The Advent Journey With the Saints: St Gregory the Wonderworker

17/30 NOVEMBER

Saint Gregory the Wonderworker, Bishop of Neocaesarea, was born in the city of Neocaesarea (northern Asia Minor) into a prominent pagan family (between 210 – 215), and his original name was Theodore.

After his elementary education, Saint Gregory and his brother Gregory, or Athēnódoros1 (according to some hagiological sources) they went to Beirut to study law. The great thinkers of antiquity were not able to quench his thirst for knowledge, however. Truth was revealed to him only in the Holy Gospel, and the young man became a Christian.

In order to continue his studies, Saint Gregory went to Alexandria, known at that time as a center for pagan and Christian learning. Eager to acquire knowledge, Gregory went to the Alexandrian Catechetical School, where the presbyter Origen taught. Origen was a famous teacher, possessing a great strength of mind and profound knowledge. Saint Gregory became a pupil of Origen. Afterward, the Saint wrote of his mentor: “This man received from God a sublime gift, to be an interpreter of the Word of God for people, to apprehend the Word of God, as God Himself did use it, and to explain it to people, insofar as they could understand it.” Saint Gregory studied for eight years with Origen, who baptized him.

Saint Gregory’s ascetical life, his continence, purity, and lack of covetousness aroused the envy of his conceited and sin-loving peers, pagans that they were, and they decided to slander Saint Gregory. Once, when he was conversing with philosophers and teachers in the city square, a notorious harlot came up to him and demanded payment for a sin he had supposedly committed with her. At first Saint Gregory gently remonstrated with her, saying that perhaps she had mistaken him for someone else. But the profligate woman would not be silenced. Then he asked a friend to give her the money. Just as the woman took the unjustified payment, she fell to the ground in a demonic fit, and the fraud was revealed. Saint Gregory prayed over her, and the demon was expelled. This was the first of his miracles.

After returning to Neocaesarea, the Saint fled from worldly affairs, into which influential townsmen persistently sought to push him. He went into the desert, where by fasting and prayer he attained great spiritual heights, as well as the gifts of clairvoyance and prophecy. Saint Gregory loved his life in the wilderness and wanted to remain in solitude until the end of his days, but the Lord willed otherwise.

Learning of Saint Gregory’s ascetical life, Bishop Phaίdēmos of the Cappadocian city of Amaseia, decided to make him Bishop of Neocaesarea. But foreseeing in spirit the intention of Bishop Phaίdēmos, the Saint hid himself from the hierarch’s messengers who were sent to find him. Then Bishop Phaίdēmos consecrated Saint in absentia as Bishop of Neocaesarea, entreating the Lord to bless the unusual ordination. Saint Gregory regarded the extraordinary event as a manifestation of God’s will, and he did not dare to protest. This episode in the life of Saint Gregory was recorded by Saint Gregory of Nyssa (January 10). He relates that Saint Gregory of Neocaesarea received the episcopal rank only after Bishop Phaίdēmos had ordained him to all the canonical ranks.

During this time, the heresy of Sabellius and Paul of Samosata began to spread. They taught falsely concerning the Holy Trinity. Saint Gregory prayed fervently and diligently imploring God and His most pure Mother to reveal the truth to him. The Most Holy Theotokos appeared to him, as radiant as the sun, and with her was the Apostle John the Theologian dressed in hierarchal vestments.

By the command of the Mother of God, the Apostle John taught the Saint the correct way to speak of the Mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. Saint Gregory wrote down all that Saint John revealed to him. The Symbol of the Faith, as written down by Saint Gregory, is a great divine revelation in the history of the Church. The teaching concerning the Holy Trinity in Orthodox Theology is based on it. Subsequently, it was accepted by the Holy Fathers of the Church: Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and Gregory of Nyssa. Saint Gregory’s Symbol (Creed) was later examined and affirmed in the year 325 by the First Ecumenical Council, showing its enduring significance for Orthodoxy. Even those who disagreed with Saint Gregory regarded him as a second Moses.2

After becoming a hierarch, Saint Gregory journeyed to Neocaesarea. Along his way from Amaseia, he cast out the demons from a pagan temple, the priest of which he converted to Christ. That convert was a witness to yet another of the Saint’s miracles: at his word a large stone moved from its place.

The Saint’s sermons were direct, lively and fruitful. He taught and worked miracles in the name of Christ: he healed the sick, helped the needy, and settled disputes and complaints. Two brothers who shared an inheritance were unable to agree about their dead father’s property. A large lake was the cause of their dispute, for each brother wanted the lake for himself. Both of them gathered their friends together, and were ready to come to blows. Saint Gregory persuaded them to delay their fight until the following day, while he prayed all night long on the shore of the lake which had sparked the quarrel. When dawn came, everyone saw that the lake had dried up or gone underground. Now, by the Saint’s intense prayer, there was only a stream, and its course defined the boundary line. Another time, during the construction of a church, he commanded a hill to move and make room for the foundation to be dug.

When the persecution of Christians began under Emperor Decius (249-251), Saint Gregory led his flock to a faraway mountain. A certain pagan, who knew where the Christians were hiding, informed the persecutors, and soldiers surrounded the mountain. The Saint went out into an open place, raised his hands to heaven, and ordered his deacon to do the same. The soldiers searched the entire mountain, and several times they went right past those who were praying. Unable to see them, they gave up and went away. In the city they reported that there was nowhere to hide on the mountain. There were no people, just two trees standing next to each other. The informer was struck with amazement, he repented of his ways and became a devout Christian.

Saint Gregory returned to Neocaesarea after the end of the persecution. With his blessing, Church Feasts were established in honor of the martyrs who had suffered for Christ.

By the holiness of his life, his effective preaching, his miracles, and inspired guidance of his flock, the Saint increased the number of converts to Christ. When Saint Gregory first came to his See, there were only seventeen Christians in Neocaesarea. At the time of his repose, only seventeen pagans were left in the city.

Source: The Orthodox Church in America

Canon of the saint, the acrostic whereof is:

“I shall weave praise for Gregory the Wonderworker,” the composition of Theophanes, in Tone VIII.

Ode I, 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.

Holy father, Gregory, pray to God for us.

O father Gregory, do thou now splendidly show forth the divine activity of thy wonders in me, delivering me from the abyss of my transgressions and enlightening me with thy radiance, that I may hymn thee as is meet, O blessed one.

Holy father, Gregory, pray to God for us.

As one who is skilful, sensible and wise, thou didst prefer nobility of soul to the passions of the flesh, O blessed one, industriously assembling the dogmas of wisdom whereby the soul that draweth nigh to God is nourished, O Gregory.

Holy father, Gregory, pray to God for us.

When thou hadst acquired chastity as a sister, as a good companion, O Gregory, the wicked serpent, beholding thee, raised up hatred against thee. But thou didst put him to shame, O father, by thy longsuffering, healing the woman who was held fast in the clutches of passion.

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

Residing in a strange land, O venerable one, in thy virtue thou wast manifest to all as honourable, pious and God-loving, having received the gift of working wonders from God, whereby thou hast been known, O divinely eloquent one, shining forth in the world like the sun.

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

Thou wast put forth as a shoot from a royal root, O pure one, and, in a manner surpassing comprehension and thought, thou didst give birth from thy pure blood unto Christ the King, the incarnate Word of God, Who is of two natures, yet a single hypostasis.

Ode III, Irmos: O Christ fortify me on the rock of Thy commandments, * Thou who in the beginning didst establish the heavens with understanding * and didst establish the earth upon the waters, * for there is none holy save Thee, O only Lover of mankind.

Holy father, Gregory, pray to God for us.

Having cleansed thy mind of the turbulence of the passions, and being full of the love of wisdom and vision, thou wast shown to be magnificent, an abode of wisdom, enriched with the gift of prophecy, O Gregory.

Holy father, Gregory, pray to God for us.

Being conversant in the divinely inspired Scriptures, O all-blessed one, and having clearly chosen a different way of life, thou didst establish within thyself the single image of virtue, O divinely wise Gregory.

Holy father, Gregory, pray to God for us.

O divinely revealed one, having obtained the mystery of theology through divine initiation, enlighten us, that we may honour the consubstantial Trinity, one in essence, uncreated and equally everlasting.

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

Instructed by God, in that thou didst seek Him with love, thou didst have the pure Theotokos Mary and the son of thunder as instructors in the mysteries, guiding thee to the light of the Trinity, O divinely eloquent one.

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

O pure Maiden, we all know thee to be the staff which budded forth Christ, the Flower of incorruption, and the golden censer who held in thine arms the Burning Coal of the divine Essence, O divinely blessed one.

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

Sessional Hymn, in Tone III, Spec. Mel. “Of the divine faith …”: Thou wast a new Moses in thy works, receiving the tablets of faith on the mountain of mystical divine revelation, setting down as law for the people the piety of the mystery of the Trinity, O Gregory. Wherefore, all we, the faithful, honor thy memory, asking for great mercy through thee.  

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

Theotokion, in Tone III: Thou wast the divine tabernacle of the Word, * O only most pure Virgin Mother * who surpassed the angels in purity. * By the divine waters of thy supplications * cleanse me who, more than all others, * have become dust, defiled by carnal transgressions; ** and grant me great mercy, O pure one.

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

Holy father, Gregory, pray to God for us.

Having ploughed the good earth, O divinely wise father, and sown the seed of the Word, thou dost ever now evangelically increase thy yield an hundredfold, O Gregory, by thy teachings bringing to God those who chant: Glory to Thy power, O Lover of mankind!

Holy father, Gregory, pray to God for us.

Thy life, shining forth like lightning, O father, hath dispelled the falsehood of the demons; for their darkness could not withstand the light of thy virtues. Wherefore, the minister of spiritually pernicious deception, moved like the stone he beheld, was enlightened.

Holy father, Gregory, pray to God for us.

Thou wast deemed worthy to behold the darkness of the most divine Light, O father, and, having received the divinely written law like Moses, thou didst obtain precision in theology. Hence, thou hast been shown to be a law-giver of the Church of Christ, O divinely wise Gregory.

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

Having turned away from the foolish talk of the rhetors and being enlightened by the word of grace, O father, thou didst truly receive the apostles’ power over the demons, for the prince of darkness fled before thy brilliant splendour.

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

From of old the ark prefigured thee, O all-immaculate one, who received within thy womb the divinely written Law, ineffably conceiving the life-creating Word, Who doth richly nourish the souls of those who cry aloud: Glory to Thy power, O Lover of mankind!

Ode V, Irmos: O Light never-waning, * why hast Thou turned Thy face from me * and why hath the alien darkness surrounded me, * wretched though I be? * But do Thou guide my steps I implore Thee * and turn me back towards the light of Thy commandments.

Holy father, Gregory, pray to God for us.

Having loosened hardened hearts with the husbandry of thy words, thou didst cast upon them the divine seed, O hierarch, bringing forth an abundant harvest, the salvation of the faithful, unto the Redeemer, O divinely eloquent one.

Holy father, Gregory, pray to God for us.

Phaedimus, the servant of God, aflame with zeal, piously trusting in God, Who knoweth all things, and in thine honourable life, O divinely eloquent father Gregory, ordained thee even though thou hadst not come to him.

