Nahum the Prophet
Philaret the Merciful of Amnia
Ananias the Persian
Holy Father Theocletus the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Lacedaemonia
Our Holy Fathers Ananius and Solochon, Archbishops of Ephesus
Τοῦ Ἁγίου Προφήτου Ναούμ, τοῦ Ὁσίου Πατρός ἡμῶν Φιλαρέτου τοῦ Ἐλεήμονος.
Τοῦ Ἁγίου Μάρτυρος Ἀνανίου τοῦ Πέρσου καί τοῦ Ἁγίου Πατρός ἡμῶν Θεοκλήτου, Ἀρχιεπισκόπου Λακεδαιμονίας, τοῦ Θαυματουργοῦ.
Τῶν Ἁγίων Πατέρων ἡμῶν Ἀνανίου καί Σολόχωνος, Ἀρχιεπισκόπων Ἐφέσου.
READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:
The Reading is from St. Paul's Second Letter to the Thessalonians 2:13-17; 3:1-5
BRETHREN, we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.
Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed on and triumph, as it did among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men; for not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from evil. And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things which we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.
Πρὸς Θεσσαλονικεῖς β' 2:13-17; 3:1-5
Ἀδελφοί, ἡμεῖς ὀφείλομεν εὐχαριστεῖν τῷ θεῷ πάντοτε περὶ ὑμῶν, ἀδελφοὶ ἠγαπημένοι ὑπὸ κυρίου, ὅτι εἵλετο ὑμᾶς ὁ θεὸς ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς εἰς σωτηρίαν ἐν ἁγιασμῷ πνεύματος, καὶ πίστει ἀληθείας· εἰς ὃ ἐκάλεσεν ὑμᾶς διὰ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου ἡμῶν, εἰς περιποίησιν δόξης τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ. Ἄρα οὖν, ἀδελφοί, στήκετε, καὶ κρατεῖτε τὰς παραδόσεις ἃς ἐδιδάχθητε, εἴτε διὰ λόγου, εἴτε διʼ ἐπιστολῆς ἡμῶν. Αὐτὸς δὲ ὁ κύριος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦς χριστός, καὶ ὁ θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ ἡμῶν ὁ ἀγαπήσας ἡμᾶς, καὶ δοὺς παράκλησιν αἰωνίαν καὶ ἐλπίδα ἀγαθὴν ἐν χάριτι, παρακαλέσαι ὑμῶν τὰς καρδίας, καὶ στηρίξαι ὑμᾶς ἐν παντὶ λόγῳ καὶ ἔργῳ ἀγαθῷ. Τὸ λοιπὸν, προσεύχεσθε, ἀδελφοί, περὶ ἡμῶν, ἵνα ὁ λόγος τοῦ κυρίου τρέχῃ καὶ δοξάζηται, καθὼς καὶ πρὸς ὑμᾶς, καὶ ἵνα ῥυσθῶμεν ἀπὸ τῶν ἀτόπων καὶ πονηρῶν ἀνθρώπων· οὐ γὰρ πάντων ἡ πίστις. Πιστὸς δέ ἐστιν ὁ κύριος, ὃς στηρίξει ὑμᾶς καὶ φυλάξει ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ. Πεποίθαμεν δὲ ἐν κυρίῳ ἐφʼ ὑμᾶς, ὅτι ἃ παραγγέλλομεν ὑμῖν, καὶ ποιεῖτε καὶ ποιήσετε. Ὁ δὲ κύριος κατευθύναι ὑμῶν τὰς καρδίας εἰς τὴν ἀγάπην τοῦ θεοῦ, καὶ εἰς τὴν ὑπομονὴν τοῦ χριστοῦ.
The Reading is from Luke 20:9-18
The Lord said this parable: "A man planted a vineyard, and let it out to tenants, and went into another country for a long while. When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, that they should give him some of the fruit of the vineyard; but the tenants beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent another servant; him also they beat and treated shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent yet a third; this one they wounded and cast out. Then the owner of the vineyard said, 'What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; it may be they will respect him.' But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, 'This is the heir; let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.' And they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those tenants, and give the vineyard to others." When they heard this, they said, "God forbid!" But he looked at them and said, "What then is this that is written: 'The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner'? Every one who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; but when it falls on any one it will crush him."
