Akathist to St John the Russian

Akathist to St. John the Russian, the New Confessor and Wonderworker, whose incorrupt Holy Relics are treasured in Neo Prokopion, Evia

Written by Nun Isidora Agierotheitissa

Kontakion 1: The perfect pinnacle of confession, and the divine example of humility, you willingly were steadfast amidst the bitterness, and your flesh shone forth with incorruption, let us honour John whose name is great, singing to him: Rejoice, O boast of the Russians.

Oikos 1: You lived the life of the bodiless on earth in your physical flesh, O John, and imitating the ranks of the Bodiless Angels, God Who fashioned you glorified you in wondrous and divine works. Therefore, you hear from those who are amazed by you such words as these:

Rejoice, the precious icon of piety,

Rejoice, rich support of the holy faith.

Rejoice, perfect one in godly struggles,

Rejoice, privileged one serving uplifted things.

Rejoice, the fair pinnacle of all the Righteous ones,

Rejoice, the sacred radiance of the confessors.

Rejoice, the most-precious joy of the Church,

Rejoice, the most-prided offspring of noble Russia.

Rejoice, lamp of the radiance of the saints,

Rejoice, treasury of incorrupt and sacred gifts.

Rejoice, O boast of the Russians.

Kontakion 2: Barbarians faced your nation in battle, and took you hostage, O all-blessed one, thus bringing you to Asia Minor, where you were sold to a terrible boss, while you totally submitted to him in slavery in your incomparable steadfastness, O Father. And being obedient to him as a humble slave, O John, to God, the guide of all things, you offered the hymn, chanting endlessly: Alleluia.

Oikos 2: You willed to imitate Christ, and to suffer the divine Passion, therefore, you endured every insult, O John, in your gladsome and undoubting heart. And you drank their every ridicule and bitterness as a pleasant drink. Therefore, you ever gladden those you cry out to you words like these:

Rejoice, true steward of the God of all,

Rejoice, deferential servant of a vicious boss.

Rejoice, you who endured unspeakable evils,

Rejoice, you who were enriched with heavenly rewards.

Rejoice, you who endured the bitter yoke of slavery,

Rejoice, you who bore the Lord’s yoke with joy.

Rejoice, divine mirror of mystical rays,

Rejoice, sacred treasury of God-given gifts.

Rejoice, anointer of the unspeakable mystagogy,

Rejoice, shining pearl of the Church.

Rejoice, lamp that shines upon the hearts of the faithful,

Rejoice, sun that speaks of the unwaning Christ.

Rejoice, O boast of the Russians.

Kontakion 3: In the rich home in which you served, a dinner was served, and through the grace of your Lord, you worked a great miracle through your piercing prayer, O Father. And from afar, O John, you sent food to your slave master in his own dish, thus granting him joy. While to God, Who dwells in the highest, you granted joy, as your burning heart chanted the hymn: Alleluia.

Oikos 3: Having the most-pure fear of the Lord in your holy heart, O Father, as David the Prophet, you were enriched with perfect love. And through the spring of love, you approached God perfectly, and you meditated upon the law mindfully, O all-precious John, and called upon His name ceaselessly from the mouth of your heart. Therefore, with incomparable care, you hearken upon us who call upon you ceaselessly:

Rejoice, the most-faithful worshipper of the God of all,

Rejoice, the bloodless Martyr of the Master of all.

Rejoice, you who were enriched with the great forbearance of Job,

Rejoice, you who unflinchingly gave a good witness.

Rejoice, you who travelled the straight path of turmoil,

Rejoice, you who bent the neck of your soul to Christ.

Rejoice, treasury of graces, full of divine fragrance,

Rejoice, river of wonders, and inheritance of fragrance.

Rejoice, the wealth of the Greeks, the incorruptible treasure,

Rejoice, perfect sharer of the mystical Table.

Rejoice, O boast of the Russians.

Kontakion 4: With the immense warmth of your fervour, O John, you followed Christ willingly, and you did not at all deny His holy and all-powerful name, O blessed one. You suffered many pains, but you were as a diamond amidst turmoil, that beautifies the Church of Christ. With the fiery rays of the confession which you gave before the godless rulers with a piercing voice, O Father, you ceaselessly spoke of God, and chanted the thrice-holy hymn, chanting in thanksgiving: Alleluia.

Oikos 4: From Russia, O Father, you were transported to the holy land of Asia Minor as a slave. And by your righteous pains you cultivated the land, and harvested the fruit of the faith, offering it to God Who cultivated you. Through freedom in soul, you served Him, O Righteous John, and kept your mind free, giving glory to Him instead as is right. Therefore, for those who bless you, grant a godly mind and a pure heart, as we cry out to you with loud voices like this:

Rejoice, you who worked the mystical vineyard,

Rejoice, you who fed upon the grapes of your athletic pains.

Rejoice, for with precious tears you watered your pillow,

Rejoice, for with divine rejoicing you bestow harmony.

Rejoice, you who received a great talent from the hand of God,

Rejoice, you who greatly increased the portion given to you.

Rejoice, you who received the holy seed within the field of your heart,

Rejoice, you who bore fruit through the good word of your confession.

Rejoice, the good servant of every virtue,

Rejoice, the prudent disciple of the Master of all.

Rejoice, the boast of the Church and root of beautiful fruit,

Rejoice, the glory of the Righteous, and wonder of the Angels.

Rejoice, O boast of the Russians.

Kontakion 5: Willingly doing the will of the Lord, you eagerly served, O sacred John, and with your humble mindset you followed the commandments. Therefore, you rejoiced as you accepted the yoke of slavery for the love which He offered to us, as He took on the form of a servant in His great goodness. With utter desire in heart, and a joyous voice, you offered to Him the hymn and ode as is proper: Alleluia.

Oikos 5: In your endurance, you dwelt within a dark stable with the horses, while in your heart you mystically beheld the light of Christ, and you hymned the Giver-of-light in truth, keeping the lamp of your soul lit through the illuminating rays of your all-holy prayers. I entreat you to drive away the darkness from my irrational soul, that I may rationally offer you this light-bearing ode, saying fervently these words in thanksgiving:

Rejoice, healer adorned with the beauty of confession,

Rejoice, steadfast and divine pinnacle of good struggles.

Rejoice, the most-joyous treasury of the spotless faith,

Rejoice, spotless treasury of joyous graces.

Rejoice, you who freely give from the treasury of the Saints,

Rejoice, you who strengthen the souls with precious wealth.

Rejoice, spring which brings the fragrant message of dispassion,

Rejoice, well that waters with the refreshment of the spirit.

Rejoice, for you wore the tattered garment of the flesh in humility, O Father,

Rejoice, for you gladden the soul with songs from above.

Rejoice, the perfect companion of servants,

Rejoice, the faithful servant of the divine will.

Rejoice, O boast of the Russians.

Kontakion 6: Though you lived under the dominion of deceived ones, you who trample upon the enemy, you preserved your heart, O wondrous John, and you founded a great tower of the strength of God in the house of your soul that was unassailable to all, in which you loudly spoke of God’s greatness. Loudly speak to my mouth, through the boldness of your prayers, that I might totally resist the strength of the deceiver, and offer to the all-powerful God, along with the Angels, the hymn: Alleluia.

Oikos 6: Shining with the beauty of your soul more than corruptible gold, you beautify the Church of Christ, O John, and with the golden rays of your holy deeds, you shine upon all of us with the beauty of the Master. Illumine the garment of my soul, which is soiled by the passions, through your bold intercessions, I entreat you, that I might hymn your fervent help, as is needful, and with all joy, ceaselessly saying to you words such as these:

Rejoice, container of healings, and river of wonders,

Rejoice, the most-speedy physician of incurable diseases.

Rejoice, you who exalted God through your wondrous works,

Rejoice, you who trampled upon the enemy through your unspeakable groans.

Rejoice, you who imitated well the endurance of Job,

Rejoice, for as another Lazarus, you persevered in poverty.

Rejoice, you who inherited well the wealth of Eden,

Rejoice, you who wisely found the great treasure.

Rejoice, for your flesh did not taste of corruption in death,

Rejoice, you who partake of the grace of incorruption upon the earth.

Rejoice, you who offer to God prayers of intercession,

Rejoice, protector of all the faithful, full of sympathy.

Rejoice, O boast of the Russians.

Kontakion 7: The precious members of your flesh, O Champion, bore the sacred marks of your confession, as you withstood many evils with your unswayable mind, and suffered hunger, and the bitterness of insults, which you drank as a river, and joyous food, from the eternal city of Eden, O John, in which dwell the choirs of the Righteous, and the sacred ranks of the Martyrs, and the cities of the divine confessors, as you chant ceaselessly unto God in Trinity the gladsome hymn in joy: Alleluia.

Oikos 7: Dwelling in the divine house of the radiant and glorious trophy-bearer George in Asia Minor, you supplicated all day, and prayed all night, thus pleasing the Master of all, O John. Therefore, may you ever look graciously upon us who hymn you, granting remission of sins to our souls, and deep peace and transformation of the passions, that out of gratefulness we might cry to you in truth:

Rejoice, fund of prayer, and rule of continence,

Rejoice, river of love, and icon of gladsomeness.

Rejoice, for you imitated the heavenly ranks of the Cherubim,

Rejoice, for you illuminated the sacred ranks of the Righteous.

Rejoice, house of purity, and robe of cleanliness,

Rejoice, the highest imitator of the divine life.

Rejoice, you who took refuge in the divine church of Saint George,

Rejoice, for you pray with him to God, O Father.

Rejoice, you who accepted the passion of the Martyrs in the flesh,

Rejoice, you who joined with all those who confess God.

Rejoice, Christ’s teacher of humility for us,

Rejoice, for you properly reached the height of dispassion.

Rejoice, O boast of the Russians.

Kontakion 8: You lived your life on earth as a stranger, but grew closer to Christ, Who estranged Himself for us on earth, that we might become friends and close to God, delivering us from our former disobedience, and making us sharers in the eternal joy, and that we be found in light. May your light-bearing prayers, O servant of the light, grant us every grace, O sacred John, that we be delivered from the darkness, and chant unto the Worker-of-light and Master of all, the great ode and never-silent hymn: Alleluia.

Oikos 8: With your whole mind, O Father, you unwaveringly followed the Lord of all, Whom you desired from childhood, and Whose army you were numbered in out of obedience, inscribing His laws upon the tablets of your heart, and keeping them with exactness as a good servant, and from Whom you received divine grace as the reward for your efforts, and your face shone as did the Law-giver Moses. Therefore, do not cease to intercede for us, O good John, and make us worthy to keep the holy commandments, that we might be found in the radiant bridal chamber, and ever chant to you these good words:

Rejoice, perfect mystagogue of divine visions,

Rejoice, precious diner from the radiant Table.

Rejoice, friend of the Master and beloved son,

Rejoice, protector of the faithful, and sacred guide of brides.

Rejoice, you who glorified the immortal God below,

Rejoice, you who trampled upon the powerless enemy.

