Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November 30, 2011 - Extra Readings

Tω αυτώ μηνί Λ΄, μνήμη του Aγίου ενδόξου και πανευφήμου Aποστόλου Aνδρέου του Πρωτοκλήτου.
Αντίστροφον σταύρωσιν Aνδρέας φέρει,  
Φανείς αληθής ου σκιώδης αντίπους.
Σταυρόν κακκεφαλής τριακοστή Aνδρέας έτλη.

Oύτος ήτον από την πόλιν Bηθσαϊδάν, υιός μεν Iωνά, αδελφός δε Πέτρου του Aποστόλου. Oύτος έγινε πρότερον μαθητής Iωάννου του μεγάλου Προδρόμου και Bαπτιστού. Έπειτα όταν ήκουσε του Διδασκάλου του να λέγη, δακτυλοδεικτών τον Iησούν Xριστόν· «Ίδε ο αμνός του Θεού ο αίρων την αμαρτίαν του κόσμου»· τότε λέγω, αφήσας τον Πρόδρομον, ηκολούθησεν εις τον Xριστόν. Aλλά και προς τον αδελφόν του και Kορυφαίον Πέτρον ούτος είπεν· «Eυρήκαμεν τον Mεσσίαν». Kαι με τον λόγον αυτόν ετράβιξε τον Πέτρον εις τον του Xριστού πνευματικόν έρωτα. Kαι άλλα πολλά ευρίσκονται εις την θεόπνευστον Γραφήν, ειρημένα περί του Aποστόλου τούτου. Eις άλλον μεν ουν Aπόστολον, άλλο μέρος της οικουμένης εκληρώθη. Eις τούτον δε τον πρωτόκλητον, εκληρώθη μετά την ανάληψιν του Kυρίου η Bιθυνία, και η Mαύρη Θάλασσα, και τα μέρη της Προποντίδος: ήτοι τα μέρη τα από της θαλάσσης του Mαρμαρά αρχόμενα, και εκτεινόμενα έως εις την Mαύρην Θάλασσαν. Oμοίως και η Xαλκηδόνα, και το Bυζάντιον: ήτοι η νυν Kωνσταντινούπολις. Kαι η Θράκη, και η Mακεδονία, και τα μέρη οπού εκτείνονται, έως τον Δούναβιν ποταμόν. Ωσαύτως και η Θετταλία, και Eλλάς, και τα μέρη οπού φθάνουν έως εις την Aχαΐαν: ήτοι έως εις το μέρος εκείνο του Mορέως, το οποίον περιέχεται αναμεταξύ των Bασιλικών και της Γαστούνης. Oμοίως και η Aμινσός, η καλουμένη Σαμσόν και Eμήδ, και η Tραπεζούντα, και η Hράκλεια, και η Άμαστρις, ήτις Σήσαμος ωνομάζετο πρότερον.
Αυτάς δε τας πόλεις και επαρχίας δεν τας επέρασεν ο Aπόστολος έτζι ογλίγωρα, καθώς ο λόγος τας περνά. Όχι! αλλά εις κάθε πόλιν εδοκίμαζεν ο μακάριος πολλά εναντία. Kαι απάντα πολλάς δυσκολίας πραγμάτων. Eις όλας όμως εύρισκε και την βοήθειαν και δύναμιν του Θεού, και με αυτήν ενίκα πάντα, και εγίνετο κάθε βλάβης ανώτερος. Aπό τας ανωτέρω δε πόλεις μίαν μόνον θέλω ενθυμηθώ εδώ, και τας λοιπάς θέλω αφήσω. Όταν ο θείος ούτος Aπόστολος επήγεν εις την πόλιν της Σινώπης, και εκήρυξε τον λόγον του Eυαγγελίου, τότε εις πολλάς θλίψεις και βάσανα υποβάλλεται από τους εκεί κατοικούντας. Διότι οι θηριώδεις εκείνοι άνθρωποι έρριπτον αυτόν κατά γης. Kαι πιάνοντές τον από τας χείρας και πόδας, τον ετράβιζον, και με τα οδόντιά των τον εσπάραττον. Kαι με ξύλα τον έδερνον και με πέτρας τον εκτύπουν και έξω της πόλεως τον έρριπτον, όταν και με τα οδόντιά των του έκοψαν ένα δάκτυλον. Aλλ’ όμως ύστερον από όλα αυτά, πάλιν υγιής και ολόκληρος έγινε παρά του Xριστού και Διδασκάλου ο θείος Aπόστολος. Aπό την Σινώπην δε αναχωρήσας επέρασε πολλάς πόλεις, την Nεοκαισάρειαν, τα Σαμόσατα, ήτοι το κοινώς λεγόμενον Σεμψάτ, τους Aγαυούς, τους Aβασγούς τους εν τω Kρίμι ευρισκομένους, τους εν τη Kολχίδι Ζηκχούς1, τους Bοσπορινούς, ήτοι τους περί τον Kιμμέριον Bόσπορον οικούντας, και τους Xερσωνίτας. Έπειτα εγύρισε πάλιν εις το Bυζάντιον, και εκεί εχειροτόνησε τον Στάχυν Eπίσκοπον. Διαπεράσας δε τας λοιπάς χώρας, επήγεν εις την περιφανή Πελοπόννησον: ήτοι εις τον Mορέαν. Kαι ξενοδοχηθείς εν ταις παλαιαίς Πάτραις κοντά εις ένα άνθρωπον Σώσιον ονομαζόμενον, όστις ήτον πολλά ασθενής, ιάτρευσεν αυτόν. Kαι παρευθύς όλη η πόλις των Πατρών επίστευσεν εις τον Xριστόν. Όταν και η γυναίκα του ανθυπάτου της πόλεως Aιγεάτου, Mαξιμίλλα ονόματι, ιατρευθείσα υπό του Aποστόλου από την ασθένειαν οπού είχεν, επίστευσεν εις τον Xριστόν μαζί με τον σοφόν Στρατοκλήν, και με τον αδελφόν του ανθυπάτου. Kαι άλλοι δε πολλοί πάσχοντες από διαφόρους ασθενείας, έγιναν υγιείς διά της επιθέσεως των χειρών του Aποστόλου.
Όθεν ταύτα μαθών ο ανθύπατος Aιγεάτης, άναψεν από τον θυμόν. Kαι πιάσας τον του Kυρίου Aπόστολον, εκάρφωσεν αυτόν ανάποδα εις τον σταυρόν. Διά τούτο και ο άδικος έλαβε δικαίως παρά Θεού την εκδίκησιν. Διότι πεσών εις την γην από ένα υψηλόν κρημνόν, εσύντριψε τον εαυτόν του, και κακώς ο κακός εξέψυξε. Tο δε λείψανον του Aποστόλου ύστερον από πολλούς χρόνους μετετέθη εις την Kωνσταντινούπολιν με προσταγήν του βασιλέως Kωνσταντίου, του υιού του Mεγάλου Kωνσταντίνου, υπηρετήσαντος εις την μετάθεσιν αυτού, Aρτεμίου του μεγάλου δουκός και Mάρτυρος του εορταζομένου κατά την εικοστήν Oκτωβρίου. Kαι κατετέθη μαζί με τα λείψανα του Eυαγγελιστού Λουκά και Tιμοθέου των Aποστόλων, εις τον περίφημον Nαόν των Aγίων Aποστόλων. H κατάθεσις δε αύτη του λειψάνου του εορτάζεται κατά την εικοστήν Iουνίου. (Tον κατά πλάτος Bίον του Aποστόλου τούτου όρα εις τον Nέον Θησαυρόν2.)
ΣΗΜΕΙΩΣΕΙΣ
1. Ζηκχοί είναι οι νυν καλούμενοι Tζερκέζοι.
2. Σημείωσαι, ότι εις τον Aπόστολον τούτον Aνδρέαν, εγκωμιαστικόν λόγον πλέκει ο θείος Xρυσόστομος, σωζόμενον εν τη Iερά Mονή του Παντοκράτορος και εν τη των Iβήρων, ου η αρχή· «Tον πρωτόκλητον της αποστολικής». Oμοίως και Nικήτας ο Pήτωρ, ου η αρχή· «Πάσι μεν τοις του Θεού λόγου φίλοις». (Σώζεται εν τη Λαύρα, εν τω Kοινοβίω του Διονυσίου, εν τη Iερά Mονή του Bατοπαιδίου και τη των Iβήρων.) Υπόμνημα δε συνέγραψεν εις αυτόν και ο Mεταφραστής, ήτοι τον ελληνικόν Bίον του, ου η αρχή· «Άρτι του παιδός Ζαχαρίου». (Σώζεται εν τοις τετυπωμένοις Mηναίοις.) Εν δε τη Mεγίστη Λαύρα σώζονται και αι περίοδοι αυτού και η τελείωσις, ων η αρχή· «Άπερ τοις οφθαλμοίς ημών εθεασάμεθα πάντες».

