Sunday, March 25, 2012

March 25, 2012 - 4th Sunday of Great Lent



FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:

Annunciation of the Theotokos

Δ΄ ΝΗΣΤΕΙΩΝ. Ο ΕΥΑΓΓΕΛΙΣΜΟΣ ΤΗΣ ΥΠΕΡΑΓΙΑΣ ΔΕΣΠΟΙΝΗΣ ΗΜΩΝ ΘΕΟΤΟΚΟΥ ΚΑΙ ΑΕΙΠΑΡΘΕΝΟΥ ΜΑΡΙΑΣ.

READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:

The Reading is from Luke 1:39-49, 56
In those days, Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord."
And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name." And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her home.

Κατὰ Λουκᾶν 1.39-49, 56
Ἐν ταῖς ἡμέρας ἐκείνας, ἀναστᾶσα δὲ Μαριὰμ ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ταύταις ἐπορεύθη εἰς τὴν ὀρεινὴν μετὰ σπουδῆς εἰς πόλιν ᾿Ιούδα, καὶ εἰσῆλθεν εἰς τὸν οἶκον Ζαχαρίου καὶ ἠσπάσατο τὴν ᾿Ελισάβετ. καὶ ἐγένετο ὡς ἤκουσεν ἡ ᾿Ελισάβετ τὸν ἀσπασμὸν τῆς Μαρίας, ἐσκίρτησε τὸ βρέφος ἐν τῇ κοιλίᾳ αὐτῆς· καὶ ἐπλήσθη Πνεύματος ῾Αγίου ἡ ᾿Ελισάβετ καὶ ἀνεφώνησε φωνῇ μεγάλῃ καὶ εἶπεν· εὐλογημένη σὺ ἐν γυναιξὶ καὶ εὐλογημένος ὁ καρπὸς τῆς κοιλίας σου. καὶ πόθεν μοι τοῦτο ἵνα ἔλθῃ ἡ μήτηρ τοῦ Κυρίου μου πρός με; ἰδοὺ γὰρ ὡς ἐγένετο ἡ φωνὴ τοῦ ἀσπασμοῦ σου εἰς τὰ ὦτά μου, ἐσκίρτησε τὸ βρέφος ἐν ἀγαλλιάσει ἐν τῇ κοιλίᾳ μου. καὶ μακαρία ἡ πιστεύσασα ὅτι ἔσται τελείωσις τοῖς λελαλημένοις αὐτῇ παρὰ Κυρίου. Καὶ εἶπε Μαριάμ· Μεγαλύνει ἡ ψυχή μου τὸν Κύριον καὶ ἠγαλλίασε τὸ πνεῦμά μου ἐπὶ τῷ Θεῷ τῷ σωτῆρί μου, ὅτι ἐπέβλεψεν ἐπὶ τὴν ταπείνωσιν τῆς δούλης αὐτοῦ. ἰδοὺ γὰρ ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν μακαριοῦσί με πᾶσαι αἱ γενεαί· ὅτι ἐποίησέ μοι μεγαλεῖα ὁ δυνατὸς καὶ ἅγιον τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ. ῎Εμεινε δὲ Μαριὰμ σὺν αὐτῇ ὡσεὶ μῆνας τρεῖς καὶ ὑπέστρεψεν εἰς τὸν οἶκον αὐτῆς.

The Reading is from St. Paul's Letter to the Hebrews 2:11-18
BRETHREN, he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified have all one origin. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, "I will proclaim thy name to my brethren, in the midst of the congregation I will praise thee." And again, "I will put my trust in him." And again, "Here am I, and the children God has given me. Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage. For surely it is not with angels that he is concerned but with the descendants of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brethren in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make expiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered and been tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted.

Πρὸς Ἑβραίους 2:11-18
Ἀδελφοί, ὁ ἁγιάζων καὶ οἱ ἁγιαζόμενοι, ἐξ ἑνὸς πάντες· διʼ ἣν αἰτίαν οὐκ ἐπαισχύνεται ἀδελφοὺς αὐτοὺς καλεῖν, λέγων, Ἀπαγγελῶ τὸ ὄνομά σου τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς μου, ἐν μέσῳ ἐκκλησίας ὑμνήσω σε. Καὶ πάλιν, Ἐγὼ ἔσομαι πεποιθὼς ἐπʼ αὐτῷ. Καὶ πάλιν, Ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ καὶ τὰ παιδία ἅ μοι ἔδωκεν ὁ θεός. Ἐπεὶ οὖν τὰ παιδία κεκοινώνηκεν σαρκός καὶ αἵματος, καὶ αὐτὸς παραπλησίως μετέσχεν τῶν αὐτῶν, ἵνα διὰ τοῦ θανάτου καταργήσῃ τὸν τὸ κράτος ἔχοντα τοῦ θανάτου, τοῦτʼ ἔστιν τὸν διάβολον, καὶ ἀπαλλάξῃ τούτους, ὅσοι φόβῳ θανάτου διὰ παντὸς τοῦ ζῇν ἔνοχοι ἦσαν δουλείας. Οὐ γὰρ δήπου ἀγγέλων ἐπιλαμβάνεται, ἀλλὰ σπέρματος Ἀβραὰμ ἐπιλαμβάνεται. Ὅθεν ὤφειλεν κατὰ πάντα τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς ὁμοιωθῆναι, ἵνα ἐλεήμων γένηται καὶ πιστὸς ἀρχιερεὺς τὰ πρὸς τὸν θεόν, εἰς τὸ ἱλάσκεσθαι τὰς ἁμαρτίας τοῦ λαοῦ. Ἐν ᾧ γὰρ πέπονθεν αὐτὸς πειρασθείς, δύναται τοῖς πειραζομένοις βοηθῆσαι.

The Reading is from Luke 1:24-38
In those days, Elizabeth the wife of Zacharias conceived and for five months she hid herself, saying, "Thus the Lord had done to me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men." In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you! But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end." And Mary said to the angel, "How shall this be, since I have no husband?" And the angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible." And Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.

Κατὰ Λουκᾶν 1.24-38
Ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐκείναις συνέλαβεν ᾿Ελισάβετ ἡ γυνὴ αὐτοῦ, καὶ περιέκρυβεν ἑαυτὴν μῆνας πέντε,λέγουσα ὅτι οὕτω μοι πεποίηκεν ὁ Κύριος ἐν ἡμέραις αἷς ἐπεῖδεν ἀφελεῖν τὸ ὄνειδός μου ἐν ἀνθρώποις. ᾿Εν δὲ τῷ μηνὶ τῷ ἕκτῳ ἀπεστάλη ὁ ἄγγελος Γαβριὴλ ὑπὸ τοῦ Θεοῦ εἰς πόλιν τῆς Γαλιλαίας, ᾗ ὄνομα Ναζαρέτ,πρὸς παρθένον μεμνηστευμένην ἀνδρί, ᾧ ὄνομα ᾿Ιωσήφ, ἐξ οἴκου Δαυΐδ, καὶ τὸ ὄνομα τῆς παρθένου Μαριάμ.καὶ εἰσελθὼν ὁ ἄγγελος πρὸς αὐτὴν εἶπε· χαῖρε, κεχαριτωμένη· ὁ Κύριος μετὰ σοῦ· εὐλογημένη σὺ ἐν γυναιξίν.ἡ δὲ ἰδοῦσα διεταράχθη ἐπὶ τῷ λόγῳ αὐτοῦ, καὶ διελογίζετο ποταπὸς εἴη ὁ ἀσπασμὸς οὗτος.καὶ εἶπεν ὁ ἄγγελος αὐτῇ· μὴ φοβοῦ, Μαριάμ· εὗρες γὰρ χάριν παρὰ τῷ Θεῷ.καὶ ἰδοὺ συλλήψῃ ἐν γαστρὶ καὶ τέξῃ υἱόν, καὶ καλέσεις τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ ᾿Ιησοῦν.οὗτος ἔσται μέγας καὶ υἱὸς ὑψίστου κληθήσεται, καὶ δώσει αὐτῷ Κύριος ὁ Θεὸς τὸν θρόνον Δαυῒδ τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ,καὶ βασιλεύσει ἐπὶ τὸν οἶκον ᾿Ιακὼβ εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας, καὶ τῆς βασιλείας αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἔσται τέλος.εἶπε δὲ Μαριὰμ πρὸς τὸν ἄγγελον· πῶς ἔσται μοι τοῦτο, ἐπεὶ ἄνδρα οὐ γινώσκω;καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ ἄγγελος εἶπεν αὐτῇ· Πνεῦμα ῞Αγιον ἐπελεύσεται ἐπὶ σὲ καὶ δύναμις ὑψίστου ἐπισκιάσει σοι· διὸ καὶ τὸ γεννώμενον ἅγιον κληθήσεται υἱὸς Θεοῦ.καὶ ἰδοὺ ᾿Ελισάβετ ἡ συγγενής σου καὶ αὐτὴ συνειληφυῖα υἱὸν ἐν γήρει αὐτῆς, καὶ οὗτος μὴν ἕκτος ἐστὶν αὐτῇ τῇ καλουμένῃ στείρᾳ·ὅτι οὐκ ἀδυνατήσει παρὰ τῷ Θεῷ πᾶν ῥῆμα.εἶπε δὲ Μαριάμ· ἰδοὺ ἡ δούλη Κυρίου· γένοιτό μοι κατὰ τὸ ῥῆμά σου. καὶ ἀπῆλθεν ἀπ᾿ αὐτῆς ὁ ἄγγελος.

READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:

Τῇ ΚΕ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, ὁ Εὐαγγελισμὸς τῆς Ὑπεραγίας Δεσποίνης ἡμῶν Θεοτόκου καὶ Ἀειπαρθένου Μαρίας.
Ἤγγειλεν Υἱὸν Ἄγγελος τῇ Παρθένῳ,
Πατρὸς μεγίστης Βουλῆς μέγαν.
Γήθεο τῇ Μαρίῃ ἔφατ' Ἄγγελος εἰκάδι πέμπτῃ.