Κατὰ Λουκᾶν 20.9-18
Εἶπεν ὁ Κύριος τήν παραβολὴν ταύτην· Ἄνθρωπός τις ἐφύτευσεν ἀμπελῶνα, καὶ ἐξέδοτο αὐτὸν γεωργοῖς καὶ ἀπεδήμησε χρόνους ἱκανούς.καὶ ἐν τῷ καιρῷ ἀπέστειλε πρὸς τοὺς γεωργοὺς δοῦλον ἵνα ἀπὸ τοῦ καρποῦ τοῦ ἀμπελῶνος δώσουσιν αὐτῷ· οἱ δὲ γεωργοὶ δείραντες αὐτὸν ἐξαπέστειλαν κενόν.καὶ προσέθετο αὐτοῖς πέμψαι ἕτερον δοῦλον. οἱ δὲ κἀκεῖνον δείραντες καὶ ἀτιμάσαντες ἐξαπέστειλαν κενόν.καὶ προσέθετο πέμψαι τρίτον. οἱ δὲ καὶ τοῦτον τραυματίσαντες ἐξέβαλον.εἶπε δὲ ὁ κύριος τοῦ ἀμπελῶνος· τί ποιήσω; πέμψω τὸν υἱόν μου τὸν ἀγαπητόν· ἴσως τοῦτον ἰδόντες ἐντραπήσονται.ἰδόντες δὲ αὐτὸν οἱ γεωργοὶ διελογίζοντο πρὸς ἑαυτοὺς λέγοντες· οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ κληρονόμος· δεῦτε ἀποκτείνωμεν αὐτόν, ἵνα ἡμῶν γένηται ἡ κληρονομία.καὶ ἐκβαλόντες αὐτὸν ἔξω τοῦ ἀμπελῶνος ἀπέκτειναν. τί οὖν ποιήσει αὐτοῖς ὁ κύριος τοῦ ἀμπελῶνος;ἐλεύσεται καὶ ἀπολέσει τοὺς γεωργοὺς τούτους, καὶ δώσει τὸν ἀμπελῶνα ἄλλοις. ἀκούσαντες δὲ εἶπον· μὴ γένοιτο.ὁ δὲ ἐμβλέψας αὐτοῖς εἶπε· τί οὖν ἐστι τὸ γεγραμμένον τοῦτο, λίθον ὃν ἀπεδοκίμασαν οἱ οἰκοδομοῦντες, οὗτος ἐγενήθη εἰς κεφαλὴν γωνίας; πᾶς ὁ πεσὼν ἐπ᾿ ἐκεῖνον τὸν λίθον συνθλασθήσεται· ἐφ᾿ ὃν δ᾿ ἂν πέσῃ, λικμήσει αὐτόν.
READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:
Τῇ Α' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Προφήτου Ναούμ.
Ναούμ, τὸν Ἑλκεσαῖον ἐκπεπνευκότα,
Ἕλκει πόθος με σμυρνίσαι σμύρνῃ λόγου.
Πρώτη ἐκ βιότοιο Δεκεμβρίου ᾤχετο Ναούμ.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ὁσίου Φιλαρέτου τοῦ Ἐλεήμονος.
Θνῄσκει ὁ πᾶσαν ἀρετὴν φερωνύμως,
Πάτερ φιλήσας, τόν γε μὴν οἶκτον πλέον.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ ἁγίου μάρτυρος Ἀνανίου τοῦ Πέρσου.
Ἀνανίας σάρξ, πρὸς δὲ σαρκὸς αἰκίας,
Αἴσθησιν ὡς σάρξ οὐδὲ μικρὰν λαμβάνει.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ ἁγίου Ἀντωνίου τοῦ νέου.
The Prophet Nahum had Elkesaeus (Elkosh) as his homeland, and was from the tribe of Symeon; he is seventh in order among the twelve Minor Prophets He prophesied during the time of Hezekias, after the destruction of Samaria (721 years before Christ), but before the ten tribes were taken into captivity; he prophesied against Nineveh, the capital of Assyria. His name means "comforter." His book of prophecy is divided into three chapters.
Apolytikion in the Second Tone
Τού Προφήτου σου Ναούμ τήν μνήμην, Κύριε, εορτάζοντες, δι' αυτού σε δυσωπούμεν, Σώσον τάς ψυχάς ημών.
As we celebrate the memory of Thy Prophet Nahum, O Lord, through him we beseech Thee to save our souls.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Ως πυρσός ακοίμητος Ναούμ Προφήτα, φρυκτωρείς εν πέρασι, δι' αινιγμάτων ιερών, τήν τών μελλόντων αλήθειαν, ών τάς εκβάσεις ορώντες τιμώμέν σε.
Thy pure heart, illumined by the Holy Spirit, was a sacred vessel of resplendent prophecy, for thou didst see things far off as close at hand. Hence we revere thee, blest Nahum most glorious.
Saint Philaret a native of Paphlagonia in Asia Minor, was a virtuous Christian layman who lived in lawful wedlock and raised a family. He was most renowned for his generosity to all in need. With the permission of God, in a short space of time he lost the greater part of his possessions to theft and other misfortunes and was left with nothing but his family, his home, and a little livestock. Yet he continued to give generously to the poor despite the faint-heartedness of his family, who reproached him for giving alms when they were in need themselves; and God, seeing his faith, restored his prosperity to him many times over. He foresaw the day of his death, and reposed in an odour of sanctity in Constantinople in 789.