Βιογραφία
Ο Ανδρέας, ψαράς στο επάγγελμα και αδελφός του Αποστόλου Πέτρου, ήταν από τη Βηθσαϊδά της Γαλιλαίας και τον πατέρα του τον έλεγαν Ιωνά. Επειδή κλήθηκε από τον Κύριο πρώτος στην ομάδα των μαθητών, ονομάστηκε πρωτόκλητος.
Ο Ανδρέας (μαζί με τον Ιωάννη τον ευαγγελιστή) υπήρξαν στην αρχή μαθητές του Ιωάννου του Προδρόμου. Κάποια μέρα μάλιστα, που βρισκόντουσαν στις όχθες του Ιορδάνη κι ο Πρόδρομος τους έδειξε τον Ιησού και τους είπε «ἴδε ὁ ἀμνὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ ὁ αἴρων τὴν ἁμαρτίαν τοῦ κόσμου», οι δύο απλοϊκοί εκείνοι ψαράδες συγκινήθηκαν τόσο πολύ, που χωρίς κανένα δισταγμό κι επιφύλαξη αφήκαν αμέσως τον δάσκαλο τους κι ακολούθησαν τον Ιησού.
Η ιστορία της ζωής του Ανδρέα μέχρι την Σταύρωση, την Ανάσταση και την Ανάληψη, υπήρξε σχεδόν ίδια με εκείνη των άλλων μαθητών. Μετά το σχηματισμό της πρώτης Εκκλησίας, ο Ανδρέας κήρυξε στη Βιθυνία, Εύξεινο Πόντο (μάλιστα ο Απόστολος, είναι ο ιδρυτής της Εκκλησίας του Βυζαντίου αφού εκεί εγκατέστησε πρώτο επίσκοπο, τον απόστολο Στάχυ (βλέπε 31 Οκτωβρίου) κι αυτού διάδοχος είναι ο Οικουμενικός Πατριάρχης), Θράκη, Μακεδονία και Ήπειρο. Τελικά, κατέληξε στην Αχαΐα.
Στην Αχαΐα, η διδασκαλία του καρποφόρησε και με τις προσευχές του θεράπευσε θαυματουργικά πολλούς ασθενείς. Έτσι, η χριστιανική αλήθεια είχε μεγάλες κατακτήσεις στο λαό της Πάτρας. Ακόμα και η Μαξιμίλλα, σύζυγος του ανθύπατου Αχαΐας Αιγεάτου, αφού τη θεράπευσε ο Απόστολος από τη βαρειά αρρώστια που είχε, πίστεψε στο Χριστό. Το γεγονός αυτό εκνεύρισε τον ανθύπατο και με την παρότρυνση ειδωλολατρών ιερέων συνέλαβε τον Ανδρέα και τον σταύρωσε σε σχήμα Χ. Έτσι, ο Απόστολος Ανδρέας παρέστησε τον εαυτό του στο Θεό «δόκιμον ἐργάτην» (Β΄ προς Τιμόθεον, 2: 15). Δηλαδή δοκιμασμένο και τέλειο εργάτη του Ευαγγελίου.
Οι χριστιανοί της Αχαΐας θρήνησαν βαθιά τον θάνατο του. Ο πόνος τους έγινε ακόμη πιο μεγάλος, όταν ο ανθύπατος Αιγεάτης αρνήθηκε να τους παραδώσει το άγιο λείψανο του, για να το θάψουν. Ο Θεός όμως οικονόμησε τα πράγματα. Την ίδια μέρα, που πέθανε ο άγιος, ο Αιγεάτης τρελάθηκε κι αυτοκτόνησε. Οι χριστιανοί τότε με τον επίσκοπο τους τον Στρατοκλή, πρώτο επίσκοπο των Πατρών, παρέλαβαν το σεπτό λείψανο και το 'θαψαν με μεγάλες τιμές.
Αργότερα, όταν στον θρόνο του Βυζαντίου ανέβηκε ο Κωνστάντιος, που ήταν γιος του Μεγάλου Κωνσταντίνου, μέρος του ιερού λειψάνου μεταφέρθηκε από την πόλη των Πατρών στην Κωνσταντινούπολη και κατατέθηκε στον ναό των αγίων Αποστόλων «ένδον της Αγίας Τραπέζης». Η αγία Κάρα του Πρωτοκλήτου φαίνεται πως απέμεινε στην Πάτρα.
Όταν όμως οι Τούρκοι επρόκειτο να καταλάβουν την πόλη το 1460 μ.Χ., τότε ο Θωμάς Παλαιολόγος, αδελφός του τελευταίου αυτοκράτορας Κωνσταντίνου του Παλαιολόγου και τελευταίος Δεσπότης του Μοριά, πήρε το πολύτιμο κειμήλιο και το μετέφερε στην Ιταλία. Εκεί, αφού το παρέλαβε ο Πάπας Πίος ο Β, το πολύτιμο κειμήλιο εναποτέθηκε στον ναό του αγίου Πέτρου της Ρώμης.
Τον Νοέμβριο του 1847 μ.Χ. ένας Ρώσος Πρίγκηπας, ο Ανδρέας Μουράβιεφ δώρησε στην πόλη της Πάτρας ένα τεμάχιο δακτύλου του χεριού του Αγίου. Ο Μουράβιεφ είχε λάβει το παραπάνω ιερό Λείψανο από τον Καλλίνικο, πρώην Επίσκοπο Μοσχονησίων, ο οποίος μόναζε τότε στο Άγιο Όρος.
Στην πόλη της Πάτρας, επανακομίσθηκαν και φυλάσσονται από την 26η Σεπτεμβρίου 1964 μ.Χ. η τιμία Κάρα του Αγίου και από την 19ην Ιανουαρίου 1980 μ.Χ. λείψανα του Σταυρού, του μαρτυρίου του. Η αγία Κάρα του Πρωτοκλήτου ύστερα από ενέργειες της Αρχιεπισκοπής Κύπρου μεταφέρθηκε και στην Κύπρο το 1967 μ.Χ. για μερικές μέρες κι εξετέθηκε σε ευλαβικό προσκύνημα.
Όπως αναφέρει μια Κυπριακή παράδοση, σε μια περιοδεία του, ο Απόστολος Ανδρέας, πήγε και στην Κύπρο. Το καράβι, που τον μετέφερε στην Αντιόχεια από την Ιόππη, λίγο πριν προσπεράσουν το γνωστό ακρωτήρι του αποστόλου Ανδρέα και τα νησιά, που είναι γνωστά με το όνομα Κλείδες, αναγκάστηκε να σταματήσει εκεί σ' ένα μικρό λιμανάκι, γιατί κόπασε ο άνεμος. Τις μέρες αυτές της νηνεμίας τους έλειψε και το νερό. Ένα πρωί, που ο πλοίαρχος βγήκε στο νησί κι έψαχνε να βρει νερό, πήρε μαζί του και τον απόστολο. Δυστυχώς πουθενά νερό. Κάποια στιγμή, που έφτασαν στη μέση των δύο εκκλησιών, που υπάρχουν σήμερα, της παλαιάς και της καινούργιας, που 'ναι κτισμένη λίγο ψηλότερα, ο άγιος γονάτισε μπροστά σ' ένα κατάξερο βράχο και προσευχήθηκε να στείλει ο Θεός νερό. Ποθούσε το θαύμα, για να πιστέψουν όσοι ήταν εκεί στον Χριστό. Ύστερα σηκώθηκε, σφράγισε με το σημείο του Σταυρού τον βράχο και το θαύμα έγινε. Από τη ρίζα του βράχου βγήκε αμέσως μπόλικο νερό, που τρέχει μέχρι σήμερα μέσα σ' ένα λάκκο της παλαιάς εκκλησίας κι απ' εκεί προχωρεί και βγαίνει από μια βρύση κοντά στη θάλασσα. Είναι το γνωστό αγίασμα. Το ευλογημένο νερό, που τόσους ξεδίψασε, μα και τόσους άλλους, μυριάδες ολόκληρες, που το πήραν με πίστη δρόσισε και παρηγόρησε. Και πρώτα-πρώτα το τυφλό παιδί του καπετάνιου.
Ήταν κι αυτό ένα από τα πρόσωπα του καραβιού που μετέφερε ο πατέρας. Γεννήθηκε τυφλό και μεγάλωσε μέσα σε ένα συνεχές σκοτάδι. Ποτέ του δεν είδε το φως. Δένδρα, φυτά, ζώα αγωνιζόταν να τα γνωρίσει με το ψαχούλεμα. Εκείνη την ήμερα, όταν οι ναύτες γύρισαν με τα ασκιά γεμάτα νερό κι εξήγησαν τον τρόπο που το βρήκαν στο νησί, ένα φως γλυκιάς ελπίδας άναψε στην καρδιά του δύστυχου παιδιού. Μήπως το νερό αυτό, σκέφτηκε, που βγήκε από τον ξηρό βράχο ύστερα απ' την προσευχή του παράξενου εκείνου συνεπιβάτη τους, θα μπορούσε να χαρίσει και σ' αυτόν το φως του που ποθούσε; Αφού με θαυμαστό τρόπο βγήκε, θαύματα θα μπορούσε και να προσφέρει. Με τούτη την πίστη και τη βαθιά ελπίδα ζήτησε και το παιδί λίγο νερό. Διψούσε. Καιγόταν απ' τη δίψα. Ο απόστολος, που ήταν εκεί, έσπευσε κι έδωσε στο παιδί ένα δοχείο γεμάτο από το δροσερό νερό. Όμως το παιδί προτίμησε, αντί να δροσίσει με το νερό τα χείλη του, να πλύνει πρώτα το πρόσωπο του. Και ω του θαύματος! Μόλις το δροσερό νερό άγγιξε τους βολβούς των ματιών του παιδιού, το παιδί άρχισε να βλέπει!
Κι ο απόστολος, που τον κοίταζαν όλοι με θαυμασμό, άρχισε να τους μιλά και να τους διδάσκει τη νέα θρησκεία. Το τέλος της ομιλίας πολύ καρποφόρο. Όσοι τον άκουσαν πίστεψαν και βαφτίστηκαν. Την αρχή έκανε ο καπετάνιος με το παιδί του, που πήρε και το όνομα Ανδρέας. Κι ύστερα όλοι οι άλλοι επιβάτες και μερικοί ψαράδες που ήσαν εκεί. Πίστεψαν όλοι στον Χριστό που τους κήρυξε ο απόστολος μας και βαφτίστηκαν. Φυσικά το θαύμα της θεραπείας του τυφλού παιδιού, ακολούθησαν κι άλλα, κι άλλα. Στο μεταξύ ο άνεμος άρχισε να φυσά και το καράβι ετοιμάστηκε για να συνεχίσει το ταξίδι του. Ο απόστολος, αφού κάλεσε κοντά του όλους εκείνους που πίστεψαν στον Χριστό και βαφτίστηκαν, τους έδωκε τις τελευταίες συμβουλές του και τους αποχαιρέτησε.
Αργότερα, μετά από χρόνια, κτίστηκε στον τόπο αυτόν που περπάτησε και άγιασε με την προσευχή, τα θαύματα και τον ιδρώτα του ο Πρωτόκλητος μαθητής, το μεγάλο μοναστήρι του Αποστόλου Ανδρέα, που με τον καιρό είχε γίνει παγκύπριο προσκύνημα. Κάθε χρόνο χιλιάδες προσκυνητές απ' όλα τα μέρη της Κύπρου, ορθόδοξοι και ετερόδοξοι κι αλλόθρησκοι ακόμη, συνέρεαν στο μοναστήρι, για να προσκυνήσουν τη θαυματουργό εικόνα του αποστόλου, να βαφτίσουν εκεί τα νεογέννητα παιδιά τους και να προσφέρουν τα δώρα τους, για να εκφράσουν τα ευχαριστώ και την ευγνωμοσύνη τους στον θείο απόστολο. Κολυμβήθρα Σιλωάμ ήταν η εκκλησία του για τους πονεμένους. Πλείστα όσα θαύματα γινόντουσαν εκεί σε όσους μετέβαιναν με πίστη αληθινή και συντριβή ψυχής.

Παράκληση στον Απόστολο Ανδρέα
Ποίημα του Αγίου Νικοδήμου του Αγιορείτου
Κῆρυξ Οἰκουμένης μέγας φανεῖς,
Πάλιν Βυζαντίδα
Σὺ φωτίζεις κατ' ἐξοχὴν
σὺν τὴ τοῦ Εὐξείνου,
Ἀνδρέα μάκαρ, Πόντου τὴ Ἀμισῶ καὶ ταύταις
σαφῶς ἐφώτισας.

Λόγοις Σου φωτίζεις τὴν Λαζικὴν
καὶ τὴν Τραπεζούντα
σὺν Νικαία τὴ θαυμαστὴ
καὶ Νικομήδεια,
συνάμα Χαλκηδόνι, ὡς μύστης καὶ αὐτόπτης
Χριστοῦ, Ἀπόστολε.

Τὴν Πόντου Ἡρακλείαν, ὡς εἰκός,
λόγοις ἐκδιδάξας,
ὢ Ἀνδρέα Καθηγητά,
καὶ τὴν Προποντίδα
ὠσαύτως ἐκδιδάσκεις καὶ πόλιν τοῦ Εὐξείνου
σὺν τὲ Αμάστριδα.

Θαύμασι φωτίζεις τοὺς Σινωπεῖς,
Μύστα τοῦ Δεσπότου,
Σαμοσάτας τε τοὺς σοφούς,
Νεοκαισαρεῖς τε,
τοὺς πρώην ἀπειθεῖς μέν, πιστοὺς δὲ διὰ λόγων
Σοῦ εἰς τὸ ὕστερον.
Κῆρυξ καὶ τῆς Θρᾴκης οὒν γεγονῶς,
πάσης Θετταλίας
καὶ Ἑλλάδος, Μάκαρ Σοφέ,
καὶ Μακεδονίας,
ἐσχάτως ἐκδιδάσκεις, Ἀνδρέα Μυστολέκτα,
Τὴν Πελοπόννησον.

November 30, 2011 - 25th Wednesday after Pentecost (11th of Luke)

FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:

Andrew the First- Called Apostle
Froumentios, Archbishop of Abyssina

Τοῦ Ἁγίου καί Ἐνδόξου Ἀποστόλου Ἀνδρέου τοῦ Πρωτοκλήτου.

READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:

The Reading is from Matthew 2:13-23
When 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."

Κατὰ Ματθαῖον 2.13-23
᾿Αναχωρησάντων δὲ αὐτῶν ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος Κυρίου φαίνεται κατ᾿ ὄναρ τῷ ᾿Ιωσὴφ λέγων· ἐγερθεὶς παράλαβε τὸ παιδίον καὶ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ καὶ φεῦγε εἰς Αἴγυπτον, καὶ ἴσθι ἐκεῖ ἕως ἂν εἴπω σοι· μέλλει γὰρ ῾Ηρῴδης ζητεῖν τὸ παιδίον τοῦ ἀπολέσαι αὐτό.῾Ο δὲ ἐγερθεὶς παρέλαβε τὸ παιδίον καὶ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ νυκτὸς καὶ ἀνεχώρησεν εἰς Αἴγυπτον,καὶ ἦν ἐκεῖ ἕως τῆς τελευτῆς ῾Ηρῴδου, ἵνα πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπὸ τοῦ Κυρίου διὰ τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος· ἐξ Αἰγύπτου ἐκάλεσα τὸν υἱόν μου. Τότε ῾Ηρῴδης ἰδὼν ὅτι ἐνεπαίχθη ὑπὸ τῶν μάγων, ἐθυμώθη λίαν, καὶ ἀποστείλας ἀνεῖλε πάντας τοὺς παῖδας τοὺς ἐν Βηθλεὲμ καὶ ἐν πᾶσι τοῖς ὁρίοις αὐτῆς ἀπὸ διετοῦς καὶ κατωτέρω, κατὰ τὸν χρόνον ὃν ἠκρίβωσε παρὰ τῶν μάγων.τότε ἐπληρώθη τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπὸ ῾Ιερεμίου τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος· φωνὴ ἐν ῾Ραμᾷ ἠκούσθη,θρῆνος καὶ κλαυθμὸς καὶ ὀδυρμὸς πολύς·῾Ραχὴλ κλαίουσα τὰ τέκνα αὐτῆς,καὶ οὐκ ἤθελε παρακληθῆναι, ὅτι οὐκ εἰσίν. Τελευτήσαντος δὲ τοῦ ῾Ηρῴδου ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος Κυρίου κατ᾿ ὄναρ φαίνεται τῷ ᾿Ιωσὴφ ἐν Αἰγύπτῳλέγων· ἐγερθεὶς παράλαβε τὸ παιδίον καὶ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ καὶ πορεύου εἰς γῆν ᾿Ισραήλ· τεθνήκασι γὰρ οἱ ζητοῦντες τὴν ψυχὴν τοῦ παιδίου.ὁ δὲ ἐγερθεὶς παρέλαβε τὸ παιδίον καὶ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ καὶ ἦλθεν εἰς γῆν ᾿Ισραήλ.ἀκούσας δὲ ὅτι ᾿Αρχέλαος βασιλεύει ἐπὶ τῆς ᾿Ιουδαίας ἀντὶ ῾Ηρῴδου τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ, ἐφοβήθη ἐκεῖ ἀπελθεῖν· χρηματισθεὶς δὲ κατ᾿ ὄναρ ἀνεχώρησεν εἰς τὰ μέρη τῆς Γαλιλαίας,καὶ ἐλθὼν κατῴκησεν εἰς πόλιν λεγομένην Ναζαρέτ, ὅπως πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ τῶν προφητῶν ὅτι Ναζωραῖος κληθήσεται.

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.

Πρὸς Κορινθίους α' 4:9-16
Ἀδελφοί, ὁ θεὸς ἡμᾶς τοὺς ἀποστόλους ἐσχάτους ἀπέδειξεν ὡς ἐπιθανατίους· ὅτι θέατρον ἐγενήθημεν τῷ κόσμῳ, καὶ ἀγγέλοις, καὶ ἀνθρώποις. Ἡμεῖς μωροὶ διὰ χριστόν, ὑμεῖς δὲ φρόνιμοι ἐν χριστῷ· ἡμεῖς ἀσθενεῖς, ὑμεῖς δὲ ἰσχυροί· ὑμεῖς ἔνδοξοι, ἡμεῖς δὲ ἄτιμοι. Ἄχρι τῆς ἄρτι ὥρας καὶ πεινῶμεν, καὶ διψῶμεν, καὶ γυμνητεύομεν, καὶ κολαφιζόμεθα, καὶ ἀστατοῦμεν, καὶ κοπιῶμεν ἐργαζόμενοι ταῖς ἰδίαις χερσίν· λοιδορούμενοι εὐλογοῦμεν· διωκόμενοι ἀνεχόμεθα· βλασφημούμενοι παρακαλοῦμεν· ὡς περικαθάρματα τοῦ κόσμου ἐγενήθημεν, πάντων περίψημα ἕως ἄρτι. Οὐκ ἐντρέπων ὑμᾶς γράφω ταῦτα, ἀλλʼ ὡς τέκνα μου ἀγαπητὰ νουθετῶ. Ἐὰν γὰρ μυρίους παιδαγωγοὺς ἔχητε ἐν χριστῷ, ἀλλʼ οὐ πολλοὺς πατέρας· ἐν γὰρ χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ διὰ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου ἐγὼ ὑμᾶς ἐγέννησα. Παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς, μιμηταί μου γίνεσθε.

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."

Κατὰ Ἰωάννην 1.35-52
Τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ, εἱστήκει ὁ ᾽Ιωάννης καὶ ἐκ τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ δύο,καὶ ἐμβλέψας τῷ ᾽Ιησοῦ περιπατοῦντι λέγει, ῎Ιδε ὁ ἀμνὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ. Καὶ ἤκουσαν οἱ δύο μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ λαλοῦντος καὶ ἠκολούθησαν τῷ ᾽Ιησοῦ. Στραφεὶς δὲ ὁ ᾽Ιησοῦς καὶ θεασάμενος αὐτοὺς ἀκολουθοῦντας λέγει αὐτοῖς, Τί ζητεῖτε; οἱ δὲ εἶπαν αὐτῷ, ῾Ραββί (ὃ λέγεται μεθερμηνευόμενον Διδάσκαλε), ποῦ μένεις;λέγει αὐτοῖς, ῎Ερχεσθε καὶ ὄψεσθε. ἦλθαν οὖν καὶ εἶδαν ποῦ μένει, καὶ παρ᾽ αὐτῷ ἔμειναν τὴν ἡμέραν ἐκείνην· ὥρα ἦν ὡς δεκάτη. Ἦν ᾽Ανδρέας ὁ ἀδελφὸς Σίμωνος Πέτρου εἷς ἐκ τῶν δύο τῶν ἀκουσάντων παρὰ ᾽Ιωάννου καὶ ἀκολουθησάντων αὐτῷ·εὑρίσκει οὗτος πρῶτον τὸν ἀδελφὸν τὸν ἴδιον Σίμωνα καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ, Εὑρήκαμεν τὸν Μεσσίαν [ὅ ἐστιν μεθερμηνευόμενον Χριστός]·ἤγαγεν αὐτὸν πρὸς τὸν ᾽Ιησοῦν. ἐμβλέψας αὐτῷ ὁ ᾽Ιησοῦς εἶπεν, Σὺ εἶ Σίμων ὁ υἱὸς ᾽Ιωάννου· σὺ κληθήσῃ Κηφᾶς [ὃ ἑρμηνεύεται Πέτρος]. Τῇ ἐπαύριον ἠθέλησεν ἐξελθεῖν εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν, καὶ εὑρίσκει Φίλιππον. καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ ᾽Ιησοῦς, ᾽Ακολούθει μοι. Ἦν δὲ ὁ Φίλιππος ἀπὸ Βηθσαϊδά, ἐκ τῆς πόλεως ᾽Ανδρέου καὶ Πέτρου. Εὑρίσκει Φίλιππος τὸν Ναθαναὴλ καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ, ὃν ἔγραψεν Μωϋσῆς ἐν τῷ νόμῳ καὶ οἱ προφῆται εὑρήκαμεν, ᾽Ιησοῦν υἱὸν τοῦ ᾽Ιωσὴφ τὸν ἀπὸ Ναζαρέτ. Καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ Ναθαναήλ, ᾽Εκ Ναζαρὲτ δύναταί τι ἀγαθὸν εἶναι; λέγει αὐτῷ Φίλιππος, ῎Ερχου καὶ ἴδε. Εἶδεν ὁ ᾽Ιησοῦς τὸν Ναθαναὴλ ἐρχόμενον πρὸς αὐτὸν καὶ λέγει περὶ αὐτοῦ, ῎Ιδε ἀληθῶς ᾽Ισραηλίτης ἐν ᾧ δόλος οὐκ ἔστιν. Λέγει αὐτῷ Ναθαναήλ, Πόθεν με γινώσκεις; ἀπεκρίθη ᾽Ιησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ, Πρὸ τοῦ σε Φίλιππον φωνῆσαι ὄντα ὑπὸ τὴν συκῆν εἶδόν σε. Ἀπεκρίθη αὐτῷ Ναθαναήλ, ῾Ραββί, σὺ εἶ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ, σὺ βασιλεὺς εἶ τοῦ ᾽Ισραήλ. Ἀπεκρίθη ᾽Ιησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ, Ὅτι εἶπόν σοι ὅτι εἶδόν σε ὑποκάτω τῆς συκῆς πιστεύεις; μείζω τούτων ὄψῃ. Καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ, ᾽Αμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ὄψεσθε τὸν οὐρανὸν ἀνεῳγότα καὶ τοὺς ἀγγέλους τοῦ Θεοῦ ἀναβαίνοντας καὶ καταβαίνοντας ἐπὶ τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου.

READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:

Τῇ Λ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου ἐνδόξου καὶ πανευφήμου Ἀποστόλου, Ἀνδρέου τοῦ Πρωτοκλήτου.
Ἀντίστροφον σταύρωσιν Ἀνδρέας φέρει,
Φανεὶς ἀληθῶς οὐ σκιώδης ἀντίπους.
Σταυρὸν κακκεφαλῆς τριακοστῇ Ἀνδρέας ἔτλη.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ὁσίου Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Φρουμεντίου, Ἐπισκόπου Ἰνδίας.
Φρουρούμενος χάριτι Σεπτῆς Τριάδος,
Φρουμέντιος δέδειχε φροῦδον τὴν πλάνην.
Ταῖς τῶν Ἁγίων σου πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεός, ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.

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.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Ὡς τῶν Ἀποστόλων Πρωτόκλητος, καὶ τοῦ Κορυφαίου αὐτάδελφος, τὸν Δεσπότην τῶν ὅλων Ἀνδρέα ἱκέτευε, εἰρήνην τὴ οἰκουμένη δωρήσασθαι, καὶ ταὶς ψυχαὶς ἡ μῶν τὸ μέγα ἔλεος.
As the first-called of the Apostles, and brother of their leader, O Andrew, entreat the Master of all that peace be granted unto the world and great mercy to our souls.

Kontakion in the Second Tone
Τόν τής ανδρείας επώνυμον θεηγόρον, καί μαθητών τόν πρωτόκλητον τού Σωτήρος, Πέτρου τόν σύγγονον ευφημήσωμεν, ότι ως πάλαι τούτω καί νύν ημίν εκέκραγεν, Ευρήκαμεν δεύτε τόν ποθούμενον.
Let us praise the namesake of bravery, the divinely eloquent and first to be called of the Disciples of Christ, the kinsman of Peter. As he called out to him in days of old, so now he calls to us, "Come, we have found Him for whom we yearned."

