FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:
Malachi the Prophet
Gordios the Martyr of Caesarea
Forefeast of the Theophany of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
Righteous Genevieve of Paris
Righteous Peter of Atroas
Righteous Akakios the Wonderworker
Righteous Thomas of Lesbos
Πρό τῶν Φώτων.
Μαλαχίου Προφήτου καί Γορδίου Μάρτυρος.
READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:
The Reading is from St. Paul's Second Letter to Timothy 4:5-8
TIMOTHY, my son, always be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry.
For I am already on the point of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
Πρὸς Τιμόθεον β' 4:5-8
Τέκνον Τιμόθεε, νῆφε ἐν πᾶσιν, κακοπάθησον, ἔργον ποίησον εὐαγγελιστοῦ, τὴν διακονίαν σου πληροφόρησον. Ἐγὼ γὰρ ἤδη σπένδομαι, καὶ ὁ καιρὸς τῆς ἐμῆς ἀναλύσεως ἐφέστηκεν. Τὸν ἀγῶνα τὸν καλὸν ἠγώνισμαι, τὸν δρόμον τετέλεκα, τὴν πίστιν τετήρηκα· λοιπόν, ἀπόκειταί μοι ὁ τῆς δικαιοσύνης στέφανος, ὃν ἀποδώσει μοι ὁ κύριος ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ, ὁ δίκαιος κριτής· οὐ μόνον δὲ ἐμοί, ἀλλὰ καὶ πάσιν τοῖς ἠγαπηκόσιν τὴν ἐπιφάνειαν αὐτοῦ.
The Reading is from Mark 1:1-8
The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, 'Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who shall prepare your way; the voice of one crying in the wilderness: prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight" John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And there went out to him all the country of Judea, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel's hair, and had a leather girdle around his waist, and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, "After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
Κατὰ Μᾶρκον 1.1-8
᾿Αρχὴ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου ᾿Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ, υἱοῦ τοῦ Θεοῦ. ῾Ως γέγραπται ἐν τοῖς προφήταις, ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ ἀποστέλλω τὸν ἄγγελόν μου πρὸ προσώπου σου, ὃς κατασκευάσει τὴν ὁδόν σου ἔμπροσθέν σου·φωνὴ βοῶντος ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ, ἑτοιμάσατε τὴν ὁδὸν Κυρίου, εὐθείας ποιεῖτε τὰς τρίβους αὐτοῦ,ἐγένετο ᾿Ιωάννης βαπτίζων ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ καὶ κηρύσσων βάπτισμα μετανοίας εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν. Καὶ ἐξεπορεύετο πρὸς αὐτὸν πᾶσα ἡ ᾿Ιουδαία χώρα καὶ οἱ ῾Ιεροσολυμῖται, καὶ ἐβαπτίζοντο πάντες ἐν τῷ ᾿Ιορδάνῃ ποταμῷ ὑπ᾿ αὐτοῦ ἐξομολογούμενοι τὰς ἁμαρτίας αὐτῶν. Ἦν δὲ ὁ ᾿Ιωάννης ἐνδεδυμένος τρίχας καμήλου καὶ ζώνην δερματίνην περὶ τὴν ὀσφὺν αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἐσθίων ἀκρίδας καὶ μέλι ἄγριον. Καὶ ἐκήρυσσε λέγων· ἔρχεται ὁ ἰσχυρότερός μου ὀπίσω μου, οὗ οὐκ εἰμὶ ἱκανὸς κύψας λῦσαι τὸν ἱμάντα τῶν ὑποδημάτων αὐτοῦ·ἐγὼ μὲν ἐβάπτισα ὑμᾶς ἐν ὕδατι, αὐτὸς δὲ βαπτίσει ὑμᾶς ἐν Πνεύματι ῾Αγίῳ.
READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:
Τῇ Γ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Προφήτου Μαλαχίου.
Ὁ κλῆσιν αὐχῶν Ἀγγέλου Μαλαχίας,
Αὐχεῖ μάλιστα τὴν μετ' Ἀγγέλων στάσιν.
Ἐκ ῥεθέων Μαλαχίου ἀπέπτατο ἐν τρίτῃ ἦτορ.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Μάρτυρος Γορδίου.
Καὶ τὶς παρέλθῃ Γόρδιον τὸν ὁπλίτην,
Πρὸς φρικτὸν ὅπλον στερρὸν ἄνδρα τὸ ξίφος;
Τμηθεὶς ἀμφὶ τρίτῃ πέσε Γόρδιος ἐν κονίησιν.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ ὁσίου Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Πέτρου τοῦ Σημειοφόρου, τοῦ ἐν τῷ Ἁγίῳ Ζαχαρίᾳ τῆς Ἀτρώας κειμένου.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, οἱ Ἅγιοι Μάρτυρες, Μήτηρ καὶ δύο τέκνα, πυρὶ τελειοῦνται.
Μητρὸς φλεγείσης, καὶ τὰ τέκνα πρὸς φλόγα,
Τετριγότα τρέχουσιν ὡς στρουθοῦ τέκνα.
Ταῖς αὐτῶν ἁγίαις πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεὸς ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Ἑτοιμάζου Ζαβουλῶν, καὶ εὐτρεπίζου Νεφθαλείμ. Ἰορδάνη ποταμέ, στήθι ὑπόδεξαι σκιρτῶν, τοῦ βαπτισθῆναι ἐρχόμενον τὸν Δεσπότην. Ἀγάλλου ὁ Ἀδὰμ σὺν τὴ Προμήτορι, μὴ κρύπτετε ἑαυτούς, ὡς ἐν Παραδείσῳ τὸ πρίν, καὶ γὰρ γυμνοὺς ἰδὼν ὑμᾶς ἐπέφανεν, ἵνα ἐνδύσῃ τὴν πρώτην στολήν, Χριστὸς ἐφάνη, τὴν πᾶσαν κτίσιν, θέλων ἀνακαινίσαι.
Be thou ready, Zabulon; prepare thyself, O Nephthalim. River Jordan, stay thy course and skip for gladness to receive the Sovereign Master, Who cometh now to be baptized. O Adam, be thou glad with our first mother, Eve; hide not as ye did of old in Paradise. Seeing you naked, He hath appeared now to clothe you in the first robe again. Christ hath appeared, for He truly willeth to renew all creation.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Ἐν τοῖς ῥείθροις σήμερον τοῦ Ἰορδάνου, γεγονῶς ὁ Κύριος, τῶ Ἰωάννη ἐκβοᾷ. Μὴ δειλιάσης βαπτίσαι με, σῶσαι γὰρ ἥκω, Ἀδὰμ τὸν πρωτόπλαστον.
In the running waters of the Jordan River, on this day the Lord of all crieth to John: Be not afraid and hesitate not to baptize Me, for I am come to save Adam, the first-formed man.
The Prophet Malachi ("messenger of God") is the last of the twelve minor Prophets, and also of all the Prophets of the Old Testament. He prophesied in the days of Nehemias, a wise man among the Jews, who also held a high and powerful position in the court of Artaxerxes the Long-armed, King of the Persians, who reigned from 465 to 424 B.C. Malachis' book of prophecy is divided into four chapters; he foretold the coming of Christ as the Sun of Righteousness (4:2)
Apolytikion in the Second Tone
Τού Προφήτου σου Μαλαχίου τήν μνήμην, Κύριε, εορτάζοντες, δι' αυτού σε δυσωπούμεν, Σώσον τάς ψυχάς ημών.
As we celebrate the memory of Thy Prophet Malachi, O Lord, through him we beseech Thee to save our souls.
Kontakion in the Third Tone
Τῆς σοφίας ἔμπλεως, τῆς ὑπερσόφου καὶ θείας, Μαλαχία μέγιστε, σὺ πεφυκῶς ὡς Προφήτης, ἄνωθεν αὐτὸν τὸν ὄντα Θεοῦ σοφίαν, ἔδειξας τοὶς πᾶσι κάτω ἀναστραφέντα, διὰ τούτό σε τιμῶμεν, τελοῦντες πίστει τὴν θείαν μνήμην σου.
Since the gift of prophecy dwelt in thee richly, thou, O Prophet, clearly didst foretell the coming of Christ God and the salvation of all the world, which is enlightened through grace by His shining forth.
