Synaxis of the Holy Theotokos
Euthemios the Confessor, Bishop of Sardis
The Holy Righteous Ones, Joseph the Betrothed, David the King, and James the Brother of the Lord
Holy New Hieromartyr Constantine of Russia, Who Struggled in Constantinople (1743)
Constantius the Holy Martyr
Barlaam the Righteous of Valaam
Afterfeast of the Nativity
Ἡ Σύναξις τῆς Ὑπεραγίας Θεοτόκου.
Τοῦ Ἁγίου Ἱερομάρτυρος Εὐθυμίου, Ἐπισκόπου Σάρδεων.
Τοῦ Ἁγίου νέου Ἱερομάρτυρος Κωνσταντίνου τοῦ Ρώσσου, ἐν Κωνσταντινουπόλει ἀθλήσαντος (1743).
READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:
St. Paul's Letter to the Hebrews 2:11-18
Prokeimenon. Mode 4.
Their voice has gone out into all the earth.
Verse: The heavens declare the glory of God.
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
Προκείμενον. Ἦχος δ.
Εἰς πᾶσαν τὴν γῆν ἐξῆλθεν ὁ φθόγγος αὐτῶν.
Στίχ. Οἱ οὐρανοὶ διηγοῦνται δόξαν Θεοῦ.
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.
James (Iakovos) the Apostle, brother of Our Lord
The Gospel of Matthew 2:13-23
When the wise men departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him." And he rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, "Out of Egypt have I called my son."
Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: "A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they were no more." But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, "Rise, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead." And he rose and took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaos reigned over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. And he went and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, "He shall be called a Nazarene."
Κατὰ Ματθαῖον 2.13-23
᾿Αναχωρησάντων δὲ αὐτῶν ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος Κυρίου φαίνεται κατ᾿ ὄναρ τῷ ᾿Ιωσὴφ λέγων· ἐγερθεὶς παράλαβε τὸ παιδίον καὶ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ καὶ φεῦγε εἰς Αἴγυπτον, καὶ ἴσθι ἐκεῖ ἕως ἂν εἴπω σοι· μέλλει γὰρ ῾Ηρῴδης ζητεῖν τὸ παιδίον τοῦ ἀπολέσαι αὐτό.῾Ο δὲ ἐγερθεὶς παρέλαβε τὸ παιδίον καὶ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ νυκτὸς καὶ ἀνεχώρησεν εἰς Αἴγυπτον,καὶ ἦν ἐκεῖ ἕως τῆς τελευτῆς ῾Ηρῴδου, ἵνα πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπὸ τοῦ Κυρίου διὰ τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος· ἐξ Αἰγύπτου ἐκάλεσα τὸν υἱόν μου. Τότε ῾Ηρῴδης ἰδὼν ὅτι ἐνεπαίχθη ὑπὸ τῶν μάγων, ἐθυμώθη λίαν, καὶ ἀποστείλας ἀνεῖλε πάντας τοὺς παῖδας τοὺς ἐν Βηθλεὲμ καὶ ἐν πᾶσι τοῖς ὁρίοις αὐτῆς ἀπὸ διετοῦς καὶ κατωτέρω, κατὰ τὸν χρόνον ὃν ἠκρίβωσε παρὰ τῶν μάγων.τότε ἐπληρώθη τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπὸ ῾Ιερεμίου τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος· φωνὴ ἐν ῾Ραμᾷ ἠκούσθη,θρῆνος καὶ κλαυθμὸς καὶ ὀδυρμὸς πολύς·῾Ραχὴλ κλαίουσα τὰ τέκνα αὐτῆς,καὶ οὐκ ἤθελε παρακληθῆναι, ὅτι οὐκ εἰσίν. Τελευτήσαντος δὲ τοῦ ῾Ηρῴδου ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος Κυρίου κατ᾿ ὄναρ φαίνεται τῷ ᾿Ιωσὴφ ἐν Αἰγύπτῳλέγων· ἐγερθεὶς παράλαβε τὸ παιδίον καὶ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ καὶ πορεύου εἰς γῆν ᾿Ισραήλ· τεθνήκασι γὰρ οἱ ζητοῦντες τὴν ψυχὴν τοῦ παιδίου.ὁ δὲ ἐγερθεὶς παρέλαβε τὸ παιδίον καὶ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ καὶ ἦλθεν εἰς γῆν ᾿Ισραήλ.ἀκούσας δὲ ὅτι ᾿Αρχέλαος βασιλεύει ἐπὶ τῆς ᾿Ιουδαίας ἀντὶ ῾Ηρῴδου τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ, ἐφοβήθη ἐκεῖ ἀπελθεῖν· χρηματισθεὶς δὲ κατ᾿ ὄναρ ἀνεχώρησεν εἰς τὰ μέρη τῆς Γαλιλαίας,καὶ ἐλθὼν κατῴκησεν εἰς πόλιν λεγομένην Ναζαρέτ, ὅπως πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ τῶν προφητῶν ὅτι Ναζωραῖος κληθήσεται.
READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:
Τῇ ΚΣΤ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, Η Σύναξις τῆς Ὑπεραγίας Δεσποίνης ἡμῶν Θεοτόκου.
