FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:
John the Merciful, Patriarch of Alexandria
Nilus the Ascetic of Sinai
Saint Martin, Bishop of Tours
Τοῦ ἐν Ἁγίοις Πατρός ἡμῶν Ἰωάννου τοῦ Ἐλεήμονος, Πατριάρχου Ἀλεξανδρείας,
καί τοῦ Ὁσίου Πατρός ἡμῶν Νείλου τοῦ Ἀσκητοῦ
Τοῦ ἐν Ἁγίοις Πατρός ἡμῶν Λέοντος, Πατριάρχου Κωνσταντινουπόλεως τοῦ Στυππῆ
READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:
The Reading is from St. Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians 9:6-11
BRETHREN, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work. As it is written, "He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures for ever." He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your resources and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for great generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.
Πρὸς Κορινθίους β' 9:6-11
Ἀδελφοί, ὁ σπείρων φειδομένως, φειδομένως καὶ θερίσει· καὶ ὁ σπείρων ἐπʼ εὐλογίαις, ἐπʼ εὐλογίαις καὶ θερίσει. Ἕκαστος καθὼς προαιρεῖται τῇ καρδίᾳ· μὴ ἐκ λύπης ἢ ἐξ ἀνάγκης· ἱλαρὸν γὰρ δότην ἀγαπᾷ ὁ θεός. Δυνατὸς δὲ ὁ θεὸς πᾶσαν χάριν περισσεῦσαι εἰς ὑμᾶς, ἵνα ἐν παντὶ πάντοτε πᾶσαν αὐτάρκειαν ἔχοντες περισσεύητε εἰς πᾶν ἔργον ἀγαθόν· καθὼς γέγραπται, Ἐσκόρπισεν, ἔδωκεν τοῖς πένησιν· ἡ δικαιοσύνη αὐτοῦ μένει εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα. Ὁ δὲ ἐπιχορηγῶν σπέρμα τῷ σπείροντι, καὶ ἄρτον εἰς βρῶσιν χορηγήσαι, καὶ πληθύναι τὸν σπόρον ὑμῶν, καὶ αὐξήσαι τὰ γενήματα τῆς δικαιοσύνης ὑμῶν· ἐν παντὶ πλουτιζόμενοι εἰς πᾶσαν ἁπλότητα, ἥτις κατεργάζεται διʼ ἡμῶν εὐχαριστίαν τῷ θεῷ.
The Reading is from Matthew 5:14-19
The Lord said to his disciples, "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
Κατὰ Ματθαῖον 5.14-19
Εἶπεν ὁ Κὐριος τοῖς ἑαυτοῦ μαθηταῖς· ῾Υμεῖς ἐστε τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσμου. οὐ δύναται πόλις κρυβῆναι ἐπάνω ὄρους κειμένη·οὐδὲ καίουσι λύχνον καὶ τιθέασι αὐτὸν ὑπὸ τὸν μόδιον, ἀλλ᾿ ἐπὶ τὴν λυχνίαν, καὶ λάμπει πᾶσι τοῖς ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ.οὕτω λαμψάτω τὸ φῶς ὑμῶν ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ὅπως ἴδωσιν ὑμῶν τὰ καλὰ ἔργα καὶ δοξάσωσι τὸν πατέρα ὑμῶν τὸν ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς. Μὴ νομίσητε ὅτι ἦλθον καταλῦσαι τὸν νόμον ἢ τοὺς προφήτας· οὐκ ἦλθον καταλῦσαι, ἀλλὰ πληρῶσαι.ἀμὴν γὰρ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἕως ἂν παρέλθῃ ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ, ἰῶτα ἓν ἢ μία κεραία οὐ μὴ παρέλθῃ ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου ἕως ἂν πάντα γένηται.ὃς ἐὰν οὖν λύσῃ μίαν τῶν ἐντολῶν τούτων τῶν ἐλαχίστων καὶ διδάξῃ οὕτω τοὺς ἀνθρώπους, ἐλάχιστος κληθήσεται ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τῶν οὐρανῶν· ὃς δ᾿ ἂν ποιήσῃ καὶ διδάξῃ, οὗτος μέγας κληθήσεται ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τῶν οὐρανῶν.
READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:
Τῇ ΙΒ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, Μνήμη τοῦ ἐν Ἁγίοις Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Ἰωάννου Ἀρχιεπισκόπου Ἀλεξανδρείας, τοῦ Ἐλεήμονος.
Ἰωάννης πένησι δοὺς καὶ σκορπίσας,
Ὢ ποῖα Χριστῷ νῦν παρεστὼς λαμβάνει!
ᾬχετο ἀκτεάνων δυοκαιδεκάτῃ Ἐλεητής.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ὁσίου Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Νείλου τοῦ Ἀσκητοῦ.
Αἴγυπτον ἄρδει Νεῖλος, ἀλλὰ καὶ κτίσιν.
Λόγῳ κατάρδει, καὶ θανών, Νεῖλος μέγας.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ὁσίου Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Μαρτίνου τοῦ θαυματουργοῦ, Ἐπισκόπου Φραγκίας.
Οὐκ ἦν ὁ κόσμος ἄξιός σου, Μαρτῖνε.
Ὃν καὶ λιπὼν ἀπῆλθες εἰς κόσμον μέγαν.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Προφήτου Ἀχιά.
Ὅτι Προφήτης Ἀχιά, πρὶν τεθνάναι,
Ἱεροβοὰμ μάρτυς, υἱὸς Ναβάτου.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ὁσίου Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Μαρτίνου, Ἐπισκόπου Ταρακίνης.
Κλέος κράτιστον ἐκ Θεοῦ ὁ Μαρτῖνος,
Εἴληφεν, ὡς ἔλεον ἐνδεδυμένος.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τῶν Ἁγίων Μαρτύρων Ἀντωνίου καὶ τῶν σὺν αὐτῷ.
Ξίφος Ζεβινᾶν, Γερμανόν, Νικηφόρον.
