FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:
Beheading of the Holy and Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John
Theodora of Thessaloniki
Anastasios the New Martyr of Bulgaria
Ἡ ἀποτομή τῆς τιμίας Κεφαλῆς τοῦ Τιμίου καί Ἐνδόξου Προφήτου, Προδρόμου καί Βαπτιστοῦ Ἰωάννου.
READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:
The Reading is from Matthew 14:1-13
At that time, Herod the tetrarch heard about the fame of Jesus; and he said to his servants, "This is John the Baptist; he has been raised from the dead; that is why these powers are at work in him." For Herod had seized John and bound him and put him in prison, for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife; because John said to him, "It is not lawful for you to have her." And though he wanted to put him to death, he feared the people, because they held him to be a prophet. But when Herod's birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company and pleased Herod, so that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. Prompted by her mother, she said, "Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter." And the king was sorry; but because of his oaths and his guests he commanded it to be given; he sent and had John beheaded in the prison, and his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. And his disciples came and took the body and buried it; and they went and told Jesus. Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a lonely place apart. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns.
Κατὰ Ματθαῖον 14.1-13
Τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ, ἤκουσεν ῾Ηρῴδης ὁ τετράρχης τὴν ἀκοὴν ᾿Ιησοῦ. καὶ εἶπε τοῖς παισὶν αὐτοῦ· οὗτός ἐστιν ᾿Ιωάννης ὁ βαπτιστής· αὐτὸς ἠγέρθη ἀπὸ τῶν νεκρῶν, καὶ διὰ τοῦτο αἱ δυνάμεις ἐνεργοῦσιν ἐν αὐτῷ. ὁ γὰρ ῾Ηρῴδης κρατήσας τὸν ᾿Ιωάννην ἔδησεν αὐτὸν καὶ ἔθετο ἐν φυλακῇ διὰ ῾Ηρῳδιάδα τὴν γυναῖκα Φιλίππου τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ. ἔλεγε γὰρ αὐτῷ ὁ ᾿Ιωάννης· οὐκ ἔξεστί σοι ἔχειν αὐτήν. καὶ θέλων αὐτὸν ἀποκτεῖναι ἐφοβήθη τὸν ὄχλον, ὅτι ὡς προφήτην αὐτὸν εἶχον. γενεσίων δὲ ἀγομένων τοῦ ῾Ηρῴδου ὠρχήσατο ἡ θυγάτηρ τῆς ῾Ηρῳδιάδος ἐν τῷ μέσῳ καὶ ἤρεσε τῷ ῾Ηρῴδη· ὅθεν μεθ᾿ ὅρκου ὡμολόγησεν αὐτῇ δοῦναι ὃ ἐὰν αἰτήσηται. ἡ δέ, προβιβασθεῖσα ὑπὸ τῆς μητρὸς αὐτῆς, δός μοι, φησίν, ὧδε ἐπὶ πίνακι τὴν κεφαλὴν ᾿Ιωάννου τοῦ βαπτιστοῦ. καὶ ἐλυπήθη ὁ βασιλεύς, διὰ δὲ τοὺς ὅρκους καὶ τοὺς συνανακειμένους ἐκέλευσε δοθῆναι, καὶ πέμψας ἀπεκεφάλισε τὸν ᾿Ιωάννην ἐν τῇ φυλακῇ. καὶ ἠνέχθη ἡ κεφαλὴ αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ πίνακι καὶ ἐδόθη τῷ κορασίῳ, καὶ ἤνεγκε τῇ μητρὶ αὐτῆς. καὶ προσελθόντες οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ ἦραν τὸ σῶμα καὶ ἔθαψαν αὐτό, καὶ ἐλθόντες ἀπήγγειλαν τῷ ᾿Ιησοῦ. ᾿Ακούσας δὲ ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς ἀνεχώρησεν ἐκεῖθεν ἐν πλοίῳ εἰς ἔρημον τόπον κατ᾿ ἰδίαν· καὶ ἀκούσαντες οἱ ὄχλοι ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ πεζῇ ἀπὸ τῶν πόλεων.
The Reading is from Acts of the Apostles 13:25-33
IN THOSE DAYS, as John was finishing his course, he said, "What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie." Brethren, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you that fear God, to us has been sent the message of this salvation. For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets which are read every sabbath, fulfilled these by condemning him. Though they could charge him with nothing deserving death, yet they asked Pilate to have him killed. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead; and for many days he appeared to those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people. And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus.
