Saturday, November 19, 2011

November 19, 2011 - 23rd Saturday After Pentecost (9th of Luke)


Obadiah the Prophet
Barlaam of Caesarea
Anthimos, Thallalaeos, Christopher, Euphemia & her children, the Martyrs

Τοῦ Ἁγίου Προφήτου Ἀβδιοῦ.
Τῶν Ἁγίων Μαρτύρων Βαρλαάμ καί Ἡλιοδώρου.
Τῶν Ἁγίων Μαρτύρων Ἀνθίμου, Θαλλελαίου, Χριστοφόρου καί Εὐφημίας.


The Reading is from St. Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians 8:1-5
BRETHREN, if we want you to know about the grace of God which has been shown in the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of liberality on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own free will, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints - and this, not as we expected, but first they gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God.

Πρὸς Κορινθίους β' 8:1-5
Ἀδελφοί, γνωρίζομεν δὲ ὑμῖν, ἀδελφοί, τὴν χάριν τοῦ θεοῦ τὴν δεδομένην ἐν ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις τῆς Μακεδονίας· ὅτι ἐν πολλῇ δοκιμῇ θλίψεως ἡ περισσεία τῆς χαρᾶς αὐτῶν καὶ ἡ κατὰ βάθους πτωχεία αὐτῶν ἐπερίσσευσεν εἰς τὸν πλοῦτον τῆς ἁπλότητος αὐτῶν. Ὅτι κατὰ δύναμιν, μαρτυρῶ, καὶ ὑπὲρ δύναμιν αὐθαίρετοι, μετὰ πολλῆς παρακλήσεως δεόμενοι ἡμῶν, τὴν χάριν καὶ τὴν κοινωνίαν τῆς διακονίας τῆς εἰς τοὺς ἁγίους· καὶ οὐ καθὼς ἠλπίσαμεν, ἀλλʼ ἑαυτοὺς ἔδωκαν πρῶτον τῷ κυρίῳ, καὶ ἡμῖν διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ.

The Reading is from Luke 9:57-62
At that time, as Jesus was going along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head." To another he said, "Follow me." But he said, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." But he said to him, "Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." Another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home." Jesus said to him, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."

Κατὰ Λουκᾶν 9.57-62
Τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ, πορευομένων αὐτῶν ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ εἶπέ τις πρὸς αὐτόν· ἀκολουθήσω σοι ὅπου ἐὰν ἀπέρχῃ, Κύριε. καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς· αἱ ἀλώπεκες φωλεοὺς ἔχουσι καὶ τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ κατασκηνώσεις, ὁ δὲ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου οὐκ ἔχει ποῦ τὴν κεφαλὴν κλίνῃ. Εἶπε δὲ πρὸς ἕτερον· ἀκολούθει μοι· ὁ δὲ εἶπε· Κύριε, ἐπίτρεψόν μοι ἀπελθόντι πρῶτον θάψαι τὸν πατέρα μου. εἶπε δὲ αὐτῷ ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς· ἄφες τοὺς νεκροὺς θάψαι τοὺς ἑαυτῶν νεκρούς· σὺ δὲ ἀπελθὼν διάγγελλε τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ. Εἶπε δὲ καὶ ἕτερος· ἀκολουθήσω σοι, Κύριε· πρῶτον δὲ ἐπίτρεψόν μοι ἀποτάξασθαι τοῖς εἰς τὸν οἶκόν μου. εἶπε δὲ ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς πρὸς αὐτόν· οὐδεὶς ἐπιβαλὼν τὴν χεῖρα αὐτοῦ ἐπ᾿ ἄροτρον καὶ βλέπων εἰς τὰ ὀπίσω εὔθετός ἐστιν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ.


Τῇ ΙΘ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου προφήτου Ἀβδιού.
Ἔφησεν ἂν τι μέλλον Ἀβδιοὺ πάλιν,
Εἰ μὴ τελευτὴν εἶχεν αἰδεῖσθαι τάχα.
Ἐννεακαιδεκάτῃ βίον Ἀβδιοὺ ἐξεπέρησεν.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Μάρτυρος Βαρλαάμ.
Σὺν λιβανωτῷ, Βαρλαάμ, τὸ πῦρ φέρων,
Εὔοσμος ὤφθης λιβανωτὸς Κυρίῳ.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Μάρτυρος Ἄζη τοῦ Θαυματουργοῦ.
Διψητικὴ τις ὡς ἔλαφος εἰς ὕδωρ,
Ἄζης ὁ Μάρτυς ἔτρεχε πρὸς τὸ ξίφος.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, οἱ Ἅγιοι ἑκατὸν πεντήκοντα στρατιῶται ξίφει τελειοῦνται.
Τετμημένας τρεῖς, Χριστέ, πεντηκοντάδας,
Τριττῇ στεφῶν γέραιρε πεντηκοντάδι.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, οἱ Ἅγιοι δώδεκα στρατιῶται ξίφει τελειοῦνται.
«Στρατεύομαί σοι σήμερον διὰ ξίφους»,
Τῷ Παμβασιλεῖ δωδεκὰς στρατοῦ λέγει.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Μάρτυρος Ἀγαπίου.
Κἂν ἐσπαράχθην Ἀγάπιος θηρίοις,
τὴν πίστιν ἀσάλευτός εἰμὶ σοι, Λόγε.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Μάρτυρος Ἡλιοδώρου, τοῦ ἐν Μαγιδῷ τῆς Παμφυλίας.
Ἡλιόδωρος Χριστὸν Ἥλιον βλέπων,
Ἀνώτερος πέφηνε βασάνων σκότους.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τῶν Ἁγίων Μαρτύρων Ἀνθίμου, Θαλλελαίου, Χριστοφόρου, Εὐφημίας καὶ τῶν τέκνων αὐτῶν, καὶ τοῦ Ἁγίου Παγχαρίου.
Ταῖς αὐτῶν ἁγίαις πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεός, ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.

