Adrian, thou wast deemed worthy of the kingdom which remaineth unshaken throughout all ages.

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

Confessing thee to be the true Theotokos, like the angel we cry out to thee: Rejoice! For thou alone on earth hast given birth to our Joy, O pure, blessed and joyous one.

ODE IX, 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.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Emulating the suffering of Christ, ye endured the trial of many torments, O blessed ones; and when your heads were severed, ye were numbered among the ranks of heaven, resplendent with glory and adorned with divine radiance.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Thou didst dye thy robe purple in thy blood, O wise Thyrsus, and having gloriously arrayed thyself therein, and wielding the Cross as it were a sceptre, thou dost now reign with Christ, rejoicing with all the passion-bearers, O divinely blessed one.

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

The angelic hosts marvelled at your struggles, wounds, opposition and violent death, O blessed ones; and dwelling with them, O all-praised ones, be ye mindful of those who celebrate your memory.

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

In the guise of human flesh the Word appeared, born from thy womb, O pure and divinely joyous Virgin Mary, and, having endured suffering, He hath drawn to Himself a multitude of martyrs.

Celebrating the Forefathers of Christ

Come, ye lovers of the feasts of the Church, and with psalms let us praise the assembly of the forefathers: Adam, the forefather of us all, Enoch, Noah, Melchizedek, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; and, after the Law, Moses and Aaron, Joshua, Samuel and David, and, with them, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and the twelve prophets, together with Elijah, Elisha and all the rest, Zachariah and the Forerunner; who all preached Christ, the Life and Resurrection of our race.

Let us celebrate today the divine memory of the honoured fathers of all ages past: Adam, Abel, Seth, Noah, Enos, Enoch and Abraham, Melchizedek and Job, Isaac and the faithful Jacob, crying aloud: Let all creation bless the Lord and supremely exalt Him throughout all ages!

Let us praise the divinely beauteous multitude of the divine fathers: Barak, Nathan and Eleazar, Josiah and David, Jephthah and Samuel, who honourably beheld things which were to come and cried out: Let all creation bless the Lord, and supremely exalt Him throughout the ages!

With hymnody let us offer laudation unto the prophets of God: Hosea and Micah, Zephaniah and Habbakuk, Zechariah and Jonah, Haggai and Amos, Malachi, Obadiah and Nahum, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, together with Daniel, Elijah and Elisha.

The Advent Journey With the Saints: The Holy Martyrs Eustratius, Auxentius, Eugene, Mardarius, and Orestes.

Sunday 13/26 December: The Holy Martyrs Eustratius, Auxentius, Eugene, Mardarius, and Orestes.

The Holy Martyrs Eustratius, Auxentius, Eugene, Mardarius, and Orestes (the Five Companions) suffered for Christ under the emperor Diocletian (284-305) at Sebaste, in Armenia.

Among the first Christians imprisoned and undergoing torture at that time was Saint Auxentius, a presbyter of the Arabian Church. One of those who witnessed the steadfastness of the Christians was the noble military commander Saint Eustratius, the city prefect of Satalios, and archivist of the province. He was secretly a Christian, and when he openly confessed his faith, he was subjected to torture. They beat him, and put iron sandals studded with sharp nails on his feet, then forced him to march to the city of Arabrak.

Witnessing the arrival of Saint Eustratius in Arabrak, one of the common people, Saint Mardarius, confessed that he was also a Christian like Saint Eustratius. He was arrested and cast into prison. Holes were drilled in his ankles, and ropes were passed through them. He was suspended upside down, then heated nails were hammered into his body. He died a short time later. To him is attributed the prayer “O Master Lord God, Father Almighty …” (which is read at the end of the Third Hour).

As for Saint Eugene, they ripped out his tongue, they cut off his hands and feet, and then they beheaded him with a sword. Saint Auxentius was also arrested and beheaded. The young soldier Saint Orestes confessed himself a Christian and stood trial for this “crime.” He was sentenced to be stretched out upon a red-hot iron bed, and became frightened when he approached it. Encouraged by Saint Eustratius, he made the Sign of the Cross and got onto the heated bed, where he surrendered his soul to God.

Saint Eustratius was sentenced to be burned alive on December 13. As he was being led to his death, he prayed aloud (“I magnify Thee exceedingly, O Lord, for Thou hast regarded my lowliness…”). This prayer is still read at the Saturday Midnight Office.

Source: Orthodox Church in America

Canon I of the martyrs, the composition of John the Monk, in Tone IV.

Ode I, Irmos: Through the deep of the Red Sea, * marched dry-shod Israel of old, * and by Moses’ outstretched hands, * raised in the form of a cross, * the power of Amalek was routed in the wilderness.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Distributing gifts in the heavens to the spiritual athletes on earth with His almighty right hand, Christ the Judge of the contest sitteth and extendeth divine crowns to Eustratius and those with him.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Come, let us behold the five-membered choir of martyrs, which emmiteth the most radiant light, and hath Eustratius as its desired leader, who is crowned with divine grace.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Casting off the vesture of an earthly army, thou didst enlist for the true King, receiving the token of suffering from Christ through Auxentius, O Eustratius.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Thou wast the edifice which contained the divine Essence, O pure Birthgiver of God. Wherefore Lucia, desiring thee, was as a virgin led to thy Son in thine entourage.

Canon II, 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.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Christ, the King of the circles of heaven and Bestower of gifts, setteth forth his seat, extending crowns of victory to Eustratius and those who suffered with him.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

O ye faithful, let us praise the chanting and divinely crowned choir of the five passion-bearers, which had the wise Eustratius to lead them faithfully and divinely to Christ.

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

Desiring to enlist in the army of the Most High, O Eustratius, thou didst shun honours; and, leading thy life to God, O wise one, thou wast purified in sanctity.

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

Rejoicing, the choir of the right victorious martyrs, who have received crowns of victory, hymneth thee, O pure one; for through thee hath heaven been rendered accessible to us, in that thou hast given birth past understanding to the Creator of heaven.

Ode III, Canon I, Irmos: Thy Church, O Christ, rejoiceth in Thee crying aloud: * Thou, O Lord, art my strength, * my refuge and foundation.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

O all-blessed Eustratius, by the hope of torments wast thou supra-naturally filled with all manner of joy, like an immaterial treasury.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

With spiritual wisdom and the endurance of perils thou didst denounce the ungodliness of the tyrant, O Auxentius, martyr of Christ.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Like most splendid adornments, like flowers, ye were arrayed in the wounds of Christ, O martyrs of the Church of the faithful.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

We, the faithful, truly honour thee, the Theotokos, as our Sovereign Lady; for thou hast given birth to God, Who became flesh, O all-immaculate one.

Canon II, 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.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Having set all thy hope on God Most High with firmness of mind, O blessed one, thou wast wholly filled with consolation by the expectation of wounds.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Through divine wisdom thou didst flourish in the love of Christ; and by enduring wounds, O Auxentius, thou didst denounce the mindlessness of the persecutors, their insolence and vainglory.

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

The unrestrained rage of Lysius and the fire of mighty tortures didst thou account as but a dream, O wise one; for, made steadfast in Christ, thou didst prevail, as though it were another who was suffering.

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

Chanting, we, the faithful, bless thee in a godly manner with voices of sacred discourse, O Virgin Mother of God, as the one who brought about our Author, Who became like unto us.

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

Kontakion, in Tone II: Spec. Mel.: “The tomb and mortality …”: Thou hast been shown to be a most splendid luminary * for those who sit in the darkness of ignorance, * O passion-bearer; * for, armed with faith as with a spear, * thou wast undaunted by the arrogance of the enemy, * O Eustratius, ** who art far more eloquent than any orator.

Sessional Hymn, in Tone VIII: Spec. Mel.: “Of the Wisdom …”: Neither the sword, nor wild beasts, nor fire, nor any other thing that filleth material beings with fear was able to dissuade thy steadfastness; for, having trampled underfoot the power of the enemy by thy contest, as one impervious to fear thou didst pass over to the life of the incorporeal ones. Wherefore, thou bestowest healings upon the faithful who hasten to thy memorial with love, O holy passionbearer Eustratius. Entreat Christ God, that He grant remission of sins unto those who with love celebrate thy holy memory. (Twice)

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.

Theotokion: When the Master and Fashioner of all * shall come to judge the whole world, * do thou number me, the condemned, * at His right hand with the sheep; * and deliver me, thine unprofitable servant, * from the outermost darkness and torment, * I pray, that with thanksgiving I may magnify the richness of thy goodness, * O all-immaculate one, * and cry out to thee, rejoicing: * Pray to Christ God, that He grant me remission of sins, ** for thee do I, thy servant, have as my hope.

Ode IV, Canon I, Irmos: For the sake of love for Thine image, * O compassionate One, * Thou didst ascend the cross * and the nations melted away. * For Thou, O Lover of mankind, * art my strength and my praise.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

With the wounds of thy flesh thou didst set aside the defilements of thy soul, and by faith thou didst shatter the arrows of the wicked serpent, O Eustratius.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

By thy wounds was the King of glory glorified, O passion-bearer Eustratius, and He hath filled thee with ineffable glory by the power of miracles.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Emulating the boldness of the fishermen, fishing with the net of martyrdom thou didst bring the wise Eugene to the Master, O Eustratius.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

O all-immaculate one, who alone hast been revealed to be more holy than the cherubim: from every evil circumstance save the souls of us who hymn thee with faith.

Canon II, 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.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

The Almighty, enkindling divine desire in thy soul, showed thee to be eminently wondrous, making the wounds of thy flesh whole.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Fishing with the spiritual net of the fishermen, O wise Eustratius, thou didst bring to Christ the King the wise Eugene.

