Friday, December 9, 2011

December 8, 2011 - 26th Thursday After Pentecost (12th of Luke)

FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:

Forefeast of the Conception by St. Anna of the Most Holy Theotokos
Patapios the Righteous of Thebes
Apollo, Tychikos, Sosthenes, Cephas, Epaphroditos, Caesar, & Onesiphoros, Apostles of the 70

Τῆς Ὁσίας Μητρός ἡμῶν Πελαγίας καί Πελαγίας τῆς παρθένου.
Τοῦ Ὁσίου Πατρός ἡμῶν Φιλίππου, Ἐπισκόπου Γορτύνης.

READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:

The Reading is from St. Paul's First Letter to Timothy 3:1-13
TIMOTHY, my son, the saying is sure: If any one aspires to the office of bishop, he desires a noble task. Now a bishop must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sensible, dignified, hospitable, an apt teacher, no drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and no lover of money. He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way; for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he care for God's church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may be puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil; moreover he must be well thought of by outsiders, or he may fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. Deacons likewise must be serious, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for gain; they must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them also be tested first; then if they prove themselves blameless let them serve as deacons. The women likewise must be serious, not slanderers, but temperate, faithful in all things. Let deacons be the husband of one wife, and let them manage their children and their households well; for those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.

Πρὸς Τιμόθεον α' 3:1-13
Τέκνον Τιμόθεε ,πιστὸς ὁ λόγος· εἴ τις ἐπισκοπῆς ὀρέγεται, καλοῦ ἔργου ἐπιθυμεῖ. Δεῖ οὖν τὸν ἐπίσκοπον ἀνεπίληπτον εἶναι, μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἄνδρα, νηφάλεον, σώφρονα, κόσμιον, φιλόξενον, διδακτικόν· μὴ πάροινον, μὴ πλήκτην, μὴ αἰσχροκερδῆ, ἀλλʼ ἐπιεικῆ, ἄμαχον, ἀφιλάργυρον· τοῦ ἰδίου οἴκου καλῶς προϊστάμενον, τέκνα ἔχοντα ἐν ὑποταγῇ μετὰ πάσης σεμνότητος. Εἰ δέ τις τοῦ ἰδίου οἴκου προστῆναι οὐκ οἶδεν, πῶς ἐκκλησίας θεοῦ ἐπιμελήσεται; Μὴ νεόφυτον, ἵνα μὴ τυφωθεὶς εἰς κρίμα ἐμπέσῃ τοῦ διαβόλου. Δεῖ δὲ αὐτὸν καὶ μαρτυρίαν καλὴν ἔχειν ἀπὸ τῶν ἔξωθεν, ἵνα μὴ εἰς ὀνειδισμὸν ἐμπέσῃ καὶ παγίδα τοῦ διαβόλου. Διακόνους ὡσαύτως σεμνούς, μὴ διλόγους, μὴ οἴνῳ πολλῷ προσέχοντας, μὴ αἰσχροκερδεῖς, ἔχοντας τὸ μυστήριον τῆς πίστεως ἐν καθαρᾷ συνειδήσει. Καὶ οὗτοι δὲ δοκιμαζέσθωσαν πρῶτον, εἶτα διακονείτωσαν, ἀνέγκλητοι ὄντες. Γυναῖκας ὡσαύτως σεμνάς, μὴ διαβόλους, νηφαλέους, πιστὰς ἐν πᾶσιν. Διάκονοι ἔστωσαν μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἄνδρες, τέκνων καλῶς προϊστάμενοι καὶ τῶν ἰδίων οἴκων. Οἱ γὰρ καλῶς διακονήσαντες βαθμὸν ἑαυτοῖς καλὸν περιποιοῦνται, καὶ πολλὴν παρρησίαν ἐν πίστει τῇ ἐν χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ.

The Reading is from Luke 21:28-33
The Lord said to his disciples, "Look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." And he told them a parable: "Look at the fig tree, and all the trees; as soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all has taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away."