The Divine Scriptures do not tell us with any certainty when the Prophet Obadiah lived nor what was his homeland. Thus, some say that he is that Obadiah who was Ahab's steward, who, because of Jezebel's wrath, hid one hundred prophets in a cave and fed them with bread and water (III Kings 18:4), and that he later became a disciple of Elias the Prophet about 903 B.C. But others surmise from the words of the same prophetical book that he is somewhat later than Joel (celebrated on Oct. 19). He is also called Obdiu, or Abdiu, or Obadiah; his name means "servant of God." His book of prophecy, which consists of only one chapter, is ranked fourth among the minor Prophets.

Apolytikion in the Second Tone
Τού Προφήτου σου Αβδιού τήν μνήμην, Κύριε, εορτάζοντες, δι' αυτού σε δυσωπούμεν, Σώσον τάς ψυχάς ημών.
As we celebrate the memory of Thy Prophet Obadiach, O Lord, through him we beseech Thee to save our souls.

Kontakion in the Grave Tone
Ως απαρχήν ευπρόσδεκτον, προσαγαγών τόν βίον σου, τώ εν Τριάδι Θεώ παναοίδιμε, θεαρχικής ελλάμψεως, απηνέγκω τό κάλλος, καί μελλόντων εκφάντωρ θεοειδέστατος, Αβδιού ανεδείχθης, κραυγάζων αλληλούϊα.
As a divinely-chosen Prophet, thou foretoldest things far off, that on Mount Sion salvation should come to pass, for Heaven's myst'ries shone on thee; as thou dwellest in Heaven with the Prophets, rejoicing in Christ whom ye foretold, entreat Him, O Obadiah, to save us, who honour thee with love.

Saint Barlaam, who was from a certain village near Antioch in Syria, was advanced in years and a husbandman by occupation. Because of his confession of Christ, he was brought before the judge, who had him scourged with whips and then scraped with iron claws. Since this could not break his constancy, he was forcibly haled to the idols' temple, and live coals with incense were placed in his right hand. The judge thought that he would cast them down because of the pain, thus seeming to have offered a sacrifice of incense to the idols. But Saint Barlaam stood unmoving until his hand was thoroughly burned by the coals; he fell to the ground, and so gave up his soul into the hands of the Lord. He contested in martyrdom during the reign of Diocletian (284-305). Saint Basil the Great and Saint John Chrysostom both gave homilies in his honour.

Kontakion in the Third Tone
Γηραιώ εν σώματι, τόν παλαιόν εν κακία, κρατεροίς παλαίσμασι, καταβαλών Αθλοφόρε, ήνεγκας, καθάπερ άσαρκος τάς στρεβλώσεις, έφερες, τήν τής χειρός σου καύσσιν ανδρείως, διά τουτό σε ο Λόγος, στεφάνω δόξης, Βαρλαάμ έστεψε.
Weak with age, yet thou didst slay him that is ancient in evil when thou didst present to Christ thy burnt right hand and sweet incense; for thou barest bitter tortures with great endurance, casting down the fleshless foe with thy fleshly suff'rings. Now thou standest at the right hand of thy Creator, O valiant martyr Barlaam.

Οι άνθρωποι καυχώνται πάντα με τα κατορθώματά τους, με τους πολέμους και με τις νίκες που κερδίζουν, με την πρόοδο της Επιστήμης και με τα θαύματα της Τεχνικής. Όλα αυτά, που έχουν μίαν εγκόσμιο αξία δεν είναι τίποτα, όταν δεν τα συνοδεύη η ταπεινοφροσύνη και το αίσθημα του φόβου του Θεού μέσα στον άνθρωπο. Ο προφήτης Αβδιού, του οποίου τη μνήμη γιορτάζει σήμερα η Εκκλησία, όπως τον χαρακτηρίζει η θεία Γραφή, "ην φοβούμενος τον Κύριον σφόδρα", είχε μέσα του το αίσθημα, που είναι η βάση και η αρχή κάθε σοφίας. Ο προφήτης λοιπόν αυτός με το μεγάλο φόβο του Θεού μέσα του προφητεύει και λέει: "Εάν μετεωρισθής ως αετός και εάν αναμέσον των άστρων θης νοσσιάν σου, εκείθεν κατάξω σε, λέγει Κύριος". Δεν θα είναι υπερβολή να φοβώμαστε, μήπως αυτά τα λόγια εύρουν εφαρμογή και σε μας, που καυχόμαστε χωρίς φόβο Θεού ότι ανεβήκαμε να κατακτήσουμε τα άστρα...