Λεχὼ ἄμωμον ἀνδρὸς μὴ γνοῦσαν λέχος,
Δώροις ἀμώμοις δεξιοῦμαι τοῖς λόγοις.
Μολπὴν ἁγνοτάτῃ λεχοῖ εἰκάδι ἕκτῃ ἀείδω.
Περὶ τῆς εἰς Αἴγυπτον φυγῆς τῆς Ὑπεραγίας Θεοτόκου.
Ἥκοντα πρὸς σέ, τὸν πάλαι πλήξαντά σε,
Αἴγυπτε φρίττε, καὶ Θεὸν τοῦτον φρόνει.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ ἐν ἁγίοις Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Εὐθυμίου, Ἐπισκόπου Σάρδεων τοῦ Ὁμολογητοῦ.
Χριστῷ παραστάς, Εὐθύμιε τρισμάκαρ,
Πλήρης ἀλήκτου τυγχάνεις εὐθυμίας.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ὁσίου Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Κωνσταντίνου τοῦ ἐξ' Ἰουδαίων.
Ὡς ἐξ ἀκανθῶν τῶν Ἰουδαίων ῥόδον,
Ὁ θεῖος ἀνθεῖ καὶ θανών, Κωνσταντῖνος.
Καὶ Μνήμη τοῦ Ὁσίου πατρὸς ἡμῶν Εὐαρέστου.
Ἔσπευδεν Εὐάρεστος ἔργῳ καὶ λόγῳ,
Ἕως τελευτῆς εὐαρεστεῖν σοι Λόγε.
Μνήμη τοῦ ἁγίου νέου ἱερομάρτυρος Κωνσταντίνου τοῦ Ῥώσου, ἀθλήσαντος ἐν Κωνσταντινοπόλει κατὰ τὸ 1743 ἔτος.
Ταῖς αὐτῶν ἁγίαις πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεός, ἐλέησον, καὶ σῶσον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.
This Synaxis - which is to say, our coming together to glorify the Theotokos - is celebrated especially in her honour because she gave birth supernaturally to the Son and Word Of God, and thus became the instrument of the salvation of mankind.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Ως βρέφος βαστάζουσα, εν ταίς αγκάλαις Αγνή, τόν πάντων δεσπόντα, σάρκα λαβόντα εκ σού, χαράς ώφθης πρόξενος, όθεν πάσα η κτίσις, ανυμνεί χαρμοσύνως, σήμερον Θεοτόκε, τήν φρικτήν σου λοχείαν, πηγήν γάρ αθανασίας, κόσμω εκύησας.
Thy Nativity, O Christ our God, hath shined the light of knowledge upon the world; for thereby they that worshipped the stars were instructed by a star to worship Thee, the Sun of Righteousness, and to know Thee, the Dayspring from on high. O Lord, glory be to Thee.
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Second Tone
Ὁ πρὸ Ἑωσφόρου ἐκ Πατρὸς ἀμήτωρ γεννηθείς, ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἀπάτωρ ἐσαρκώθη σήμερον ἐκ σοῦ, ὅθεν Ἀστὴρ εὐαγγελίζεται Μάγοις, Ἄγγελοι δὲ μετὰ Ποιμένων ὑμνοῦσι, τὸν ἄχραντον Τόκον σου, ἡ Κεχαριτωμένη.
He, who was begotten of the Father before the morning star, without a mother, becomes incarnate of you today, without a father. Wherefore, a star announces the good news to the Magi. Angels with shepherds praise your immaculate birth-giving, O Full of Grace.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Ἡ γέννησίς σου Χριστὲ ὁ Θεὸς ἡμῶν, ἀνέτειλε τῶ κόσμω, τὸ φῶς τὸ τῆς γνώσεως, ἐν αὐτῇ γὰρ οἱ τοὶς ἄστροις λατρεύοντες, ὑπὸ ἀστέρος ἐδιδάσκοντο, σὲ προσκυνεῖν, τὸν Ἥλιον τῆς δικαιοσύνης, καὶ σὲ γινώσκειν ἐξ ὕψους ἀνατολήν, Κύριε δόξα σοί.
Thy Nativity, O Christ our God, hath shined the light of knowledge upon the world; for thereby they that worshipped the stars were instructed by a star to worship Thee, the Sun of Righteousness, and to know Thee, the Dayspring from on high. O Lord, glory be to Thee.