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

Thy feet pierced by the nails of iron sandals during thy torture, O all-wise one, thou didst wholly stain thyself with thy blood, emulating the suffering of Jesus the King.

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

The infinite and immutable Word of God the Father, having been transformed by an outward appearance in becoming incarnate through thee, O all-immaculate one, hath deified me in His love for mankind.

Ode V, Canon I, Irmos: Thou, O Lord, who camest into the world, * art my light, * a holy light turning from the darkness of ignorance * those who sing Thy praises in faith.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Like a radiant star thou didst shine forth like a light from afar among the company of martyrs, O victorious Eustratius.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

O the goodly fate! O the divinely given portion! O the most beauteous woman, who by light overcame the deception of our first mother.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Thou didst consider all things of beauty to be as dung, O Mardarius, superseding the laws of nature in thy suffering.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

The earthly mind cannot comprehend thy conceiving, which passeth understanding, O Virgin Maiden and Mother; for thou hast given birth unto God.

Canon II, 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.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Wondrous like a star for the Church, thou didst shine forth among the martyrs, with martyric rays illumining the world more than the sun, O Eustratius.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

The divinely eloquent Mardarius, seeing thee emitting radiance in brilliant splendours, in the simplicity of his heart followed thee like an innocent lamb.

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

The intelligent and Christ-loving woman who loved her husband achieved supremacy over her kindred nature and eminently vanquished it completely, anointing her husband for martyrdom.

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

O good one, save those who confess thee with all their soul to be the Theotokos and Sovereign Lady of the world; for thee, who art the Theotokos, have we acquired as an invincible intercessor.

Ode VI, Canon I, Irmos: The church crieth out unto Thee O Lord, * ‘I will sacrifice unto Thee with a voice of praise * having been cleansed of the blood of the demons’ * by the blood that for mercy’s sake flowed from Thy side.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Mardarius cried aloud “Christ is more to me than everything: home, land, honour and fame”; for he was thus taught by thee, O Eustratius.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Though cut out, thy tongue hath not ceased to sing, and thy severed hands have lifted themselves up to God, O Eugene, asking salvation for those who hymn thy memory.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Suspended upside-down by thy feet, thy shoulders burned with heated irons, thou didst surrender thy spirit to the Master, O Mardarius.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Finding thee to be her steadfast might, O Virgin the passion-bearer valiantly endured wounds, and rejoicing, was brought to the Master of all in thine entourage.

Canon II, 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.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Crying aloud: “Christ is more to me than all the things of my fathers”, O Mardarius, thy heels wholly burned away by heated irons, and thy breast pierced by arrows, thou didst repose, rejoicing.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Cut out, thy tongue did not cease to hymn Christ, O Eugene; and severed, thy hands elevated themselves to God, O blessed one, asking deliverance for those who hymn thee.

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

Thy manly soul was right wondrous, O most noble Eugene, for when thy legs were violently broken thou didst surrender thy spirit into the hands of the Master of all, rejoicing.

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

O most pure Lady who hast given birth to the Lord, and Helmsman of mortals, calm thou the constant and grievous turbulence of my passions, and grant serenity to my heart.

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 …”: Eloquently speaking of divine things before the iniquitous, O all-wondrous one, * thou didst endure beatings with a most courageous heart, * shining forth with godly signs, * and extinguishing the towering flame of delusion. ** Wherefore, we honour thee, O all-blessed Eustratius, martyr of Christ.

Ikos: Today the Church doth mystically celebrate a sacred feast, radiantly proclaiming thy valor, pangs and labours, thy divine struggles surpassing nature, and the wounds which covered thy body, whereby thou didst cast down the greatly crafty one, O thou great glory and boast of spiritual athletes, pillar of courage, beacon for all who piously honour thee, treasury of healings, enricher of the poor, first champion of honourable martyrs, all-blessed Eustratius, martyr of Christ.

Ode VII, Canon I, Irmos: In the Persian furnace the youths and descendants of Abraham, * burning with a love of piety * rather than by a flame of fire, * cried aloud saying: * Blessed art Thou in the temple of Thy glory, O Lord.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Possessed of the immutable wisdom of confession to worship the one God in Trinity, thou didst prevail over torments, crying aloud: Blessed art Thou in the temple of Thy glory, O Lord!

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

As one blessed, thou didst walk in the path of the blameless and didst right wisely bow the knee to the Redeemer, committing thy soul into the hands of the Master as a most fragrant sacrifice, O Auxentius.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

The same God Who sent food to Elijah by a raven, O Auxentius, working a miracle with thy precious head, revealed it to those who desired it, as a cherished object greatly desired by the world.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

O Virgin Mother, the pure Word loved thee as one pure and incorrupt, and, becoming incarnate of thee, He refashioned all of mankind, and hath glorified Lucia with miracles.

Canon II, 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.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

As a victor thou didst hasten to the kingdom of heaven, O Auxentius; for after many and varied trials and torments, thou didst die, beheaded, for Christ God, confessing Him.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Most wondrous is thy right wise courage, O Orestes, for thou didst show forth understanding at the tribunal, binding the soul of Lysius by the Cross, and chanting: Blessed is the God of our fathers!

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

Having Orestes as thy companion on the path of martyrdom, walking with thee as a fellow prisoner, O Eustratius, thou didst enrich him chanting: Blessed is the God of our fathers!

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

The furnace did not consume the three youths, prefiguring thy birthgiving; for the divine Fire, dwelling within thee, did not consume thee, illumining all to cry aloud: Blessed is the God of our fathers!

Ode VIII, Canon I, Irmos: Having spread his hands, Daniel closed the lions jaws * in their den; * while the zealously pious youths, * girded with virtue, * quenched the power of the fire and cried aloud: * Bless ye the Lord, all ye works of the Lord.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Opening thy lips in purity, thou didst draw in the divine Spirit, O Eustratius; wherefore, having denounced the feebleness of soul-destroying worship, thou didst cry out that mankind should worship God in the Trinity: Bless the Lord, all ye works of the Lord!

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

His resolve strengthened by thy wise instructions, O martyr Eustratius, the invincible Orestes, stretched out upon a bed of iron, cried out like the children to those who would destroy him by flame: Bless the Lord, all ye works of the Lord!

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Thy body stretched forth patiently upon a heated bed, O glorious Orestes, thou wast numbered among the martyrs, rejoicing in the Lord, and hast found rest in the tabernacles of heaven, crying aloud: Bless the Lord, all ye works of the Lord!

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Thou hast been revealed to be more exalted than the heavens, having given birth to the God of heaven Who hath rendered heavenly the whole essence of mortals, O all-pure one, and illumined the memory of the honourable Lucia. To Him do we ever cry: Bless the Lord, all ye works of the Lord!

Canon II, 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.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Boldly preaching the infinite power of the one Essence of the Trinity, thou didst theologize, and denounced the vain worship of idols, O most divinely wise Eustratius.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Ignorant of thy patience, the persecutor strove to terrify thee by the sight of the flames; but, spitting upon his savagery, thou didst chant, rejoicing in the Lord, O Eustratius.

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

The divinely wise Orestes, instructed by thy divine words, leapt up, dancing upon the bed, wholly consumed like an innocent lamb, crying out to God, the Bestower of crowns: Bless the Lord, all ye works of the Lord!

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

O most pure Virgin, save me and be thou the help of my weakness. Deliver me from many tribulations and evils, that I may glorify thee, who alone art the Theotokos.

Ode IX, Canon I, Irmos: A cornerstone not cut by hand O Virgin, * was cut from thee the unhewn mountain: * even Christ, Who hath joined together the disparate natures; * therefore rejoicing we magnify thee, * O Theotokos.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Desiring to partake of the divine mysteries, O blessed passion-bearer Eustratius, and to be deemed worthy of the radiant manifestation of God, thou didst hasten to Christ Whom thou desired, and Who called thee to the heavens.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Rejoicing exceedingly in the gladsome condemnation of the full mindlessness of the tyrant, O passion-bearer Eustratius, chanting hymns thou didst magnify Christ, the Destroyer of death, the Judge of thy contest.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Come, all ye who love the martyrs, and with sacred hymnody let us magnify Eugene, the destroyer of falsehood, and with him the wise Orestes and Mardarius, Auxentius and Eustratius.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Light hath now shone forth upon us from thy womb which knew not a man, O Virgin; and the wondrous Lucia, divinely illumined by His effulgence, became light, O Virgin Mother and Birthgiver of God.

Canon II, 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.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Hymning Him Whom thou didst desire, O blessed Eustratius, and becoming a participant in the sacred mysteries, in prison thou wast deemed worthy of a divine vision of Him, Who called thee to the heavenly life of His kingdom.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Strengthened by the power of Christ, O glorious Eustratius, thou didst mock the blandishments of the persecutors, magnifying Christ with hymns; for, like the youths of old, thou didst enter the furnace rejoicing, as if it were a beautiful garden, O blessed one.

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

O all ye people, with songs and hymns let us praise the divine warriors Auxentius and Eugene, together with Mardarius, the glorious Orestes and the wise Eustratius, their leader, fellow sufferer and guide.

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

O Virgin, thou wast the temple of Christ, Who reigneth with the Father and the Spirit; for thy sake, O pure one, we have been deemed worthy of adoption by Him through baptism, becoming temples through grace.

Troparion, in Tone IV: In their sufferings, Thy martyrs O Lord, * received imperishable crowns from Thee, our God; * for, possessed of Thy might, * they set at naught the tyrants and crushed the feeble audacity of the demons. ** By their supplications save Thou our souls.