Ὁ Προφήτης Ὀβδιοῦ ἢ Ἀβδιοῦ
Τὸ ὄνομά του σημαίνει «δοῦλος Κυρίου». Ἔζησε στὸ δεύτερο μισὸ τοῦ 6ου αἰῶνα π.Χ., (κατ᾿ ἄλλη ἐκδοχὴ τὸ 800 π.Χ.), καὶ εἶναι ἕνας ἀπὸ τοὺς δώδεκα μικροὺς λεγόμενους προφῆτες. Καταγόταν ἀπὸ τὴν Συχὲμ (ἐκ τοῦ ἀγροῦ Βηθοχαρὰμ ἢ Βαθαχαράμ), καὶ μὲ τὴν σύντομη προφητεία του αὐστηρὰ παρατηρεῖ μὲ ἰσχυρὲς ποιητικὲς ἐκφράσεις τὴν ὑπερηφάνεια καὶ τὴν πτώση τοῦ Ἰσραήλ. Νὰ τί λέει χαρακτηριστικὰ γιὰ τὴν ὑπερηφάνεια: «Ὑπερηφάνια τῆς καρδίας σου ἐπῆρε σε κατασκηνοῦντα ἐν ταῖς ὀπαῖς τῶν πετρῶν, ὑψῶν κατοικίαν αὐτοῦ, λέγων ἐν καρδίᾳ αὐτοῦ- τὶς κατάξει με ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν; ἐὰν μετεωρισθῆς ὡς ἀετὸς καὶ ἐὰν ἀνὰ μέσον τῶν ἄστρων θῇς νοσσιᾶν σου, ἐκεῖθεν κατάξω σε, λέγει Κύριος» Δηλαδή: ἡ ὑπερηφάνεια τῆς καρδιᾶς σου σὲ ἔκανε νὰ φρονεῖς πολὺ ὑψηλὰ γιὰ τὸν ἑαυτό σου, ὅτι τάχα κατοικεῖς σὲ φαράγγια καὶ σπηλιὲς τῶν ὀρέων καὶ γενικὰ ἀπόρθητες περιοχές. Ἔχεις κτίσει τὴν κατοικία σου σὲ πολὺ ὕψος, πιστεύεις ὅτι εἶσαι ἰσχυρὸς καὶ ἀνίκητος καὶ λὲς ἀπὸ μέσα σου: Ποιὸς θὰ μπορέσει νὰ μὲ κατεβάσει στὴ γῆ; Καὶ ἂν ἀκόμα πετάξεις σὲ μεγάλα ὕψη σὰν τὸν ἀετό, καὶ ἂν στήσεις τὴν φωλιά σου ψηλὰ ἀνάμεσα στ᾿ ἀστέρια, ἀπὸ ἐκεῖ θὰ σὲ καταῤῥίψω καὶ θὰ σὲ κατεβάσω, λέγει ὁ Κύριος. Ἂς προσέξουμε, λοιπόν, τὰ λόγια του προφήτη καὶ ἂς καλλιεργοῦμε τὸ θεμέλιο τῶν ἀρετῶν, ποὺ εἶναι ἡ ταπείνωση. Νὰ ἀναφέρουμε ἐπίσης, ὅτι ὁ Ὁβδιοῦ ἦταν μαθητὴς τοῦ προφήτου Ἡλίου, ἐπὶ τῆς βασιλείας Ὀχοζία, ὁ ὁποῖος ἔστειλε τὸν Ὀβδιοῦ στὸν Ἠλία γιὰ νὰ τὸν πείσει νὰ κατέβει ἀπὸ τὸ βουνὸ πρὸς τὸν βασιλιά. Μετὰ τὴν μετάβαση τοῦ Ἠλία στὸν Ὀχοζία, ὁ Ὀβδιοῦ παραιτήθηκε ἀπὸ τὴν θέση τοῦ πεντηκοντάρχου, ἀκολούθησε τὸν προφήτη Ἠλία καὶ τὸν ὑπηρετοῦσε. Ὅταν πέθανε ἐτάφη στὸν τάφο τῶν πατέρων του.

