Hymns of the Day
From the heights thou didst descend O Compassionate One, and thou didst submit to the three-day burial, that thou might deliver us from passion. Thou art our Life and our Resurrection, O Lord, glory to thee.
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.
O protection of Christians that cannot be put to shame, mediation unto the Creator most constant: O despise not the suppliant voices of those who have sinned, but be thou quick, o good one, to come unto our aid, who in faith cry unto thee. Hasten to intercession, and speed thou to make supplications, thou who dost ever protect, O Theotokos, them that honor thee.
Gospel and Epistle Readings
The Reading is from St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians (6:16-18; 7:1)
BRETHREN, you are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will live in them and move among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore come out from them, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch nothing unclean; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”
Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, and make holiness perfect in the fear of God.
The Reading is from the Gospel According to Saint Luke (6:31-36)
The Lord said, “And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”
Saints and Feasts
This Saint was born in Corinth in 448. He went to Palestine to the Lavra of Euthymius the Great, but because of his youth was sent by Saint Euthymius to Saint Gerasimus; after the death of Saint Gerasimus he returned to the Lavra of Saint Euthymius. Later he took on a more rigorous life of asceticism in the wilderness of Natoufa, where there was nothing to eat except the exceedingly bitter wild herb called squills, which, however, through his prayers, God made sweet for him and his disciple. He lived 107 years and reposed in the year 555.
This Saint, a Parthian by race, was the son of Anak. He was born about the year 240 and was taught the Faith of Christ in Caesarea of Cappadocia. He entered the service of Tiridates, King of Armenia, but when discovered to be a Christian, he was subjected to many horrible torments at the King’s hands, then was cast into a pit of mire with poisonous serpents and left to die. By the power of God, however, he abode there unharmed for fourteen years, his needs provided by a certain widow, until he was made known by revelation and set free. He converted to piety innumerable multitudes of Armenians, including Tiridates himself, and was consecrated bishop by Leontius, Archbishop of Caesarea, to shepherd the vast flock he had gained for Christ. He spent the last part of his life in retirement in the ascetical discipline, and reposed in peace about the year 325. Saint Gregory is honoured as the Illuminator of Armenia.
Saint Romanos flourished during the reign of Anastasius (491-518). He was from Emesa of Syria, and apparently was born of Jewish parents, for a hymn written in his honour in Greek says he was “of Hebrew stock,” and it has furthermore been noted that he uses many Semitic idioms in his writings. He was baptized an Orthodox Christian, and at some time became a deacon in the Church of Beirut. He was the first composer of the kontakia, the foremost of which is that of the feast of Christ’s Nativity, On this day the Virgin …. In composing many of his kontakia. Saint Romanos was inspired by the hymns of Saint Ephraim of Syria.
Saint Justina who was from Damascus, lived in virginity for the sake of Christ. Saint Cyprian, who was from Antioch, began as an initiate of magic and worshipper of the demons. A certain foolish young man who had been smitten with Justina’s beauty hired Cyprian to draw her to love him; when Cyprian had wed every demonic device he knew, and had failed, being repulsed by the power of Christ Whom Justina invoked, he understood the weakness of the demons and came to know the truth. Delivered from demonic delusion, he came to Christ and burned all his books of magic, was baptized, and later ascended the episcopal throne in his country. Later, he and Justina were arrested by the Count of Damascus, and having endured many torments at his hands, they were sent finally to Diocletian in Nicomedia, where they were beheaded about the year 304.
This Saint was from Athens, a learned man, and a member of the famous judicial court of Mars Hill (in Greek Aeros Pagos, hence the name Areopagite (see Acts 17:19-34). When Saint Paul preached in Athens, he was one of the first there to believe in Christ, and, according to some, became the first bishop of that city. Others say — and this may be more probable–that he was the second Bishop of Athens, after Saint Hierotheus, whom Dionysios calls his friend and teacher “after Paul” (On the Divine Names, 3:2). With Saint Hierotheus he was also present at the Dormition of the most holy Theotokos; the Doxasticon of the Aposticha for the service of the Dormition is partly taken from a passage in Chapter III of On the Divine Names. According to ancient tradition, he received a martyr’s end (according to some, in Athens itself) about the year 96.