Holy father, Gregory, pray to God for us.

With the streams of thy precepts thou didst quench idolatrous immolations, and established the faithful through thy teachings, O all-wise one, having, like Samuel, ascended the mountain through visions, and being also like an oak in thy steadfastness.

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

O divinely wise and holy hierarch, by thy prayers deliver me from evil and grievous circumstances, and rend asunder the handwriting of my transgressions, O father, for thou art a priest who hast received from God the power to loose transgressions.

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

O Virgin, thou wast adorned with the most-pure beauties of thy virginity, covering the misshapen shame of the first Eve, having given birth to Christ, Who bestoweth upon those who honour thee the garment of immortality.

Ode VI, Irmos: Cleanse me, O Saviour, * for many are mine iniquities; * lead me up from the abyss of evils I pray Thee, * for unto Thee have I cried, * and Thou hast hearkened unto me, * O God of my salvation.

Holy father, Gregory, pray to God for us.

The lake which was the cause of contention between two brethren didst thou dry up in a miraculous fashion; and thou didst cause the rushing of the river to cease, O all-wise one, and when thou didst plant thy staff, it took root and grew at thy divine command, O Gregory.

Holy father, Gregory, pray to God for us.

Godly zeal consumed thee, O thou who art most noetically rich in grace, for unable to endure the sight of an insult to God, O divinely eloquent one, thou didst destroy the vain-minded one by thy prayers.

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

The wretched and impious Jew, who wished to destroy thee, himself died, showing thee forth as a fulfiller of the dogmas of God, Who doth glorify thee, O divinely wise Gregory.

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

The Spirit, Who worketh all things, came down upon thee, O all-immaculate one, and the Word of God made His abode within thee, ineffably becoming flesh, yet remaining unchanged.

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, in Tone II: Spec. Mel.“Seeking the highest …”: Receiving the power to work many miracles, * thou didst terrify the demons with awesome signs, * and dispelled the diseases of men, O all-wise Gregory. * And thou wast called the wonderworker, ** receiving this title from thy works.

Ikos: Where shall I, wretched as I am, begin to weave praises, beholding so many and most wondrous things? If I begin with the life of the venerable one, I will not in any way be able to proceed; for his divine life surpasseth comprehension. And if I begin with his miracles, I shall be ashamed to try to proceed any further, for they are more numerous than the sands of the sea. For this cause he is called the wonderworker, receiving this title because of his works.

Ode VII, 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!

Holy father, Gregory, pray to God for us.

The boast of the fathers and the pride of the holy instructors, the luminary of the Church and immovable pillar of piety hast thou been revealed to be, O Gregory, who dost cry aloud: O God of our fathers, Blessed art Thou!

Holy father, Gregory, pray to God for us.

Shining forth in miracles, thou didst enlighten the whole world, O divinely wise Gregory; wherefore, having assembled together, we bless thee, nurtured by thy words and chanting: O God of our fathers, Blessed art Thou!

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

O divinely wise one, thou hast poured forth healing upon all the infirm; for most abundant and wonderworking grace was poured forth through thy mouth, whereby thou didst cry: O God of our fathers, Blessed art Thou!

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

Now all things are filled with divine light through thee, O most pure one; for thou hast been revealed to be the door through which God hath communed with the world, enlightening those who cry with faith: O God of our fathers, Blessed art Thou!

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

Holy father, Gregory, pray to God for us.

Enriched by thee with the radiance of the consubstantial and honoured Trinity and celebrating now thy festival, O Gregory, we ask that we may be illumined with wonderworking grace, crying aloud to the Master: Ye children bless; ye priests hymn; ye people supremely exalt Him throughout all ages!

Holy father, Gregory, pray to God for us.

Receiving the radiance of the sovereign Godhead like a newly revealed mirror, thou hast illumined the world with rays of light, beaming down Orthodoxy upon those who melodiously chant: Ye children bless; ye priests hymn; ye people supremely exalt Him throughout all ages!

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

Protected by God, O all-wise one, thou wast preserved in hiding on the mountain for those who honour God, as a source of piety, like another Moses the law-giver; and thou didst teach them to hymn the Creator and Redeemer, singing: Ye children bless; ye priests hymn; ye people supremely exalt Him throughout all ages!

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

Thou wast the abode of the unwaning Light, O most pure one, shining with the beauties of virginity and illumining all who from the depths of their souls confess thee to be the true Theotokos and who chant: Ye children bless; ye priests hymn; ye people supremely exalt Him throughout all ages!

Ode IX, 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.

Holy father, Gregory, pray to God for us.

Shining with the light of thy most exemplary life, thou dost now stand before the great Light, crowned as a victor with divinely wrought miracles, O divinely wise wonderworker, venerable hierarch, father Gregory, thou beacon of the Church and adornment of the Orthodox.

Holy father, Gregory, pray to God for us.

In thy supplications do thou now ask that the royal elect and sanctified priesthood be guided aright, O wonderworker, and that those who now faithfully celebrate thy memory receive the Kingdom of heaven and be deemed worthy of divine gladness.

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

Having put down the attacks of the demons and subjected the reasoning of thy flesh, O wonderworker, as a venerable and guileless hierarch, arrayed in the garment of righteousness, thou dost stand before the throne of the King of all with boldness, O all-blessed one.

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

O Virgin Mother of God, thou art revealed as she who, in a manner transcending nature, gaveth birth in the flesh to the good Word, Whom the Father poured forth from His heart before all ages, in that He is good. Him do we now know as more exalted than all beings, even though He hath been clothed in a body.

Troparion, in Tone VIII: By vigilance in prayer and continuance in the working of miracles, * thou didst acquire the name of thy worthy deeds. * Yet pray thou to Christ God, O father Gregory, ** that He enlighten our souls, lest we sleep unto death.

THE APOSTLE AND EVANGELIST MATTHEW

Commemorated on November 16/29

The Holy Apostle and Evangelist Matthew, was also named Levi (Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27); he was one of the Twelve Apostles (Mark 3:18; Luke 6:45; Acts 1:13), and was brother of the Apostle James Alphaeus (Mark 2:14). He was a publican, or tax-collector for Rome, in a time when the Jews were under the rule of the Roman Empire. He lived in the Galilean city of Capernaum. When Matthew heard the voice of Jesus Christ: “Come, follow Me” (Mt. 9:9), left everything and followed the Savior. Christ and His disciples did not refuse Matthew’s invitation and they visited his house, where they shared table with the publican’s friends and acquaintances. Like the host, they were also publicans and known sinners. This event disturbed the pharisees and scribes a great deal.
Publicans who collected taxes from their countrymen did this with great profit for themselves. Usually greedy and cruel people, the Jews considered them pernicious betrayers of their country and religion. The word “publican” for the Jews had the connotation of “public sinner” and “idol-worshipper.” To even speak with a tax-collector was considered a sin, and to associate with one was defilement. But the Jewish teachers were not able to comprehend that the Lord had “come to call not the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Mt. 9:13).

Matthew, acknowledging his sinfulness, repaid fourfold anyone he had cheated, and he distributed his remaining possessions to the poor, and he followed after Christ with the other apostles. St Matthew was attentive to the instructions of the Divine Teacher, he beheld His innumerable miracles, he went together with the Twelve Apostles preaching to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Mt. 10:6). He was a witness to the suffering, death, and Resurrection of the Savior, and of His glorious Ascension into Heaven.

Having received the grace of the Holy Spirit, which descended upon the Apostles on the day of Pentecost, St Matthew preached in Palestine for several years. At the request of the Jewish converts at Jerusalem, the holy Apostle Matthew wrote his Gospel describing the earthly life of the Savior, before leaving to preach the Gospel in faraway lands.

In the order of the books of the New Testament, the Gospel of Matthew comes first. Palestine is said to be the place where the Gospel was written. St Matthew wrote in Aramaic, and then it was translated into Greek. The Aramaic text has not survived, but many of the linguistic and cultural-historical peculiarities of the Greek translation give indications of it.

The Apostle Matthew preached among people who were awaiting the Messiah. His Gospel manifests itself as a vivid proof that Jesus Christ is the Messiah foretold by the prophets, and that there would not be another (Mt. 11:3).

The preaching and deeds of the Savior are presented by the evangelist in three divisions, constituting three aspects of the service of the Messiah: as Prophet and Law-Giver (Ch. 5-7), Lord over the world both visible and invisible (Ch. 8-25), and finally as High Priest offered as Sacrifice for the sins of all mankind (Ch. 26-27).

The theological content of the Gospel, besides the Christological themes, includes also the teaching about the Kingdom of God and about the Church, which the Lord sets forth in parables about the inner preparation for entering into the Kingdom (Ch. 5-7), about the worthiness of servers of the Church in the world (Ch. 10-11), about the signs of the Kingdom and its growth in the souls of mankind (Ch. 13), about the humility and simplicity of the inheritors of the Kingdom (Mt. 18:1-35; 19 13-30; 20:1-16; 25-27; 23:1-28), and about the eschatological revelations of the Kingdom in the Second Coming of Christ within the daily spiritual life of the Church (Ch. 24-25).

The Kingdom of Heaven and the Church are closely interconnected in the spiritual experience of Christianity: the Church is the historical embodiment of the Kingdom of Heaven in the world, and the Kingdom of Heaven is the Church of Christ in its eschatological perfection (Mt. 16:18-19; 28:18-20).

The holy Apostle brought the Gospel of Christ to Syria, Media, Persia, Parthia, and finishing his preaching in Ethiopia with a martyr’s death. This land was inhabited by tribes of cannibals with primitive customs and beliefs. The holy Apostle Matthew converted some of the idol-worshippers to faith in Christ. He founded the Church and built a temple in the city of Mirmena, establishing there his companion Platon as bishop.

When the holy apostle was fervently entreating God for the conversion of the Ethiopians the Lord Himself appeared to him in the form of a youth. He gave him a staff, and commanded him to plant it at the doors of the church. The Lord said that a tree would grow from this staff and it would bear fruit, and from its roots would flow a stream of water. When the Ethiopians washed themselves in the water and ate the fruit, they lost their wild ways and became gentle and good.

When the holy apostle carried the staff towards the church, he was met by the wife and son of the ruler of the land, Fulvian, who were afflicted by unclean spirits. In the Name of Christ the holy apostle healed them. This miracle converted a number of the pagans to the Lord. But the ruler did not want his subjects to become Christians and cease worshiping the pagan gods. He accused the apostle of sorcery and gave orders to execute him.

They put St Matthew head downwards, piled up brushwood and ignited it. When the fire flared up, everyone then saw that the fire did not harm St Matthew. Then Fulvian gave orders to add more wood to the fire, and frenzied with boldness, he commanded to set up twelve idols around the fire. But the flames melted the idols and flared up toward Fulvian. The frightened Ethiopian turned to the saint with an entreaty for mercy, and by the prayer of the martyr the flame went out. The body of the holy apostle remained unharmed, and he departed to the Lord.