The Martyr Gordios who was from Caesarea of Cappadocia, was a centurion by rank. Unable to bear the impiety of the heathen, he withdrew to the wilderness to purify himself through prayer and fasting. After he perceived that his ascetical training had prepared him sufficiently, he came down from the mountains when a certain pagan festival was held in Caesarea, attended by all, and presented himself before the multitude. Although the spectacles of the festival continued, no one paid them any heed, but all eyes were turned upon him. From his sojourn in the mountains, his look was wild, his beard was long, his raiment squalid, his body like a skeleton; yet a certain grace shone round about him. He was recognized, and a loud shout and tumult was made as his fellow Christians rejoiced, and the enemies of the truth cried out for his death. He boldly professed his faith before the Governor, and after torments was beheaded, in the reign of Licinius in the year 314. Saint Basil the Great delivered a homily on Saint Gordios, mentioning that some of those in his audience had been present at the saint's martyrdom (PG 31:497).
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Ο Μάρτυς σου Κύριε, έν τή αθλήσει αυτού, τό στέφος εκομίσατο τής αφθαρσίας, εκ σού τού Θεού ημών, έχων γάρ τήν ισχύν σου, τούς τυράννους καθείλεν, έθραυσε καί δαιμόνων, τά ανίσχυρα θράση, αυτού ταίς ικεσίαις Χριστέ, σώσον τάς ψυχάς ημών.
Thy Martyr, O Lord, in his courageous contest for Thee received the prize of the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since he possessed Thy strength, he cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons' strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by his prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.
Kontakion in the Second Tone
Τὸν ἐν ἀθλήσει ἀήττητον στρατιώτην, καὶ ἐν βασάνοις ἀνίκητον στεφανίτην, Γόρδιον πάντες ἀνευφημήσωμεν, τὸν ἐξ Ἑῴας μέγαν, ὄντως ἀστέρα λάμψαντα, τὸ θεῖον ἀγλάϊσμα τῶν Μαρτύρων Χριστοῦ.
The whole earth hast thou watered with thy sweat and toils, O glorious one, and hast made all the world glad with thy precious blood, O godly-minded Gordios. By thine earnest entreaties, O famed Martyr, save all them that sing thy praise in faith and worthily revere thee as one that hath truly suffered much.
Η ερημία γιγαντώνει τον άνθρωπο - τον άνθρωπο, που έχει μέσα του δικό του κόσμο και δεν χάνεται μέσα στο πλήθος. Όλοι οι μεγάλοι, οι Προφήτες, οι Άγιοι, ο ίδιος ο Θεός, όταν έγινε άνθρωπος, έζησαν στην έρημο κι ήρθαν στον κόσμο από την έρημο. Έμειναν στην έρημο και μίλησαν πολύ με τον εαυτό τους κι ύστερα κατέβηκαν για να συναντηθούν με τους ανθρώπους - να κηρύξουν, να πάθουν, να σταυρωθούν, να γίνουν μάρτυρες της αλήθειας, που την έβλεπαν και την ζούσαν μέσα τους. Έρχονταν από την έρημο, για να βρούν το πλήθος στην πόλη έφευγεν από την πόλη το πλήθος, για να τους βρη στην έρημο. Ο άγιος Μάρτυς Γόρδιος, του οποίου η Εκκλησία σήμερον τιμά την μνήμη, έφυγε από τον κόσμο στην ερημία για να βρη τον εαυτό του κι ήλθε από την έρημο για να διακηρύξη την πίστη του, να συναντηθή με τον θάνατο και να βρη την δόξα του Μάρτυρος. Τον εγκωμίασε ο Μέγας Βασίλειος σ' έναν ωραίο του λόγο.