The Advent Journey With the Saints: Saint Spyridon of Tremithus

Saturday 12/245 December: Saint Spyridon of Tremithus

Saint Spyridon of Tremithus was born towards the end of the third century on the island of Cyprus. He was a shepherd, and had a wife and children. He used all his substance for the needs of his neighbors and the homeless, for which the Lord rewarded him with a gift of wonderworking. He healed those who were incurably sick, and cast out demons.

After the death of his wife, during the reign of Constantine the Great (306-337), he was made Bishop of Tremithus, Cyprus. As a bishop, the saint did not alter his manner of life, but combined pastoral service with deeds of charity.

According to the witness of Church historians, Saint Spyridon participated in the sessions of the First Ecumenical Council in the year 325. At the Council, the saint entered into a dispute with a Greek philosopher who was defending the Arian heresy. The power of Saint Spyridon’s plain, direct speech showed everyone the importance of God’s wisdom before human wisdom: “Listen, philosopher, to what I tell you. There is one God Who created man from dust. He has ordered all things, both visible and invisible, by His Word and His Spirit. The Word is the Son of God, Who came down upon the earth on account of our sins. He was born of a Virgin, He lived among men, and suffered and died for our salvation, and then He arose from the dead, and He has resurrected the human race with Him. We believe that He is one in essence (consubstantial) with the Father, and equal to Him in authority and honor. We believe this without any sly rationalizations, for it is impossible to grasp this mystery by human reason.”

As a result of their discussion, the opponent of Christianity became the saint’s zealous defender and later received holy Baptism. After his conversation with Saint Spyridon, the philosopher turned to his companions and said, “Listen! Until now my rivals have presented their arguments, and I was able to refute their proofs with other proofs. But instead of proofs from reason, the words of this Elder are filled with some sort of special power, and no one can refute them, since it is impossible for man to oppose God. If any of you thinks as I do now, let him believe in Christ and join me in following this man, for God Himself speaks through his lips.”

At this Council, Saint Spyridon displayed the unity of the Holy Trinity in a remarkable way. He took a brick in his hand and squeezed it. At that instant fire shot up from it, water dripped on the ground, and only dust remained in the hands of the wonderworker. “There was only one brick,” Saint Spyridon said, “but it was composed of three elements. In the Holy Trinity there are three Persons, but only one God.”

The saint cared for his flock with great love. Through his prayers, drought was replaced by abundant rains, and incessant rains were replaced by fair weather. Through his prayers the sick were healed and demons cast out.

A woman once came up to him with a dead child in her arms, imploring the intercession of the saint. He prayed, and the infant was restored to life. The mother, overcome with joy, collapsed lifeless. Through the prayers of the saint of God, the mother was restored to life.

Another time, hastening to save his friend, who had been falsely accused and sentenced to death, the saint was hindered on his way by the unanticipated flooding of a stream. The saint commanded the water: “Halt! For the Lord of all the world commands that you permit me to cross so that a man may be saved.” The will of the saint was fulfilled, and he crossed over happily to the other shore. The judge, apprised of the miracle that had occurred, received Saint Spyridon with esteem and set his friend free.

Similar instances are known from the life of the saint. Once, he went into an empty church, and ordered that the lampadas and candles be lit, and then he began the service. When he said, “Peace be unto all,” both he and the deacon heard from above the resounding of a great multitude of voices saying, “And with thy spirit.” This choir was majestic and more sweetly melodious than any human choir. To each petition of the litanies, the invisible choir sang, “Lord, have mercy.” Attracted by the church singing, the people who lived nearby hastened towards it. As they got closer and closer to the church, the wondrous singing filled their ears and gladdened their hearts. But when they entered into the church, they saw no one but the bishop and several church servers, and they no longer heard the singing which had greatly astonished them.

Saint Simeon Metaphrastes (November 9), the author of his Life, likened Saint Spyridon to the Patriarch Abraham in his hospitality. Sozomen, in his Church History, offers an amazing example from the life of the saint of how he received strangers. One time, at the start of the Forty-day Fast, a stranger knocked at his door. Seeing that the traveller was very exhausted, Saint Spyridon said to his daughter, “Wash the feet of this man, so he may recline to dine.” But since it was Lent there were none of the necessary provisions, for the saint “partook of food only on certain days, and on other days he went without food.” His daughter replied that there was no bread or flour in the house. Then Saint Spyridon, apologizing to his guest, ordered his daughter to cook a salted ham from their larder. After seating the stranger at table, he began to eat, urging that man to do the same. When the latter refused, calling himself a Christian, the saint rejoined, “It is not proper to refuse this, for the Word of God proclaims, ‘Unto the pure all things are pure’” (Titus 1:15).

Another historical detail reported by Sozomen, was characteristic of the saint. It was his custom to distribute one part of the gathered harvest to the destitute, and another portion to those having need while in debt. He did not take a portion for himself, but simply showed them the entrance to his storeroom, where each could take as much as was needed, and could later pay it back in the same way, without records or accountings.

There is also the tale by Socrates Scholasticus about how robbers planned to steal the sheep of Saint Spyridon. They broke into the sheepfold at night, but here they found themselves all tied up by some invisible power. When morning came the saint went to his flock, and seeing the tied-up robbers, he prayed and released them. For a long while he advised them to leave their path of iniquity and earn their livelihood by respectable work. Then he made them a gift of a sheep and sending them off, the saint said kindly, “Take this for your trouble, so that you did not spend a sleepless night in vain.”

All the Lives of the saint speak of the amazing simplicity and the gift of wonderworking granted him by God. Through a word of the saint the dead were awakened, the elements of nature tamed, the idols smashed. At one point, a Council had been convened at Alexandria by the Patriarch to discuss what to do about the idols and pagan temples there. Through the prayers of the Fathers of the Council all the idols fell down except one, which was very much revered. It was revealed to the Patriarch in a vision that this idol had to be shattered by Saint Spyridon of Tremithus. Invited by the Council, the saint set sail on a ship, and at the moment the ship touched shore and the saint stepped out on land, the idol in Alexandria with all its offerings turned to dust, which then was reported to the Patriarch and all the bishops.

Saint Spyridon lived his earthly life in righteousness and sanctity, and prayerfully surrendered his soul to the Lord. His relics repose on the island of Corfu (Kerkyra), in a church named after him (His right hand, however, is located in Rome).

Canon to the saint, the composition of Theophanes, in Tone II.

Ode I, 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.

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

Having attained unto the land of the meek, being thyself meek, merciful and pure, O father, calm thou the present tempest of my heart, that, in divine tranquillity, I may hymn thee.

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

Having cleared thy soul of the overgrowth of the passions through godly cultivation, O father Spyridon, thou didst become god-like and wast enriched by the most radiant splendour of the divine Spirit. Wherefore, thou dost illumine those who sincerely bless thee.

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

Taking thee from a flock as He had David, the Creator appointed thee as a most eminent shepherd of the rational sheep, shining forth in simplicity and meekness, and adorned with guilelessness, O venerable pastor.

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

O most holy and pure Virgin, enlighten and hallow my thoughts and soul, I pray thee, dispelling the clouds of mine ignorance, and removing the darkness of sin, that I may bless thee as is meet.

Ode III, 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.

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

Having illumined thy mind with dispassion and adorned thyself with divine humility, thou didst receive the gifts of the Spirit to cast out evil spirits and to loose the infirmities of those who faithfully honour thee, O most sacred one.

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

Having slain the serpent, the author of evil, and trampled down the inclination towards avarice, O holy hierarch, taking pity on him who was in need, thou didst transform a serpent into a golden ornament by thy sacred prayers, O venerable father.

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

Thou didst ascend the mountain of dispassion; thou didst enter the darkness of the vision of God, and didst receive the law of salvation on the tablets of thy heart, in that thou art the most sacred and faithful favoured one of thy Master.

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

Heal thou the wounds of my soul, O Bride of God, and illumine my mind which hath been darkened by neglect, that I may chant: There is none blameless save thee, O immaculate one, and none pure, but thee, O Lady!

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.

Sessional Hymn, in Tone VIII: Spec. Mel.: “Of the Wisdom …”: Thou didst shine forth as a divinely appointed pastor, O Spyridon, raised from the tending of sheep by God, Who entrusted thee to preside over the Church of Christ. Thou didst drive away the wolves of false teaching by thy words, grazing thy flock on the pasture of piety. Wherefore, thou didst affirm the Faith by the wisdom of the Spirit in the midst of the God-bearing fathers, O blessed hierarch. Entreat Christ God, that He grant remission of sins unto those who celebrate thy holy memory with love.

Ode IV, 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!

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

Set afire by the burning coal of the honoured Spirit, thou didst burn up all the readily kindled fuel of the passions, O all-blessed one, enlightening the world with the fiery rays of thy virtues.

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

Having slain the movements of thy flesh, O divinely inspired one, thou didst raise up the dead by thy life-imparting call. Wherefore, I beseech thee: Enliven my slain soul, O father!

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

O father, the dead woman, obeying thee, spake, and by thy commands the raging of the river was restrained. For thou wast revealed as a worker of wonders endowed with divine grace, O blessed one.

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

The prophets foretold the incomprehensible abyss of thy mystery, for thou alone, O pure one, didst give birth unto the Unknowable One, Who, in His unutterable tender compassion, became incarnate.

ODE V, 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.

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

The river of the gifts which are within thee doth water every heart, O venerable one, and richly granteth health unto all, moving all to glorify God, Who hath glorified thee and honoured thee with all manner of wonders.