The ruler Fulvian deeply repented of his deed, but still he had doubts. By his command, they put the body of St Matthew into an iron coffin and threw it into the sea. In doing this Fulvian said that if the God of Matthew would preserve the body of the apostle in the water as He preserved him in the fire, then this would be proper reason to worship this One True God.

That night the Apostle Matthew appeared to Bishop Platon in a dream, and commanded him to go with clergy to the shore of the sea and to find his body there. The righteous Fulvian and his retinue went with the bishop to the shore of the sea. The coffin carried by the waves was taken to the church built by the apostle. Then Fulvian begged forgiveness of the holy Apostle Matthew, after which Bishop Platon baptized him, giving him the name Matthew in obedience to a command of God.

Soon St Fulvian-Matthew abdicated his rule and became a presbyter. Upon the death of Bishop Platon, the Apostle Matthew appeared to him and exhorted him to head the Ethiopian Church. Having become a bishop, St Fulvian-Matthew toiled at preaching the Word of God, continuing the work of his heavenly patron.

The Orthodox Church in America

11/28/2016

The Advent Journey With the Saints: St Matthew

Monday 16/29 November: St Matthew

Dear brothers and sisters,

As we come to the first weekday of the Nativity Fast, I encourage as many of you as are able to make the journey of this Winter Lent with the companionship of the saints whose memories sanctify the days leading us to the Nativity of the Saviour, praying their canon in your daily prayers.

On this second day of the Fast, we celebrate the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Matthew, whose genealogy of Christ will tell us when we are drawing near to Bethlehem, and it will be his Nativity Gospel that will proclaim the good-tidings of the Incarnation in the services of Christmas night, when hear the words that the faithful have heard for two thousand years, as the magi lead us to the Infant Saviour to worship Him with them:

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

May the Holy, glorious, all-praised Apostle and Evangelist, Matthew, pray to God for us, and lead us to the new-born King.

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

Канон святому апостолу и евангелисту Матфею: https://azbyka.ru/days/caa/272

Canon of the Apostle, the composition of Theophanes, in Tone IV.

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

Holy, glorious, all-praised Apostle and Evangelist, Matthew, pray to God for us.

O all-glorious Matthew, servant of Christ, richly bestow upon me the grace witch abideth within thee, that I may cry aloud, splendidly proclaiming, and, rejoicing hymn thy wonders.

Holy, glorious, all-praised Apostle and Evangelist, Matthew, pray to God for us.

Thou didst utterly abandon the tumult of earthly things; for, having hearkened to the voice of the incarnate Word, thou wast revealed to be a steward and God-pleasing herald of His grace.

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

 As an eye-witness and servant of the radiant Word of the pre-eternal Father, O apostle, thou didst go forth, proclaiming the glad tidings of His coming unto all the nations.

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

Thou didst announce the glad tidings of the destruction of death, the abolishment of corruption and the manifestation of life, O wise one; for, having conceived the Unapproachable One in her womb, the Virgin hath restored the world.

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

Holy, glorious, all-praised Apostle and Evangelist, Matthew, pray to God for us.

O Word of God, thou hast shown forth Thine apostles as beacons of life which drive away the gloom of ungodliness, illumining the whole world with Thy divine glory, O Master.

Holy, glorious, all-praised Apostle and Evangelist, Matthew, pray to God for us.

Having armed the most valiant Matthew with Thine armour, O Saviour, thou hast made him mightier than the tormenters and revealed him to be the destroyer of the deception of idolatry, O Master and Lover of mankind.

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

The sound of thy fiery tongue consumed the temples of the demons, O divinely inspired Matthew, thou instrument of the Comforter, through whom Christ, the hypostatic Life of all, hath been proclaimed.

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

The trumpet of theology which soundeth forth mightily hath illumined the divinely wise Matthew to proclaim to the peoples, the Effulgence of the Trinity and the incarnation of the Word from thee, O most pure one, in a manner transcending understanding.

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

Sessional Hymn, in Tone VIII, Spec. Mel.: “Of the Wisdom …”: Truly the sound of thy wise words hath gone forth to all the ends of the earth, O all-praised apostle of the Lord, for thou, manifestly preaching to all the vision of God, didst draw the nations from ignorance unto understanding. Wherefore, having dispelled the darkness of idolatry, thou hast shone forth the light of knowledge upon those who sit in darkness, O all-praised Matthew. Entreat Christ God, that He grant remission of sins unto those who honour thy holy memory with love.

Glory …, in Tone VIII & same melody: O apostle of the Lord, we all praise thee as the lamp and disciple of the Light, an eyewitness of the divine Word; for, spreading thy nets of grace, by thy command thou didst ensnare reason-endowed souls like fish. Wherefore having entrapped the nations through the power of the Spirit, they are now manifestly guided by faith, O all-praised initiate of the mysteries of heaven. Entreat Christ God, that He grant remission of sins unto those who honour thy holy memory with love.

Now & ever …, Theotokion in Tone VIII: In that thou art the most immaculate Bride of the Creator, the Mother of the Redeemer who knewest not wedlock, the receptacle of the Comforter, O all-hymned one, haste thou to deliver me, who am the vile abode of iniquity and in mind am the plaything of the demons, from their wickedness, and make of me a radiant dwelling place of the virtues, O luminous and incorrupt one. Drive from me the cloud of the passions and grant that I may partake of the never-waning light of the Most High, through thy supplications.

Ode IV, Irmos: Perceiving the profound counsel of God, * that the incarnation of Thee the Most High, * will be from a Virgin, * the Prophet Habbakuk cried aloud: * Glory to Thy power, O Lord!

Holy, glorious, all-praised Apostle and Evangelist, Matthew, pray to God for us.

Taught by Thy hypostatic Word, O God, the God-seeing disciple destroyed worldly wisdom, crying aloud unto Thee: Glory to Thy power, O Lord!

Holy, glorious, all-praised Apostle and Evangelist, Matthew, pray to God for us.

What manner of praise can we offer unto thee who wast blessed by Christ, O divinely eloquent one? For no man is able to describe in words, the grace which hath blossomed forth in thee, O right wondrous one.

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

Looking upon thine undefiled and pure mind as a lamp placed on a lofty stand, shining upon those in darkness, O divinely manifest one, the Most High hath set thee before all.

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

O blessed and all-praised Maiden, thou hast elevated slain human nature, in that, in a manner surpassing nature, thou hast given birth to the might of the Most High, as Matthew hath taught.

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

Holy, glorious, all-praised Apostle and Evangelist, Matthew, pray to God for us.

Receiving the grace of the all-holy Spirit, thou wast shown to be a divine habitation, having taught the light of divine knowledge in a godly manner, wherefore thou wast entrusted with the task of committing to writing the dogmas of Christ, as a chosen eye-witness of God.

Holy, glorious, all-praised Apostle and Evangelist, Matthew, pray to God for us.

Thy tongue was the pen of the Paraclete, Who grants speedy deliverance unto those who acknowledge His dominion and breathes heavenly understanding into the souls of the wise, O most honoured Matthew.

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

Christ sent thee unto the world shining with miracles and the grace of healing, trampling upon the might of the demons and enlightening the souls of all the faithful who hymn thee, the preacher of the world.

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

O Virgin, thou hast given birth to the pre-eternal son Who clothed Himself in human nature and saved it from corruption in His absolute goodness, as the divinely eloquent one said in his teaching; thou didst remain a Virgin.

Ode VI, Irmos: I have reached the depths of the sea * and the tempest of my many sins hath engulfed me; * but do Thou raise up my life from the abyss * O Greatly Merciful One.

Holy, glorious, all-praised Apostle and Evangelist, Matthew, pray to God for us.

By Thine omnipotent might, O Maker of all, the divinely eloquent and most excellent Matthew was transformed from a publican into an evangelist, in that he followed Thee.

Holy, glorious, all-praised Apostle and Evangelist, Matthew, pray to God for us.

By the spiritually nourishing words of thy glad tidings, O all-blessed Matthew, a multitude of the gentiles have been lifted up and directed to the lofty summit of the virtues.

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

With the divinely woven nets of the disciple Matthew the assemblies of the faithful are ever drawn up, guided to the knowledge of Thee, O our Benefactor.

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

O all-immaculate one, the most excellent Matthew announceth glad tidings, describing thee as the Virgin who gaveth birth without seed and corruption unto Him Who fashioned all things.

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, in Tone IV, Spec. Mel.: “Having been lifted up …”: Casting off the yoke of the office of a publican, * thou didst shoulder the yoke of righteousness * and wast shown to be a most excellent merchant, * bringing in the wisdom from on high as riches. * Wherefore, thou didst preach the Word of truth * uplifting the souls of the despondent, ** describing the hour of judgment.

Ikos: The tyranny of the enemy oppresseth me constantly and seizeth all the seed of my soul, O Matthew, friend of Christ; yet, providing me with the seed of thy prayers, render me fruitful to serve thee, and show me to be the least of those who hymn thee and a recounter of thy many and great corrections, for without hesitation, forsaking all things for the love of Christ, thou didst ardently follow after Him Who called thee, being the first evangelist in the world, describing the hour of judgment.

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

Holy, glorious, all-praised Apostle and Evangelist, Matthew, pray to God for us.

Thou wast a divine image of the primal effulgence, as a disciple set afire by His splendours; and, chanting to Him, thou didst say: Blessed and supremely praised art Thou, O Lord God of our Fathers!

Holy, glorious, all-praised Apostle and Evangelist, Matthew, pray to God for us.

As servant of the Word, O all-blessed one, thou hast made thine abode in the divine mansions where Christ abideth, as the one supremely divine Lord and God of all the fathers promised thee.

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

Infirmities are banished and a multitude of demons are forced to flee by the gifts of the divine Spirit which are in thee, wherein thou didst chant: Blessed and supremely praised art Thou, O Lord God of our Fathers!

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

With thy divine words, O apostle, thou didst describe the all-hymned Virgin who hath given birth to the Creator. To Him do we all chant: Blessed and supremely praised art Thou, O Lord God of our Fathers!

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

Holy, glorious, all-praised Apostle and Evangelist, Matthew, pray to God for us.

Deified by the mighty forces within Thee and by Thine ordination and nature, O Master, the most sacred Matthew prevailed upon the whole world to chant to Thee: Hymn the Lord, O ye works, and supremely exalt Him throughout all ages!

Holy, glorious, all-praised Apostle and Evangelist, Matthew, pray to God for us.

The Word sent the theologian forth like lightning to the whole world, driving away the darkness and enlightening the nations with the dogmas of theology. Wherefore, he chanted: Hymn the Lord, O ye works, and supremely exalt Him throughout all ages!

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

With pure discourse and mind God conversed with thee; for having rid thyself of mire, thou didst draw nigh and associate with Him, O glorious one. Wherefore, thou dost chant: Hymn the Lord, O ye works, and supremely exalt Him throughout all ages!

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

The Word willed to become incarnate for the good of mankind; for the Lord passed through the portal of virginity and showed her forth as the Theotokos. Wherefore, we cry aloud: Hymn the Lord, O ye works, and supremely exalt Him throughout all ages!

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

Holy, glorious, all-praised Apostle and Evangelist, Matthew, pray to God for us.