Ο πρώτος που κάλεσε ο Χριστός από τους ψαράδες της Γαλιλαίας για να τον αναδείξη απόστολο και κήρυξα του Ευαγγελίου είναι ο Ανδρέας, του οποίου η Εκκλησία σήμερα γιορτάζει την μνήμη. Ο πρωτόκλητος Ανδρέας είναι αδελφός του πρωτοκορυφαίου Πέτρου, γιος του Ιωνά από τη Βηθσαϊδά. Δυο μεγάλες ελληνικές πόλεις συνδέονται με την αποστολική δράση του Αποστόλου Ανδρέα, το Βυζάντιο και η Πάτρα. Στην Πάτρα μαρτύρησε με σταυρικό θάνατο και μάλιστα ανάποδα, δηλαδή με το κεφάλι προς τα κάτω. Παρ' όλο που ο Ανδρέας, σαν ψαράς, ήταν ένας απλός άνθρωπος, όμως δεν έπαυε νάχη πνευματικά διαφέροντα, να είν' από κείνους, που ερευνώντας στον Μωϋσή και τους άλλους προφήτας, περίμεναν την εκπλήρωση των επαγγελιών του Θεού. Γι' αυτό όχι μόνο πρωτόκλητος είναι ο Ανδρέας αλλά και πρώτος που ανάγγειλε θριαμβικά την παρουσία του Χριστού: "Ευρήκαμεν τον Μεσσίαν!".

Ὁ Ἅγιος Ἀνδρέας ὁ Ἀπόστολος, ὁ Πρωτόκλητος
Ὁ Ἀνδρέας, ψαρὰς στὸ ἐπάγγελμα καὶ ἀδελφὸς τοῦ Ἀποστόλου Πέτρου, ἦταν ἀπὸ τὴν Βηθσαϊδὰ τῆς Γαλιλαίας. Ἐπειδὴ κλήθηκε ἀπὸ τὸν Κύριο πρῶτος στὴν ὁμάδα τῶν μαθητῶν, ὀνομάστηκε πρωτόκλητος. Ἡ ἱστορία τῆς ζωῆς τοῦ Ἀνδρέα μέχρι τὴν Σταύρωση, τὴν Ἀνάσταση καὶ τὴν Ἀνάληψη τοῦ Κυρίου, ὑπῆρξε σχεδὸν ἴδια μὲ ἐκείνη τῶν ἄλλων μαθητῶν. Μετὰ τὸ σχηματισμὸ τῆς πρώτης Ἐκκλησίας, ὁ Ἀνδρέας κήρυξε στὴ Βιθυνία, Εὔξεινο Πόντο, Θρᾴκη, Μακεδονία καὶ Ἤπειρο. Τε-λικά, κατέληξε στὴν Ἀχαΐα. Ἐκεῖ ἡ διδασκαλία του καρποφόρησε καὶ μὲ τὶς προ-σευχές του θεράπευσε θαυματουργικὰ πολλοὺς ἀσθενεῖς. Ἔτσι, ἡ χριστιανικὴ ἀλήθεια εἶχε μεγάλες κατακτήσεις στὸ λαὸ τῆς Πάτρας. Ἀκόμα καὶ ἡ Μαξιμίλλα, σύζυγος τοῦ ἀνθυπάτου Ἀχαΐας Αἰγεάτου, ἀφοῦ τὴν θεράπευσε ὁ Ἀπόστολος ἀπὸ τὴν βαρειὰ ἀῤῥώστια ποὺ εἶχε, πίστεψε στὸ Χριστό. Τὸ γεγονὸς ἐκνεύρισε τὸν ἀνθύπατο, καὶ μὲ τὴν παρότρυνση τῶν εἰδωλολατρῶν ἱερέων συνέλαβε τὸν Ἀνδρέα καὶ τὸν σταύρωσε σὲ σταυρὸ σχήματος Χ. Ἔτσι, ὁ Ἀπόστολος Ἀνδρέας «παρέστησε τὸν ἑαυτό του στὸ Θεὸ δόκιμον ἐργάτην», δηλαδὴ δοκιμασμένο καὶ τέλειο ἐργάτη τοῦ Εὐαγγελίου. Τὸ λείψανό του ἔθαψε μὲ εὐλάβεια ὁ πρῶτος ἐπίσκοπος Πατρῶν Στρατοκλῆς.

Ὁ Ἅγιος Φρουμέντιος ἀρχιεπίσκοπος Ἀβησσυνίας (Αἰθιοπίας)
Στὰ χρόνια τοῦ μεγάλου Κωνσταντίνου (330), κάποιος φιλόσοφος ἀπὸ τὴν Τύρο, ποὺ ὀνομαζόταν Φρουμέντιος, πῆγε στὴν Ἀβησσυνία (Αἰθιοπία) γιὰ νὰ συλλέξει ἱστορικὰ στοιχεῖα γι᾿ αὐτὴν τὴ χώρα. Ἔγινε γνωστὸς στὴ βασιλικὴ αὐλὴ γιὰ τὴν λογιότητά του καὶ διορίστηκε σὲ ἀνώτερη διοικητικὴ θέση. Τὴ θέση καὶ τὴν ἐπιῤῥοή του χρησιμοποίησε γιὰ τὴν ἔναρξη διάδοσης τοῦ χριστιανισμοῦ. Κατόπιν ἐπέστρεψε στὴν Ἀλεξάνδρεια, ὅπου ἀνακοίνωσε στὸν τότε ἀρχιεπίσκοπο Μέγα Ἀθανάσιο, ὅτι μία πιὸ συστηματικὴ χριστιανικὴ ἐργασία σ᾿ αὐτὴν τὴ χώρα θὰ εἶχε ἀποτελέσματα καρποφόρα. Ὁ Μέγας Ἀθανάσιος συμφώνησε καὶ τοῦ ἀνέθεσε τὴν ἱεραποστολὴ ἐκείνη, ἀφοῦ τὸν χειροτόνησε ἐπίσκοπο (τὸ ἔτος 341) μὲ τὸν τίτλο «Ἀξώμης». Καὶ ἡ ἱεραποστολὴ ἐκείνη, μὲ βοηθὸ τοῦ Φρουμεντίου τὸν Αἰδέσιο, ἔφερε πράγματι ἀρκετὴ καρποφορία.

Ὁ Ἅγιος Ἀλέξανδρος Μηθύμνης
Ὁ ἅγιος Ἀλέξανδρος, σύμφωνα μὲ τὴν παράδοση, ἦτο ἐπίσκοπος Μηθύμνης, ὁ πρῶτος ἴσως ἐπίσκοπος αὐτῆς τῆς Μητροπόλεως, καὶ μάλιστα ἔλαβε μέρος στὴν Α´ Οἰκουμενικὴ Σύνοδο τὸ ἔτος 325 μ.Χ. Ἐπίσης, λέγεται, ὅτι ἵδρυσε μοναστήρι στὴν περιφέρεια τῆς Κοινότητος Λαφιώνας, ὅπου πέρασε τὰ τελευταῖα χρόνια της ζωῆς του. Γιὰ τὸ ἔργο, ἐπίσης, τοῦ ἁγίου Ἀλεξάνδρου δὲν ἔχομε ἄλλες πληροφορίες, ἐκτὸς ἀπὸ αὐτὲς ποὺ μᾶς δίνει ἡ ἀκολουθία ποὺ ψάλλεται τὴν ἡμέρα τῆς ἑορτῆς τοῦ ἁγίου, στὶς 30 Νοεμβρίου. Ἐκεῖ ἐγκωμιάζεται ὁ ἅγιος Ἀλέξανδρος «φωστὴρ ἀκοίμητος, ποιμὴν ὁ πραότατος, ἐν εὐσεβείᾳ συγκρατήσας τὸ ποίμνιον, ὁδηγήσας τε καὶ ποιμάνας ἐν χάριτι, λύκους ὡς τροπωσάμενος δεινῶς αἱρετίζοντας» καὶ στὴ συνέχεια ὡς «πολύφωτος ἀστὴρ μοναζόντων» καὶ σὲ ἄλλο σημεῖο ὅτι «ἰατρεῖον παθῶν ἀναδέδεικται ἡ σορὸς τῶν ἁγίων λειψάνων αὐτοῦ».

Holy, Glorious and Illustrious Apostle Andrew the First-Called
He was the brother of the Apostle Peter, from Bethsaida on the shore of Lake Gennesaret. Andrew left his fisherman's trade to become a disciple of St John the Baptist. Soon after the Forerunner had baptized Jesus, he said to Andrew and his other disciple John the Theologian, "Behold the Lamb of God!" At this, both disciples followed after Jesus. After conversing with Christ, Andrew hurried home and told his brother Simon Peter, "We have found the Messiah." For being the first to recognize Jesus as the Christ, St Andrew is called the First-Called.
  After Pentecost, Andrew was appointed to preach the Gospel around the Black Sea and in Thrace and Macedonia, traveling as far as Lazica in the Caucasus. According to Slavic tradition his travels took him even further, into the land that was later to be called Russia.
  In later travels the Apostle preached throughout Asia Minor with St John the Theologian, then traveled to Mesopotamia, then back to Sinope on the Black Sea, and finally to Patras in the Peloponnese, where he soon established a large community of Christians. One of his converts was Maximilla, the wife of Aegeates, the Proconsul of that region. Aegeates was so angered by his wife's conversion that he had the Apostle arrested and crucified head downwards on a cross in the shape of an "X." The holy Apostle rejoiced to be allowed to suffer the same death as his Master.
  The holy relics of St Andrew, after various travels, were returned to Patras in 1964, where they are now venerated.
  In the West, St Andrew is venerated as the patron of Scotland: in the Middle Ages, more than eight hundred churches in Scotland were dedicated to him.

Our Venerable Father Frumentius, first Bishop of Ethiopia (4th c.)
During the reign of St Constantine the Great, an explorer named Meropus set out to explore lands along the Red Sea, previously unknown to the Roman world. The expedition's ship was attacked by pirates and all the company killed except two young men named Frumentius and Edesius. They were sold into slavery in the court of the Ethiopian King of Axum, where they distinguished themselves so well that they became palace stewards and were able to obtain freedom of Christian worship for merchants trading in the Kingdom.
  Eventually the young men returned to Roman territory, and Frumentius went to St Athanasius the Great of Alexandria to tell him of his travels and of the great thirst of the Ethiopian people for the Gospel of Christ. Saint Athanasius consecrated Frumentius as first Bishop of Abyssinia and sent him back to Axum to establish the Church in that kingdom.
  Through his apostolic zeal, tireless travels, and miracles and healings, the holy Bishop was able convert many pagans and establish many churches in Ethiopia, though the Kingdom did not become officially Christian until the sixth century. Saint Frumentius reposed in peace in his adopted country, and his relics worked many miracles.
  The Church of Ethiopia traces its origin to the apostolic work of the Ethiopian eunuch baptized by the Apostle Philip in the Book of Acts, who "went on his way rejoicing" to Ethiopia and first proclaimed the Gospel there. Thus, it seems there was already a Christian presence in the country when Frumentius arrived: this may be the source of the statement in his biography that he found the Ethiopian people thirsty for the Good News.

The Holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called (Pervozvyannii) was the first of the Apostles to follow Christ, and he afterwards brought to Christ his own brother the holy Apostle Peter (Jn. 1: 35-42). The future apostle was from Bethsaida, and from the time of his youth he turned with all his soul to God. He did not enter into marriage, and together with his brother he worked as a fisherman. When upon Israel thundered the voice of the holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord John, Saint Andrew became his closest disciple. Saint John the Baptist himself sent off to Christ his own two disciples, the future Apostles Andrew and John the Theologian, declaring Christ to be the Lamb of God.
After the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles, Saint Andrew set off preaching the Word of God to the Eastern lands. He went through Asia Minor, Thrace, Macedonia, he reached along the River Dunaj (Danube), went along the coast of the Black Sea, through Crimea, the Black Sea Region and along the River Dniepr he climbed to the place, where now stands the city of Kiev. He stopped overnight on the hills of Kiev. Rising in the morning, he said to those disciples that were with him: "See ye these hills? Upon these hills will shine forth the beneficence of God, and there wilt be here a great city, and God shalt raise up many churches". The apostle went up around the hills, blessed them and set up a cross. Having prayed, he went up even further along the Dniepr and reached a settlement of the Slavs, where Novgorod was built. From here the apostle went through the land of the Varangians towards Rome for preaching, and again he returned to Thrace, where in the small village of Byzantium -- the future mighty Constantinople, he founded the Church of Christ. The name of the holy Apostle Andrew connects the mother -- the Church of Constantinople, together with the daughter -- the Russian Church.
On his journeys the First-Called Apostle endured many sufferings and torments from pagans: they cast him out from their cities and they beat him. In Sinope they pelted him with stones, but remaining unharmed, the persevering disciple of Christ continued to preaching about the Saviour to people. Through the prayers of the apostle, the Lord worked miracles. From the labours of the holy Apostle Andrew there emerged Christian Churches, for which he established bishops and clergy. The final city to which the First-Called Apostle came, and where it was allotted him to accept a martyr's end, was the city of Patra.
The Lord manifest many a miracle through His disciple in Patra. The infirm were made whole, and the blind received their sight. Through the prayers of the apostle, the illustrious citizen Sosios recovered from serious illness; by the placing on of apostolic hands was healed Maximilla, wife of the governor of Patra, and his brother Stratokles. The miracles accomplished by the apostle and his fiery speech enlightened with the true faith almost all the citizens of the city of Patra. Few pagans that remained at Patra, but among them was the governor of the city, Aegeatos. The Apostle Andrew repeatedly turned to him with the words of Good-News [meaning of Euangelium, or Gospel]. But even the miracles of the apostle did not convince Aegeatos. The holy apostle with love and humility appealed to his soul, striving to reveal to him the Christian mystery of life eternal, through the wonderworking power of the Holy Cross of the Lord. The angry Aegeatos gave orders to crucify the apostle. The pagan thought to undo the preaching of Saint Andrew, if he were to give him over to death on the cross, which however the apostle glorified. Saint Andrew the First-Called accepted the decision of the governor with joy and with prayer to the Lord he himself went willingly to the place of execution. In order to prolong the suffering of the saint, Aegeatos gave orders not to nail down the hands and feet of the saint, but to tie them to the cross. From up on the cross for two days the apostle taught the citizens who gathered about. The people, in listening to him, with all their souls pitied him and tried to take the holy apostle down from the cross. Fearing a riot of the people, Aegeatos gave orders to stop the execution. But the holy apostle began to pray that the Lord would grant him death on the cross. Just as the soldiers tried to take hold of the Apostle Andrew, they lost control of their hands. The crucified apostle, having given glory to God, uttered: "Lord Jesus Christ, receive Thou my spirit". Then a blazing ray of Divine light illumined the cross and the martyr crucified upon it. When the shining ceased, the holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called had already given up his holy soul to the Lord (+ 62). Maximilla, wife of the governor, had the body of the Apostle taken down from the cross, and buried him with honour.
A few centuries later, under the emperor Constantine the Great, the relics of the holy Apostle Andrew were solemnly transferred to Constantinople and placed in the church of the Holy Apostles alongside the relics of the holy Evangelist Luke and Apostle Paul's disciple -- the Disciple Timothy.


THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:

1. The Holy Apostle Andrew the First-called
Andrew, the son of Jonah and brother of Peter, was born in Bethsaida and was a fisherman by trade. At first he was a disciple of St. John the Baptist, but when St. John pointed to the Lord Jesus, saying, Behold the Lamb of God! (John 1:36), Andrew left his first teacher and followed Christ. Then, Andrew brought his brother Peter to the Lord. Following the descent of the Holy Spirit, it fell by lot to the first apostle of Christ, St. Andrew, to preach the Gospel in Byzantium and Thrace, then in the lands along the Danube and in Russia around the Black Sea, and finally in Epirus, Greece and the Peloponnese, where he suffered. In Byzantium, he appointed St. Stachys as its first bishop; in Kiev, he planted a Cross on a high place and prophesied a bright Christian future for the Russian people; throughout Thrace, Epirus, Greece and the Peloponnese, he converted multitudes of people to the Faith and ordained bishops and priests for them. In the city of Patras, he performed many miracles in the name of Christ, and won many over to the Lord. Among the new faithful were the brother and wife of the Proconsul Aegeates. Angered at this, Aegeates subjected St. Andrew to torture and then crucified him. While the apostle of Christ was still alive on the cross, he gave beneficial instructions to the Christians who had gathered around. The people wanted to take him down from the cross but he refused to let them. Then the apostle prayed to God and an extraordinary light encompassed him. This brilliant illumination lasted for half an hour, and when it disappeared, the apostle gave up his holy soul to God. Thus, the First-called Apostle, the first of the Twelve Great Apostles to know the Lord and follow Him, finished his earthly course. St. Andrew suffered for his Lord in the year 62. His relics were taken to Constantinople; his head was later taken to Rome, and one hand was taken to Moscow.

2. Saint Frumentius the Enlightener of Abyssinia
In the time of Emperor Constantine the Great, a learned man from Tyre by the name of Meropius traveled to India. He took with him two young Christians, the brothers Edesius and Frumentius. On the journey, their boat was shipwrecked in a storm off the coast of Abyssinia, and the wild Abyssinians killed everyone on the boat except these two brothers. They lived in Abyssinia for several years, and managed to enter into service in the imperial court of the Abyssinian king. Frumentius began to preach the Christian Faith, initially very cautiously, and was convinced that this land would be fruitful for such preaching. The two brothers then took ship: Edesius to Tyre, to his parents, and Frumentius to Alexandria, to Patriarch Athanasius the Great. Frumentius explained the situation in Abyssinia to the Patriarch, and sought pastors for those newly converted to the Faith. St. Athanasius consecrated Frumentius to the episcopacy. St. Frumentius returned to Abyssinia where, by his zeal and his miracles, he converted all of Abyssinia to the Christian Faith in his own lifetime. This great shepherd of the flock of Christ, the enlightener of Abyssinia, reposed peacefully in the year 370 and went to live in the Kingdom of his Lord.

HYMN OF PRAISE
The Holy Apostle Andrew the First-called
St. Andrew, by the Spirit enlightened,
And the First-called Apostle of Christ,
Proclaimed the Lord day after day,
And baptized the people with the Cross.
Like a gardener in his own garden,
Through village and town he walked,
And skillfully grafted wild trees,
Watering them with Living Water,
Until he came to the end of his days,
And saw the Cross awaiting him.
Joyful Andrew said to the Cross:
``Greetings, O Cross! God sanctified thee,
Christ sanctified thee with His body.
O Cross, be thou my resting place.
From the dust of the earth, take me;
To God in the highest, raise me up,
And let Christ take me from thee-
The very Christ Who, because of me, was crucified on thee.''
Disciple of the holy Baptist,
And apostle of Christ the Savior
O Andrew, first-called star,
By your prayers, help us.

REFLECTION
St. John Chrysostom says: ``All is given to the Apostles.'' That is, all gifts, all power, all the fullness of grace which God gives to the faithful. We see this in the life of the great apostle, St. Andrew the First-called: He was an apostle, evangelist, prophet, pastor and teacher (Ephesians 4:11). As an evangelist, he carried the good news of the Gospel to the four corners of the earth; as a prophet, he prophesied the baptism of the Russian people and the greatness of Kiev as a city and a Christian center; as a pastor, he established and organized many churches; as a teacher, he tirelessly taught people right up to and during his crucifixion, when he taught from the cross until his last breath. In addition to this, he was a martyr, which is also according to the gift of the Holy Spirit, and is not given to everyone. And so we see in this apostle, as in the others, the fullness of the grace of the Spirit of God. And every great work that a follower of Christ performs must be ascribed to that grace. St. Frumentius testifies this to us. When he returned from Alexandria to Abyssinia as a consecrated bishop, he began to perform the greatest miracles, thus converting great masses of people to the Faith. Then the amazed king asked him:``So many years have you lived among us and never have we seen you perform such miracles. How is it that you do so now?'' To this, the Blessed Frumentius replied to the emperor: ``This is not my work, but the work of the grace of the priesthood.'' The saint then explained to the king how he had forsaken parents and marriage and the whole world for the sake of Christ, and how he had-by the laying on of hands by St. Athanasius-received the grace of the priesthood: miracle-working grace.

CONTEMPLATION
Contemplate the spiritual fall of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3):
1. How the serpent provoked greed and pride in Eve;
2. How the greedy and proud woman transgressed God's command and ate of the Tree of Knowledge;
3. How Eve sinned, not in the midst of poverty or need, but in an abundance of all things.

HOMILY
on the ignorance and hardheartedness of the pagans
The gentiles walk in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart (Ephesians 4:17-18).
What is vanity, my brethren? All that is seen outside God, cut off from God and done without the fear of God. What is vanity of the mind, my brethren? To live and interpret life, not by God's law but rather by one's own passing thoughts and desires. Whence, my brethren, does this evil come to men? From hardness of heart and from inner ignorance. What does hardness of heart mean, brethren? It means a heart empty of love for God and fear of God, and filled with lustfulness and fear of everything for the body's sake. Brethren, what is born of hardness of heart? Ignorance-complete ignorance of divine things, divine ways and divine laws; a heart completely dulled to spiritual life and spiritual thought. What is the final consequence, brethren, of hardness of heart and ignorance of divine truth? A darkened understanding and alienation from the Living God. Darkened understanding occurs when the mind of man becomes as darkened as the body, and the light that is in man becomes darkness. Oh, such a darkness! A darkened understanding is a darkened mind. A darkened mind knows the meaning of nothing, or denies the meaning of everything. In such a condition, a man is alienated from the life of God, and he withers and dies like a body part cut off from the body. Such are the pagans, such are the godless, and such are those of little faith or false Christians. But even dry wood, when it is watered with the life-creating water of Christ, comes to life and bursts forth in greenery. Even the dried-up pagan world was raised up and brought to life by Christ the Lord. How much more so would it be for repentant Christian sinners!
Let us look at ourselves, my brethren. Let us do so every day. Let us ask ourselves every day whether we have become darkened and alienated from the life of God because of our vanity. Soon there will be death, the end and judgment. The dry wood will be cast into the unquenchable fire.
O Lord Jesus, our Mind and our Life, help us to think with Thee, and to live with Thee.
 To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

Monday, November 28, 2011

November 28, 2011 - 25th Monday After Pentecost (11th of Luke)

FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:

Stephen the New
Irenarchos & his Companion Martyrs at Sebaste
Auxentius, 16 Martyrs of Tiberioupolis

Τοῦ Ὁσίου Πατρός ἡμῶν Στεφάνου τοῦ Νέου καί τοῦ Ἁγίου Μάρτυρος Εἰρηνάρχου.

READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:

The Reading is from St. Paul's Second Letter to the Thessalonians 1:1-10
Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
Grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
We are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren, as is fitting, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. Therefore we ourselves boast of you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions which you are enduring.
This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be made worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering - since indeed God deems it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant rest with us to you who are afflicted, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance upon those who do not know God and upon those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They shall suffer the punishment of eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at in all who have believed.

Πρὸς Θεσσαλονικεῖς β' 1:1-10
Παῦλος καὶ Σιλουανὸς καὶ Τιμόθεος τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ Θεσσαλονικέων ἐν θεῷ πατρὶ ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ χριστῷ· χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ. Εὐχαριστεῖν ὀφείλομεν τῷ θεῷ πάντοτε περὶ ὑμῶν, ἀδελφοί, καθὼς ἄξιόν ἐστιν, ὅτι ὑπεραυξάνει ἡ πίστις ὑμῶν, καὶ πλεονάζει ἡ ἀγάπη ἑνὸς ἑκάστου πάντων ὑμῶν εἰς ἀλλήλους· ὥστε ἡμᾶς αὐτοὺς ἐν ὑμῖν καυχᾶσθαι ἐν ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις τοῦ θεοῦ ὑπὲρ τῆς ὑπομονῆς ὑμῶν καὶ πίστεως ἐν πᾶσιν τοῖς διωγμοῖς ὑμῶν καὶ ταῖς θλίψεσιν αἷς ἀνέχεσθε· ἔνδειγμα τῆς δικαίας κρίσεως τοῦ θεοῦ, εἰς τὸ καταξιωθῆναι ὑμᾶς τῆς βασιλείας τοῦ θεοῦ, ὑπὲρ ἧς καὶ πάσχετε· εἴπερ δίκαιον παρὰ θεῷ ἀνταποδοῦναι τοῖς θλίβουσιν ὑμᾶς θλῖψιν, καὶ ὑμῖν τοῖς θλιβομένοις ἄνεσιν μεθʼ ἡμῶν, ἐν τῇ ἀποκαλύψει τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ ἀπʼ οὐρανοῦ μετʼ ἀγγέλων δυνάμεως αὐτοῦ, ἐν πυρὶ φλογός, διδόντος ἐκδίκησιν τοῖς μὴ εἰδόσιν θεόν, καὶ τοῖς μὴ ὑπακούουσιν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ· οἵτινες δίκην τίσουσιν, ὄλεθρον αἰώνιον ἀπὸ προσώπου τοῦ κυρίου καὶ ἀπὸ τῆς δόξης τῆς ἰσχύος αὐτοῦ, ὅταν ἔλθῃ ἐνδοξασθῆναι ἐν τοῖς ἁγίοις αὐτοῦ, καὶ θαυμασθῆναι ἐν πᾶσιν τοῖς πιστεύσασιν ὅτι ἐπιστεύθη τὸ μαρτύριον ἡμῶν ἐφʼ ὑμᾶς ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐκείνῃ.

The Reading is from Luke 19:37-44
At that time, as Jesus was now drawing near, at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" And some of the Pharisees in the multitude said to him, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples." He answered, "I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out." And when he drew near and saw the city he wept over it, saying, "Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace! But now they are hid from your eyes. For the days shall come upon you, when your enemies will cast up a bank about you and surround you, and hem you in on every side, and dash you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another in you; because you did not know the time of your visitation."

Κατὰ Λουκᾶν 19.37-44
Τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ, ἐγγίζοντος δὲ αὐτοῦ ἤδη πρὸς τῇ καταβάσει τοῦ ὄρους τῶν ἐλαιῶν ἤρξατο ἅπαν τὸ πλῆθος τῶν μαθητῶν χαίροντες αἰνεῖν τὸν Θεὸν φωνῇ μεγάλῃ περὶ πασῶν ὧν εἶδον δυνάμεων λέγοντες· εὐλογημένος ὁ ἐρχόμενος βασιλεὺς ἐν ὀνόματι Κυρίου· εἰρήνη ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ δόξα ἐν ὑψίστοις. καί τινες τῶν Φαρισαίων ἀπὸ τοῦ ὄχλου εἶπον πρὸς αὐτόν· διδάσκαλε, ἐπιτίμησον τοῖς μαθηταῖς σου. καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ἐὰν οὗτοι σιωπήσωσιν, οἱ λίθοι κεκράξονται. Καὶ ὡς ἤγγισεν, ἰδὼν τὴν πόλιν ἔκλαυσεν ἐπ᾿ αὐτῇ, λέγων ὅτι εἰ ἔγνως καὶ σύ, καί γε ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ σου ταύτῃ, τὰ πρὸς εἰρήνην σου! νῦν δὲ ἐκρύβη ἀπὸ ὀφθαλμῶν σου· ὅτι ἥξουσιν ἡμέραι ἐπὶ σὲ καὶ περιβαλοῦσιν οἱ ἐχθροί σου χάρακά σοι καὶ περικυκλώσουσί σε καὶ συνέξουσί σε πάντοθεν, καὶ ἐδαφιοῦσί σε καὶ τὰ τέκνα σου ἐν σοί, καὶ οὐκ ἀφήσουσιν ἐν σοὶ λίθον ἐπὶ λίθῳ, ἀνθ᾿ ὧν οὐκ ἔγνως τὸν καιρὸν τῆς ἐπισκοπῆς σου.

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.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Ασκητικώς προγυμνασθείς εν τώ όρει, τάς νοητάς τών δυσμενών παρατάξεις, τή πανοπλία ώλεσας παμμάκαρ τού Σταυρού, αύθις δέ πρός άθλησιν, ανδρικώς απεδύσω, κτείνας τόν Κοπρώνυμον, τώ τής Πίστεως ξίφει, καί δι' αμφοίν εστέφθης εκ Θεού, Οσιομάρτυς αοίδιμε Στέφανε.
Trained on the mountain in ascetical labours, with the whole armour of the Cross thou didst vanquish the spiritual arrays of unseen enemies; and when thou hadst stripped thyself with great courage for contest, thou didst slay Copronymus with the sword of the true Faith. For both these things hast thou been crowned by God, O righteous Martyr, blest Stephen of great renown.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Εορτάζει σήμερον, η Εκκλησία, εορτήν ευφρόσυνον, εν τή σή μνήμη καί πιστώς, ανευφημούσα κραυγάζει σοι, Στέφανε θείε, οσίων τό καυχημα.
With songs and hymns, O ye feast-lovers, let us all extol the godly Stephen, that great lover of the Trinity, for he honoured with his whole heart the comely image of the Master, of His Mother, and of all the Saints. Now with one accord, with longing, and with joy of heart, let us cry to him: Rejoice, O Father most glorious.

Saint Irenarchos, who was from Sebastia, lived during the reign of Diocletian. In his youth he ministered to the holy Martyrs during the time of their punishment in prison. Once, on beholding seven women being tormented in behalf of Christ, and marvelling at their courage, and seeing how, although they were weak in body, they nonetheless became like men before the tyrant and put him to shame, the Saint was enlightened by divine grace and confessed Christ with boldness. Tried by fire and water, he was beheaded together with the holy women in the year 298.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Ο Μάρτυς σου Κύριε, έν τή αθλήσει αυτού, τό στέφος εκομίσατο τής αφθαρσίας, εκ σού τού Θεού ημών, έχων γάρ τήν ισχύν σου, τούς τυράννους καθείλεν, έθραυσε καί δαιμόνων, τά ανίσχυρα θράση, αυτού ταίς ικεσίαις Χριστέ, σώσον τάς ψυχάς ημών.
Thy Martyr, O Lord, in his courageous contest for Thee received the prize of the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since he possessed Thy strength, he cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons' strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by his prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.

Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Ως στρατιώτης άριστος, τού τής ειρήνης άρχοντος, τού σκότους Μάρτυς καθείλες τόν άρχοντα, τή καρτερά ενστάσει σου, καί ταίς σαίς ιδεσίαις, εν ειρήνη φυλάττοις Ειρήναρχε, τούς πίστει ευφημούντας, τά θειά σου κατορθώματα.
As a triumphant man of war enlisted with the Prince of Peace, the prince of darkness didst thou destroy utterly in thy courageous martyrdom. And now, by thine entreaties, do thou ever preserve in peace and in godliness, O Martyr Irenarchos, all them that acclaim thy valiant deeds.

READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:

Τῇ ΚΗ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, Μνήμη τοῦ Ὁσίου Πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ Ὁμολογητοῦ Στεφάνου τοῦ Νέου.
Πληγεὶς νέε Στέφανε τὴν κάραν ξύλῳ,
Εὗρες πρεπόντως οὐχὶ γηράσκον στέφος.
Εἰκάδι ὀγδοάτῃ Στεφάνου Νέου κράτα θραῦσαν.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ ὁ Ἅγιος Ἀνδρέας, συρόμενος κατὰ γῆς, διὰ τὴν τῶν ἁγίων Εἰκόνων προσκύνησιν, τελειοῦται.
Ἐκ γῆς ἐπλάσθην, γῆ με δὴ καὶ κτεινάτω.
Πλάστου γὰρ αὐτῆς Ἀνδρέας τιμῶ τύπους.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, ὁ Ἅγιος Πέτρος, τυπτόμενος ὑπὲρ τῶν ἁγίων Εἰκόνων, τελειοῦται.
Ἂν εἰκόνων τύπτωσι τὸν Πέτρον χάριν,
Εὕρωσιν αὐτὸν πέτρινον τῷ σαρκίῳ.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, ἡ Ἁγία Ἄννα, τυπτομένη πρὸς τὸ κατειπεῖν τοῦ Ἁγίου Στεφάνου, τελειοῦται.
Μάστιξιν Ἄνναν εὐτόνως τετυμμένην,
Ἔδειξε Χριστὸς εὐπρεπῶς ἐστεμμένην.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τῶν ἁγίων Μαρτύρων, τῶν συμμαρτυρησάντων τῷ Ἁγίῳ Στεφάνῳ, ὑπὲρ τῶν ἁγίων Εἰκόνων.
Τιμῶντες εἰκόνισμα σαρκός σου Λόγε,
θνῄσκουσιν οἱ ἅγιοι βίαιον μόρον.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Μάρτυρος Εἰρηνάρχου, καὶ τῶν σὺν αὐτῷ ἑπτὰ Ἁγίων γυναικῶν.
Τὸν Εἰρήναχον ἡ φονεύτρια σπάθη
Σῷ Σῶτερ εἰρήναρχε συντάττει μέρει.
Ἔδειξε νεκρὰς ἐν Σεβαστείᾳ πόλει
Γυναῖκας ἑπτὰ πανσεβάστους τὸ ξίφος.
Οἱ Ἅγιοι Μάρτυρες Τιμόθεος καὶ Θεόδωρος οἱ Ἐπίσκοποι. Πέτρος, Ἰωάννης, Σέργιος, Θεόδωρος καὶ Νικηφόρος οἱ ἱερεῖς, Βασίλειος καὶ Θωμᾶς οἱ διάκονοι, Ἱερόθεος, Δανιήλ, Χαρίτων, Σωκράτης, Κομάσιος, Εὐσέβιος οἱ μοναχοί, καὶ Ἑτοιμάσιος, ἐν Τιβεριουπόλει τελειοῦνται.
Ταῖς αὐτῶν ἁγίαις πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεός, ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.