Apolytikion in the Third Tone
Θείας πίστεως, περιουσία, διεσκόρπισας, τοίς δεομένοις, τόν προσόντα σοι πλούτον Φιλάρετε, καί ευσπλαγχνία κοσμήσας τόν βίον σου, τόν χορηγόν τού ελέους εδόξασας, Όν ικέτευε, δοθήναι τοίς ευφημουσί σε, ρανίδα οικτιρμών καί θείον έλεος.
From the inner wealth of a divine faith, thou didst deal thy riches to the needy; and thy works of compassion have glorified Christ, the Bestower of mercy, O Philaret; for thy whole life was adorned with a love like His. Intercede for us, O Almsgiver, that He richly grant great mercy and compassion unto us, the poor.
Kontakion in the Third Tone
Τού Ιώβ κτησάμενος, εν πειρασμοίς τήν ανδρείαν, τοίς πτωχοίς διένειμας, ως συμπαθής τόν σόν πλούτον, ώφθης γάρ, τής ευσπλαγχνίας έμψυχος βρύσις, νάμασι, τών θείων τρόπων σου ιλαρύνων, τούς εκ πόθου σοι βοώντας, χαίροις θεράπον Χριστού Φιλάρετε.
In all temptations, thou hadst Job's courageous manliness, and in thy mercy thou didst give thy riches to the poor, being truly a living fountain of almsgiving. By the holy way of life that thou hast shown to us, thou dost also gladden all that cry to thee with love: Rejoice, O Philaret, faithful servant of Christ our God.
Έβδομος στη σειρά των δώδεκα "ελασσό-νων" Προφητών της Παλαιάς Διαθήκης είναι Προφήτης Ναούμ, του οποίου η Εκκλησία σήμερα γιορτάζει την μνήμη. Το βιβλίο του, από τρία μόνο κεφάλαια, είναι σχεδόν όλο προφητεία για την καταστροφή της πόλεως Νινευή. Τα λόγια της προφητείας του Ναούμ μας θυμίζουν γεγονότα των ημερών μας, όσες είδαμε φοβερές πολεμικές καταστροφές και ταπεινώσεις λαών, που ξεσηκώθηκαν να εξανδραποδίσουν τον κόσμο. Μέσα στα γεγονότα αυτά, και τότε στην εποχή του Προφήτου Ναούμ και τώρα στην εποχή την δική μας, πάντα με τον ίδιο τρόπο αποκαλύπτεται η οργή και η δικαιοσύνη του Θεού προς τους ασεβείς και τους υβριστάς, και πάλι η χρηστότης κι η προστασία του σε κείνους, που κάτω από την καταδυνάστευση και τη σκλαβιά ελπίζουν σ' αυτόν. "Θεός ζηλωτής και εκδικών Κύριος τους εχθρούς αυτού...". Αλλά και "χρηστός Κύριος τοις υπομένουσιν αυτόν εν ημέρα θλίψεως".
Ὁ Προφήτης Ναούμ
Εἶναι ἕνας ἀπὸ τοὺς δώδεκα μικροὺς λεγόμενους προφῆτες. Ἔζησε τὸν 7ο αἰῶνα πρὸ Χριστοῦ καὶ ἦταν ἀπὸ τὴν φυλὴ τοῦ Συμεών. Πατρίδα εἶχε τὴν Ἐλκεσέμ, γι᾿ αὐτὸ ὀνομάστηκε καὶ Ναοὺμ ὁ Ἐλκεσαῖος. Τὸ βιβλίο τῆς προφητείας του ἀποτελεῖται ἀπὸ τρία μικρὰ κεφάλαια καὶ ἀφορᾷ τὴν τύχη τῆς πόλης Νινευῆ. Στὸ Α´ κεφάλαιο, ὑμνεῖ τὸ Θεό. Στὸ Β´ κεφάλαιο, προαναγγέλλει τὸν ὄλεθρο τῆς Νινευῆ μὲ τὰ ἅρματά της, τοὺς ἱππεῖς καὶ τοὺς θησαυρούς της. Στὸ Γ´ κεφάλαιο, χαρακτηρίζει τὴν Νινευὴ σὰν πόλη τῶν αἱμάτων, τοῦ ψεύδους, τῆς μεγάλης ἀδικίας καὶ πορνείας. Ἂς δοῦμε, ὅμως, τί λέει γιὰ τοὺς ἁμαρτωλοὺς ἀνθρώπους τέτοιας