Πράξεις Ἀποστόλων 13:25-33
Ἐν ταῖς ἡμεραῖς ἐκείναις, ὡς δὲ ἐπλήρου ὁ Ἰωάννης τὸν δρόμον, ἔλεγεν, Τίνα με ὑπονοεῖτε εἶναι; Οὐκ εἰμὶ ἐγώ. Ἀλλʼ ἰδού, ἔρχεται μετʼ ἐμέ, οὗ οὐκ εἰμὶ ἄξιος τὸ ὑπόδημα τῶν ποδῶν λῦσαι. Ἄνδρες ἀδελφοί, υἱοὶ γένους Ἀβραάμ, καὶ οἱ ἐν ὑμῖν φοβούμενοι τὸν θεόν, ὑμῖν ὁ λόγος τῆς σωτηρίας ταύτης ἀπεστάλη. Οἱ γὰρ κατοικοῦντες ἐν Ἱερουσαλὴμ καὶ οἱ ἄρχοντες αὐτῶν, τοῦτον ἀγνοήσαντες, καὶ τὰς φωνὰς τῶν προφητῶν τὰς κατὰ πᾶν σάββατον ἀναγινωσκομένας, κρίναντες ἐπλήρωσαν. Καὶ μηδεμίαν αἰτίαν θανάτου εὑρόντες, ᾐτήσαντο Πιλάτον ἀναιρεθῆναι αὐτόν. Ὡς δὲ ἐτέλεσαν πάντα τὰ περὶ αὐτοῦ γεγραμμένα, καθελόντες ἀπὸ τοῦ ξύλου, ἔθηκαν εἰς μνημεῖον. Ὁ δὲ θεὸς ἤγειρεν αὐτὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν· ὃς ὤφθη ἐπὶ ἡμέρας πλείους τοῖς συναναβᾶσιν αὐτῷ ἀπὸ τῆς Γαλιλαίας εἰς Ἱερουσαλήμ, οἵτινές εἰσιν μάρτυρες αὐτοῦ πρὸς τὸν λαόν. Καὶ ἡμεῖς ὑμᾶς εὐαγγελιζόμεθα τὴν πρὸς τοὺς πατέρας ἐπαγγελίαν γενομένην, ὅτι ταύτην ὁ θεὸς ἐκπεπλήρωκεν τοῖς τέκνοις αὐτῶν ἡμῖν, ἀναστήσας Ἰησοῦν· ὡς καὶ ἐν τῷ ψαλμῷ τῷ δευτέρῳ γέγραπται, Υἱός μου εἶ σύ, ἐγὼ σήμερον γεγέννηκά σε.
The Reading is from Mark 6:14-30
At that time, King Herod heard that Jesus' name had become known. Some said, "John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; that is why these powers are at work in him." But others said, "It is Elijah." And others said, "It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old." But when Herod heard of it he said, "John, whom I beheaded, has been raised." For Herod had sent and seized John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife; because he had married her. For John said to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and kept him safe. When he heard him, he was much perplexed; and yet he heard him gladly. But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and the leading men of Galilee. For when Herodias' daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, "Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will grant it." And he vowed to her, "Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom." And she went out, and said to her mother, "What shall I ask?" And she said, "The head of John the baptizer." And she came in immediately with haste to the king, and asked, saying, "I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter." And the king was exceedingly sorry; but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. And immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard and gave orders to bring his head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb. The apostles returned to Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught.
Κατὰ Μᾶρκον 6.14-30
Τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ, ἤκουσεν ὁ βασιλεὺς ῾Ηρῴδης· φανερὸν γὰρ ἐγένετο τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ· καὶ ἔλεγεν ὅτι ᾿Ιωάννης ὁ βαπτίζων ἐκ νεκρῶν ἠγέρθη, καὶ διὰ τοῦτο ἐνεργοῦσιν αἱ δυνάμεις ἐν αὐτῷ. ἄλλοι ἔλεγον ὅτι ᾿Ηλίας ἐστίν· ἄλλοι δὲ ἔλεγον ὅτι προφήτης ἐστὶν ὡς εἷς τῶν προφητῶν.ἀκούσας δὲ ὁ ῾Ηρῴδης εἶπεν ὅτι ὃν ἐγὼ ἀπεκεφάλισα ᾿Ιωάννην, οὗτός ἐστιν· αὐτὸς ἠγέρθη ἐκ νεκρῶν. αὐτὸς γὰρ ὁ ῾Ηρῴδης ἀποστείλας ἐκράτησε τὸν ᾿Ιωάννην καὶ ἔδησεν αὐτὸν ἐν φυλακῇ διὰ ῾Ηρῳδιάδα τὴν γυναῖκα Φιλίππου τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ, ὅτι αὐτὴν ἐγάμησεν.