Six months after John the Forerunner's conception, the Archangel Gabriel was sent by God to Nazareth, a town of Galilee, unto Mary the Virgin, who had come forth from the Temple a mature maiden (see Nov. 21). According to the tradition handed down by the Fathers, she had been betrothed to Joseph four months. On coming to Joseph's house, the Archangel declared: "Rejoice, thou Full of Grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women." After some consideration, and turmoil of soul, and fear because of this greeting, the Virgin, when she had finally obtained full assurance concerning God's unsearchable condescension and the ineffable dispensation that was to take place through her, and believing that all things are possible to the Most High, answered in humility: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word." And at this, the Holy Spirit came upon her, and the power of the Most High overshadowed her all-blameless womb, and the Son and Word of God, Who existed before the ages, was conceived past speech and understanding, and became flesh in her immaculate body (Luke 1:26-38).

Bearing in her womb the Uncontainable One, the blessed Virgin went with haste from Nazareth to the hill country of Judea, where Zacharias had his dwelling; for she desired to find Elizabeth her kinswoman and rejoice together with her, because, as she had learned from the Archangel, Elizabeth had conceived in her old age. Furthermore, she wished to tell her of the great things that the Mighty One had been well-pleased to bring to pass in her, and she greeted Elizabeth and drew nigh to her. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, she felt her six-month-old babe, Saint John the Baptist, prophesied of the dawning of the spiritual Sun. Immediately, the aged Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and recognized her as the Mother of her Lord, and with a great voice blessed her and the Fruit that she held within herself. The Virgin also, moved by a supernatural rejoicing in the spirit, glorified her God and Savior, saying: "My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour," and the rest, as the divine Luke hath recorded (1:39-55)

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Σήμερον τῆς σωτηρίας ἡμῶν τὸ Κεφάλαιον, καὶ τοῦ ἀπ' αἰῶνος Μυστηρίου ἡ φανέρωσις, ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ, Υἱὸς τῆς Παρθένου γίνεται, καὶ Γαβριὴλ τὴν χάριν εὐαγγελίζεται, Διὸ σὺν αὐτῷ τὴ Θεοτόκω βοήσωμεν, Χαῖρε Κεχαριτωμένη, ὁ Κύριος μετὰ σοῦ.
Today is the fountainhead of our salvation and the manifestation of the mystery which was from eternity. The Son of God becometh the Virgin's Son, and Gabriel announceth the good tidings of grace; for this cause, let us cry to the Mother of God with him: Rejoice, thou who art full of grace, the Lord is with thee.

Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Τὴ ὑπερμάχω στρατηγῶ τὰ νικητήρια, ὡς λυτρωθεῖσα τῶν δεινῶν εὐχαριστήρια, ἀναγράφω σοὶ ἡ Πόλις σου Θεοτόκε, Ἀλλ' ὡς ἔχουσα τὸ κράτος ἀπροσμάχητον, ἐκ παντοίων μὲ κινδύνων ἐλευθέρωσον, ἵνα κράζω σοί, Χαῖρε νύμφη ἀνύμφευτε.
To you, Theotokos, invincible Defender, having been delivered from peril, I, your city, dedicate the victory festival as a thank offering. In your irresistible might, keep me safe from all trials, that I may call out to you: "Hail, unwedded bride!"

Ο συνδυασμός των δυο γεγονότων που γιορτάζομε σήμερα, του Ευαγγελισμού της Θεοτόκου και της Ελληνικής Επαναστάσεως, αποτελεί βαθύτατο συμβολισμό της εννοίας της ελευθερίας, που δεν είναι ό,τι απλώς λέμε πολιτική ελευθερία κι εθνική ανεξαρτησία, αλλά "της σωτηρίας ημων το κεφάλαιον". Η ελευθερία στην ουσία της είν' έννοια ηθική και πνευματική, ρίζα της προσωπικότητος του ανθρώπου. Η πολιτική ελευθερία κι η εθνική ανεξαρτησία είν' εξωτερικές καταστάσεις· η ηθική και πνευματική ελευθερία είναι εσωτερική στον άνθρωπο ζωή και δύναμη. Όσοι μπόρεσαν ν' αντιταχθούν σε βαρβαρικές επιδρομές, όσοι στάθηκαν ικανοί να ιδρύσουν ελεύθερα πολιτεύματα ξεκίνησαν πρωτ' αρχή από έναν ευαγγελισμό που άκουσαν μέσα τους και στηρίχθηκαν επάνω σε μια εσωτερική ελευθερία, στην ηθική και πνευματική ελευθερία, που είναι πνοή του Θεού μέσα στον άνθρωπο - "ου δε το πνεύμα Κυρίου εκεί ελευθερία".

Ὁ Εὐαγγελισμὸς τῆς Θεοτόκου καὶ Ἐπέτειος Ἐθνικῆς Παλιγγενεσίας 1821
Εἶναι τὸ χαρμόσυνο μήνυμα τῆς θείας ἐνσάρκωσης, ποὺ μὲ τόσο σαφῆ τρόπο μας τὸ παρουσιάζει ὁ εὐαγγελιστὴς Λουκᾶς στὸ Εὐαγγέλιό του (κεφ. Α´ στίχ. 26-38). Τὴν ἡμέρα αὐτή, ὁ θεόσταλτος ἀρχάγγελος Γαβριὴλ παρουσιάζεται καὶ λέει στὴν Παρθένα Μαρία ὅτι θὰ γεννήσει υἱό, ποὺ θὰ εἶναι ὁ Σωτὴρ τοῦ κόσμου. Ἀξίζει, ὅμως, νὰ δοῦμε πὼς οἱ ἐμπνευσμένοι ὑμνῳδοὶ τῆς Ἐκκλησίας μας ἔψαλαν τὸ κοσμοσωτήριο ἄγγελμα: «Σήμερον χαρᾶς Εὐαγγέλια παρθενικὴ πανήγυρις τὰ κάτω τοῖς ἄνω συνάπτεται· ὁ Ἀδὰμ καινουργεῖται ἡ Εὔα τῆς πρώτης λύπης ἐλευθεροῦται καὶ ἡ σκηνὴ τῆς καθ᾿ ἡμᾶς οὐσίας τῇ θεώσει τοῦ προσληφθέντος φυράματος ναὸς Θεοῦ κεχρημάτικεν. Ὦ μυστήριον! Ὁ τρόπος τῆς κενώσεως ἄγνωστος, ὁ τρόπος τῆς συλλήψεως ἄφραστος. Ἄγγελος λειτουργεῖ τῷ θαύματι, παρθενικὴ γαστὴρ τὸν Υἷον ὑποδέχεται, Πνεῦμα ἅγιον καταπέμπεται, Πατὴρ ἄνωθεν εὐδοκεῖ, καὶ τὸ συνάλλαγμα κατὰ κοινὴν πραγματεύεται βούλησιν, ἐν ᾧ καὶ δι᾿ οὗ σωθέντες, συνῳδᾷ τῷ Γαβριήλ, πρὸς τὴν Παρθένον βοήσωμεν· χαῖρε, κεχαριτωμένη, ὁ Κύριος μετὰ σοῦ, ἐξ ἧς ἡ σωτηρία, Χριστὸς ὁ Θεὸς ἡμῶν, τὴν καθ᾿ ἡμᾶς προσλαβόμενος φύσιν πρὸς ἑαυτὸν ἐπανήγαγεν».

Ὁ Ὅσιος Σεννούφιος ὁ Σημειοφόρος
Ἀπεβίωσε εἰρηνικά. Ἴσως εἶναι ὁ ἴδιος με τὸν ἀσκητὴ τῆς Νιτρίας Σεννούφιο.

Οἱ Ἁγίες Πελαγία καὶ Θεοδοσία
Μαρτύρησαν διὰ ξίφους.

Ὁ Ἅγιος Μάρτυς ἀπὸ τοὺς δήμιους
Αὐτὸς γνώρισε τὸν Χριστὸ καὶ μαρτύρησε ἀφοῦ τὸν ἔκλεισαν σὲ βρωμερὴ ἀπομόνωση καὶ πέθανε μᾶλλον ἀπὸ ἀσφυξία.

The Annunciation of Our Most Holy Lady, the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary
When Mary the Virgin was about fourteen years old, the Archangel Gabriel came to Joseph's dwelling, where she was living, and said to her, 'Rejoice, thou Full of Grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.' Receiving assurance that she had been chosen to be the Mother of God Himself, she answered in humility, 'Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.' Immediately, the Holy Spirit came upon her, the power of the Most High overshadowed her, and the Incarnation, long awaited by the whole creation, took place: He who contains the whole universe consented to be contained in the womb of one woman, the most holy Theotokos.
The Church teaches us that it was within the holy Virgin's power to refuse the divine conception: her knowing and willing acceptance, the consummation of the faith of the whole righteous remnant of Israel, shows us that our very salvation is the fruit of the cooperation (synergia)of human faithfulness with God's saving grace.
Carrying in her womb the Savior of the Universe, the Virgin went to the hills of Judea to stay with her kinswoman Elizabeth, who six months before had conceived in her old age (by Zacharias the priest) St John the Forerunner. As the holy Virgin approached, the child Jophn leaped in his mother's womb for joy, prophesying the coming of Emmanuel. Feeling the prophesy, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and blessed the holy Mary and the fruit of her womb. And Mary in turn glorified God, saying 'My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior' (Luke ch. 1).