Σὺν Ἀντωνίῳ δεικνύει νικηφόρους.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Νεῖλος ὁ ἐκ Κυνουρίας, ἀσκήσας ἐν τοῖς ὁρίοις τῆς μεγίστης Λαύρας τοῦ Ἄθω, ὁ μετὰ θάνατον μυροβλύτης γενόμενος, καὶ πολλοὺς τῶν ἀσθενῶν ἰασάμενος, ἐν εἰρήνῃ τελειοῦται.
Ὁ ἅγιος πατριάρχης Κωνσταντινουπολεως Λέων ὁ Στύππης, ἐν εἰρήνῃ τελειοῦται.
Ὁ ἅγιος νεομάρτυς Σάββας ὁ Νιγδελῆς καὶ Σαμολαδᾶς, ὁ ἐν Κωνσταντινουπόλει μαρτυρήσας κατὰ τὸ 1726, ξίφει τελειοῦται.
Ὁ ἅγιος νεομάρτυς Νικόλαος, ὁ κατὰ τὸ 1732 ἐν Κωνσταντινουπόλει μαρτυρήσας, ἐκ τῆς ἐνορίας τῶν ἓξ Μαρμάρων, ξίφει τελειοῦται.
Ταῖς αὐτῶν ἁγίαις πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεὸς ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.
Saint John was born in 555 on the island of Cyprus in the city of Amathus; his father, Epiphanius, was a ruler of Cyprus. The Saint was consecrated Archbishop of Alexandria in 608. A man of exemplary uprightness, in his zeal for Orthodoxy he strove mightily to fight the many heresies among the Christians in Egypt; but above all, he was famous for his singular generosity, humility, and sympathy towards all, especially the poor. His mercy was so great that the report of it reached the Persian invaders of Jerusalem, who desired to see him because of it. Saint John reposed in 619, at the age of sixty-four.
Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Εν τή υπομονή σου εκτήσω τόν μισθόν σου Πάτερ, Όσιε, ταίς προσευχαίς αδιαλείπτως εγκαρτερήσας, τούς πτωχούς αγαπήσας, καί τούτοις επαρκέσας, Αλλά πρέσβευε Χριστώ τώ Θεώ, Ιωάννη Ελεήμον μακάριε, σωθήναι τάς ψυχάς ημών.
In thy patience thou hast won thy reward, O righteous Father. Thou didst persevere unceasingly in prayer; thou didst love the poor, and didst provide for them in all things. Wherefore, intercede with Christ our God, O blessed John the Almsgiver, that our souls be saved.
Kontakion in the Second Tone
Τόν πλούτον τόν σόν, εσκόρπισας τοίς πένησι, καί τών ουρανών, τόν πλούτον νύν απείληφας, Ιωάννη πάνσοφε, διά τούτο πάντες σε γεραίρομεν, εκτελούντες τήν μνήμην σου, τής ελεημοσύνης ώ επώνυμε.
Thy riches and wealth didst thou disperse unto the poor; thou now hast received the Heavens' riches in return. For this cause, O all-wise John, we all honour thee with our songs of praise as we keep thy memorial, O namesake of almsgiving and of mercy.
Saint Nilus, who had Constantinople as his homeland, was a disciple of Saint John Chrysostom. He had formerly been an eparch of the city, then became an ascetic on Mount Sinai. He wrote epistles and various ascetical works, and reposed about 451.
Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Ταῖς τῶν δακρύων σου ῥοαῖς, τῆς ἐρήμου τὸ ἄγονον ἐγεώργησας, καὶ τοῖς ἐκ βάθους στεναγμοῖς, εἰς ἑκατὸν τοὺς πόνους ἐκαρποφόρησας, καὶ γέγονας φωστήρ, τῇ οἰκουμένῃ λάμπων τοῖς θαύμασι, Νεῖλε Πατὴρ ἡμῶν, Ὅσιε, Πρέσβευε Χριστῷ τῷ Θεῷ, σωθῆναι τὰς ψυχὰς ἡμῶν.
With the streams of thy tears, thou didst cultivate the barrenness of the desert; and by thy sighings from the depths,thou didst bear fruit a hundredfold in labours; and thou becamest a luminary, shining with miracles upon the world, O Nilus our righteous Father. Intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Τὰς φρυγανώδεις τῶν παθῶν τῶν ἐκ τοῦ σώματος, ἐπαναστάσεις τιμητικῶς Νεῖλε Μακάριε, ἐν ἀγρύπνῳ σου συνέκοψας ἱκέσιᾳ. Ἀλλ᾽ ὡς ἔχων παῤῥησίαν πρὸς τὸν Κύριον, ἐκ παντοίων μὲ κινδύνων ἐλευθέρωσον, ἵνα κράζω σοι, Χαίροις Πάτερ παγκόσμιε.
By thine unsleeping prayer, O Father Nilus blest of God, thou didst most keenly cut away all the material that enkindleth the revolts of the body's passions; and since thou possessest boldness with the Lord of all, from all dangers that can be do thou deliver me that I may cry to thee: Rejoice, O universal Father.
Saint Martin, the great luminary of Gaul, was the son of pagan parents. When he was still quite young he became a catechumen; at the age of twenty-two he received Holy Baptism. Then he undertook the labours of a monk, and was afterwards consecrated Bishop of Tours, renowned as an ascetic and wonderworker, a faithful shepherd of Christ's flock. He converted many both from paganism and heresy, cast out demons and raised the dead, and while undertaking all the apostolic burdens of a bishop, he never ceased to be a simple monk and man of prayer. His monastery became a center of monasticism not only for Gaul, but for all of Western Europe. A widely celebrated incident of his life took place when he was still a catechumen, fulfilling his military service. Seeing an ill-clad beggar asking alms at the gate of the city of Amiens and being overlooked by passersby, Saint Martin, having nothing else to give, rent his military cloak in two with his sword and gave half to the beggar, so that he might cover himself in the cold. That night, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to him, clothed with the half of the cloak he had given to the beggar. Saint Martin's cloak - capella in Latin - was kept in a sanctuary which came to be called capella, from which the word "chapel" is derived; and they under whose care it was kept were called cappellani, from which "chaplain" is derived. Saint Martin reposed in peace in the year 397.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
In signs and in miracles thou wast renowned throughout Gaul; by grace and adoption now thou art a light for the world, O Martin, most blest of God. Almsdeeds and compassion filled thy life with their splendour; teaching and wise counsel were thy riches and treasures, which thou dost dispense freely unto all them that honour thee.