ἔλεγε γὰρ ὁ ᾿Ιωάννης τῷ ῾Ηρῴδῃ ὅτι οὐκ ἔξεστί σοι ἔχειν τὴν γυναῖκα τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ σου. ἡ δὲ ῾Ηρῳδιὰς ἐνεῖχεν αὐτῷ καὶ ἤθελεν αὐτὸν ἀποκτεῖναι, καὶ οὐκ ἠδύνατο. ὁ γὰρ ῾Ηρῴδης ἐφοβεῖτο τὸν ᾿Ιωάννην, εἰδὼς αὐτὸν ἄνδρα δίκαιον καὶ ἅγιον, καὶ συνετήρει αὐτόν, καὶ ἀκούσας αὐτοῦ πολλὰ ἐποίει καὶ ἡδέως αὐτοῦ ἤκουε. καὶ γενομένης ἡμέρας εὐκαίρου, ὅτε ῾Ηρῴδης τοῖς γενεσίοις αὐτοῦ δεῖπνον ἐποίει τοῖς μεγιστᾶσιν αὐτοῦ καὶ τοῖς χιλιάρχοις καὶ τοῖς πρώτοις τῆς Γαλιλαίας, καὶ εἰσελθούσης τῆς θυγατρὸς αὐτῆς τῆς ῾Ηρῳδιάδος καὶ ὀρχησαμένης καὶ ἀρεσάσης τῷ ῾Ηρῴδῃ καὶ τοῖς συνανακειμένοις, εἶπεν ὁ βασιλεὺς τῷ κορασίῳ· αἴτησόν με ὃ ἐὰν θέλῃς, καὶ δώσω σοι.καὶ ὤμοσεν αὐτῇ ὅτι ὃ ἐάν με αἰτήσῃς δώσω σοι, ἕως ἡμίσους τῆς βασιλείας μου. ἡ δὲ ἐξελθοῦσα εἶπε τῇ μητρὶ αὐτῆς· τί αἰτήσομαι; ἡ δὲ εἶπε· τὴν κεφαλὴν ᾿Ιωάννου τοῦ βαπτιστοῦ. καὶ εἰσελθοῦσα εὐθέως μετὰ σπουδῆς πρὸς τὸν βασιλέα ᾐτήσατο λέγουσα· θέλω ἵνα μοι δῷς ἐξαυτῆς ἐπὶ πίνακι τὴν κεφαλὴν ᾿Ιωάννου τοῦ βαπτιστοῦ. καὶ περίλυπος γενόμενος ὁ βασιλεύς, διὰ τοὺς ὅρκους καὶ τοὺς συνανακειμένους οὐκ ἠθέλησεν αὐτὴν ἀθετῆσαι. καὶ εὐθέως ἀποστείλας ὁ βασιλεὺς σπεκουλάτωρα ἐπέταξεν ἐνεχθῆναι τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ. ὁ δὲ ἀπελθὼν ἀπεκεφάλισεν αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ φυλακῇ, καὶ ἤνεγκε τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ πίνακι καὶ ἔδωκεν αὐτὴν τῷ κορασίῳ, καὶ τὸ κοράσιον ἔδωκεν αὐτὴν τῇ μητρὶ αὐτῆς. καὶ ἀκούσαντες οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ ἦλθον καὶ ἦραν τὸ πτῶμα αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἔθηκαν αὐτὸ ἐν μνημείῳ.
READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:
Τῇ Κθ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, μνήμη τῆς ἀποτομῆς τῆς τιμίας κεφαλῆς τοῦ ἁγίου ἐνδόξου Προφήτου Προδρόμου καὶ Βαπτιστοῦ Ἰωάννου.
Τέμνει κεφαλὴν χεὶρ μιαιφόνος ξίφει,
Τοῦ χεῖρα θέντος εἰς κεφαλὴν Κυρίου.
Εἰκάδι ἀμφ' ἐνάτῃ Προδρόμου τάμεν αὐχένα χαλκός.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, μνήμη τῆς ὁσίας Θεοδώρας τῆς ἐν Θεσσαλονίκῃ, τῆς ἐξ Αἰγίνης καταγομένης.
Ταῖς τοῦ σοῦ Προδρόμου Χριστὲ πρεσβείαις, ἐλέησον καὶ σῶσον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.
The divine Baptist, the Prophet born of a Prophet, the seal of all the Prophets and beginning of the Apostles, the mediator between the Old and New Covenants, the voice of one crying in the wilderness, the God-sent Messenger of the incarnate Messiah, the forerunner of Christ's coming into the world (Esaias 40: 3; Mal. 3: 1); who by many miracles was both conceived and born; who was filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother's womb; who came forth like another Elias the Zealot, whose life in the wilderness and divine zeal for God's Law he imitated: this divine Prophet, after he had preached the baptism of repentance according to God's command; had taught men of low rank and high how they must order their lives; had admonished those whom he baptized and had filled them with the fear of God, teaching them that no one is able to escape the wrath to come if he do not works worthy of repentance; had, through such preaching, prepared their hearts to receive the evangelical teachings of the Savior; and finally, after he had pointed out to the people the very Savior, and said, "Behold the Lamb of God, Which taketh away the sin of the world" (Luke 3:2-18; John 1: 29-36), after all this, John sealed with his own blood the truth of his words and was made a sacred victim for the divine Law at the hands of a transgressor.