Σήμερα η Εκκλησία τελεί σύναξη για να τιμήση την Παναγία Μητέρα του Θεού. Η Παναγία, όπως ο άγιος Πρόκλος την εγκωμιάζει, είναι το "κοινόν των γυναικών καύχημα" κι όπως ο άγιος Κύριλλος την χαιρετίζει, είναι το κειμήλιο της οικουμένης και το σκήπτρο της ορθοδοξίας - "Χαίροις παρ' ημίν, Μαρία Θεοτόκε, το σεμνόν κειμήλιον απάσης της οικουμένης... το σκήπτρον της ορθοδοξίας". Η Παναγία είναι το ιερό και άμωμο ανάθημα του ανθρωπίνου γένους στον Θεό, το καλύτερο δώρο που είχε να προσφέρη ο κόσμος στην γέννηση του θείου Λόγου. Έτσι το εκφράζει ένας ύμνος της χθεσινής μεγάλης γιορτής. "Τι σοι προσενέγκωμεν, Χριστέ, ότι ώφθης επί γης άνθρωπος δι' ημάς; Έκαστον γαρ των υπό σου γενομένων κτισμάτων την ευχαριστίαν σοι προσάγει. Οι άγγελοι τον ύμνον, οι ουρανοί τον αστέρα, οι μάγοι τα δώρα, οι ποιμένες το θαύμα, η γη το σπήλαιον, η έρημος την φάτνην, ημείς δε μητέρα παρθένον...".
Ἡ φυγὴ στὴν Αἵγυπτο τῆς Ὑπεραγίας Θεοτόκου
Ὅταν οἱ μάγοι προσκύνησαν τὸ Χριστό, ἀναχώρησαν γιὰ τὴν πατρίδα τους, χωρὶς νὰ περάσουν ἀπὸ τὸ βασιλιὰ Ἡρῴδη. Τότε ἄγγελος Κυρίου φάνηκε σὲ ὄνειρο στὸν Ἰωσὴφ καὶ τοῦ εἶπε νὰ πάρει τὸ παιδὶ μὲ τὴν μητέρα του καὶ νὰ φύγει στὴν Αἴγυπτο. Καὶ ἔμειναν ἐκεῖ, μέχρι ποὺ πέθανε ὁ Ἡρῴδης, γιὰ νὰ ἐπαληθευθεῖ ἔτσι ἐκεῖνο ποὺ ἐλέχθη διὰ τοῦ προφήτου Ὠσηέ: «Ἐξ Αἰγύπτου ἐκάλεσα τὸν υἱόν μου» (Ὠσ. ια´ 1). Μετὰ τὴν φυγὴ τοῦ Κυρίου στὴν Αἴγυπτο, ὁ Ἡρῴδης ἔστειλε στρατιῶτες καὶ θανάτωσαν ὅλα τὰ παιδιὰ ποὺ ἦταν στὴ Βηθλεὲμ καὶ τὰ περίχωρά της, ἀπὸ ἡλικίας δυὸ ἐτῶν καὶ κάτω. Διότι τόσο εἶχε ὑπολογίσει τὴν ἡλικία τοῦ Χριστοῦ, Τὸν ὁποῖο φοβόταν ὅτι θὰ τοῦ ἔπαιρνε τὴν βασιλεία. Ἐπίσης, ἡ φυγὴ τοῦ Κυρίου στὴν Αἴγυπτο, κατὰ τὸν Ἅγιο Νικόδημο τὸν Ἁγιορείτη, φράσσει καὶ τὰ στόματα τῶν αἱρετικῶν. Διότι ὅπως λέει, ἂν δὲν ἔφευγε ὁ Κύριος καὶ φονευόταν ἀπὸ τὸν Ἡρῴδη, θὰ εἶχε ἐμποδιστεῖ ἡ σωτηρία τῶν ἀνθρώπων. Ἂν πάλι τὸν συνελάμβαναν καὶ δὲν φονευόταν, θὰ ἔλεγαν πολλοὶ ὅτι δὲ φόρεσε ἀνθρώπινη σάρκα, ἀλλὰ μόνο κατὰ φαντασία. Ἔπειτα, ἡ φυγὴ φανερώνει ἄλλη μία φορά, ὅτι τίποτα δὲν μπορεῖ νὰ ματαιώσει τὰ σχέδια τοῦ Θεοῦ.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Εὐθύμιος ὁ Ὁμολογητής, ἐπίσκοπος Σάρδεων
Ὁ Σ. Εὐστρατιάδης, στὸ Ἁγιολόγιό του, ἀναφέρει γιὰ τὸν Ἅγιο αὐτὸν τὰ ἑξῆς:
Ἤκμασεν ἐπὶ τῆς βασιλείας Κωνσταντίνου καὶ Εἰρήνης (780-797), γεννηθεὶς ἐν Λυκαονίᾳ καὶ σπουδάσας ἐν Ἀλεξάνδρειᾳ. Μετὰ τὴν ἀποπεράτωσιν τῶν σπουδῶν αὐτοῦ κατέφυγεν εἰς μονήν τινα ἀποκαρεῖς μοναχὸς καὶ διαπρέψας ἐν τῇ μοναχικῇ πολιτείᾳ· διὰ δὲ τὴν ἀρετὴν καὶ τὴν παιδείαν αὐτοῦ προεβιβάσθη εἰς τὸν μητροπολιτικὸν θρόνον τῶν Σάρδεων, λαβὼν μέρος ἐν τῇ κατὰ τῶν εἰκονομάχων ἀθροισθείσῃ ἐν Νίκαιᾳ τὸ δεύτερον Ἑβδόμῃ οἰκουμενικῇ συνόδῳ (787), ἐν ᾗ τὴν ὀρθὴν τῆς ἐκκλησίας δόξαν μετὰ παῤῥησίας καὶ θάῤῥους καθωμολόγησε καὶ ὑπέγραψε (ἴδε Mansi, τ. XII, σ. 1087-1088). Τὰ ἐξαιρετικὰ αὐτοῦ προσόντα ἐκτιμῶντες οἱ βασιλεῖς ἐνεπιστεύθησαν αὐτῷ διαφόρους δημοσίας ἀποστολάς, ἀλλ᾿ ἐπὶ τῆς βασιλείας Νικηφόρου Α´ (802-811), ἐπὶ καταγγελίᾳ γενομένη παρὰ ἀνωτέρου ὑπαλλήλου ἐν Σάρδεσι ὅτι ἔκειρε μοναχὴν κόρην, ἣν ἐζήτει οὗτος εἰς γάμον, ὁ Εὐθύμιος ἐξωρίσθη εἰς τὴν νῆσον Παττάλαραν λίαν ταλαιπωρηθεῖς. Ἐκ τῆς ἐξορίας ἐπανῆλθεν εἰς Κωνσταντινούπολη (814), ἀλλὰ καὶ πάλιν μετὰ τὴν ἔκρηξιν τῆς εἰκονομαχίας ἐπὶ Λέοντος τοῦ Ἰσαύρου (813-820), ὀπαδὸς τῆς ἐναντίας ταχθεῖς μερίδος, ἐξωρίσθη εἰς Ἀσσὸν (παρὰ τὸ Ἀδραμύτιον), ἔνθα παρέμεινε μέχρι τοῦ θανάτου τοῦ Λέοντος ἀνακληθεῖς ὑπὸ Μιχαὴλ τοῦ Τραυλοῦ (820-829)· ἀλλὰ καὶ τοῦτον καταβροντήσας δι᾿ ὧν κατὰ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ εἶπεν, «εἰ τὶς οὐ προσκυνεῖ τὸν Κύριον ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν εἰκόνι περιγραπτὸν ἤτω ἀνάθεμα», ἐξώργισε καὶ ἠνάγκασε νὰ ἐξορίσει αὐτὸν εἰς τὸν Ἀκρίταν, ἔνθα ἐνέκλεισεν αὐτὸν εἰς ζοφερωτάτην φυλακὴν ἐκεῖ διὰ βουνεύρων τυπτόμενος καὶ ἐκ τῶν πληγῶν ἐξογκωθεῖς ὡς ἀσκὸς ὀκτὼ ἡμέρας μετὰ τὴν ἄθλησιν, πρὸς Κύριον ἐξεδήμησε». Θεῷ παραστάς, Εὐθύμιε, τρισμάκαρ, πλήρης ἄληκτου τυγχάνεις εὐθυμίας. (Ἡ μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου, ἀπὸ ὁρισμένους Συναξαριστές, περιττῶς ἐπαναλαμβάνεται καὶ τὴν 11η Ὀκτωβρίου).
Ὁ Ὅσιος Κωνσταντῖνος «ὁ ἐξ Ἰουδαίων»
Καταγόταν ἀπὸ τὰ Σύναδα τῆς Φρυγίας, Ἑβραῖος στὸ γένος, ἐπέστρεψε στὴ χριστιανικὴ πίστη καὶ βαπτίστηκε στὴ Μονὴ τοῦ Φουβουτίου, ὅπου εἶχε καταφύγει. Ἀπὸ τὴν Μονὴ αὐτὴ πῆγε στὸν Ὄλυμπο καὶ ἀπὸ τὸν Ὄλυμπο στὰ Μῦρα τῆς Λυκίας. Κατόπιν ἐπισκέφθηκε τὴν Κύπρο, τὴν Ἀττάλεια καὶ ἄλλους τόπους γιὰ νὰ καταλήξει καὶ πάλι στὸν Ὄλυμπο, ὅπου ἔκανε αὐστηρὴ νηστεία 40 ἡμερῶν, χωμένος μέχρι τὴν μέση σ᾿ ἕνα λάκκο. Ἐκεῖ χειροτονήθηκε ἱερέας καὶ στὴ συνέχεια ἔφυγε στὴν Ἀτρώα, ὅπου καὶ ἀπεβίωσε εἰρηνικά.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Εὐάρεστος
Καταγόταν ἀπὸ τὴν Γαλατία ἀπὸ γονεῖς ἔνδοξους καὶ ἐπισήμους τῆς χώρας αὐτῆς. Ἀφοῦ καλὰ καὶ ὅσια ἐκπαιδεύτηκε στὴ χώρα του, πῆγε μὲ τὸν πατέρα του στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη ἐπὶ Λέοντος τοῦ Ἰσαύρου (813-820) καὶ τὸν φιλοξενοῦσε ὁ συγγενής του πατρίκιος Βρυέννιος. Ὅταν αὐτὸς στάλθηκε ἀπὸ τὴν βασίλισσα Θεοδώρα πρέσβυς στοὺς Βούλγαρους, πῆρε κοντά του καὶ τὸν Εὐάρεστο καὶ ὅταν ἔφτασαν στὸν τόπο, ποὺ ὀνομαζόταν Σκόπελο, ἐκεῖ ὁ Εὐάρεστος συνάντησε γέροντα ἀσκητή, στὸν ὁποῖο προσκολλήθηκε καὶ ἐκάρη μοναχός. Ὁ δὲ γέροντας, βλέποντας τὴν ὑψηλὴ πνευματικὴ ἔφεση τοῦ νέου, τὸν ἔστειλε μὲ συστατικὴ ἐπιστολὴ στὴ Μονὴ Στουδίου, ὅπου ὁ Εὐάρεστος διέπρεπε σὰν αὐστηρὸς ἀσκητής. Ἐκεῖ λοιπὸν ὁσιακὰ ἀφοῦ ἔζησε καὶ τὰ ὑπόλοιπα χρόνια τῆς ζωῆς του, ἀπεβίωσε εἰρηνικὰ σὲ ἡλικία 79 χρονῶν. Τὸ δὲ τίμιο λείψανό του ἐναποτέθηκε στὴ Μονὴ Κοκουρουβίου (ἢ Κοκκοροβίου).