Thou didst receive the divine diadem of noetic beauty, O apostle, and wast adorned with the most magnificent crown of the kingdom by the right hand of the Almighty, O wise one. And thou dost shine, standing with the angels before the throne of Christ the Master, O all-blessed one.

Holy, glorious, all-praised Apostle and Evangelist, Matthew, pray to God for us.

Thou didst receive the tree of life as is meet, O preacher of the living God, having spread the glad tidings of life, the visitation of God to the world; for thou didst not permit thy mind to become corrupt through the tree of knowledge, remaining an unshaken and immovable foundation of the Church, O all-blessed one.

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

In a godly manner thou didst adorn the Church, the Bride of Christ, with thy Gospel as with a diadem, O divinely blessed one, and now it splendidly celebrateth thy divine memory, pray thou, O Apostle Matthew, that it be delivered from every evil circumstance and cruel misfortune.

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

Without leaving the bosom of the unoriginate Father, the unoriginate Word became incarnate from thee, O pure and all-praised one, wholly clothing Himself in human nature and accepting its traits, as Matthew writeth, proclaiming the glad tidings.

Troparion, in Tone III: O holy Apostle and evangelist Matthew, * entreat the Merciful God * that He grant remission of sins ** unto our souls. 

Another troparion, in the same tone: Zealously following Christ the Master, * Who in His goodness appeared to mankind on the earth, and called thee from thy tax-booth, * thou wast shown to be a chosen apostle * and a trumpet-voiced proclaimer of the Gospel to the whole world. * Wherefore, we honor thy precious memory, O divinely eloquent Matthew. * Entreat the merciful God, ** that He granteth remission of sins unto our souls.

The Feast of St John Chrysostom: November 13/26

As we celebrate the feast of the great Church Father, St John Chrysostom, we greet our brother Kevin-John on his name day, and thank him for his labours, serving as a reader for our community, and always being there to offer help and assistance whenever anything is needed. He is always a great support for the clergy, and no request is ever too much. May God bless him, and grant him ‘Many Years!’

The Canon of the Hierarch, the Acrostic Whereof Is:
“I Hymn Thee, The Golden Mouth of The Spirit,”
by Theophanes, in Tone VIII

Ode I, 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.

Holy Father, John Chrysostom, pray to God for us.

As a most fervent preacher of repentance, O father Chrysostom, pray to God that I may be able to repent with all my heart, and beg thou that, through thy suffering, the wounds of mine ancient transgressions may be healed.

Holy Father, John Chrysostom, pray to God for us.

Receiving all the effulgence of the Holy Spirit, O venerable father, thou wast revealed to be a most radiant pillar going before the Church and guiding it, and a luminous cloud overshadowing the councils of the Orthodox, O all-blessed one.

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

A teacher ordained by Christ, with golden tongue and a divinely wise mind thou didst abundantly pour forth divine doctrines; for thou wast revealed to be a river of God full of the waters of the Spirit, O divinely revealed Chrysostom.

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

All-adorned with divers forms of grace, O divinely joyous and blessed one, thou hast given birth to the Word of the Father Who, in His great compassion, and in a manner past understanding and all telling, assumed flesh; and thou didst remain an undefiled Virgin.

Ode III, Irmos: O Christ fortify me on the rock of Thy commandments, * Thou who in the beginning didst establish the heavens with understanding * and didst establish the earth upon the waters, * for there is none holy save Thee, O only Lover of mankind.

Holy Father, John Chrysostom, pray to God for us.

Enriched by the mind of Christ, by thy pure life thou didst become an aid, the explication and enabling of the salvation of all, O divinely inspired Chrysostom, pouring forth salvific teachings.

Holy Father, John Chrysostom, pray to God for us.

Made rich by the immaterial treasures of the Spirit, thou didst draw forth an ever-flowing stream of doctrines from the wellsprings of salvation, O venerable father, watering all of the Churches therewith.

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

With the most-wise tilling of thy discourses thou didst clear the stony fields of men’s souls, O wise and God-pleasing Chrysostom, rendering them fertile, and watering them with heavenly showers.

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

There was no blemish or defilement within thee, O Virgin, and thou wast revealed to be a habitation transcending the beauties of heaven; for in thee all the holiness of the virtues abided, O all-immaculate one.

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.

Sessional Hymn, in Tone VIII, Spec. Mel. “Of the Wisdom …”: In a godly manner thou didst draw forth a wealth of knowledge of the ineffable wisdom, gathering in the waters of Orthodoxy for all, which divinely gladden the hearts of the faithful and drown, as is meet, the thoughts of infidels. Wherefore, through the sweat of piety, thou didst show thyself to be an invincible champion of the Trinity, O John Chrysostom. Entreat Christ God, that He grant remission of sins unto those who with love celebrate thy holy memory.

Glory …, in Tone VIII & same melody:

Having come to know the wisdom which is from on high and the grace of words from God, thou didst shine forth upon all like gold in the crucible, preaching the Holy Trinity in Unity, and shooting down the delusion of avarice with the arrows of thy words. Wherefore, having zealously reproved the empress, thou didst put to shame the alien thinking of Arius, O John Chrysostom. Entreat Christ God, that He grant remission of sins unto those who with love celebrate thy holy memory.

Now & ever …, Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen. in Tone VIII:

Pondering the flames and burning of Gehenna, and the weeping and lamentation therein, the exceedingly accursed and most bitter separation, as well as the inheritance of the saints and their joyous assembly, O my soul, restrain thyself and give utterance to sighs; strive to erase the record of thy many debts with tears of compunction, having the pure Mother of God as thine unashamed companion. For, it is for her sake that remission of sins hast been granted to those, who in an Orthodox manner, glorify her as the Theotokos.

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

Holy Father, John Chrysostom, pray to God for us.

Christ Who, in that He is good, exerciseth forethought for all in His providence, hath given thee to us, O all-blessed John Chrysostom, as another peer of the apostles, a proclaimer of the heavenly liturgy, and a divine expounder of celestial mysteries.

Holy Father, John Chrysostom, pray to God for us.

Let us honour the golden John Chrysostom of golden eloquence, who hath rendered all things golden through the golden lustre of his teachings, and hath illumined the world with his tongue, which shineth brighter than gold, is full of light and poureth forth divine grace.

Holy Father, John Chrysostom, pray to God for us.

Thou wast wholly the habitation of God; thou wast shown to be wholly the instrument of the Spirit, sounding forth a divinely inspired hymn of every virtue and the cause of salvation, and revealing the beauty of the kingdom of heaven, O all-blessed John Chrysostom.

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

Thou didst proclaim the compassion of God, setting forth examples of repentance, and most excellently instructing us how to avoid evils, O most blessed, most perfect and most honored father Chrysostom, pouring forth excellent teachings on good works.

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

After God, we have acquired thee as our intercessor; for thou wast the Mother of God, the Creator and Fashioner, Who took upon Himself our guise, saving it from corruption and death, and glorifying it with divine glory, O all-immaculate one.

Ode V, Irmos: O Light never-waning, * why hast Thou turned Thy face from me * and why hath the alien darkness surrounded me, * wretched though I be? * But do Thou guide my steps I implore Thee * and turn me back towards the light of Thy commandments.

Holy Father, John Chrysostom, pray to God for us.

We all know thee to be the most radiant beacon of the Church, saving the souls of all, rescuing them from the jaws of death, and guiding them to everlasting life, O ever-hymned father.

Holy Father, John Chrysostom, pray to God for us.

Protected by the armor of piety and with great courage of soul, thou dost rend asunder the hordes of the heretics, O thrice-blessed and most sacred one; and, rejoicing, thou dost most radiantly unite the choirs of the Orthodox in the bond of the Spirit.

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

Thy cheeks, full of divine scents like phials of perfume, gladden the whole world with noetic fragrance through the distilled mystagogy of thine understandings and the beauty of thy words, O all-wise one.

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

Conceiving God, thou hast given birth to the Lord, Creator and Fashioner, O pure one. All mankind blesses thee, and the intelligent ranks of the bodiless ones glorify thee as the Mother of God.

Ode VI, Irmos: Cleanse me, O Saviour, * for many are mine iniquities; * lead me up from the abyss of evils I pray Thee, * for unto Thee have I cried, * and Thou hast hearkened unto me, * O God of my salvation.

Holy Father, John Chrysostom, pray to God for us.

As a rich bestower of discourse, thou hast enriched the whole world with spiritual wisdom; for rich grace poured forth through thy lips from on high, O hierarch.

Holy Father, John Chrysostom, pray to God for us.

Thy sound hath gone forth into all the earth like lightning, O Chrysostom, and the power of thy words hath sounded in all the ends of the world like a blaring trumpet.

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

Clad in a robe of the virtues woven from on high, O all-blessed one, and arrayed in the beauty of thy discourses, thou wast revealed to be the glorious confirmation of the truth.

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

The Lover of mankind, Who beareth all things by His omnipotent power arrayed Himself in the weak flesh He received from thee, O all-immaculate Virgin, for the benefit of mankind.

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, in Tone VI, Spec. Mel. “He Who fulfilled His providence concerning us …”: From the heavens hast thou received grace, * and by thy lips thou dost teach all to worship the One God in Trinity, * O John Chrysostom, all blessed righteous one. ** Rightly do we acclaim thee, for thou art a teacher revealing things divine.

Ikos: I bend my knee before the Creator of all, I stretch forth my hands to the pre-eternal Word, seeking the gift of discourse, that I may hymn the saint whom He Himself hath magnified; for through His prophet He Who liveth forever doth say: I glorify those who glorify me with faith. He Who in ancient times raised up Samuel hath now glorified a hierarch; for, having invested well the talant with which he was entrusted, he hath brought it to the King, for which cause the Transcendent One hath exalted him. I beg that the Word impart unto me his grace, unworthy as I am, that I may be able to hymn him with piety. For he is the teacher of the ends of the world, revealing things divine.

Ode VII, 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!

Holy Father, John Chrysostom, pray to God for us.

Probing the depths of the abyss of goodness and compassion, thou didst show thyself to be the surety of salvation for those who fervently repent and cry aloud to the Lord with all their soul: O God of our fathers, Blessed art Thou!

Holy Father, John Chrysostom, pray to God for us.

Thou settest aright every thought by thy teachings, O Chrysostom, and healest spiritual infirmities, as one most compassionate; and thou chantest in gladness to those who run well the race: O God of our fathers, Blessed art Thou!

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

As elect, venerable, guileless, a priest of the Most High, splendidly arrayed in righteousness, O thou who art most noetically rich, thou hast been exalted, crying out with gladness: O God of our fathers, Blessed art Thou!

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

O most pure one, thou didst conceive Him Who is God and Lord over all, Whose good pleasure it was to save the human race from corruption and death. Hymning Him as is meet, we cry: O God of our fathers, Blessed art Thou!

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

Holy Father, John Chrysostom, pray to God for us.

Using thy discourses with knowledge, O Chrysostom, we learn what is precious in theology; we bear as fruit the profit of good things and escape the harm of evil. For thou hast been the common cause of our salvation, crying aloud: Supremely exalt Christ throughout the ages!