This was Herod Antipas, the Tetrarch of Galilee, the son of Herod the Great. This man had a lawful wife, the daughter of Arethas (or Aretas), the King of Arabia (that is, Arabia Petraea, which had the famous Nabatean stone city of Petra as its capital. This is the Aretas mentioned by Saint Paul in II Cor. 11:32). Without any cause, and against every commandment of the Law, he put her away and took to himself Herodias, the wife of his deceased brother Philip, to whom Herodias had borne a daughter, Salome. He would not desist from this unlawful union even when John, the preacher of repentance, the bold and austere accuser of the lawless, censured him and told him, "It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife" (Mark 6: 18). Thus Herod, besides his other unholy acts, added yet this, that he apprehended John and shut him in prison; and perhaps he would have killed him straightway, had he not feared the people, who had extreme reverence for John. Certainly, in the beginning, he himself had great reverence for this just and holy man. But finally, being pierced with the sting of a mad lust for the woman Herodias, he laid his defiled hands on the teacher of purity on the very day he was celebrating his birthday. When Salome, Herodias' daughter, had danced in order to please him and those who were supping with him, he promised her -- with an oath more foolish than any foolishness -- that he would give her anything she asked, even unto the half of his kingdom. And she, consulting with her mother, straightway asked for the head of John the Baptist in a charger. Hence this transgressor of the Law, preferring his lawless oath above the precepts of the Law, fulfilled this godless promise and filled his loathsome banquet with the blood of the Prophet. So it was that that all-venerable head, revered by the Angels, was given as a prize for an abominable dance, and became the plaything of the dissolute daughter of a debauched mother. As for the body of the divine Baptist, it was taken up by his disciples and placed in a tomb (Mark 6: 21 - 29). Concerning the finding of his holy head, see February 24 and May 25.
Apolytikion in the Second Tone
Μνήμη δικαίου μέτ' ἐγκωμίων, σοὶ δὲ ἀρκέσει ἡ μαρτυρία τοῦ Κυρίου Πρόδρομε, ἀνεδείχθης γὰρ ὄντως καὶ Προφητῶν σεβασμιώτερος, ὅτι καὶ ἐν ῥείθροις βαπτίσαι κατηξιώθης τὸν κηρυττόμενον. Ὅθεν τῆς ἀληθείας ὑπεραθλήσας, χαίρων εὐηγγελίσω καὶ τοὶς ἐν ἅδῃ, Θεὸν φανερωθέντα ἐν σαρκί, τὸν αἴροντα τὴν ἁμαρτίαν τοῦ κόσμου, καὶ παρέχοντα ἡμῖν τὸ μέγα ἔλεος
The memory of the just is celebrated with hymns of praise, but the Lord's testimony is sufficient for thee, O Forerunner; for thou hast proved to be truly even more venerable than the Prophets, since thou was granted to baptize in the running waters Him Whom they proclaimed. Wherefore, having contested for the truth, thou didst rejoice to announce the good tidings even to those in Hades: that God hath appeared in the flesh, taking away the sin of the world and granting us great mercy.
Kontakion in the Plagal of the First Tone
Η τού Προδρόμου ένδοξος απoτομή, οικονομία γέγονέ τις θεϊκή, ίνα καί τοίς εν' Άδη τού Σωτήρος κηρύξη τήν έλευσιν, θρηνείτω ούν Ηρωδιάς, άνομον φόνον αιτήσασα, ου νόμον γάρ τόν τού Θεού, ού ζώντα αιώνα ηγάπησεν, αλλ' επίπλαστον πρόσκαιρον.
The glorious beheading of the Forerunner was a certain divine dispensation, that the coming of the Saviour might also be preached to those in Hades. Let Herodias lament, then, that she demanded a wicked murder; for she loved not the Law of God, nor eternal life, but one false and fleeting.
Ένα από τα μεγαλύτερα εγκλήματα, μετά τη σταύρωση του Χριστού, που είδεν ο κόσμος, είναι η αποτομή της τιμίας κεφαλής του αγίου Ιωάννου, ανάμνηση του οποίου τελεί σήμερα η Εκκλησία. Και το έγκλημα είναι τόσο μεγαλύτερο, όσο αγιώτερος ήταν ο Πρόδρομος όλων των ανθρώπων κι όσο αμαρτωλή και βρώμικη η αιτία, για την οποία ο Προφήτης αποκεφαλίσθηκε. Μια άσεμνη κι αμαρτωλή γυναίκα τόλμησε να ζητήση την κεφαλή ενός αγίου κι ένας γυναικόδουλος κι ασελγής βασιλιάς δεν φοβήθηκε να διατάξη την εκτέλεση. Αλήθεια, μεγαλύτερο έγκλημα μετά την σταύρωση δεν είδε ο κόσμος... Γι'αυτό, σαν και στην Μεγάλη Παρασκευή έτσι και σήμερα, η Εκκλησία ορίζει αυστηρή νηστεία· για να θρηνούν οι χριστιανοί για τέτοιες πράξεις, που ντροπιάζουν το ανθρώπινο γένος και να θυμούνται πως μέσα στην κραιπάλη και την μέθη των ασώτων, διαπράττονται τα μεγαλύτερα των εγκλημάτων.