Rejoice, you who wondrously were true to your Christian name,

Rejoice, stream of wonders, and river of healings.

Rejoice, the joyfulness of the Russians and the sweetness of the Greeks,

Rejoice, the lamp of Evia and the adornment of the Church.

Rejoice, the holy shield of confessors,

Rejoice, the purity and gladness of the Athletes of the Lord.

Rejoice, O boast of the Russians.

Kontakion 9: Every painful notion you endured with joy, as you were shown to be a tower of strength against every enemy, O John, utterly revealing their machinations, and receiving the crown from the hand of Him Who works all things. Through your prayers, O Father, make us worthy to be victorious over [the enemy’s] machinations, and to raise up the trophies of godly victory in strength, and strength of life, that we might all cry out the victorious ode: Alleluia.

Oikos 9: The Russian people take refuge in your holy memory, and skip and magnify God, O John, for He gave you to them as an all-holy root. Asia Minor also dances in glory, for you blessed her through your pains and holy struggles. And Evia also sings, and the noble island rejoices, being joyously enriched with your wondrous body, which transforms corruption, and turns beyond, calling the Greeks, and every city and people that bears the name of Christ to cry out to you these words graciously:

Rejoice, you who drank insults as sweet water,

Rejoice, you who took reproach as joyous food.

Rejoice, you who bore the marks of the Lord in your flesh,

Rejoice, you who bear the seal of incorruption in it.

Rejoice, for you offered yourself to the King of all,

Rejoice, for you ever stand before His throne in heaven.

Rejoice, you who in slavery were proven as gold,

Rejoice, you who are full of gold, and shine upon the earth.

Rejoice, you who quenched the fire of the furnace through your pains,

Rejoice, you who saved your flesh from corruption in the flames.

Rejoice, you who saved the disciple from terrible danger,

Rejoice, you who fill every heart with wonder.

Rejoice, O boast of the Russians.

Kontakion 10: We venerate your incorrupt body in piety, O John, and we bless the immortal God, Who delivered every race of man from death, and through His Third-day Resurrection, resurrected us. We sing to Him in joyous voices faithfully, praising the strength of His wonders, the multitude of His miracles, and we cry from our hearts, with the Angelic choirs, the joyous hymn and cherubic ode: Alleluia.

Oikos 10: Foreseeing your blessed repose, O John, you sought to partake of the Spotless Mysteries, that you might be born into the life of eternal communion. These were brought to you by a priest in an apple, hidden as a treasure from the faithless enemies. Having received the Mysteries within your soul, O Father, you gave your soul to God. We ever glorify Him, as the Author of our life, and we all say these to you from our heart, ceaselessly:

Rejoice, the most-precious temple of divine gifts,

Rejoice, the most-radiant container of precious virtues.

Rejoice, you who bear the good news of your calling from above,

Rejoice, you who enrich with the fragrance of the Holy Spirit.

Rejoice, you who founded within the zeal and steadfastness of the Martyrs,

Rejoice, for having them in mind, you imitated their life.

Rejoice, you who who copied the lives of all the Righteous Ones.

Rejoice, you who reached the hymnody of the Angelic ranks.

Rejoice, you who remained for many years in the dark stable,

Rejoice, you who ever dwell in the pastures of light.

Rejoice, you who adorn the Church of Christ,

Rejoice, you who beautify the holy island of Evia.

Rejoice, O boast of the Russians.

Kontakion 11: Having burned up every evil material within yourself, you were offered to the Church as an all-fragrant harbour, gladdening the faithful with the grandeur of virtues. Therefore, at your holy memory, O John, we weave godly crowns with flowers, out of debt, and rightly engrave a hymn, honouring you from our soul, for the Lord also, in great joy, placed a crown upon your head, O Father, and we chant together: Alleluia.

Oikos 11: Beholding light from your grave as a pillar of fire, you told to those there clearly, O John, of your life full of light which you struggled in on earth, and the boldness which you were eternally enriched with by the Father of Lights. As you never leave His hand, we entreat you to extend your hand, that we be delivered from the darkness, and walk in the light of the commandments, as your servants ceaselessly hymn the Giver-of-light and Saviour, the Redeemer Jesus, and ceaselessly say to you with one voice:

Rejoice, lamp of the Light that drives away the darkness of passions,

Rejoice, for you lit within your soul a lamp with the light of the virtues.

Rejoice, you who gladden the hearts of the faithful with your light,

Rejoice, you who make joyous the holy Church with your beauty.

Rejoice, man of godly and holy desires,

Rejoice, divine lover of sacred commandments.

Rejoice, you who adorn the firmament above,

Rejoice, you who strengthen the souls of all through the wood of the Cross.

Rejoice, spring of divine things, and life-giving waters,

Rejoice, infinite stream of unspeakable wonders.

Rejoice, tree that bears the fruit of Paradise,

Rejoice, flower that carries the fragrance of the Comforter.

Rejoice, O boast of the Russians.

Kontakion 12: Rejoicing that your time of bitter slavery had come to an end, your holy soul passed to the hand of God, and inherited joy in truth, O John, as you ever rejoice together with the choirs of the Angels. Let us all hail you, speaking to the Athlete of the Lord, celebrating his radiant memory with fervour, and embracing his sacred body with faith. And the choir claps on earth in harmony, while those in the heavens cry out the ode, to God in the highest, ever chanting to Him: Alleluia.

Oikos 12: Truly surpassing the sands of the sea, O Father, are the multitude of your wonders, which you pour upon the faithful, who out of debt approach your sacred church, and entreat your intercessions, O sacred John, that we be delivered from sicknesses and from the assaults of the passions, as we cry out willingly with a glad heart:

Rejoice, healer of sicknesses, and driver-out of demons,

Rejoice, fountain of wonders, and mixing-bowel of blessing.

Rejoice, you who shine as a star with the Three-rays of light,

Rejoice, you who dissipate the soul-corrupting mist of the passions.

Rejoice, you grant to all the true wealth of the Master,

Rejoice, you who pour forth incorruptible treasure for the faithful.

Rejoice, divine harbour which grants salvation to souls,

Rejoice, you who befriend us with the Prince of peace.

Rejoice, you who truly bring forth strange wonders,

Rejoice, for your flesh was wondrously estranged from corruption.

Rejoice, pillar of Russia and treasure of Greece,

Rejoice, unsleeping protector of the whole world.

Rejoice, O boast of the Russians.

Kontakion 13: O All-holy Father, the height of divine confessors, and newly-illumined star, O John, you who received the experience of the Martyrs in your precious body, and the sweat of the Righteous, and willingly endured toils, and received a crown upon your head from your beloved Master, and were honoured by incorruption of your holy flesh: grant us the honour of incorruption in the heavens, through your prayers and uplifted hands, that we find the glory of eternal life, with all those who have been saved. To the Lord, Whom you stand before, we offer the ode, crying out with the Bodiless ones ceaselessly: Alleluia.

Oikos 1: You lived the life of the bodiless on earth in your physical flesh, O John, (3) and imitating the ranks of the Bodiless Angels, God Who fashioned you glorified you in wondrous and divine works. Therefore, you hear from those who are amazed by you such words as these:

Rejoice, the precious icon of piety,

Rejoice, rich support of the holy faith.

Rejoice, perfect one in godly struggles,

Rejoice, privileged one serving uplifted things.

Rejoice, the fair pinnacle of all the Righteous ones,

Rejoice, the sacred radiance of the confessors.

Rejoice, the most-precious joy of the Church,

Rejoice, the most-prided offspring of noble Russia.

Rejoice, lamp of the radiance of the saints,

Rejoice, treasury of incorrupt and sacred gifts.

Rejoice, O boast of the Russians.

Kontakion 1: The perfect pinnacle of confession, and the divine example of humility, you willingly were steadfast amidst the bitterness, and your flesh shone forth with incorruption, let us honour John whose name is great, singing to him: Rejoice, O boast of the Russians.

The Saturday of Lazarus

As the Orthodox Church passes from Lent to Holy Week with the the Saturday of Lazarus marking the boundary, the Canon for the feast is posted below for use in the home or monastic cell – i.e. outside matins, in which it would normally be chanted.

Ode I, Irmos: Let us sing to the Lord, Who led His people through the Red Sea: for He alone is gloriously glorified.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

With Thy divine command Thou hast raised dead Lazarus, in Thy love for mankind; for Thou art the Fashioner and Guardian of Life.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

O immortal Lord, with Thy word Thou hast raised Lazarus, four days dead, and by Thy power Thou hast destroyed the dark kingdom of hell.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Thou hast given to all, O Master, a proof of Thy transcendent Godhead, raising Lazarus from the dead on the fourth day.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Today Bethany proclaims beforehand the Resurrection of Christ the giver of Life, and it rejoices at the rising of Lazarus.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

In the beginning Thou hast brought all creation out of nothing, and Thou knowest the secrets of our hearts; and now as Master Thou dost foretell to Thy disciples the falling asleep of Lazarus.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

O Christ, Thou hast become man, taking human nature from the Virgin, and as man Thou hast asked where Lazarus was buried, although as God Thou wast not ignorant of this.

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

O Word, giving us an assurance of Thine own Resurrection, Thou hast raised Thy friend as if from sleep, though he had lain four days in the tomb and already stank.

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

The host of angels and of mortal men praise thee, O Virgin Mother, without ceasing.  For thou hast carried their creator as a babe in thine arms.

Ode III, Irmos: Thou art the support of those who flee unto Thee, O Lord, Thou art the light of those in darkness, and my spirit doth hymn Thee.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Displaying Thy two energies, O Saviour, Thou hast made manifest Thy two natures: for Thou art both God and man.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Though Thou art the Abyss of knowledge, Thou dost ask where they have laid the body of Lazarus.  For it was Thy purpose, O Giver of Life, to raise him from the dead.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Going from one place to another, Thou hast as mortal man, appeared circumscribed; but, as God uncircumscribed, Thou fillest all things.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

At Thy divine word, Thou hast raised Lazarus, O Christ, I pray Thee, raise me also, dead through my many sins.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

O Lord who workest miracles, standing in Bethany by the tomb of Lazarus, Thou hast shed tears for him in accordance with the law of nature, confirming the full reality of the flesh which Thou hast taken, O Jesus my God.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Straightway Thou hast made the sorrow of Mary and Martha to cease, O Saviour, showing Thy sovereign authority.  For, as Thou hast said, Thou art in truth the Resurrection and the Life and the Lord of all.

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

O Lord, from the ranks of the dead and the darkness of hell thou hast snatched Thy friend Lazarus, bound in his grave-clothes; and by Thine all-powerful word Thou hast broken open the gates of the kingdom of death.

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

Taking up Thy dwelling in a Virgin, O Lord, Thou hast appeared to men incarnate, enabling them to see Thee with their eyes; Thou hast made her in very truth the Theotokos and the help of the faithful, O Thou who alone lovest mankind.