Ὁ Ἅγιος Κωνστάντιος ὁ Ῥῶσος, ὁ Νέος Ἱερομάρτυρας
Ὁ Κωνστάντιος καταγόταν ἀπὸ τὴν Ῥωσία καὶ ὑπηρετοῦσε σὰν ἐφημέριος στὴ Ῥωσικὴ Πρεσβεία στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη. Κατὰ τὸν Ῥωσοτουρκικὸ πόλεμο ἦλθε στὸ Ἅγιον Ὄρος καὶ παρέμεινε γιὰ ἀρκετὸ χρονικὸ διάστημα στὴ Μεγίστη Λαύρα, ἀπ᾿ ὅπου ἀναχώρησε στὰ Ἱεροσόλυμα γιὰ προσκύνημα στοὺς Ἁγίους Τόπους. Ἐπανῆλθε στὴ Μεγίστη Λαύρα καὶ περίμενε τὴν εἰρήνη μεταξὺ Ῥωσίας καὶ Τουρκίας. Ὅταν ἐπιτεύχθηκε ἡ εἰρήνη, ὁ Ἅγιος πῆγε στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη καὶ παρέμεινε σὰν ἐφημέριος στὴν ἴδια πρεσβεία. Ἐκεῖ ὅμως, ἄγνωστο γιὰ ποιοὺς λόγους, ἦλθε σὲ προστριβὴ μὲ τὸν Ῥῶσο Πρέσβη καὶ εἴτε ἀπὸ φόβο εἴτε ἀπὸ θυμό, παρουσιάστηκε στὸν Σουλτάνο καὶ ἀρνήθηκε τὸν Χριστό. Γιὰ τὴν ἐνέργειά του αὐτὴ ἔτυχε μεγάλων τιμῶν καὶ περιποιήσεων ἀπὸ τοὺς Τούρκους. Μετὰ ἀπὸ λίγες ἡμέρες συναισθάνθηκε τὸ μεγάλο του ὀλίσθημα, μετανοημένος ἔκλαψε πικρὰ καὶ πόθησε τὸ μαρτύριο. Ἔτσι πέταξε τὰ τούρκικα ῥοῦχα, φόρεσε ἕνα φθαρμένο ῥάσο, παρουσιάστηκε στὸν Σουλτάνο καὶ μὲ θάῤῥος ὁμολόγησε τὸν Χριστὸ καὶ ἀποκήρυξε τὴν θρησκεία τοῦ Μωάμεθ. Χωρὶς καμιὰ διαδικασία, οἱ Τοῦρκοι πῆραν τὸν μάρτυρα καὶ τὸν ἀποκεφάλισαν μπροστὰ στ᾿ ἀνάκτορα τοῦ σοῦλτάνου τὸ 1743.
Synaxis of the Most Holy Theotokos.
"Yesterday, together with the Angels, the Magi and the Shepherds, we offered our worship to God made man, and born a little child for our Salvation; and today we rightly pay homage to His Mother, the All Holy Virgin Mary. The Church sets her before us in the cave beside her Son as the new Eve, the first and pre-eminent representative of the renewed human race, chosen and prepared by God throughout all generations, for the fulfilment of the Great Mystery of His Incarnation." (Synaxarion)
Here we follow the pattern of most major Feasts: on the day following feast , we honor those who also played a part in the accomplishment of God's plan.
The Flight into Egypt of the Holy Family
See Matthew ch. 2. Though St Matthew's account may leave the impression that the flight into Egypt was almost immediate, it would have been at least forty days after Christ's birth, following His Presentation in the Temple (Luke ch. 2). Christ, his holy Mother and his adoptive father St Joseph probably remained in Egypt for several years, until the death of Herod the Great.
St Nikolai Velimirovic (in the Prologue) relates the following tale: the holy family, fleeing into Egypt, were accosted by robbers, one of whom, seeing the Christ Child, was amazed at his supernatural beauty and said 'If God were to take human flesh Himself, He would not be more beautiful than this child!'. The robber told his companions to take nothing from the family. In gratitude the Mother of God told him 'This Child will reward you richly for having spared Him today.' Thirty years later it was this robber who was crucified at Christ's right hand, and was granted to hear the words 'Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise.'