Holy Father, John Chrysostom, pray to God for us.

As thou hast most compassionate boldness, with thy merciful and sympathetic love pray to the Master on our behalf, O father Chrysostom; for we, the faithful, set thee before the Saviour as our mediator and intercessor, as one who prayeth fervently for us, O divinely wise and all-blessed hierarch John.

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

Thou didst reprove the youthful opposition, headstrong thought and injustice of the rulers, O venerable one, interceding fervently for the oppressed; and in thy loving conduct thou wast a father for orphans, widows and the poor, crying: Supremely exalt Christ throughout the ages!

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

O Virgin, the divinely eloquent prophets foretold thy supra-natural and wondrous birthgiving by means of bodily forms, divers indistinct images, and significant symbolic phenomena; wherefore, in gladness we piously hymn thee, supremely exalting Christ throughout all ages.

Ode IX, 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.

Holy Father, John Chrysostom, pray to God for us.

Truly delighting in the life for which thou didst struggle as far as thou wast able, O divinely eloquent father, and having excelled on earth by thine angelic life and acquired the tongue of Christ and a mouth of tranquillity, pray thou that those who truly bless thee with faith may be saved.

Holy Father, John Chrysostom, pray to God for us.

Thy words are the words of life, O thrice-blessed one, bringing life everlasting; for Christ hath shown thee to be a flowing wellspring, a river pouring forth torrents of divine teachings, a true stream of sweetness and brook of remission, and a radiant preacher of repentance.

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

Thou hast been shown to be a most splendid mediator between God and mortals, O most radiant one; for thou wast revealed to be a divinely luminous lamp of grace and divine understanding and a teacher of almsgiving. Wherefore, O Chrysostom, with heartfelt love we now magnify thee as is meet.

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

O pure and exceedingly glorious Birthgiver of God, save those who hymn thee with love, mercifully silencing the tumult of temptations; for, having given birth unto God, thou doest all things whatsoever thou dost desire, and dost accomplish unhindered what thou dost will, O Virgin. Wherefore, we all magnify thee.

Troparion of the saint, in Tone VIII: Grace shining forth from thy mouth like a beacon hath illumined the universe, * and disclosed to the world treasures of uncovetousness, * and shown us the heights of humility; * but while instructing by Thy words, O Father John Chrysostom, ** intercede with the Word, Christ our God, to save our souls.

Saints of the Day

Today, we celebrate the feasts of two more of the saints of Egpyt: St John the Merciful, Patriarch of Alexandria, and St Neilos the Faster of Sinai.

Saint John the Merciful, Patriarch of Alexandria, was born on Cyprus in the seventh century into the family of the illustrious dignitary Epiphanius. At the wish of his parents he entered into marriage and had children. When the wife and the children of the saint died, he became a monk. He was zealous in fasting and prayer, and had great love for those around him.

His spiritual exploits won him honor among men, and even the emperor revered him. When the Patriarchal throne of Alexandria fell vacant, the emperor Heraclius and all the clergy begged Saint John to occupy the Patriarchal throne.

The saint worthily assumed his archpastoral service, concerning himself with the moral and dogmatic welfare of his flock. As patriarch he denounced every soul-destroying heresy, and drove out from Alexandria the Monophysite Phyllonos of Antioch.

He considered his chief task to be charitable and to give help all those in need. At the beginning of his patriarchal service he ordered his stewards to compile a list of all the poor and downtrodden in Alexandria, which turned out to be over seven thousand men. The saint ordered that all of these unfortunates be provided for each day out of the church’s treasury.

Twice during the week, on Wednesdays and Fridays, he emerged from the doors of the patriarchal cathedral, and sitting on the church portico, he received everyone in need. He settled quarrels, helped the wronged, and distributed alms. Three times a week he visited the sick-houses, and rendered assistance to the suffering. It was during this period that the emperor Heraclius led a tremendous army against the Persian emperor Chosroes II. The Persians ravaged and burned Jerusalem, taking a multitude of captives. The holy Patriarch John gave a large portion of the church treasury for their ransom.

The saint never refused suppliants. One day, when the saint was visiting the sick, he met a beggar and commanded that he be given six silver coins. The beggar changed his clothes, ran on ahead of the Patriarch, and again asked for alms. Saint John gave him six more silver coins. When, however, the beggar sought charity a third time, and the servants began to chase the fellow away, the Patriarch ordered that he be given twelve pieces of silver, saying, “Perhaps he is Christ putting me to the test.” Twice the saint gave money to a merchant that had suffered shipwreck, and a third time gave him a ship belonging to the Patriarchate and filled with grain, with which the merchant had a successful journey and repaid his obligations.

Saint John the Merciful was known for his gentle attitude towards people. Once, the saint was compelled to excommunicate two clergymen for a certain time because of some offense. One of them repented, but the other fellow became angry with the Patriarch and fell into greater sins. The saint wanted to summon him and calm him with kind words, but it slipped his mind. When he was celebrating the Divine Liturgy, the saint was suddenly reminded by the words of the Gospel: “If you bring your gift to the altar and remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift before the altar … first, be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Mt. 5:23-24). The saint came out of the altar, called the offending clergyman to him, and falling down on his knees before him in front of all the people he asked forgiveness. The cleric, filled with remorse, repented of his sin, corrected himself, and afterwards was found worthy to be ordained to the priesthood.

There was a time when a certain citizen insulted George, the Patriarch’s nephew. George asked the saint to avenge the wrong. The saint promised to deal with the offender so that all of Alexandria would marvel at what he had done. This calmed George, and Saint John began to instruct him, speaking of the necessity for meekness and humility. Then he summoned the man who insulted George. When Saint John learned that the man lived in a house owned by the church, he declared that he would excuse him from paying rent for an entire year. Alexandria indeed was amazed by such a “revenge,” and George learned from his uncle how to forgive offenses and to bear insults for God’s sake.

Saint John, a strict ascetic and man of prayer, was always mindful of his soul, and of death. He ordered a coffin for himself, but told the craftsmen not to finish it. Instead, he would have them come each feastday and ask if it was time to finish the work.

Saint John was persuaded to accompany the governor Nicetas on a visit to the emperor in Constantinople. While on his way to visit the earthly king, he dreamed of a resplendent man who said to him, “The King of Kings summons you.” He sailed to his native island of Cyprus, and at Amanthos the saint peacefully fell asleep in the Lord (616-620).

Saint Neilos the Ascetic of Sinai, a native of Constantinople, lived during the V century and was a disciple of Saint John Chrysostom, who exerted a tremendous influence upon their lives and their spiritual struggles.1 After receiving a fine education, the Saint was appointed to the important post of prefect of the capital while still a young man. During this period, Neilos was married and had children, but the couple found courtly life distasteful.

About the year 390, by mutual consent, they decided to abandon the world and entered monasteries. Neilos’s wife and daughter went to one of the women’s monasteries in Egypt, while he and his son Theódoulos went to Mount Sinai, where they settled in a cave, which they dug out with their own hands. For forty years this cave served as the abode of Saint Neilos. By fasting, vigil, and prayer, he attained a high degree of spiritual perfection. People began coming to him from every occupation and social rank, from the Emperor down to the farmer, and all of them received counsel and comfort from the Saint.

On Sinai, Saint Neilos wrote many soul-profiting works to guide Christians on the path of salvation. In one of his letters there is an angry denunciation of the Emperor Arkadios, who had unjustly exiled Saint John Chrysostom. The ascetical writings of Saint Neilos are widely known: they are perfectly executed in form, profoundly Orthodox in content, and are clear and lucid in expression. His Ascetic Discourse is found in Volume I of the English Philokalia.

Saint Neilos suffered many misfortunes in the wilderness. Once, Saracens captured his son Theódoulos, whom they intended to offer as a sacrifice to their pagan gods. By the Saint’s prayers the Lord rescued Theódoulos, and his father found him with the Bishop of Emessa, who had ransomed the young man from the barbarians. This bishop ordained both of them as presbyters. After ordination they returned to Sinai, where they lived as ascetics together until Saint Neilos reposed. His holy relics were transferred to Constantinople in the reign of Justin II (565-578), and were placed in the church of the Holy Apostles.

The Greek Philokalia has a quote from Saint Neilos beneath his icon: “The state of prayer is a passionless, settled disposition of the soul which, by supreme love, transports the wisdom-loving mind to spiritual heights.” (See the English Philokalia, 153 Sections. Concerning Prayer, # 53).

Source: https://www.oca.org/


1 In earlier editions of the Synaxaristes and the Menaion, it was erroneously stated that Saint Neilos lived during the reign of Emperor Maurikios (582-602). This was corrected in later editions, since he was a disciple of Saint John Chrysostom, and was esteemed by Emperor Arkadios because of his virtues.

The Feast of the Holy Great-Martyr Menas

11/24 November

Dear brothers and sisters,

If we ask people to name the greatest glories and treasures of Egypt, most (even Orthodox Christians) will name the Sphynx, the Great Pyramid, the Valley of the Kings and the mask of Tutankhamen, yet how many will stop and reflect that the greatest treasures are not the relics of Pharaonic Egypt, but the saints who made Egypt the great light of the ancient Christian world?

Sanctified by the ministry of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist, Mark, the founder of the Apostolic See of Alexandria, Egypt became a mother of martyrs such as St Catherine and St Varus, the great monastic saints, headed by St Anthony the Great, and the spiritual giants among the Holy Fathers, Athanasius and Cyril.

Today, we celebrate one of the most beloved Egyptian saints, the Holy Great-Martyr Menas, a wonderworker who continues to pour forth miracles upon the faithful. The treasure we call Menas is far greater than any gilded death mask or mausoleum built to house a royal corpse, and St Menas not only lives in Christ, but cares for us, intercedes for us, and defends us in our earthly lives.

As they sought to imitate life even in their funerary rites, the pharaohs’ paraphernalia of death arranged around their mummified remains brought them nothing and led them nowhere, as they sought to evade the clutches of death with an earthbound delusional view of the future-life.

In contrast, St Menas, stripped for torture, willingly embraced death-in-Christ, knowing that this was the gateway to eternal life with his Lord and Saviour, where he had no needs of the chariots, rotting loaves of bread, amphorae of wine and oil, and jars of honey that surrounded the lifeless mummies of the pharaohs.

St Nikolaj Velimirović summarises the life and passion of the Great-Martyr for us:

Menas was an Egyptian by birth and a soldier by profession. As a true Christian, he was not able to witness the abominable sacrificial offerings to the idols and left the army, the town, the people and everything else, and went to a deserted mountain, for it was easier for him to live among the wild beasts than with pagans. One day Menas clairvoyantly discerned a pagan celebration in the town of Cotyaeus. He descended into the town and openly declared his faith in Christ the Living God. He denounced idolatry and paganism as falsehood and darkness. Pyrrhus, eparch of that town, asked Menas who he was and where he was from. The saint replied: “My fatherland is Egypt, my name is Menas. I was an officer, but witnessing the worship of idols, I renounced your honours. I now come before you all to proclaim my Christ as the true God, that He may proclaim me as His servant in the Heavenly Kingdom.” Hearing this, Pyrrhus subjected St. Menas to severe tortures. They flogged him, scraped him with iron claws, burned him with torches, and tortured him by various other means, and finally beheaded him with the sword. They threw his body into a fire so that Christians would not be able to retrieve it, but Christians recovered several parts of his body from the fire nevertheless. They reverently buried those remains, which were later transferred to Alexandria and buried there, where a church was built over them. St. Menas suffered in about the year 304 and went to the Kingdom of Christ. He was and remains a great miracle-worker, both on earth and in heaven. Whoever glorifies St. Menas and invokes his help with faith, receives his help. The saint has often appeared as a warrior on horseback, arriving to help the faithful or punish the unfaithful.”