Κατὰ Λουκᾶν 21.28-33
Εἶπεν ὁ Κὐριος τοῖς ἑαυτοῦ μαθηταῖς· Ἀἀνακύψατε καὶ ἐπάρατε τὰς κεφαλὰς ὑμῶν, διότι ἐγγίζει ἡ ἀπολύτρωσις ὑμῶν. Καὶ εἶπε παραβολὴν αὐτοῖς· ἴδετε τὴν συκῆν καὶ πάντα τὰ δένδρα. ὅταν προβάλωσιν ἤδη, βλέποντες ἀφ᾿ ἑαυτῶν γινώσκετε ὅτι ἤδη ἐγγὺς τὸ θέρος ἐστίν. οὕτω καὶ ὑμεῖς, ὅταν ἴδητε ταῦτα γινόμενα, γινώσκετε ὅτι ἐγγύς ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ. ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι οὐ μὴ παρέλθῃ ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη ἕως ἂν πάντα γένηται. ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ παρελεύσονται, οἱ δὲ λόγοι μου οὐ μὴ παρέλθωσι.

READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:

Τῇ Η' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, Μνήμη τοῦ Ὁσίου Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Παταπίου.
Φθαρτὸν λελοιπὼς Πατάπιε γῆς πὰτον,
Πατεῖς, ὅπου πατοῦσι πραέων πόδες.
Ὀγδοάτῃ Πατάπιε χλόης πέδον ἀμφεπάτησας.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τῶν Ἁγίων Ἀποστόλων ἐκ τῶν Ἑβδομήκοντα, Σωσθένους, Ἀπολλώ, Κηφᾶ, Τυχικοῦ, Ἐπαφροδίτου, Καίσαρος, καὶ Ὀνησιφόρου.
Ἀποστόλους σήμερον ἑπτὰ γεραίρω,
Ὡς γενναίους κήρυκας τοῦ Θεοῦ Λόγου.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ὁσίου Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Σωφρονίου, Ἐπισκόπου Κύπρου.
Πᾶν Σωφρόνιος σαρκικὸν σβέσας πάθος,
Καὶ σαρκὸς αὐτῆς ἐξαπέπτη πηλίνης.
Ταῖς αὐτῶν Ἁγίαις, πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεός, ἐλέησον καὶ σῶσον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.

This Saint was from the Thebaid of Egypt and struggled many years in the wilderness. He departed for Constantinople, and having performed many miracles and healings, he reposed in peace in a mountain cave on the Gulf of Corinth, where his holy relics are found incorrupt to the present day.

Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Εν σοί Πάτερ ακριβώς διεσώθη τό κατ' εικόνα, λαβών γάρ τόν σταυρόν, ηκολούθησας τώ Χριστώ καί πράττων εδίδασκες, υπεροράν μέν σαρκός, παρέρχεται γάρ, επιμελείσθαι δέ ψυχής πράγματος αθανάτου. Διό καί μετά Αγγέλων συναγάλλεται, Όσιε Πατάπιε τό πνεύμά σου.
In thee the image was preserved with exactness, O Father; for taking up thy cross, thou didst follow Christ, and by thy deeds thou didst teach us to overlook the flesh, for it passeth away, but to attend to the soul since it is immortal. Wherefore, O righteous Patapius, thy spirit rejoiceth with the Angels.

Kontakion in the Third Tone
Τὸν ναόν σου Ἅγιε, πνευματικὸν ἰατρεῖον, οἱ λαοὶ εὐράμενοι, μετὰ σπουδῆς προσιόντες, ἴασιν τῶν νοσημάτων λαβεῖν αἰτοῦνται, λύσιν τε τῶν ἐν τῷ βίω πλημμελημάτων, σὺ γὰρ πάντων τῶν ἐν ἀνάγκαις, προστάτης ὤφθης, Πατάπιε Ὅσιε.
Having found thy Church to be a place of spiritual healing, all the people flock with haste thereto, O Saint, and they ask thee to bestow the ready healing of their diseases and forgiveness of the sins they wrought in their lifetime; O Patapios most righteous, in every need, thou art the protector of all.