Ὁ Ἅγιος Βαρλαάμ
Ὁ Μέγας Βασίλειος καὶ ὁ Ἱερὸς Χρυσόστομος θεώρησαν χρέος τους νὰ ἀσχοληθοῦν στὸ δίκαιο ἐγκώμιο τοῦ ἱεροῦ αὐτοῦ ἀθλητῆ τῆς πίστης. Παρὰ τὰ βαθιὰ γεράματά του, ὅταν τὸν ἔφεραν μπροστὰ στὸν ἔπαρχο Ἀντιοχείας, τὸν ἀντιμετώπισε μὲ θαυμαστὴ εὐψυχία. Ἔτσι τὸν μαστίγωσαν μὲ νεῦρα βοδιοῦ καὶ τοῦ ξερίζωσαν τὰ νύχια. Ἐπειδὴ ὅμως δὲν ὑποχωροῦσε ἄναψαν κάρβουνα καὶ ἑτοιμάστηκαν νὰ βάλουν τὰ χέρια του ἐπάνω σ᾿ αὐτά. Ἀλλὰ ἐκεῖνος τοὺς πρόλαβε. Βάδισε μόνος του καὶ ἔβαλε τὸ δεξί του χέρι στὴ φωτιά. Καὶ ἐνῷ καίγονταν οἱ σάρκες καὶ τὰ κόκκαλά του, ὁ γέροντας Βαρλαάμ, ὑμνοῦσε καὶ εὐλογοῦσε τὸν Κύριο. Μετὰ ἀπὸ λίγο παρέδιδε καὶ τὴν τελευταία του πνοή, ἀλλὰ κράτησε καὶ ἀμετακίνητη τὴν πίστη του (304 μ.Χ.).

Ὁ Ἅγιος Ἄζης ὁ Θαυματουργός
Ἔζησε στὰ χρόνια τοῦ βασιλιᾶ Διοκλητιανοῦ (289 μ.Χ.) καὶ καταγόταν ἀπὸ τὴν χώρα τῶν Ἰσαύρων. Ἦταν στρατιωτικὸς στὸ ἐπάγγελμα, ἀλλὰ ἄφησε τὴν στρατιωτικὴ ζωὴ καὶ ζοῦσε στὴν ἔρημο, ὅπου ἔκανε πολλὰ θαύματα. Τὸν κατάγγειλαν ὅμως κάποιοι κυνηγοί, ποὺ τὸν εἶχαν δεῖ, καὶ στάλθηκε στρατιωτικὸ ἀπόσπασμα γιὰ νὰ τὸν συλλάβει. Ὅταν τὸν συνέλαβαν βαθιὰ μέσα στὴν ἔρημο, οἱ στρατιῶτες δίψασαν καὶ δὲν ἔβρισκαν πουθενὰ νερό. Τότε ὁ Ἄζης, διὰ τῆς προσευχῆς, ἔκανε νὰ πεταχθεῖ μπροστά τους νερὸ καὶ ἔτσι ξεδίψασαν. Τὸ θαῦμα αὐτὸ ἔκανε πολλοὺς ἀπὸ τοὺς στρατιῶτες νὰ πιστέψουν στὸν Χριστό. Ὅταν τελικὰ ὁ Ἄζης ὁδηγήθηκε στὸν ἔπαρχο Ἀκυλίνο, ὁμολόγησε μὲ θάῤῥος τὸν Χριστό. Τότε τὸν ἔδεσαν σ᾿ ἕνα τροχὸ καὶ ἀπὸ κάτω ἄναψαν φωτιά. Ἀλλὰ ἐνῷ ἡ φλόγα ὑψώθηκε, μὲ μιᾶς ἀμέσως ἔσβησε. Τὸ γεγονὸς αὐτὸ προσείλκυσε στὸν χριστιανισμὸ τὴν σύζυγο καὶ τὴν θυγατέρα τοῦ ἔπαρχου. Ὁ Ἀκυλίνος γιὰ νὰ ξεφορτωθεῖ ὁριστικὰ τὸν Ἄζη, διέταξε καὶ τὸν ἀποκεφάλισαν.

Ὁ Ἅγιος Ἀγάπιος
Καταγόταν ἀπὸ τὴν Καισαρεία τῆς Παλαιστίνης καὶ διέπρεψε γιὰ τὴν σεμνότητα τῆς ζωῆς του. Συνελήφθη ἀπὸ τὸν βασιλιὰ Μαξιμίνο (311-313), ἐπὶ δούκα Οὐρβανοῦ, γιὰ τὸ λόγο ὅτι ἦταν χριστιανός. Τότε τὸν διαπόμπευσαν μέσα στὸ στάδιο καὶ στὴ συνέχεια τὸν ἄφησαν γιὰ τροφὴ στὰ ἄγρια θηρία. Αὐτὰ τὸν κατασπάραξαν, ἀλλὰ τὸν ἄφησαν μισοπεθαμένο. σ᾿ αὐτὴ τὴν κατάσταση τὸν ἔριξαν στὴ φυλακὴ καὶ τὴν ἑπόμενη μέρα τὸν ἔπνιξαν στὴ θάλασσα.