The details of his life are scant, but the details of his countless miracles may fill volumes of books, ever growing in length through the continued outpouring of grace, with the miracle of St Menas’s before the Battle of El-Alamein in 1942 changing the direction of the Second World War in North Africa, and ending the threat of the Axis powers in North Africa.

In the words of the Synaxarion:

““In June 1942, during the North-Africa campaign that was decisive for the outcome of the Second World War, the German forces under the command of General Rommel were on their way to Alexandria, and happened to make a halt near a place which the Arabs call El-Alamein after Saint Menas. An ancient, ruined church there was dedicated to the Saint; and there some people say he is buried. Here the weaker Allied forces including some Greeks confronted the numerically and militarily superior German army, and the result of the coming battle seemed certain. During the first night of engagement, Saint Menas appeared in the midst of the German camp at the head of a caravan of camels, exactly as he was shown on the walls of the ruined church in one of the frescoes depicting his miracles. This astounding and terrifying apparition so undermined German morale that it contributed to the brilliant victory of the Allies. The Church of Saint Menas was restored in thanksgiving and a small monastery was established there.”

How many Allied soldiers owe their lives to the miraculous intercession and intervention of St Menas will never be known.

On this feast, our Cardiff and Cheltenham communities received a great blessing with the ordination of Deacon Mark, named for the Holy Apostle Mark, another treasure of the Church in Egypt. It is my firm conviction that the Great-Martyr has gifted us many things, including our Deacon, and we were blessed with an offer of a home after losing use of the University Church after a week of prayer to St Menas!

I pray that we will continue to be blessed and aided by Menas, Great-Martyr and treasure of Egypt, and greet you all on this feast, especially our friends in Egypt, and our Cypriot brothers and sisters who have great devotion to St Menas.

We also congratulate Father Deacon Mark on this second anniversary of his ordination, commending him to the protection of the Holy Great-Martyr Menas.

We pray that God will grant him many, blessed years!

In Christ – Hieromonk Mark

The Feast of St Demetrios

Dear brothers and sisters,

Greetings to you, as we celebrate the feast of the Holy Great-Martyr, Demetrios, whose relics still stream myron in the city of Thessaloniki, and are visited and venerated by the faithful from all corners of the world.

St Demetrios is one of those saints who is loved and venerated not only by Orthodox Christians, but even by Muslim Turks. During the Ottoman centuries, the Muslims of Thessaloniki visited his church (turned into a mosque) to venerate his relics, knowing the generosity of the Great-Martyr in hearing the prayers of all who sought his intercession, and Muslims in Turkey still venerate him and visit his holy spring/ayazma in Istanbul.

Below his life, from the Orthodox Church of America, the akathist to the Great-Martyr is appended.

Happy Feast!

The Great Martyr Demetrios the Myrrh-gusher of Thessaloniki was the son of a Roman proconsul in Thessaloniki. Three centuries had elapsed and Roman paganism, spiritually shattered and defeated by the multitude of martyrs and confessors of the Savior, intensified its persecutions. The parents of Saint Demetrios were secret Christians, and he was baptized and raised in the Christian Faith in a secret church in his father’s home.

By the time Demetrios had reached maturity and his father had died, Emperor Galerius Maximian had ascended the throne (305). Maximian, confident in Demetrios’s education as well as his administrative and military abilities, appointed him to his father’s position as proconsul of the Thessaloniki district. The young commander’s principal duties were to defend the city from barbarians and to eradicate Christianity. The Emperor’s policy regarding Christians was expressed simply: “Put to death anyone who calls on the name of Christ.” The Emperor did not suspect that by appointing Demetrios he had provided him with the opportunity to bring many people to Christ.

Accepting the appointment, Demetrios returned to Thessaloniki and confessed and glorified our Lord Jesus Christ. Instead of persecuting and executing Christians, he began to teach the Christian Faith openly to the inhabitants of the city and to overthrow pagan customs and the worship of idols. The compiler of his Life, Saint Simeon Metaphrastes (November 9), says that because of his teaching zeal he became “a second Apostle Paul” for Thessaloniki, particularly since “the Apostle to the Gentiles” founded the first community of believers in the city (1 Thess. and 2 Thess.).

The Lord also destined Saint Demetrios to follow Saint Paul on the path to martyrdom. When Maximian learned that the newly-appointed proconsul was a Christian, and that he had converted many Roman subjects to Christianity, the Emperor’s rage knew no bounds. Returning from a campaign in the area of the Black Sea, the Emperor decided to lead his army through Thessaloniki, determined to massacre the Christians.

Learning of this, Saint Demetrios ordered his faithful servant Lupus to give his wealth to the poor saying, “Distribute my earthly riches among them, for we shall seek heavenly riches for ourselves.” He began to pray and fast, preparing himself for martyrdom.

When the Emperor came into the city, he summoned Demetrios, who boldly confessed himself a Christian and denounced the falsehood and futility of Roman polytheism. Maximian ordered Demetrios to be thrown into prison. An Angel appeared to him, comforting and encouraging him.

Meanwhile the Emperor amused himself by staging games in the circus. His champion was a German by the name of Lyaeos. He challenged Christians to wrestle with him on a platform built over the upturned spears of the victorious soldiers. A brave Christian named Nestor went to the prison to Saint Demetrios, his instructor in the Faith, asking for his blessing to fight the barbarian. With the blessing and prayers of Saint Demetrios, Nestor defeated the fierce German and hurled him from the platform onto the spears of the soldiers, just as the murderous pagan would have done with the Christian. The enraged commander ordered the execution of the holy Martyr Nestor (October 27) and sent a guard to the prison to kill Saint Demetrios. At dawn on October 26, 306 soldiers appeared in the Saint’s underground prison and ran him through with lances. His faithful servant, Saint Lupus, gathered up the blood-soaked garment of Saint Demetrios he took the imperial ring from his finger, a symbol of his high status, and dipped it in the blood. With the ring and other holy things sanctified the blood of Saint Demetrios, Saint Lupus began to heal the infirm. The Emperor ordered his soldiers to arrest and kill him.

The body of the holy Great Martyr Demetrios was cast out for wild animals to devour, but the Christians took it and secretly buried it in the earth.

During the reign of Saint Constantine (306-337), a church was built over the grave of Saint Demetrios. A hundred years later, during the construction of a majestic new church on the old spot, the incorrupt relics of the holy martyr were uncovered. Since the seventh century a miraculous flow of fragrant myrrh has been found beneath the crypt of the Great Martyr Demetrios, so he is called “the Myrrh-gusher.”


Akathist to St. Demetrios the Great Martyr and Myrrh-streamer
written by the former bishop of Thessaloniki, St. Athanasios Patelarios, of Crete

In the Plagal of the Fourth Tone

Kontakion 1: O faithful, let us praise with hymns and divine praises the Myrrhstreamer, who deposed the cruelty of the tyrant, and conquered the audacity of Lyaios, and preached Christ as God clearly, and let us cry out to him: Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.

Ikos 1: Angels were astonished in heaven, beholding the godless rage of the tyrant (3), and as you were put to death by his decree, O Demetrios, we cry out to you thus:

Rejoice, the sacred pinnacle of martyrs,
Rejoice, the joyous radiance of Saints.
Rejoice, for you were placed in a pit as one condemned,
Rejoice, for you ascended to Heaven as one without a body.
Rejoice, dweller in the ranks of the Angels,
Rejoice you who bore the tortures of the tyrant.
Rejoice, for you despised the wiles of the enemies,
Rejoice, for your soul now dwells in Heaven.
Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.

Kontakion 2: The divine Nestor, beholding himself in manliness, approached the king with boldness: “Your exceeding danger appears as an abomination to my soul. For I will put to death the godless Lyaios, crying out: Alleluia.

Ikos 2: Having godly knowledge, O Demetrios the boast of martyrs, you said to the tyrant: “From soulless matter [i.e. idols], how is possible to give birth to God? Speak to me.” To [the Martyr], the faithful who honor God cry out with fear:

Rejoice, the most-radiant lamp of Thessaloniki,
Rejoice, for you overcame Lyaios in victory.
Rejoice, you who pours forth divine myrrh from your grave,
Rejoice, you who bears divine zeal in your heart.
Rejoice, for your blood was a purifying bath,
Rejoice, for through you there is blotting out of sins.
Rejoice, you who deposed the delusion of the idols,
Rejoice, you who censured the mania of tyrants.
Rejoice, for you healed the passion of hemorrhage,
Rejoice, you who offered your soul from its depths.
Rejoice, for you delivered Marinon from leprosy,
Rejoice, for your beloved Istron you sent.
Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.

Kontakion 3: Power from heaven then strengthened Nestor to fight, and he took up arms against the utterly strong Lyaios, and with swift hand, he struck him down as dead, and therefore cried out to the Savior, chanting: Alleluia.

Ikos 3: Having the divine desire to obtain the body of Demetrios, the pious Emperor [Justinian] went., but as [St. Demetrios] did not desire this, fire came forth from his grave threatening death. And he said to him such words in fear:

Rejoice, the unemptying river of wonders,
Rejoice, the irrevocable icon of traumas.
Rejoice, for you did not offer your Relic to him who sought it,
Rejoice, for you grant sanctification to those who venerate you.
Rejoice, for you summoned fire from your divine grave,
Rejoice, for you censured the mania of the tyrant.
Rejoice, for you deposed the worship of the idols,
Rejoice, for your body was pierced with spears.
Rejoice, for your blood was given as drink to the godless,
Rejoice, for you sanctified the whole world with your body.
Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.

Kontakion 4: Having godless confusion and evil thoughts, the senseless king was enraged, beholding the Martyr not preaching the delusion of the idols. We, beholding the unjust slaughter of the Saint at his hands, cry out: Alleluia.

Ikos 4: The ends of the world heard of the murder of Demetrios at the hands of the senseless tyrant, and beholding him dead, they hastened to him, seeing the sacred wonders that he pours forth throughout the whole world, as they honor him, saying:

Rejoice, he who traded the corruptible things for the heavenly,
Rejoice he who deposed the counsels of the evil ones.
Rejoice, you who joined chorus with the bodiless Angels,
Rejoice, you who entered the land of the greatly-suffering Saints.
Rejoice, you who serve together with the spotless Cherubim,
Rejoice, you who walk together with the pure Seraphim.
Rejoice, for you served the Lord of lords,
Rejoice, for you bore within the seat of divine thrones.
Rejoice, the most-fervent fellow servant with the Angels,
Rejoice, the most-wise fellow counselor with the Archangels.
Rejoice, the sacred adornment of the Venerable,
Rejoice, the radiant rejoicing of the Martyrs.
Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.