New Confessor/Hieromartyr Tikhon, patriarch of Moscow (1925)
Born in 1865, he was tonsured a monk in 1891, and consecrated a Bishop in 1891. From 1900, he was Bishop of Alaska, with oversight of the Church throughout North America. In America, he consecrated the first Orthodox monastery on the continent and worked tirelessly to unite all ethnic groups as one flock. In 1907 he was made Bishop of Yaroslavl and returned to Russia.
In 1917, he was elected to be the first Patriarch of Moscow since the abolition of the Patriarchate by Tsar Peter the Great more than 200 years before. Almost immediately, the Russian Church was plunged into new and terrible persecution as an atheist and totalitarian government seized control. Patriarch Tikhon always sought not to quarrel with the Communist government, but his refusal to deny his faith or his Church marked him in their eyes as an enemy. In 1925 he died under mysterious circumstances, and is generally thought to have been murdered by the Soviets. He is commemorated as a Confessor, and by many as a Martyr also.
Note: because his commemoration falls on the Feast of the Annunciation, his service is usually transferred to the day before or after the Feast.

Menologion 3.0
THE ANNUNCIATION (BLAGOVESCHENIE) OF OUR MOST BLESSED LADY MOTHER OF GOD AND EVER-VIRGIN MARY

Sermon of Sainted Proklos, Patriarch of Constantinople. Our present gathering in honour of the MostHoly Virgin inspires me, brethren, to say of Her a word of praise, of benefit also for those come unto this churchly solemnity. It comprises a praise of women, a glorying of their gender, which (glory) is brought it by Her, She Who is at one same time both Mother, and Virgin. O desired and wondrous gathering! Celebrate, O nature, that wherein honour be rendered to Woman; rejoice, O human race, that wherein the Virgin be glorified. "For when sin did abound, grace did superabound" (Rom. 5: 20). The Holy Mother of God and Virgin Mary hath gathered us here, She the pure treasure of virginity, the intended paradise of Second Adam, -- the locus, wherein was accomplished the co-uniting of natures, wherein was affirmed the Counsel of salvific reconciliation.
Whoever is it that ever saw, whoever heard, that within a womb the Limitless God would make habitation, Whom the Heavens cannot circumscribe, Whom the womb of a Virgin limiteth not!?
He born of woman is not only God and He is not only Man: This One born made woman, being the ancient gateway of sin, into the gateway of salvation: where evil poured forth its poison, bringing on disobedience, there the Word made for Himself a living temple, bringing in thither obedience; from whence the arch-sinner Cain sprang forth, there without seed was born Christ the Redeemer of the human race. The Lover-of-Mankind did not disdain to be born of woman, since this bestowed His life. He was not subject to impurity, being settled within the womb, which He Himself arrayed free from all harm. If perchance this Mother did not remain a Virgin, then that born of Her might be a mere man, and the birth would be no wise miraculous; but since She after birth remained a Virgin, then how is He Who is born indeed -- not God? It is an inexplicable mystery, since in an inexplicable manner was born He Who without hindrance went through doors when they were locked. When confessing in Him the co-uniting of two natures, Thomas cried out: "My Lord, and my God!" (Jn. 20: 28).
The Apostle Paul says, that Christ is "to the Jews indeed scandal, and to the Gentiles yet folly" (1 Cor. 1: 23): they did not perceive the power of the mystery, since it was incomprehensible to the mind: "for had they understood, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory" (1 Cor. 2: 8). If the Word had not settled within the womb, then the flesh would not have ascended with Him onto the Divine Throne; if for God it were disdainful to enter into the womb, which He created, then the Angels too would have disdained service to mankind.
That One, Who by His nature was not subject to sufferings, through His love for us subjected Himself to many a suffering. We believe, that Christ not through some gradual ascent towards the Divine nature was made God, but being God, through His mercy He was made Man. We do not say: "a man made God"; but we confess, that God was incarnated and made Man. His Servant was chosen for Himself as Mother by That One Who, in His essence did not have mother, and Who, through Divine foresight having appeared upon the earth in the image of man, does not have here father. How one and the same is He both without father, and without mother, in accord with the words of the Apostle (Heb. 7: 3)? If He -- be only a man, then He cannot be without mother -- but actually He had a Mother. If He -- be God only, then He cannot be without Father -- but in fact He has the Father. And yet as God the Creator He has not mother, and as Man He has not father.
We can be persuaded in this by the very name of the Archangel, making annunciation to Mary: his name -- is Gabriel. What does this name mean? -- it means: "God and man". Since That One about Whom he announced is God and Man, then his very name points beforehand to this miracle, so that with faith be accepted the deed of the Divine dispensation.
To save people would be impossible for a mere man, since every man has need in the Saviour: "for all, -- says Saint Paul, -- have sinned, and come short the Glory of God" (Rom. 3: 23). Since sin subjects the sinner to the power of the devil, and the devil subjects him to death, then our condition did become extremely hapless: there was no sort of way to be delivered from death. There were sent physicians, i.e. the prophets, but they could only the more clearly point out the malady. What did they do? When they saw, that the illness was beyond human skill, they summoned from Heaven the Physician; one of them said "Lord, bend the heavens, and come down" (Ps. 143 [144]: 5); others cried out: "Heal me, O Lord, and I shalt be healed" (Jer. 17: 14); "restore Thine power, and come yet to save us" (Ps. 79 [80]: 3). And yet others: "For if God truly be settled with man upon the earth" (3 [1] Kings 8: 27); "speedily send before Thine tender mercy, O Lord, for we are brought very low" (Ps. 78 [79]: 8). Others said: "O woe to me, my soul! For the pious art perished from the earth, and of the upright amongst men there is none" (Mich. 7: 2). "O God, in help attend to me, O Lord, shield me with Thine help" (Ps. 69 [70]: 1). "If there be delay, endure it, for He that cometh shalt come, and not tarry" (Hab. 2: 3). "Perishing like a lost sheep: seek out Thine servant, who doth hope on Thee" (Ps. 118 [119]: 176). "For God wilt come, our God, and wilt not keep silence" (Ps. 49 [50]: 3). That One, Who by nature is Lord, did not disdain human nature, enslaved by the sinister power of the devil, the merciful God would not accede for it to be forever under the power of the devil, the Ever-Existing One came and gave in ransom His Blood; for the redemption of the race of man from death He gave up His Body, which He had accepted of the Virgin, He delivered the world from the curse of the law, annihilating death by His death. "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law", -- exclaims Saint Paul (Gal. 3: 13).
Thus know, that our Redeemer is not simply a mere man, since all the human race was enslaved to sin. But He likewise is not God only, non-partaking of human nature. He had body, since if He had not clothed Himself in me, He then likewise should not have saved me. But, having settled within the womb of the Virgin, He clothed Himself in my fate, and within this womb He perfected a miraculous change: He bestowed the Spirit and received a body, That One only indeed (dwelling) with the Virgin and (born) of the Virgin. And so, Who is He, made manifest to us? The Prophet David doth point it out for thee in these words: "Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord" (Ps. 117 [118]: 26). But tell us even more clearly, O prophet, Who is He? The Lord is the God of Hosts, says the prophet: "God is the Lord, and hath revealed Himself unto us" (Ps. 117 [118]: 27). "The Word was made flesh" (Jn. 1: 14): there were co-united the two natures, and the union remained without mingling.
He came to save, but had also to suffer. What has the one in common with the other? A mere man cannot save; and God in only His nature cannot suffer. By what means was done the one and the other? Wherein that He, Emmanuel, being God, was made also Man; both this, that what He was, He saved by, -- and this, that what He was made, He suffered as. Wherefore, when the Church beheld, that the Jewish throng had crowned Him with thorns, bewailing the violence of the throng, -- it said: "Daughters of Zion, go forth and behold the crown, of which is crowned He of His mother" (Sng. 3: 11). He wore the crown of thorns and destroyed the judgement to suffering from the thorns. He Only is That One both in the bosom of the Father and in the womb of the Virgin; He Only is That One -- in the arms of His Mother and in the wings of the winds (Ps. 103 [104]: 3); He, to Whom the Angels bowed down in worship, at that same time reclined at table with publicans. Upon Him the Seraphim dared not to gaze, and at the same time Pilate pronounced sentence upon Him. He -- is That One and Same, Whom the servant did smite and before whom did tremble all creation. He was nailed to the Cross and ascended to the Throne of Glory, -- He was placed in the tomb and He stretched out the heavens like a skin (Ps. 103 [104]: 2), -- He was numbered amidst the dead and He emptied hell; here upon the earth, they cursed at Him as a transgressor, -- there in Heaven, they exclaimed Him glory as the All-Holy. What an incomprehensible mystery! I see the miracles, and I confess, that He -- is God; I see the sufferings, and I cannot deny, that He -- is Man. Emmanuel opened up the doors of nature, as man, and preserved unharmed the seal of virginity, as God: He emerged from the womb thus as He entered through the announcing; the same wondrously was He both born and conceived: without passion He entered, and without impairment He emerged, as concerning this doth say the Prophet Ezekiel: "He returned me back the way of the gates of the outer sanctuaries, looking upon the east: and these had been shut. And saith the Lord to me: son of man, these gates shalt be closed, and not open, and no one go through them: for the Lord God of Israel, He Only, shalt enter and come forth, and they wilt be shut" (Ez. 44: 1-2). Here -- it clearly indicates the Holy Virgin and Mother of God Mary. Let cease all contention, and let the Holy Scripture enlighten our reason, so that we too receive the Heavenly Kingdom unto all eternity. Amen.

THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:

1. THE ANNUNCIATION
When the All-Holy Virgin completed the fourteenth year after her birth and was entering her fifteenth year, after having spent eleven years of living and serving in the Temple of Jerusalem, the priests informed her that, according to the Law, she could not remain in the Temple but was required to be betrothed and enter into marriage. What a great surprise to the priests was the answer of the All-Holy Virgin that she had dedicated her life to God and that she desired to remain a Virgin until death, not wanting to enter into marriage with anyone! Then, according to Divine Providence, Zacharias, the high priest and father of the Forerunner, under the inspiration of God, and in agreement with the other priests, gathered twelve unwed men from the Tribe of David to betroth the Virgin Mary to one of them to preserve her virginity and to care for her. She was betrothed to Joseph of Nazareth who was her kinsman. In the house of Joseph, the All-Holy Virgin continued to live as she did in the Temple of Solomon, occupying her time in the reading of Sacred Scripture, in prayer, in Godly-thoughts, in fasting and in handiwork. She rarely went anywhere outside the house nor was she interested in worldly things and events. She spoke very little to anyone, if at all, and never without special need. More frequently she communicated with both of Joseph's daughters. When the fullness of time had come, as prophesied by Daniel the Prophet, and when God was pleased to fulfill His promise to the banished Adam and to the Prophets, the great Archangel Gabriel appeared in the chamber of the All-Holy Virgin and, as some priestly writers wrote, precisely at that same moment when she held open the book of the Prophet Isaiah and was contemplating his great prophecy: "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son!" (Isaiah 7:13). Gabriel appeared in all of his angelic brightness and saluted her: "Rejoice, highly favored one! The Lord is with you" (St. Luke 1:28), and the rest in order as it is written in the Gospel of the saintly Luke. With this angelic annunciation and the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Virgin, the salvation of mankind and restoration of all creation began. The history of the New Testament was opened by the words of the Archangel Gabriel: "Rejoice, highly favored one" This is to imply that the New Testament was to signify joy to mankind and to all created things. It is from this that the Annunciation is considered not only a great feast, but a joyful feast as well.

2. THE HOLY FEMALE MARTYRS PELAGIA, THEODOSIA AND DULA
These three holy women suffered for the Lord. After imprisonment and sufferings both Pelagia and Theodosia were beheaded. St. Dula, who was a servant girl, suffered alone in the city of Nicomedia. These three white roses, watered by the blood of the martyrs, were transplanted by God into His heavenly garden.

HYMN OF PRAISE
THE HOLY MOTHER OF GOD
(The Theotokos)
O WHAT WONDERFUL NEWS: REJOICE, ALL-PURE ONE,
FOR US, YOU GAVE BIRTH TO
CHRIST!
O JOYFUL NEWS: REJOICE O VIRGIN,
RADIANT DOVE!
REJOICE O MARY, REJOICE, O ONE FULL OF GRACE,
YOU, THE GOLDEN GATE!
O BURNING BUSH, UNCONSUMED,
THE DAWN OF NEW SPLENDOR!
GABRIEL COMPOSES THE WORDS, AND HE HIMSELF REJOICES,
THE ANNUNCIATION HE PROCLAIMS!
PROCLAIMS THE ANNUNCIATION, ALL OF HEAVEN LISTENS,
YOUR SOUL TREMBLES!
IN THE TEMPLE YOU SERVED, TO GOD YOU CONSECRATED YOURSELF,
YOU BECAME THE TEMPLE!
REJOICE, O PURE ONE, HEAVENLY BRIDE,
YOU ARE THE ROYAL THRONE!
REJOICE, O HUMBLE ONE, TO THE HUMBLE ONE, YOU
WILL GIVE BIRTH,
AND REGENERATE THE WORLD!
REJOICE, O OBEDIENT ONE, GOD HEARD YOU
AND CROWNED YOU WITH GLORY!
REJOICE, O TEARFUL ONE, BY TEARS SOFTENED,
BY THE SPIRIT GLISTENING!
REJOICE, O POOR ONE, BUT THE WEALTHIEST ONE
AND BRIGHTER THAN THE SUN!
FOR US, PLEAD JOY, FROM CHRIST YOUR SON,
O VIRGIN, ALL-PURE ONE!


REFLECTION
Abba Athanasius was asked by some: "How is it that the Son is equal to the Father?" He answered, "Just as there are two eyes but one sight." The response is admirable. To this we can add: just as there are two ears but one hearing. The same is with all three Divine Hypostases: just as there are three candles but one and the same light.

CONTEMPLATION
To contemplate the All-Holy Virgin Mary:
1. How she served God for eleven years in the Temple humbly, obediently and devotedly;
2. How she served God in her chamber in Nazareth, humbly, obediently and devotedly;
3. How humbly, obediently and devotedly she received the Divine Annunciation from the Archangel Gabriel.

HOMILY
About the omnipotent Word of God
"For nothing will be impossiblefor God" (St. Luke 1:37). "Then God said, Let there be light, and there was light" (Genesis 1:3). Until
God spoke, there was no light. Nor was there anyone who could know what light was, until God spoke, and light came into being. In the same manner, when God spoke, then water and the dry land came into existence, the firmament of the heavens, vegetation, animals and finally man. Until God spoke, none of this existed nor was there anyone, except God, Who could know that all of this could exist. By the power of His word, God created all that is created on earth and in the heavens. Whatever God wanted to exist and spoke that it be, must be and it cannot but be, for the word of God is irresistible and creative. The creation of the world is a great miracle of the word of God.
Having created all things, God again, by His word, established the order of creation and the manner of behavior and relationship of creatures one with another. This order and manner which God established is a great miracle of God's word. There exists an order and manner among created things, visible and comprehensible for us people; and there also exists an order and manner, invisible and incomprehensible. According to that invisible and incomprehensible order and manner, which is a mystery in the Holy Trinity, there have occurred and are occurring those manifestations which people call miracles. One such manifestation is the conception of the Lord Jesus Christ in the womb of the All-Holy Virgin Mary without a husband [The Virgin Birth]. This appears like an interruption in the visible and comprehensible order and manner but it is never an interruption for the invisible and incomprehensible order and manner. This birth, truly, is a great miracle; perhaps the greatest miracle that was ever revealed to us mortals. But the entire created world is a miracle, and all the visible and comprehensible order and manner is a miracle, and altogether these miracles came about by the word of God; therefore, much in the same way the Lord was conceived in the Virgin's womb. Both one and the other was all brought about by the power and word of God. That is why the wonderful Gabriel replied to the question of the All-Pure One which is the question of all generations: "How can this be?" (St. Luke 1:34), and he answered her: "For nothing will be impossible for God" (St. Luke 1:37).
O Lord God, our Creator, Immortal and Existing Miracle-Worker, enlighten our minds that we no longer doubt, but believe and enlighten our tongue that it not question You, but praise You.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

March 18, 2012 - 3rd Sunday of Great Lent

FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:

Sunday of the Holy Cross
Cyril, Patriarch of Jerusalem
Trophimos & Eukarpion, Monk-martyrs of Nicomedea

Γ΄ ΝΗΣΤΕΙΩΝ (ΤΗΣ ΣΤΑΥΡΟΠΡΟΣΚΥΝΗΣΕΩΣ).
Τοῦ ἐν Ἁγίοις Πατρός ἡμῶν Κυρίλλου, Ἀρχιεπισκόπου Ἱεροσολύμων.

READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:

The Reading is from John 20:1-10
At that time, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him." Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes.

Κατὰ Ἰωάννην 20.1-10
Τῇ δὲ μιᾷ τῶν σαββάτων Μαρία ἡ Μαγδαληνὴ ἔρχεται πρωῒ σκοτίας ἔτι οὔσης εἰς τὸ μνημεῖον, καὶ βλέπει τὸν λίθον ἠρμένον ἐκ τοῦ μνημείου. τρέχει οὖν καὶ ἔρχεται πρὸς Σίμωνα Πέτρον καὶ πρὸς τὸν ἄλλον μαθητὴν ὃν ἐφίλει ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς, καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς· ἦραν τὸν Κύριον ἐκ τοῦ μνημείου, καὶ οὐκ οἴδαμεν ποῦ ἔθηκαν αὐτόν. ἐξῆλθεν οὖν ὁ Πέτρος καὶ ὁ ἄλλος μαθητὴς καὶ ἤρχοντο εἰς τὸ μνημεῖον. ἔτρεχον δὲ οἱ δύο ὁμοῦ· καὶ ὁ ἄλλος μαθητὴς προέδραμε τάχιον τοῦ Πέτρου καὶ ἦλθε πρῶτος εἰς τὸ μνημεῖον, καὶ παρακύψας βλέπει κείμενα τὰ ὀθόνια, οὐ μέντοι εἰσῆλθεν. ἔρχεται οὖν Σίμων Πέτρος ἀκολουθῶν αὐτῷ, καὶ εἰσῆλθεν εἰς τὸ μνημεῖον καὶ θεωρεῖ τὰ ὀθόνια κείμενα, καὶ τὸ σουδάριον, ὃ ἦν ἐπὶ τῆς κεφαλῆς αὐτοῦ, οὐ μετὰ τῶν ὀθονίων κείμενον, ἀλλὰ χωρὶς ἐντετυλιγμένον εἰς ἕνα τόπον. τότε οὖν εἰσῆλθε καὶ ὁ ἄλλος μαθητὴς ὁ ἐλθὼν πρῶτος εἰς τὸ μνημεῖον, καὶ εἶδε καὶ ἐπίστευσεν· οὐδέπω γὰρ ᾔδεισαν τὴν γραφὴν ὅτι δεῖ αὐτὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν ἀναστῆναι. ἀπῆλθον οὖν πάλιν πρὸς ἑαυτοὺς οἱ μαθηταί.

The Reading is from St. Paul's Letter to the Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:1-6
BRETHREN, since we have a high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. Because of this he is bound to offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people. And one does not take the honor upon himself, but he is called by God, just as Aaron was. So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, "Thou art my Son, today I have begotten thee"; as he says also in another place, "Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek."