πόλης, καὶ τί γιὰ αὐτοὺς ποὺ εἶναι κοντὰ στὸν Κύριο: «Χρηστὸς Κύριος τοῖς ὑπομένουσιν αὐτὸν ἐν ἡμέρᾳ θλίψεως καὶ γινώσκων τοὺς εὐλαβουμένους αὐτὸν καὶ ἐν κατακλυσμοῖς πορείας συντέλειαν ποιήσεται τοὺς ἐπεγειρομένους, καὶ τοὺς ἐχθροὺς αὐτοῦ διώξεται σκότος». Ναούμ, Α´ 7 -8. Δηλαδὴ ὁ Κύριος εἶναι εὐεργετικὸς γιὰ ἐκείνους ποὺ μένουν κοντά Του στὶς ἡμέρες τῶν θλίψεών τους. Γνωρίζει ὁ Κύριος καὶ περιβάλλει μὲ συμπάθεια ἐκείνους ποὺ Τὸν σέβονται. Ἐναντίον ὅμως τῶν ἁμαρτωλῶν, ποὺ ἀλαζονικὰ μὲ κάθε εἴδους ἁμαρτία ἐγείρονται ἐναντίον Του, θὰ ὁρμήσει σὰν κατακλυσμὸς γιὰ νὰ τοὺς ἐξαφανίσει τελείως. Θὰ καταδιώξει τοὺς ἐχθρούς Του καὶ θὰ τοὺς κυριεύσει τὸ σκοτάδι τοῦ θανάτου. Ὁ πρ. Ναοὺμ πέθανε εἰρηνικὰ καὶ τάφηκε στὸν τόπο τῶν πατέρων του.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Ἀντώνιος ὁ Νέος
Γιὰ τὸν Ὅσιο αὐτὸ ἀναφέρει ὁ Εὐεργετινός, ὅτι ἔγινε μοναχὸς καὶ ζοῦσε ζωὴ ἀσκητική. Γιὰ νὰ ἀσκηθεῖ ὅμως περισσότερο, ἄφησε τὸν ἡσυχαστικὸ βίο καὶ πῆγε σὲ μία κοινοβιακὴ Μονὴ στὴν Κίο τῆς Βιθυνίας καὶ ὑποτάχθηκε στὸν ἡγούμενο, δουλεύοντας τὶς πιὸ σκληρὲς δουλειὲς τῆς Μονῆς. Ἀφοῦ ἔδειξε πολλὴ ὑπακοὴ καὶ ὑπομονὴ καὶ ἔγινε ὑπόδειγμα ἀσκητικῆς ταπεινοφροσύνης, ἀπεβίωσε εἰρηνικά.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Φιλάρετος ὁ Ἐλεήμων
Ἦταν ὑπόδειγμα κάθε ἀρετῆς καὶ ἰδιαίτερα τῆς ἀγαθοεργίας. Ἔζησε τὸν 8ο αἰῶνα μ.Χ. στὴν πόλη Ἀμνεία τῆς Παφλαγονίας, καὶ τοὺς γονεῖς του ἔλεγαν Γεώργιο καὶ Ἄννα. Παντρεύτηκε τὴν Θεοσεβὼ καὶ ἀπόκτησε τρία παιδιά. Ἕνα γιό, τὸν Ἰωάννη, καὶ δυὸ κόρες, ποὺ τὴν πρώτη ἔλεγαν Ὑπατία καὶ τὴν δεύτερη Εὐανθία. Ὁ Φιλάρετος ἦταν γεωργὸς καὶ ἀπὸ τὰ εἰσοδήματά του, πλουσιοπάροχα μοίραζε ἐλεημοσύνη στοὺς φτωχούς. Πεινασμένο ἔβρισκε; τὸν χόρταινε. Γυμνό; τὸν ἕντυνε. Χήρα καὶ ὀρφανό; βοηθοῦσε καὶ παρηγοροῦσε. Ἀλλὰ ὁ Θεὸς ἐπέτρεψε καὶ ὁ Φιλάρετος κάποτε κατάντησε πολὺ φτωχός. Ὅμως καὶ σ᾿ αὐτὴ τὴν κατάσταση ὁ ἅγιος τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἔδειξε θαυμαστῆ καρτερία ὅπως ὁ Ἰώβ, καὶ συνέχισε νὰ ἀγαθοεργεῖ μέχρι ὑπερβολῆς. Καὶ ὁ Θεὸς ποὺ εἶδε τὴν ἀσυναγώνιστη πίστη του οἰκονόμησε μὲ τὴν πρόνοιά Του, ὥστε ὁ Κωνσταντῖνος ὁ γιὸς τῆς βασίλισσας Εἰρήνης, νὰ πάρει γιὰ γυναῖκα του τὴν ἐγγονὴ τοῦ ἁγίου Μαρία, ἐπειδὴ ἦταν πολὺ ὡραία στὴν ψυχὴ καὶ στὸ σῶμα. Τὸν δὲ Φιλάρετο, τὸν τίμησε μὲ τὸ ἀξίωμα τοῦ ὑπάτου. Ἔτσι ἔγινε κάτοχος πολλοῦ πλούτου, ποὺ τὸν διαμοίραζε ἀκόμα πιὸ ἄφθονα στοὺς φτωχούς. Ὅταν θὰ πέθαινε, κάλεσε τοὺς συγγενεῖς του καὶ εἶπε τὰ ἑξῆς: «Παιδιά μου, μὴ ξεχνᾶτε ποτὲ τὴν φιλοξενία, μὴ ἐπιθυμεῖτε τὰ ξένα πράγματα, μὴ λείπετε ποτὲ ἀπὸ τὶς ἀκολουθίες καὶ λειτουργίες τῆς Ἐκκλησίας, καὶ γενικὰ ὅπως ἔζησα ἐγὼ ἔτσι νὰ ζεῖτε καὶ ἐσεῖς». Καὶ αὐτὰ ἀφοῦ εἶπε, ξεψύχησε μὲ τὴν φράση: «γενηθήτω τὸ θέλημά σου».