"Η μόνη πανάχραντος σήμερον δι' Αγγέλου τοις δικαίοις δηλούται". Έτσι ψάλλει η Εκκλησία σήμερα στα προεόρτια της συλλήψεως της αγίας Άννης. Μέσα στα πολλά ονόματα που χάρισε η Εκκλησία στην Μητέρα του Θεού είναι το "Πανάχρα-ντος", που θέλει να δείξη την τελεία πνευματική και ηθική καθαρότητα της Παναγίας. Ολόκληρο βιβλίο έγραψε ο προτελευταίος Πατριάρχης Ιεροσολύμων, Τιμόθεος, για τα ονόματα της Παναγίας, ονόματα που ή συνοδικά καθωρίστηκαν, όπως το "Θεοτόκος", ή τα εσύνθεσε η έμπνευση των ιερών υμνογράφων, όπως το "Πανάχραντος", ή τα απένειμε στην Παναγία η ευσεβής συνείδηση του λαού, όπως το "Γλυκο-φιλούσα" και άλλα πολλά. Δίπλα στα ονόματα αυτά της Καινής Διαθήκης και της Εκκλησίας είναι και εκείνα της Παλαιάς Διαθήκης και των Προφητών όπως το λυχνία, τράπεζα, βάτος και άλλα πολλά. Σωστά ψάλλει η Εκκλησία: "Τί σε καλέσωμεν, ω Κεχαριτωμένη;...".

Ὁ Ὅσιος Πατάπιος
Γεννήθηκε στὴν Αἴγυπτο καὶ ἀπὸ μικρὸ παιδὶ εἶχε «πνεῦμα ἀγάπης καὶ σωφρονισμοῦ». Δηλαδή, πνεῦμα ἀγάπης καὶ πνεῦμα ποὺ σωφρονίζει, ὥστε φρόνιμα καὶ συνετὰ νὰ κυβερνᾷ τὸν ἑαυτό του, ἀποφεύγοντας κάθε ἠθικὴ παρεκτροπή, διατηρῶντας τὴν ἁγνότητα, ἀλλὰ συγχρόνως παραδειγμάτιζε καὶ τοὺς συνανθρώπους του. Καὶ αὐτὸ τὸ ἀπέδειξε ἀκόμα περισσότερο, ὅταν μεγάλωσε. Ἀφοῦ διαμοίρασε τὴν κληρονομιά του στοὺς φτωχούς, ἀποσύρθηκε στὴν ἔρημο. Ἐκεῖ γέμιζε τὸ χρόνο του μὲ προσευχή, μελέτη καὶ ἀγαθοεργίες. Σὲ κάθε κουρασμένο ὁδοιπόρο ποὺ περνοῦσε ἀπὸ τὸ κελί του, πρόσφερε ἀνάπαυση καὶ φιλοξενία. Ἀλλὰ ἐκμεταλλευόμενος τὴν εὐκαιρία τοῦ παρεῖχε μὲ διάκριση καὶ πνευματικὲς ὁδηγίες καὶ συμβουλές, χρήσιμες γιὰ τὴν σωτηρία τῆς ψυχῆς του. Ἔτσι, ἡ φήμη τοῦ Παταπίου ἐξαπλώθηκε γρήγορα καὶ κάθε μέρα πολλοὶ ἔφθαναν στὸ κελί του γιὰ νὰ ἀκούσουν ἀπὸ τὰ χείλη του ἐπωφελῆ διδασκαλία. Μετὰ ἀπὸ καιρό, ὁ Πατάπιος πῆγε στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη. Ἐκεῖ, θέλοντας νὰ μείνει ἄγνωστος, ἐξέλεξε ἕνα ἡσυχαστήριο στὶς Βλαχερνές. Ὅμως, ἡ ταπεινὴ καὶ καθαρὴ ζωὴ τοῦ Παταπίου, τὸν ἀξίωσε νὰ θαυματουργεῖ. Ἔτσι καὶ πάλι ἔγινε γνωστὸς καὶ πέθανε θεραπεύοντας ἀῤῥώστους.