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
As a devoted man of God, thou didst proclaim His mysteries. And as a seer of the Trinity, thou didst shed thy blessings on the Occident. By thy prayers and entreaties, O adornment of Tours and glory of all the Church, preserve us, O Saint Martin, and save all who praise thy memory.
Ενός μεγάλου φιλανθρώπου Αγίου την μνήμη γιορτάζει σήμερα η Εκκλησία, του αγίου Ιωάννου του Ελεήμονος, Αρχιεπισκόπου Αλεξανδρείας. Όλων των Αγίων το γνώρισμα είναι η φιλανθρωπία, η αγάπη τους δηλαδή προς τους ανθρώπους, από την οποία πιστοποιείται και η αγάπη τους προς τον Θεό, όπως το διδάσκει ο άγιος Ευαγγελιστής. Μα του αγίου Ιωάννου η φιλανθρωπία έγινε ονομαστή, ώστε και την προσωνυμία του Ελεήμονος να του απονείμη η Εκκλησία. Φιλάνθρωποι και κοινωνικοί ευεργέται υπάρχουν πολλοί, μα έχει σημασία με ποιόν τρόπο και για ποιόν σκοπό ο καθένας ασκεί την φιλανθρωπία. Οι Άγιοι βέβαια του Θεού δεν βάζουν τίποτα στο μυαλό τους από εκείνα που σκέπτονται οι σύγχρονοί μας δήθεν φιάνθρωποι και κοινωνικοί ευεργέται, που όταν δίνουν δεν βλέπουν τον άνθρωπο αλλά τις περιστάσεις. Οι Άγιοι δίνουν και ευεργετούν για την αγάπη των ανθρώπων και για τη δόξα του Θεού.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Ἰωάννης ὁ Ἐλεήμονας, Ἀρχιεπίσκοπος Ἀλεξανδρείας
Ὁ Ἅγιος Ἰωάννης ὁ Ἐλεήμων καταγόταν ἀπὸ τὴν Κύπρο. Ἦταν γιὸς τοῦ ἄρχοντα Ἐπιφανίου, στὰ χρόνια τοῦ Βασιλιᾶ Ἡρακλείου (615 μ.Χ.). Ὅταν μεγάλωσε, νυμφεύθηκε καὶ ἀπέκτησε παιδιά, τὰ ὁποῖα ἀνέτρεψαν μὲ τὴν σύζυγό του σὰν ἀληθινοὶ χριστιανοὶ γονεῖς. Γρήγορα, ὅμως, ἡ γυναῖκα του καὶ τὰ παιδιά του πέθαναν. Ὁ Ἰωάννης εἶχε μεγάλη περιουσία καὶ τοῦ ἔγιναν πολλὲς προτάσεις νὰ κάνει καινούργια οἰκογένεια. Ὅμως τὶς ἀπέῤῥιψε ὅλες, ἀπαντῶντας: «Νομίζω, πρὸς ὅλους εἶμαι ὀφειλέτης. Καὶ δὲν τὸ νομίζω μόνο. Εἶμαι. Διότι οἱ χριστιανοὶ ἔχουμε ἀλληλεγγύη. Δὲν τὸ λέει ὁ Παῦλος; Εἴμεθα μέλη ἀλλήλων. Ἀφοῦ, λοιπὸν ἔχω τὴν δυνατότητα νὰ δώσω στοὺς ἀδελφούς μου, ἄρα εἶμαι καὶ ὑποχρεωμένος νὰ δώσω. Νὰ γιατί ἐργάζομαι καὶ δὲ θὰ πάψω νὰ τὸ κάνω. Ἡ περιουσία μου δὲν μπορεῖ νὰ εἶναι ἀνώτερη ἀπ᾿ αὐτὰ τὰ χρέη μου». Γιὰ τὴν λαμπρότητα τῆς ζωῆς του, ὁ Ἰωάννης ἔγινε ἀρχιεπίσκοπος Ἀλεξανδρείας. Διέπρεψε σὰν πνευματικὴ λυχνία στὴν πατριαρχία πολλὰ χρόνια, καὶ ἔκανε πολλὰ θαύματα. Ἐπειδὴ δὲ μοίραζε πλουσιοπάροχα στοὺς φτωχοὺς τὴν ἐλεημοσύνη, ὀνομάστηκε Ἐλεήμων. Εἶχε καταστεῖ τόσο σεβάσμιος, ὥστε καὶ αὐτοὶ οἱ εἰδωλολάτρες τὸν σέβονταν. Τελικά, εἰρηνικὰ παρέδωσε τὴν μακάρια ψυχή του στὸ Θεὸ (τὸ 620 μ.Χ.). Καὶ εἶναι μακάρια ἡ ψυχή του, διότι ὁ Κύριος λέει: «Μακάριοι οἱ ἐλεήμονες, ὅτι αὐτοὶ ἐλεηθήσονται». Μακάριοι, δηλαδή, εἶναι οἱ εὐσπλαχνικοὶ στὴ δυστυχία τοῦ πλησίον, διότι αὐτοὶ θὰ ἐλεηθοῦν ἀπὸ τὸ Θεό.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Νεῖλος ὁ Ἀσκητής