Ὁ Ἅγιος Ἀνανίας ὁ Πέρσης
Καταγόταν ἀπὸ τὴν πόλη Ἀρβὴλ τῆς Περσίας καὶ ἦταν ἕνας μεταξὺ τῶν Ἁγίων ποὺ δόξασαν τὸ ἔδαφος τῆς Περσίας μὲ τὶς ἀρετὲς καὶ τὸν ἡρωισμό τους γιὰ τὴν πίστη. Συνελήφθη διότι προσπαθοῦσε νὰ διαφωτίσει τοὺς πατριῶτες του στὴν ἀληθινὴ πίστη τοῦ Χριστοῦ. Βασανίστηκε σκληρά, ἀλλὰ δὲν κάμφθηκε. Ἀντίθετα, παρέδωσε τὴν τελευταία του πνοή, βλέποντας ὁράσεις ἀνδρῶν, περιβεβλημένων φωτεινοὺς στεφάνους, ποὺ τὸν καλοῦσαν στοὺς τόπους τῆς ἀνέκφραστης ἀγαλλίασης.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Θεόκλητος, Ἀρχιεπίσκοπος Λακεδαιμονίας
Ἐπονομάζεται καὶ θαυματουργός. Σῴζεται εἰκόνα του σὲ ἐκκλησία τῆς Μονεμβασίας, ὅπου ἀπὸ τὰ φθαρμένα στοιχεῖα δὲν γίνεται γνωστὴ ἡ ἐποχή του. Ἄλλες πηγές μας πληροφοροῦν ὅτι ἔζησε ἀσκητικότατο βίο, τὸν 9ο αἰῶνα καὶ διακρίθηκε γιὰ τὴν προσπάθειά του νὰ ἐξυψώσει τὸ ἠθικὸ ἐπίπεδο τοῦ ποιμνίου του. Ἦταν ὀπαδὸς τοῦ πατριάρχη Κωνσταντινουπόλεως Ἰγνατίου καὶ πῆρε μέρος στὴν κατὰ τοῦ Φωτίου συγκληθεῖσα Σύνοδο (869-870). Θεωρεῖται τοπικὸς Ἅγιος τῆς Λακεδαιμονίας, ἡ δὲ βιογραφία του συντάχθηκε ἀπὸ κάποιον ἀνώνυμο.
Holy Prophet Nahum (7th c. BC)
He was a Galilean of the tribe of Simeon. The Old Testament book that bears his name foretells the destruction of Nineveh, the capital of Assyria,by the Medes, and the restoration of the Kingdom of Judah; all of this came to pass. Nahum is counted as the seventh of the Minor Prophets. He reposed in peace. His name means 'consolation' or 'repose.'
Five of the Minor Prophets (Nahum, Habbakuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, and Daniel) are commemorated in December. At one time a Feast of the Twelve Prophets was celebrated on December 4 at the Church of the Resurrection, but this feast is no longer on the calendar. The days leading up to Christ's Nativity contain many commemorations of the faithful remnant of Israel, all of whose hopes were fulfilled in the birth of the Messiah.
Saint Philaret the Merciful of Constantinople (762)
He was a wealthy landed gentleman who lived in the countryside near Constantinople during the reign of the Empress Irene. God had given him great wealth and a large family with which to enjoy his later years in contentment. A true lover of God, he gave without hesitation to all the poor and needy who came to him, and freely offered hospitality to every traveler passing through his lands.
But his fortunes changed dramatically, and after a series of disasters he was reduced to poverty, with only a small piece of land, a pair of oxen, a donkey, a horse, a cow and a calf and a few beehives to sustain himself and his family. Without complaint, he took up the life of a simple farmer, laboring to support his family with his few means.