Ὁ Ἅγιος Ἡλιόδωρος ἀπὸ τὴν Μαγιδὼ τῆς Παμφιλίας
Μαρτύρησε στὰ χρόνια τοῦ αὐτοκράτορα Αὐρηλιανοῦ (272) στὴ Μαγιδὼ τῆς Παμφυλίας, καὶ ὅταν ἡγεμόνευε στὴν πόλη αὐτὴ ὁ Ἀέτιος. Ὁ Ἠλιόδωρος λοιπόν, συνελήφθη καὶ ἐπειδὴ δὲν πείστηκε νὰ θυσιάσει στὰ εἴδωλα, στὴν ἀρχὴ ξέσχισαν τὶς πλευρές του μὲ σιδερένια νύχια καὶ ἔπειτα ἔκαψαν τὶς πληγές του μὲ ἀναμμένες ἀπὸ ῥητίνη λαμπάδες. Παρὰ λίγο ὁ Ἅγιος νὰ λιποψυχήσει. Ἀλλὰ διὰ τῆς προσευχῆς πρὸς τὸν Κύριο, ἡ ψύχή τουστερεώθηκε. Ἀκολούθησε σειρὰ σκληρῶν καὶ φρικτῶν βασανιστηρίων, ἀλλ᾿ ἡ σταθερότητα τῆς πίστης τοῦ Ἠλιόδωρου δὲν κάμφθηκε. Τελικὰ ὁδηγήθηκε ἔξω ἀπὸ τὴν πόλη καὶ ἐκεῖ ὑπέστη τὸν δι᾿ ἀποκεφαλισμοῦ θάνατο.

Holy Prophet Obadiah (Abdias)
Obadiah's is the shortest prophetic book in the Old Testament. The scriptures tell us little of where or when he lived. Some believe that he is the Obadiah who served as steward of King Ahab's household and, when Jezebel was killing the prophets, hid a hundred of them in a cave and fed them. It is said that this Obadiah later became a disciple of the Prophet Elijah (Elias). His name means "servant of God."

Our Holy Father Philaret, Metropolitan of Moscow (1867)
Born of a priestly family near Moscow in 1782, he entered seminary at a young age and soon distinguished himself for his piety and his scholarship of ancient languages. He was tonsured a monk, but was made a professor at the seminary in Moscow, where his expositions of the Faith, spoken and written, caused him to be regarded as a Father of the Church in his own time; many called him "the new Chrysostom."
  In 1817, at the age of thirty-five, he was consecrated bishop, and in only a few years rose to the rank of Metropolitan of Moscow, the highest office in the Russian Church since Peter the Great abolished the Patriarchate. He remained Metropolitan for the rest of his life. Saint Philaret seemed literally tireless in his labors for the Church: no-one knew when he slept, and his servant, no matter when he came to the Metropolitan's quarters, would always find him working at his desk. He worked to restore moral standards among the clergy, which had fallen into laxity. Whenever he was forced to depose a cleric, he would secretly contribute to the family's needs out of his own resources. Similarly, he used up all of his financial resources in charitable works, always taking care that his donations were kept secret. He funded the building of a large hospice for orphans and children of poor clergy families.
  St Philaret gave his full support to the fifty-year project of translating the Bible into Russian, and translated several Old Testament books himself, though the project was opposed by the Tsar and by some powerful groups in the Church. He supported the work of the fathers of Optina Monastery to publish translations of the Fathers of the Church; these translations, when they appeared, contributed to a great spiritual awakening in Russia.
  He reposed in peace in 1867 at the age of eighty-five.
  The well-loved "Morning Prayer of Philaret of Moscow" which begins "Lord, grant me to greet the coming day in peace..." was brought into Orthodox piety by St Philaret but seems originally to have been written by Francois Fenelon, the French Quietist writer. The prayer also came to be used by the Optina Elders and is sometimes referred to as the "Morning Prayer of the Optina Elders." The prayer appears in several similar versions.
  O Lord, grant me to greet the coming day in peace. Help me in all things to rely upon Your holy will. In every hour of the day reveal Your will to me. Bless my dealings with all who surround me. Teach me to treat all that comes to me throughout the day with peace of soul, and with the firm conviction that Your will governs all. In all my deeds and words guide my thoughts and feelings. In unforseen events let me not forget that all are sent by You. Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering or embarrassing others. Give me strength to bear the fatigue of this coming day with all that it will bring. Direct my will, teach me to pray, pray You Yourself in me. Amen.