Ὁ Προφήτης Μαλαχίας
Ὁ Ἀπόστολος Παῦλος, στὴν πρὸς Ἑβραίους ἐπιστολή του, τονίζει ὅτι «οἱ ἄγγελοι εἶναι ὑπηρετικὰ πνεύματα, ποὺ δὲν ἐνεργοῦν μὲ δική τους πρωτοβουλία, ἀλλὰ ἀποστέλλονται ἀπὸ τὸ Θεὸ νὰ ὑπηρετήσουν ἐκείνους ποὺ θὰ κληρονομήσουν τὴν αἰώνια ζωή». Ἕνας τέτοιος ἀπεσταλμένος ἄγγελος, ἐπίγειος ὅμως, ἦταν καὶ ὁ προφήτης Μαλαχίας, ἕνας ἀπὸ τοὺς 12 μικροὺς λεγόμενους προφῆτες. Γεννήθηκε ἀπὸ τὴν φυλὴ τοῦ Λευΐ, ἐν Σοφαῖς κατὰ τοὺς χρόνους ποὺ ἐπέστρεψαν οἱ Ἑβραῖοι στὴν Ἱερουσαλὴμ ἀπὸ τὴν αἰχμαλωσία τῆς Βαβυλῶνας. Πῆρε τὸ ὄνομα Μαλαχίας -ποὺ ἑλληνικὰ σημαίνει ἄγγελος- γιὰ τρεῖς λόγους: Πρῶτον, διότι, ὅσα προφήτευε, ἀμέσως τὰ ἐπιβεβαίωνε στὸ λαὸ θεῖος ἄγγελος. Καὶ τὸ παράδοξο ἦταν ὅτι τὸν ἄγγελο δὲν τὸν ἔβλεπαν οἱ ἀνάξιοι, ἀλλὰ μόνο οἱ ἄξιοι, τὴν φωνή του, ὅμως, τὴν ἄκουγαν καὶ οἱ ἄξιοι καὶ οἱ ἀνάξιοι. Ὁ δεύτερος λόγος γι᾿ αὐτή του τὴν ὀνομασία ἦταν ὅτι ἡ ὅλη σωματική του ἐμφάνιση εἶχε τέλεια ἁρμονία καὶ μεγαλοπρέπεια. Ὁ τρίτος λόγος καὶ σπουδαιότερος ἦταν ὅτι, ἀπὸ νέος ἀκόμα, ἔκανε ζωὴ ἐνάρετη καὶ ἠθικὰ ἄμεμπτη. Αὐτὸ τὸ ἀπέδειξε, ὅταν βρέθηκε στὴ θέση νὰ ἐλέγξει καί, πραγματικά, ἤλεγξε μὲ σφοδρότητα τὸν ἴδιο του τὸ λαὸ καὶ τοὺς Ἱερεῖς ἀκόμα τοῦ Ἰσραήλ, γιὰ τὶς ἀνομίες καὶ τὶς ἀσέβειές τους. Ὁ Θεὸς ἀξίωσε τὸν προφήτη Μαλαχία νὰ προφητεύσει καὶ τὸν ἐρχομὸ τοῦ Προδρόμου τοῦ Κυρίου μας Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, γιὰ τὴν προπαρασκευὴ τοῦ ἔργου Του. Ἔτσι, ἡ ζωὴ τοῦ προφήτη μας δείχνει πὼς κάποιος μπορεῖ νὰ γίνει ἐπίγειος ἄγγελος, μὲ τὴν χάρη τοῦ Θεοῦ. Ὁ προφήτης Μαλαχίας πέθανε εἰρηνικά, σχετικῶς νέος, καὶ τάφηκε στὸ τόπο τῶν πατέρων του.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Γόρδιος
Ὁ Ἅγιος Γόρδιος καταγόταν ἀπὸ τὴν Καισαρεία τῆς Καππαδοκίας καὶ ἦταν διακεκριμένος ἀξιωματικὸς τοῦ στρατοῦ τοῦ αὐτοκράτορα τῆς Ἀνατολῆς Λικινίου, ὁ ὁποῖος τὸ 314 ἦλθε σὲ πόλεμο μετὰ τοῦ Μ. Κωνσταντίνου. Καὶ ἐπειδὴ ὁ Κωνσταντῖνος ἔδειχνε φανερὴ συμπάθεια πρὸς τοὺς Χριστιανούς, ὁ Λικίνιος ἀποφάσισε νὰ περιποιηθεῖ τοὺς εἰδωλολάτρες μὲ τὴν προοπτικὴ νὰ τοὺς κινήσει κάποια μέρα ἐναντίον τοῦ ἀντιπάλου του. Γι᾿ αὐτό, ἔδιωξε ἀπὸ τὴν Αὐλὴ καὶ τὸ στρατό, ὅλους τοὺς χριστιανούς, καὶ διέταξε νὰ κλείσουν καὶ νὰ γκρεμισθοῦν πολλὲς ἐκκλησίες. Ἐπέβαλε μάλιστα, αὐστηρὲς ποινὲς σ᾿ ὅλους ὅσους ἀντιστέκονταν. Τότε λοιπὸν ἀπομακρύνθηκε καὶ ὁ Γόρδιος ἀπὸ τὸ στρατό. Ἀποσύρθηκε σ᾿ ἕνα ὄρος, ὅπου περνοῦσε τὸν καιρό του μὲ προσευχή, μελέτη καὶ σωματικὴ ἐργασία. Ἀλλ᾿ οἱ πληροφορίες ποὺ ἔπαιρνε ἦταν, ὅτι ὁ Λικίνιος ἐπέμενε στὶς σκληρὲς διώξεις κατὰ τῶν χριστιανῶν. Κατέβηκε λοιπὸν μία νύχτα μὲ τὴν ἀπόφαση νὰ φωνάξει ἐναντίον τῆς ἀδικίας καὶ ὑπὲρ τοῦ Χριστοῦ. Νὰ στιγματίσει τὴν διαγωγὴ τοῦ αὐτοκράτορα, ὁ ὁποῖος ἔκανε τόσο ἀνίερη κατάχρηση τῆς ἐξουσίας του ἐναντίον ὄχι μόνο τῆς ἀλήθειας, ἀλλὰ καὶ τοῦ ἱερότατου δικαιώματος τῆς θρησκευτικῆς ἐλευθερίας. Ἔτσι λοιπόν, κάποια μέρα ποὺ ὅλοι οἱ ἐπίσημοι ἦταν μαζεμένοι στὸ θέατρο, ὁ Γόρδιος ἔκανε πράξη ὅλα τὰ παραπάνω, μὲ ἀποτέλεσμα νὰ ἀποκεφαλισθεῖ ἐπὶ τόπου.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Πέτρος ὁ σημειοφόρος ὁ ἐν Ἁγίῳ Ζαχαρίᾳ Ἀτρώας
