Schedule for December 27th – January 3rd
- Sunday December 27th 830am Orthros 930am Divine Liturgy
- Saturday January 2nd 5pm Great Vespers and confessions heard following
Commemoration of SaintsSunday (27th) On the Sunday that falls on or immediately after the twenty-sixth of this month, we make commemoration of Saints Joseph, the Betrothed of the Virgin; David, the Prophet and King; and James, the Brother of God. When there is no Sunday within this period, we celebrate this commemoration on the 26th.Saint Joseph (whose name means “one who increases”) was the son of Jacob, and the son-in-law – and hence, as it were, the son – of Eli (who was also called Eliakim or Joachim), who was the father of Mary the Virgin (Matt. 1:16; Luke 3:23). He was of the tribe of Judah, of the family of David, an inhabitant of Nazareth, a carpenter by Trade, and advanced in age when, by God’s good will, he was betrothed to the Virgin, that he might minister to the great mystery of God’s dispensation in the flesh by protecting her, providing for her, and being known as her husband so that she, being a virgin, would not suffer reproach when she was found to be with child. Joseph had been married before his betrothal to our Lady; they who are called Jesus’ “brethren and sisters” (Matt. 13:55-56) are the children of Joseph by his first marriage. From Scripture, we know that Saint Joseph lived at least until the Twelfth year after the birth of Christ (Luke 2:41-52); according to the tradition of the Fathers, he reposed before the beginning of the public ministry of Christ.The child of God and ancestor of God, David, the great Prophet after Moses, sprang from the tribe of Judah. He was the son of Jesse, and was born in Bethlehem (whence it is called the City of David), in the year 1085 before Christ. While yet a youth, at the command of God he was anointed secretly by the Prophet Samuel to be the second King of the Israelites, while Saul – who had already been deprived of divine grace – was yet living. In the thirtieth year of his life, when Saul had been slain in battle, David was raised to the dignity of King, first, by his own tribe, and then by all the Israelite people, and he reigned for forty years. Having lived seventy years, he reposed in 1015 before Christ, having proclaimed beforehand that his son Solomon was to be the successor to the throne.The sacred history has recorded not only the grace of the Spirit that dwelt in him from his youth, his heroic exploits in war, and his great piety towards God, but also his transgressions and failings as a man. Yet his repentance was greater than his transgresssions, and his love for God fervent and exemplary; so highly did God honour this man, that when his son Solomon sinned, the Lord told him that He would not rend the kingdom in his lifetime “for David thy father’s sake” (III Kings 12:12). Of The Kings of Israel, Jesus the Son of Sirach testifies, “All, except David and Hezekias and Josias, were defective” (Ecclus. 49:4). The name David means “beloved.”His melodious Psalter is the foundation of all the services of the Church; there is not one service that is not filled with Psalms and psalmic verses. It was the means whereby old Israel praised God, and was used by the Apostles and the Lord Himself. It is so imbued with the spirit of prayer that the monastic fathers of all ages have used it as their trainer and teacher for their inner life of converse with God. Besides eloquently portraying every state and emotion of the soul before her Maker, the Psalter is filled with prophecies of the coming of Christ. It foretells His Incarnation, “He bowed the heavens and came down” (Psalm 17:9), His Baptism in the Jordan, “The waters saw Thee, O God, The waters saw Thee and were afraid” (76:15), His Crucifixion in its details, “They have pierced My hands and My feet …. They have parted My garments amongst themselves, and for My vesture have they cast lots” (21:16, 18). “For My thirst they gave Me vinegar to drink” (68:26), His descent into Hades, “For Thou wilt not abandon My soul in Hades, nor wilt Thou suffer Thy Holy One to see corruption” (15:10) and Resurrection, “Let God arise and let His enemies be scattered” (67:1). His Ascension, “God is gone up in jubilation” (46:5), and so forth.As for James, the Brother of God, see October 23.