Γι΄αὐτὸν ἀναφέραμε στὸ βιογραφικὸ σημείωμα τοῦ γιοῦ του Θεοδούλου, ποὺ ἡ μνήμη του γιορτάζεται τὴν 14η Ἰανουαρίου. Ἀλλὰ ὁ Σ. Εὐστρατιάδης στὸ Ἁγιολόγιό του γράφει καὶ τὰ ἑξῆς: «Οὗτος ἦν διάσημος ἐν λόγοις καὶ ἐν ἀξιώματι, ἔπαρχος Κωνσταντινουπόλεως καὶ εὐσεβέστατος, ζῶν ἐπὶ τῆς ἐποχῆς Θεοδοσίου τοῦ Μεγάλου (379-395) [εἰκάζω μᾶλλον ἐπὶ Θεοδοσίου τοῦ Β´ (408-450)], κατὰ δὲ τὸν Συναξαριστὴν Νικόδημου (οὐχὶ ὀρθῶς) ἐπὶ Μαυρικίου (582-602)· συζευχθεὶς μετὰ γυναικὸς ἀπέκτησε τέκνα δυό, ἓν ἄῤῥεν καὶ ἓν θήλυ· ἀλλὰ ἄσβεστον ζῆλον ἔχων πρὸς τὴν μοναχικὴν πολιτείαν, κατέπεισε τὴν σύζυγον αὐτοῦ νὰ ἐγκαταλείψωσι τὴν Κωνσταντινούπολιν καὶ ἦλθον εἰς Ἄλεξανδρειαν ἐκεῖ διεχωρίσθησαν ἀπ᾿ ἀλλήλων, καὶ ἡ μὲν γυνὴ ἔλαβε μεθ᾿ ἑαυτῆς τὸ θυγάτριον, ὁ δὲ Νεῖλος τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ Θεόδουλον, μεθ᾿ οὗ ἀπῆλθεν εἰς τὸ ὄρος Σινᾶ πρὸς ἄσκησιν ἀλλ᾿ ἐκεῖ ἐπιπεσόντες βάρβαροι ἀπήγαγαν μεταξὺ ἄλλων καὶ τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ, διὰ τὸν ὁποίον ἔκλαιε καὶ ἐθρήνει πικρῶς (ἴδ. Ἀββάδες τριάκοντα ὀκτὼ οἱ ἐν Σινᾶ, Ἰανουαρ. 14). Εἰς τὴν ἐρημικὴν ἐκείνην ἀνάπαυσιν ἠσχολήθη εἰς συγγραφὰς ἀσκητικῶν ἔργων, μαρτυρούντων τὴν σοφίαν αὐτοῦ καὶ τὸν πρὸς ἄσκησιν ἔρωτα. Ἐν νηστείαις καὶ προσευχαῖς διαβιώσας, ἐκοιμήθη ἐν εἰρήνῃ. Τὰ ἱερὰ αὐτοῦ ὀστᾶ μετακομίσθησαν ὑπὸ τοῦ βασιλέως Ἰουστίνου (518-527) καὶ κατετέθησαν ἐν τῷ ναῷ τοῦ ἀποστόλου Παύλου ἐν τῷ Ὀρφανοτροφείῳ κάτωθεν τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου. Ἂν τοῦτο ἀληθεύῃ, ἡ τοῦ Συναξαριστοῦ πληροφορία, ὅτι ἐπὶ Μαυρικίου ἤκμασε, δὲν στηρίζεται».
Ὁ Ὅσιος Μαρτῖνος ὁ θαυματουργὸς ἐπίσκοπος Φραγκίας
Ἔζησε τὸν 4ο αἰῶνα μετὰ Χριστὸν καὶ καταγόταν ἀπὸ τὴν Σαβωρία τῆς Παννονίας. Μπῆκε στὴν τάξη τῶν κατηχουμένων σὲ ἡλικία 10 ἔτων. Στὸ 15ο ἔτος τῆς ἡλικίας του κατατάχθηκε στὸ στράτευμα, ὅπου ὑπηρέτησε στὰ χρόνια τῶν βασιλέων Κωνσταντίνου καὶ Ἰουλιανοῦ. Ὅταν βρέθηκε στὴν Ἀμιένη, συνάντησε κάποια μέρα ἕναν ζητιάνο, ποὺ τοῦ ζήτησε ἐλεημοσύνη. Ἐπειδὴ ὅμως δὲν εἶχε τίποτα, παρὰ μόνο τὰ ὅπλα του, ἔδωσε στὸ φτωχὸ τὸν μανδύα του. Τὴν ἑπομένη νύχτα, ἐμφανίστηκε σ᾿ αὐτὸν ὁ Κύριος, καὶ τοῦ εἶπε: «Μαρτίνε, ἂν καὶ κατηχούμενος ἀκόμα, μὲ ἐνεδύθης δώσας εἰς τὸν ἐπαίτην τὸ φόρεμα αὐτό». Ὁ Μαρτίνος βαπτίστηκε καὶ πῆγε στὸν περίφημο ἅγιο Ἱλάριο ἐπίσκοπο τῆς πόλης Ποατιὲρ τῆς Γαλλίας. Ἐκεῖ, ἐκπαιδεύτηκε καλὰ στὶς ἀλήθειες τοῦ χριστιανισμοῦ καὶ χειροτονήθηκε κληρικός. Ὑπηρέτησε στὸ ἀξίωμα αὐτὸ μὲ πολὺ ζῆλο καὶ αὐταπάρνηση. Κατόπιν, ἔγινε ἐπίσκοπος τῆς πόλης Τοὺρ ἐπίσης τῆς Γαλλίας καὶ διακρίθηκε γιὰ τὴν ἁγία του ζωὴ καὶ τὶς ὑπηρεσίες του στὴν πίστη. Ἐνίσχυε τὸ θρησκευτικὸ συναίσθημα τοῦ ποιμνίου του, μεριμνοῦσε γιὰ τοὺς φτωχοὺς καὶ τὰ ὀρφανὰ καὶ μάλιστα κατάρτισε 80 μαθητές, ποὺ ἐγκατάστησε σὲ Μονή. Σὲ κάποιο χωριὸ τῆς ἐπισκοπῆς του ὅμως, τὴν Κάνδη, ἀῤῥώστησε καὶ ἀπεβίωσε σὲ ἡλικία 81 ἐτῶν. Ἄλλη πηγὴ ὅμως, ἔχει διαφορετικὸ τὸ βιογραφικό του σημείωμα. Ἀναφέρει ὅτι ἦταν κόμης καὶ στρατηγὸς ἐπὶ βασιλείας Τραϊανοῦ (98-117). Ἀπαρνήθηκε τὰ ἀξιώματα καὶ τὴν κοσμικὴ δόξα καὶ ἔγινε μοναχός. Γιὰ ἑπτὰ ὁλόκληρα χρόνια ἀσκήθηκε στὴ μοναχικὴ ζωὴ καὶ στὴν ἀνάγνωση τῶν Ἁγίων Γραφῶν. Γιὰ τὴν καθαρότητα τῆς ζωῆς του καὶ τὶς μεγάλες του ἀρετές, ἐκλέχτηκε ἐπίσκοπός της πόλης Κωνσταντῖνος τῆς Γαλλίας. Ἐκεῖ, ἀφοῦ ἔζησε σύμφωνα μὲ τὶς ἐπιταγὲς τοῦ Εὐαγγελίου πέθανε εἰρηνικὰ σὰν θαυματουργός.