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

Sessional hymn, Tone 4:  The sisters of Lazarus stood beside Christ and, lamenting with bitter tears, they said to Him: “O Lord, Lazarus is dead.” And though as God He knew the place of burial, yet He asked them, “Where have ye laid him?”  Coming to the tomb, He called Lazarus that was four days dead; and he arose and worshipped the Lord who had raised him.

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, Tone 8: Foreknowing all things as Creator, Thou hast warned the disciples at Bethany saying: “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep today.” And, though Thou was not ignorant, Thou hast asked: “Where have ye laid him?” Weeping as a man, Thou hast prayed to the Father; Thou hast called Thy friend Lazarus from hell, O Lord, and raised him when he had been four days dead. Therefore, we cry to Thee: Accept, O Christ our God, the praise we dare to offer, and count us all worthy of Thy glory.

Ode IV, Irmos: I have heard, O Lord, of the mystery of Thy dispensation, and I considered Thy works, and I have glorified Thy Godhead.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Thou hast prayed to the Father, not because Thou art in need of any help, but to fulfill the mystery of Thine incarnation; and so, almighty Lord, Thou hast raised up a corpse that was four days dead.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Coeternal with the Father, the Word that was revealed from the beginning as God, now offers prayers as man, though it is He that receives the prayers of all.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

O Saviour, Thy voice destroyed all the power of death, and the foundations of hell were shaken by Thy divine might.

O most holy Theotokos, save us.

Let us sing the praises of the Virgin, for she remained a virgin after bearing child, and she gave birth to Christ our God, who has delivered the world from error.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

As Shepherd, O Saviour and Creator, Thou hast snatched from the fierce and all-devouring wolf a man that had been four days dead; and through him, in Thy power as Lord, Thou hast revealed beforehand the universal glory of Thy Resurrection on the third day.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Beholding Thee, O Christ the Life, the companions of Martha cried aloud: “If Thou hadst been here, O Lord, the Light and Life of all, Lazarus would not have died.”  But since Thou art the Life of the dead, in Thy love for mankind Thou hast turned their sorrow into joy.

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

The depths are afraid at Thy presence, O Lord, the source of life; all the waters are Thy servants.  The gatekeepers tremble before Thee, O Christ, and the bars of hell are broken by Thy power, as Lazarus rises from the dead at Thy command, almighty Saviour who lovest mankind.

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

Unwedded Virgin, thou art the glory of the faithful; thou art the advocate and refuge of Christians, their rampart and haven, for, Undefiled, thou dost offer intercession to thy Son, saving from danger those who in faith and love acknowledge thee as the pure Theotokos.

Ode V, Irmos: Wherefore hast Thou turned Thy face from me, O Light never-waning? And why hath a strange darkness covered me, wretch that I am? But turn me, and guide my steps to the light of Thy commandments, I pray.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

In Thy love for mankind, coming to the tomb of Lazarus Thou hast called him and granted him life, for Thou art the immortal life of all mortal men; and so Thou hast as God clearly foretold the future Resurrection.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

His feet bound in the grave-clothes, Lazarus walked out from the tomb.  O wonder of wonders!  Christ who gave him strength is greater than the power of death which held him back.  All things obey Christ’s word, serving Him as God and Master.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Thou hast raised Lazarus on the fourth day, though his corpse already stank.  Raise me up, O Christ, for I am dead in sin and lie in the pit and the dark shadow of death; deliver and save me in Thy compassion.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Thou hast prayed and given glory to the Father, for Thy power is not opposed to His.  To confirm the faith of the multitude that stood round Thee, Thou hast thanked Thy Father, O longsuffering Lord, and then raised Lazarus by Thy command.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

O voice of God!  O divine power and might!  With that voice, O Saviour, Thou hast shattered the gates of hell and all-devouring death.  Deliver me from my passions, as once Thou hast delivered Thy friend Lazarus that was four days dead.

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

At the prayers of Lazarus, of Martha and Mary, O loving Lord, make us worthy to behold Thy Cross and Passion, and the joyful Queen of Days, the feast of Thy Resurrection.

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

Since, all-pure Virgin, thou hast a mother’s boldness before thy Son, do not forget us and our needs, we pray, for we are thy kinsfolk: thee alone we Christians bring as intercessor, to win the gracious mercy of the Master.

Ode VI, Irmos: O Lord, who hast made Jonah dwell within the whale, deliver me from corruption, as Thou hast delivered him; for I am caught in the snares of the enemy.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Love led Thee, Master, to Lazarus at Bethany; and as God Thou hast raised him, though his corpse already stank, and hast delivered him from the bonds of hell.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Martha despaired when she saw Lazarus already four days dead.  But Christ, as God, raised him from decay and brought him back to life by His word.

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

As true God Thou hast known of the falling asleep of Lazarus and hast announced it beforehand to Thy disciples, giving them a proof, O Master, of the infinite power of Thy divinity.

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

Thou who art by nature uncircumscribed wast circumscribed in the flesh; coming to Bethany, O Master, as man Thou dost weep over Lazarus, and by Thy power as God Thou dost raise him on the fourth day from the dead.

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, Tone 2:  Christ, the Joy of all, the Truth, the Light, the Life, the Resurrection of the world, hath, of His goodness, appeared to those on earth, and become the archetype of the Resurrection, granting divine forgiveness unto all.

Ikos: The Creator of the world foretold to His disciples what would come to pass, proving to them that He knows all things as the Maker of all.  “Brethren and companions, our friend has fallen asleep”,  He said.  “Let us go, then, and see a strange burial, and behold the tears of Mary and the tomb of Lazarus.  For I shall work a miracle there, as the prelude to My Crucifixion, granting divine forgiveness unto all.”

Ode VII, Irmos: In the furnace the Hebrew children boldly trod the flame underfoot and transformed the fire into dew, crying out: Blessed art Thou, O Lord God, forever!

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Weeping as man in Thy compassion, Thou hast as God raised Lazarus from the tomb; and, delivered from hell, he cried aloud: “Blessed art Thou, O Lord God, forever!”

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

At the Master’s word Lazarus came out bound in grave clothes, escaping from the chaos and darkness of hell, and he cried aloud: “Blessed art Thou, O Lord God, forever!”

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Shedding tears over Thy friend, O merciful Lord, Thou hast made the tears of Martha cease, and by Thy voluntary Passion Thou hast wiped away all tears from the face of Thy people.  O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou.

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

Master of Life and Saviour, Thou hast called the dead man as if he were asleep.  With Thy word thou hast burst asunder the belly of hell and raised up Lazarus as he sang: “O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou.”

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

O Master, Thou hast raised a dead man bound in grave clothes, a corpse that already stank.  I am held fast in the bonds of sin; raise me up and I shall sing: O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou.

Ode VIII, Irmos: When the instruments of music sounded, countless multitudes worshipped the image in Dura; but the three Children, refusing to bow down, praised and glorified the Lord forever.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

As Shepherd, Thou hast gone to seek Thy sheep; rescuing the dead man from the fierce and destructive wolf, in Thy power Thou hast brought him from corruption to new life, and he cried out to Thee: “Praise the Lord and exalt Him above all forever.”

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

As mortal man Thou hast asked where Lazarus was buried; as Maker, Thou hast raised him from the dead by Thy royal command.  Hell was afraid of him when he cried out to Thee: “Praise the Lord and exalt Him above all forever.”

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

As a mortal, Thou dost search for Lazarus; as God, Thou dost raise him by Thy word, though he was four days dead.  Therefore we sing Thy praises forever.

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

Fulfilling a debt of gratitude for her brother, Mary brought Thee, O Lord, sweet-smelling spices; and she sings Thy praises forever.

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

As man Thou dost pray to the Father, as God Thou dost raise Lazarus.  Therefore, O Christ, we sing Thy praises for ever.

Ode IX, Irmos:  O ye people, with glory let us honour the pure Theotokos, who conceived within her womb the divine fire and yet was not consumed, and let us magnify her with hymns.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Seeing a four-day corpse walking, the people were struck with wonder at the miracle and cried out to the Deliverer: “We magnify Thee in hymns, O God.”

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Thou hast established men’s faith in Thy glorious Resurrection, O my Saviour, before it came to pass, by freeing Lazarus from hell when he was four days dead; and I magnify Thee in hymns.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

Honouring Thy Father, O Christ, and showing that Thou art not opposed to Him, after praying Thou hast by Thine own authority raised Lazarus that was four days dead.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

O my Christ, Thou hast raised from the tomb Lazarus that was four days dead, and so Thou makest him a truthful witness to Thy Resurrection on the third day.

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

Thou dost walk and weep and speak, my Saviour, showing the action of Thy human nature; and, revealing Thy divine nature, Thou dost raise Lazarus.

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

In ways surpassing speech, my Master and Saviour, Thou hast brought about my salvation by the free will exercised in each of Thy two natures.

 

The Canon In Honour of the Protecting Veil

The Canon to the Mother of God, in honour of the Protecting Veil, which some of us are praying for the suffering Ukrainian people.

Канон Покрову Пресвятой Богородицы: http://spas-monastery.by/molitvoslov/?id=3677

Ode 1, Irmos: I will open my mouth, and with the Spirit will it be filled; and I shall utter discourse unto the Queen and Mother, and shall be seen keeping splendid festival; and, rejoicing, I shall hymn her wonders.

Most Holy Mother of God, save us.

Having entered the church in great glory today as the Mother of God, with the ranks of the holy angels and the assemblies of the prophets and apostles, thou prayest for all Christians and deliverest them from perils and grief, covering them with thy mercy.

Most Holy Mother of God, save us.

Moses called thee the tabernacle and the rod of Aaron, for thou didst put forth Christ, the Tree of life; and as thou hast boldness before Him, O Queen, pray thou for us who honour thee, that He deliver us from all evil, that we may glorify the feast of thy protection.

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

Assembling choirs, David doth dance, not as he did before the ark of old, but even more now, hastening into thy presence in the church with the ranks of the saints. And bowing down before thee, we say: Pray thou for us, the people who honour thee, that, glorifying thy protection, we may celebrate it with honour.

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

The ranks of the angels hymn thee, O Theotokos, and the patriarchs and holy hierarchs glorify thee, hastening into thy presence in the church. And the holy Andrew then beheld thee with them, praying to God for us sinners, that He have mercy upon the people who glorify the feast of thy protection.

Ode 3, Irmos: O Theotokos, thou living and abundant fountain, in thy divine glory spiritually establish those who hymn thee, forming themselves into a choir, and vouchsafe unto them crowns of glory.

Most Holy Mother of God, save us.

Like an unploughed field thou didst manifestly produce the divine Grain. Rejoice, O animate table holding the Bread of life! Rejoice, O Mistress, thou inexhaustible wellspring of the Water of life!

Most Holy Mother of God, save us.

O Mistress, we, thy people, standing before thee with faith in thy church, await thy mercy. Visit our lowliness, and with thy holy protection defend the Orthodox people from all evil.

Most Holy Mother of God, save us.