Monday (28th) we commemorate the 20,000 Martyrs burned in Nicodemia At the beginning of the fourth century the emperor Maximian (284-305) gave orders to destroy Christian churches, to burn service books, and to deprive all Christians of rights and privileges of citizenship. At this time the bishop of the city of Nicomedia was Saint Cyril, who by his preaching and life contributed to the spread of Christianity, so that many members of the emperor’s court were also secret Christians. The pagan priestess Domna was living in the palace at that time. Providentially, she obtained a copy of the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles of Saint Paul. Her heart burned with the desire to learn more about the Christian teaching. With the help of a young Christian girl, Domna went secretly to Bishop Anthimus (Cyril’s successor) with her faithful servant, the eunuch Indes. Saint Anthimus catechized them, and both received holy Baptism. Domna began to help the poor: she gave away her valuables with the assistance of Indes, and she also distributed food from the imperial kitchen. The chief eunuch, who was in charge of provisions for the imperial household, found out that Domna and Indes were not eating the food sent them from the emperor’s table. He had them beaten in order to find out why they did not partake of the food, but they remained silent. Another eunuch informed him that the saints were distributing all the emperor’s gifts to the poor. He locked them up in prison to exhaust them with hunger, but they received support from an angel and did not suffer. Saint Domna feigned insanity so she wouldn’t have to live among the pagans. Then she and Indes managed to leave the court, and she went to a women’s monastery. Abbess Agatha quickly dressed her in men’s clothing, cut her hair and sent her off from the monastery. During this time the emperor returned from battle and ordered that a search be made for the former pagan priestess Domna. The soldiers sent for this purpose found the monastery and destroyed it. The sisters were thrown into prison, subjected to torture and abuse, but not one of them suffered defilement. Sent to a house of iniquity, Saint Theophila was able to preserve her virginity with the help of an angel of the Lord. The angel led her from the brothel and brought her to the cathedral. At this time the emperor cleared the city square to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. When they began sprinkling the crowd with the blood of the sacrificial animals, Christians started to leave the square. Seeing this, the emperor became enraged, but in the middle of his rantings a great thunderstorm sprang up. People fled in panic, and the emperor had to retreat to the palace for his own safety. Later Maximian went to the church with soldiers and told them they could escape punishment if they renounced Christ. Otherwise, he promised to burn the church and those in it. The Christian presbyter Glycerius told him that Christians would never renounce their faith, even under the threat of torture. Hiding his anger, the emperor exited the church, and a short time later commanded the presbyter Glycerius be arrested for trial. The executioners tortured the martyr, who did not cease to pray and to call on the Name of the Lord. Unable to force Saint Glycerius stop confessing Christ, Maximian ordered him to be burned to death. On the Feast of the Nativity of Christ in the year 302, when about 20,000 Christians had assembled at the cathedral in Nicomedia, the emperor sent a herald into the church. He told the Christians that soldiers were surrounding the building, and that anyone who wished to leave had to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. Anyone who defied the emperor would perish when the soldiers set fire to the church. All those present refused to worship the idols. As the pagans prepared to set fire to the church, Bishop Anthimus, baptized all the catechumens and communed everyone with the Holy Mysteries. All 20,000 of those praying died in the fire. Among them were the abbess Agatha and Saint Theophila who had been saved from the den of iniquity by a miracle. Bishop Anthimus, however, managed to escape the fire. Maximian thought that he had exterminated all the Christians of Nicomedia. He soon learned that there were many more, and that they would confess their faith and were prepared to die for Christ. The emperor wondered how to deal with them. At his command they arrested the regimental commander Zeno, who was openly criticizing the emperor for his impiety and cruelty. Zeno was fiercely beaten and finally beheaded. They jailed the eunuch Indes, formerly a priest of the idols, for refusing to participate in a pagan festival. The persecution against Christians continued. Dorotheus, Mardonius, Migdonius the deacon and others were thrown into prison. Bishop Anthimus encouraged them by sending letters to them. One of the messengers, the Deacon Theophilus, was captured. They subjected him to torture, trying to learn where the bishop was hiding. The holy martyr endured everything, while revealing nothing. Then they executed him and also those whom the bishop had addressed in his letter. Though they were executed in different ways, they all showed the same courage and received their crowns from God. For weeks, Saint Domna concealed herself within a cave and sustained herself by eating plants. When she returned to the city, she wept for a long time at the ruins of the church, regretting that she was not found worthy to die with the others. That night she went to the sea shore. At that moment fishermen pulled the bodies of the martyrs Indes, Gorgonius and Peter from the water in their nets. Saint Domna was still dressed in men’s clothing, and she helped the fishermen to draw in their nets. They left her the bodies of the martyrs. With reverence she looked after the holy relics and wept over them, especially over the body of her spiritual friend, the Martyr Indes. After giving them an honorable burial, she did not depart from these graves so dear to her heart. Each day she burned incense before them, sprinkling them with fragrant oils. When the emperor was told of an unknown youth who offered incense at the graves of executed Christians, he gave orders to behead the youth. The Martyr Euthymius was also executed along with Domna.
Holy Martyrs of Nicodemia Pray for us!Sunday December 27th Epistle and Gospel readings.
St.Pauls Acts of the Apostles 6:8-15; 7:1-5, 46-60In those days, Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, arose and disputed with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke. Then they secretly instigated men, who said, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, and set up false witnesses who said, “This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law; for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place, and will change the customs which Moses delivered to us.” And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel.And the high priest said, “Is this so?” And Stephen said: “Brethren and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, ‘Depart from your land and from your kindred and go into the land which I will show you.’ Then he departed from the land of the Chaldeans, and lived in Haran. And after his father died, God removed him from there into this land in which you are now living; yet he gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot’s length, but promised to give it to him in possession and to his posterity after him, though he had no child.”But it was Solomon who built a house for him. Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made with hands; as the prophet says, ‘Heaven is my throne, and earth my footstool. What house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest? Did not my hand make all these things?'”You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth against him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together upon him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him; and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And he knelt down and cried with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
The Gosple According to Matthew 2:13-23When the wise men departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt have I called my son.”Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they were no more.” But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” And he rose and took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaos reigned over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. And he went and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, “He shall be called a Nazarene.”