The Holy and Divine Nativity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Part II)

"And when the fullness of time was come, God sent His Only-begotten Son" (Gal. 4:4), to save the human race. And when the ninth month had come after the Archangel Gabriel appeared to the Most Holy Virgin in Nazareth, saying: "Hail (Rejoice), thou that art highly favored...thou shalt conceive and bear a son"-- at that time a decree went forth from Caesar Augustus that all the inhabitants of the Roman Empire be taxed. In accordance with this decree, everyone had to go to his own town and there be inscribed. Therefore righteous Joseph came with the Most Holy Virgin to Bethlehem, the city of David, for they were both of the royal House of David. But, there being a great many people in that small city for the census, Joseph and Mary could not find lodging in any house, and found shelter in a cave which the shepherds used as a sheepfold. In this cave the Most Holy Virgin gave birth to the Savior of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ.

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The Holy and Divine Nativity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ

The Feast of the Birth of Christ as a man is the capital of feasts, as Saint John Chrysostom says. All the other feasts of the Lord--Epiphany (Theophany), the Transfiguration, the Passion, the Cross, the Resurrection and the Ascension of Christ--follow from the Nativity. Without the Nativity there would have been no resurrection, but also without the Resurrection the purpose of the Divine Incarnation would not have been fulfilled. All the feasts of the Lord are unified. We separate them in order to celebrate them and to look more closely into their content. In every Divine Liturgy we live through all the events of the Divine Incarnation. Therefore, according to the Holy Fathers, it is always Christmas, always Pascha, always Pentecost.

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The Feastday of Saint Spyridon the Wonderworker and Bishop of Tremithus

Saint Spyridon of Tremithus was born towards the end of the 3rd century on the island of Cyprus. He was a shepherd, and had a wife and children. He used all his substance for the needs of his neighbors and the homeless, for which the Lord rewarded him with a gift of wonderworking. He healed those who were incurable sick, and cast out demons.

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The Conception by Saint Anna of the Holy Theotokos

The righteous Joachim and Anna were childless for 20 years of their married life. In their old age the Archangel Gabriel appeared to each one of them separately, telling them that God had heard their prayers and that they would give birth to a daughter, Mary. Then Saint Anna conceived by the husband and after nine months bore a daughter blessed by God and by all generations of men the Most-Holy Virgin Mary, the Theotokos.

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The Holy Feastday of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Myra in Lycia

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My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.

ON NOVEMBER 6TH OUR HOLY ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CHURCH COMMEMORATES THE FEAST OF SAINT NICHOLAS THE WONDERWORKER, ARCHIBISHOP OF MYRA IN LYCIA

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Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn of Nicholas the Wonderworker. Fourth Tone

A model of faith and the image of gentleness, the example of your life has shown you forth to your sheep-fold to be a master of temperance. You obtained thus through being lowly, gifts from on high, and riches through poverty. Nicholas, our father and priest of priests, intercede with Christ our God that He may save our souls.

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Kontakion of Nicholas the Wonderworker. Third Tone

Saintly One, (Saint Nicholas) in Myra you proved yourself a priest; for the fulfilling the Gospel of Christ, venerable One, you laid down your life for your people and saved the innocent from death. For this you were sanctified as One learned in Divine grace.

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This Saint, famed throughout the entire world today, was the only son of his eminent and wealthy parents, Theophanes and Nona, citizens of Patara in Lycia. They dedicated to God the only son He gave them. Saint Nicholas was instructed in spiritual life by his uncle Nicolas, Bishop of Patara, and became a monk at 'New Sion', a Monastery founded by his uncle. On the death of his parents, Nicolas distributed all the property he inherited to the poor and kept nothing back for himself. As a priest in Patara, he was known for his charitable works, fulfilling the Lord's words: "Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth" (St. Matthew 6:3). When he embraced a life of solitude and silence, thinking to live in that way until his death, a voice from on high came to him: "Nicolas, set about your work among the people if you desire to receive a crown from Me." Immediately after that, by God's wondrous Providence, he was chosen as Archbishop of the city of Myra in Lycia. Merciful, wise and fearless, Nicolas was a true shepherd to his flock. He was cast into prison during the persecutions of Diocletian and Maximian, but even there continued to instruct the people in the Law of God. He was present at the First Ecumenical Synod (Council) in Nicaea in 325 AD, and, in his zeal, struck Arius the heretic, with his hand. For this act, he was removed from the Council and from his episcopal duties, until some of the chief hierarchs had a vision of our Lord Christ and His Most Holy Mother showing their sympathy with Nicolas.