Ἀποτομὴ Κεφαλῆς Τιμίου Προδρόμου (Νηστεία ἐκ πάντων)
«Οὐκ ἔξεστι σοὶ ἔχειν, τὴν γυναῖκα τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ σου». Δὲν σοῦ ἐπιτρέπεται ἀπὸ τὸ νόμο τοῦ Θεοῦ νὰ ἔχεις τὴν γυναῖκα τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ σου, ὁ ὁποῖος ζεῖ ἀκόμα. Λόγια του Τιμίου Προδρόμου, ποὺ ἀποτελοῦσαν μαχαιριὲς στὶς διεφθαρμένες συνειδήσεις τοῦ βασιλιᾶ Ἡρῴδη Ἀντίπα καὶ τῆς παράνομης συζύγου του Ἡρῳδιάδος, ποὺ ἦταν γυναῖκα τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ του Φιλίππου. Ὁ Ἡρῴδης, μὴ ἀνεχόμενός τους ἐλέγχους τοῦ Προδρόμου, τὸν φυλάκισε. Σὲ κάποια γιορτὴ ὅμως τῶν γενεθλίων του, ὁ Ἡρῴδης ὑποσχέθηκε μὲ ὅρκο νὰ δώσει στὴν κόρη τῆς Ἡρῳδιάδος ὅ,τι ζητήσει, διότι τοῦ ἄρεσε πολὺ ὁ χορός της. Τότε ἡ αἱμοβόρος Ἡρῳδιὰς εἶπε στὴν κόρη της νὰ ζητήσει στὸ πιάτο τὸ κεφάλι τοῦ Ἰωάννη. Πρᾶγμα ποὺ τελικὰ ἔγινε. Ἔτσι, ὁ ἔνδοξος Πρόδρομος τοῦ Σωτῆρα θὰ παραμένει στοὺς αἰῶνες ὑπόδειγμα σὲ ὅλους ὅσους θέλουν νὰ ὑπηρετοῦν τὴν ἀλήθεια καὶ νὰ ἀγωνίζονται κατὰ τῆς διαφθορᾶς, ἀνεξάρτητα ἀπὸ κινδύνους καὶ θυσίες. Καὶ νὰ τί λένε οἱ 24 πρεσβύτεροι τῆς Ἀποκάλυψης στὸ Θεὸ γιὰ τοὺς διεφθαρμένους: «ἦλθεν... Ὁ καιρὸς τῶν ἐθνῶν κριθῆναι... καὶ διαφθεῖραι τοὺς διαφθείροντας τὴν γῆν». Ἦλθε, δηλαδή, ὁ καιρὸς τῆς ἀνάστασης τῶν νεκρῶν γιὰ νὰ κριθεῖ ὁ κόσμος καὶ νὰ καταστρέψεις (Θεέ μου) ἐκείνους, ποὺ μὲ τὴν διεφθαρμένη ζωὴ τοὺς διαφθείρουν καὶ καταστρέφουν τὴ γῆ.
Ἡ Ὁσία Θεοδώρα ἡ ἐν Θεσσαλονίκῃ
Βλέπε βιογραφικό της σημείωμα στὶς 5 Ἀπριλίου. Ὁ ἅγιος Νικόδημος στὸν Συναξαριστή του ἔχει καὶ τὴν προσθήκη «ἐξ Αἰγίνης καταγόμενης». Ἡ ὁποία - ἐξ Αἰγίνης - γιορτή της, μαζὶ μ᾿ αὐτὴν τῆς θυγατέρας της Θεοπίστης μεταφέρθηκε τὴν 3η Αὐγούστου, ὅπου καὶ τὸ βιογραφικό της σημείωμα.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Ἀρκάδιος ὁ θαυματουργὸς ἐπίσκοπος Ἀρσινόης Κύπρου
Γεννήθηκε στὴν Ἀρσινόη τῆς Κύπρου καὶ ἦταν γιὸς εὐσεβῶν καὶ πλουσίων γονέων, τοῦ Μιχαὴλ καὶ τῆς Ἄννας. Ὁ Ἄρκαδιος μορφώθηκε πολὺ καλὰ στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη καὶ ἐπανῆλθε στὴν ἰδιαίτερη πατρίδα του Ἀρσινόη. Ἔγινε πολὺ γνωστὸς γιὰ τοὺς ἀσκητικούς του ἀγῶνες καὶ γιὰ τὶς μεγάλες του ἀρετές. Ἔτσι ὅταν πέθανε ὁ ἅγιος Νίκων, ὁ Ἄρκαδιος ἐκλέχθηκε διάδοχός του στὸ θρόνο τῆς Ἀρσινόης. Ἀφοῦ ποίμανε τὸ ποίμνιό του θεάρεστα, ἀπεβίωσε εἰρηνικὰ τὴν 29η Αὐγούστου. Αὐτὸς εἶχε καὶ ἀδελφὸ τὸν ἅγιο Θεοσέβειο τὸν Ἀρσινοήτη.
