The Week Leading up to Sunday, December 7

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Saint_Nicholas

Hymns of the Day

Resurrectional Apolytikion in the 1st Tone

While the stone was sealed by the Jews, and the soldiers were guarding thy most pure body. Thou didst rise on the third day, O Savior, granting life to the world. For which caused the heavenly powers cried aloud unto thee, O Giver of life, Glory to thy Resurrection, O Christ! Glory to thy kingdom! Glory to thy providence, O thou who alone art the lover of mankind.

Apolytikion of Saints Peter and Paul in the 4th Tone

O foremost in the ranks of Apostles,and teachers of the world, Peter and Paul, intercede with the Master of all to grant safety to the world,and to our souls the Great Mercy.

Seasonal Kontakion in the 3rd Tone

On this day the Virgin cometh to the cave to give birth to * God the Word ineffably, * Who was before all the ages. * Dance for joy, O earth, on hearing * the gladsome tidings; * with the Angels and the shepherds now glorify Him * Who is willing to be gazed on * as a young Child Who * before the ages is God.

Gospel and Epistle Readings

Epistle Reading

The Reading is from Saint Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians 5:8-19

Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is a shame even to speak of the things that they do in secret; but when anything is exposed by the light it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.” Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart.


Gospel Reading

The Reading is from Saint Luke 13:10-17

At that time, Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years; she was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your infirmity.” And he laid his hands upon her, and immediately she was made straight, and she praised God. But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be healed, and not on the sabbath day.” Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to water it? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?” As he said this, all his adversaries were put to shame; and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.


Saints and Feasts

Nahum-prophet
Monday, December 1
Nahum the Prophet

The Prophet Nahum had Elkesaeus (Elkosh) as his homeland, and was from the tribe of Symeon; he is seventh in order among the twelve Minor Prophets He prophesied during the time of Hezekias, after the destruction of Samaria (721 years before Christ), but before the ten tribes were taken into captivity; he prophesied against Nineveh, the capital of Assyria. His name means “comforter.” His book of prophecy is divided into three chapters.


Habbakuk
Tuesday, December 2
Habakkuk the Prophet

This Prophet, whose name means “loving embrace,” is eighth in order of the minor Prophets. His homeland and tribe are not recorded in the Divine Scriptures; according to some, he was of the tribe of Symeon. He prophesied in the years of Joachim, who is also called Jechonias, before the Babylonian captivity of the Jewish People, which took place 599 years before Christ. When Nabuchodonosor came to take the Israelites captive, Habakkuk fled to Ostrakine, and after Jerusalem was destroyed and the Chaldeans departed, Habakkuk returned and cultivated his field. Once he made some pottage and was about to take it to the reapers in the field. An Angel of the Lord appeared to him, and carried him with the pottage to Babylon to feed Daniel in the lions’ den, then brought him back to Judea (Bel and the Dragon, 33-39): His book of prophecy is divided into three chapters; the third chapter is also used as the Fourth Ode of the Psalter. His holy relics were found in Palestine during the reign of Emperor Theodosius the Great, through a revelation to Zebennus, Bishop of Eleutheropolis (Sozomen, Eccl. Hist., Book VII, 29).


Zephania
Wednesday, December 3
The Holy Prophet Sophonias (Zephaniah)

This Prophet, who is ninth in order among the minor Prophets, was the son of Chusi (Cushi), from the tribe of Levi, or according to some, the great-grandson of King Hezekias. He prophesied in the years of Josias, who reigned in the years 641-610 before Christ. His book of prophecy is divided into three chapters. His name means “Yah is darkness.”


Barbara1
Thursday, December 4
Saint Barbara the Great Martyr

Saint Barbara was from Heliopolis of Phoenicia and lived during the reign of Maximian.

She was the daughter of a certain idolater named Dioscorus. When Barbara came of age, she was enlightened in her pure heart and secretly believed in the Holy Trinity. About this time Dioscorus began building a bath-house; before it was finished he was required to go away to attend to certain matters, and in his absence Barbara directed the workmen to build a third window in addition to the two her Father had commanded. She also inscribed the sign of the Cross with her finger upon the marble of the bath-house, leaving the saving sign cut as deeply into the marble as if it had been done with an iron too. (When the Synaxarion of Saint Barbara was written, the marble of the bath-house and the cross inscribed by Saint Barbara were still preserved, and many healings were worked there.) When Dioscorus returned, he asked why the third window had been added; Barbara began to declare to him the mystery of the Trinity. Because she refused to renounce her faith, Dioscorus tortured Barbara inhumanely, and after subjecting her to many sufferings he beheaded her with his own hands, in the year 290.