Οἱ Ἅγιοι Σωσθένης, Κηφᾶς, Ἀπολλώς, Τυχικός, Καῖσαρ καὶ Ἐπαφρόδιτος οἱ Ἀπόστολοι ἐκ τῶν 70
Ὁ Σωσθένης ἀναδείχτηκε ἐπίσκοπος τῆς πόλεως Κολοφῶνος στὴν Ἰωνία, καὶ διακρίθηκε γιὰ τὴν διδακτικότητα καὶ τὴν αὐταπάρνησή του. Ὑπῆρξε συνεργάτης τοῦ ἀποστόλου Παύλου καὶ χαρακτηριστικὸ τῆς ἀγάπης τοῦ Παύλου ποὺ ἔτρεφε πρὸς τὸν Σωσθένη εἶναι ὅτι, στὴν Α´ πρὸς Κορινθίους ἐπιστολήν του, ὀνομάζει αὐτὸν συστρατιώτη του. Ὁ Ἀπολλὼς ἦταν λόγιος ἄνδρας τῆς Ἀλεξάνδρειας καὶ προικισμένος μὲ πολλὴ δύναμη λόγου καὶ γνώση τῶν Γραφῶν. Στὴν ἀρχὴ γνώριζε μόνο τὸ βάπτισμα τοῦ Ἰωάννη, κατόπιν ὅμως πληροφορήθηκε ἀκριβέστερα σχετικῶς μὲ τὴν ἀνθρώπινη σωτηρία διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ἀπὸ τὸν Ἀκύλα καὶ τὴν σύζυγό του Πρίσκιλλα. Ὁ Ἀπολλὼς κήρυξε θαῤῥαλέα μέσα στὴ συναγωγὴ τῆς Ἐφέσου καὶ ὕστερα πῆγε στὴν Κόρινθο καὶ τὴν ὑπόλοιπη Ἀχαΐα. Τέλος διετέλεσε ἐπίσκοπος Καισαρείας. Τὸν Τυχικὸ ἀποκαλεῖ ὁ Ἀπόστολος Παῦλος ἀγαπητὸ ἀδελφὸ καὶ διάκονον ἐν Κυρίῳ, τὸν ὁποῖο ἔστειλε στοὺς χριστιανοὺς τῆς Ἐφέσου, γιὰ νὰ τὸν κάνει γνωστὸ σ᾿ αὐτοὺς καὶ νὰ παρηγορήσει τὶς καρδιές τους. Ὁ Ἐπαφρόδιτος ὀνομάζεται ἀπὸ τὸν Ἀπ. Παῦλο ἀδελφὸς καὶ συνεργὸς καὶ συστρατιώτης του καὶ ἐπετέλεσε τὰ ἀποστολικά του καθήκοντα στοὺς Φιλιππησίους. Αὐτὸς μετὰ τὸν Σωσθένη, ἀνέλαβε τὴν ἐπισκοπὴ Κολοφῶνος. Ὁ δὲ Καίσαρας ἀναφέρεται μὲ τὴν οἰκογένειά του στὴν πρὸς Φιλιππησίους ἐπιστολὴ τοῦ ἀπ. Παύλου καὶ φέρεται ὅτι χρημάτισε ἐπίσκοπος Κορώνης στὴν Πελοπόννησο. Γιὰ τὸν Κηφᾶ δὲν διασῴζονται βιογραφικά του στοιχεῖα. (Ὁρισμένα Συναξάρια, λανθασμένα ἀναφέρουν ἐδῶ καὶ τὴν μνήμη τοῦ ἀπ. Ὀνησιφόρου σὰν ἐπισκόπου Κορώνης (;). Αὐτὸς ὅμως ἑορτάζει 7 Σεπτεμβρίου καὶ ὑπῆρξε ἐπίσκοπος Κολοφῶνος Μ. Ἀσίας).

