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.
Since thou wast first called among the Apostles, and a brother of the head, implore, O Andrew, the Master of all to grant the inhabited world safety and our souls the Great Mercy.
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.
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
The Reading is from St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians 4:9-16
BRETHREN, God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are ill-clad and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become, and are now, as the refuse of the world, the off-scouring of all things. I do not write this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me.
Andrew the First- Called Apostle
The Reading is from John 1:35-52
At that time, John was standing with two of his disciples; and he looked at Jesus as he walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned, and saw them following, and said to them, “What do you seek?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “Where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying; and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two who heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, “So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. And he found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael, and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! ” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.”
Saints and Feasts
Saint Clement was instructed in the Faith of Christ by the Apostle Peter. He became Bishop of Rome in the year 91, the third after the death of the Apostles. He died as a martyr about the year 100 during the reign of Trajan.
Read his Epistle, one of the earliest epistles after the New Testament period, at http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/1clement.html.
Saint Catherine, who was from Alexandria, was the daughter of Constas (or Cestus). She was an exceedingly beautiful maiden, most chaste, and illustrious in wealth, lineage, and learning. By her steadfast understanding, she utterly vanquished the passionate and unbridled soul of Maximinus, the tyrant of Alexandria; and by her eloquence, she stopped the mouths of the so-called philosophers who had been gathered to dispute with her. She was crowned with the crown of martyrdom in the year 305. Her holy relics were taken by Angels to the holy mountain of Sinai, where they were discovered many years later; the famous monastery of Saint Catherine was originally dedicated to the Holy Transfiguration of the Lord and the Burning Bush, but later was dedicated to Saint Catherine. According to the ancient usage, Saints Catherine and Mercurius were celebrated on the 24th of this month, whereas the holy Hieromartyrs Clement of Rome and Peter of Alexandria were celebrated on the 25th. The dates of the feasts of these Saints were interchanged at the request of the Church and Monastery of Mount Sinai, so that the festival of Saint Catherine, their patron, might be celebrated more festively together with the Apodosis of the Feast of the Entry of the Theotokos. The Slavic Churches, however, commemorate these Saints on their original dates.
“Our father among the saints Innocent of Irkutsk was an educator and early missionary to Siberia where he was appointed the first bishop of Irkutsk in central Siberia. His dedication to the task of preaching the Gospel and teaching the people of the area in their languages would be continued by his namesake Innocent of Alaska. St Innocent’s repose is commemorated on November 26. He is also remembered on February 9, the day of his glorification and translation, and on September 2, the date of the second translation of his relics to Irkutsk in 1990.”
This Saint was from the city of Bythlaba and was of noble birth; he was the closest and most honoured friend of Isdiger (or Yazdegerd) I, King of Persia (reigned 399-420). Though a Christian from his youth, James renounced Christ because he was allured by the King’s friendship and flatteries. When his mother and his wife learned of this, they declared to him by letter that they would have nothing more to do with him, since he had preferred a glory that is temporal to the love of Christ. Wounded in soul by these words and coming to himself, the Saint wept over his error, and repudiated the worship of the idols. Therefore, becoming exceedingly wroth, the King – this was Bahram (or Varahran) V (reigned 421-438), Isdiger’s son and successor – condemned him to a most bitter death, the likes of which not even a brute beast was ever condemned to: that is, his body was dismembered at every joint of his arms and legs. And so, when he had been cut asunder limb by limb to his very hips and shoulders, the courageous Martyr was finally beheaded, in the year 421.
The righteous Stephen was born in Constantinople in 715 to pious parents named John and Anna. His mother had prayed often to the most holy Theotokos in her church at Blachernae to be granted a son, and one day received a revelation from our Lady that she would conceive the son she desired. When Anna had conceived, she asked the newly-elected Patriarch Germanus (see May 12) to bless the babe in her womb. He said, “May God bless him through the prayers of the holy First Martyr Stephen.” At that moment Anna saw a flame of fire issue from the mouth of the holy Patriarch. When the child was born, she named him Stephen, according to the prophecy of Saint Germanus.
Stephen struggled in asceticism from his youth in Bithynia at the Monastery of Saint Auxentius, which was located at a lofty place called Mount Auxentius (see Feb. 14). Because of his extreme labours and great goodness, he was chosen by the hermits of Mount Auxentius to be their leader. The fame of his spiritual struggles reached the ears of all, and the fragrance of his virtue drew many to himself.