Ο βίος και η άθληση του οσίου και ομολογητού Στεφάνου του νέου, του οποίου σήμερα η Εκκλησία γιορτάζει την μνήμη, συνδέεται με την αίρεση της Εικονομαχίας, που επί πολλά χρόνια ετάραξε την Εκκλησία, πολλούς Αγίους έριξε στις φυλακές ή έστειλε στην εξορία και πολλούς παρέδωκε σε θάνατο. Αφήνοντας τα ιστορικά αίτια, που προκάλεσαν τον διωγμό των εικόνων και των μοναχών, ένα έχομε να πούμε, ότι δηλαδή και τούτος ο διωγμός ανάδειξε πλήθος Ομολογητών και Μαρτύρων κι έδειξε, πως η Εκκλησία είναι κι εξακολουθεί να μένη πάντα έργο του Θεού και σαν τέτοιο δεν έχει να φοβηθεί ποτέ εγκόσμιους εχθρούς: "πύλαι άδου ου κατισχύσουσιν αυτής". Ως προς τις ιερές εικόνες, "ιστορού-μεν ταύτας εις καλλωπισμόν των ναών, και ιν' ώσι βιβλία των αμαθών και προς μίμησιν των αρετών των αγίων και ανάμνησιν... Έστι γαρ η ζωγραφική σιωπώσα τις ιστορία, ως και η ιστορία φθεγγομένη τις ζωγραφία".

Ὁ Ὅσιος Στέφανος ὁ Ὁμολογητής, ὁ Νέος
Γεννήθηκε στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη καὶ οἱ εὐσεβεῖς γονεῖς του Ἰωάννης καὶ Ἄννα τὸν ἀνέθρεψαν κατὰ τὸν καλύτερο χριστιανικὸ τρόπο. Ὅταν μεγάλωσε, μορφώθηκε ἀρκετὰ καὶ ἀργότερα ἀναδείχθηκε ἡγούμενος στὸ περίφημο ὄρος τοῦ Ἁγίου Αὐξεντίου. Ὅταν ξέσπασε ὁ πόλεμος ἐναντίον τῶν ἁγίων εἰκόνων, ὄχι μόνο δὲ συμμορφώθηκε μὲ τὶς αὐτοκρατορικὲς διαταγές, ἀλλὰ καὶ χαρακτήρισε αἱρετικοὺς τοὺς εἰκονομάχους βασιλεῖς. Καταγγέλθηκε στὸν αὐτοκράτορα Κωνσταντῖνο τὸν Κοπρώνυμο, ὁ ὁποῖος ἤλπιζε μὲ τὴν προσωπική του ἐπιβολή, ὅταν τὸν ἔφερνε μπροστά του, νὰ δαμάσει τὸ φρόνημα τοῦ Στεφάνου. Συνέβη ὅμως τὸ ἀντίθετο. Ὁ Στέφανος, ἀπὸ τοὺς ἀνθρώπους μὲ «πολλὴν παῤῥησία ἐν πίστει τὴν ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ», δηλαδὴ μὲ πολλὴ παῤῥησία καὶ θάῤῥος στὸ νὰ διακηρύττει τὴν πίστη ποὺ ὁμολογοῦν ὅσοι εἶναι σὲ κοινωνία μὲ τὸν Ἰησοῦ Χριστό, ἤλεγξε αὐστηρὰ κατὰ πρόσωπο τὸν Κοπρώνυμο. Αὐτὸς τότε τὸν ἔκλεισε στὴ φυλακὴ καὶ μετὰ ἀπὸ μέρες διέταξε νὰ τὸν θανατώσουν. Ἀφοῦ, λοιπόν, τὸν ἔβγαλαν ἀπὸ τὴν φυλακή, ἄρχισαν νὰ τὸν λιθοβολοῦν καὶ νὰ τὸν κτυποῦν μὲ βαρειὰ ῥόπαλα. Ἕνα ἰσχυρὸ κτύπημα στὸ κεφάλι ἔδωσε τέλος στὴ ζωὴ τοῦ Στεφάνου (τὸ 767 μ.Χ.). Κατόπιν τὸ σῶμα του τὸ ἔριξαν στὴ θάλασσα, ἀλλὰ εὐλαβεῖς χριστιανοὶ ποὺ τὸ βρῆκαν ὅταν τὰ κύματα τὸ ἔφεραν στὴν παραλία, τὸ ἔθαψαν μὲ τὴν ἁρμόζουσα τιμή.

Ὁ Ἅγιος Ἀνδρέας
Ἦταν ἀσκητὴς καὶ διέμενε σὲ κάποιο κελὶ κοντὰ στὶς Βλαχερνές. Ἐπίσης ἦταν συναγωνιστὴς τοῦ ὁσίου Στεφάνου τοῦ ὁμολογητῆ, ποὺ βιογραφικό του σημείωμα ἀναφέραμε πιὸ πάνω. Ὁ Ἀνδρέας μαρτύρησε ὑπὲρ τῶν ἁγίων εἰκόνων, συρόμενος στὴ γῆ ἀπὸ τοὺς εἰκονομάχους μέχρι θανάτου.

Ὁ Ἅγιος Πέτρος
Ἦταν καὶ αὐτὸς ἀσκητὴς στὸν Ὄλυμπο. Φυλακίστηκε ἀπὸ τὸν Κοπρώνυμο μαζὶ μὲ τὸν Στέφανο τὸν νέο, διότι προσκυνοῦσε τὶς ἅγιες εἰκόνες. Κατόπιν τὸν χτύπησαν μέχρι θανάτου καὶ ἔτσι ἔλαβε τὸ στεφάνι τοῦ μαρτυρίου.

Ἡ Ἁγία Ἄννα ἡ Ὁσιομάρτυς
Συμμαρτύρησε μαζὶ μὲ τὸν Ἅγιο Στέφανο τὸν νέο, γιὰ τὶς ἅγιες εἰκόνες, ἀφοῦ τὴν χτύπησαν μέχρι θανάτου.

Οἱ Ἅγιοι Μάρτυρες ποὺ συμμαρτύρησαν μὲ τὸν Ἅγιο Στέφανο τὸν νέο γιὰ τὶς ἅγιες εἰκόνες Βασίλειος, Στέφανος, Ἰωάννης ὁ ἀπὸ Λεγαταρίων ἢ Λεγατοκρίων, δυὸ Γρηγόριοι καὶ ἄλλοι
Ἡ λύσσα τοῦ Κοπρωνύμου καὶ τῶν γύρω του δὲν περιορίστηκε μόνο σὲ ἕνα θῦμα. Μετὰ τὸν Στέφανο ὑπέστησαν βασανισμοὺς καὶ θανάτους καὶ ἄλλοι ὁμολογητὲς τῆς Ὀρθοδοξίας. Ἔτσι ἕνας ἀπὸ αὐτούς, ὁ Βασίλειος, τυφλώθηκε ἀπὸ τοὺς δήμιους, ἐξακολουθῶντας νὰ διακηρύττει τὴν Ὀρθόδοξη πίστη του, καὶ στὴ συνέχεια τὸν σκότωσαν μὲ κλωτσιές. Ἄλλος ἔπειτα, ὁ Ἰωάννης ὁ ἀπὸ Λεγαταρίων ἐξορίστηκε στὴ Δαφνούσια, ὅπου καὶ πέθανε ἀπὸ συνεχεῖς δαρμούς. Ἄλλοι δὲ πάλι μὲ ἄλλο βάρβαρο τρόπο θανατώθηκαν ἢ ἐξορίστηκαν καὶ περνοῦσαν συνεχῆ μαρτυρικὴ ζωή.

Ὁ Ἅγιος Εἰρήναρχος καὶ οἱ Ἑπτὰ Ἅγιες Γυναῖκες ποὺ μαρτύρησαν μαζὶ μὲ τὸν ἅγιο Εἰρήναρχο
Ἀντιπαθοῦσε τοὺς χριστιανοὺς καὶ βοηθοῦσε τοὺς βασανιστὲς κατὰ τὸν διωγμὸ ποὺ ἔκαναν κατὰ τῆς Ἐκκλησίας. Ὁ Εἰρήναρχος γεννήθηκε εἰδωλολάτρης στὴν πόλη Σεβάστεια, ὅταν βασιλιὰς ἦταν ὁ Διοκλητιανός. Ἀλλ᾿ ἡ προσέγγιση, ἔστω καὶ μ᾿ αὐτὴ τὴν μορφή, στοὺς μάρτυρες τοῦ Χριστοῦ, φώτιζε σιγὰ-σιγὰ τὴν ψυχὴ τοῦ Εἴρηναρχου. Ἔβλεπε ἐκεῖ ἥρωες πράους σὰν τ᾿ ἀρνιά, ἀλλὰ πιὸ ἀνδρείους καὶ ἀπὸ τὰ λιοντάρια. Ἔμενε ἔκπληκτος ἀπὸ τὴν ἀνέκφραστη καλοσύνη τῶν θυμάτων ἀκόμα καὶ σ᾿ αὐτοὺς τοὺς δημίους τους. Θαύμαζε ἐπίσης, ὅτι καὶ τρυφερὲς παρθένες συμμετεῖχαν στὸν μοναδικὸ ἐκεῖνο ἡρωισμὸ καὶ τὴν ὑπέροχη αὐταπάρνηση. Ἡ βαθμιαία αὐτὴ μεταβολὴ στὴν ψυχὴ τοῦ Εἰρήναρχου κατάληξε στὴν ὁμολογία τοῦ Χριστοῦ ἀπ᾿ αὐτόν, τὴν ὥρα ποὺ ἑπτὰ χριστιανὲς γυναῖκες ὑπέμεναν καρτερικότατα γιὰ τὴν πίστη τους, ὅλες τὶς τιμωρίες καὶ τὰ μαρτύρια. Ἡ ὁμολογία ἐκείνη τοῦ Εἰρήναρχου στοίχισε τὸ θάνατό του μὲ ἀποκεφαλισμό. Καὶ τὸν ὑπέστη ὁ Εἰρήναρχος γεμάτος ἀγαλλίαση, διότι ἔλαχε καὶ σ᾿ αὐτὸν τὸ ἔνδοξο καὶ μακάριο αὐτὸ τέλος (303 μ.Χ.).