Ὁ Προφήτης Ἀχία
Ἔζησε ἐπὶ τῶν βασιλέων Σολομῶντος καὶ Ἱεροβοάμ, καὶ καταγόταν ἀπὸ τὴν Σηλώμ. Σ᾿ αὐτὸν ἀποδίδονται οἱ λόγοι, ποὺ «ἐλαλήθησαν ἐν ὀνόματι Κυρίου» πρὸς τὸν Σολομῶντα, ὅταν ἔκτιζε τὸν ναὸ στὴν Ἱερουσαλήμ. Τότε δηλαδὴ θὰ πραγματοποιοῦσε ὁ Θεὸς καὶ στὸ δικό του πρόσωπο, ὅσα εἶχε ἐξαγγείλει στὸν πατέρα του Δαβίδ, ὅταν βέβαια καὶ αὐτὸς θὰ βάδιζε στὰ διδάγματά Του καὶ ἐκτελοῦσε τὶς κρίσεις Του καὶ τηροῦσε ὅλες τὶς ἐντολές Του. Ὅταν ὅμως κάποτε ὁ Σολομῶν παρεξέκλινε τοῦ θεϊκοῦ δρόμου, διὰ τοῦ Ἀχία πάλι ὁ Κύριος γνωστοποίησε σ᾿ αὐτὸν ὅτι θὰ τὸν τιμωροῦσε κάνοντας κομμάτια τὴν βασιλεία του. Κατόπιν ὁ προφήτης ἐστάλη στὸν Ἱεροβοάμ, τὸν γιὸ τῆς χήρας Σερουᾶ. Μόλις τὸν συνάντησε, ἔξω ἀπὸ τὴν Ἱερουσαλήμ, τοῦ πῆρε τὸ καινούριο του ἱμάτιο καὶ τὸ ἔσχισε σὲ δώδεκα τεμάχια. Ὁ Ἱεροβοάμ, παρακολουθοῦσε ἔκπληκτος τὴν πράξη αὐτὴ τοῦ προφήτη. Αὐτὸς δέ, ἔδωσε σ᾿ αὐτὸν τὰ δέκα τεμάχια καὶ τοῦ εἶπε, ὅτι μετὰ τὸ θάνατο τοῦ Σολομῶντα ἔτσι ὁ Θεὸς θὰ κομματίαζε τὴν βασιλεία του, γιὰ νὰ δώσει τὶς δέκα φυλὲς στὴν ἐξουσία τοῦ Ἱεροβοάμ. Αὐτὰ ἀφοῦ προφήτευσε ὁ Ἀχία, πέθανε εἰρηνικὰ καὶ τὸν ἔθαψαν κοντὰ στὴ Βελανιδιὰ τοῦ Σιλώμ.
Our Father among the Saints Martin, Bishop of Tours (397)
This holy and beloved Western Saint, the patron of France, was born in Pannonia (modern-day Hungary) in 316, to a pagan military family stationed there. Soon the family returned home to Italy, where Martin grew up. He began to go to church at the age of ten, and became a catechumen. Though he desired to become a monk, he first entered the army in obedience to his parents.
One day, when he was stationed in Amiens in Gaul, he met a poor man shivering for lack of clothing. He had already given all his money as alms, so he drew his sword, cut his soldier's cloak in half, and gave half of it to the poor man. That night Christ appeared to him, clothed in the half-cloak he had given away, and said to His angels, "Martin, though still a catechumen, has clothed me in this garment." Martin was baptised soon afterward. Though he still desired to become a monk, he did not obtain his discharge from the army until many years later, in 356.
He soon became a disciple of St Hilary of Poitiers (commemorated January 13), the "Athanasius of the West." After traveling in Pannonia and Italy (where he converted his mother to faith in Christ), he returned to Gaul, where the Arian heretics were gaining much ground. Not long afterward became Bishop of Tours, where he shone as a shepherd of the Church: bringing pagans to the faith, healing the sick, establishing monastic life throughout Gaul, and battling the Arian heresy so widespread throughout the West. Finding the episcopal residence too grand, he lived in a rude, isolated wooden hut, even while fulfilling all the duties of a Bishop of the Church.
His severity against heresy was always accompanied by love and kindness toward all: he once traveled to plead with the Emperor Maximus to preserve the lives of some Priscillianist heretics whom the Emperor meant to execute.
As the holy Bishop lay dying in 397, the devil appeared to tempt him one last time. The Saint said, "You will find nothing in me that belongs to you. Abraham's bosom is about to receive me." With these words he gave up his soul to God.
He is the first confessor who was not a martyr to be named a Saint in the West. His biographer, Sulpitius Severus, wrote of him: "Martin never let an hour or a moment go by without giving himself to prayer or to reading and, even as he read or was otherwise occupied, he never ceased from prayer to God. He was never seen out of temper or disturbed, distressed or laughing. Always one and the same, his face invariably shining with heavenly joy, he seemed to have surpassed human nature. In his mouth was nothing but the Name of Christ and in his soul nothing but love, peace and mercy."
Note: St Martin is commemorated on this day in the Greek and Slavic Synaxaria; his commemoration in the West, where he is especially honored, is on November 11.