“Saint Evdemoz led the Georgian Orthodox Church in the mid-17th century during the reign of King Rostom-Khan (1632-1658), a Georgian who had converted to Islam.
Having murdered King Luarsab II of Kartli and chased out King Teimuraz I of Kakheti, the Persian shah Abbas I had declared Rostom-Khan ruler of a unified Kartli-Kakheti kingdom.
Rostom tried to be accommodating in his policies and protect the beliefs and traditions of both the Persian shah and the Georgian people: he set a standard salary for the Georgian clergy and even
built churches, but society deteriorated rapidly nevertheless. Human vices became commonplace, and sins like those of Sodom and Gomorrah were multiplied. The nation was so overtaken by sin that even the clergy ceased to conduct themselves in a manner befitting their God-given role.
But the chief shepherd of the Georgian nation would not yield to the moral decline of his flock, and he confronted this crisis with conviction and fearlessness. Several times he led his most valiant military leaders in revolt against Persia. Following the example of Catholicos Evdemoz, several Georgian princes rebelled against the pro-Persian policies of Rostom-Khan and cast out the Islamic influence from their territories.
Catholicos Evdemoz resisted the Islamic custom of raising the king’s heirs in the shah’s court from a young age. He was never too intimidated by the king to expose his wrongdoing and tell him at every convenient opportunity: “You are the natural father of the Muslims, but the stepfather of the Christians!”
Evdemoz was the spiritual father of Rostom-Khan’s wife, the faithful Queen Mariam, the daughter of Manuchar Dadiani, Prince of Samegrelo.
As a result of the holy labors of Catholicos Evdemoz and Queen Mariam, the Christian soul of the Georgian people was not entirely extinguished. The Georgians built churches, wrote spiritual literature, and gradually regained their national consciousness. Catholicos Evdemoz preached throughout the country and developed and implemented a plan to bring King Teimuraz, who had been driven out by Shah Abbas, back to the throne.
Naturally Rostom-Khan felt threatened by the strong influence Catholicos Evdemoz had on the people. In 1642 he arrested the chief shepherd of the Georgian people and tried to win him over, but neither his feigned tenderness nor his threats could break the firm will of the man who loved Christ and his motherland above all else. After his arrest, St. Evdemoz criticized the king even more harshly and called on the people to rise up against him. Finally Rostom-Khan ordered that
Catholicos Evdemoz be strangled to death in his prison cell, and as a further insult, his body was cast off Nariqala Fortress (in Tbilisi) in the direction of the Turkish baths.
That night, a group of Christians stole the body of the holy hieromartyr Catholicos-Patriarch Evdemoz and buried it in the northwest corner of Anchiskhati Church in Tbilisi.”
Saint Charitina contested for Christ during the reign of Diocletian, in the year 290. The handmaid of a certain Claudius, she was betrayed as a Christian to Dometian, the Count, before whom she fearlessly confessed Christ. After suffering the most terrible tortures, including the uprooting of her teeth and nails, she gave up her soul into the hands of the Lord.
The feast of the Hierarchs of Moscow was established during the reign of Tsar Theodore Ioannovich and Patriarch Job in the year 1596. Their individual feasts are: Saint Peter (+1326), December 21, and August 24, translation of holy relics; Saint Alexis (+14th cent.), February 12, and May 20, recovery of holy relics; Saint Jonah (+1461), March 31 and June 15, with the recovery of his holy relics celebrated on May 27. In 1875, at the proposal of Metropolitan Innocent of Moscow, to this feast was joined the commemoration of Saint Philip of Moscow (+1569), whose feast is kept on January 9, and the recovery of his holy relics on July 3. In more recent times, the holy Patriarchs Hermogenes (+1612) and Tikhon (+1925) have been added to the Synaxis. Saint Hermogenes, who was starved to death by the Poles, is also celebrated on February 17 and May 12, and Saint Tikhon, a confessor under the atheist yoke, on March 25. the Menaion service itself makes reference only to Saints Peter, Alexis, Jonah, and Philip.