Κατάθεσις Ἱεροῦ Λειψάνου τοῦ Ὁσίου Ἰωσὴφ τοῦ Ἡγιασμένου, τοῦ Σαμάκου
Βλέπε βιογραφικό του σημείωμα στὶς 22 Ἰανουαρίου.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Βασίλειος ὁ Μακεδὼν ὁ αὐτοκράτορας
Στοὺς Συναξαριστὲς δὲν ἀναφέρεται, ἡ μνήμη του βρίσκεται στὸ Βυζαντινὸ Ἑορτολόγιο τοῦ Γεδεὼν(σελ. 161). Σὰν κτήτορας καὶ ἀνακαινιστὴς πολλῶν ναῶν καὶ μονῶν, ὁ Βασίλειος (867-886) βρῆκε θέση σὲ κάποια Μηνολόγια μεταξὺ τῶν Ἁγίων γιὰ τὴν εὐσέβειά του καὶ γιὰ τὸν ἐμπλουτισμὸ τῆς πρωτεύουσας μὲ ἱερὰ κτίσματα, πρὸς δόξαν Θεοῦ.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Sebbi (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.
The Beheading of the Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John
The story is told in the Gospels, and cannot be told better here. Today is kept as a strict fast day, on whatever day of the week it falls. Because the holy Forerunner's head was brought to Herod on a platter, it is a pious custom not to eat anything from a plate or platter today.
Our Holy Mother Theodora of Salonica (879)
"A wealthy and devout woman, she lived on the island of Aegina, but, when the Arabs over-ran the island, she moved to Salonica. There, she gave her only daughter to a monastery, where she received the monastic name Theopista. Her husband Theodorinus died very soon, and then Theodora became a nun. She was a great ascetic. She often heard angelic singing, and would say to her sisters: 'Don't you hear how wonderfully the angels are singing in heavenly light?' She entered into rest in 879, and a healing myrrh flowed from her body, which gave healing to many.
The Beheading of the Prophet, ForeRunner of the Lord, John the Baptist: The Evangelists Matthew (Mt. 14: 1-12) and Mark (Mk. 6: 14-29) provide accounts about the Martyr's end of John the Baptist in the year 32 after the Birth of Christ.
Following the Baptism of the Lord, Saint John the Baptist was locked up in prison by Herod Antipas, holding one-fourth the rule of the Holy Land as governor of Galilee. (After the death of king Herod the Great, the Romans divided the territory of Palestine into four parts, and into each part put a governor. Herod Antipas received from the emperor Augustus the rule of Galilee). The prophet of God John openly denounced Herod for having left his lawful wife -- the daughter of the Arabian king Aretas, and then instead co-habiting with Herodias, -- the wife of his brother Philip (Lk. 3: 19-20). On his birthday, Herod made a feast for dignitaries, the elders and a thousand chief citizens. The daughter of Herod, Salome, danced before the guests and charmed Herod. In gratitude to the girl he swore to give her anything, whatsoever she would ask, anything up to half his kingdom. The vile girl on the advice of her wicked mother Herodias asked, that she be given at once the head of John the Baptist on a plate. Herod became apprehensive, for he feared the wrath of God for the murder of a prophet, whom earlier he had heeded. He feared also the people, who loved the holy ForeRunner. But because of the guests and his careless oath, he gave orders to cut off the head of Saint John and to give it to Salome. By tradition, the mouth of the dead head of the preacher of repentance once more opened and proclaimed: "Herod, thou ought not to have the wife of Philip thy brother". Salome took the plate with the head of Saint John and gave it to her mother. The frenzied Herodias repeatedly stabbed the tongue of the prophet with a needle and buried his holy head in a unclean place. But the pious Joanna, wife of Herod's steward Chuza, buried the head of John the Baptist in an earthen vessel on the Mount of Olives, where Herod was possessor of a parcel of land (the Uncovering of the Venerable Head is celebrated 24 February). The holy body of John the Baptist was taken that night by his disciples and buried at Sebasteia, there where the wicked deed had been done. After the murder of Saint John the Baptist, Herod continued to govern for a certain while. Pontius Pilate, governor of Judea, later sent to him the bound Jesus Christ, over Whom he made mockery (Lk. 23: 7-12).