His reduced fortunes in no way changed his open-handed character; and when he met a peasant lamenting the death of his two oxen, he immediately gave him his own, leaving himself no way to till his field. When his wife and children expressed their dismay, he answered with Christ's words, 'Do not be anxious for your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink... but seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.' He asked his wife and children to be patient, for soon they would see a treasure that he was keeping hidden.
Continuing in every way as generous as he had been when wealthy, he had soon given away his horse, then his cow and calf, then his donkey (with a load of grain it was carrying at the time), to the few people he met who were poorer than himself. Without any means of feeding himself or his family, he received a generous gift of provisions from a wealthy friend; he divided the gift among his family members, then gave his own portion to the poor. He then gave away his beehives, and finally the coat from his back to a beggar who asked him for food. Thus he was left completely stripped of possessions, depending only on God to care for himself and his family.
At that time, emissaries from the Court of Constantinople passed through the neighborhood, sent out to seek a fair maiden of good family to be considered as a bride for the young Emperor Constantine VI. Philaret received them in his once-splendid house and, impressed by his virtues and those of his family, they asked two of his grand-daughters to return to the Court with them. There, the two ladies' physical and spiritual beauty shone so brightly that one of them was wed to the Emperor, the other to one of his chief courtiers. The Emperor summoned Philaret and the rest of his family to the Palace, where he appointed Philaret Consul and gave him greater riches than he had possessed in former days. The Saint, restored to prosperity, continued in generosity as before: His first act was to give a lavish feast to which he invited the poor, old and disabled of the City. He then spent his days walking the streets of the City, distributing alms to the poor, giving to all who asked with no consideration of the merits of their case. (He brought with him a servant who carried three bags of coins: one of gold, one of silver, and one of copper. When he met a needy person, the Saint reached at random into a bag and gave him a handful of coins, thus letting God decide the size of the gift).
When the Saint drew near to death, he gathered his family and urged them to distribute all the remainder of his wealth to the needy. 'My children, do not forget hospitality; visit those who are sick or in prison, watch over widows and orphans; see to the burial of those who die in poverty; do not covet the goods of others; speak no ill of anyone, and do not be glad of misfortunes that befall your enemies; always do as you have seen me do in my life, so that God will keep you under His protection.' Then, his face shining with joy, he gave up his soul to God.
Our Venerable Father Eligius (Eloi), Bishop of Noyon (660)
He was born to a Christian family near Limoges in Gaul (modern-day France) in 588. He became a goldsmith, worked for the royal mint, and in time became a trusted counselor of King Chlothar II. Despite (or because of) the honors and riches that surrounded him, Eligius came to despise all of them and gave away all his property but what he considered essential for everyday life. He devoted all his income to almsgiving and to ransoming prisoners of all nationalities from the slave markets. Many of these became his attendants and disciples in gratitude. Eligius' compassion became so well-known that when visitors asked for directions to his house, they would be told 'Look for the house surrounded by a crowd of beggars. That is where Lord Eligius lives.' The Saint washed the feet of the poor who came to him, served them at his own table and fed himself on what they left. If he ran out of money, he would give away furniture or even his clothing.
When King Chlothar died in 629, Eligius became the counselor of his successor King Dagobert I. He founded monasteries for men at Solignac and for women in Paris, telling the King 'These are the ladders by which we will both be able to climb up to the Kingdom of Heaven.' As a royal counselor he helped to re-establish peace between France and Brittany, and improved the law of the kingdom to make it more just.
When Dagobert died in 639, Eligius devoted himself entirely to the service of God as Bishop of Noyon in Flanders. His diocese was still mostly pagan, and Eligius traveled untiringly to preach the Gospel of Christ, often at risk of his life. Having foreseen his approaching death, Saint Eligius reposed in peace in 660. When his tomb was opened a year later, his body was found incorrupt and gave forth a fragrant scent.
The Holy Prophet Naum -- one of the 12 Lesser Prophets, was from the village of Elkosh (Galilee). He lived during the VII Century BC. The Old Testament Book of the Prophet Naum contains prophecy of the ruin of the Assyrian city of Ninevah because of its iniquity, the destruction of the Israelite kingdom, and of the blasphemy of king Sennacherib against Jehovah. Details of the prophet's life are unknown. He died at age 45 and was buried in his native region.
Righteous Philaretos the Merciful, son of George and Anna, was raised in piety and the fear of God. He lived during the VIII Century in the village of Amnea in the Paphlagonian district (Asia Minor). His wife, Theozua, was from a rich and illustrious family, and they had children: a son John, and daughters Ipatia and Euanthea.
Philaretos was a rich and illustrious dignitary, but he was not hoarding of his wealth. Knowing that many people suffered from poverty, he remembered the words of the Saviour about the dread Last Judgement and about "these least ones" (Mt. 25: 40); the words of the Apostle Paul about the fact that a dying man takes nothing along from this world (1 Tim. 6: 7); and the verses of king David about the reward of the righteous (Ps.  36: 25). And Philaretos became famed for his love for the poor.