O far-famed Virgin who was honourably prefigured by the prophets, with the angels they now do thee homage. Pray thou to God with them, that, rejoicing, we may all splendidly celebrate thy holy protection today.

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

Gideon prefigured thee as a fleece, for Christ God descended upon thee like dew. Pray thou to Him, O Theotokos, that He grant victory to our Orthodox hierarchs over all heresies, that, casting them down like the Midianites, they may glorify thy holy feast.

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

O Theotokos, with thy radiant omophorion thou lightest the church and the people more than the rays of the sun, and by thy visitation drivest away the darkness of our sins, praying for us to thy Son and God.

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

Sedalion, Tone 5: O pure Ever-virgin, fervent and invincible intercessor, excellent and unashamed hope, bulwark, protection and refuge of those who have recourse to thee: with the angels beseech thy Son and God, that He grant compunction, 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.

Ode 4, Irmos: Seated in glory upon the throne of the Godhead, Jesus most divine is come upon a light cloud, and with His incorrupt arm hath saved those who cry: Glory to Thy power, O Christ!

Most Holy Mother of God, save us.

O most hymned Virgin, we cry out to thee in voices of hymnody: Rejoice, thou butter mountain, curdled by the Spirit! Rejoice, O lampstand, O jar bearing the Manna which sweeteneth the senses of all the pious!

Most Holy Mother of God, save us.

O Theotokos, God hath sanctified thee wholly, more than the ark of Aaron, and hath commanded the saints and angels to do thee homage. With them pray for the city and people who glorify thine honoured feast.

Most Holy Mother of God, save us.

O Theotokos, come now in glory unto thy church, with the councils of all the saints, as once the holy Andrew beheld thee in the air, radiantly praying for Christians; and grant us thy mercy.

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

Strengthen our Orthodox hierarchs against all heresy and schism, as God did David against Goliath, O Mistress, that in gladness we may cry to thee: Rejoice, O holy protection and helper of our city!

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

With faith do we fall down before thee, O Lady, and, rendering homage with thanksgiving, we cry out to thee: Rejoice, O Virgin full of the grace of God, our protection and wall of defence, the helper of those in misfortune! Save us who have recourse to thee, for in thee do we place our trust!

Ode 5, Irmos: All things are filled with awe by thy divine glory; for thou, O Virgin who knewest not wedlock, didst hold in thy womb Him Who is God over all, and thou gavest birth to the timeless Son, granting peace to all who hymn thee.

Most Holy Mother of God, save us.

Of old, Solomon described thee as the marriage-couch and bed of the King of heaven, and spake of thee as surrounded by the seraphim, O Theotokos. Wherefore, we now beseech thee, O most holy Mother of God: Protect us from all misfortunes!

Most Holy Mother of God, save us.

To thee do the foremost among the angels and the honoured prophets and apostles render service with honour as the Mother of God, beholding thee making supplication for the world; and the Lord, hearkening to thine entreaties, doth save thy city and people who place their trust in thee.

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

Isaiah, great among the prophets, prophesied thee, saying that without knowing wedlock thou wouldst give birth to God; for thou, O pure Mary, wast more holy than all, in that thou didst bear God in thy womb and in thine arms. To Him pray thou for us, with thy protection covering those who faithfully glorify thee.

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

Spreading spiritual wings, the councils of the saints came mystically to do thee homage, O Theotokos, beholding thee on the light cloud of glory, praying to Christ the Saviour, that He grant victory to our Orthodox hierarchs, to prevail over all heresy and schism.

Ode 6, Irmos: Celebrating this divine and most honoured festival of the Mother of God, come, ye divinely wise, let us clap our hands and glorify God Who was born of her!

Most Holy Mother of God, save us.

Divinely wise priests, standing in thy church with the pious people, await thy mercy, O Theotokos. Transform our grief into joy, in that thou gavest birth to the Joy Who hath done away with the sins of all men.

Most Holy Mother of God, save us.

To thee doth all the earth offer gifts as to the Queen and Mother of God. Kings and princes bow down in homage, and all the people are glad, protected from all evil by thy supplications, O Theotokos.

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

Daniel described thee beforehand as a great mountain; for from thee was Christ born without seed. He hath destroyed all the falsehood of the demons, and hath filled all the earth with His Faith. To Him do thou pray for us who glorify the feast of thy protection, O Theotokos.

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

O all-pure one, we utter unto thee the cry of the angel: Rejoice, O throne of God, whereon Ezekiel beheld the Lord in the guise of a man, borne up by the cherubim! With them pray thou for us, O Theotokos, that He save our souls.

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, Tone 3: Today the Virgin standeth forth in the church, and with the choirs of the saints she invisibly prayeth to God for us. Angels and hierarchs offer homage, and the apostles and prophets join chorus; for, for our sake the Theotokos entreateth the pre-eternal God.

Ikos: Come, O ye people, let us delight in her all-glorious miracles; for through her hath Adam been delivered from corruption. She is the ark fashioned, not by Noah, but by God. Of old, Moses was unable to see God in the fiery bush; but now the whole earth doth acknowledge the Son of God Who was born of her and to Whom she prayeth for us. Wherefore, we glorify her as the Mother of God; for, for our sake the Theotokos entreateth the pre-eternal God.

Ode 7, Irmos: The divinely wise would not worship a created thing instead of the Creator, but, manfully trampling the threat of the fire underfoot, they rejoiced, chanting: O all-hymned Lord God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Most Holy Mother of God, save us.

O Virgin, thou wast not described by the many prophets and wast also unknown to the angels of heaven who minister to God; but now we all know thee to be the Theotokos, and require thy help and aid, O blessed one.

Most Holy Mother of God, save us.

O Virgin Theotokos, thou mountain curdled by the Spirit which Habbakuk saw pouring forth the sweetness of healing upon the faithful, heal us who cry out to thy Son: Blessed is the God of our fathers!

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

He Who bowed down the heavens made His abode within thee, O Virgin, and now regardeth thy supplication, fulfilling thy petitions, O pure Queen and Theotokos. To Him do thou now earnestly pray, for we place our hope in thee, O blessed one.

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

O Christ God, our Creator and Saviour, accept the entreaty of Thy Mother, which she offereth to Thee for us sinners, that, rejoicing, we may chant to Thee: O all-hymned God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Ode 8, Irmos: The birth giving of the Theotokos saved the pious children in the furnace – then in figure, but now in deed, – and it moveth the whole world to chant to Thee: Hymn the Lord, O ye works, and exalt Him supremely for all ages!

Most Holy Mother of God, save us.

With the ranks of the angels, the honourable and glorious prophets, the preeminent apostles, the hieromartyrs and holy hierarchs, O Mistress, pray thou to God for us sinners who glorify the feast of thy protection in this land.

Most Holy Mother of God, save us.

Cast down pride and arrogance, scatter the councils of unjust princes, and destroy those who instigate wars, O Mother of God, most honoured Queen! And exalt the horn of our Orthodox hierarchs, that we may glorify thy feast, O all-pure Virgin Theotokos, crying: Hymn the Lord, ye works, and exalt Him supremely for all ages!

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

Offering thee hymnody with our mouths, we bow down before thee spiritually with our souls; for our hearts burn within us. O all-pure Mother of God, have mercy upon us who pray to thee, who hymn the Lord and exalt Him supremely for all ages.

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

I have been weighed down by many sins, and am at a loss how to write in praise of thy protection, O Theotokos; but as thou art the Mother of God, adorn thy feast with miracles, that, rejoicing, we may all hymn the Lord and exalt Him supremely for all ages.

Ode 9, Irmos: Let every earthborn man leap up, enlightened by the Spirit; and let the nature of the incorporeal intelligences hold festival, honouring the sacred feast of the Mother of God, and let it cry aloud: Rejoice, O most blessed Theotokos, thou pure Ever-virgin!

Most Holy Mother of God, save us.

O exalted King Who sittest with the Father and art hymned by the seraphim: look down upon the supplication of Thy Mother, which she offereth to Thee for us sinners, and wash away our sins. Save this city and multiply the people. Grant health of body and victory over all adversaries to the Orthodox through the prayers of her who gave Thee birth.

Most Holy Mother of God, save us.

O divinely chosen Virgin, we cry out to thee with the voice of the angel: Rejoice, thou who hast led Adam back into paradise! Rejoice, thou who drivest the demons away with thy name! Rejoice, O hope of Christians! Rejoice, sanctification of souls! Rejoice, preserver of our city!

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

Remember us in thy supplications, O Virgin Lady and Theotokos, that we not perish because of the multitude of our sins. Protect us from all evil and grievous perils, for in thee do we place our trust, and, honouring the feast of thy protection, we magnify thee.

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

As Mother of God, thou hast received from God the gift to heal the infirmities of all Christians, to deliver them from misfortunes, to forgive their sins and save them from captivity and all want. Disdain us not, O Lady, for thou knowest that we are in need of health for our bodies and salvation for our souls.

Troparion, Tone 4: Overshadowed by thy coming, O Mother of God, / we, the right faithful people, celebrate today with splendour, / and gazing upon thy most precious image, we cry aloud with compunction: / Cover us with thy precious omophorion, / and deliver us from all evil, / entreating thy Son, Christ our God, // that He save our souls.

First Prayer: O all-holy Virgin, Mother of the Lord of the hosts on high, Thou Queen of heaven and earth, and almighty, accept from us Thine unworthy servants this song of praise and thanksgiving and bring our prayer up to the throne of Thy God and Son, that He be merciful towards our unrighteousness, and extend His grace to those who honour Thy name with faith. For we are not worthy to be forgiven by Him hadst Thou, O Lady, not made Him merciful towards us, for all things from Him are possible to Thee. Therefore, we run to Thee as Thou art our swift and undoubted Protector. Hear us who pray to Thee: overshadow us with Thine almighty veil and ask from Thy God and Son zeal and vigilance for our shepherds, wisdom and strength for the souls of those who govern our cities, righteousness and impartiality for our judges, understanding and humility for our leaders, love and concord for the married, obedience for our children, patience for those who have been offended, the fear of God for those that offend, stoutheartedness for the afflicted, restraint for those that rejoice, and for all of us the spirit of understanding and godliness, the spirit of mercy and meekness, the spirit of chastity and truth. Yea, O all-holy Lady, be merciful towards Thy feeble people: gather the dispersed, guide on the right way those that have gone astray, uphold old age, make the young pure, bring up the children and look down upon all of us with the care of Thy merciful protection. Raise us from the depth of sin and enlighten the eyes of our hearts to see salvation. Be merciful to us both here and yonder, during our wandering in the land of this earth and at the Last Judgement of Thy Son: and make our fathers and brothers who have departed this life live the eternal life with the angels and all the saints. For Thou, O Lady, art the glory of those in heaven and the trust of those on earth. After God, Thou art the hope and Defender of all who flee to Thee with faith. We then pray to Thee and to Thee as our almighty Helper, do we commend ourselves and one another, now and for ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Second Prayer: O my most blessed Queen, my all-holy hope, Receiver of orphans and Defender of the strangers, Helper of those in poverty, Protector of the sick, behold my distress, behold my affliction. On all sides am I held by temptation, and there is none to defend me. Help me then as I am weak, feed me as I am a pilgrim, guide me as I have strayed, heal and save me as I lie without hope. For I have no other help, nor advocate nor comforter, save Thee, O Mother of all the afflicted and heavy laden. Look down then on me, a sinner lying in sickness, and protect me with Thine all-holy Veil, that I be delivered from all the ills surrounding me and may ever praise Thy Name that all men sing. Amen.