The judgement of God came upon Herod, Herodias and Salome, even during their earthly life. Salome, crossing the River Sikoris in winter, fell through the ice. The ice gave way for her such that her body was in the water, but her head trapped beneathe the ice. It was similar to how she once had danced with her feet upon the ground, but now flailing helplessly in the icy water. Thus she was trapped until that time when the sharp ice cut through her neck. The corpse was not found, but they brought the head to Herod and Herodias, as once they had brought them the head of Saint John the Baptist. The Arab king Aretas in revenge for the disrespect shown his daughter made war against Herod. Having suffered defeat, Herod suffered the wrath of the Roman emperor Caius Caligua (37-41) and was exiled with Herodias first to Gaul, and then to Spain. And there they were from view.
In memory of the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist, the feastday established by the Church is also a strict day of fast, -- as an expression of the grief of Christians at the violent death of the saint. On this day the Church makes remembrance of soldiers, killed on the field of battle, as established in 1769 at the time of a war of Russia with the Turks and the Poles.
The Martyr Anastasii, a Bulgarian, was born in 1774 in the Strumnitsk diocese, in the village of Radovicha. His parents gave him over to military studies. When the youth was 20 years old, he happened to be with his teacher in Soluneia (Thessalonika). The master wanted to sell some Turkish clothes without paying the customary dutyy-tax. He told his student to dress himself as a Turk and go into the city. The collectors of the duty-tax (haraje) stopped him and demanded the written receipt (teskere) of duty-tax payment. The youth answered that he was a Turk. Thereupon the collectors demanded him to recite the salutation with the Mahometan prayer. The youth became confused and quiet. They ordered him off to the commander, who in interrogating the martyr offered him to become Turkish. The youth refused, and they led him away to the chief tax-collector. The official tried at first to flatter, then to threaten the martyr, who owned up to his civil guilt, but would not agree to betray his holy faith. The tax-collector made this known to the mufti, who in turn answered: "Thou hast in one hand the sword, in the other the law; use what thou wishest". He knew, that by law the tax-collector ought to take the duty-tax from the youth, but then by judgement of the mufti he would not be a follower of Mahomet, armed with a sword. And having received such an answer, the commander of the haraje sent the youth to the local mullah together with five Turks, who were obliged to testify that the Christian had blasphemed the Mahometan faith. To the accusations of blasphemy against Mahomet by these witnesses, the youth honestly answered that he did not blaspheme him, but he would allow having shown disrespect to Mahometan customs. They subjected him to torture and condemned him to hanging. Along the way they continued to urge the martyr to renounce his faith, but bleeding and exhausted, he fell upon the wayside and died on 29 August 1794.
THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:
1. THE BEHEADING OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST [ST. MATTHEW 14:1-12]
Herod Antipas, son of the elder Herod, who was the slayer of the children of Bethlehem at the time of the birth of the Lord Jesus, was ruler of Galilee at the time when John the Baptist was preaching. This Herod was married to the daughter of Aretas, an Arabian prince. But Herod, an evil sprout of an evil root, put away his lawful wife and unlawfully took unto himself Herodias as his concubine, the wife of his brother Philip, who was still living. John the Baptist stood up against this lawlessness and strongly denounced Herod who then cast John into prison. At the time of a banquet in his court in Sebastia in Galilee Salome, the daughter of Herodias and Philip, danced before the guests. The drunken Herod was so taken by this dance that he promised Salome that he would give her whatever she asked of him, even though it be half of his kingdom. Being persuaded by her mother, Salome asked for the head of John the Baptist. Herod gave the order and John was beheaded in prison and his head brought to him on a platter. John's disciples took the body of their teacher by night and honorably buried it and Herodias pierced the tongue of John with a needle in many places and buried the head in an unclean place. What later happened to John the Baptist's head can be read on February 24. However, God's punishment quickly befell this group of evil doers. Prince Aretas, in order to cleanse his daughter's honor, attacked Herod with his army and defeated him. The defeated Herod was sentenced by the Roman Caesar, Caligula, to exile at first to Gaul and later to Spain. As exiles, Herod and Herodias lived in poverty and humiliation until the earth opened up and swallowed them. Salome died an evil death on the Sikaris (Sula) river. The death of St. John occurred before the Pascha [Passover] but its celebration on August 29 was established because, on that day, a church which had been built over his grave in Sebastia by Emperor Constantine and Empress Helena was consecrated. In this church the relics of John's disciples, Eliseus and Audius, were also placed.