Our Father among the Saints John the Merciful, Patriarch of Alexandria (619)
He was the son of a noble family in Cyprus. He married and had several children, but when his wife and children all died at nearly the same time, he took his loss as a call to forsake worldly cares, and committed his life entirely to God. In time he was consecrated Archbishop of Alexandria, where he became known for his zeal for the Orthodox faith and his struggles against the various heresies that prevailed in Egypt at that time. Most of all, though, he was known for the amazing purity of his generosity and compassion toward all.
On the day of his elevation to the Patriarchate, he ordered a careful census of his "masters," as he called the poor and beggars. It was found that there were 7,500 indigents in the city, and St John ordered that all of them be clothed and fed every day out of the Church's wealth. In his prayers he would say "We will see, Lord, which of us will win this contest: You, who constantly give me good gifts, or I, who will never stop giving them away to the poor. For I have nothing that does not come to me by Thy mercy, which upholds my life."
His lack of judgment in giving to the poor sometimes dismayed those around him. Once a wily beggar came to John four times in four different disguises, receiving alms each time. When the holy Patriarch was told of this, he ordered that the man be given twice as much, saying "Perhaps he is Jesus my Savior, who has come on purpose to put me to the test." Still, the more generously he gave, the more generously God granted gifts to the Church, so that money was never lacking either for the poor or for the Church's own real needs. One of the clergy once gave only a third of what the Patriarch instructed to a rich man who had fallen into poverty, thinking that the Church's treasury could not afford to give so much. Saint John then revealed to him that a noblewoman who had planned to give an enormous gift to the Church had, shortly thereafter, given only a third of what she originally planned.
Once, when he was serving the Divine Liturgy at the Cathedral, the Patriarch stopped just before the consecration, instructed the deacon to repeat the litanies, and sent for one of his clergy who bore a grudge against him and would not come to church. When the man came, the Patriarch prostrated himself before him and, with tears, begged his forgiveness. When they were reconciled, he returned to the altar and proceeded with the service.
Though the Patriarch lived in a well-appointed palace befitting his rank, he owned no property and lived in a humble cell within the palace. A godly citizen, knowing his poverty, once gave him a fine blanket. The Saint immediately sold the blanket and gave the proceeds to the poor. The donor, however, found his gift for sale in a shop, bought it, and gave it again to the Patriarch. The Patriarch again sold it, and the donor again found it and gave it. The Synaxarion says, "As neither of them would give in, the bed-cover passed through their hands a good many times and was the means whereby John indirectly prevailed on the rich man to give away a great fortune to the poor."
Despite his generosity, the Patriarch was firm with the Monophysite heretics. Though he gave them all that he could whenever they were in need, he instructed the Orthodox faithful never to worship or pray with them.
At his own request, the Patriarch returned to Cyprus where, in 619, he died at the age of 64. In his last hours, he gave thanks to God that nothing remained of the riches of which he had been given stewardship for the sake of the poor.
Our Holy Father Nilus the Ascetic of Sinai (430)
He served as Prefect of Constantinople during the reign of the Emperor Theodosius. He was married and had two children, a son and a daughter. Despising their eminent worldly position, Nilus and his wife agreed to take up the monastic life in Egypt, she taking their daughter to a women's monastery, he taking their son to Mount Sinai. Together Nilus and his son Theodoulos lived in hesychia on the slopes of the mountain with the other monks, who spent their lives in solitude, only gathering once a week to partake of the Mysteries. One day some Saracen raiders attacked the monks, killing many and capturing others; Nilus' own son Theodoulos was among those taken. Nilus, to overcome his sorrow at losing his son, redoubled his prayers and ascetical labors, and became widely-known for his gifts of prophecy and discernment. He wrote more than a thousand letters and spiritual treatises, including some defending his spiritual father St John Chrysostom, who had been unjustly exiled.
After many years at Mt Sinai, St Nilus found his long-lost son alive. Father and son together were ordained to the priesthood by the Bishop of Elusas, who had been caring for Theodoulos. Saint Nilus reposed in peace around the year 430. His relics were later returned to Constantinople and venerated at the Church of the Orphanage.
St Nilus the Myrrh-Gusher of Mt Athos (1651)
He was born around the end of the sixteenth century in southern Greece. At an early age he entered into monastic life and in time found an isolated cave on the southern cliffs of Mt Athos, devoting his days to prayer, unknown to almost everyone. He reposed in peace in 1651 and was buried near his cave. A fragrant myrrh flowed from his body so copiously that it formed a stream flowing into the sea below; many people came in boats to collect the myrrh, which healed many ailments. One of his disciples, disturbed by the steady procession of visitors, complained in prayer to the Saint, and the flow of myrrh instantly stopped, never to resume.
Sainted John the Merciful, Patriarch of Alexandria, was born on Cyprus in the VII Century into the family of the illustrious dignitary Epiphanios. At the wish of his parents he entered into marriage and had children. When the wife and the children of the saint died, he became a monk: strict at fasting, prayer and love for brother.
His spiritual exploits gain him reknown, and when the Patriarchal cathedra-seat at Alexandria fell vacant, the emperor Heraclius and all the clergy besought Saint John to occupy the Patriarchal throne.
The saint worthily assumed his archpastoral service, concerning himself over the moral and dogmatic welfare of his flock. During his time as patriarch he denounced and drove out from Alexandria the heresy of the Antioch Monophysite Phyllonos.
But his chief task he considered to be charity and beneficence towards all those in need. At the beginning of his patriarchal service he ordered an accounting of all the poor and downtrodden in Alexandria, which turned out to be over seven thousand men. To all these unfortunates the saint daily distributed food, gratis and for free. Twice during the week, on Wednesdays and Fridays, he emerged from the doors of the Patriarchal cathedral, and sitting on the church portico, he received everyone in need: he settled quarrels, aided the wronged, and distributed alms. Three times a week he visited in the sick-houses, and rendered help to the suffering. It was during this period that the emperor Heraclius led a tremendous army against the Persian emperor Chosroes II. It resulted with the Persians ravaging and burning Jerusalem, and taking a multitude of captives. The holy Patriarch John gave over a large portion of the church treasury for their ransom.