Ὁ Ὅσιος Σωφρόνιος ἐπίσκοπος Κύπρου καὶ Δαμιανὸς ἐπίσκοπος Κύπρου
Ὁ Σωφρόνιος καταγόταν ἀπὸ τὴν μεγαλόνησο Κύπρο καὶ ἦταν γιὸς εὐλαβῶν γονέων χριστιανῶν. Διακρινόταν γιὰ τὴν πολυμάθειά του καὶ τὴν εὐφυΐα του. Ἔγινε τόσο εὐλαβὴς καὶ ἐνάρετος, ὥστε τὸν ἀξίωσε ὁ Θεὸς μὲ πολλὰ χαρίσματα καὶ ἰδιαίτερα νὰ θαυματουργεῖ. Μετὰ τὸν θάνατο τοῦ ἐπισκόπου Κύπρου Δαμιανοῦ, μὲ ὁμόφωνη γνώμη κλήρου καὶ λαοῦ, Ἀρχιεπίσκοπος Κύπρου ἔγινε ὁ Σωφρόνιος. Μετὰ τὴν χειροτονία του, ἔλαβε μεγάλη πρόνοια γιὰ τοὺς φτωχούς, τὰ ὀρφανά, τοὺς ἀναπήρους καὶ τοὺς γέροντες. Ἔτσι θεάρεστα ἀφοῦ διάνυσε τὴ ζωή του, ἀπεβίωσε εἰρηνικά.

Ὁ Ἅγιος Ἄερος ὁ ἀρχιεπίσκοπος
Ἄγνωστος στοὺς Συναξαριστές. Ἡ μνήμη του ἀναφέρεται στὸ Ἱεροσολυμιτικὸ Κανονάριο τοῦ Ἀρχιμανδρίτου Καλλίστου ὡς ἑξῆς: «Μνήμη τοῦ ἀρχιεπισκόπου Ἀέρου». Ἀνήκει πάντως στοὺς ἁγίους τῆς Σιωνίτιδος (δηλ. Ἱεροσολύμων) ἐκκλησίας, ποὺ ἔχει γραμμένη τὴν μνήμη του στὶς 8 Δεκεμβρίου.

Our Venerable Father Patapius (6th or 7th c.)
He was born at Thebes in Egypt, and at a young age left his pious parents, his inheritance and his acquaintances to dwell in the Egyptian desert, devoting himself to ceaseless prayer. After many years, he reputation spread and, despite his desire for solitude, throngs of pilgrims would seek him out for his prayers and counsel. To escape the attentions of men, he did a surprising thing: he abandoned the desert and moved to Constantinople, settling in the Blachernae district, where, amid the bustle of the city, he was able to pass unnoticed, more secure in his solitude than he had been in the caves of Egypt.
  As he grew in obedience to the commandments of Christ, the grace of working miracles grew in him, and once again he gradually became known. Once a blind man cast himself before Patapius on the street, and the Saint cured him instantly by calling on the name of Christ. Once he healed a man crippled by dropsy, anointing him with the oil from a vigil lamp and signing him with the Cross.
  After blessing the Church for many years with his prayers and miracles, St Patapius fell asleep in peace, and was buried in the church of the Monastery of the Egyptians near Constantinople. In 1904 his precious and incorrupt relics were uncovered in the course of some building at a small monastery near Corinth. From that time the monastery has been dedicated to St Patapius, and many miracles are worked there.