One time Ishmaelites (arabs) made an attack on Paphlagonia, devastating the land and plundering the estate of Philaretos. There remained only 2 oxen, a cow, some oil and the house. But this also, finally, he shared with the poor. Mildly yet stubbornly he endured the reproaches of his wife and the jeers of his children. "I have in secret places unbeknownst to you, such riches and such treasure, -- he replied to his family, -- which would suffice you, even if ye live an hundred years without toil and without concern".
And the Lord rewarded Philaretos for his generosity: when the last measure of wheat was given away, a old friend sent him forty measures, and after this, as warm clothing was given to the needy, riches returned to him.
During this time the Byzantine empress Irene (797-802) was seeking a bride for her son -- the future co-reigning Constantine Porphyrigenitos (Bagryanorodnii) (780-797) and for this emissaries were sent throughout all the empire. And the envoys did not bypass Amnea. When Philaretos and Theozua learned that these most illustrious guests were to visit at their house, Philaretos was very happy, but Theozua was sad, -- at the house there was no always even food, and suitable entertainment was impossible. But Philaretos bid his wife to finely decorate their home. Their neighbours, knowing that imperial envoys were being expected, brought everything in abundance for a rich feast. The envoys made their choices for the imperial bride selection: amidst the 10 most beautiful maidens was Philaretos' grand-daughter, Maria. This very Maria exceeded all her rivals in quality and modesty and indeed became the regent's wife, and Constantine Porphyrigenitos lavished rewarded Philaretos. And thus fame and riches returned to Philaretos. But just as before, this holy lover of the poor generously distributed alms and established an eating place for the poor, and he himself served them at the time of the meal. Everyone was astonished at the humility of Philaretos and said: "In truth this is a man of God completely, a true disciple of Christ".
He ordered a servant to take three chests and fill them separately with gold, silver and copper coins: from the first the totally destitute received alms, from the second -- those having been robbed of the means of subsistence, and from the third -- those who hypocritically coveted money.
Thus, not caught up in honours, but rather in humility and love for the poor, the blessed elder attained 90 years of age. Foreseeing his end, he set off to the Constantinople Rodolpheia monastery, distributing there everything that he had on himself, for monastery needs and for the needy. Having summoned his family, he exhorted them in love for the poor and non-avarice; he then expired peacefully to the Lord. He died in the year 792 and was buried in the Rodolpheia Judgement monastery in Constantinople.
The appearance of a miracle after his death confirmed the sainthood of Righteous Philaretos. When they took the body of the saint to the place of burial, a certain man, possessed by the devil, took hold on the coffin and followed with the funeral procession. At the cemetery occurred the healing of the demoniac: the devil threw the man down on the ground and went out from him. Many other miracles and healings also were done at the grave of the saint.
After the death of Righteous Philaretos, his wife Theozua worked at restoring monasteries and churches devastated during the time of a barbarian invasion.
THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:
1. The Holy Prophet Nahum
Nahum was born of the tribe of Simeon in a place called Elkosh on the far side of the Jordan. He lived about seven hundred years before Christ and prophesied the destruction of Nineveh about two hundred years after the Prophet Jonah. Because of Jonah's preaching, the Ninevites had repented, and God had spared them and not destroyed them. In time, however, they forgot God's mercy and again became corrupt. The Prophet Nahum prophesied their destruction, and since there was no repentance, God did not spare them. The entire city was destroyed by earthquake, flood and fire, so that its location is no longer known. St. Nahum lived for forty-five years and entered into rest in the Lord, leaving us a small book of his true prophecies.
2. Saint Philaret the Almsgiver
Philaret was from the village of Amnia in Paphlagonia. Early in life, Philaret was a very wealthy man, but by distributing abundant alms to the poor he himself became extremely poor. However, he was not afraid of poverty, and, not heeding the complaints of his wife and children, he continued his charitable works with hope in God, Who said: Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy (Matthew 5:7). Once, while he was plowing in the field, a man came to him and complained that one of his oxen had died in the harness and that he was unable to plow with only one ox. Philaret then unharnessed one of his oxen and gave it to him. He even gave his remaining horse to a man who was summoned to go to war. He gave away the calf of his last cow, and when he saw how the cow pined for her missing calf, and the calf for the cow, he called the man and gave him the cow too. And thus the aged Philaret was left without food in an empty house. But he prayed to God and placed his hope in Him. And God did not abandon the righteous one to be put to shame in his hope. At that time the Empress Irene reigned with her young son, Constantine. According to the custom of that time, the empress sent men throughout the whole empire to seek the best and most distinguished maiden to whom she could wed her son, the emperor. By God's providence, these men happened to stay overnight in Philaret's house, and they saw his most beautiful and modest granddaughter Maria, the daughter of his daughter Hypatia, and took her to Constantinople. The emperor was well pleased with her, married her, and moved Philaret and all his family to the capital, giving him great honors and riches. Philaret did not become proud as a result of this unexpected good fortune, but, thankful to God, he continued to perform good works even more than he had before, and thus he continued until his death. At the age of ninety he summoned his children, blessed them, and instructed them to cleave to God and to God's law, and with his clairvoyant spirit he prophesied to all of them how they would live out this life, as once had Jacob. After that he went to the Rodolfia Monastery and gave up his soul to God. At his death his face shone like the sun, and after his death an unusual, sweet fragrance came forth from his body and miracles took place at his relics. This righteous man entered into rest in the year 797. His wife, Theosevia, and all his children and grandchildren lived a God-pleasing life and reposed in the Lord.