The saint never refused suppliants. One time along the road to the sick-house he encountered a beggar and commanded that he be given 6 silver coins. The beggar, having made a change of clothes, ran on ahead of the Patriarch and again began to entreat alms. Saint John again gave him 6 silver coins. When however the beggar a third time besought charity, and the servants began to thrust away the obtrusive fellow, the Patriarch ordered that he be given 12 pieces of silver, saying: "Is Christ not indeed putting me to the test?" Twice the saint gave money to a merchant that had suffered shipwreck, and a third time gave him a ship belonging to the Patriarchate and filled with grain, with which the merchant had a successful journey and repaid his obligations.
Saint John the Merciful was known for his gentle attitude towards people. One time the saint was compelled because of some offense to remove from the Church a certain clergyman. This fellow was angry at the Patriarch, and so the saint wanted to summon him and talk it out, but it slipped his mind. But when he was celebrating the Divine Liturgy, the saint was suddenly reminded by the words of the Gospel: when thou bringest forth thine gift to the altar and do recollect, that thine brother hath something against thee, leave hold thine gift and first make peace with thine brother (Mt. 5: 23-24). The saint came out of the altar, called over the offending clergyman to him, and falling down on his knees before him, in front of all the people he asked forgiveness. The clergyman, shaken with surprise, repented his doings and afterwards became a pious priest.
Likewise there was a time when a certain citizen insulted George, a nephew of the Patriarch. George asked the saint to avenge the wrong. The saint promised to reward the offender, in a manner that all Alexandria would see. This calmed George down, and Saint John began to instruct him, speaking about the necessity of meekness and humility, and then, having summoned the insulter, he declared, that he would release him from payment of a church tax on his land. Alexandria indeed was amazed by such a "revenge", and George learned the lesson in the teaching of his uncle.
Saint John, a strict ascetic and man of prayer, was always mindful of his soul, and of death. He commissioned for himself a crypt-coffin, but he did not bid the master-craftsmen to finish it off, instead each feastday he would have them come and ask, if it was time to finish the work.
Shortly before his death, Saint John through illness was compelled to resign his cathedra and set off to the island of Cyprus. On the ship-journey the saint in his illness had a sign: in a sleep-vision a resplendent man appeared to him and said: "The King of kings doth summon thee unto Himself". The vision announced the impending death of the Patriarch. Having arrived at Cyprus, in his native city of Amaphunteia, the saint in peace expired to the Lord (616-620).
The Holy Monk Nilos the Faster, a native of Constantinople. He lived during the V Century and was a student of Saint John Chrysostom. Having received a fine education, the saint while still a young man was appointed to the important post of prefect of the capital. During this period, Nilos was married and had children. But the pomp of courtly life bothered the couple. Saint John Chrysostom exerted a tremendous influence upon their lives and their strivings. The spouses decided to separate and devote themself to monastic life. The wife and daughter of Nilos set out to one of the women's monasteries in Egypt, and the Monk Nilos and his son Theodoulos went to Sinai, where they settled in a cave dug out by their own hands. For forty years this cave served as the dwelling of the Monk Nilos. By fasting, prayer and works, the monk attained to an high degree of spiritual perfection. People began to come to him from every occupation and social rank -- from the emperor down to the farmer, and each found counsel and comfort from the saint. In solitude the Monk Nilos wrote much. A letter of his is known of -- in which there is an angry denunciation of the emperor Arcadius, who had exiled Saint John Chrysostom. And widely known are the ascetic works of the Monk Nilos: they are perfectly executed in form, profoundly Orthodox, and filled with sincere sense and clear thought.
The Monk Nilos suffered many a misfortune in the wilderness. Thus, for example, Saracens captured his son Theodoulos, whom they intended to offer as a sacrifice to their pagan gods. Through the prayers of the saint the Lord saved Theodoulos, and the monk found him with the bishop of Emessa, who had ransomed the young man from the barbarians. And this bishop ordained both of them as presbyters. After ordination they returned to Sinai, where they asceticised together until the death of the Monk Nilos.
The Holy Prophet Akhiah (Ahijah), (cf. 1  Kings 11: 29ff) -- was a contemporary of Solomon, and was born in the city of Silom. The prophet predicted to Jeroboam his kingly rule over the 10 Tribes of Israel, which God would grant him, snatching them away from the hands of Solomon. Afterwards Akhiah predicted to Jeroboam the perishing of all his line. All the predictions of the prophet were fulfilled. The Prophet Ahiah died in old age 960 years before the Birth of Christ.
The Monk Nilos the Myrh-Exuding was born in Greece, in a village named for Saint Peter, in the Zakoneia diocese. He was raised by his uncle, the priestmonk Makarios. Having attained the age of maturity, he took monastic tonsure and was found worthy of ordination to monk-deacon, and then to priestmonk. The desire for great effort at monastic deeds brought the monastic uncle and nephew to Athos, where Makarios and Nilos asceticised, at a place called the Holy Rocks. Upon the repose of Blessed Makarios, the Monk Nilos in undertaking still more intense spiritual efforts resettled in a place well nigh inaccessible for any living thing. Upon his departure to the Lord, the Monk Nilos was glorified by an abundant flow of curative myrh, for which Christians journeyed from the most distant lands of the East.
THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:
1. St. John the Merciful, Patriarch of Alexandria
John was born on the island of Cyprus. His father was Prince Epiphanius. John was raised as a true Christian from childhood. At the insistence of his parents, he married and had children. However, by God's providence, his wife and children passed from this world into the next. Renowned for his compassion and piety, John was chosen as Patriarch of Alexandria in the time of Emperor Heraclius. He governed the Church of Alexandria for ten years as a true shepherd, safeguarding it from pagans and heretics. He was a model of meekness, charity and love for his fellow men. He said: ``If you desire nobility, seek it not in blood but in virtues, for this is true nobility.'' All the saints have been distinguished by mercifulness, but St. John was completely dedicated to this wonderful virtue. Once, while celebrating the Liturgy, the patriarch remembered the words of Christ, Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift (Matthew 5:23-24), and he remembered that one of the clergy in that church had a grievance against him. He quickly left the Holy Gifts, approached that priest, fell before his feet and begged for forgiveness. And only when he had made peace with this man did he return to the table of oblation. Another time, as he was on his way to the Church of Saints Cyrus and John, it happened that he met a needy and unfortunate widow who spoke to him at length about her misfortune. The patriarch's escorts became bored by the woman's lengthy complaint, and urged the bishop to hurry to the church for the service, intimating that he could hear the woman's story afterward. John said to them: ``And how will God listen to me, if I do not listen to her?'' He would not leave until he heard the widow's complaint to the end.