Holy Apostles Sosthenes, Apollos, Tychicus and Epaphroditus, Cephas and Caesar
All of these Apostles are mentioned in the New Testament. Sosthenes was the ruler of the Synagogue in Corinth, and was converted through the preaching of St Paul. After traveling with St Paul for years, he became Bishop of Colophon near Ephesus. Apollos was a Jew from Alexandria, well educated and with a deep knowledge of the Scriptures. He was brought to the fulness of the Christian faith by Priscilla and Aquila in Ephesus, and went out preaching the Gospel among the pagans. His eloquence was so admired that for awhile the gentile Church divided into two factions, one for Paul and one for Apollos. Saint Apollos later became Bishop of Caesarea.
  (The Synaxarion lists Cephas and Caesar here; but some believe that St Paul's reference to Cephas in 1 Cor 1:12 refers to the Apostle Peter, not to a separate companion of St Paul; and that "those of Caesar's household" (Phil. 4:22) refers to Christians in the Emperor's palace in Rome, not to a Christian named Caesar.)

The Monk Patapios was born at Thebes into a pious Christian family. Reaching the age of maturity, he had but scorn for the vanities of the world and so went off into the Egyptian wilderness. He became known for his ascetic deeds after the passing of many years. When people began to come to him for advice, he instead wished to dwell in silence. He went eventually to Constantinople, where he obtained a cell at the city wall, near the Blakhernae church. But here also he quickly became known. The sick began to throng about, and he having been vouchsafed the gift of healing, began to help all the needy.

The Monk Kirill of Chelmogorsk, Enlightener of the Chudian People, was born at the city of Beloozero [White-Lake]. He took vows at the monastery of the Monk Antonii the Roman, where for 6 years he passed through various obediences. Then, after a three year wandering through the wilderness, he settled in a wild region of Kargopol'sk. And here, by a command from on high, he chose for his constant abode Mount Chelma. Many of the afflicted from among the Chud people came to check out the Monk Kirill, whose luminant ascetic life and kindly preachings moved many to an acceptance of holy Baptism. Towards the end of his life, the Monk Kirill established a monastery and church in honour of the Theophany (Bogoyavlenie) of the Lord. The monk dwelt upon Mount Chelma for 52 years and died at the advanced age of 82.

The Holy Disciples from the Seventy: Sosthenes, Apollos, Cephas, Tykhikos, Epaphrodites, Caesarius and Onysiphoros were chosen and sent by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself for preaching; they were chosen some while after the choosing of the 12 Apostles (Lk. 10: 1-24).
The Disciple Sosthenes before accepting Christianity was head of the Jewish synagogue at Corinth. During the time of a riot against the Apostle Paul, he too suffered a beating. He was converted by Paul to faith in Christ and afterwards became bishop at Colophon.
Apollos was a native of Alexandria and was a man of excellent erudition. The chief place of his service was at Corinth. He toiled there for a long time and converted many to faith in Christ. Towards the end of his life he preached on Crete and was bishop of Caesarea.
The Disciple Cephas was bishop at Colophon.
The Disciple Tykhikos, a native of Asia Minor, was a student and companion of the holy Apostle Paul. At the time of the first imprisonment of Paul, he delivered the Epistles to the Ephesians and to the Colossians. He replaced the Disciple Sosthenes on the cathedra-chair at Colophon.
The Disciple Epaphrodites -- one of the closest assistants and companions of the Apostle Paul -- was bishop of the Thracian city of Adriaca.
The Disciple Caesarius preached at and was bishop of Dirracheia -- a district in middle Greece.
All of these disciples expired peacefully to the Lord (a second commemoration is under 30 March). The Church remembers with them also the Disciple Onysiphoros (Comm. 7 September).

Martyred 62 Clergy and 300 Laymen: This occurred during the time of the emperor Zenon (474-491). The ruler of the Vandal kingdom in North Africa, Guneric, came under the influence of heretic Arian bishops and started up a fierce persecution against the Orthodox. When believers had gathered at one of the churches and secretly celebrated Divine Liturgy, barbarian soldiers burst into the church. Part of the worshippers fled, but 300 men -- those most firm in the true faith -- voluntarily gave themselves over to torture and were beheaded. Of the 62 clergy, two were burnt, and tongues were cut out from the rest. But by a miraculous Divine power they continued to preach and to oppose the Arian false-teachings.