Holy Martyr Barlaam of Antioch (304)
Saint Barlaam was an old man, living in Antioch during the persecution of Diocletian and Maximian. When he confessed Christ before the Governor and refused to sacrifice to the idols, he was tortured for days: his flesh was torn by iron claws and he was stretched on the rack. When these conventional tortures failed, the Governor invented a new torment: Barlaam's hand was stretched over an altar to the idols, and a burning coal with incense was put in his palm. The torturers reasoned that when pain forced him to drop the coal, they would be able to say that he had offered sacrifice to the gods. But the holy Barlaam held his hand steady and watched calmly as his hand was burnt up by the coal. At last his hand fell to the ground and the Martyr gave up his soul to God.
  In some accounts, St Barlaam survived his torments and reposed in peace. Some have held that he came from Cappadocia rather than Antioch, but this is probably incorrect. Saint John Chrysostom once delivered a homily at St Barlaam's tomb in Antioch on his feast day.

Our Holy Fathers Barlaam and Joasaph of India (4th c.)
"They were Indian ascetics. Joasaph was son and heir to King Abenner. By God's providence, he was visited by the elder Barlaam, who taught him the Christian faith and baptised him. After that, the elder went off into the mountains to live in asceticism, and Joasaph remained to wrestle with many temptations in the world and to overcome them by the grace of God. Joasaph finally succeeded in bringing his father to Christ. When he had been baptised, King Abenner lived a further four years in deep repentance (for he had committed grave sins in his persecution of Christians) and then finished his earthly course and went to the better life. The young Joasaph entrusted the kingdom to his friend Barachias, and himself went off into the desert to live in asceticism for the sake of Christ. His one desire on earth was to see his spiritual father, Barlaam, once more. God, in his mercy, fulfilled his desire, and, one day, Joasaph stood before Barlaam's cave, and called: 'Bless me, Father!' The elder Barlaam lived in asceticism in the desert for seventy years, living a hundred years in all. St Joasaph handed over his kingdom at the age of twenty-five and went into the desert, where he lived a further thirty-five years. They both had great love for the Lord Jesus, brought many to the true Faith and entered into the eternal joy of their Lord." (Prologue)
  They are commemorated on August 26 on the Greek calendar.

The Holy Prophet Obadiah (or Avdi) was from the 12 Minor Prophets, and he lived during the IX Century B.C. He was a native of the village of Betharam, near Sichem, and he served as house-governor of the impious Israelite king Ahab. In these times the whole of Israel had turned away from the True God and had begun to offer sacrifice to Baal. But Obadiah-Avdi in secret faithfully served the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. When the impious and dissolute Jezebel, the wife of Ahab, set about the exterminating of all the prophets of the Lord, Obadiah-Avdi meanwhile in turn gave them shelter and food (3 [1] Kings 18:3ff). Ahab's successor king Okhoziah (Ahaziah) sent 3 detachments of soldiers to arrest the holy Prophet Elias (Elijah or Ilias, Comm. 20 July). One of these detachments was headed by Saint Obadiah-Avdi. Through the prayer of Saint Elias, two of the detachments were consumed by Heavenly fire, but Saint Obadiah-Avdi and his detachment were spared by the Lord (4 [2] Kings 1). From this moment Saint Obadiah resigned military service and became a follower of the Prophet Elias. Afterwards he himself received the gift of prophecy. The God-inspired work of Saint Obadiah-Avdi -- the Book of Prophecies under his name, is the fourth in order of the Books of the Twelve Minor Prophets in the Bible. It contains predictions about the New Testament Church. The holy Prophet Obadiah-Avdi was buried in Samaria.

The Holy Martyr Varlaam lived in Syrian Antioch. During the time of the persecution against Christians under the emperor Diocletian (284-305), Saint Varlaam at an advanced age was arrested and brought to trial, where he confessed himself a Christian. The judge, wanting to compel the saint to renounce Christ, gave orders to conduct Saint Varlaam to the pagan altar, pull his right hand over it, and put into the palm of his hand a red-hot censor burning with incense. The torturer reckoned, that a physically weak old man could not hold out and would drop it on the altar, and in such manner would be offering sacrifice to the idol. But the saint held on to the censor, until his fingers were burnt. After this the holy Martyr Varlaam offered up his soul to the Lord (+ 304).