HYMN OF PRAISE
Saint Philaret the Almsgiver
To the merciful one, God shows mercy;
He never ceases to show mercy.
He hears the prayers of the merciful;
He gives gifts a hundredfold.
Philaret the Merciful
Placed himself wholly in God's hands.
By his compassion, he amazed the world;
He was faithful to God, even in suffering.
Philaret did not compete
For honor or precedence.
We use this age to purchase
The Eternal Kingdom and blessedness.
The Lord spoke a wondrous word:
``Trade until I return!
When the time is right,
I will repay you with great riches.''
When Philaret became impoverished
Because of almsgiving beyond measure,
Because of truth and goodness-
God visited him from on high:
Visited him and bestowed mercy,
Bestowed mercy and rewarded him,
Just as once upon the faithful Job,
He bestowed mercy and a reward.
Virtue is like a thirst. When a man begins to drink of it, he becomes more thirsty and seeks to drink of it all the more. He who begins to exercise the virtue of compassion knows no measure and acknowledges no limit. St. Philaret was no less generous when he was impoverished than when he was wealthy. When his granddaughter became empress, he became a rich man once again, but no less generous. One day, he told his wife and children to prepare the best feast that they could and said: ``Let us invite our King and Lord, with all His noblemen, to come to the feast.'' Everyone thought that the old man was thinking of inviting to dinner his son-in-law, the emperor, and they all worked as hard as they could and prepared the feast. Meanwhile, Philaret went around the streets and gathered all the needy, the beggars, the blind, the outcasts, the lame and the infirm, and brought them to the feast. Placing them at the table, he ordered his wife and sons to serve at the table. After the feast was completed, he put a gold coin in the hand of each guest and dismissed them. Then everyone understood that by ``the King'' he meant the Lord Christ Himself, and by ``the noblemen'' he meant beggars and those in need. He also said that one need not look at the money that one gives to beggars, but rather one should mix up the money in one's pocket and give only what the hand removes from the pocket. The hand will draw out whatever God's providence ordains.
Contemplate the sinful fall of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3):
1. How Eve, when she sinned, did not repent but hurried to make her husband a participant in her sin;
2. How Adam, when he sinned, did not repent but justified himself, blaming his wife before God;
3. How, even today, many sinners seek fellow participants in their sin and justify themselves by blaming others.
on the creation of the world
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth (Genesis 1:1).
Brethren, this is God's answer through the mouth of the prophet, the answer to the question that we all thirst to know: ``Whence comes this world?'' God hears our question, spoken or unspoken; He hears and gives an answer. Just as He gives rain to the dry earth, just as He gives health to a sick person, just as He gives bread and clothing to the body, so also does He give an answer to our spirit. He gives an answer to the question that has caused it hunger and thirst, pain and nakedness, until it (the spirit) is nourished and quenched, restored to health, and is clothed with the true answer. This is the question: ``Whence, therefore, comes this world?'' This is the answer: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. This world is not of itself, just as nothing in this world is of itself, neither is this world of an evil power, neither is this world of many creators, good and evil, but rather it is of the one gracious God. This answer evokes joy in the heart of every man and incites him to good works. And by this we know, among other things, that this is the only correct and true answer. Every other answer, in contradiction to this, evokes sorrow and fear in us and incites us to evil works, and therefore we know, among other things, that such answers are false. Brethren, the world is from God-let us rejoice and be glad! The world is of divine origin, and consequently its end will also be in God. The world is of a good root, and consequently it will bring forth good fruit. It proceeded from the chamber of light, and it will end in light. When we know that the beginning is good, then we know that it tends toward good and that the end will be good. Behold, in these words about the beginning, the prophecy about the end is already hidden. As was the beginning, so also will be the end. He from Whom the beginning came, in Him also is the end. Therefore, let us hold fast to this saving truth, that we may have shining hope and be strengthened in love toward the One Who, out of love, created us.
O Lord God, our Almighty Creator, One God, One Creator, the good Source of goodness, Thee do we worship, to Thee do we pray; direct us to the good end by Thy Holy Spirit, through the Lord Jesus Christ.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.