When the Persians attacked Egypt, Patriarch John boarded a boat to escape from danger. Along the way he fell ill and, when he arrived in Cyprus, he reposed at his birthplace, in the year 620. After he entered the Immortal Kingdom of his Lord, his miracle-working relics were translated to Constantinople, then to Budapest, and finally to Presburg.
2. The Holy Prophet Ahijah of Shiloh
Ahijah prophesied a thousand years before Christ. He prophesied to Jeroboam, Solomon's servant, that he would reign over ten of the tribes of Israel (I Kings 11:29-31).
3. The Venerable Nilus of Sinai
Nilus was at first a prefect in the capital city, Constantinople. As a married man, he had a son and a daughter. Seeing the sinful life of the capital, he agreed with his wife to withdraw from the world. This they did. His wife and daughter went to a convent in Egypt. Nilus and his son Theodulus went to Mount Sinai. Nilus lived a life of asceticism on Mount Sinai for a full sixty years. He wrote wonderful books on the spiritual life. He entered peacefully into rest in about the year 450, in the eightieth year of his earthly existence, and took up his habitation in the blessed heavenly life. These holy words are his: ``Physical passions have their origin in physical desires, and against them abstinence is necessary; but spiritual passions are born of spiritual desires, and against them, prayer is necessary.''
4. The Venerable Nilus the Myrrh-gusher
Nilus was born in the Morea. As a hieromonk he went with his uncle to the Holy Mountain and there lived a life of asceticism as a recluse in a deserted place called ``the Holy Rocks.'' When he entered into rest, myrrh flowed from his body in such abundance that it ran down from the top of the mountain into the sea. This miracle-working myrrh attracted ailing men from all over. A disciple of St. Nilus was so distracted by the many visitors that he complained in prayer to St. Nilus, and the flow of myrrh ceased at once. St. Nilus lived a life of asceticism in the fullest sense, like the saints of old. He entered into rest in the seventeenth century.
HYMN OF PRAISE
The Venerable Nilus of Sinai
St. Nilus of Sinai spoke to the monks:
``Repeat the name of Jesus in your heart!
Exercise your heart in innocence,
And your body in purity and abstinence.
If you are insulted, endure the insult,
And thus the insulter will feel the injury.
Weep for the sinner, even when he advances:
He is on an eternal journey to meet justice.
If you endure misfortunes, they will serve you-
Misfortunes are thorns on which roses grow.
Whenever you pray to God, ask not for pleasant things,
But for that which brings benefit to the soul!
Fear not death, but await the death of the body;
Feel shame before the angels, before you feel the shame of men.
Avoid temptation and do not seek it,
But when it comes of its own accord, show yourself a hero.
He who often partakes of Communion with the gracious Christ
Is a temple in which Christ abides.
Speak little and rarely with men,
But speak more and more often with God.''
Thus, did Nilus of Sinai teach the monks,
And his deeds bore witness to his words.
Their time of death and the necessity of preparation for it was revealed beforehand to many holy men and women. This is a great gift from heaven, but as we do not expect this gift, we unworthy ones need daily repentance to prepare for our departure. One can flee from men, but never from God. When St. John the Merciful fled Egypt from the Persians, a gloriously radiant man with a golden sceptre in his hand appeared to him on the boat and said: ``The King of kings is calling you to Himself.'' John understood these words and began to prepare for his repose, which came soon. The holy King Stefan of Deè< face="AGaramond">ani's beloved St. Nicholas often appeared to him, and did so before Stefan's repose, saying: ``Stefan, prepare for your departure, for soon you will appear before the Lord.'' Both saints were very similar in their compassion. Despite the immeasurable wealth that St. John had at his disposal as Patriarch of Alexandria, he personally had only one-third of a dinar at his repose, and he willed even that to the poor. When St. Stefan of Deè< face="AGaramond">ani was in the Monastery of the Pantocrator in Constantinople, a generous Serbian nobleman secretly sent him a substantial sum of money. ``I give thanks to the good gentleman for his love,'' replied Stefan to the bearer, ``but he would give me greater joy if he would distribute this money, intended for me, to the poor.''
on how strangers become members of the household
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God (Ephesians 2:19).
Before the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, it seemed that only the Jews were close to God and that the pagans were farther away from God. But as a matter of fact, the Jews and the pagans were equally estranged from God, and from true reverence for Him. Then He came, Christ the Savior, and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh (Ephesians 2:17) and by that, brought both Jews and pagans by one Spirit unto the Father (Ephesians 2:18). In the new creation, or the new man, or the Church of God, the Spirit is one; and everyone who enters the Church of God receives this Spirit, so that no matter how much the Church increases in members, there always remains the one Spirit of God; and no matter how many nations or tribes or races enter the Church of God, the Spirit does not change, but remains forever and ever, one and the same Spirit. That is why pagans are not strangers and foreigners in the Church, but are fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, as are all other members of the Church. For the Church is founded on holiness, and her cornerstone is the Saint above saints, and according to the plan, all of her members should be holy. All those who lived before Christ but expected Christ and hoped in Him, as well as those who lived after Christ, and who recognized Christ as Lord, Son of God, Savior, Redeemer, Resurrector and Judge, are also called saints. Sin separates and alienates from God, but through the Lord Jesus Christ, division and alienation have vanished, and all the faithful-whether former Jews or pagans-became members of the household of God, by and through the Lord Jesus Christ.
O my brethren, the Lord Jesus Christ gave us something greater and more precious than this life: He gave us peace and friendship with God, and this is greater and more precious than life in alienation from God.
O Lord Jesus Christ, Creator of Peace and Giver of Peace, sustain us to the end in peace with God.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.