The Monks Varlaam the Wilderness-Dweller, Joasaph the son of the Emperor of India, and his father Avenir: In India, -- once formerly having received the Christian faith through the evangelisation of the holy Apostle Thomas, there ruled the emperor Avenir, an idol-worshipper and fierce persecutor of Christians. For a long time he did not have any children. Finally, a son was born to the emperor, and named Joasaph. At the birth of this son the wisest of the emperor's star-gazers predicted, that the emperor's son would accept the Christian faith which was persecuted by his father. The emperor, wanting to ward off the prediction, commanded that there be built for his son a separate palace and he arranged matters such, that his son should never hear a single word about Christ and His teachings.
Reaching a youthful age, Joasaph asked permission of his father to go out beyond the palace, and he saw existing there such things as suffering, sickness, old age and death. This led him into ponderings over the vanity and absurdity of life, and he began to engage in some serious thinking.
At this time in a far-off wilderness there asceticised a wise hermit, the Monk Varlaam. By a Divine insight he learned about the youth agonising in search of truth. Forsaking his wilderness, the Monk Varlaam in the guise of a merchant set out to India, and having arrived in the city where Joasaph's palace was situated, he declared that he had brought with him a precious stone, endowed with wondrous powers to heal sickness. Being brought in to Joasaph, he began to present him the Christian faith in the form of parables, and then also "from the Holy Gospel and the Holy Epistles". From the instructions of the Monk Varlaam the youth reasoned out, that the precious stone is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and he believed in Him and desired to accept holy Baptism. Having made the sign of the cross over the youth, the Monk Varlaam bid him to fast and pray, and he went off into the wilderness.
The emperor, learning that his son was become a Christian, fell into a rage and grief. On the advice of one of his counsellors, the emperor arranged for a debate about faith between the Christians and the pagans, at which under the guise of Varlaam there appeared the Magi magician Nakhor. In the debate Nakhor was supposed to acknowledge himself beaten and in such manner turn the imperial youth away from Christianity. Through a vision in a dream, Saint Joasaph learned about the deception and he threatened Nakhor with a fiercesome execution, if beaten in the debate. Nakhor in terror not only beat the pagans, but he himself came to believe in Christ, and he repented and accepted holy Baptism and went off into the wilderness. The emperor tried to turn his son away from Christianity by other methods also, but the youth conquered all the temptations. Then on the advice of his counsellors, Avenir bestowed on his son half the realm. Saint Joasaph, having become an emperor, restored Christianity in his lands, built anew the churches, and finally, he converted his own father the emperor Avenir to Christianity. Soon after Baptism the emperor Avenir died, and Saint Joasaph abdicated his rule and went off into the wilderness in search of his teacher, the elder Varlaam. Over the course of two years he wandered about through the wilderness, suffering dangers and temptations, until he found the cave of the Monk Varlaam, asceticising in silence. The elder and the youth began to asceticise together. When the end for the Monk Varlaam approached, he served out the Divine Liturgy, partook of the Holy Mysteries and communed Saint Joasaph, and with this he expired to the Lord, having lived in the wilderness 70 of his hundred years. Having buried the elder, Saint Joasaph remained at the cave and continued with the wilderness efforts. He dwelt in the wilderness for 35 years, and expired to the Lord at age sixty.
The successor of Saint Joasaph as emperor, Barachias, with the help of a certain hermit, found in the cave the undecayed and fragrant relics of both ascetics, and he conveyed them back to his fatherland and gave them burial in a church, built by the Monk-Emperor Joasaph.


1. The Holy Prophet Obadiah
Obadiah was born in the village of Betharam in the region of Shechem. He lived at the court of King Ahab, but when the king turned away from true worship and bowed down to idols, Obadiah did not follow the king, but continued to serve the one, true God. When the evil Queen Jezebel, in her hatred of Elias, raised a persecution against all the prophets of God, Obadiah gathered a hundred of them, hid them in two caves, and fed them to the end of the persecution (I Kings 18:4). A contemporary of the great Prophet Elias, Obadiah revered him greatly and served him in all things, as his follower and disciple. He lived nine hundred years before Christ and entered peacefully into rest.

2. The Holy Martyr Barlaam
Barlaam was born in Antioch. Because of his faith in Christ the Lord, the impious judge tortured him harshly. Finally, the judge decided to mock him by forcing him to offer sacrifice to the idols. For this he took him to the pagan temple and set a burning coal on his palm and incense on the coal. The judge thought that the pain would cause the martyr to shake the coal and incense off his hand before the idols, and thus involuntarily cense them. However, the soldier of Christ heroically held the burning coal on his palm with no thought of casting it before the idols, until his fingers were burned through and fell off and his palm was completely burnt. St. Basil the Great said: "He had a right hand more powerful than fire: although the coal burned his hand, his hand still held the fire as if it were ash." Chrysostom writes: "The angels looked from the heights. The archangels beheld-the scene was majestic, in truth transcending human nature. Behold, who would not wish to see a man who made such an ascetic endeavor, yet did not feel that which is characteristic of men to feel; a man who was himself both the altar of oblation and the sacrifice and the priest?" When his hand burned off, elder Barlaam's whole body fell to the ground dead and his soul went to the eternal rest of our Lord the Savior. This glorious, heroic elder suffered in the year 304.

3. The Venerable Barlaam and Ioasaph the Heir
Barlaam and Ioasaph were Indian ascetics. Ioasaph was son and heir to King Abenner. By God's providence, elder Barlaam visited him, taught him the Christian Faith and baptized him. After that, the elder withdrew to a mountain to live a life of asceticism, but Ioasaph remained to struggle with many temptations in the world, and by God's grace, to overcome them. Ioasaph finally succeeded in bringing his father to Christ. After he was baptized, King Abenner lived four years in deep repentance-for he had committed grave sins in persecuting Christians-and then ended his earthly existence and went to the better life. The young Ioasaph turned over the rule of the kingdom to his friend Barachias, and entered the wilderness to live a life of asceticism for the sake of Christ. His one desire on earth was to see his spiritual father, elder Barlaam, once again. The merciful God fulfilled his desire, and one day Ioasaph stood before Barlaam's cave and cried out: "Bless me, father!" Elder Barlaam labored in asceticism in the wilderness for seventy years and lived one hundred years in all. St. Ioasaph himself left his kingdom at the age of twenty-five, and went into the wilderness where he lived for thirty-five years. They both had great love for the Lord Jesus, brought many to the true Faith and entered into the eternal joy of their Lord.