Our Holy Father Euthymius the Confessor, Bishop of Sardis (840)
Bishop Euthymius was one of those assembled at the Seventh Ecumenical Council in Nicaea in 787; it was he who formulated the Council's official declaration on veneration of the holy icons. During the reign of Nicephorus I (802-811),Euthymius' enemies made false accusations against him that led to his being deposed and exiled for several years. He was called back to Constantinople by the iconoclast Emperor Leo the Armenian (813-820), who sought his support in attacking the icons; but Euthymius refused, and was exiled once more. On Leo's death, he was summoned before another iconoclast Emperor, Michael II (820-829), who in turn asked the Saint's support in his blasphemous campaign against the icons. The holy bishop not only refused, but cried out 'Let anyone who does not worship Our Lord Jesus Christ represented in image according to His humanity, be anathema!' The enraged Emperor exiled him again (his third exile), imprisoning him in a foul dungeon at the far east of the Black Sea for three years. He was then summoned to appear before his third Emperor in succession, the iconoclast Theophilus (829-42). For holding firm in the Faith once delivered to the saints, the holy bishop was mercilessly flogged with rods, then with the sinews of oxen until his body swelled up 'like a wineskin.' He was then thrown into a dungeon where, after eight days in terrible pain, he gave up his soul to God.
The Saint's precious relics worked many miracles, and were venerated in Constantinople until the City's fall in 1453, when they were taken to Cherson in the Crimea, then to Chilea near Chalcedon. When most of the Greeks were expelled from Asia Minor in 1922, the people of Chilea brought the Saint's skull to Greece, where a church was built in his honor in Pireus; the holy relic may be venerated there today.
Our Holy Father Constantine of Synnada (7th c.)
His parents were Jews living at Synnada in Phrygia. One day when he was nine years old, he saw a Christian merchant make the sign of the Cross in the marketplace; and in imitation, without understanding its meaning, he began to make the sign. This became a habit with him, and he began to imitate other practices of the Christians around him, still without any understanding of the Christian faith. But by the power of the Cross, the grace of Christ began to grow in him secretly. He began to hear a voice within him revealing some of the mysteries of Christianity, and he began to be filled with a fervent love for the Savior.
After the death of his mother, he fled his home town to escape an arranged marriage, and came in time to a monastery in Nicaea. He told his story to the abbot, who baptized him, giving him the name of Constantine. When the sign of the Cross was made on his head at baptism, a cross appeared visibly on his forehead, where it remained for the rest of his life.
The holy Constantine devoted the rest of his days to the ascetical life, excelling in every virtue. It is said that a delighful scent would fill any place that he went, and that church doors would open spontaneously at his approach. He comforted many by healing their ailments through his prayers, and was granted the gift of discerning the secrets of hearts. After living for some time in Nicaea, he travelled to Mt Olympus in Bithynia where he lived as a hermit. Seeing that there were many Jews living in that area, he strove for a time to preach the Gospel to them, but was unable to win many of his former brethren to faith in Christ. He foretold the date of his death eight years beforehand. His final words to his disciples were 'The Lord is coming to invite me to the feast of Joy.' He then died, and a fragrant scent filled his cell. His relics gave off a healing myrrh for many years.
The Sobor-Assemblage of the MostHoly Mother of God: On the day after the Nativity of Christ is celebrated the Sobor-Assemblage of the MostHoly Mother of God, commemorating together with Her also Saint Joseph the Betrothed, King David (an ancestor by flesh of the Lord Jesus Christ), and Saint James the Brother of the Lord, a son of the first marriage of Saint Joseph the Betrothed. Saint James accompanied his father Joseph and the Mother of God and the Divine-Infant Jesus on the Flight into Egypt.
Saint Joseph the Betrothed was descended from the lineage of King David. In his first marriage, he had four sons and two daughters. Having become a widower, Saint Joseph led a life of strict temperance. As an eighty year old elder Saint Joseph was chosen by the high-priests as a protector of the virginity of the MostHoly Mother of God, Who had taken a vow of virginity. An Angel announced to him about the Incarnation through Her of the Son of God. Saint Joseph was present during the worship of the NewBorn Divine-Infant by the shepherds, and also by the Magi. On the orders of the Angel he fled with the Mother of God and the God-Infant Jesus into Egypt, saving them from the wrath of king Herod. In Egypt he lived with the Virgin Mary and the God-Infant, earning his livelihood by work as a carpenter. Saint Joseph died at about one hundred years old (a 2nd Commemoration of Saint Joseph is on the Sunday of the Holy ForeFathers).