The Mother of God, the Softener of Evil Hearts

As we pray for the suffering Ukrainian land and its people, we turn to the intercession of the Mother of God, and many ofthe faithful are praying akathist to the Theotokos in honour of her icon, ‘The Softener of Evil Hearts’.

Акафист Пресвятой Богородице перед иконой «Умягчение злых сердец»: https://azbyka.ru/days/caa/486

Apolytikion in Tone 5: Soften our evil hearts, O Theotokos, * and quench the attacks of those who hate us * and loose all straitness of our soul. * For looking on thy holy icon * we are filled with compunction by thy suffering and loving-kindness for us * and we kiss thy wounds; * we are filled with horror for the darts with which we wound thee. * Let us not, O Mother of Compassion, * according to the cruelty of our hearts, perish from the cruelty of heart of those near us, ** For thou art in truth the Softener of Evil Hearts.

Kontakion I: We cry out with heartfelt compunction to the chosen Virgin Mary, far nobler than all the daughters of the earth, Mother of the Son of God, Who gave salvation to the world: Look at our life which is filled with every sorrow and remember the sorrow and pain which thou didst suffer as one born on earth with us, and do with us according to thy merciful heart, that we may cry unto thee: Rejoice, much-sorrowing Mother of God, turn our sorrows into joy and soften the hearts of evil men!

Oikos I: An angel announced the birth of the Saviour of the world to the shepherds in Bethlehem and with the multitude of the heavenly hosts praised God, singing: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will among men!” But thou, O Mother of God, having nowhere to lay thy head, since there was no room in the inn, gave birth to thy first-born Son in a cave and, wrapping Him in swaddling clothes, laid Him in a manger. Knowing the pain in thy heart, we cry out to thee:

Rejoice, for thou wast warmed by the breath of thine own beloved Son!
Rejoice, for thou didst wrap the eternal Child in swaddling clothes!
Rejoice, for thou didst nourish with thy milk the One who sustaineth the universe!
Rejoice, for thou didst turn a cave into a heaven!
Rejoice, for thou didst make thy throne upon the Cherubim!
Rejoice, for thou didst remain a virgin both in giving birth and after birth!
Rejoice, much-sorrowing Mother of God, turn our sorrows into joy and soften the hearts of evil men!

Kontakion II: Seeing the eternal Child swaddled and lying in a manger, the shepherds of Bethlehem came to worship Him and to relate that which the Angels told them about the Child. But Mary kept all these things in her heart. And after eight days had passed Jesus was circumcised, according to the law of Israel, as a man. Hymning thy humility and patience, O Theotokos, we sing to the Good God Eternal: Alleluia!

Oikos II: Having their understanding based on God and keeping the Law of the Lord, on the fortieth day when the days of purification were complete, His parents took Jesus to Jerusalem so that they could present Him before the Lord and offer sacrifice for Him according to the decree in the Law of the Lord. But we sing out to thee, O Theotokos, thus:

Rejoice, for thou didst take the Creator of the universe to the Temple in Jerusalem to fulfil the Law!
Rejoice, for thou didst there meet the Elder Simeon with joy!
Rejoice, thou only Pure and blessed one among women!
Rejoice, for with humility Thou didst carry thy cross adorned with sorrows!
Rejoice, for thou didst never disobey the will of God!
Rejoice, for thou didst reveal thyself as a model of patience and humility!
Rejoice, much-sorrowing Mother of God, turn our sorrows into joy and soften the hearts of evil men!

Kontakion III: Thou wast strengthened with power from on high, O Mother of God, when thou didst hear the words of the Elder Simeon, when he said to thee: “Behold, this Child is destined to be the rise and fall of many in Israel. This is a sign which will be spoken against, and a sword will pierce thy very soul so that the thoughts of many may be revealed.” And great sorrow entered the heart of the Theotokos, and with grief she cried out to God: Alleluia!

Oikos III: Hastening to destroy the Child, Herod ordered the killing of all children in Bethlehem and its environs, from two years of age and under according to the time that he determined from the Magi. And behold, according to the command of God, the Elder Joseph was informed by an angel in a dream to flee with the Holy Family to Egypt and to remain there until the death of Herod. Therefore, with compunction, we cry out to thee, O Theotokos:

Rejoice for thou didst bear the entire turmoil of exile!
Rejoice for all the idols fell in the land of Egypt not being able to endure the power of thy Son!
Rejoice for thou didst remain for seven years among the dishonourable pagans!
Rejoice, for thou didst arrive in Nazareth with the first-born Youth and with thy betrothed!
Rejoice, for thou didst live with the Elder Joseph the carpenter in poverty!
Rejoice, for thou didst spend all thy time in hard labours!
Rejoice, much-sorrowing Mother of God, turn our sorrows into joy and soften our hearts and those of evil men!

Kontakion IV: A storm of sorrows whirled about the most pure Mother when they returned from Jerusalem, not finding the young man Jesus in the caravan. For this reason, they returned to look for Him, and after three days they found Him in the Temple, sitting among the teachers listening to them and asking them questions. And His Mother asked Him, “Child, why hast Thou done this to us? Behold, Thy father and I suffered greatly looking for Thee.” And Jesus answered them,” Why were ye looking for Me? Do ye not know about those things which My Father has entrusted unto Me?” And Thou, O Most Pure One, kept all these sayings in Thy heart, crying out to God: Alleluia!

Oikos IV: The Mother of God heard that Jesus traveled through all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom and healing all kinds of illness and infirmity among the people. And His reputation spread through all of Syria and they brought Him every kind of illness and the suffering and those tormented by demons and the paralyzed and He healed them. But thou, O Mother of God, knowing the prophecy, sorrowed in thy heart, knowing that very soon the time would come when Thy Son would present Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. For this reason, we bless thee, much-sorrowing Mother of God, crying out:

Rejoice, for thou didst give thy Son to the service of the Jewish people!
Rejoice, for thou didst sorrow in thy heart, but didst submit to the will of God!
Rejoice, for thou didst save the world from the deluge of sin!
Rejoice for thou didst crush the head of the ancient serpent!
Rejoice, for thou didst offer thyself as a living sacrifice to God!
Rejoice, O blessed one, the Lord is with Thee!
Rejoice, much-sorrowing Mother of God, turn our sorrows into joy and soften the hearts of evil men!

Kontakion V: Preaching the Kingdom of God on earth, Jesus exposed the arrogance of the Pharisees who imagined themselves to be righteous. So when they heard His parables they understood it was about themselves that He was speaking and they sought to arrest Him, but they feared the people who considered Him to be a prophet. Seeing all of this, the Mother of God sorrowed for her beloved Son and feared that they would kill Him, in affliction crying out: Alleluia!

Oikos V: Some of the Jews, seeing the resurrection of Lazarus, went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. And Caiaphas, who was the high priest that year, said, “It will be better for us that one man die for the people, so that the whole nation would not perish.” From that day on they took counsel about how they would kill Him. But we cry out to thee, O Most Pure One:

Rejoice, thou who gavest birth to the Saviour of the world!
Rejoice, source of our salvation!
Rejoice, for thou wast chosen from birth to be the Mother of our Saviour!
Rejoice, Mother of God, destined for suffering!
Rejoice, O blessed one, who dost preside as Queen of Heaven!
Rejoice, O blessed one, thou who always prays for us!
Rejoice, much-sorrowing Mother of God, turn our sorrows into joy and soften the hearts of evil men!

Kontakion VI: Once a preacher of the Word of God, and now a traitor, Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve apostles, went to the high priest to betray his Teacher. They listened to him, were exceedingly pleased and promised to give him thirty pieces of silver. But thou, O Mother of God, didst sorrow for thy beloved Son, and didst cry out in grief to God: Alleluia!

Oikos VI: Taking part in the Last Supper with the disciples at which the Teacher washed their feet, thereby revealing an example of humility, Christ said to them, “One of you will betray Me.” But we, suffering with the Mother of God, cry out to Her:

Rejoice, Mother of God, languishing with the torture of thy heart!
Rejoice, Thou who didst suffer all in this most sorrowful vale!
Rejoice, Thou who didst find comfort in prayer!
Rejoice, joy of all who sorrow!
Rejoice, Thou who dost save us from the mire of sin!
Rejoice, vessel filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit!
Rejoice, much- sorrowing Mother of God, turn our sorrows into joy and soften the hearts of evil men!

Kontakion VII: Desiring to show His love for the human race, the Lord Jesus Christ at the Mystical Supper, blessed and broke bread, and gave it to His disciples and apostles, saying: “Take, eat, this is My Body.” And taking the chalice and giving praise gave it to them saying: “All of you drink of this, this is My Blood of the New Covenant which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Thanking the compassionate God for His ineffable mercy to us, we sing to Him: Alleluia!

Oikos VII: The Lord revealed a new sign of His mercy to His disciples when He promised to send them the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, Who would descend from the Father and would witness concerning Him. But to thee, O Mother of God, sanctified again on the day of Pentecost by the Holy Spirit, we cry:

Rejoice, mansion of the Holy Spirit!
Rejoice, brilliantly-illuminated bridal chamber!
Rejoice, spacious dwelling place of God the Word!
Rejoice, thou who didst open for us the gates of paradise by Thy giving of birth!
Rejoice, thou who didst reveal the sign of divine mercy Himself to us!
Rejoice, much-sorrowing Mother of God, turn our sorrows into joy and soften the hearts of evil men!

Kontakion VIII: It is at once very strange and sorrowful for us to hear how Judas Iscariot betrayed his Teacher and Lord with a kiss. Then the crowd and the commander and the servants of the Jews arrested Jesus, and bound Him, and led Him first to the chief priest Ananias, and then to the high priest Caiaphas. But thou, O Mother of God, expecting the death sentence for thy beloved Son, cried out to God: Alleluia!

Oikos VIII: All of the Jews led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium to Pilate, saying that He was a criminal. But Pilate, after questioning Him, told them that he could not find any fault at all in Him. But we cry out to thee with compunction, O Mother of God, who saw the slander of Thy Son:

Rejoice, thou whose heart was broken by woe!
Rejoice, for thou didst shed tears for thy Son!
Rejoice, thou who didst see thy beloved Child given over to trial!
Rejoice, for thou didst suffer everything without complaint like a true handmaiden of the Lord!
Rejoice, despite thy weeping and lamentation!
Rejoice, O Queen of Heaven and earth, who dost accept the prayers of thy servants!
Rejoice, much-sorrowing Mother of God, turn our sorrows into joy and soften the hearts of evil men!