Ὁ Πέτρος αὐτὸς ἦταν ἀσκητὴς στὰ ἀνατολικὰ μέρη τῆς Προποντίδας, ὅπου βρισκόταν καὶ ἡ Ἀτρώα. Δὲν ἔχει καμιὰ σχέση μὲ τὸν Ἅγιο Πέτρο τὸν σημειοφόρο τὸν ἐπίσκοπο Ἄργους.
Οἱ Ἅγιοι Μάρτυρες Μήτηρ καὶ τὰ δυὸ Τέκνα
Μαρτύρησαν διὰ πυρός.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Ἀκάκιος ὁ Θαυματουργός
Ἀναφέρεται στὸν Παρισινὸ Κώδικα 361 Coislin φ. 88. Αὐτὸς ἀσκήτευσε στὸ ὄρος Λάτρος καὶ μαζὶ μὲ ἄλλους ἵδρυσε τὴν Λαύρα τῆς Ὑπεραγίας Θεοτόκου τοῦ Μυρσινῶνος.
Ἡ Ἁγία Θωμαΐς ἡ Λεσβία
Γεννήθηκε, στὴ Λέσβο μεταξὺ τῶν ἐτῶν 910-913. Οἱ γονεῖς της, Μιχαὴλ καὶ Καλή, ἦταν εὐσεβέστατοι, ἔντιμοι καὶ εὐκατάστατοι. Τὴ στέρηση παιδιοῦ τὴν ἀντιμετώπιζαν «πενθοῦντες καὶ σκυθρωπάζοντες», ἀλλὰ καὶ μὲ τὴν ἐλπίδα ὅτι θὰ ἀποκτοῦσαν παιδὶ καὶ γιὰ τοῦτο δὲν ἔπαυαν νὰ προσεύχωνται. Τέλος, ἡ Παναγία μὲ θεῖο ὄνειρο προειδοποίησε τὴν Καλὴ ὅτι ὄχι μόνο θὰ ἀποκτοῦσε παιδί, ἀλλὰ ὅτι τοῦτο θὰ ξεχώριζε σὲ πλοῦτο χαρισμάτων καὶ ἁγιότητα. Πραγματικά, ἀπόκτησαν κόρη, ποὺ τὴν ὠνόμασαν Θωμαΐδα, ποὺ καθὼς μεγάλωνε ξεχώριζε γιὰ τὰ χαρίσματα ποὺ εἶχε καὶ τὴν ὀμορφιά της. Ἂν καὶ δὲν εἶχε καμιὰ διάθεση γιὰ γάμο ἀλλ᾿ ἀπεναντίας ἐθαύμαζε τὴν μοναστικὴ ζωή, πειθαρχώντας στὴ θέληση καὶ ἐπιθυμία τῶν γονιῶν της, πανδρεύτηκε, μεταξὺ τῶν ἐτῶν 934-937, σὲ ἡλικία 24 ἐτῶν, κάποιον Στέφανο, ποὺ ἔγινε γι᾿ αὐτὴν «ἀκάνθινος στέφανος» γιὰ ὅλη τὴν ζωή της. Ἐνῷ αὐτὴ ἦταν τόσο καλή, τόσο ἐνάρετη, ὥστε τὴν ἤξεραν ὅλοι σὰν ὑπόδειγμα συζύγου, ὑπέφερε φοβερὰ ἀπὸ τὴν βάναυση συμπεριφορὰ τοῦ βαρβάρου συζύγου της, ποὺ καθημερινὰ εὕρισκε εὐκαιρία νὰ τὴν πληγώνει στὸ σῶμα καὶ στὴν ψυχὴ μὲ ξυλοδαρμούς, ῥαπίσματα, κλωτσιὲς ἀκόμα καὶ στὸ στόμα της, νὰ τὴν καίει, νὰ τῆς ἀνοίγει πληγὲς σ᾿ ὅλο της τὸ σῶμα. Καὶ ἡ Θωμαΐς ἀντιμετώπιζε ὅλη αὐτὴ τὴν μαρτυρικὴ κατάσταση μὲ τὴν προσευχή, τὴν ὑπομονὴ καὶ τὴν ἀγαθοεργία. Πολὺ σύντομα ἡ πίστη καὶ ἡ ἁγιότητα τῆς Θωμαΐδος εὐλογήθηκε ἀπὸ τὸ Θεό, ποὺ τῆς ἔδωκε τὴν χάρη νὰ κάνει καὶ θαύματα, ὅταν ζητοῦσε μὲ τὶς θερμὲς προσευχὲς της τὴν βοήθειά Του γιὰ ἀνθρώπους ποὺ ὑπέφεραν. Ἔπειτα ἀπὸ δέκα τριῶν ἐτῶν μαρτυρικὴ συζυγικὴ ζωή, ἀπέθανε ἡ Θωμαΐς σὲ ἡλικία τριάντα ὀκτὼ ἐτῶν.
Prophet Malachi (~400 BC)
He is the last of the twelve Minor Prophets and the last of all the Prophets of the Old Testament. His name means 'My Angel' or 'My Messenger.' He returned with the exiled Jews from Babylon and took part in the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. His prophecy announces to the ear of faith that the Lord will soon bring the Hebrew priesthood to an end in the coming of Christ, the Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2), the eternal Priest.