2. VENERABLE THEODORA OF THESSALONICA
As the wife of a wealthy and devout man, they lived on the island of Aegina. But when the Arabs menaced Aegina, they settled in Thessalonica. There they gave up their one and only daughter to a convent who, in monasticism, received the name of Theopista. Soon after, Theodora's husband died and she also became a nun. She was a great ascetic. She often heard angelic singing and often spoke to the sisters: "Do you not hear how beautifully the angels sing in the heavenly sanctuary?" She died at the age of seventy-five in the year 879 A.D. From her relics flowed healing myrrh by which many were healed.
3. THE HOLY FEMALE MARTYR VASILISSA
Vasilissa suffered for Christ in Srem [Serbia].
4. THE HOLY MARTYR ANASTASIUS
Anastasius was a young man from Radoviste, the Diocese of Strumica. He learned a trade in Thessalonica. The Turks tried to force him to become a Muslim, which he adamantly rejected and for this he was tortured and finally hanged on August 29, 1794 A.D.
HYMN OF PRAISE
SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST
O Saint John, wonderful Baptizer,
Of the Savior, you were the glorious Forerunner,
You, with your purity, touched human souls
And, as an awesome trumpet, from the Jordan resounded
From sleep and idle vices, awakening men,
When the axe was near to the root.
To you I bow, to you I pray:
Every temptation, help me to resist.
Prophet most powerful, to you I bow,
And before you kneel and before you I weep:
From your heart, grant me the strength of a lion,
From your spirit, grant me angelic whiteness.
Grant me your strength that by practice to attain
To God be submissive and to rule over myself,
To baptize by fasting, to purify by all-night vigils,
To sweeten by prayer and heavenly vision,
And to every martyrdom, walk without fear
With your courage and with a strong faith.
O Saint John, God's chosen one,
And glorious martyr for supreme justice,
You, of whom the godless armies are afraid
To my prayers, do not turn a deaf ear,
But, strengthen me by your prayers,
That as a true candle before the Lord, I stand.
If you observe how men die, you would see that the death of a man usually resembles his sin. As it is written: "For all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword" (St. Matthew 26:52). Every sin is a knife and men usually are slain by that sin which they most readily committed. An example of this is given to us by Salome, the foul daughter of Herodias who asked for and received from Herod the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Living in Spain in the town of Lerida [Loredo] with the exiled Herod and Herodias, Salome set out one day across the frozen river Sikaris. The ice broke and she fell into the water up to her neck. Icebergs squeezed around her neck and she wiggled, dancing with her feet in the water as she once danced at the court of Herod. However, she was unable either to raise herself up or to drown until a sharp piece of ice severed her head. The water carried her body away and her head was brought to Herodias on a platter as was the head of John the Baptist at one time. Behold how terrible a death resembles the sin committed.
To contemplate the righteousness of David (2 Samuel 3 2 Kings 3):
1. How Abner the commander, an opponent of David, gave himself over to David trusting him;
2. How Joab, David's commander, slew Abner;
3. How David cursed the house of Joab and wept much for Abner.
About the healing of mankind by the wounds of Christ
"And by His stripes [wounds] we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5).
We are healed by the wounds of Christ. Thus, the prophet of God prophesies and we now know that his prophecy is true. By the suffering of Christ, we have been saved from eternal suffering; by His All-pure blood, we are cleansed of the leprosy of sin and are enlivened. Our blood and body became impure from sinful passions; but our spirit, the nest and source of bodily impurity, first became impure. Can the unclean be cleansed by the unclean? Can a dirty linen be washed with dirty water? It cannot.
Only that which is clean can wash that which is unclean. Even the pagans feel that mankind is impure. But, they [the pagans] want to cleanse the impure by the impure first, by invoking impure spirits and worshipping them. And second, by offering impure sacrifices, be they human or animal sacrifices. One drop of the blood of the All-pure Christ can cleanse mankind more than all of the idolatrous sacrifices from the beginning of the world. Why? Because the blood of Christ is pure and all else is impure. Physicians take one drop of a strong remedy and diluting it, vaccinate many people with it in order to protect them from disease. We even dilute the blood of Christ in the Chalice [Cup]with water and then we take it and drink it, for it is said that when they pierced the body of the Lord with a spear "there came out blood and water" (St. John 19:34). Such is the power from one drop of His blood that, the world could be burned by it. That is the sinless blood, the only sinless blood; the blood most-pure, the only pure blood in the world.
O, if men would only know what is the power of absolute purity! All the impure ones from sin would rush to cleanse themselves by the All-pure Christ and all the helpless ones would rush to partake of the Blood and Body of Christ [Holy Communion]; and all the unbelieving would believe in Christ. For there is three and all three are pure and all three purify: pure spirit, pure blood and pure body, and only the pure can purify the impure; and that which is healthy can heal the unhealthy; and that which is powerful can raise the helpless.
O Lord, our omnipotent Lord, cleanse us sinners by Your bloody wound, by Your innocent and all-pure wound.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.