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

The earthly emperor clearly recognized thee as a true servant of the heavenly King, full of divine gifts, O blessed one, when thou didst come to him, proclaiming the great Physician, Who is God.

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

Emulating the hospitable character of Abraham, thou didst open the doors of thy house unto all, and wast all things to all people, mindful of those who were in evil straits, O blessed Spyridon.

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

For us hast thou given birth unto a new-born Babe, Who before the ages was begotten of the unoriginate Father, O Maiden. Him do thou entreat as thy Son and God, that He spare those who, with a pure soul, proclaim thee to be the Theotokos.

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

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

Gold was as mire to thee who shone forth in dispassion more brightly than gold, and wast enriched by thy most golden gifts of the Spirit, O venerable one.

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

Serving thy Master in purity, O venerable one, thou didst have a multitude of the angelic hosts serving thee with unseen voices, O most sacred one.

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

O most glorious and all-wise father, thy life hath made thee most glorious to the world. Wherefore, rejoicing, we that hymn thee celebrate thy divine memory.

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

More spacious than the heavens was thy womb, which contained God Whom no place can contain, O all-holy virgin Bride of God, who knewest not a man.

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 …”: O most sacred one, wounded with love for Christ, * and giving wings to thy mind through the radiance of the Spirit, * thou didst find thy work fulfilled in the activity of divine vision. * O thou who art pleasing to God, thou divine oblation, ** beseech Him that divine illumination be granted unto all.

Ikos: Let us now praise Spyridon, the hierarch of the Lord, sanctified from his mother’s womb, who received the tablets of the grace of divine glory, as one most glorious in miracles from all of creation, as a fervent witness of the divine radiance, intercessor for the poor, and spiritual guide for the sinful; for he hath become a divine oblation for the throne of Christ, asking divine illumination for all.

Ode VII, 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.

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

Having acquired the guilelessness of Moses, the meekness of David and the blamelessness of Job of Uz, thou didst become a dwelling-place of the Spirit, chanting most sacredly: Blessed and supremely glorious art Thou!

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

The showers of heaven rained down upon thy head during the harvest and prefigured the future; for, as thou didst say, God glorified thy divine memory, sanctifying the faithful by thy mediation.

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

In the council of the fathers God glorified thee, who guarded thy words in judgment, O blessed one. Thou didst bring them forth with faith, openly disclosing the follies of the most irrational Arius and destroying his opposition.

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

Through the ineffable Word, O Virgin, thou didst put forth the Cluster of grapes as the Branch which alone was uncultivated and which poureth forth the wine gladdening all mankind, sanctifying mortals and dispelling all the drunkenness of the wicked.

Ode VIII, 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!

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

Thou didst extinguish the furnace of the passions with divine outpourings of the divine Spirit, O father, pouring forth a dew which taketh away the fever of the ailing who ever have recourse unto thee in faith, O blessed Spyridon, thou who art most noetically rich.

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

Guileless, upright, meek, merciful, not mindful of the wrongs done thee, loving and hospitable wast thou, O most sacred hierarch, adorned with the wisdom of Orthodoxy, O venerable one. Wherefore, we honour thee with faith.

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

Of old the dead woman when questioned by thee O father, replied as though alive. Oh what a most marvellous wonder! Oh, what a most glorious mystery! Oh, the grace which thou hast received, having adorned thyself with an angelic life, O right wondrous one!

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

Heal thou the passions of my heart with thy mercy, O all-hymned one; calm thou my mind, enlighten my soul, and guide me to walk the paths of salvation, that I may ever hymn thee, O all-hymned one.

Ode IX, Irmos: The Son of the Unoriginate 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.

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

Exalted among the God-bearing fathers, thou didst openly proclaim the Son of the unoriginate Father to be of one essence and equally everlasting with the Father, and didst stop the mouths of the iniquitous, O all-blessed and holy hierarch.

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

O all-radiant sun, adornment of the fathers, glory of priests, converser with angels: By thy prayers grant the unwaning Light unto those who now joyously celebrate thy light-bearing memory.

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

With a voice of rejoicing have the divine mansions, the heavenly city and the beauteous choir of those who hold festival received thy soul, which hath been hallowed and adorned with the virtues, O all-blessed one.

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

The great mystery of thy birthgiving, which passeth understanding doth astound the angels, O divinely joyous one, delighting the assembly of the venerable and making glad the sacred fathers who hymn thee, the hope of our souls, in a godly manner.

Troparion of the Hierarch, in Tone IV: The truth of things revealed thee to thy flock as a rule of faith, * icon of meekness, and teacher of temperance; * wherefore, thou hast attained the heights through humility and riches through poverty; * O hierarch Spyridon our father, ** entreat Christ God, that our souls be saved.

 

 

Emmanuel, God with us, have mercy on us: Supplicatory Stikhira for the Christmas Fast

Jesus, Wisdom, Designer of all, O Breath of the Power of God, pure manifestation of the glory of the Almighty: Come and save those who hope in Thee.

R: Emmanuel, God with us, have mercy on us.

Jesus, true Light from the eternal Light, spotless mirror of God’s creative power, Icon of his goodness: Come and save those who hope in Thee.

R: Emmanuel, God with us, have mercy on us.

Jesus, sweetest Child, fulfilment of the sign “Emmanuel,” God with us: Come and save those who hope in Thee.

R: Emmanuel, God with us, have mercy on us.

Jesus, eternal life, wrapped as a servant in swaddling clothes, that as God, Thou might sunder the chains of death: Come and save those who hope in Thee.

R: Emmanuel, God with us, have mercy on us.

Jesus, Star of Jacob which rose in a cave, O Shepherd of Israel whom the shepherds adored: Come and save those who hope in Thee.

R: Emmanuel, God with us, have mercy on us.

Jesus, Deliverance of our first parents, Joy of the Patriarchs, fulfilment of the Law and the prophets: Come and save those who hope in Thee.

R: Emmanuel, God with us, have mercy on us.

Jesus, Salvation prepared in the sight of every nation, Light of revelation for the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel: Come and save those who hope in Thee.

R: Emmanuel, God with us, have mercy on us.

Jesus, long–awaited hope of the nations, Thou hast made them children of Abraham and heirs according to the promise: Come and save those who hope in Thee.

R: Emmanuel, God with us, have mercy on us.

Jesus, ever-living Word, Lamb of God, who takest away the sin of the world, who came after the Forerunner yet are before him: Come and save those who hope in Thee.

R: Emmanuel, God with us, have mercy on us.

Jesus, Messiah, Son of the Blessed One, O blessed and only mighty One, the Lord, to whom be honour, praise, and glory: Come and save those who hope in Thee.

R: Emmanuel, God with us, have mercy on us.

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.

R: Emmanuel, God with us, have mercy on us.

Celebrating St Spyridon in Llanelli

12/25 December: the Feast of St Spyridon the Wonderworker

As Father Luke has to travel to England to visit family tomorrow, the celebration in Llanelli will consist of the Hours, Typika (with Holy Communion), and a moleben to St Spyridon the Wonderworker. 

Time: 08:00 

Chapel of St David and St Nicholas, 11 New Rd, Dafen, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire SA14 8LS 

As this is a domestic setting, Fr Luke would appreciate knowing if you would like to attend: Tel: 01554 755690. You are also welcome to email me: otetzmark@hotmail.com 

 

The Advent Journey With the Saints: Saint Daniel the Stylite of Constantinople

Friday 11/24 December: Saint Daniel the Stylite of Constantinople

Saint Daniel the Stylite was born in the village of Bethara, near the city of Samosata in Mesopotamia. His mother Martha was childless for a long while and in her prayers she vowed that if she had a child, she would dedicate him to the Lord. Her prayers were heard, and Martha soon gave birth to a son, who was without a name until he was five years of age.

The boy’s parents desired that since he was born through the good-will of God, he should also receive his name from God. They took their son to a monastery located nearby and approached the igumen. The igumen gave orders to take down one of the service books, and unrolled it at random. He found the Prophet Daniel (December 17) mentioned in it. Thus did the boy receive his name. The parents asked that he might remain at the monastery, but the igumen would not accept him, since he was still only a small boy. At twelve years of age, saying nothing to no one, the child left home for the monastery.

His parents were happy when they learned where their son was, and they went to the monastery. Seeing that he was still going about in his worldly clothes, they besought that the igumen should clothe him in the angelic garb. That Sunday the igumen fulfilled their request, but permitted them often to visit their son. The brethren of the monastery were astonished at the saint’s ascetical efforts.

Once, Saint Simeon the Stylite (September 1), visited the monastery. He foretold to the young monk, that he too would undertake the feat of pillar-dwelling. Saint Daniel continued with his ascetic life in seclusion. When the place of a new exploit was revealed to him in a vision, he withdrew into the Thracian wilderness together with two disciples. They set up a pillar, upon which Saint Daniel dwelt for 33 years. People thronged to the pillar, the unfortunate and those who were sick, and all received help and healing from Saint Daniel. Byzantine emperors also sought the prayers of the holy ascetic. The most notable of the saint’s predictions was about a great fire in Constantinople. Saint Daniel possessed also the gift of gracious words. He guided many onto the path of correcting their lives. The monk reposed in his eightieth year.

Source: The Orthodox Church in America

Canon of the venerable one, the acrostic whereof is: “With hymns I honour Daniel the Stylite,” the composition of Joseph, in Tone VIII.

ODE I, Irmos: Let us sing unto the Lord, * who led His people through the Red Sea: * for He alone hath gloriously been glorified.