Kontakion 5: Perceiving Demetrios to be a God-bearer, the most fervent man hastened to be delivered through him from the terrible demon. And having touched his deliverance, he rejoiced in the Lord, crying out: Alleluia.

Ikos 5: Leontios, the son of the Orthodox, formerly saw the unspeakable might of the Martyr, and desiring to come to him, he sought for Istron to hasten to pass by him with his robe, and cried out to him:

Rejoice, he who through his robe worked awesome wonders,
Rejoice, he who did not bear stains of offenses.
Rejoice, for your streams have become our own.
Rejoice, for you drove back the campaigns of barbarians,
Rejoice, for you dwell in the thrones of the Martyrs.
Rejoice, you who drove away the plague from Thessaloniki,
Rejoice, our sun which shines upon the faithful.
Rejoice, he who delivered from idol-mania,
Rejoice, he who delivers all from the bonds of slavery.
Rejoice, he who grants grace to all those who approach him,
Rejoice for you ever dwell with those who praise you.
Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.

Kontakion 6: The deluded became preachers of corruption of souls, as they hastened through Thessaloniki, performing idolatry and preaching atheism everywhere, as the Martyr left the tyrant like a mule, as he said: Alleluia.

Ikos 6: The divine Nestor, shining together with the sacred Demetrios, drove away the darkness of error, for they anathematized the idols steadfastly, and cast them down, while the faithful who were saved cries out to those strugglers:

Rejoice, O Demetrios, the firm support,
Rejoice, O Nestor, the splendid pride.
Rejoice, you who granted strength to Nestor,
Rejoice, you who granted corruption to Lyaios.
Rejoice, you who firstly censured the blind tyrant,
Rejoice, you who secondly kept [St. Demetrios’] example.
Rejoice, he who received death by spears,
Rejoice, he who received incorruptible life through the sword.
Rejoice, he who was murdered in prison like a convict,
Rejoice, he who was preached throughout the world as one immortal.
Rejoice, he who before death worked awesome deeds,
Rejoice, he who after death works wonders.
Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.

Kontakion 7: The holy dyad of Martyrs then passed on from this world, as the sacred Martyrs had greatly endured lawless murder. Therefore, those who behold this are astonished, and cry out to the Lord: Alleluia.

Ikos 7: A new song was found, as we bitterly sing the funeral hymn to Demetrios, for he was slaughtered by a godless tyrant, and did not sacrifice to the idols. We therefore hymn him and fervently cry out:

Rejoice, you who were placed dead in a grave,
Rejoice, you who ride throughout the world as one alive.
Rejoice, for your blood was shown to be a new cleansing bath,
Rejoice, for your soul is mixing with the Angels.
Rejoice, for you are hymned from the ends of the earth,
Rejoice for they draw forth from your fragrant myrrh.
Rejoice, lamp amidst the Martyrs,
Rejoice, ray of godly graces.
Rejoice, you who were dyed with your holy blood,
Rejoice, you who were sanctified in your divine body.
Rejoice, you who received diamond crowns,
Rejoice, for you now dwell in the halls of the ever-memorable.
Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.

Kontakion 8: Beholding a strange wonder, the idols were moved by the bravery of the martyrs. Therefore, he who now dwells on high gives bravery to those who dwell on the earth to take courage, and aim their arrows at the idols. To him we now cry out: Alleluia.

Ikos 8: Having his mind wholly on things above without departing from earth, was the most-pure Martyr, for he clearly conquered the delusion of the idols, and preached Christ with boldness, hearing thus:

Rejoice, for you were killed on behalf of Christ your God,
Rejoice, for you desired the joyous things of Paradise.
Rejoice, for you traveled the upper road to Heaven,
Rejoice, for you inhabit the dwelling-places of the pure.
Rejoice, for you now travel with the Angels,
Rejoice, for you have come to dwell with the Saints.
Rejoice, for you preached your Christ like a holy trumpet,
Rejoice, for you dwell in the spotless mansions of Paradise.
Rejoice, you who put forth myrrh from your godly body,
Rejoice, you who scoffed and the rubbish of the godless,
Rejoice, for you broke asunder the intrigues of rulers,
Rejoice, for you trampled upon the delusion of the idols.
Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.

Kontakion 9: You received every grace from heaven, O Martyr Demetrios, and preached paradoxically that the inaccessible God became man, being the Son of God. Therefore, to Him let us cry: Alleluia.

Ikos 9: O Martyr Demetrios, you showed the many words of the orators of the tyrants to be foolish, for they were astonished at how you strongly condemned the delusion of the idols. We, being astonished at this paradox, cry out to you:

Rejoice, the rose of virginity,
Rejoice, the pinnacle of continence.
Rejoice, you who lived purely before you were killed,
Rejoice, you who after you were killed were led towards God.
Rejoice, in whom the light of God was planted,
Rejoice, in whom the grace of the Trinity made its dwelling.
Rejoice, the length and breadth of the pious,
Rejoice, the sharp sword against the faithless.
Rejoice, you who shine with the rays of the sun,
Rejoice, you who drive away the mania of the tyrant.
Rejoice, tree bearing the fruits of many graces,
Rejoice, for you bore the shoots of many victories.
Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.

Kontakion 10: Saving the Orthodox from the delusion of the godless idols, you came straightaway, O Martyr, and you preached the Lord as perfect God to the deluded and idiotic tyrant, crying out to him: Alleluia.

Ikos 10: You are the shelter of the Martyrs, O Champion and Martyr, and all those who take refuge in you, for you revealed the Maker of heaven and earth to all, and deposed the tyrant and the idols. We therefore cry out to you:

Rejoice, the deliverance for those in sickness,
Rejoice the savior of the continuously hemorrhaged.
Rejoice, you who sow grace among all those who hymn you,
Rejoice, for you are a pillar of graces.
Rejoice, divine power, the casting-down of idols.
Rejoice, pure dwelling-place of God,
Rejoice, chaste type of Christ.
Rejoice, for your blood became as a new baptism,
Rejoice, for your body received death.
Rejoice, bridge leaving those who die from earth to heaven,
Rejoice, for you are a guide to the faithful.
Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.

Kontakion 11: We your servants all offer funeral hymns at your grave, O Martyr, shedding tears and offering odes and psalms to you, for we are not at all worthy of what has been accomplished through, as befits your grave, but we cry out to the Savior: Alleluia.

Ikos 11: Your grave, O Martyr, has been shown to be light-bearing, shining forth with grace like light. For all those who approach are suddenly granted joy and health, while we who approach you cry out these:

Rejoice, you who preserved your Church unharmed,
Rejoice, you who trampled upon the wiles of the evil one.
Rejoice, for you drove back the nation of the Slavs,
Rejoice, for you trampled upon the rule of the idols.
Rejoice, you who uprooted the pride of the barbarians,
Rejoice, you who cast out the conceit of the tyrants.
Rejoice, you who preserved your city unharmed,
Rejoice, you who shook up the delusion of the godless one.
Rejoice, you who punished Onesiphoros for his theft,
Rejoice you who uprooted the danger of the idols from the earth.
Rejoice, the sure consolation of those who take refuge in you,
Rejoice, the salvation of the souls of those who approach you.
Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.

Kontakion 12: Bearing grace from above, O Demetrios, you drove out all the campaigns of the enemies. You preached Christ upon the heard as a steadfast hoplite of grace, and you cast down the idols, as you chant along with everyone: Alleluia.

Ikos 12: We hymn the wonder that you worked, O Martyr, as your city was preserved victorious, as you appeared as a god to the faithless, sending forth Angels speedily, saying: “Drive them far away from the city”, therefore we cry out:

Rejoice, for at your will your city was saved,
Rejoice, for through your strength the enemy was cast down.
Rejoice, you who met Achilleos in your flight,
Rejoice, you who sent out Nestor with your strength.
Rejoice, you who drown Lyaios in blood,
Rejoice, you who raged against the faithless in spirit.
Rejoice, you who strengthens your city through your presence,
Rejoice, for if you left her, your city would be lost.
Rejoice, you whose grave is beloved by hymnologists,
Rejoice, you who put to death falsehood through your might.
Rejoice, you who grants to us a sea of graces,
Rejoice, you who sows the mercy of your myrrh within all.
Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.

Kontakion 13: O pair of Martyrs, who preached Christ as the surpassing Word before all, (3) receive these funeral hymn and odes, and deliver us from every danger, and the coming trial through your prayers, those who cry out to the Lord: Alleluia.

Ikos 1: Angels were astonished in heaven, beholding the godless rage of the tyrant (3), and as you were put to death by his decree, O Demetrios, we cry out to you thus:

Rejoice, the sacred pinnacle of martyrs,
Rejoice, the joyous radiance of Saints.
Rejoice, for you were placed in a pit as one condemned,
Rejoice, for you ascended to Heaven as one without a body.
Rejoice, dweller in the ranks of the Angels,
Rejoice you who bore the tortures of the tyrant.
Rejoice, for you despised the wiles of the enemies,
Rejoice, for your soul now dwells in Heaven.
Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.

Kontakion 1: O faithful, let us praise with hymns and divine praises the Myrrhstreamer, who deposed the cruelty of the tyrant, and conquered the audacity of Lyaios, and preached Christ as God clearly, and let us cry out to him: Rejoice, O Martyr Demetrios.

2/15 September: The Feast of St Mamas

At the end of a beautiful day, this evening’s vespers, honouring the Holy Great-Martyr Mamas, were chanted before his holy icon, with the candlelight light revealing the holy youth riding to his passion and martyrdom in the city of Cappadocian Caesarea.

The young martyr rides willingly to his torturers on the back of a lion, after a mountainside life of peace and fellowship with the wild animals with whom the fearless relationship of Adam in paradise had been restored, such was the sanctity and purity of the young orphan – still a teenager when he was martyred for his immovable and unswerving faith in Christ.

What lessons St Mamas can teach not only our children and young people, but those of us beyond our youthful years, but still so weak and imperfect in faith.

Such inspiring faith in one so young led to great love and devotion for St Mamas across the Orthodox world, particularly in Cyprus. His holy skull was brought to Langres, in the Champagne region of France by the barbarian Crusaders who sacked the Imperial City in 1204, so that devotion to him was also known in the mediaeval west.

May St Mamas inspire us, intercede for us, and protect us by his prayers.

Happy Feast!

The Holy Great Martyr Mamas was born in Paphlagonia, Asia Minor in the third century of pious and illustrious parents, the Christians Theodotus and Rufina. The parents of the saint were arrested by the pagans for their open confession of their faith and locked up in prison in Caesarea in Cappadocia.

Knowing his own bodily weakness, Theodotus prayed that the Lord would take him before being subjected to tortures. The Lord heard his prayer and he died in prison. Saint Rufina died also after him, after giving birth to a premature son. She entrusted him to God, beseeching Him to be the Protector and Defender of the orphaned infant.