Kontakion IX: All generations bless thee, who art more honourable than the Cherubim and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim, our Lady and the Mother of our Redeemer, for thy birth-giving has brought joy to the whole world. But thou didst suffer the final great sorrow when thou saw thy beloved Son insulted, whipped, and sentenced to death. For this reason we present our heartfelt hymn to thee, O Most Pure One, singing to God Almighty: Alleluia!

Oikos IX: Loquacious orators are not able to describe all of the suffering which Thou endured, our Saviour, such as when the soldiers placed a crown woven out of thorns on Thy head and dressed Thee in a purple robe, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and slapped Thee across the face. But we, Mother of God, recognizing thy suffering, cry out to thee:

Rejoice, thou who didst behold thy Son slain for our sake!
Rejoice, seeing Him dressed in purple and wearing a crown of thorns!
Rejoice, seeing Him tortured, whom thou didst nourish with thy milk!
Rejoice, thou who didst suffer His Passion together with Him!
Rejoice, thou who didst watch all His disciples forsake Him!
Rejoice, thou who didst see Him condemned by the judgement of the unrighteous!
Rejoice, much-sorrowing Mother of God, turn our sorrows into joy and soften the hearts of evil men!

Kontakion X: Wanting to save Jesus, Pilate said to the Jews, “We have a custom to release a prisoner on the feast of Passover. Do you want me to give you the King of the Jews?” All of them shouted, saying, “Not Him, but Barabbas!” We praise the great mercy of the Heavenly Father, Who so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son to death on the Cross in order to redeem us from eternal death, as we cry out to Him: Alleluia!

Oikos X: Be a wall and a fortification unto us, O Lady, who are overburdened by sorrows and suffering. For thou thyself didst suffer hearing the Jews shouting, “Crucify, crucify Him!” Now hear us crying out unto thee: Rejoice, Mother of mercy, who wipest away every tear from those who suffer cruelly!

Rejoice, thou who grantest us tears of heartfelt compunction!
Rejoice, thou who savest lost sinners!
Rejoice, Protection of Christians that cannot be put to shame!
Rejoice, thou who savest us from our passions!
Rejoice, thou who grantest comfort to broken hearts!
Rejoice, much-sorrowing Mother of God, turn our sorrows into joy and soften the hearts of evil men!

Kontakion XI: We offer a hymn of heartfelt sorrow to the Saviour of the world for His voluntary Passion and carrying His Cross to Golgotha to be crucified. Standing at Jesus’ Cross are His Mother, Mary Cleopas, and Mary Magdalene. But Jesus, seeing His Mother and His disciple whom He loved standing there, said to His disciple, “Behold thy mother!” And from that time the disciple took her into his family. But thou, O Mother of God, seeing Thy Son and Lord on the Cross was devastated, and cried out to God on high: Alleluia!

Oikos XI: “O my Son and Pre-eternal God, Fashioner of all creation! O Lord, how canst Thou endure the suffering on the Cross?” the pure Virgin cried, saying: “By Thy awesome birth, O my Son, I have been exalted above all mothers, but woe is me! Now when I see Thee, my womb burns within me.” But we shed tears remembering thee, and cry out to thee:

Rejoice, thou who was deprived of joy and merriment!
Rejoice, thou who didst see the voluntary passion of thy Son on the Cross!
Rejoice, thou who didst see thy beloved Son sore wounded!
Rejoice, ewe lamb, seeing thy Son as a lamb being led to slaughter!
Rejoice, thou who didst see the Deliverer of the wounds of soul and body covered with wounds!
Rejoice, thou who didst see thy Son rise from the dead!
Rejoice, much-sorrowing Mother of God, turn our sorrows into joy and soften the hearts of evil men!

Kontakion XII: O All-merciful Saviour, grant us mercy, breathing out Thy Spirit on the Cross and tearing up the handwriting of our sins. “Behold, my good Light, my God, is extinguished on the Cross!” the Virgin in great anguish exclaimed. “O Joseph, hasten to Pilate, approach him and ask him to take thy Teacher down from the Cross.” “Seeing Thy wounded Body, naked and without glory, on the Cross, O my Child, a sword has pierced my soul according to the prophecy of the Elder Simeon,” said the Mother of God, singing: Alleluia!

Oikos XII: Hymning Thy mercifulness, O Lover of mankind, we bow down to Thy generous mercy, O Master. The Most Pure one said, “Wishing to save Thy creature, thou hast given Thyself over to death.” But by Thy resurrection, O Saviour, have mercy on all of us, while we address Thy most pure Mother:

Rejoice, thou who didst see the most good Lord dead and without breath!
Rejoice, thou who didst kiss the body of thy beloved Son!
Rejoice, thou who didst see thy Light as a naked and wounded corpse!
Rejoice, thou who didst place the Light of the world in the tomb!
Rejoice, thou who didst wrap His body in a new shroud!
Rejoice, thou who beheld His Resurrection from the dead!
Rejoice, much-sorrowing Mother of God, turn our sorrows into joy and soften the hearts of evil men!

Kontakion XIII:  O All-hymned Mother, crushed by thy sorrow at the Cross of thy Son and God, accept our tears and expressions of sorrow and save from every sorrow, affliction, and eternal death, all those who hope in thine ineffable kind-heartedness and cry out to God: Alleluia! (Thrice)

Oikos I: An angel announced the birth of the Saviour of the world to the shepherds in Bethlehem and with the multitude of the heavenly hosts praised God, singing: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will among men!” But thou, O Mother of God, having nowhere to lay thy head, since there was no room in the inn, gave birth to thy first-born Son in a cave and, wrapping Him in swaddling clothes, laid Him in a manger. Knowing the pain in thy heart, we cry out to thee:

Rejoice, for thou wast warmed by the breath of thy own beloved Son!
Rejoice, for thou didst wrap the eternal Child in swaddling clothes!
Rejoice, for thou didst nourish with thy milk the One who sustaineth the universe!
Rejoice, for thou didst turn a cave into a heaven!
Rejoice, for thou didst make thy throne upon the Cherubim!
Rejoice, for thou didst remain a virgin both in giving birth and after birth!
Rejoice, much-sorrowing Mother of God, turn our sorrows into joy and soften the hearts of evil men!

Kontakion I: We cry out with heartfelt compunction to the chosen Virgin Mary, far nobler than all the daughters of the earth, Mother of the Son of God, Who gave salvation to the world: Look at our life which is filled with every sorrow and remember the sorrow and pain which thou didst suffer as one born on earth with us, and do with us according to thy merciful heart, that we may cry unto thee: Rejoice, much-sorrowing Mother of God, turn our sorrows into joy and soften the hearts of evil men!

Prayer to the Most Holy Mother of God

“The Softener of Evil Hearts”

O much sorrowing Mother of God, more highly exalted than all other maidens, according to thy purity and the multitude of thy suffering endured by thee on earth: Hearken to our sighs and soften the hearts of evil men, and protect us under the shelter of thy mercy. For we know no other refuge and ardent intercessor apart from thee, but as thou hast great boldness before the One who was born of thee, help and save us by thy prayers, that without offence we may attain the Heavenly Kingdom where, with all the saints, we will sing the thrice-holy hymn to One God Almighty in the Trinity, always now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Loving Whilst Praying For Peace

Dear brothers and sisters,

As we fervently pray for peace, even a fragile-one, in Ukraine, not only must our prayer be intensified, but we must take a deep and serious look at ourselves, and our relationship with loved ones, neighbour, colleague, and all with whom we come into contact in our daily lives.

How can we have the audacity to respond to the Deacon’s calling, ‘In peace, let us pray to the Lord’, if we have conflict, disputes, jealousy, rivalry, anger, resentment, or any negative feeling towards any other human being?

Is our ‘Lord, have mercy’ an accusation against us, when we hypocritically answer, as though peace was the first desire of our lives and prayers, as it is in the Liturgy.

Furthermore, have we come to Divine Service whilst the divisions of conflict hang over us, unresolved, as open stinking wounds, which are far from the ‘incense’ that our prayers should be in rising to the Lord?

If our prayers for the peace of the whole world and the good estate of the Holy Churches of God are to have any force, and any meaning, let us struggle for love and reconciliation in our lives, lest our prayers are to our shame and dishonour.

Whilst ordinary believing Orthodox people in Ukraine and Russia – or here – may be powerless to stop the political and military machine, we can all make a difference to the world and fight conflict by embodying Christ-like love in our lives, making the Beatitudes the reality of our daily living knowing that…

Blessed are the poor in spirit…
Blessed are those who mourn…
Blessed are the meek…
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness…
Blessed are the merciful…
Blessed are the pure in heart…
Blessed are the peacemakers…
Blessed are those who suffer persecution for righteousness’ sake…

To live each of these Beatitudes is to actuate Christian love, to follow Christ’s commandments, and to truly live up to the calling of our Baptism in which we were meant to have put on Christ, who is Love Incarnate.

Whilst we cannot find the answer to why politicians, strategists, and military bosses, who claim to be Orthodox Christians see things differently, we can struggle in prayer, in reconciliation, in humility and love, becoming peace-makers in our own lives, homes, parishes, work-places and communities.

In the Trebnik (The Book of Needs) we have the service ‘for the increase of love’, which includes petitions to be added the Great Litany: the Litany of Peace.

These are petitions which we have often used in our community, especially at times of trial and temptation, and I have included them below, so that they might be an inspiration in our personal prayers in our homes.

That we may be cleansed of our sins and transgressions which have dried up in us love for Him and for our neighbour, and that it may be established by the power, action and grace of His Most-holy Spirit, and rooted in all our hearts, earnestly let us pray to the Lord.

That there may be planted and rooted in us by the grace of His Most-holy Spirit the new commandment of His New Testament: that we love one another, and not merely satisfy ourselves, but rather always strive for His glory and the building-up or our neighbour, let us pray to the Lord.

That there may be uprooted in us hatred, envy and jealousy and all other passions which destroy brotherly love, and that there may be planted unfeigned love, fervently let us pray to the Lord.

That there may be kindled in us the fervent love of God and our neighbour by the grace of His Most-holy Spirit, and thus burn out to the very roots the passions of all our souls and bodies, let us pray to the Lord.

That there may be uprooted in us the passions of self-love, and rooted, instead, the virtue of brotherly love by the power of His Most-holy Spirit, with broken and contrite hearts let us pray to the Lord.

That we may not love the world and that which is in the world, but rather have true love for God and His glory, and that we may love that which is profitable and for the salvation of our neighbour, so that we may ever gaze on the good things prepared in heaven, and that we may seek these with all our souls, let us pray to the Lord.

That truly we may love, not just our friends and brothers, but also our enemies, and do that which is good to those who hate us, with the power, action and grace of His Most-holy Spirit moving us, let us pray to the Lord.

That we may examine ourselves, condemn ourselves, and ever looking upon our own transgressions, humble ourselves before God and before everyone, never judging our brothers or sisters, but loving them as our very self, by the power, action and grace of His Most-holy Spirit, let us pray to the Lord.