Holy Martyr Gordius of Caesarea (4th c.)
"The Martyr Gordius, who was from Caesarea of Cappadocia, was a centurion by rank. Unable to bear the impiety of the heathen, he withdrew to the wilderness to purify himself through prayer and fasting. After he perceived that his ascetical training had prepared him sufficiently, he came down from the mountains when a certain pagan festival was held in Caesarea, attended by all, and presented himself to the multitude. Although the spectacles of the festival continued, no one paid them any heed, but all eyes were turned upon him. From his sojourn in the mountains, his look was wild, his beard was long, his raiment squalid, his body like a skeleton; yet a certain grace shone round about him. He was recognized, and a loud shout and tumult was made, as his fellow Christians rejoiced, and the enemies of the truth cried out for his death. He boldly professed his faith before the Governor, and after torments was beheaded, in the reign of Licinius in the year 314. Saint Basil the Great delivered a homily on Saint Gordius, mentioning that some of those in his audience had been present at the Saint's martyrdom." (Great Horologion)
Our Holy Mother Genevieve of Paris (~502)
She was born near Paris to a family of wealthy landowners. When she was about ten years old St Germanus of Auxerre (July 31), passing through the region on his way to Britain, discerned a special divine purpose for her, and told her parents that she had been chosen for the salvation of many. "He asked her that day, and early the next, if she would consecrate herself to holy virginity for Christ and, on both occasions, she answered that it was her dearest wish. Then he blessed her and gave her a copper coin inscribed with the Cross to wear around her neck, telling her never to wear gold, silver or pearls, but to elevate her mind above the small beauties of this world in order to inherit eternal and heavenly adornments." (Synaxarion)
Convents were unknown at that time in Gaul, so Genevieve lived as a solitary, in a cell in her own house, first with her parents then, after their death, with her godmother in Paris. She devoted herself to the poor, giving away everything that came into her hands, except the small amount that she needed to feed herself on bread and beans. (When she passed the age of fifty, she was commanded by the bishops to add some fish and milk to her diet). She kept Lent from Theophany to Pascha, during which time she never left her house. She was never afraid to rebuke the powerful for their oppression of the weak and the poor, and thus earned many powerful enemies; but the people's love for her, and the support of the Church, kept her from persecution.