Our Holy Father, Confessor and Martyr Stephen the New (767)
He was born in Constantinople in 715 to pious parents named John and Anna. His mother had prayed often to the most holy Theotokos to be granted a son, and received a revelation from our Lady that she would conceive the son she desired. When the child was born, she named him Stephen, following a prophecy of the Patriarch St Germanos (commemorated May 12). Stephen entered monastic life as a youth, and so distinguished himself in asceticism and virtue that the hermits of Mt Auxentius appointed him their leader at a young age.
  'During the reign of Constantine V (741-775), Stephen showed his love of Orthodoxy in contending for the Faith... 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.' (Great Horologion)

The Holy MonkMartyr and Confessor Stephen the New was born in 715 at Constantinople into a pious Christian family. His parents, having two daughters, prayed the Lord for the birth of a son. The mother of the new-born Stephen took him to the Blakhernae church in honour of the MostHoly Mother of God and dedicated him to God.
During the time of the emperor Leo the Isaurian (716-741) there began persecution against holy icons and against those venerating them. With the support of the emperor, the adherents of the Iconoclast heresy seized control of the supreme positions of authority in the empire and in the Church. Persecuted by the powers of this world, Orthodoxy was preserved in monasteries distant from the capital, in solitary cells and in the brave and faithful hearts of its followers. The Orthodox parents of Saint Stephen, grieved by the surrounding impiety, fled from Constantinople to Bithynia, and they gave over their sixteen year old son in obedience to Blessed John, who asceticised in a solitary place on the Mount of Saint Auxentios. Saint Stephen dwelt more than 15 years with Blessed John, having devoted himself totally to this spirit-bearing elder, and learning monastic activity from him. Here then Stephen received the news that his father was dead, and his mother and sisters had taken monastic tonsure.
After a certain while his teacher, Blessed John, also died. With deep sorrow Saint Stephen buried his venerable body, and by himself continued with monastic effort in his cave. Soon monks began to come to the ascetic, desiring to learn from him the virtuous and salvific life, and there gradually emerged a monastery, the hegumen of which was Saint Stephen. At forty-two years of age Stephen left the monastery founded by him, and he went to another mountain, on the summit of which he dwelt in deep seclusion in a solitary cell. But here also soon gathered a community of monks, seeking the spiritual guidance of Saint Stephen.
Leo the Isaurian was succeeded by Constantine Copronymos (741-775), a still more fierce persecutor of the Orthodox pious, and still more zealous an iconoclast. The emperor convened an Iconoclast council, to which came 358 bishops from the Eastern provinces. However, except for the archbishop of Constantinople Constantine, -- illegitimately raised up onto the patriarchal throne by the power of Copronymos, not one of the other patriarchs bothered to participate in the wicked doings of this council, thus making it all the less able to usurp the term "oecumenical". This council of heretics, at the instigation of the emperor and the archbishop, described icons as idols, and proscribed anathema on all who venerate icons in the Orthodox manner, and it described icon veneration as heresy.
Meanwhile, the monastery of Saint Stephen and its hegumen became known of in the capital. They told the emperor about the ascetic life of the monks, about their Orthodox piety, about the gift of wonderworking of the hegumen Stephen, and about how the news of Saint Stephen had spread far beyond the region of the monastery, and that the name of its head was accorded universal respect and love. The open encouragement of icon-veneration and therein the rebuff to the persecutors of Orthodoxy within the monastery of Saint Stephen especially angered the emperor. Archbishop Constantine perceived, that in the person of Saint Stephen he had a strong and implacable opponent to his iconoclastic intentions, and he took great efforts -- either to draw him over to his side or else destroy him.
They tried to entice Saint Stephen into the Iconoclast camp, at first with flattery and bribery, then by threats, but in vain. Then they slandered the saint, accusing him of co-habiting with nuns. But his guilt was not proven, since the slandered nun courageously denied guilt and died under torture and beatings. Finally, the emperor gave orders to lock up the saint in prison, and to destroy his monastery. Iconoclast-bishops were sent to Saint Stephen in prison, trying to persuade him of the dogmatic correctness of the Iconoclast position. But the saint easily refuted all the arguments of the heretics and he remained true to Orthodoxy.
Then the emperor gave orders to exile the saint to one of the islands in the Sea of Marmora. The monk settled into a cave, and there also soon gathered his disciples. After a certain while the saint left the brethren and took upon himself the exploit of pillar-dweller. News about the Pillar-Dweller Stephen, and about the miracles worked by his prayers, spread throughout all the empire and strengthened the faith and spirit of Orthodoxy in the people.
The emperor gave orders to transfer Saint Stephen to prison on the island of Pharos, and then to bring him to trial. At the trial, the saint refuted the arguments of the heretics sitting in judgement upon him. He explained the dogmatic essence of icon-veneration, and he denounced the Iconoclasts for this, -- that in blaspheming icons, they gave blasphemy to Christ and the Mother of God. The saint pointed to a golden coin in proof, upon which was the depiction of the emperor. He asked the judges, what they would do with a man, who having thrown down the money, would then trample it under his feet. They answered him, that such a man would certainly be punished for having dishonoured the image of the emperor. To this the saint said, that an even greater punishment awaited anyone who would dishonour the image of the King of Heaven and His Saints, and with that he cast down the coin upon the ground and began to grind it underfoot.
The emperor gave orders to take away the saint to prison, where already there were languishing 342 elders, condemned for the veneration of icons. And In this prison Saint Stephen spent eleven months, consoling the imprisoned. Together with them he made the singing of prayer, often doing the tropar to the Image of the Saviour Not-Wrought-by-Hand. The people in crowds came to the prison and asked Saint Stephen to pray for them.
The emperor, -- having learned that in prison the saint had organised a monastery, where constantly there was prayer amidst which they venerated holy icons, -- sent two of his own dearest servants, twin-brothers, to beat the saint to death. When these brothers went to the prison and beheld the face of the monk shining with a Divine light, they fell down on their knees to him, asking his forgiveness and prayers, but they told the emperor that his command had been carried out. But the emperor learned the truth and he resorted to still another lie. Informing his soldiers, that the saint had intentions to topple him from the throne, he dispatched them to the prison. The holy confessor himself came out half the way to the furious soldiers, who seized hold of him and dragged him through the streets of the city. They then threw the lacerated body of the martyr into a pit, where they were wont to bury criminals.
On the following morning over Mount Auxentios there appeared a fiery cloud, and then an heavy darkness descended upon the capital with a fierce thunderstorm, which struck at much.

THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:

1. The Venerable Martyr Stephen the New
As at one time Hannah, the mother of Samuel, prayed to God to give her a son, so did Anna, the mother of Stephen. Praying thus in the Church of Blachernae before the icon of the Most-holy Theotokos, a light sleep overcame her, and she saw the Most-holy Virgin as radiant as the sun, and heard a voice from the icon: ``Woman, depart in peace. In accordance with your prayer, you have a son in your womb.'' Anna indeed conceived and gave birth to a son, the holy Stephen. At sixteen, Stephen received the monastic tonsure on Mount Auxentius near Constantinople, from the elder John who also taught him divine wisdom and asceticism. When John entered into rest in the Lord, Stephen remained on the mountain in a life of strict asceticism, taking upon himself labor upon labor. His holiness attracted many disciples to him. When Emperor Constantine Copronymus was persecuting icons more ferociously than his foul father, Leo the Isaurian, Stephen showed himself a zealous defender of the veneration of holy icons. The demented emperor accepted various obscene slanders against Stephen and personally plotted intrigues to break Stephen and get him out of the way. Stephen was banished to the island of Proconnesus, then taken to Constantinople, chained and cast into prison, where he was met by 342 monks, brought from all over and imprisoned for their veneration of the icons. There, in prison, they carried out the whole church typicon as in a monastery. Then the wicked emperor condemned Stephen to death. The saint foresaw his death forty days in advance, and asked forgiveness of the brethren. The emperor's servants dragged him from prison and, beating and pulling him, dragged him through the streets of Constantinople calling upon all those loyal to the emperor to stone this ``enemy of the emperor.'' One of the heretics struck the saint on the head with a piece of wood, and the saint gave up his soul. As St. Stephen the Protomartyr suffered at the hands of the Jews, so this Stephen suffered at the hands of the iconoclastic heretics. This glorious soldier of Christ suffered in the year 767 at the age of fifty-three, and was crowned with unfading glory.

2. The New Martyr Christos
Christos was an Albanian Christian living in Constantinople and a gardener by trade. As he was selling his vegetables one day, he offended a Turk, who then slandered him before a judge, saying that Christos had promised to become a Moslem and then recanted. After interrogation, he was chained and cast into prison. In prison, someone offered him food, which Christos refused, saying: ``It is better that I appear before my Christ hungry.'' After that, he pulled out some money he had concealed under his belt and gave it to one of his fellow prisoners, requesting that the money be used for several Liturgies to be celebrated for his soul. He was beheaded by the Turks in the year 1748, and was glorified forever in the Kingdom of Christ God.

3. The Venerable Anna
Anna was a woman of noble birth who, after her husband's death, was tonsured into monasticism by St. Stephen the New. Emperor Constantine Copronymus urged her to say that she had engaged in illicit physical relations with St. Stephen, in order to humiliate him before the people. However, this holy woman refused to join in the emperor's intrigue against the saint, whom she venerated as her spiritual father. For that, she was whipped and then cast into prison, where she gave up her holy soul to God.

4. The Holy and Devout Emperor Maurice
Maurice was murdered with his six sons by Emperor Phocas in the year 602 (see ``Reflection'' below).

HYMN OF PRAISE
The Venerable Martyr Stephen the New
Of the same name as the first Stephen,
Stephen the New gave his life in battle, too.
The proud heretical emperor, coarse power incarnate,
Was armed to the teeth with earthly weapons.
Stephen's weapon was power not of a physical source,
A spiritual weapon, heavenly truth.
The emperor had soldiers, defenders of falsehood,
While Stephen was set at ease by the invisible God.
Serene as heaven, Stephen awaited torture,
Death and eternal life beyond this age.
While in his rage, the emperor roared
And signed the order for death and torment for the righteous man.
Stephen was not dismayed, though beaten and pressed,
Bound as he was by spirit and prayer to the heavens.
The emperor, stronger than the saint's body, crushed his body;
Yet the saint was stronger in spirit, and finished in victory.
O Saint Stephen, spiritual knight,
Help us avoid the nets of the devil,
And to venerate the holy icons with honor,
And that we might always follow your wondrous example.

REFLECTION
Reading the examples of perseverance in the Faith and generosity of the saints of God, we also become persevering in the Faith and generous. When Copronymus's men urged St. Stephen to reject the veneration of icons to please the iconoclastic emperor, Stephen extended his hand, clenched his fist and said: ``If I had in myself only a fist full of blood, I would shed it for the icon of Christ.''
Emperor Maurice had six sons of which the sixth and youngest was not yet weaned. For this youngest son, the emperor kept a special wet-nurse at court who fed it. A terrible fate came upon Emperor Maurice: Phocas ousted him from the throne and condemned him to death together with all of his six sons. Before Maurice's eyes, his sons were slain, one after the other. When the wet-nurse had to hand over the emperor's sixth son to be slain, she genuinely felt sorrow over the fate of the unfortunate emperor and his children, and in a moment, decided to save the life of at least one of the emperor's sons. So, when they sought the emperor's son from her breast, she gave them her own young son and he was beheaded. Finally, the Emperor Maurice was beheaded. The emperor's youngest son grew up believing his wet-nurse to be his mother. However, when the wet-nurse revealed the secret to him, he became very serious, then resolutely left the world and withdrew to Mount Sinai, where he was tonsured a monk and dedicated himself to God. He did this to requite that innocent young child who was put to death in his place.

CONTEMPLATION
Contemplate God's wonderful Paradise (Genesis 2):
1. How it was a kingdom of innocence, purity and righteousness;
2. How there was not a trace of sickness or death, for there was not even a thought of sin.

HOMILY
on how the faithful must grow
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ (Ephesians 4:15).
Brethren, here is all that is asked of us on this earthly journey: that we hold to the truth and that we live in love. Truth is revealed by Christ the Lord, and the example of love is given in Christ the Lord. Neither can one come to the truth apart from Christ the Lord nor find an example of true love apart from Him. Seeing this only true path to light and salvation in the confusion of many false paths, the Apostle Paul reminds us beforehand: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14). Only God can reveal the truth; only God can show true love. One man can know more than another man, but only God can reveal the truth. Thoughts come to man like the wind, and illusions can seem to be truth to him. Deluded by his own thoughts, one man deludes another; deceived by illusions, one man then deceives another; but truth is in God and of God. Brethren, Christ is our whole truth and our whole love. When we think of Christ, we think of truth; when we act according to Christ, we act correctly; when we love Christ, we love Love itself. By Christ we live, by Christ we grow, by Christ we become immortal and are glorified. He is our Head-not merely the titular head of a group, but the actual head of a living body, of which we are members. Adhering to truth and love, we are made worthy to dwell eternally in this Body of Christ.
O Lord Christ, our most wonderful truth and our endearing love, enter into us and receive us into Thyself.
 To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.