That we may imitate the burning love of the Christians in ancient times for God and neighbour, and that we may be their heirs and successors, not only in word, but in true action, by the power, action and grace of the Most-Holy Spirit, let us pray to the Lord.

Let us struggle in heartfelt and fervent prayer, with our families in our icon-corners, in the worship of parishes, and wherever we are in the day and in the night, and with humility, love and compassion, let us struggle to achieve the fruits of the miraculous power of peace, summed up by our beloved St Seraphim of Sarov:

“Acquire the Spirit of Peace and a thousand souls around you will be saved.” 

Let us love one another that with one mind we may confess: Father Son and Holy Spirit, Trinity consubstantial and undivided.

With love in Christ – Hieromonk Mark

A Prayer For Peace In Ukraine

O Lord Jesus Christ our God, look down with Thy merciful eye upon the sorrow and greatly-painful cry of Thy children, abiding in the Ukrainian land.

Deliver Thy people from civil strife, make to cease the spilling of blood, and turn back the misfortunes set against them. Lead unto sanctuary those bereft of shelter, feed the hungry, comfort those who weep, and unite the divided.

Leave not Thine own flock, who abide in sorrows on account of their kinsmen, to diminish, but rather, as Thou art benevolent, give speedy reconciliation. Soften the hearts of the unmerciful and convert them to the knowledge of Thee. Grant peace to Thy Church and to Her children, that with one heart and one mouth we may glorify Thee, our Lord and Saviour, unto the ages of ages. Amen.

 

Saints Ephraim and Isaac the Syrians

Dear brothers and sisters,

This day brings a double-joy, as we celebrate two great Syrian saints, Ephraim and Isaac, who testify to the spiritual glory of the Christian Tradition in which Syriac, rather than Greek, was the language of theology, and where poetry and hymnography were used to explore the Faith.

Their prayers hymns and homilies have had a profound affect on various members of our ROCOR parish in Cardiff, who have found great sustenance in the works of each of these fathers, and not a week goes by without reference to them by our parishioners and clergy.

The lives of these Syriac fathers are at the fingertips of anyone reading these words, and I will leave anyone wishing to read them to find their own way, but below are the canons to St Ephraim and St Isaac for anyone who would like to celebrate their feast by chanting them.

May their words guide us on the path to Heaven, and may their prayers be for our succour and encouragement on our journey towards the age to come.

The icons were painted for my cell in 2021, by Old Believer iconogropher Konstantin Antonov in Eysk: https://drev-obraz.ru/

Canon of the venerable one, the acrostic whereof is: “I honour Ephraim, the noetic Euphrates”, the composition of Theophanes, in Tone VI:

Ode 1, 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.

Venerable Father, Ephraim, pray to God for us.

With the Euphrates-like flood of thy supplications water thou my soul, which hath become dry with the burning heat of the passions, and inspire discourse within me who praise thy festival, O all-blessed one.

Venerable Father, Ephraim, pray to God for us.

Shining forth noetic light, thou didst show thyself to be a radiant sun, O Ephraim, illumining all the fullness of the faithful with brilliant virtues and teachings.

Venerable Father, Ephraim, pray to God for us.

Extinguishing the flame of the passions with the streams of tears, O divinely blessed Ephraim, thou wast a precious vessel of the Holy Spirit, pouring forth wellsprings of doctrines.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Having received the incorrupt Word in thy womb, thou hast given birth to Him Who delivereth from corruption those who ever worship Him, O pure Mother and Virgin, who art truly the portal of Life.

Canon of the venerable one, the composition of Gerasimus of the Little Skete of Saint Anna, in Tone VIII:

Another Irmos: The wonderworking staff of Moses, * striking and dividing the sea in the figure of a cross, * once drowned Pharaoh the pursuing charioteer, * while it saved the fleeing people of Israel * as they fled on foot, * chanting a hymn unto God.

Venerable Father, Isaac, pray to God for us.

Give strength and words to my lips, O Word of God and God, that I may hymn the venerable Isaac, who hath radiantly glorified Thee with a perfect life and instructed the ranks of monastics with divinely inspired discourse.

Venerable Father, Isaac, pray to God for us.

Having from thy youth hated all carnal luxury, O blessed Isaac, and been wounded by divine love, thou didst take the Cross of the Lord upon thy shoulders, and with thy brother choose a life of asceticism.

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

Borne aloft by the love of Christ the Bestower of life, O venerable one, thou didst soar to the heavenly life, and through ascetic labours wast shown to be a stranger and sojourner on the earth, O most blessed father Isaac.

Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Without knowing wedlock, thou didst conceive God Who for our sake became immutably incarnate as we are, through thy pure blood, O most pure Mary Theotokos. Wherefore, deliver us from changing to the worse.

Ode 3, 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.

Venerable Father, Ephraim, pray to God for us.

Having purified thyself of the mire of the passions, thou didst reveal thyself to be a true receptacle of the virtues and a vessel containing the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Venerable Father, Ephraim, pray to God for us.

In nowise giving slumber to thine eyes, thou didst show thyself to be a temple of the Holy Trinity and a treasury of wisdom, enriching the world with the golden rays of teachings, O blessed one.

Venerable Father, Ephraim, pray to God for us.

The honoured Church of Christ doth recognize thee as a golden-streamed Euphrates, flowing with torrents of wise doctrines and watering all creation.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

 Incarnate of thy precious blood, One of the Holy Trinity divinely issued forth in two natures, saving by grace the children of Adam, O all-pure one.

Another 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, Isaac, pray to God for us.

In that thou didst rid thy heart of the bonds of the passions, thou wast shown to be a receptacle of dispassion and a vessel fit for the effulgence of spiritual life, O blessed Isaac, dweller with the angels.

Venerable Father, Isaac, pray to God for us.

Full of the graces of heaven, O venerable one, who emulated the angels in thy conduct, at all times pouring forth from thy mouth discourse of salvation, as it were the sweetness of incorruption.

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

Putting off the burden of the flesh, O father, thou didst elect to make thine abode in the wilderness, uniting thyself unto God with great stillness, prayer and fasting. Wherefore, thou didst become the dwelling-place of the divine Spirit.

Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O all-hymned Maiden who hast given birth unto God and destroyed the ancient sin, by thy grace do thou restore my mind, which hath been marred by the decadence of the passions which sorely afflict me.

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

Kontakion of St Ephraim, in Tone II, Spec. Mel “Seeking the highest …”: Ever looking forward to the hour of judgment, * thou didst bitterly lament, O Ephraim; * and though a lover of stillness * thou wast also a teacher of activity, O venerable one. ** Wherefore, O universal father, thou dost motivate the slothful to repentance.

Ikos: Do thou let but a drop of the waters of thy grace bedew my soul, purifying it of every unclean defilement, that cleansed, it may complete the remaining time of life zealous in all things profitable, and partake of the divine sweetness which thou didst enjoy, for thou dost quench the thirst of all who burn with passions, inspiring the slothful to repentance by thy discourses.

Sedalion of St Ephraim, in Tone V, Spec. Mel “The Word Who is co-beginningless …”: O ye faithful, on the day of his commemoration let us hymn the treasury of the wisdom of the mysteries of Christ, the cup of divine compunction, for in accordance with his name the godly Ephraim doth ever gladden the hearts of the faithful with divine discourses, as a performer and initiate of the mysteries of the revelations of the Lord.

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

Sedalion, in Tone IV, Spec. Mel., “Go thou quickly before …”: As a divinely radiant lamp of stillness thou shinest the never-waning light of a virtuous life upon the ends of the earth, O wise one; wherefore, we, the choirs of monastics, hymn thee as a divine luminary, O God-bearer Isaac, and we study thy radiant discourses with love.

Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Theotokion in Tone IV: O pure Virgin Mother, unceasingly beseech Christ our God, Who in His ineffable tender compassion became incarnate of thee, that He grant us forgiveness of sins, O Maiden, and deliverance from the grievous woes of life; for unto thee, O Mother of God, do we have recourse in faith.

Ode 4, 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. The power of thy words hath passed through the whole world, O blessed one, driving away the blindness of men’s souls by the exalted radiance of humility.

Venerable Father, Ephraim, pray to God for us.

Thou didst render thy life blameless, cleansing thyself with tears, O right wondrous and divinely revealed one, and by thy wise discourses hast described to all the coming of the Judge.

Venerable Father, Ephraim, pray to God for us.

Having beheld the most glorious height of thy humility, the Lord gave thee exalted  discourse, whereby the grievous uprisings of heresies have been humbled.

Venerable Father, Ephraim, pray to God for us.

Strengthened by the grace of the Almighty, thou didst array thyself against the princes of the demons, O father, and having vanquished them, fervently pray on behalf of us who praise thee.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Let us bless the Virgin as a divine temple, as a holy mountain, as a wellspring of incorruption, as the one who alone was the chosen of God our Creator.

Another 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, Isaac, pray to God for us.

Irrigated with the streams of thy sacred teachings, O wise Isaac, multitudes of monastics splendidly produce abundant fruit: the purity of abstinence, prayerful contemplation, and the grace of dispassion, chanting: Glory to Thy power, O Lover of mankind!

Venerable Father, Isaac, pray to God for us.

With thy whole mind conversing and uniting thyself with the one God, the sight of Whom is beyond comprehension, O venerable one, thou wast filled past understanding with enlightenment, and wast shown to be a light-bearer, a tower of stillness and a most radiant beacon for monastics.

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

Living in the flesh like an incorporeal being, thou didst serve God in stillness, O God-bearer Isaac, and wast granted many graces by Christ, of which do thou grant, if only a small portion, unto me who doth cry aloud: Glory to Thy power, O Lover of mankind!

Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O Theotokos, having given birth unto God in the flesh, without seed, without corruption, in a manner beyond understanding and comprehension, thou hast annulled the condemnation of Eve, at the hour of my judgment do thou also free me from the dread sentence.

Ode 5, 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.

Venerable Father, Ephraim, pray to God for us.

With torrents of tears, O father, thou didst utterly dry up the depths of pleasures; and with the outpourings of thy doctrines thou hast staunched the torrents of heresies, O blessed one.

Venerable Father, Ephraim, pray to God for us.

Thy mind, illumined by seeking God, O father Ephraim, began to take pleasure in the full vision of God, receiving immaterial revelation as if a mirror of the divine Spirit.

Venerable Father, Ephraim, pray to God for us.

Thou didst truly become a temple imbued with the Trinity, adorned with grace and the radiance of pure virtues, and the fullness of teaching, O father.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Eating of the tree in Eden through the wicked treachery of the serpent I was revealed to be mortal; but thou, having given birth to Christ, the Bestower of life, hast brought me to life, O thou who alone art full of God’s grace.

Another Irmos: O Light never-waning, * why hast Thou turned Thy face from me * and why has 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.

Venerable Father, Isaac, pray to God for us.