It became her custom to walk to church on Sundays in procession with her household and many pious laypeople. Once the candle borne at the front of the procession (it was still dark) blew out in a rainstorm. The Saint asked for the candle and, when she took it in her hand, it re-lit and stayed lighted until they reached the church. At several other times, candles lit spontaneously in her hand; for this reason her icon shows her holding a candle.
She traveled throughout Gaul (modern-day France) on church business, being greeted with all the honors usually accorded a bishop. Several times she saved the city of Paris from the assaults of barbarian tribes through her prayers, by pleading with barbarian chieftains, and once by organizing a convoy to bring grain to the besieged city.
Saint Genevieve reposed in peace at the age of eighty. Through the centuries since then, she has shown her holy protection of the city of Paris countless times, and her relics in the Church of Saint Genevieve have wrought innumerable healings. Her relics were many times carried in huge processions in times of war, pestilence or other national trial. These relics were mostly burned and thrown into the River Seine by the godless Revolutionaries in 1793, but, as the Synaxarion concludes, "those who continue to invoke Saint Genevieve with faith, find her to be well and truly alive."
The Holy Prophet Malachi lived 400 years before the Birth of Christ, during the time of the return of the Jews from the Babylonian Captivity. Malachi was the last of the Old Testament prophets, wherefore the holy fathers call him "the sealing-shut of the prophets". Manifesting himself an image of spiritual goodness and piety, he astounded the nation and was called Malachiei, i.e. an angel or messenger. In the Canon of Scriptural Books is included also his prophetic book, in which he upbraids the Jews, foretelling the coming of Jesus Christ and His Forerunner, and also the Last Judgement (Mal. 3: 1-5; 4: 1-6).
The Martyr Gordias was born at the end of the III Century in the city of Caesarea Cappadocia into a Christian family. Coming of age, he entered military service, and having displayed valour and military skill, he was made a centurion. During the time of persecution of Christians at the beginning of the IV Century, he left the world and settled in the wilderness, so as to prepare himself for the good deed of confessing the Name of Christ the Saviour. In the year 320 Gordias openly came forward before the prefect of the city in defense of Christians. They arrested him and after terrible torments they beheaded him.
THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:
1. THE PROPHET MALACHI
Malachi was the last of the prophets in time. He was born after the return of the Hebrews from the Babylonian Captivity in 538 B.C. He was unusually handsome in countenance. According to legend, the people called him an angel, perhaps because of his external beauty or because of his spiritual purity, or even, perhaps because of his association with an angel of God. On many occasions he spoke face to face with an angel. When this occurred, others heard the voice of an angel; but they were not worthy to see the face of the angel. That which the angel proclaimed, the young Malachi prophesied. He cried out against ungrateful Israel and against the lawless priests. Five hundred years before Christ, Malachi clearly prophesied the coming and the mission of John the Baptist: "Lo, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me" (Malachi 3:7). Mainly, he is the prophet of the day of the Dreadful Judgment. "Before the day of the Lord comes, the great and terrible day" (Malachi 3: 23-24). He presented himself to the Lord while still young. Following him, there were no more prophets in Israel until John the Baptist.
2. THE PRIEST-MARTYR GORDIUS
Gordius was born in Caesarea of Cappadocia. He was an officer in the Roman army during the reign of Emperor Licinius. When a terrible persecution of the Christians broke out, Gordius left the army and his rank and withdrew to the wilderness of Sinai. Alone on Mount Horeb, Gordius spent his time in prayer and contemplation on the mysteries of heaven and earth. He especially contemplated on vanity and the worthlessness of all over which men strive and fight for on earth, and, finally, he wished to die and to be translated into the eternal and incorruptible life. With this desire he descended into the town at the time of certain pagan races and games. Gordius presented himself to the mayor of that town, declaring that he was a Christian. In vain did the mayor of the town try, through flatteries and threats, to dissuade him from the Faith. Gordius remained unwavering and firm as a diamond, saying: "Is it not sheer folly to purchase with this short-lived life, a life of eternal torment and spiritual death." Being condemned to death, he joyfully hurried to the scaffold and along the way spoke to the executioners about the glorious and sweet teachings of Christ. With the name of Christ on his lips Gordius offered his young body to the sword and his righteous soul to God in the year 320 A.D.