This wonderful Saint was a defender of the Truth of God, and was ever a spirited champion of justice among the people. On two occasions, he saved three men from undeserved sentences of death. Merciful, trustworthy and loving right, he walked among the people like an Angel of God. People considered him a Saint even during his lifetime, and invoked his aid when in torment or distress. He would appear both in dreams and in reality to those who called upon him for help, responding speedily to them, whether close at hand or far away. His face would shine with Light as Moses' did aforetime, and his mere presence among people would bring solace, peace and goodwill. In old age, he sickened of a slight illness, and went to his rest in the Lord after a life full of labor and fruitful toil. He now enjoys eternal happiness in the Kingdom of Heaven, continuing to help the faithful on earth by his miracles, and to spread the glory of God. He entered into rest on December 6th, 343 AD.

FOR CONSIDERATION

On holy icons of Saint Nicholas, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will often be seen on one side with the Gospels in His hand, and the Most Holy Mother of God, the Theotokos, on the other with an Episcopal Stole in hers. This has a twofold historical significance: it denotes, firstly, Saint Nicholas' calling to Episcopal Office, and secondly his vindication and reinstatement following the punishment for his clash with the heretic Arius. Saint Methodios, Patriarch of Constantinople, writes: "One night, Saint Nicholas saw out Savior in glory, standing by him and holding out to him the Gospels adorned with gold and pearls, and the Mother of God standing on his other side and placing a pallium on his shoulders. Shortly after this vision, John, the then Archbishop of Myra, died, and Saint Nicholas was installed as Archbishop of that city. That was the first occasion. The second occurred at the time of the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea. Unable to put a stop by argument to the senseless blasphemy of the heretic Arius against the Son of God and His Most Pure Mother, Saint Nicholas struck Arius in the face. The holy Fathers at the Council strongly disapproved of such behavior, and they banned Saint Nicholas from the Council and stripped him of all marks of his episcopal rank. That very night, several of the Fathers had the selfsame vision: how the Lord stood on one side of Saint Nicolas with the Gospels and the Mother of God on the other side with a pallium (omophorion), offering to the Saint those marks of rank that had been stripped from him. Seeing this, the holy Fathers were amazed, and quickly returned to Saint Nicholas that which they had taken from him. They began from that time to respect him as a great man, and to interpret his action against the heretic Arius not as some senseless rage but as the expression of great zeal for God's Truth. (Source: The Prologue from Ochrid).

Please note: Take time to speak and relay the true life of Saint Nicholas to your Christian children.

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DIVINE SERVICES FOR THE FEAST OF SAINT NICHOLAS:

This evening at 7:00 p.m. Great Vespers

Tomorrow, Wednesday November 6th:

Orthros (Matins) at 9:00 a.m.
Divine Liturgy followed by the holy service of Artoklasia ("Breaking of the Bread") at 10:00 a.m.

Place of worship: Saint Andrew

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"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom

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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George

The Holy Feastday of Saint and Great Martyr Barbara

This famous follower of Christ was betrothed to Him from her early years. Her father, Dioscorus, was a pagan in the city of Heliopolis in Egypt, and was famed for his wealth and standing. Dioscorus shut up his daughter, who was both intelligent and beautiful, in a high tower, surrounded her with all possible comforts, gave her a host of attendants, set up idols for worship and built her a bathroom with two windows. As she gazed through the windows of the tower upon the earth below and the starry sky above, Barbara's mind was opened by the grace of God, and she came to know Him as the One, True God and Creator, although she had no human teacher to bring her to the knowledge of Him.

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Overview of the Books of the Holy Bible

This introduction is a brief description of each of the forty-nine (49) books of the Old Testament. It is helpful to keep in mind that, like the earliest Christian community, the Orthodox Church of today continues using the Greek version of the Old Testament as the Septuagint (LXX). The Septuagint--referencing the seventy (70) scholars, from all twelve Jewish tribes, who made the translation from the Hebrew into Greek--became the universally accepted version of the Old Testament since the time of its appearance some three centuries before the birth of Christ. Our Lord Jesus Christ, together with His Apostles and Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and also Peter and Paul, used this Greek version when quoting the Old Testament in their gospels and epistles. These inspired Old Testament Books tell the story of God's with ancient Israel, from approximately 2000 B.C. until the time of Jesus.

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