Lifting thy mind to the undefiled good, O saint of Christ, thou didst reveal thyself by thy way of life, to be alien to the things that are in the world, O Isaac, teaching all to disdain that which is corruptible, and in nowise to desire those things that are temporal.

Venerable Father, Isaac, pray to God for us.

Thou wast shown to be a scribe and model of the angelic life, O divinely wise Isaac; wherefore, the grace of the Spirit hath revealed thee to be a divine pastor and a God-bearing hierarch of the Church of Christ.

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

Having been inducted into the divine mysteries because of the purity of thy way of life, O God-bearer, thou didst attain to yet greater deeds, O divine Isaac, archpastor of Nineveh, explaining the words of the Gospel to all, and cleansing the wounds of their souls.

Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Slain by the deception and delusion of the serpent, O most pure one, I flee unto thee who hast given birth to eternal Life. Enliven my mind by thy vivifying help, and guide me to a blameless life.

Ode 6, Irmos: Beholding the sea of life surging the flood of temptations, * I run to calm haven, and cry to Thee: * Raise up my life from corruption, * O Most Merciful One.

Venerable Father, Ephraim, pray to God for us.

Setting thy foundation not on sands, but on the inviolate Faith, O God-bearer, thou didst remain undaunted by all the assaults of the enemy, guided by the hand of the Invincible One.

Venerable Father, Ephraim, pray to God for us.

Thy tongue was truly like the pen of a swiftly-writing scribe, showing forth a most pious intellect and tracing the law of the Spirit upon the tablets of our hearts, O father.

Venerable Father, Ephraim, pray to God for us.

Those who navigate the calm expanse of thy dogmas, O divinely wise Ephraim, are delivered from the soul-destroying billows of the abyss and, awakened, are saved by faith from the storm of heresies.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Incarnate, He Who as God is above all noetic beings and visible creatures, issued forth from thy womb, preserving thee incorrupt as thou wast before birthgiving, O Virgin Mother.

Another 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, Isaac, pray to God for us.

Thou didst brighten thy hierarchal vestments through strict observance of the commandments of God, O divinely-inspired Isaac; wherefore, the Saviour hath received thee as one of His own.

Venerable Father, Isaac, pray to God for us.

Directing thy life towards the uttermost Judge, thou didst show thyself to be a true and venerable hierarch, O Isaac, revealing the commandments of the laws of grace unto all.

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

Adorned with the spiritual wisdom which cometh from doing good works, thou wast revealed to be a pious teacher of monastics, O Isaac, guiding them to perfection by thine instructions and deeds.

Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O most pure one, who hast given birth in the flesh to the transcendent God, from the fall hast thou raised the nature of mortals to the heights of their former nobility; wherefore, we glorify thee.

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

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

Kontakion of St Isaac, in Tone VIII, Spec. Mel, “To thee, the champion leader…”: By thine angelic way of life thou wast shown to be a divine instrument of the Comforter, * and a model for monastics in all things, O blessed Isaac. * As the habitation of divine grace, ask thou grace and heavenly light for us ** who cry out to thee: Rejoice, O divinely wise father!

Ikos: Thou wast revealed to be an angel in the flesh in thine ascetic labours, O Godbearing Isaac, and by thine angelic voice hast thou set before us the words of salvation, whereby guided to a higher life, we cry out to thee: Rejoice, star coming forth from Syria; rejoice, lamp of stillness! Rejoice, thou who art more sublime than earthly thoughts; Rejoice, partaker of heavenly enlightenment! Rejoice, divinely inscribed pillar of hesychasts; Rejoice, mouth flowing with the honey of spiritual teachings! Rejoice, for thou wast filled with God-given wisdom; Rejoice, for thou deliverest from the evil of the passions! Rejoice, most fervent of the servants of Christ; Rejoice, our godly teacher! Rejoice, wise God-bearer Isaac; Rejoice, our instructor, guided by God! Rejoice, O divinely wise father!

Ode 7, 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.

Venerable Father, Ephraim, pray to God for us.

Thou wast shown to be a most excellent giver of laws for monastics, O most honoured one, rescuing them from all the machinations of the enemy. Wherefore, O blessed one, they honour thine honoured and sacred memory on earth.

Venerable Father, Ephraim, pray to God for us.

Thou wast shown to be a most excellent giver of laws for monastics, O most honoured one, rescuing them from all the machinations of the enemy. Wherefore, O blessed one, they honour thine honoured and sacred memory on earth.

Venerable Father, Ephraim, pray to God for us.

Thou wast an excellent instrument of the Spirit, ever sounding forth thine inspirations and playing the saving hymn of repentance for us who hymn thee, O ever-memorable one.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Thy conception was beyond description, O Bride of God, for thou hast given birth to the Word of God Who hath delivered all mankind from irrationality granting them the words to cry: O God of our fathers, Blessed art Thou!

Another Irmos: Once in Babylon the fire stood in awe * of God’s condescension; * for which sake the youths in the furnace, * dancing with joyous steps as in a meadow, chanted: * O God of our fathers, Blessed art Thou!

Venerable Father, Isaac, pray to God for us.

Having shone forth like a most radiant sun among the choirs of monastics, O father, thou dost illumine with the radiance of thine instructions, as with beams of light, all who cry out with faith: Blessed is the God of our fathers!

Venerable Father, Isaac, pray to God for us.

O father, the honourable choirs of monastics know thee to be a divinely-wise describer and guide to the higher life, and as is fitting, celebrate thy memory, O wise father Isaac, thou rule of hesychasts.

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

Caught up by the Spirit to the vision of the mystical mysteries of a higher glory, which passeth understanding, and deified by partaking thereof, thou didst cry aloud: Blessed is the God of our fathers!

Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

With the rich streams of thy mercy purify my heart, which hath been defiled by the passions of the enemy, O Maiden; and dispel the darkness of my mind, that I may gaze upon the Light which shone forth from thee.

Ode 8, 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 exalt throughout all ages.

Venerable Father, Ephraim, pray to God for us.

Thou wast shown to be like another sun, O blessed one, and, emitting the beams of thy teachings upon the ends of the earth, thou hast driven away the lightless gloom of all sin with the light of repentance.

Venerable Father, Ephraim, pray to God for us.

Surrounded by the streams of divine dogmas, thou didst flow forth like another river from Eden, watering the face of the earth, O wondrous one, inundating the tares of ungodliness.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

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

Another 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, Isaac, pray to God for us.

Thou didst live an angelic life, O most blessed Isaac, and through stillness and the mortification of the passions didst bring forth the first-fruits of the life to come. And now thou dost cry aloud with the angels in the highest: Ye, children, bless! Ye priests, hymn! Ye people, supremely exalt Christ forever!

Venerable Father, Isaac, pray to God for us.

Offering up most earnest prayers and supplications, thou didst unite thyself unto God through purity of mind, and wast shown to be blessed and full of divine grace while yet amid the threefold waves of the flesh. And now in the highest, freed from material things, thou dost manifestly enjoy things ineffable.

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

Having been sacredly arrayed in the vesture of a bishop, O God-bearer, by thy venerable labours and virtuous struggles thou rendered it yet more splendid. And now, O Isaac, with the holy hierarchs and the choirs of the venerable thou dost offer up the mystical sacrifice of immaterial praise unto the Lord.

Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Preserving the seal of thy virginity intact after birthgiving, thou gavest suck to the Lord to Whom thou hadst given birth, bearing him as a babe, O Virgin Sovereign Lady, Mary Theotokos. Him do thou beseech, that He grant the cleansing of offenses unto those who hymn thine ineffable glory.

Ode 9, 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.

Venerable Father, Ephraim, pray to God for us.

Wounded by the love of the Almighty O venerable one, thou didst reach the end of thy life, lamenting and crying out with fear: “Assuage my passing with the waves of thy grace, O Saviour, richly preserving me therewith in the life to come!”

Venerable Father, Ephraim, pray to God for us.

Thy sweet discourse was replete with compunction and full of enlightenment for those who have recourse to thee, O right wondrous God-bearer Ephraim; and thy life was blameless, adorned and illumined with all manner of divinely radiant virtues.

Venerable Father, Ephraim, pray to God for us.

Thou wast a temple of the Spirit, a river full of life-giving waters, the unshakable foundation of the Church, the confirmation of monastics, and an ever-flowing stream of divine compunction, O right wondrous Ephraim.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

The mind of man cannot understand the mystery of thy birthgiving which passeth understanding, O Virgin; for, making His abode within thy womb, God did not violate the seal of thy virginity, as He, Who is unapproachable alone knoweth.

Another Irmos: Heaven was stricken with awe, * and the ends of the earth were filled with amazement, * for God hath appeared in the flesh, * and thy womb was rendered more spacious than the heavens. * Wherefore, the ranks of men and of angels * magnify thee as the Theotokos.

Venerable Father, Isaac, pray to God for us.

Let Isaac, great among the venerable ascetics, the scion of Syria, the God-bearing initiate of the life which is in Christ, the most excellent recorder of the mysteries and the enlightener of monastics, be worthily hymned as one who entreateth God, for he prayeth that great mercy be granted unto us.

Venerable Father, Isaac, pray to God for us.

Thou didst engage in the pious struggle of holy ascesis, O venerable one, and thereby piously learn the mysteries of all the wisdom of asceticism, that wisely teaching us to avoid the sophistries of the enemy, we may live virtuously, O Godbearer.

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

Thou hast passed over to the true glory, whose revelation thou didst acquire beforehand; and face to face thou dost gaze upon the effulgence of Christ which is beyond comprehension, O Isaac, adornment of the venerable. Cease not to pray for us who praise thee with love.

Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O unwedded Virgin Mother who ineffably gave birth to God in the flesh, deliver me from diseases of the flesh, redeem my greatly sinful soul from grievous insensitivity, and illumine my mind with the light of repentance, that I may hymn thee, O greatly hymned one.

Troparion of St Ephraim, in Tone VIII: With the streams of thy tears thou didst irrigate the barren desert, * and with sighs from the depths of thy soul thou didst render thy labours fruitful an hundredfold, * and didst become a beacon for the whole world, resplendent with miracles. ** O Ephraim our father, entreat Christ God, that our souls be saved.

Troparion of St Isaac, in Tone V: Illumined by rays of the virtues, * O God-bearer Isaac, * in spirit thou wast shown to be a most radiant beacon * of the life which is in Christ; * and by thy divinely inspired teachings, O father, * thou dost guide safely to the way of salvation * those who bless thee ** as a godly servant of Christ.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: The Orthodox Church in America

Canon of the holy hierarch, in Tone VIII.

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

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

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

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

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

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Repeat…

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

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

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

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

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

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

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

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

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

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

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

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

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

Holy Hieromartyr, Philip, pray to God for us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

ST EPHREM THE SYRIAN: HYMN 6 ON THE EPIPHANY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: The Orthodox Church in America

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

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

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

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

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

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

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

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

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

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

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

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

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

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

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

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

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

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

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

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

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

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

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

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

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

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

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

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

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

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

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

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

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

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

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

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

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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