Savas
Friday, December 5
Saint Sabbas the Sanctified

This Saint was born in 439 in Moutalaska, a small village of Cappadocia. He entered the arena of the monastic life from childhood and was under that master trainer of monastics, Euthymius, the Great, the teacher of the desert. He became the spiritual Father of many monks and an instructor for the monasteries in Palestine, and was appointed leader (archimandrite) of the desert-dwellers of Palestine by the Patriarch of Jerusalem. In his old age he went to Constantinople, to the Emperors Anastasius and Saint Justinian the Great, in behalf of the Orthodox Faith and the dogmas of the Council of Chalcedon. Having lived ninety-four years, he reposed in 533. The Typicon for the ecclesiastical services had its beginning in the monastery established by this righteous one.


Nicholas
Saturday, December 6
Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Myra

This Saint lived during the reign of Saint Constantine the Great, and reposed in 330, As a young man, he desired to espouse the solitary life. He made a pilgrimage to the holy city Jerusalem, where he found a place to withdraw to devote himself to prayer. It was made known to him, however, that this was not the will of God for him, but that he should return to his homeland to be a cause of salvation for many. He returned to Myra, and was ordained bishop. He became known for his abundant mercy, providing for the poor and needy, and delivering those who had been unjustly accused. No less was he known for his zeal for the truth. He was present at the First Ecumenical Council of the 318 Fathers at Nicaea in 325; upon hearing the blasphemies that Arius brazenly uttered against the Son of God, Saint Nicholas struck him on the face. Since the canons of the Church forbid the clergy to strike any man at all, his fellow bishops were in perplexity what disciplinary action was to be taken against this hierarch whom all revered. In the night our Lord Jesus Christ and our Lady Theotokos appeared to certain of the bishops, informing them that no action was to be taken against him, since he had acted not out of passion, but extreme love and piety. The Dismissal Hymn for holy hierarchs, The truth of things hath revealed thee to thy flock … was written originally for Saint Nicholas. He is the patron of all travellers, and of sea-farers in particular; he is one of the best known and best loved Saints of all time.


Johnkronstadt
Sunday, December 7
Holy Father Saint John of Kronstadt

Saint John of Kronstadt was a married priest, who lived with his wife in virginity. Through his untiring labours in his priestly duties and love for the poor and sinners, he was granted by our Lord great gifts of clairvoyance and miracle – working, to such a degree that in the last years of his life miracles of healings – both of body and of soul – were performed countless times each day through his prayers, often for people who had only written to him asking his help. During his lifetime he was known throughout Russia, as well as in the Western world. He has left us his diary My Life in Christ as a spiritual treasure for Christians of every age; simple in language, it expounds the deepest mysteries of our Faith with that wisdom which is given only to a heart purified by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Foreseeing as a true prophet the Revolution Of 1917, he unsparingly rebuked the growing apostasy among the people; he foretold that the very name of Russia would be changed. As the darkness of unbelief grew thicker, he shone forth as a beacon of unquenchable piety, comforting the faithful through the many miracles that he worked and the fatherly love and simplicity with which he received all. Saint John reposed in peace in 1908.


Ambrose
Sunday, December 7
Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Milan

This Saint was born in Gaul in 340, and was a member of the Roman Senate. After the death of Auxentius, the Arian Bishop of Milan, a violent dispute arose among the Orthodox and Arians about who would succeed him. Ambrose, desiring as Governor of the province to restore the peace, attempted to mediate between them. As he spoke to the people, eloquently persuading them to elect a new bishop without tumult and disorder, a young child, inspired from on high, suddenly cried out “Ambrose, bishop!” To his astonishment and dismay, the people immediately took up this cry themselves, and over his many protests, he was raised to the episcopal throne of Milan on December 7, 374. A great Father of the Church, he wrote many works in Latin, and was both an unwearying opponent of Arianism, and a fearless accuser of emperors when they transgressed the law of God. Having lived fifty-seven years, he reposed on April 4, on the eve of Pascha, in the year 397.


Wisdom of the Fathers

“So great an evil is envy. For not against strangers only, but even against our own, is it ever warring.”

– St. John Chrysostom, Homily 40 on Matthew 12, 4th Century

“… And yet here He speaks only; whereas elsewhere in many cases He heals by laying on of hands also. But nevertheless none of these things made them meek; rather, while the man was healed, they by his health became worse. For His desire indeed was to cure them before him, and He tried innumerable ways of healing, both by what He did in their presence, and by what He said: but since their malady after all was incurable, He proceeded to the work.”

– St. John Chrysostom, Homily 40 on Matthew 12, 4th Century
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