Venerable father, Daniel, pray to God for us.

O blessed Daniel, send down a luminous ray of light from heaven upon me who with hymns desire to praise thy memory.

Venerable father, Daniel, pray to God for us.

As a truly great sun, O father, thou didst shine forth to the ends of the earth, illumining the assemblies of the faithful with the splendour of thy virtues.

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

Submitting to the laws of the Master, O father, thou didst mortify the flesh with abstinence, and subject it to the Spirit.

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

The immutable Lord Who was born from thee, O Theotokos, appeared as a whole man, even though after incarnation He remained as He had been.

Ode III, 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.

Venerable father, Daniel, pray to God for us.

Having parted the sea of the passions with the rod of abstinence, O father, thou didst traverse it without drowning, and attained unto the mountain of true dispassion, conversing with God in purity of mind.

Venerable father, Daniel, pray to God for us.

Having ascended to the heights of the virtues, thou didst become known to the world; for thou didst stand lifted aloft upon thy pillar, illumining those who came to thee with faith with the splendour of most glorious wonders.

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

Founded upon the rock of the knowledge of God, thou wast revealed to be unmoved by all the wiles of the demons; wherefore, thou didst raise up thy body on a pillar above the earth, and didst let thy soul soar to the heavens.

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

Deliver me from the assault of the passions, O Lady, and do thou now vanquish the enemies that war against me; establish me upon the rock of the will of God, and enlighten my soul, O portal of the Light divine.

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

Sessional Hymn, in Tone I, Spec. Mel: “Thy tomb, O Saviour …”: Having lifted thyself up upon a pillar, thou didst lay waste to thy flesh through abstinence, O father Daniel. Wherefore, thou wast deemed worthy to become a vessel of the Spirit, and having received divine grace, O thrice-blessed one, thou dost drive away every ailment from those who with faith honour thy 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.

Stavrotheotokion: Upon seeing the Lamb and Shepherd hanging dead upon the Tree, * the unblemished ewe-lamb, cried aloud, weeping * and exclaiming maternally: * “How is it that Thou dost willingly endure abasement and sufferings * which surpass all telling, ** O my Son, and supremely good God?”

Ode IV, Irmos: Thou, O Lord, art my strength and Thou art my power, * Thou art my God and Thou art my joy, * Thou Who, while never leaving the bosom of Thy Father, * hast visited our poverty. * Therefore, with the Prophet Habbakuk I cry unto Thee, * ‘Glory to Thy power, O Lover of mankind!’

Venerable father, Daniel, pray to God for us.

O ever-memorable father, thou didst behold Simeon, the servant of God, shining forth like the radiant sun upon his pillar; and divinely illumined by the divine splendours which issued forth from him, O Daniel, thou didst follow his manner of life.

Venerable father, Daniel, pray to God for us.

Thou didst vanquish the demonic legions with the sword of faith and drown them in the torrents of thy prayers, causing the destruction they wrought upon those at sea to cease; and thereby save those who chanted with faith unto God: Glory to Thy power, O Lover of mankind!

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

Having ascended thy pillar, O all-blessed father, thou didst stand whole nights like one of the bodiless ones, having acquired an humble spiritual eye; and, as a shining mirror of the Spirit, received radiance and divine manifestations with a pure mind.

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

The laws of nature are renewed in thee, O most pure one, for thou hast given birth, in a manner truly beyond cause and telling, unto the Word, the Giver of the Law, Who hath delivered from ignorance the race of mankind which faithfully chants: Glory to Thy power, O Lover of mankind!

Ode V, 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. T

Venerable father, Daniel, pray to God for us.

That thou O father mightest receive immortal glory, thou didst slay the desires of thy flesh, and bridle the urgings of the passions with the labours of abstinence; and hast thereby been revealed to be a river of miracles and a wellspring of healings.

Venerable father, Daniel, pray to God for us.

O ever-memorable one. The wondrous Simeon appeared to thee who wast struck with fear, O blessed father, and with two angels he pointed out the path which thou wast to tread upon the earth, crying aloud: Come and stand by me, borne aloft to God by grace!

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

Illumined by unwaning radiance and divine effulgence, O father, thou didst dispel the gloom of the passions and wast revealed to be a pillar of light and a stairway truly leading the faithful up to God.

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

O Maiden Bride of God, who hast given birth unto the Master, thou hast been revealed to be more exalted than the heavenly hosts, and hast deified the nature of the earthly; wherefore, with soul and tongue, O Virgin, we the faithful glorify thee as her who is most truly the Theotokos.

Ode VI, 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.

Venerable father, Daniel, pray to God for us.

Thy mind, O father, illumined through drawing nigh unto God, remained unconsumed by the fire of pleasures and above the passions, and higher than passionate attachments to the flesh.

Venerable father, Daniel, pray to God for us.

Thy mind, O father, illumined through drawing nigh unto God, remained unconsumed by the fire of pleasures and above the passions, and higher than passionate attachments to the flesh.

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

Thy soul was filled with the Spirit’s gifts of life-creating waters, O divinely wise and all-blessed one; and thou didst truly pour forth rivers of healing which quench the torrents of the passions.

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

All we, the faithful, have acquired thee as an intercessor and a helper in the deep of evil and the billows and waves of tribulation which ever pass over us, O Theotokos, for thou alone art the refuge of mortals.

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 VIII, Spec. Mel: “As first fruits …”: Having ascended thy pillar like a star of great radiance, * thou didst illumine the world with thy venerable deeds, * and didst dispel the gloom of deception O father, * wherefore, we beseech thee: Shine forth even now in the hearts of thy servants ** the unwaning light of knowledge.

Ikos: Flawed is the hymn which I now offer in praise of thy struggles, O father; for my heart is impure, in that I have shamefully defiled it. But grant me the words, O holy one, to hymn in a pure manner thy life at which even the angels marvelled, for thou wast like an incorporeal one, having received the unwaning light of knowledge.

Ode VII, 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’.

Venerable father, Daniel, pray to God for us.

The ranks of angels marvelled at thy standing upon thy pillar, O all-blessed Godbearer; for having assumed their manner of life while yet in the body, thou didst cry aloud: Blessed art Thou, O Lord God, throughout the ages!

Venerable father, Daniel, pray to God for us.

Luminous with the loftiness of an immaterial way of life and with the splendour of prophecy, thou hast shone forth rays of healing upon us who piously honour thee, O wondrous Daniel.

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

With the radiance of thy prayers disperse thou the gloom of my passions, O all-blessed one, and guide me to the path of life who chant: Blessed art Thou, O Lord God, throughout the ages!

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

Be thou merciful unto me, O Virgin, and with the healing power of thy prayers cure me who have been wounded by the sting of sin and who cry aloud: Blessed is the Fruit of thy womb!

Ode VIII, Irmos: In his wrath the Chaldean Tyrant made the furnace blaze, * with heat fanned sevenfold for the servants of God; * but when he perceived that they had been saved by a greater power * he cried aloud to the Creator and Redeemer; * ‘ye children bless, ye priests praise, * ye people, supremely exalt Him throughout all ages’.

Venerable father, Daniel, pray to God for us.

O God-bearing father, in renowned manner thou didst attain unto the ultimate desire, the greatest good, soaring aloft on the wings of thy virtuous deeds; and with the bodiless ones, O Daniel, thou dost cry aloud: Ye children bless; ye priests hymn; ye people supremely exalt Him throughout the ages!

Venerable father, Daniel, pray to God for us.

The power of God manifestly strengthened thee and enabled thee to endure the bitter cold of winter, the burning heat of the sun, the decay of thy flesh and the discomfort caused by the worms which issued forth therefrom; and thou didst cry: Ye children bless; ye priests hymn; ye people supremely exalt Him throughout the ages!

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

Thou wast revealed to be a new Job, O right wondrous Daniel, beset by a multitude of temptations and tribulations; and emulating the meekness of David, the guilelessness of Jacob and the chastity of Joseph, thou didst cry aloud in thanksgiving: Ye children bless; ye priests hymn; ye people supremely exalt Him throughout the ages!

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

O all-hymned and all-holy Lady, fulfilling thy words by acknowledging thee to be the Theotokos, we now bless thee, in that thou hast given birth unto God for us. And hymning Him in two natures and one Hypostasis, we cry aloud: Ye children bless; ye priests hymn; ye people supremely exalt Him throughout the ages!

Ode IX, Irmos: Every ear is awestruck at hearing of God’s ineffable condescension, * for the Most High voluntarily descended and assumed flesh, * becoming man in the Virgin’s womb; * wherefore we the faithful magnify the most pure Theotokos.

Venerable father, Daniel, pray to God for us.

Lo! when thou didst repose, having finished thy course, the gates of heaven were opened unto thee, and the ranks of angels received thee; and Christ, the Bestower of crowns, crowned thee with the glory of righteousness.

Venerable father, Daniel, pray to God for us.

We, the faithful, magnify Him in song. Like a lily of the valley didst thou blossom in the paradise of abstinence, and like a cypress didst thou rise to the heights of perfection; like the olive tree of the Psalms hast thou been shown to be, anointing our faces and hearts with the oil of thine asceticism.

Venerable father, Daniel, pray to God for us.

Creation knoweth thee to be a pillar firmly grounded upon the rock of the virtues, an unbreachable rampart, a foundation of miracles, a right calm haven, a treasury of healing and the dwelling place of the Spirit. Wherefore, we celebrate thy memory today, O Daniel.