Πρὸς Ἑβραίους 4:14-16; 5:1-6
Ἀδελφοί, ἔχοντες οὖν ἀρχιερέα μέγαν, διεληλυθότα τοὺς οὐρανούς, Ἰησοῦν τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ θεοῦ, κρατῶμεν τῆς ὁμολογίας. Οὐ γὰρ ἔχομεν ἀρχιερέα μὴ δυνάμενον συμπαθῆσαι ταῖς ἀσθενείαις ἡμῶν, πεπειραμένον δὲ κατὰ πάντα καθʼ ὁμοιότητα, χωρὶς ἁμαρτίας. Προσερχώμεθα οὖν μετὰ παρρησίας τῷ θρόνῳ τῆς χάριτος, ἵνα λάβωμεν ἔλεον, καὶ χάριν εὕρωμεν εἰς εὔκαιρον βοήθειαν. Πᾶς γὰρ ἀρχιερεύς, ἐξ ἀνθρώπων λαμβανόμενος, ὑπὲρ ἀνθρώπων καθίσταται τὰ πρὸς τὸν θεόν, ἵνα προσφέρῃ δῶρά τε καὶ θυσίας ὑπὲρ ἁμαρτιῶν· μετριοπαθεῖν δυνάμενος τοῖς ἀγνοοῦσιν καὶ πλανωμένοις, ἐπεὶ καὶ αὐτὸς περίκειται ἀσθένειαν· καὶ διὰ ταύτην ὀφείλει, καθὼς περὶ τοῦ λαοῦ, οὕτως καὶ περὶ ἑαυτοῦ, προσφέρειν ὑπὲρ ἁμαρτιῶν. Καὶ οὐχ ἑαυτῷ τις λαμβάνει τὴν τιμήν, ἀλλὰ καλούμενος ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ, καθάπερ καὶ Ἀαρών. Οὕτως καὶ ὁ Χριστὸς οὐχ ἑαυτὸν ἐδόξασεν γενηθῆναι ἀρχιερέα, ἀλλʼ ὁ λαλήσας πρὸς αὐτόν, Υἱός μου εἶ σύ, ἐγὼ σήμερον γεγέννηκά σε. Καθὼς καὶ ἐν ἑτέρῳ λέγει, Σὺ ἱερεὺς εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα κατὰ τὴν τάξιν Μελχισεδέκ.

The Reading is from Mark 8:34-38; 9:1
The Lord said: "If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? For what can a man give in return for his life? For whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of man also be ashamed, when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." And he said to them, "Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power."

Κατὰ Μᾶρκον 8.34-38, 9.1
Εἶπεν ὁ Κύριος· Εἴ τις θέλει ὀπίσω μου ἐλθεῖν, ἀπαρνησάσθω ἑαυτὸν καὶ ἀράτω τὸν σταυρὸν αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἀκολουθείτω μοι. ὃς γὰρ ἂν θέλῃ τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ σῶσαι, ἀπολέσει αὐτήν· ὃς δ᾿ ἂν ἀπολέσῃ τὴν ἑαυτοῦ ψυχὴν ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ καὶ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου, οὗτος σώσει αὐτήν. τί γὰρ ὠφελήσει ἄνθρωπον ἐὰν κερδήσῃ τὸν κόσμον ὅλον, καὶ ζημιωθῇ τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ; ἢ τί δώσει ἄνθρωπος ἀντάλλαγμα τῆς ψυχῆς αὐτοῦ; ὃς γὰρ ἐὰν ἐπαισχυνθῇ με καὶ τοὺς ἐμοὺς λόγους ἐν τῇ γενεᾷ ταύτῃ τῇ μοιχαλίδι καὶ ἁμαρτωλῷ, καὶ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐπαισχυνθήσεται αὐτὸν ὅταν ἔλθῃ ἐν τῇ δόξῃ τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ μετὰ τῶν ἀγγέλων τῶν ἁγίων. Καὶ ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς· ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι εἰσί τινες τῶν ὧδε ἑστηκότων, οἵτινες οὐ μὴ γεύσωνται θανάτου ἕως ἂν ἴδωσι τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐληλυθυῖαν ἐν δυνάμει.

READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:

Τῇ ΙΗ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, μνήμη τοῦ ἐν Ἁγίοις Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Κυρίλλου, Ἀρχιεπισκόπου Ἱεροσολύμων.
Εἴσελθε, κέρδος ἐκ ταλάντων προσφέρων,
Εἰς τὴν χαράν, Κύριλλε, τοῦ σοῦ Κυρίου.
Ὀγδοάτῃ δεκάτῃ θάνατος μέλας εἷλε Κύριλλον.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, οἱ Ἅγιοι Μύριοι Μάρτυρες, τοὺς αὐχένας τμηθέντες, τελειοῦνται.
Τμηθέντες Ἄνδρες Μύριοι τοὺς αὐχένας,.
Ἀπῆλθον ἔνθα μυριόμματοι Νόες.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, μνήμη τῶν Ἁγίων Μαρτύρων Τροφίμου, Εὐκαρπίωνος καὶ τῶν σὺν αὐτοῖς.
Ταῖς αὐτῶν ἁγίαις πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεός, ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.


Reading:
With the help of God, we have almost reached the middle of the course of the Fast, where our strength has been worn down through abstinence, and the full difficulty of the labour set before us becomes apparent. Therefore our holy Mother, the Church of Christ, now brings to our help the all-holy Cross, the joy of the world, the strength of the faithful, the staff of the just, and the hope of sinners, so that by venerating it reverently, we might receive strength and grace to complete the divine struggle of the Fast.

Resurrectional Apolytikion in the Grave Tone
Κατέλυσας τῷ Σταυρῷ σου τὸν θάνατον, ἠνέῳξας τῷ Λῃστῇ τὸν Παράδεισον, τῶν Μυροφόρων τὸν θρῆνον μετέβαλες, καὶ τοῖς σοῖς Ἀποστόλοις κηρύττειν ἐπέταξας, ὅτι ἀνέστης Χριστὲ ὁ Θεός, παρέχων τῷ κόσμῳ τὸ μέγα ἔλεος.
By means of Your Cross, O Lord, You abolished death. * To the robber You opened Paradise. * The lamentation of the myrrhbearing women You transformed, * and You gave Your Apostles the order to proclaim to all * that You had risen, O Christ our God, * and granted the world Your great mercy.

Apolytikion in the First Tone
Σώσον Κύριε τόν λαόν σου καί ευλόγησον τήν κληρονομίαν σου, νίκας τοίς Βασιλεύσι κατά βαρβάρων δωρούμενος καί τό σόν φυλάττων διά τού Σταυρού σου πολίτευμα.
Save, O Lord, Thy people and bless Thine inheritance; grant Thou unto the faithful victory over adversaries. And by the power of Thy Cross do Thou preserve Thy commonwealth.

Seasonal Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Τῇ ὑπερμάχῳ Στρατηγῷ τὰ νικητήρια, Ὡς λυτρωθεῖσα τῶν δεινῶν εὐχαριστήρια, Ἀναγράφω σοι ἡ Πόλις σου Θεοτόκε. Ἀλλ᾿ ὡς ἔχουσα τὸ κράτος ἀπροσμάχητον, Ἐκ παντοίων με κινδύνων ἐλευθέρωσον, Ἵνα κράζω σοι· Χαῖρε, Νύμφη ἀνύμφευτε.
To you, Theotokos, invincible Defender, having been delivered from peril, I, your city, dedicate the victory festival as a thank offering. In your irresistible might, keep me safe from all trials, that I may call out to you: "Hail, unwedded bride!"

Resurrectional Kontakion in the Grave Tone
Ουκέτι τό κράτος τού θανάτου, ισχύσει κατέχειν τούς βροτούς, Χριστός γάρ κατήλθε συντρίβων, καί λύων τάς δυνάμεις αυτού, δεσμείται ο Άδης, Προφήται συμφώνως αγάλλονται. Επέστη λέγοντες Σωτήρ, τοίς εν πίστει, εξέρχεσθε οι πιστοί εις τήν ανάσασιν.
No longer will death's dominion have power to detain mortal men. For Christ went down and smashed and destroyed its powers. Now Hades is bound, and the Prophets in unison exult and declare: The Savior has appeared to those with faith. Come out, you faithful, to the Resurrection.

This Saint was born in 315, and succeeded Maximus as Archbishop of Jerusalem in 350. He was zealous for the Orthodox Faith, and was a defender of the poor. He was exiled three times by the Arian Emperors Constantius and Valens. But after their death, he was recalled to his throne; he reposed in peace in 386. Of his writings, the most prominent are his catechetical lectures, which are considered the most ancient systematic summary of Christian teaching. Before Saint Cyril, there had been two dioceses, one of Jerusalem, and one of Holy Sion; under Saint Cyril, they were united into one bishopric. See also May 7.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Κανόνα πίστεως καί εικόνα πραότητος, εγκρατείας Διδάσκαλον, ανέδειξέ σε τή ποίμνη σου, η τών πραγμάτων αλήθεια, διά τούτο εκτήσω τή ταπεινώσει τά υψηλά, τή πτωχεία τά πλούσια, Πάτερ Ιεράρχα Κύριλλε, πρέσβευε Χριστώ τώ Θεώ, σωθήναι τάς ψυχάς ημών.
The truth of things hath revealed thee to thy flock as a rule of faith, an icon of meekness, and a teacher of temperance; for this cause, thou hast achieved the heights by humility, riches by poverty. O Father and Hierarch Cyril, intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.

Kontakion in the First Tone
Thy speech inspired of God hath enlightened thy people to honour the One God, undivided in essence, yet known and distinguished in His Three Persons, the Trinity. Wherefore, with great joy we keep thy holy remembrance, and we have thee as our intercessor, wise Cyril, to pray unto God for us.