3. SAINT GENEVIEVE
Genevieve is the Patroness of the city of Paris. Through fasting, prayer and almsgiving she was made worthy of the Kingdom of God and died on January 3, 512 A.D., in the eighty-ninth year of her life.
HYMN OF PRAISE
THE HOLY PROPHET MALACHI
Malachi proclaims what the angel tells him:
The day, the day, O the day is coming! The day which like an oven is blazing.
Who will endure it? Who will survive it?
Who, with their justice, before the Judge will stand?
All non-believers as a dry stubble will be
Food for the hungry fire. Weeping, sighing and shrieking!
The fire overflows and as a river flows,
Here what can the tongue of a sinner say?
O, my priests, you, who do not render Me praise,
Why do not your tongues the glory of the Lord sing?
Everywhere, among the people, you have become despised,
For My judgment, law and miracles you scorn.
I, the Lord am speaking, the Lord of hosts,
O, of those odious sorcerers, the judgment severe!
The fire when it charges, the smoke and the dreadful rumble it chases
Then, the hand of the Lord does not caress anymore.
Repent, O people, while days you have left,
Return to Me and I will return to you.
I the Lord am speaking, the Lord of hosts,
Return to Me and I will return to you.
Malachi proclaims what the angel tells him:
The day, the day, O the day is coming! The day which like an oven is blazing.
God permits humiliation and ruin to befall a proud man when he thinks that his strength is secured forever. When the pernicious Roman Eparch [Governor] Tarquinius beheaded Blessed Timothy, he summoned St. Sylvester and threatened him with death if he did not reveal Timothy's inheritance and in addition immediately offer sacrifice to the idols. Without fear and trembling, this discerning saint responded to the eparch with the Evangelical words: "You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you" (St. Luke 12:20), "and that with which you boast that you will bring to me (i.e. death) will occur to you." The proud eparch shackled Sylvester in chains and threw him into a dungeon intending to kill him shortly. Having done this, the eparch sat down to eat lunch, but a fish bone caught in his throat. From noon to midnight, the physicians struggled to save his life but all was in vain. At midnight, Tarquinius gave up his proud soul in greatest torments. And so the prophecy of St. Sylvester was fulfilled, as also were the Biblical words: "Pride goes before disaster" (Proverbs 16:18).
To contemplate the Guardian Angel:
1. How he stands at my right side upholding me in everything until I depart from the law of God;
2. How I have offended him on numerous occasions and how I drove him away from me transgressing the law of God.
About how the Kingdom of God is gained with the heart and not with the tongue
"Not everyone who says, `Lord, Lord' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven" (St. Matthew 7:21).
Brethren, one does not gain the Kingdom of God with the tongue, but with the heart. The heart is the treasury of those riches by which the kingdom is purchased; the heart and not the tongue! If the treasury is full with the riches of God, i.e., a strong faith, good hope, vivid love and good deeds, then the messenger of those riches, the tongue, is faithful and pleasant. If the treasury is void of all those riches, then its messenger [the tongue] is false and impudent. The kind of heart, the kind of words. The kind of heart, the kind of deeds. All, all depends on the heart.
Hypocrisy is helpless before men, and is even more helpless before God. "If then I am a father," says the Lord through the Prophet Malachi, "If then I am a father where is the honor due to me?" And If I am a master, where is the reverence due to me?" (Malachi 1:6). That is, I hear you call me father, but I do not see you honoring me with your heart. I hear you call me master, but I do not see fear of me in your hearts.
Our prayer: "Lord! Lord!" is beautiful and beneficial only when it emerges from a prayerful heart. The Lord Himself commanded that we pray unceasingly, but not only with the tongue to be heard by men, but rather enclosed in the cell of the heart so that the Lord could hear and see us.
Lord, majestic and wonderful, deliver us from hypocrisy and pour Your fear into our hearts so that our hearts could stand continually upright in prayer before You.