During the reign of Constantine V (741-775), Stephen showed his love of Orthodoxy in contending for the Faith. This Constantine was called Copronymus, that is, “namesake of dung,” because while being baptized he had soiled the waters of regeneration, giving a fitting token of what manner of impiety he would later embrace. Besides being a fierce Iconoclast, Constantine raised up a ruthless persecution of monasticism. He held a council in 754 that anathematized the holy icons. Because Saint Stephen rejected this council, the Emperor framed false accusations against him and exiled him. But while in exile Saint Stephen performed healings with holy icons and turned many away from Iconoclasm. When he was brought before the Emperor again, he showed him a coin and asked whose image the coin bore. “Mine,” said the tyrant. “If any man trample upon thine image, is he liable to punishment?” asked the Saint. When they that stood by answered yes, the Saint groaned because of their blindness, and said if they thought dishonouring the image of a corruptible king worthy of punishment, what torment would they receive who trampled upon the image of the Master Christ and of the Mother of God? Then he threw the coin to the ground and trampled on it. He was condemned to eleven months in bonds and imprisonment. Later, he was dragged over the earth and was stoned, like Stephen the First Martyr; wherefore he is called Stephen the New. Finally, he was struck with a wooden club on the temple and his head was shattered, and thus he gave up his spirit in the year 767.
Saint Paramonus contested for piety’s sake during the reign of Decius, in the year 250. A ruler named Aquilinus, seeking relief from a bodily malady, visited a certain therapeutic hot spring. He brought with him captive Christians from Nicomedia, and commanded them to offer sacrifice in the temple of Isis. When they refused, he had them all slaughtered, to the number of 370. Saint Paramonus, beholding their murder, boldly cried out against such an act of ungodliness. When Aquilinus heard this, he sent men to take the Saint. Some smote him with spears, others pierced his tongue and body with sharp reeds, until he died.
Saint Philumenus’ contest in martyrdom took place during the reign of Aurelian, in the year 270. Coming from Lycaonia, he was conveying a load of wheat into Galatia when he was denounced as a Christian to Felix, Governor of Ancyra. Nails were driven into his hands, feet, and head, and he was commanded to run. While running in the road, he fell and gave up his holy soul into the hands of God.
This Saint was from Bethsaida of Galilee; he was the son of Jonas and the brother of Peter, the chief of the Apostles. He had first been a disciple of John the Baptist; afterwards, on hearing the Baptist’s witness concerning Jesus, when he pointed Him out with his finger and said, “Behold the Lamb of God, Which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1.29,36), he straightway followed Christ, and became His first disciple; wherefore he is called the First-called of the Apostles. After the Ascension of the Saviour, he preached in various lands; and having suffered many things for His Name’s sake, he died in Patras of Achaia, where he was crucified on a cross in the shape of an “X,” the first letter of “Christ” in Greek; this cross is also the symbol of Saint Andrew.
Our venerable and God-bearing Father, Frumentius of Axum, introduced Christianity into Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) in northeastern Africa during the fourth century. He was named the first bishop of Axum. He was later recognized as a saint and is styled the Apostle of Ethiopia. He is commemorated on November 30.
Frumentius and his brother Edesius were young Phoenicians boys from Tyre in Palestine. In 316, accompanying their uncle Metropius on a trip to Abyssinia by ship, the crew was massacred in a port on the Red Sea and the boys taken as slaves to the King of Axum. In time, Frumentius and Edesius gained favor with the king and his family. Set free by the king as he died, the boys were asked by the widowed queen to help her educate her son the young prince, Erazanes, and assist in administration of the kingdom during his minority.
After they had agreed, Frumentius used their influence to spread the Christian faith in Abyssinia. Beginning by encouraging visiting Christian merchants to openly practice their faith in places of public worship, the brothers were able to bring some of the native Abyssinians to Christ. When the young prince came of age, the brothers were released from their commitment. Edesius returned to Tyre, but Frumentius stopped in Alexandria. Here he approached Archbishop Athanasius of Alexandria to send some clergy to Abyssinia. With Frumentius’ experience and enthusiasm Abp. Athanasius found Frumentius the most suitable candidate, and he consecrated Frumentius bishop of the mission to Abyssinia. The date of his consecration may have been in 328, but others consider the date to be between 340 and 346.
Frumentius returned to Abyssinia to establish his see in Axum. He baptized King Aeizanas, who had then succeeded to the throne. Through the years Frumentius built many churches and received many people as the Christian faith spread throughout the country. These Christian revered him, called him abouna (Our Father) and Abba Slama (Father of Peace). These titles are still used by the head of the Ethiopian Church. The people’s reverence for St. Frumentius was such that when, in 365, Emperor Constantius requested King Aeizanas to substitute the Arian bishop Theophilus for Frumentius, the request was in vain.
St. Frumentius died about 383.