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

Today thy divine memory hath shone forth upon us more brightly than the sun, illumining the hearts of the faithful with the light of righteousness, and dispelling the darkness of the soul-destroying passions. And celebrating it, we piously hymn thee.

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

O Thou that wast born of her whom Thou didst preserve incorrupt even after birthgiving, have pity upon me when Thou sittest to judge my deeds, and overlook mine iniquities and my sins; for Thou, Who only art without sin, a merciful God and the Lover of mankind.

Troparion, in Tone I: Thou wast a pillar of patience, O venerable one, * emulating the forefathers: * Job in sufferings, Joseph in temptations, * and the life of the bodiless ones while yet in the body. * O Daniel, our father, ** entreat Christ God that our souls be saved!

The Advent Journey With the Saints: Commemoration of the Holy Martyrs Menas, Hermogenes and Eugraphus of Alexandria

Thursday 10/23 December: Commemoration of the Holy Martyrs Menas, Hermogenes and Eugraphus of Alexandria

The Holy Martyrs Menas, Hermogenes, and Eugraphus suffered for their faith in Christ under the emperor Maximian (305-313).

Saint Menas was sent by the emperor from Athens to Alexandria to suppress the riots that had arisen between the Christians and the pagans. Distinguished for his gift of eloquence, Menas instead openly began to preach the Christian Faith and he converted many pagans to Christ. Learning of this, Maximian sent Hermogenes to Alexandria to place the saints on trial. Moreover, he gave orders to purge the city of Christians.

Hermogenes, although he was a pagan, was distinguished by his reverent bearing. And struck by the endurance of Saint Menas under torture and by his miraculous healing after the cruel torments, he also came to believe in Christ. Maximian himself then arrived in Alexandria. Neither the astonishing stoic endurance of Saints Menas and Hermogenes under torture, nor even the miracles manifested by God in this city, mollified the emperor. Instead, they vexed him all the more. The emperor personally stabbed Saint Eugraphus, the secretary of Saint Menas, and then gave orders to behead the holy Martyrs Menas and Hermogenes.

The relics of the holy martyrs, cast into the sea in an iron chest, were afterwards found (see February 17) and transferred to Constantinople in the ninth century. The emperor Justinian built a church in the name of the holy Martyr Menas of Alexandria. Saint Joseph the Hymnographer (April 4) composed a Canon in honour of these holy martyrs.

Source: The Orthodox Church in America

Canon for the martyrs, the acrostic whereof is: “I hymn the steadfast crown-bearing martyrs,” the composition of Joseph, in Tone I.

Ode I, Irmos: Having been delivered from bitter slavery, * Israel traversed the impassable as though dry land; * and beholding the enemy drowned, * they chanted unto God as to their Redeemer, * Who worketh wonders with His upraised arm, * for He hath been glorified.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

O ye martyrs adorned with crowns of glory, who stand before the throne of God, filled with divine light: From the darkness of the passions deliver those who with love keep your splendid memory.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Loving divine glory and desiring the beauty of God, ye most manifestly spurned the beautiful things of life and all power, O martyrs, and by your death obtained never-ending life.

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

Burning with divine zeal, the exceeding wise Hermogenes and Menas quenched the fire of ungodliness; and shining the light of piety upon all, by faith they were all radiantly shown forth as beacons.

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

That thy servants may be delivered from possession by the passions, O all-immaculate Maiden, do thou earnestly entreat thy Lord and Master, to Whom thou gavest flesh from thy most pure blood, and Who hath entered into fellowship with us.

Ode III, 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.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Clearly illumined with heavenly light, the martyrs dispersed the darkness of the delusion of idolatry, and have emitted the radiance of healings for us who chant unto the God of all: Holy art Thou, O Lord!

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Following the living Master of mortality, O wondrous Menas, thou wast broken underfoot and thus broke the head of the tyrannical enemy, setting thy feet firmly upon the hard path of torment, O most manly martyr.

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

His hands cut off, Hermogenes hymneth the Saviour, having manifestly made the vesture of the priesthood most bright with the moistening of his blood, being revealed through grace as an emulator of Him Who suffered in the flesh.

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

Christ the comely, finding thee alone to be comely among women, issued forth incarnate from thy womb, O Maiden, enlightening our race with divine beauty. Wherefore, we honour thee.

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

Kontakion, in Tone I, Spec. Mel: “The choir of the angels …”: Together let us all honour with sacred and sweet hymnody * the wondrous Menas, the godly Hermogenes and Eugraphus, * as ones who rendered honour unto the Lord,* and who suffered for Him, * and attained unto the choirs of the incorporeal in the heavens, ** and pour forth miracles.

Sessional Hymn, in Tone VIII, Spec. Mel: “Of the Wisdom …”: Disdaining the glory of the world and furnishing themselves with wings through divine glory, Menas, Hermogenes and the glorious Eugraphus endured the weight of cruel tortures with zealous purpose, sparing not their flesh. Wherefore, cast into the depths of the sea after their end, they were guided to the will of God. To them let us cry aloud with faith: Entreat Christ God, that He grant remission of sins unto those who with love honour your 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.

Theotokion in Tone VIII: From the snares of enemies visible and invisible, * we have been overcome by the storms of our uncountable sins, * and fleeing unto the safe harbour of thy goodness O pure one, * we have thee as our rampart and sure protection. * Wherefore we thy servants beseech thee * to ceaselessly make fervent supplication, O most pure one, * unto Him who seedlessly became incarnate from thee, * that those who worthily hymn thee ** may be granted the remission of their sins.

Ode IV, 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.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Proclaiming the brilliant laws of God, O Menas, thou didst endure the putting out of thine eyes by the iniquitous, lifting up the eyes of thy heart unto the never-waning Light, and chanting with joy: Glory to Thy power, O Lord!

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

When it was cut out, thy tongue was found to be honed by the fire of the Spirit, O most wise one; for it spake, hymning the wonders of God and manifestly brought to the glory of piety the tyrant who had caused thy muteness, O Menas.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Enduring great suffering, Hermogenes was deprived of his feet, yet he trampled upon the head of the serpent, preparing with unwavering demeanor the path of witness which leadeth to the life of heavenly splendour.

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

When thou wast preserving thy soul unwounded, O Menas, Christ appeared to thee, healing thy wounds and commanding thee to endure manfully, that for thy sake He Who desireth mercy might work salvation for all who beheld thy torment.

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

Thou didst put forth the Rod from the root of Jesse, O pure and all-hymned Virgin who budded forth the Husbandman of all creation, Who hath caused the gardens of fruitless knowledge to wither and hath piously rooted the most true Faith within us.

Ode V, 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.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Why trouble ye yourselves in vain? The martyrs cried out together to the most iniquitous judge. He Who giveth power standeth before us, He Who alone is invincible in might, for Whose sake we most mightily endure wounds!

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Sudden was the conversion of the wondrous Hermogenes to the Lord; for he was cleansed in the laver of baptism, and received the light of the hierarchal office by the judgment of God, illumining with his teachings those who were in the night of evil.

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

Abandoning the worthless mentality of the rhetors, ye were caught in the snares of the unlettered apostles when the Spirit rendered you truly wise as martyrs and through faith rendered you mighty in strength against every storm of torment.

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

Thou wast shown to surpass the holy angels, O pure Virgin who hast given birth unto the Angel of Great Counsel, Emmanuel, Who by His condescension united mankind to the heavenly, in His unutterable compassion, O Maiden.

Ode VI, 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.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

O Almighty God, after three days Thou didst save from the monster Jonah, who foreshadowed Thy burial; and the bodies of the martyrs which were cast into the deep Thou didst guide to the most tranquil haven of burial, where Thy divine will is the safekeeping of us, the faithful.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

O invincible martyrs, upon dry land and unharmed did the deep give up your bodies, which were guided by the angels of heaven who proclaimed to all your spiritual state, which poureth forth healings and delivereth all from the passions of the soul, O blessed ones.

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

The ranks of the angels marvelled at your endurance, and how in the body ye vanquished the incorporeal serpent, and were crowned with wreaths of victory, O martyrs, who stand before the throne of God, illumined with the effulgence of divine light.

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

Through thee, O Virgin, hath death ceased to be, for thou hast given birth unto those who believe in Him with pure faith. To Him do thou pray, O all-holy one, that He deliver thy servants from misfortune.

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 IV, Spec. Mel: “Having been lifted up …”: The right harmonious sound of thy words, * leading Hermogenes up from the abyss of perdition, * set him on the rock of life; * and Eugraphus, having denounced the emperor, * hath his glorious head severed, rejoicing. * And do thou earnestly pray, O Menas, ** that all who honour thee with love be saved.

Ikos: Thy life was godly, thy discourse sweet, thy boldness and teaching great, thy courage wondrous in the face of the iniquitous, O Menas, who showed thyself forth with steadfastness of mind to be in no wise afraid. And with instruction thou didst teach all to worship the one God in three Hypostases and to serve Him with unwavering intent. And confessing the Son of God Who for our sake assumed flesh in these latter days, thou didst pursue Hermogenes. Wherefore, with him do thou pray, that all who honour you with love be saved.

Ode VII, 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.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

O spiritual athletes, ye have made your abode with the souls of the joyous, where the sound of the voices of those who keep festival in a pure manner is heard, full of gladness, and chanting: O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Sweet to me is the death whereby I die, cried Hermogenes, for me to live is Christ, and to die is immeasurable gain. Let my members be cut off as I chant with love: O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

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

With steadfast wisdom thou didst inscribe thyself in the Book of Life, O wise Eugraphus; for when thy head was severed, thou wast transported to the neverwaning Light on thy blood, as upon a chariot.