Η διδασκαλία των ιερών ποιμένων και η κατήχηση των πιστών είναι το πρώτο και κύριο έργο της Εκκλησίας. Η Εκκλησία είναι εξουσία και δύναμη πνευματική και δεν χρησιμοποιεί άλλα μέσα για να επιδράση ευεργετικά στους ανθρώπους κι άλλα όπλα για να πολεμήση τους εχθρούς της εκτός από το λόγο. Όποιοι γελάστηκαν και χρησιμοποίησαν υλικά και εγκόσμια όπλα εζημίωσαν την Εκκλησία. Γι' αυτό και σήμερα γίνεται κάθε προσπάθεια για να διαδοθή η αλήθεια με το κήρυγμα και την κατήχηση και με χρησιμοποίηση συγχρόνων τεχνικών μέσων, του Τύπου, του Ραδιοφώνου και ό,τινος άλλου. Ένας από τους ιερούς Πατέρας και Διδασκάλους της Εκκλησίας, που εργάστηκε πολύ στο έργο της κατηχήσεως των πιστών είναι ο άγιος Κύριλλος Πατριάρχης Ιεροσολύμων, του οποίου σήμερα επιτελούμε την μνήμη. Το έργο του αγίου Κυρίλλου "Κατηχήσεις" είναι πλήρες και άρτιο σύστημα χριστιανικής διδασκαλίας.

Ὁ Ἅγιος Κύριλλος Ἀρχιεπίσκοπος Ἱεροσολύμων
Ὁ Κύριλλος ἀποτελεῖ μία ἀπὸ τὶς λαμπρότερες φυσιογνωμίες τῶν Πατέρων καὶ Διδασκάλων τῆς Ἐκκλησίας μας. Γεννήθηκε στὴν Ἱερουσαλήμ, περίπου τὸ 312-315. Τὸ 334 ἔγινε διάκονος καὶ τὸν ἑπόμενο χρόνο ὁ Μάξιμος, ἐπίσκοπος Ἱεροσολύμων, τὸν χειροτόνησε πρεσβύτερο. Ὁ Κύριλλος ἀπὸ τότε διαπρέπει γιὰ τὶς θεολογικές του γνώσεις καὶ τὸν ὀρθόδοξο ζῆλο του. Γι᾿ αὐτὸ καὶ τοῦ ἀνατίθεται στὴν ἐπισκοπὴ Ἱεροσολύμων νὰ κηρύττει τὸ θεῖο λόγο καὶ νὰ διδάσκει τοὺς κατηχουμένους. Τὸ 351 ὁ Μάξιμος πεθαίνει καὶ τότε ὁ Θεὸς ἀξιώνει τὸν Κύριλλο νὰ χειροτονηθεῖ ἐπίσκοπος Ἱεροσολύμων. Αὐτός, ὅμως, δὲν ἀναπαύεται στὶς δάφνες του, ἀλλὰ πολλαπλασιάζει τοὺς κόπους του γιὰ τὴν Ἐκκλησία. Καὶ ἀναδεικνύεται ποιμὴν καὶ διδάσκαλος «πρὸς καταρτισμὸν τῶν ἁγίων εἰς ἔργον διακονίας, εἰς οἰκοδομήν του σώματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ», δηλαδή, μὲ σκοπὸ νὰ καταρτίζονται οἱ χριστιανοὶ καὶ νὰ ἐπιτελεῖται ἔργο διακονίας, ποὺ οἰκοδομεῖ τὸ σῶμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ. Ὁ Κύριλλος τρεῖς φορὲς ἐξορίσθηκε (τὸ 357, 360 καὶ 367) γιὰ τὸ ὀρθόδοξο φρόνημά του καὶ ὑπέστη πολλὲς κακοπάθειες (ἀπὸ τοὺς ἀρειανίζοντες αὐτοκράτορες Κωνστάντιο καὶ Οὐάλη). Τὸ 386 πεθαίνει, ἀφήνοντας πίσω του μία ἀκμάζουσα Ἐκκλησία Ἱεροσολύμων, καθὼς ἐπίσης, πολλὰ θεολογικὰ συγγράμματα, ποὺ τὸ κυριότερο εἶναι οἱ 23 λεγόμενες Κατηχήσεις.

Οἱ Ἅγιοι Τρόφιμος καὶ Εὐκαρπίων
Ἦταν στρατιῶτες καὶ οἱ δυὸ στὴ Νικομήδεια καὶ ἔζησαν στὰ χρόνια τοῦ Διοκλητιανοῦ. Εἰδωλολάτρες στὴν ἀρχή, ἐδίωκαν σκληρὰ τοὺς χριστιανούς, συνέπρατταν μάλιστα στὶς φυλακίσεις καὶ τοὺς βασανισμούς τους. Ἀλλ᾿ ὁ Χριστὸς ἔκανε τὸ θαῦμα του καὶ ἐπὶ τῶν διωκτῶν αὐτῶν. Ἡ χάρη Του ἄνοιξε τὰ μάτια τους καὶ τοὺς ἔφερε στὴν πίστη Του. Ἔνθερμοι δὲ τώρα χριστιανοὶ καὶ κήρυκες τοῦ Λυτρωτῆ τους, διαλαλοῦσαν ἐλεύθερα τὸ ὄνομά Του καὶ προσπαθοῦσαν νὰ πολλαπλασιάζουν τὶς φάλαγγες τῶν ὀπαδῶν Του. Ὅταν καταγγέλθηκαν στὴ Νικομήδεια, ἔμειναν σταθεροὶ στὴν ὁμολογία τους καὶ καταδικάστηκαν σὲ θάνατο. Στὴν ἀρχὴ ἔσχισαν τὶς σάρκες τους μὲ σιδερένια ὄργανα, καὶ κατόπιν τοὺς θανάτωσαν ἀφοῦ τοὺς ἔριξαν μέσα σὲ ἀναμμένο καμίνι.

Οἱ Ἅγιοι μύριοι (10.000) Μάρτυρες
Μαρτύρησαν διὰ ξίφους, Ἴσως στὴ Νικομήδεια.

Ὁ Ὅσιος Ἀνανίας ὁ Θαυματουργός
Ἡ μνήμη του ἀναγράφεται στὸ Λαυριωτικὸ Κώδικα 70. Ἀπὸ μικρὸ παιδὶ ὁ Ὅσιος Ἀνανίας ἀφιέρωσε τὴν ζωή του στὸν ἀσκητικὸ μοναχισμὸ καὶ λόγω τῆς μεγάλης του ἀρετῆς ὁ Θεὸς τὸν ἀξίωσε νὰ θαυτουργῇ. Ὁ συγκεκριμένος Κώδικας γράφει ὅτι μὲ τὴν προσευχή του νέκρωσε ἕναν δράκοντα, ἐπίσης ἀνέστησε νεκρὸ ἄνθρωπο, ἔβγαλε πολλὰ δαιμόνια ἀπὸ δαιμονισμένους καὶ ἀφοῦ προεῖδε καὶ τὸν θάνατό του, ἀπεβίωσε εἰρηνικά.

Ὁ Ἅγιος Edward (Ἄγγλος)
Λεπτομέρειες γιὰ τὴν ζωὴ αὐτοῦ τοῦ ἁγίου τῆς Ὀρθοδοξίας, μπορεῖ νὰ βρεῖ ὁ ἀναγνώστης στὸ βιβλίο «Οἱ Ἅγιοι τῶν Βρεττανικῶν Νήσων», τοῦ Χριστόφορου Κων. Κομμοδάτου, ἐπισκόπου Τελμησσοῦ, Ἀθῆναι 1985.

St Cyril, archbishop of Jerusalem (386)
He was born in Jerusalem in 315, ordained to the priesthood in 346, and succeeded Maximus as Archbishop of Jerusalem in 350. He was exiled three times by the Arian Emperors Constantius and Valens for his unwavering defense of the Faith. Restored by the Emperor Theodosius, he did not return to the throne, but lived for eight years in peace before reposing in 386.
He was known to all his people as a tireless defender of the poor, and as a great ascetic. He was gentle and humble in his bearing, pale and gaunt from fasting. He struggled throughout his time against the Arian heresy, which had become very strong, claiming the allegiance even of the Emperors. In addition, he lived through the reign of Julian the Apostate, who tried by many means to weaken and undermine the Church and the Christian Faith.
Of St Cyril's many writings, the best-known are his Catecheses, considered the oldest systematic summary of Christian teaching.

St Ananias (Aninus) the Wonderworker (?)
"Born in Chalcedon, he was little of stature, like Zaccheus, but great in spirit and faith. He denied himself to the world at the age of fifteen and settled near the River Euphrates in a little hut, where he atoned for his sins, and prayed to God, at first with his teacher Mayum and then, after Mayum's death, alone. By the power of his prayers he filled an empty well with water, healed the sick of various pains and tamed wild beasts. There was a tamed lion with him as his servant. He had insight into distant happenings. When robbers attacked a stylite, Pionius, at some distance from him, and beat him up to such an extent that he decided to come down from his pillar and go to complain to the judges, St Aninus saw his intention in his soul and sent him a letter by means of his lion, telling him to set aside his intention, to forgive his assaulters and to continue in his asceticism. He was inexpressibly generous. The bishop of Neo-Caesarea made a gift to him of a donkey, to ease his carrying of water from the river, but he gave this donkey to some poor man who had complained to him of his poverty. The bishop gave him a second donkey, but he gave that away. Then the bishop gave him a third donkey, not for his own but only to serve as a water-carrier, to be kept and returned. At the time of his death, he saw Moses, Aaron and Or coming to him and calling: 'Aninus, the Lord is calling you. Get up and come with us.' This he revealed to his disciples, and gave his spirit to the Lord whom he had served so faithfully. He was 110 years old when he finished his earthly course." (Prologue)

Saint Nikolai (Velimirovic), Bishop of Ochrid and Zica, Serbia (1956)
He has been called 'The New Chrysostom' for his many grace-filled sermons and writings.
He was born in 1880 in the Serbian village of Lelich. After attending the Seminary of St Sava in Belgrade, he obtained doctoral degrees from both the University of Berne and Oxford University. In 1919, Archimandrite Nikolai was made Bishop of Zica.
In 1941 Bishop Nikolai was arrested by the Nazis and, after three years' imprisonment in Ljubostir Vojlovici Monastery, was sent to the infamous Dachau concentration camp along with the Serbian Patriarch Gavrilo. He both witnessed and personally underwent many tortures there until the camp was liberated by the US army in 1945.
After the war he fled Communist-controlled Yugoslavia and emigrated to the United States, where he taught at St Sava's Seminary, St Vladimir Seminary and St Tikhon seminary. It was at St Tikhon Seminary that he reposed in 1956. His relics rested for awhile at St Sava's Seminary in Libertyville IL, then were returned to Serbia, where they now reside.
Throughout his adult life, the holy monk and bishop poured forth a steady stream of beautiful homilies and theological and spiritual writings. He is the author of the Prologue from Ochrid, a Slavic Synaxarion. The luminous homilies included therein, one for each day of the year, give a good sample of his inspired writing.