God heard the dying prayer of Saint Rufina: a rich Christian widow named Ammia reverently buried the bodies of Saints Theodotus and Rufina, and she took the boy into her own home and raised him as her own son. Saint Mamas grew up in the Christian Faith. His foster mother concerned herself with the developing of his natural abilities, and early on she sent him off to study his grammar.

The boy learned easily and willingly. He was not of an age of mature judgment but distinguished himself by maturity of mind and of heart. By means of prudent conversations and personal example young Mamas converted many of his own peers to Christianity.

The governor, Democritus, was informed of this, and the fifteen-year-old Mamas was arrested and brought to trial. In deference to his illustrious parentage, Democritus decided not to subject him to torture, but instead sent him off to the emperor Aurelian (270-275). The emperor tried at first kindly, but then with threats to turn Saint Mamas back to the pagan faith, but all in vain. The saint bravely confessed himself a Christian and pointed out the madness of the pagans in their worship of lifeless idols.

Infuriated, the emperor subjected the youth to cruel tortures. They tried to drown the saint, but an angel of the Lord saved Saint Mamas and bade him live on a high mountain in the wilderness, not far from Caesarea. Bowing to the will of God, the saint built a small church there and began to lead a life of strict temperance, in exploits of fasting and prayer.

Soon he received a remarkable power over the forces of nature: wild beasts inhabiting the surrounding wilderness gathered at his abode and listened to the reading of the Holy Gospel. Saint Mamas nourished himself on the milk of wild goats and deer.

The saint did not ignore the needs of his neighbours. Preparing cheese from this milk, he gave it away freely to the poor. Soon the fame of Saint Mamas’s life spread throughout all of Caesarea.

The governor sent a detachment of soldiers to arrest him. When they encountered Saint Mamas on the mountain, the soldiers did not recognize him, and mistook him for a simple shepherd. The saint then invited them to his dwelling, gave them a drink of milk and then told them his name, knowing that death for Christ awaited him. The servant of God told the servant of the Emperor to go on ahead of him into Caesaria, promising that he would soon follow. The soldiers waited for him at the gates of the city, and Saint Mamas, accompanied by a lion, met them there.

Surrendering himself into the hands of the torturers, Saint Mamas was brought to trial under a deputy governor named Alexander, who subjected him to intense and prolonged tortures. They did not break the saint’s will, however. He was strengthened by the words addressed to him from above: “Be strong and take courage, Mamas.”

When they threw Saint Mamas to the wild beasts, these creatures would not touch him. Finally, one of the pagan priests struck him with a trident. Mortally wounded, Saint Mamas went out beyond the city limits. There, in a small stone cave, he gave up his spirit to God, Who in the hearing of all summoned the holy Martyr Mamas into His heavenly habitation. He was buried by believers at the place of his death.

Christians soon began to receive help from him in their afflictions and sorrows. Saint Basil the Great speaks thus about the holy Martyr Mamas in a sermon to the people: “Remember the holy martyr, you who live here and have him as a helper. You who call on his name have been helped by him. Those in error he has guided into life. Those whom he has healed of infirmity, those whose children were dead he has restored to life, those whose life he has prolonged: let us all come together as one, and praise the martyr!”

Saint Phanourios the Great-Martyr and Newly-Revealed

Here we are again, with the feast of the Holy Great-Martyr Phanourios marking the transition from summer to Autumn, as we enjoy the fruits of the season and make the most of the garden’s last summer-flowers.

I have been looking back at past Facebook posts, including our celebrations for St Phanourios, with the blessing of Phanouropita in the Little Oratory, replete with photographs of the garden Newman Hall as it passes from one season to another.

I will always be indebted to my Greek pupils and their parents, who introduced me to St Phanurios, who suffered so many tortures before his martyrdom, and then re-revealed himself to the faithful after being forgotten for centuries.

How often the saints introduce themselves to us – through an icon; through a chance encounter with their written life; through a conversation with someone; through the desires of one who wishes to share their love for a saint with us.

The saints continue to become loved by other nations, and other local Churches, becoming truly pan-Orthodox in their relationship with the faithful.

During my years in ‘Londonopoulis’, I had the joy of not only coming to ‘meet’ St Phanourios, but also the Great-Martyr Mamas, St Savas the New, the Greek new-martyrs, and so many holy-ones who have been glorified by the Lord in Greece, Cyprus, and in the other lands that were once the Christian Empire.

However, in St Phanourios we see something truly wondrous, with the finding of his icon in the ruins of a church on the island of Rhodes becoming the beginning of an intense spiritual relationship between the whole Hellenic people and the Great-Martyr: a glorious wonder!

We look forward to blessing Phanouropita at the end of our Liturgy on Sunday, when we will beseech the intercessions of St Phanourios, for our communities and the faithful.

Άγιε του Θεού Φανούριε πρέσβευε υπέρ υμών!

Saint of God, Phanourios, pray for us!

The following account of the life of Saint Phanourios was written by St. Nikephoros of Chios and included in the Kollyvades text known as the New Leimonarion.

Synaxarion

On the 27th of August, commemoration is made of the Holy, Glorious, and Great-Martyr Phanourios the Newly-Revealed

Verses: Phanourios bestows light upon all the faithful,Even though he long lay in the darkness of the earth.

From whence Phanourios, the splendid athlete of the Lord and invincible martyr, came, and of what parentage he was, and even in what age he lived and under the reign of which emperors he waged his struggle and fought his fight, we have been unable to ascertain, for the account of his life has been lost owing to the vicissitudes of time, as many other things also have been lost or become obscure or unclear. This only do we know, that when the Hagarenes ruled the renowned island of Rhodes, having conquered it because of our sins, he that became ruler of the island wished to rebuild the ramparts of the city that past sieges had ravaged. On the outskirts of the fortress were several ruined dwellings that had been abandoned by reason of their association with the old fortress, which was located a furlong to the south. From these ruins the Hagarenes were wont to gather stones for their construction.

It so happened that, while excavating and reinforcing that place, they discovered a most beautiful church, which was partly buried in ruins. Excavating as far as the floor of the temple, they found many holy icons, all decayed and crumbling, yet the icon of the holy Phanourios was whole and entire; indeed, it seemed as though it had been painted but that very day. And when this all-venerable temple was uncovered, together with its sacred icons, the hierarch of that place, Nilus by name, a man of great sanctity and learning, came and read the inscription of the icon, which said, “The Holy Phanourios.”

The Saint was depicted upon the icon as follows: He was shown as a young man, arrayed as a soldier, holding a cross in his right hand, and at the upper part of the cross there was a lighted taper. Round about the perimeter of the icon were twelve scenes from the holy one’s martyrdom, which showed the Saint being examined before the magistrate; then in the midst of soldiers, who were beating him about the mouth and head with stones; then stretched out upon the ground while the soldiers flogged him; then, stripped naked while they rent his flesh with iron hooks; then incarcerated in a dungeon; and again standing before the tyrant’s tribunal; then being burned with candles; then bound to a rack; then cast amidst wild beasts; then crushed with a great rock; then standing before idols holding burning coals in his hands, whilst a demon nearby wept and lamented; and finally he is shown standing erect in the midst of a fiery furnace, his hands, as it were, uplifted towards Heaven.

From these twelve scenes depicted upon the icon, the holy hierarch perceived that the Saint was a martyr. Then straightway that good and pious man sent deputations to the rulers of that place, asking that they consign to him that temple for restoration, but this they declined to do. Therefore, the hierarch traveled to Constantinople alone and there obtained a decree empowering him to rebuild the church; thus it was restored to that state in which it can be seen even to this day, outside the city. And it has become the source of many miracles, of which I shall relate one for the profit of many, that all who love and venerate the Saint may rejoice.

At that time the isle of Crete had no Orthodox hierarch, but a Latin bishop, for it was ruled then by the Venetians, who had shrewdly refused to permit an Orthodox hierarch to be consecrated whenever one died. This they did with evil intent, thinking that with time they could thus convert the Orthodox to the papal doctrines. If Orthodox men wished to obtain ordination, they had to go to Kythera. It came to pass that there went forth from Crete three deacons, traveling to Kythera to be ordained priests by the hierarch there; and when this had been accomplished, and they were returning to their own country, the Hagarenes captured them at sea and brought them to Rhodes, where they were sold as slaves to other Hagarenes. The newly consecrated priests lamented their misfortune day and night.

But in Rhodes, they heard tell of the great wonders wrought by the Great Martyr Phanourios, and straightway they made fervent supplication to the Saint, beseeching him with tears to deliver them from their bitter bondage. And this they did each separately, without knowing ought of what the others were doing, for they had each been sold to a different master. Now, in accordance with the providence of God, however, they were all three permitted by their masters to go and worship at the temple of the Saint; and, guided by God, they came all together and fell down before the sacred icon of the Saint, watering the ground with the streams of tears, entreating him to deliver them out of the hands of the Hagarenes. Then they departed, somewhat consoled, each to his own master, hoping that they would obtain mercy, which in fact did come to pass; for the holy one had compassion upon their tears and hearkened unto their supplication. That night he appeared to the Hagarenes who were the masters of the captive priests, and commanded them to permit the servants of God to go and worship in his temple lest he bring dreadful destruction upon them. But the Hagarenes, thinking the matter sorcery, loaded them with chains and made their torments more onerous.

Then the Great Martyr Phanourios went to them that night and brought them forth from their bonds, and encouraged them, saying that the following day he would, by all means, free them. He then appeared to the Hagarenes and, reproaching them with severity, said: ‘If by tomorrow you have not set your servants at liberty, you shall behold the power of God!’ Thus saying, the holy one vanished. And, O, the wonder! As many as inhabited those houses all arose blind and paralyzed, tormented with the most dreadful pangs, the least with the greatest. But, though bedridden, with the help of their kinfolk they considered what to do, and finally decided to send for the captives. And when the three priests were come, they inquired of them if they were able to heal them; and they answered: ‘We shall beseech God. Let His will be done.’

But the Saint appeared again to the Hagarenes on the third night and said to them: ‘If ye do not send to my house letters of manumission for the priests, you shall have neither the health, nor the light [of sight] which you desire.’ And when they had again conferred with their kinfolk and friends, each one composed a letter of emancipation for his own slave, which were left before the icon of the Saint. And O, the wonder! Even before the messengers sent to the temple returned, those, who before were blind and paralyzed, were healed; and marveling they set the priests free and dispatched them to their homeland amicably. The priests, though, had a copy of the icon of St. Phanourios painted and took it with them to their own country, and each year the memory of the holy one is piously celebrated amongst them. By the prayers of the Martyr may Christ God have mercy upon us. Amen!

Great-Martyr | Newly-Revealed | Phanourios | Phanouropita | Rhodes

10 August: the feast of St Laurence of Rome

As we celebrate the feast of the Holy Martyr and Archdeacon, St Laurence of Rome, let us pray for the deacons of our diocese.

As a parish we continue to experience the great blessing of having a deacon dedicated to the well-being and life of the faithful of our community, assisting the priest, and aiding all who need help.

Let us read the words of St Ambrose, who wrote of Laurence as an ideal example of the diaconal ministry, and pray the canon to the saint.Continue reading