The Holy Martyress Anthysa, wife of a Roman official, was baptised by Sainted Ambrose of Mediolanum (Milan). She recoiled from the offer of the city-governor's wife Sunilda to accept Arian baptism, and so was committed to the fire.


THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:

1. The Venerable Patapius
Patapius was born and brought up in the Faith and in the fear of God by pious parents in the Egyptian city of Thebes. At an early age he perceived and abhorred the vanity of this world and withdrew into the wilderness of Egypt. There he devoted himself to a life of asceticism, cleansing his heart of all earthly desires and thoughts, for the sake of God's love. However, when his virtues became known among the people, they began to come to him and to seek solace from him in their sufferings. Fearing the praise of men, which darkens the minds of men and separates them from God, Patapius fled this wilderness to Constantinople, for this wonderful saint thought that he could hide himself more easily from people in the city than in the wilderness. Patapius built a hut for himself in the proximity of the Church of Blachernae in Constantinople. There, immured and unknown, he continued his interrupted life of eremetic asceticism. However, a light cannot be hidden. A child, blind from birth, was led by God's providence to St. Patapius. He besought the saint to pray to God that he be given his sight and be able to look upon God's creation-thus allowing him to praise God all the more. Patapius having compassion on the suffering child, prayed to God, and the child's sight was restored. This miracle revealed God's chosen one throughout the entire city, and people rushed to him for healing, comfort and instruction. Patapius healed an eminent man of dropsy by tracing the sign of the Cross over him and anointing him with oil. By making the sign of the Cross in the air with his hand, he freed a youth from an unclean spirit that had cruelly tormented him. The evil spirit, with a loud shriek, came out from God's creature like smoke. He made the sign of the Cross over a woman who had a sore on her breast all filled with worms, and made her healthy. Many other miracles did St. Patapius perform, all through prayer in the name of Christ and by the sign of the Cross. He entered into rest peacefully in great old age and took up his habitation in the Heavenly Kingdom in the seventh century.

2. The Holy Apostles Sosthenes, Apollos, Tychicus, Epaphroditus, Onesiphorus, Cephas and Caesar
All of them are commemorated on January 4 with the other lesser apostles. St. Apollos is also commemorated separately on September 10; St. Onesiphorus, September 7; Saints Cephas and Caesar, March 30. St. Sosthenes was bishop in Caesarea, and St. Tychicus was his successor in the same city. Epaphroditus was bishop in Andriopolis in Pamphylia; Cephas, in Iconium; and Caesar, in the Colophon Peloponnese. They all preached the Gospel of Christ with burning love, endured suffering for His holy name and entered into the Kingdom of Eternal Joy.

3. The Holy Martyrs in Africa
They suffered for the truth of the Orthodox Faith at the hands of the Arian heretics during the reign of the Vandal King Gunerik or Genzerik (477-484). Two priests were burned and sixty more had their tongues cut out. In addition, three hundred laymen were beheaded. All of them suffered, but they defeated falsehood and confirmed Orthodoxy through their deaths, handing the Faith down to us pure and untarnished. The Lord crowned them with wreaths of glory in His Immortal Kingdom.

HYMN OF PRAISE
The Venerable Patapius
Patapius, like a mariner,
Fixes his gaze into the tempest,
Where he will see the light of the harbor
Beyond this vain and glorious world,
Agitated by the winds of passions,
Darkened by the gloom of vanity.
He casts a glance to the heavens-
Patapius, like a mariner.
The spirit is the eye for seeing heaven
And the wondrous heavenly world-
A true spirit in a pure heart.
Patapius, his soul directed to God,
Bathed his heart in tender tears.
Concentrated, he awaits the light,
The light of heaven, the calm harbor-
Patapius, like a mariner.
Whosoever seeks shall find;
Whosoever knocks, to him it shall be opened.
The Merciful God loves the saints,
The thirsty seekers of the Kingdom of God.
He captured Patapius's glance,
And revealed the heavenly light to him.
Patapius saw and he wept-
God's light inflamed by tears-
Until he sailed to the calm harbor.
His life has remained a wondrous sign
To voyagers on the open seas of the world.