Menologion 3.0

Saint Cyril, Archbishop of Jerusalem, was born in Jerusalem in the year 315 and was raised in strict Christian piety. Having reached the age of maturity, he became a monk, and in the year 346 he became a presbyter. In the year 350, upon the death of archbishop Maximos, he succeeded him upon the Jerusalem cathedra-seat.
In the dignity of Patriarch of Jerusalem, Saint Cyril zealously fought against the heresies of Arius and Macedonias. In doing so, he brought upon himself the animosity of the Arianising bishops, who sought to have him deposed and banished from Jerusalem.
In the year 351 at Jerusalem, on the feastday of Pentecost at the 3rd hour of the day, there occurred a miraculous portent: the Holy Cross appeared in the heavens, shining with a radiant light. It stretched forth from Golgotha over the Mount of Olives. Saint Cyril reported about this portent to the Arian emperor Constantius (351-363), hoping to convert him to Orthodoxy.
The heretic Akakios -- deposed by the Council of Sardica, was formerly the metropolitan of Caesarea, and in collaboration with the emperor he resolved to have Saint Cyril removed. An intense famine struck Jerusalem, and Saint Cyril went through all his own wealth on acts of charity. But since the famine did not abate, the saint began to pawn off church items, buying on the money in exchange wheat for the starving. The enemies of the saint mongered about a scandalous rumour, that they had apparently seen a woman in the city dancing around in clergy garb. And taking advantage of this rumour, the heretics by force threw out the saint.
The saint found shelter with bishop Siluan in Tarsus. After this, a Local Council gathered at Seleucia, at which there were about 150 bishops, and among them Saint Cyril. The heretical metropolitan Akakios did not want to allow him to take a seat, but the Council would not consent to this. Akakios thereupon quit the Council and in front of the emperor and the Arian patriarch Eudoxios he denounced both the Council and Saint Cyril. The emperor had the saint imprisoned.
When the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363) ascended the throne, seemingly out of piety he repealed all the decrees of Constantius, directed against the Orthodox. Saint Cyril returned to his own flock. But after a certain while, when Julian had become secure upon the throne, he openly apostacised and renounced Christ. He permitted the Jews to start rebuilding the Jerusalem Temple that had been destroyed by the Romans, and he even provided them a portion of the means for the building from state monies. Saint Cyril predicted, that the words of the Saviour about the destruction of the Temple down to its very stones (Lk. 21: 6) would undoubtedly transpire, and the blasphemous intent of Julian would come to naught. And thus one time there occurred such a powerful earthquake, that even the solidly set foundation of the ancient Solomon Temple shifted in its place, and what had been erected anew fell down and shattered in dust. When the Jews nevertheless started construction anew, a fire came down from the heavens and destroyed the tools of the workmen. Great terror seized everyone. And on the following night there appeared on the garb of the Jews the Sign of the Cross, which they by no means could extirpate.
After this Heavenly confirmation of the prediction of Saint Cyril, they banished him again, and the cathedra-seat was occupied by Saint Kyriakos. But Saint Kyriakos soon suffered a martyr's death (+ 363, Comm. 28 October).
After the emperor Julian perished in 363, Saint Cyril returned to his cathedra-seat, but during the reign of the emperor Valens (364-378) he was sent into exile for a third time. It was only under the holy emperor Saint Theodosius the Great (379-395) that he finally returned to his archpastoral activity. In the year 381 Saint Cyril participated in the Second OEcumenical Council, which condemned the heresy of Macedonias and affirmed the Nicea-Constantinople Credal-Symbol of Faith.
Of the works of Saint Cyril, particularly known are 23 Instructions (18 are Catechetical for those preparing to accept Holy Baptism, and 5 are for the newly-baptised) and 2 Discourses on Gospel themes: "About the Paralytic" and "Concerning the Transformation of Water into Wine at Cana".
At the basis of the Catechetical Instructions is a detailed explanation of the Symbol of Faith. The saint suggests that the Christian should inscribe the Symbol of Faith upon "the tablets of the heart". "The articles of the faith, -- teaches Saint Cyril, -- were compiled not through human cleverness, but has therein gathered everything most important from all the entire Scripture, and as such it is compiled into a single teaching of faith. Just as the mustard seed within its small kernel has within it contained all its plethora of branches, thus precisely also does the faith in its several declarations combine all the pious teachings of the Old and the New Testaments".
Saint Cyril died in the year 386.

The Holy Martyrs Trophymos and Eukarpios were soldiers at Nicomedia during the time of the persecution against Christians under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). They distinguished themselves by their great ferocity in carrying out all the decrees of the emperor. One time, when these soldiers had caught up with some Christians, they suddenly saw a large fiery cloud which had come down from the sky, thickening in form nigh close to them. From out of the cloud came forth the Voice: "Why are ye so zealous in threatening My servants? Be not deluded: no one by their own powers can suppress those believing in Me, but better it is to join unto them and discover yourselves the Heavenly Kingdom". The soldiers in fright fell to the ground, not daring to lift up their eyes, and only said each to the other: "Truly it is the great God, manifest now unto us. We would do well to become His servants". The Lord then spake saying: "Rise up, repent, for unto ye is forgiveness of your sins". Having gotten up, they beheld within the cloud the image of a Radiant Man and a great multitude standing about Him. The astonished soldiers with one voice cried out: "Receive us, for our sins be inexpressibly wicked. No other is there a God besides Thee, the Creator and One True God, and we are not yet conjoined with Thine servants". But just as they spoke this, the cloud receded and rose up to the sky. Spiritually reborn after this miracle, the soldiers released all the incarcerated Christians from the prisons. For this Saints Trophymos and Eukarpios were handed over to terrible torments: they suspended the saints and tore at their bodies with iron hooks. They in prayer gave thanks unto God, in firm belief that the Lord would forgive them their former grievous sins. And when there was lighted up a bon-fire, the holy martyrs went willingly into the fire and there gave up their souls to God.

The Monk Aninos the Monastic was born at Chalcedon into a Christian family. After the death of his parents, he withdrew at age fifteen into a monastery, where he received monastic tonsure. In search of complete quietude he went off into the depths of the wilderness, where the River Euphrates separates Syria from Persia. There he came upon an elder named Maium and settled together with him. Both ascetics led a very strict life. During the whole Forty-Day Great Lent they ate nothing, taking delight and joy instead in spiritual nourishment.
Saint Aninos every day carried drinking water from afar. One time he returned with full water pitchers earlier than usual, since an Angel had filled the vessels with water. the elder Maium realised, that his student had attained to high spiritual accomplishment, and he in turn besought Saint Aninos to become his guide, but that one out of humility refused. Afterwards the elder re-settled into a monastery, and Saint Aninos remained alone in the wilderness.
By constant exertions the saint conquered the passions within himself, and he was granted gifts of healing and perspicacity. Even the wild beasts became docile and served him. Wherever the saint went, two lions followed after him, one of which he had healed of an hurt on the paw. Accounts about the saint spread throughout all the surrounding area, and the sick and those afflicted by evil spirits began to come to him, seeking healing. Several students likewise gathered around the saint. One time, in his seventeenth year as an ascetic, several men had come to the saint and asked for something to quench their thirst. Trusting on the power of God, the monk sent one of his disciples to a dried-up well. By a miracle of God this well filled up to its very top, and this water remained for many days. When the water ended, the monk did not dare to ask a miracle for himself, and by night he himself began to carry water from the Euphrates. The Neocaesarea bishop Patrikios repeatedly visited the monk and ordained him presbyter, although the humble ascetic was resolved not to accept the priestly dignity. And having learned, that the saint himself carried water from afar off, bishop Patrikios twice gave him donkeys, but the monk each time gave them away to the poor and continued to carry the water himself. Then the bishop gave orders to dig out a large well, which from time to time they filled, bringing donkeys from the city.
Saint Aninos discerned the desire of a certain pillar-dweller monk, asceticising afar off from him, to come down off his pillar and make a complaint in court against a robber, who had hurt him with a stone. Saint Aninos wrote a letter to the pillar-dweller, advising him not to carry out his intent. The letter of the monk was conveyed to the pillar-dweller by a trusty lion, and it brought him to his senses.
A certain pious woman, having fallen ill, set out to the Monk Aninos to ask prayers of him. Along the way a robber chanced upon her. Not finding any money on the woman, he decided to commit an act of violence and force her into sin. The woman called on the help of the monk and cried out: "Saint Aninos, help me!" Terror suddenly overcame the robber, and he let go the woman. Having continued on to the monk, the woman told him about everything and received healing. And the robber in repentance likewise came to the monk, accepted Baptism and tonsure as a monk. The spear, which he thrust into the ground, back when he had intended to commit his act of violence, grew up into a mighty oak.
At the extreme old age of 110 the saint foretold the time of his end, and he directed his successor as hegumen to gather the brethren.
Before his death Saint Aninos conversed with the holy Prophets Moses, Aaron and Or [or Hur: vide Ex. 24: 14], and with the words: "Lord, receive my soul", the saint expired to the Lord.