The Holy King and Prophet David was a forefather by flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ. The youngest son of Jesse, in his youth David shepherded a flock of sheep that belonged to his father. He was distinguished by his deep faith, and he zealously fulfilled the will of God. Thus, during the time of an invasion of the Philistines he vanquished in single combat the giant Goliath, which decided the outcome of the war in favour of the Israelite people. Having endured many wrongs from king Saul, who saw him as a favorite of the people and his rival also, David displayed his own decency and magnanimity. Twice having had the possibility to kill Saul, he did not. After Saul and his son perished, David was proclaimed king of the southern part of the Israelite realm, and after the killing of the second son of Saul, -- he became king of all Israel. He built a new capital -- Jerusalem ("the City of Peace"), and in it -- a new tabernacle; his great wish to build together with the tabernacle a temple was not realised. It was predicted to him, that his son would build the temple. The life of the Prophet David was darkened by a grievous falling: he took for himself the wife of Uriah, and Uriah himself he sent to his death in battle. But he also gave example of great repentance, humbly and with faith bearing to the uttermost the sorrows, sent in punishment for the sins committed. Saint David gave a model for repentance in Psalm 50 . King David died in extreme old age with steadfast faith of the coming into the world of the promised Divine Redeemer -- the Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ. In Divine-services and personal prayers his Divinely-inspired "Psalter" is widely used. (The Biblical Books of Kings and Chronicles tell about him).
The Holy Apostle James, Brother of the Lord, was the eldest son of Joseph the Betrothed from his first marriage with Solomonia. The Apostle James is remembered in the holy days after the feast of the Nativity of Christ together with his father Joseph and the Prophet King David, since by tradition, he accompanied the Holy Family during the Flight into Egypt and dwelt there together with the God-Infant Jesus, the Mother of God and Joseph, helping them, and he returned with them to Israel. After the Ascension of the Lord, Saint James was the first bishop of Jerusalem, gaining the great esteem not only of Christians, but also among Jews. He accepted a martyr's death for Christ: they threw him off from the roof of the Jerusalem Temple since he had publicly preached to the people about the God-manhood of the Lord Jesus Christ (a 2nd Commemoration of the Apostle James is 23 October).
The PriestMartyr Euthymios, Bishop of Sardica, during the period of the reign of the Byzantine emperor Constantine Porphyrigenitos (780-797) and the empress Irene (797-802), was chosen bishop of Sardica because of his virtuous life. He was also present at the Seventh OEcumenical Council (787), at which he denounced the Iconoclast heresy. When the Iconoclast emperor Nicephoros I (802-811) came to rule, Saint Euthymios together with other Orthodox hierarchs was banished to the island of Patalareia, where he languished for a long time. Recalled from exile by the emperor Leo V (813-820), the bishop again boldly entered into denunciation of the Iconoclast heresy, and they again sent him into exile to the city of Assia. The next emperor -- Michael II the Stutterer (820-829) again demanded that he renounce icon-veneration, but without success. Then the holy martyr was subjected to flogging and banished for a third time, to the island of Crete. Michael was succeeded on the throne by the Iconoclast emperor Theophilos (829-842), upon whose order Saint Euthymios was subjected to cruel tortures: they stretched him on four poles and beat at him with ox thongs. Saint Euthymios reposed to the Lord several days after the torture.
The Monk Constantine of Synada, a native of the city of Synada and by descent Jewish, from the time of his youth he felt an inclination towards the Christian faith. An attentive attitude to the teachings of Christ set aflame his heart, and in his early youth he left his parents to become a monastic. He was baptised with the name Constantine and took monastic tonsure. When they brought him the holy cross, he kissed it with love and placed it to his head. The image of the holy cross impressed itself upon him throughout all his life. Having spent his God-pleasing life in strict asceticism, Saint Constantine peacefully reposed to God.
The Monk Euarestes, a native of Galatia, was the son of illustrious parents. From his youth he yearned for the monastic life, and in particular he loved to read the books of Saint Ephrem the Syrian. Having settled into the Studite monastery, he pursued asceticism in strict fasting, vigil and prayer, wearing iron chains. He reposed peacefully to God at age 75 in the year 825.
THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:
1. The Synaxis of the Most-holy Theotokos
On the second day of the Nativity, the Christian Church gives glory and thanksgiving to the Most-holy Theotokos, who gave birth to our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ. This feast is called ``the Synaxis'' because on this day all of the faithful gather to glorify her, the Most-holy Theotokos, and to solemnly and universally celebrate a feast in her honor. In Ohrid, it has been the tradition from ancient times that, on the eve of the second day of Nativity, Vespers has been celebrated only in the Church of the Most-holy Theotokos called the Chieftain [Èelnica]. All the clergy with the people gather together to glorify the Most-pure Mother of God.
2. The Commemoration of the Flight into Egypt
The wise men (astrologers) from the East, having worshiped the Lord in Bethlehem, were directed to return to their home another way by command of an angel. Herod, that wicked king, planned to slaughter all the children in Bethlehem, but God saw Herod's intention and sent His angel to Joseph. The angel of God appeared to Joseph in a dream and commanded him to take the young Child and His Mother and flee to Egypt. Joseph did this. Taking the Divine Child and His Most-holy Mother, he traveled first to Nazareth (Luke 2:39), where he arranged his household matters, and then, taking his son James with them, went off to Egypt (Matthew 2:14). Thus the words of the prophet were fulfilled: Behold, the Lord rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt (Isaiah 19:1). In old Cairo today, the cave where the holy family lived can be seen. Likewise, in the village of Matarea near Cairo, the tree under which the Most-holy Theotokos rested with the Lord Jesus, as well as a miraculous spring of water under this tree, are visible. After having lived for several years in Egypt, the holy family returned to Palestine, again in response to a command of an angel of God. Thus another prophecy was fulfilled: Out of Egypt have I called my Son (Hosea 11:1). Herod was dead and his wicked son Archelaus-a worthy successor of him in evil-sat on his bloodstained throne. Hearing that Archelaus was reigning in Jerusalem, Joseph returned to Galilee, to his town of Nazareth, where he settled in his own home. Herod's second son, Herod the Younger, who was somewhat less evil than his brother Archelaus, then reigned in Galilee.