4. The Holy Martyr Heliodorus

Heliodorus was from the town of Maggido in Pamphylia and suffered for the Christian Faith in the time of Emperor Aurelian. During his harsh tortures, he heard a voice from heaven: “Be not afraid, I am with thee!” Thrown into a glowing-hot brazen ox, he fervently prayed to God and God saved him. All at once, the glowing ox cooled, and Heliodorus emerged alive. The judge cried out to him that he had performed some magic. To this, the martyr replied: “My magic is Christ!” He was beheaded and went to the Lord.

The Venerable Barlaam and Ioasaph the Heir
When Ioasaph witnessed illness, old age and death,
He was sincerely ashamed of this life.
“Behold, even I can be ill like that,
And old age can make me stooped like this,
And death may come when I least expect it!
In the suffering of others I bitterly suffer.
Is there anyone living who knows the secret of the mystery
And can reveal a better life?"
Then, from the dense mountain, Barlaam descended,
And spoke truth to the young heir.
And the elder told him of the One God-
Of the Father Who reigns with the Spirit and the Son-
Of the creation of the world, and Paradise, most beautiful;
Of the first Adam, in the effulgence of Paradise;
Of cursed sin that brought us death;
Of Christ Who bore the heavy Cross for us;
Of life eternal, better than this;
Of the infinite glory of the Kingdom of Christ.
When Ioasaph had heard the all-wise Barlaam,
A bright day dawned for him, and the darkness of night passed away.

A tale of the Elder Barlaam to Ioasaph: A man was fleeing from a terrifying unicorn. Fleeing thus, he fell into a pit, but grabbed hold of a tree. Just when he thought that he was out of danger, he looked down below the tree and saw two mice, one black and one white, gnawing alternately but continuously at the roots of the tree, so as to gnaw through and bring the tree crashing down. Looking down even further, he saw a huge, terrifying serpent which, with its jaws wide open, was waiting to devour the man when the tree would fall down. He then saw four smaller poisonous snakes around his feet. Looking upward, the man saw a little bit of honey on a branch, and forgetting all the danger that surrounded him, extended his hand to reach that little bit of sweetness in the tree. The interpretation is this: The unicorn represents death, which from Adam to now pursues every man to kill him; the pit filled with all sorts of dangers is this world; the tree is the path of our life; the white and black mice are days and nights, that continue one after the other to shorten our life; the huge and horrible snake is hell; the four poisonous snakes are the four elements from which the body of man is composed; the little bit of honey on the branch of the tree is the little sweetness that this life offers to man. Oh, if only men would not be captivated by that inconsequential sweetness, forgetting the terrible dangers that surround them and draw them down to eternal ruin!

Contemplate the wondrous creation of the world (Genesis 1):
1. How on the sixth day God created the cattle and the small creatures and the wild beasts after their own kind;
2. How God saw that it was good.

on glorifying God because of Christ the Lord
Unto Him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen (Ephesians 3:21).
Glory be to God! Glory be to God in the Church! Glory be to Him because of Christ Jesus! Glory be to Him throughout all generations! Glory be to Him unto ages of ages! No one befits being glorified as does God, nor does anyone glorify God as does the Church of God. Christ is the revealer of God: hence, all the glory given to God must go through Christ the Lord. The Church will endure beyond all races and generations to the end of time; the Church is the most pure body of Christ, filled with might, wisdom and miracle-working; and hence the glory of God is proclaimed from the Church: from the holy place to the Holy One, from purity to the Pure One. Glorification from the Church is most pleasing to God also, because there are many souls and voices in the Church, but they are all of one accord and of one voice. Therefore, let no one separate himself from the common glorification of God, and let no one even think that his own glorification of God in isolation and separation is better than the glorification of God in the unity and fullness of all the faithful. It is not true that one member is lost in the multitude, that his voice is not heard before God. Does not the hand do its work only when it is inseparably bound to the body? And so it is with each member of the body, just as it is with each of the faithful. When he prays in and with the Church (and even if he is in the desert he can pray in and with the Church), not separating himself from the Church, he is better heard and seen by God. His soul finds a much repeated echo in the souls of the other faithful, and so he is greatly distinguished and recognized in his prayer within the unity of the body of the Church rather than outside of it.
O Lord Jesus, only from Thee, in Thee, and through Thee can we glorify God.
 To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.