The 10,000 Martyrs of Nicomedia were beheaded after false denunciations against Christians were made at the instigation of the court.

The Monk Daniel asceticised in Egypt in the VI Century. At the instigation of the devil they accused him of profligacy, and he endured without complaint all the unjust abuse, taking comfort in the words of the Lord: "Blessed are ye, when men shalt revile you... and shalt say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake" (Mt. 5: 11). The saint was the teacher of the Monk Anastasias the Patrician (Comm. 10 March).

The Monk Kirill (Cyril) of Astrakhan was archimandrite of the Trinity monastery in Astrakhan. He had been sent as hegumen to the newly-built monastery in the year 1568. The monk constructed at the monastery temples in honour of the MostHoly Trinity, the Entry of the MostHoly Mother of God into the Temple, and Saint Nicholas. He zealously concerned himself with the enlightening of the Astrakhan region, and by his meekness and piety he gained the respect of even the Mahometans, -- who called him the Kara-Daud (the Black David) in distinction from the holy Prophet King David. The monk died in about the year 1576. The icon of the saint was written in 1676 through a vow of Emel'yan Paphent'ev, whom the Monk Kirill had saved when he was drowning in the Volga. The Vita (Life of the saint was compiled in the year 1790, and a tropar and kondak to him is known. The Church established the feastday in memory of the Monk Kirill under 18 March [probably on the basis of his name-in-common with Saint Cyril of Jerusalem].

THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:

1. SAINT CYRIL, ARCHBISHOP OF JERUSALEM
Cyril was born in Jerusalem during the reign of Constantine the Great and died during the reign of Theodosius the Great [315-386 A.D.] He was ordained a priest in 346 A.D. and succeeded to the throne of Blessed Maximus, Patriarch of Jerusalem in 350 A.D. On three occasions he was dethroned and banished into exile until finally, during the reign of Theodosius, he was restored and lived peacefully for eight years and then gave up his soul to the Lord. He underwent two difficult struggles: one, against the Arians, who became powerful under Constantius, the son of Constantine, and the other during the reign of Julian the Apostate [this turncoat] and with the Jews. At the time of the dominance of the Arians and on the Day of Pentecost, a sign of the cross, brighter than the sun, appeared which stretched over Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives and lasted for several hours from the ninth hour in the morning. Concerning this phenomenon, seen by all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, a report was written to Emperor Constantius which served much in establishing Orthodoxy against the heretics. During the time of the Apostate, still another sign occurred. In order to humiliate the Christians Julian persuaded the Jews to restore the Temple of Solomon. Cyril prayed to God that this not happen. There was a terrible earthquake which destroyed all that had been newly built. Then the Jews began restoration anew. Again, there was an earthquake which destroyed not only the newly constructed portion but overturned and scattered the old stones beneath the ground which supported the Temple. And so the words of the Lord came true that "there will not be left here a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down" (St. Matthew 13:2 - St. Luke 2:6). Among the many writings of this holy father is his Catechetical Discourses, a first class work preserved to the present which confirms the faith and practice of Orthodoxy. This saint was a unique arch-pastor and a great ascetic. He was meek and humble, exhausted from fasting, and pallid. After a life of many labors and noble struggles for the Orthodox Faith, Cyril peacefully died and took up habitation in the eternal court of the Lord.

2. ANINUS, THE WONDER-WORKER
Aninus was born in Chalcedon. He was of short stature as was Zacchaeus of old but great in spirit and faith. He withdrew from the world in his fifteenth year and settled in a hut near the Euphrates river where he prayed to God and atoned for his sins, at first with his teacher Mayum and, after his death, alone. Through the power of his prayers, he replenished a dry well with water, healed the sick of various maladies and tamed wild beasts. A trained lion accompanied him and was at his service at all times. He discerned the future. When Pionius, a stylite,was attacked and badly beaten by robbers some distance away from Aninus, Pionius decided to descend from the pillar and proceed to complain to the judges. St. Aninus "discerned the soul" of this stylite and his intention. He sent a letter to Pionius, by his lion, counseling him to abandon his intention, to forgive his assailants and to continue in his asceticism. His charity was inexpressible. The bishop of Neo-Caesarea presented him with a donkey in order to ease the burden of carrying water from the river, but he gave the donkey to a needy man who had complained to him about his poverty. The bishop presented him with another donkey and he gave that one away. Finally, the bishop gave him a third donkey, not only to serve as a water-carrier but one that Aninus was to care for and to return. Before his death Aninus saw Moses, Aaron and Or [Egyptian Ascetic] approaching him, and they called out to him, "Aninus, the Lord is calling you, arise and come with us." He revealed this to his disciples and gave up his soul to the Lord, Whom he faithfully served. He was one-hundred ten years old when his earthly life was ended.

HYMN OF PRAISE
SAINT CYRIL OF JERUSALEM
A large sanctuary light glows before the Altar,
And a small sanctuary light with a smaller flame,
But one and the other gives off the same light
And before the same God, they shine with a glow.
Both, great saints and lesser saints
With the same flame of Christ set on fire.
Among the great saints, a large sanctuary lamp,
Holy Church numbers Saint Cyril.
The Faith, he explained and confirmed,
Whatever he said in words, he confirmed by his life.
His word was of the Holy Spirit,
And his life, a reflection of the flame of heaven.
Arius he shamed and Julian he crushed,
And to many ailing souls he was a balm.
From word to word, he believed Christ
Therefore his word resounds as gold;
And continues today, the weak and those of little faith,
He encourages and makes joyful the right-believers in Christ.
That is why the Church glorifies and honors Cyril,
Throughout the centuries, the name of Cyril echoes.

REFLECTION
There are many vindictive people who think that time brought greatness to Christ, and how, in the early centuries of Christianity, the Lord was not thought of as highly as He was thought of in later times. Nothing is easier than to squelch this untruth. Here is the way St. Cyril of Jerusalem writes about the Lord Christ, "This is He Who is and He Who was, [He Is] consubstantial with the Father, [He Is] the Only-Begotten, [He Is] equally enthroned, [He Is] equal in power, [He Is] Almighty, [He Is] without beginning, [He Is] uncreated, [He Is] unchangeable, [He Is] indescribable, [He Is] invisible, [He Is] inexpressible, [He Is] incomprehensible, [He Is] immeasurable, [He Is] unfathomable, [He Is] uncircumscribed. He is the "brightness of His [Father's] Glory" (Hebrews 1:13). He is the Creator [Author] of the substance of all things created. He is the Light of Light, shining from the bosom of the Father. He is God of gods "that such is God, Our God forever and ever" (Psalm 48:15),and God of God who gives us knowledge of Himself. He is the Fountain of Life "For with you is the Fountain of our life" (Psalm 36:9), flowing from the Father's Fountain of life. He is the River of God; "There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God" (Psalm 46:4), "The river of God is full of water" (Psalm 65:9) Who comes forth from the infinity of God but is not separated from Him. He is the Treasury of the Father's good gifts and endless blessings. He is the Living Water that gives life to the world. "But whoever drinks the water I shall give you will never thirst; the water I shall give you will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life" (St. John 4:14). He is the uncreated light that is begotten but not separated from the First Sun. He is God the Word [Logos]; "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (St. John 1:1), Who with one word [He] brought forth all things from non-existence into being. "All things came to be through Him, and without Him nothing came to be" (St. John 1:3). This is He Who created us in the image of God and has now made Himself man in our image, but at the same time God. Even today, after sixteen centuries since this Confession of Faith was written, the Orthodox Church adheres to this same Faith, word for word and letter for letter.

CONTEMPLATION
To contemplate the Lord Jesus mocked on the cross:
1. How they write this scorn above his head, "King of the Jews" St. Matthew 27:37 - St. Mark 15-27 - St. Luke 23:38);
2. How those passing by scorned Him, shaking their heads and reviling Him;
3. How even the thief on the cross reviles Him;
4. How even throughout the centuries the persecutors of the Christians scorn Him.

HOMILY
About the King who does not wish to defend Himself with an army
"Do you think that I cannot call uponMy Father and He will not provide Me at this moment with more than twelve legions of angels" (St. Matthew 26:53).
Thus spoke the Lord to the disciple who drew the sword to defend his Teacher in the Garden of Gethsemane. It is obvious from these words that the Lord could have defended Himself, if He wanted to, not only from Judas and his company of guards, but also from Pilate and the leaders of the Jews. For the might of one angel is greater than the greatest army of men, much less the might of twelve legions of angels.
The Lord did not want to seek this help from the Father. In His prayer in Gethsemane, He said to His Father, "Let Your will be done" (St. Matthew 26:42). With that, He immediately knew the Will of the Father and that it was necessary that He be given over to suffering. He was in agreement with the Will of His Father and set out on the path of suffering. It was necessary to allow the background to be portrayed gloomier in order that the resurrection would be brighter. It was necessary to allow evil to compete as much as it could so that, afterwards, it would explode and disintegrate into nothing. It was necessary to allow evil to cry aloud so that, soon after, it would become speechless before the miraculous resurrection. It was necessary that all the wicked deeds of men against God be manifested so that they would be able to see and appraise the love and mercy of God toward mankind. The angels of God were not sent to defend Christ from the Jews; rather, the angels of God were sent, after three days, to announce the holy resurrection of Christ.
O Lord, All-Powerful and All-Merciful, have mercy on us and save us!