3. The Venerable Evarestus
Reading the works of St. Ephraim the Syrian, Evarestus left the diplomatic service and became a monk. He was very strict with himself: he wore chains over his body and ate dry bread only once a week. He lived for seventy-five years and took up his habitation with the Lord in about the year 825.
4. Saint Euthymius the Confessor, Bishop of Sardis
Euthymius attended the Seventh Ecumenical Council in Nicaea in 783 and spent about thirty years in exile for his veneration of icons. During the reign of Emperor Theophilus the Iconoclast, he was flogged with bullwhips, at which time he died a martyr's death, in the year 840, and received a wreath of glory in heaven.
5. The Venerable Constantine of Synnada
Constantine was a Jew who converted to Christianity. During his baptism he touched a Cross to his head, and a miraculous imprint of the Cross remained on his head until his death. He died in Constantinople in the seventh century. Famous for his asceticism and many miracles, he prophesied the day of his death seven years beforehand.
HYMN OF PRAISE
The Synaxis of the Most-holy Theotokos
At the border between night and sunny day,
The dawn is rosy, pink and dewy.
The crimson dawn thou art, O Virgin given by God,
Precursor of the day, rosy and glorious.
Thou didst correct Eve and restore her to Paradise.
Do not withhold thy help from us sinners.
Israel crossed dry-shod over the Red Sea;
A cool spring flowed from the rock in the wilderness;
The bush burned but was not consumed-
As the dawn resembles the crimson eve,
So thou, O Virgin, dost resemble those foreshadowings.
O thou whom the Church calls the Mother of God,
Unknown to sin, not given to sin,
O Most-pure Mother of our Savior,
Because of thy purity thou wast chosen by God,
To bring down the Eternal Creator to earth.
That is why thou hast authority to pray for us,
And we have the joy of hymning and glorifying thee!
A story of the Divine Christ-child: When the holy family fled before Herod's sword to Egypt, robbers leapt out on the road with the intention of stealing something. The righteous Joseph was leading the donkey, on which were some belongings and on which the Most-holy Theotokos was riding with her Son at her breast. The robbers seized the donkey to lead it away. At that moment, one of the robbers approached the Mother of God to see what she was holding next to her breast. The robber, seeing the Christ-child, was astonished at His unusual beauty and said in his astonishment: ``If God were to take upon Himself the flesh of man, He would not be more beautiful than this Child!'' This robber then ordered his companions to take nothing from these travelers. Filled with gratitude toward this generous robber, the Most-holy Virgin said to him: ``Know that this Child will repay you with a good reward because you protected Him today.'' Thirty-three years later, this same thief hung on the Cross for his crimes, crucified on the right side of Christ's Cross. His name was Dismas, and the name of the thief on the left side was Gestas. Beholding Christ the Lord innocently crucified, Dismas repented for all the evil of his life. While Gestas reviled the Lord, Dismas defended Him, saying: This man hath done nothing amiss. (Luke 23:41). Dismas, therefore, was the wise thief to whom our Lord said: Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise (Luke 23:43). Thus the Lord granted Paradise to him who spared Him in childhood.
Contemplate the purity of the Most-holy Mother of God:
1. On the immaculate purity of her body: passionless and disciplined by fasting;
2. On the immaculate purity of her heart, in which a sinful desire never dwelt;
3. On the immaculate purity of her mind, in which a sinful thought never dwelt.
on the Most-holy Virgin, the Theotokos
And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord (Luke 1:38).
Here indeed, brethren, is a true handmaid of the Lord! If a handmaid is she who exchanges her will completely for the will of her Lord, then the Most-holy Virgin is the first among all of the Lord's handmaids. If a handmaid is she who, with intent and with complete attention, beholds her Lord, then again the Most-holy Virgin is the first among the handmaids of the Lord. If a handmaid is one who meekly and quietly endures all insults and trials, awaiting only the reward of her Lord, then again and again the Most-holy Virgin is the first and most excellent of all the handmaids of the Lord. She did not care to please the world, but only God; nor did she care to justify herself before the world, but only before God. She herself is obedience; she herself is service; she herself is meekness. The Most-holy Virgin could in truth say to the angel of God: Behold the handmaid of the Lord. The greatest perfection, and the greatest honor that a woman can attain on earth, is to be a handmaid of the Lord. Eve lost this perfection and honor in Paradise without effort, and the Virgin Mary achieved this perfection and this honor outside Paradise with her efforts.
Through the prayers of the Most-holy Virgin Theotokos, O Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.