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

The incarnate Word issued forth from thee, O Maiden, without burning thy womb or disturbing the seal of thy virginity, granting incorruption and life to us who chant: O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Ode VIII, 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.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

He whose wisdom was vain fell at thy feet, beaten, O divinely wise Menas; for, having deprived thee of eyes and tongue, he was yet unable to shake thy thought of the dwelling-place on high. Wherefore, thou didst cry out with joy: Let all creation bless the Lord, and supremely exalt Him throughout all ages!

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

When the most irrational tyrant deprived thee of both thy hands and feet by his most savage will, then, O wise Hermogenes, desiring the prize, and rejoicing, thou didst chant unto Christ: Let all creation bless the Lord, and supremely exalt Him throughout all ages!

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

I hymn thy divine suffering, O Menas; I honour the struggles of Hermogenes; I venerate your relics, sing of the wounds, bonds, persecutions and death whereby ye were taken up into life, crying: Let all creation bless the Lord, and supremely exalt Him throughout all ages!

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

We have known thee to be the jar which contained the Manna of the Godhead, O Maiden, the ark, the table, the candlestick, the throne of God, the palace, and the bridge which doth lead to divine life those who chant: Let all creation bless the Lord, and supremely exalt Him throughout all ages!

Ode IX, Irmos: The Bush, which burnt without being consumed, * prefigured thy pure birthgiving, O Theotokos. * Wherefore we now entreat Thee: * quench the raging furnace of temptations that beset us, * that we may unceasingly magnify Thee.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Lo! the brilliant celebration of the radiant martyrs hath shone forth upon all, illumining the ends of the world and removing the blindness of men’s souls. Let us make haste with all diligence, and draw forth sanctity there-from.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

As ye ever stand before God, O great martyrs, we entreat you: Pray ye that those who honour your radiant memory with faith, may receive the blessings of heavenly glory whereof ye have been deemed worthy.

Holy martyrs, pray to God for us.

Immolated in the fire of torment, and illumined with the most pure light, O all-praised ones, ye brought body and soul to the Creator of all as an unblemished sacrifice, and have been numbered among the choirs of the martyrs.

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

The splendid and divine choir of the martyrs, the divinely wise Menas, Hermogenes and Eugraphus, were taken up to the mansions of heaven and stand before the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, manifestly delighting in deification.

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

The effulgence of the splendour of thy birthgiving hath our rejected nature seen, O all-immaculate one, and it hath been delivered from the night of unbelief and the dark tumult of the passions. Wherefore, we honour thee as the cause of our salvation.

Troparion, in Tone VIII: Having mortified the fiery movements of the passions by abstinence, O martyrs of Christ, * ye received the grace to dispel the ailments of the infirm, * and living even after your death, ye work miracles. * O truly most glorious wonder! Bare bones pour forth healing! ** Glory be to Thee the only God and Creator!

The Icon of the Mother of God: “Unexpected Joy”

 9/22 DECEMBER: COMMEMORATION OF THE MIRACULOUS ICON OF THE MOTHER OF GOD KNOWN AS “UNEXPECTED JOY”

The Unexpected Joy appears to be a traditional depiction of Christ and His Mother, however there here a few notable differences: blood is seen on the wounds from His Crucifixion, and the icon even takes on the quality of “an image within an image”, as a man is seen in the lower left-hand corner, his hands raised in supplication towards Jesus and His Mother. What is the significance of this third person?

St. Dimitri of Rostov records a young man who after praying before an icon of Christ and the Theotokos often went out to commit a sin. One day after praying, he saw that the wounds of the Crucifixion had suddenly appeared on the icon. The youth cried out, asking the Theotokos why this had been done. The Theotokos responded that this was done because he, and other sinners like him, continued to crucify Her Son all over again.

Only then did the Young Man realize how much his sins meant, and he begged for forgiveness. She was moved to mercy, but Her Son refused, noting that he also had asked His Father to take the cup of suffering away from him.

The Theotokos continued to entreat Her Son, reminding him how she nursed Him, and how she suffered at His Crucifixion. When he continued to refuse, St. Dimitri records that the Virgin Mary rose up, and put Her Son down, ready to fall at His Feet if necessary, until he forgave the sinner.

Moved at the depths of His Mother’s compassion, Christ stated that the law requires that a son obey his mother, and that the Lawgiver too must obey the law; he agreed to fulfill his mother’s request, requiring only that the man kiss his wounds.

The sinner rose up, trembling and transformed, and went to kiss the wounds of the Infant. At once, the vision ended, and the sinner began to cry tears of joy, living out the rest of his days in true repentance.

This tradition became widely known throughout Russia, and then the subject of many icons, which are highly venerated there.

Source: https://blog.obitel-minsk.com/2019/01/icons-of-the-theotokos-the-unexpected-joy.html

Two canons of the Theotokos

Ode I, Canon I, 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.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

O thou who opened the portals of God’s tender compassion when the archangel offered thee his salutation, close not off His love for mankind from us who hymn thee.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Wondrous was thy life on earth, O most glorious Virgin Mother, yet even more wondrous is thy dwelling in heaven; for thou dost unceasingly reveal the wonders of thy maternal loving-kindness toward those who hymn thee.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

The Son, Who was timelessly begotten of the Father before all ages, didst thou in latter times conceive through the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, giving birth to eternal joy for the world.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Rejoice, O sea which drowned the devil, the noetic pharaoh! Rejoice, O stone which gave drink to those thirsting for the life of the Spirit! For thou hast given to the human race the Redeemer of those held captive and the Guide of those who are lost.

Canon II, Irmos: Taking up the Song of Moses, O my soul, * cry aloud: * ‘A helper and a protector hath become unto me salvation. * My God, * whom I will glorify’.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Thou hast delivered the whole human race from slavery to the enemy, having given birth to the Saviour of all the world. Him do thou beseech, that He save us from the assaults of the evil one.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Thou hast delivered the whole human race from slavery to the enemy, having given birth to the Saviour of all the world. Him do thou beseech, that He save us from the assaults of the evil one.

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

O most holy Virgin, in the midst of our perils be thou a mediatress and intercessor for us before thy Son, that, delivered from them, we may glorify Him with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

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

O thou who art more exalted than the angels and archangels, and higher in honour than all creation, thou art the great intercessor of the Christian race.

Ode III, Canon I, 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.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Confirm in the virtuous life those who fervently hymn thee, and earnestly entreat Him Who was born from thee, that we not be deprived of crowns of glory due to our sins.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

In our life we have angered thy Son by our sins more than any of the iniquitous; yet be thou our mediatress, O loving Mother.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

May Jesus Who is the Lover of mankind, Who was born of thee and hast the authority to forgive men their sins, grant unto us crowns of glory in His divine glory.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Rejoice, O virgin who contained the infinite God within thy womb, who carried Him as a babe and fed Him at thy breast!

Canon II, Irmos: Establish me, O Lord my God, * that mine enemy may not boast concerning me; * for Thou, O Lord, art my confirmation, * my refuge and my power.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Hearken unto our prayers, O Virgin Mother, and give ear unto our sighs; and make supplication to thy Son on our behalf.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

In that thou art full of tender compassion, give ear to our supplications, and grant us deliverance from grievous and evil circumstances and sorrows.

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

Still thou the tempest of the threefold waves of life, and drive away our evil passions, O most pure one, that we may glorify thee in peace and dispassion.

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

Come, ye people of God, let us now praise the Queen of heaven, who gazeth down upon us from her holy heaven and leadeth us up to the heavens.

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

Sessional Hymn, in Tone V: O fervent and invincible intercessor, * diligent and unashamed hope, * rampart, protection and haven * of those who have recourse to thee, * O pure Ever-Virgin do thou, together with the angels, * entreat thy Son and God, ** that He grant peace, salvation and great mercy to the world.

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 Sessional Hymn.

Ode IV, Canon I, 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.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

O Mother who hast given birth to the Saviour, do thou thyself save from the misfortunes and the grief of life those who confess thee to be the Theotokos.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

O Mother of the Son and Redeemer Who lifted up our sins upon the Cross, heal all our grievous and incurable sicknesses.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

God the Word, the hypostatic Wisdom, chose thee to be His dwelling-place. Him do thou earnestly entreat, that He save us by the judgments which He knoweth.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Rejoice, O all-comely, beauteous Bride! Rejoice, O pure turtledove! Rejoice, O Mother of Emmanuel, ever-virgin Theotokos!

Canon II, Irmos: I hymn Thee, O Lord, for I have heard report of Thee, * and I was afraid; * for Thou comest to me, seeking me who am lost. * Wherefore, I glorify Thy great condescension towards me, * O greatly Merciful One.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us. Even though our tongue is at a loss how to praise thee worthily, yet, moved by love for thee, with all our heart and all our mind we glorify and praise thee, the mediatress of all good things.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Who can plumb the depths of the sea? And who is “able to number the great mercies and compassions which thou hast for us?

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

O Father and Lord of heaven and earth, what thanks shall we offer Thee? For thou hast given to the Christian race a good and powerful mediatress.

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

Stretching forth thy hands toward Him Who was born of thee, O all-loving Mother, cease not to make supplication for us, that by thine entreaties we may be counted worthy of earthly and heavenly gifts.