REFLECTION

He who surrenders himself completely to God is guided by God to salvation, and is used by Him for the benefit of many others. St. Nicholas, devoted to the will of God, fled from the glory of men, from his city of Patara, and came to the city of Myra in Lycia, where he knew no one and was known by no one. Without any means-for, although he had been wealthy by virtue of his family, he had abandoned everything-without acquaintances and without plans, he walked as an unknown one throughout the city, waiting for God to direct his steps. At that time John the Archbishop of Myra died, and the Synod gathered for the election of a new archbishop, but could not agree on any person who had been nominated. Finally, the members of the Synod decided to fast and pray to God that He would designate the one who was most worthy of this calling. God heeded the prayers of His servants and revealed to them the one most worthy. When the presiding bishop stood for prayer, a man appeared to him in light and told him to go out early, stand in front of the church, and await the first one who would enter for morning prayer. "Appoint him as archbishop; his name is Nicholas," he said. Seeing and hearing this, the bishop informed all of his companions. Early the next day, he went in front of the church and waited. At that moment St. Nicholas, who had the habit of rising early for prayer, appeared. Seeing him, the bishop asked him: "What is your name, son?" Nicholas remained silent. The bishop again asked him, and he replied: "I am called Nicholas, O Bishop, the servant of your holiness." Then the bishop took him by the hand, brought him before the Synod, and said: "Receive, brethren, your shepherd, who was anointed by the Holy Spirit and was elected not by the Synod of men but rather by the providence of God."

CONTEMPLATION
Contemplate the first brotherhood of men upon earth (Genesis 4):
1. How Cain and Abel were the first brothers on earth;
2. How Abel was virtuous and God-fearing, and Cain was envious and self-willed;
3. How the envious Cain slew the virtuous Abel.

HOMILY
on the curse of sinful works
Cursed is the ground in thy works (Genesis 3:17).
After Adam and Eve's sin, God pronounced a punishment. He did not pronounce the punishment immediately but after waiting a period of time for their repentance. This is shown in the conversation into which God entered with Adam after his sin. Where art thou? (Genesis 3:9), God asked Adam. And when Adam said that he hid because of his nakedness, God asked him again: Who told thee that thou wast naked? (Genesis 3:11). Instead of repenting, Adam then began to accuse his wife. After that, God pronounced the punishment. Upon the serpent, which served as the weapon of the devil, fell the infinite curse. The woman was condemned to bear children in pain and to have her will subject to the authority of her husband. This is not a curse but rather a punishment with hope. Man was condemned to work the land. But what do the words, Cursed is the ground in thy works, mean? Did God curse the ground as He cursed the serpent with an infinite curse? By no means! The ground is cursed only in the sinful works of man. Because of man's sin, the earth produces thorns; because of sin, there is infertility; because of sin, there are droughts, floods, earthquakes, plagues, and destructive insects such as grasshoppers and caterpillars. That the ground is not cursed in its entirety is clear from this: that the earth also produces good fruits. God, through the prayers of the righteous, has always blessed the fruits of the earth necessary for human life, and even the angels of God, as the guests of Abraham, tasted the earth's harvest (Genesis 18:1-8). For in what way is the earth and all the rest of God's creation (except the serpent) culpable for Adam's sin? Nevertheless, the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now (Romans 8:22). All creation does not groan or travail because of a curse upon itself but rather because of man's sinful works, which are cursed. O my brethren, let us be ashamed of our sin, for which even God's innocent creation suffers.
O Gracious God, forgive us our past sins and protect us from future sins. O Merciful God, have mercy on all Thine innocent creatures, who suffer because of us, and ease their suffering.
 To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.