Ode V, Canon I, 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.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Heaven and earth are amazed, beholding thy tender compassion toward the Christian race, O most glorious Virgin Mother, for thou dost condescend even to those sinners who have fallen the most, O most good one.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Save thy servants from evils and tribulations, O Theotokos, and grant unto those who hymn thee the peace of God which transcendeth any earthly peace.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Thou hast given birth unto Him Who hath reconciled those above with those below, Who descended to earth for this purpose, yet hath not separated Himself from the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Rejoice, O Queen of heaven and earth! Rejoice, thou who dost surpass the angels and archangels! Rejoice, for through thee the Reconciler foretold to us by Jacob hath come down!

Canon II, 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.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

From the spheres of the celestial lights the Archangel Gabriel brought to thee the joy of the annunciation; and obeying that ineffable counsel of God, O thou who art wondrous among women, thou thyself dost bring joy unto all who hymn thee with faith.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Thou hast truly given unexpected joy to the whole universe – the world below and the world above, for He Who issued forth from thee hath brought peace and united those above with those below. Him do thou now beseech, that we be delivered from malice and misfortunes.

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

The poison of sin hath penetrated the whole human race through our ancient forefather, but He Who was born of thee hath cleansed, hallowed and saved all. Him do thou now beseech, that we be delivered from sinful and unseemly passions.

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

Thy compassions are beyond number and are like unto the goodness of the Word thy Son. This we know, and know well. Yet what shall we render unto thee for them, O supremely compassionate Virgin Mother?

Ode VI, Canon I, Irmos: Celebrating the divine and solemn feast * of the Mother of God * O ye divinely wise, * let us come, clapping our hands, * and glorify God who was born of her.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Spiritually celebrating a sacred festival now, O ye who love the feasts of the Church, come, let us hymn the Mother of God with songs, glorifying her Son, Who hath bestowed such grace upon His Mother.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Look upon the hymnody of thy servants, O Birthgiver of God, casting down the conceited pride of our enemies, visible and invisible, and pouring forth thine exalted mercies upon the humble.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Thou art the root from whence Christ, the Rod of Jesse, sprang forth: a Man from the house of David, and God Who is co-eternal with the Father and the Spirit.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Rejoice, O joyous Mother! Rejoice, O thou who dost surpass all the daughters of mankind in beauty! Rejoice, O noble scion of the divinely chosen race of David!

Canon II, Irmos: I am held fast in the depths of sin O Saviour, * and am overwhelmed by the sea of life, * but as Jonah was delivered from the sea-monster, * so also deliver me from the passions, * and save me.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

By thy birthgiving thou hast saved the human race from Hades, death and corruption; wherefore, as is meet, all the ranks of heaven and earth bless thee as the Mother of the Destroyer of Hades, and our Liberator from death.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Turn not away from us because of our sins, O most holy Virgin, but by thy supplications mediate for us liberation from Hades and everlasting death.

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

O the slothfulness, O the indifference toward our salvation, wherein we have wasted our whole life! What torment, what flames lie before us! Yet by the grace given thee, O Mother, save us!

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

Thou didst bear Christ, the divine Fire, in thine arms without being consumed; wherefore, standing now before the fiery throne of His glory, pray thou, that He enflame us with the desire to do good.

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 VI: We have none other help, we have none other hope but thee, O Lady. * Do thou help us! * In thee do we trust, and in thee do we boast; ** for we are thy servants. Let us not be put to shame.

Ikos: Entrust me not to the intercession of men, O most holy Lady, but accept the prayer of thy servant; for I am held fast by sorrow and cannot endure the arrows of the demons. I have no protection, neither have I any place to flee, wretched as I am. Ever vanquished, I have no consolation save thee, O Lady of the world. O hope and intercession of the faithful, disdain not mine entreaty, but render it profitable.

Ode VII, Canon I, Irmos: Refusing to worship created things * in place of the Creator, * the divinely wise youths bravely trampled down the threatening fire * and rejoicing they sang aloud: * O supremely hymned Lord and God of our Fathers, Blessed art Thou.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Thou didst spurn all the beautiful things of this world, O pure one, desiring to serve God alone; and to Him thou didst chant: O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

O Lady, to the one God do thou guide us who have failed utterly to follow the pious children, but have instead cleaved unto creation instead of the Creator; and teach us to chant: O God our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

With noetic eyes, O Christ, Daniel foresaw Thee as the Stone uncut by human hands, destroying the vain kingdoms of mankind, for the salvation of those who hymn Thee, and the Father and the Spirit: O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Rejoice, O mountain overshadowed by the grace of God, from whence Christ was quarried, the Stone set by God the Father as the Cornerstone of His Church, to Whom we chant: O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Canon II, Irmos: The bush which burned with fire on the mountain * and the dew-bearing furnace of the Chaldeans * clearly prefigured thee, O Bride of God; * for, without being consumed, * thou didst receive the divine and immaterial Fire * within thy material womb. * Wherefore, we chant unto Him Who was born of thee: * O God of our fathers, Blessed art Thou!

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

God the Word, the Creator and Fashioner of all, in latter times made His abode within thy womb, O most glorious divine Maiden, and hath taught all to chant: O God of our fathers, Blessed art Thou!

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Sorrows, tribulations, and sicknesses have, because of the great multitude of our sins, brought our souls down in the abyss like the waves of the sea; yet setting our hope on thine aid, O Mother of God, we do not despair, but cry aloud to thy Son: O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

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

Who in heaven can describe thy power, which He Who issued forth from thee hath given thee? And who on earth can render audible all the praises made to thy great protection and thine assistance to mortals, who chant: “O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!”?

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

O pure Maiden who knewest not wedlock, cleanse our minds of vain thoughts and our hearts of wicked lusts, that with pure souls and undefiled lips we may chant unto thy Son: O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Ode VIII, Canon I, 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.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Hearken, O pure Virgin Maiden, unto the words announced to thee by Gabriel: Thou shalt bear a Son Who doth save those who chant: Hymn the Lord, O ye works, and supremely exalt Him throughout all ages!

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

He Who issued forth from thee in the flesh saved from fire the children who gazed upon Him with faith. Him do thou beg, that He save us also who burn with the flame of the passions and sing to Him, thy Son: Hymn the Lord, O ye works, and supremely exalt Him throughout all ages!

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

O Christ, Thou wast seen in the Babylonian furnace as a radiant Angel like in appearance unto the Son of God. Unto Thee, with the Father and the Spirit, do we chant: Hymn the Lord, O ye works, and supremely exalt Him throughout all ages!

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Rejoice, O bush seen by Moses, who in latter times sprang forth from the root of David and hast given birth ineffably to the Saviour of all, to Whom we chant: Hymn the Lord, O ye works, and supremely exalt Him throughout all ages!

Canon II, Irmos: The three holy children were not obedient * to the decree of the tyrant; * and cast into the furnace they confessed God, singing: * O all ye Works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

The fleece wet with dew, which Gideon beheld, mystically prefigured thee, the Virgin Mother, who without knowing a man hast given birth to God the Word by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit. To Him do we chant: Bless the Lord, O ye works of the Lord!

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

The mindless rage of the tyrant cast the pious children into the furnace kindled with fire, but thy Son quenched the power of the flame with mystic dew. Him do thou entreat, O most holy one, that He deliver us from everlasting fire and deprive us not of the dew-bearing kingdom, that we may chant there: Bless the Lord, O ye works of the Lord!

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

Thou didst serve the ineffable mystery of the incarnation of Christ, loving Him with all a mother’s love, and didst maternally lament Him as He hung upon the Cross. Him do thou entreat, that He not reject even the most hardened of sinners, that they may chant: Bless the Lord, O ye works of the Lord!

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

We glorify and hymn thee as is meet, O most compassionately merciful Mother; for thou art the great helper of the Christian race, our supremely good and speedy aid.

Ode IX, Canon I, 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.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

God, Who became incarnate from thee and hath come unto us, rendered thy womb more spacious than the heavens. O wondrous marvel! The Infinite is contained in the Virgin’s womb, that we may hymn her throughout all ages!

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Entreat Him Who was ineffably conceived by thee in latter times, O Virgin Theotokos, that He transform all our grief into joy and grant us His never-waning light, that we may hymn thee throughout all ages.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Thou art the throne of the glory of God which Ezekiel mystically beheld, for thou didst receive into thy most pure womb the Son of God Who is co-enthroned with the Father and the Spirit, and didst hold Him in thy maternal arms.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Rejoice, O animate temple wherein God dwelt in the flesh! Rejoice, O ark overshadowed by the glory of the Son of God! Rejoice, O all-blessed and pure Ever-Virgin Theotokos!

Canon II, Irmos: Thou didst contain within thy Womb * the God whom nothing can contain, * and hast brought forth joy to the world, * wherefore we sing thy praises, * O Virgin Theotokos.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Thou hast given to the world the good Shepherd Who sought the lost sheep, and with Him thou dost now reign. Lead unto Him all the sheep that have gone astray.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

The Father, Who passeth all understanding in His love for those who have fallen in Adam, hath through thee revealed the Lamb Who taketh away the sins of the whole world. Cease thou never to make supplication before Him, that by the Blood of His Son we may be sanctified and cleansed.

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

O Son of God Who art equally glorified with the Father and the Spirit, by the supplications of her who gave birth to Thee forsake us not who are perishing.

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

He Who was incarnate and became a man through thee hath set thee higher than all the angelic ranks. Standing there, lead us also up to the heights of heaven, taking away our every sin.

Troparion, in Tone IV: O ye faithful people, let us celebrate in spirit today, * glorifying the fervent helper of the Christian race; * and, hastening to her most pure image, let us cry aloud: * O most merciful Lady and Theotokos, * grant unexpected joy * unto us who are weighed down by sins and many sorrows, * and deliver us from all evil, * entreating thy Son, Christ our God, ** that He save our souls.