My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
A PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING
+In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Blessed is God, Who has shown mercy upon us, Who has provided nourishment for us from the days of our youth. As You provide sustenance for every living creature, Lord, fill our hearts also with joy and gladness. Thus, enjoying always a sufficiency in all things, we may all the more excel in every possible virtue and good work, and give proper glory, honor and worship to You, through Christ Jesus our Lord and in the Holy Spirit, unto the ages of ages. Amen.
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On November 25th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers and of every righteous soul made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Leave-taking (Apodosis) of the Entry of the Theotokos; The Holy Great Martyr Catherine of Alexandria; The Holy Great Martyr Mercurios of Caesarea; St. Seraphim, Archbishop of Smolensk, and Saints, Gregory, John, Basil, Cosmas, John, Simeon, Hilarion, Iaroslav, Alexander, John, Victor, Andrew, and Paul; Saint Clement of Ochrid; Saint Porphyrius the Commander, and 200 soldiers at Alexandria; 670 Holy Martyrs beheaded.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Great Martyrs, Holy Archbishops, Holy Ascetics, Holy Fathers, Holy Mothers, Holy Soldiers, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
THE HOLY AND GREAT MARTYR KATHERINE. The daughter of King Constus, she lived with her mother in Alexandria after her father's death. Her mother was secretly a Christian and, through her spiritual father, brought Katharine to the Christian faith. In a vision, Saint Katherine received a ring from the Lord Jesus Himself as a sign of her betrothal to Him. This ring remains on her finger to this day. Saint Katherine was greatly gifted by God, exceptionally well-educated in Greek philosophy, medicine, rhetoric and logic, and added great physical beauty to this. When the wicked Emperor Maxentius offered sacrifice to idols and ordered everyone to do the same, Saint Katherine came with daring before him and denounced his idolatrous errors. The pagan Roman emperor, seeing that she surpassed him in wisdom and learning, summoned fifty of the wisest men, to dispute with her about faith and put her to shame, but Saint Katherine was wiser than they, and put them to shame. The furious emperor commanded that all fifty wise men be burned. These wise men, at Saint Katherine's prayers, all confessed the name of Christ at the moment of death, and proclaimed themselves Christians. When the holy Martyr was in prison, she brought Porphyrius the general, with two hundred of his soldiers, to the Faith, and also the empress, August-Vasilissa. They all suffered for Christ. At Saint Katherine's martyrdom, an Angel of God appeared to her, stopping and breaking the wheel on which she was being tortured, and after that the Lord Christ Himself appeared to her, strengthening her. After many tortures, Saint Katherine was beheaded with the sword at the age of 18, on November 25th, 310 AD. Milk flowed from her body in place of blood. Her wonder-working holy relics are preserved at Saint Katherine's Monastery on the Sinai.
THE HOLY AND GREAT MARTYR MERCURIUS. When the pagan Roman Emperor Decius was once making war on the barbarians, there was in the army the commander of an Armenian regiment called the Martesians. This commander was called Mercurius. In the battle, an Angel of God appeared to St. Mercurius, put a sword in his hand and told him that he would overcome the enemy. Saint Mercurius displayed a wonderful courage, mowing the enemy down like grass with his sword. After this glorious victory, the emperor made him supreme commander of his army, but some jealous men denounced him to the emperor as a Christian. Saint Mercurius did not deny this before the emperor, but openly acknowledged it. He was most terribly tortured: cut with knives in strips and burned in a furnace, but an Angel of God appeared in the prison and healed him. Finally, the emperor pronounced the sentence that General Mercurius be beheaded with the sword in Cappadocia. When they beheaded him, his body became as white as snow, and from it there arose a wonderful, incense-like fragrance. Many of the sick were healed by his wonderworking holy relics. This glorious soldier of Christ suffered for the Faith sometime between 251 and 259 AD. [Source: The Prologue from Ochrid]
Apolytikion(Dismissal) Hymn Of the Feast. Fourth Tone
Today is the prelude of God's good will and the heralding of the salvation of mankind. In the temple of God, the Virgin is presented openly, and she proclaimeth Christ unto all. To her, then, with a great voice let us cry aloud: Rejoice, O Thou fulfillment of the Creator's dispensation.
Apolytikion(Dismissal) Hymn of Saint Catherine. Plagal of First Tone
Let us praise the all-lauded and noble bride of Christ, the godly Catherine, the guardian of Sinai and its defense, who is also our support and succor and our help; for with the Holy Spirit's sword she hath silenced brilliantly the clever among the godless; and being crowned as a Martyr, she now doth ask great mercy for us all.
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn of Saint Mercurius. Fourth Tone
Thy Martyr, O Lord, in his courageous contest for Thee received as the prize the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our Immortal God. For since he possessed Thy strength, he cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons' strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by his prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistles Lesson: Hebrews 9:1-7
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 10:38-42, 11:27-28
INSPIRING SAYINGS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY FATHERS AND HOLY MOTHERS:
"He who sufficiently knows and judges himself has not time to judge others." [Saint Philaret of Moscow]
THE ORTHODOX VENERATION OF MARY THE BIRTHGIVER OF GOD (PART II)
By Saint John Maximovitch
Mary told no one of the appearance of the Angel, but the Angel himself revealed to Joseph concerning Mary's miraculous conception from the Holy Spirit (St. Matthew 1:18-25); and after the Nativity of Christ, with a multitude of the heavenly host, he announced it to the shepherds. The shepherds, coming to worship the new-born One, said that they had heard of Him. Having previously endured suspicion in silence, Mary now also listened in silence and "kept in Her heart" the sayings concerning the Greatness of Her Son (St. Luke 2:8-19). She saw how Jesus advanced in wisdom; She heard Him at the age of twelve teaching in the Temple, and everything She "kept in Her heart" (St. Luke 2:21-51).
Even though full of grace, She did not yet fully understand in what the service and the greatness of Her Son would consist. The Hebrew conceptions of the Messiah were still close to Her, and natural feelings forced Her to be concerned for Him, preserving Him from labors and dangers which it might seem, were excessive. Therefore She favored Her Son involuntarily at first, which evoked His indication of the superiority of spiritual to bodily kinship (St. Matthew 12:46-49). "He had concern also over the honor of His Mother, but much more over the salvation of Her soul and the good of men, for which He had become clothed in the flesh" (Saint John Chrysostom, Commentary on John, Homily 21). Mary understood this and "heard the word of God and kept it" (St. Luke 11:27, 28). As no other person, She had the same feelings as Christ (Phil. 2:5), unmurmuringly bearing the grief of a mother when She saw Her Son persecuted and suffering. Rejoicing n the day of the Resurrection on the day of Pentecost She was clothed with "power from on high" (St. Luke 24:49). The Holy Spirit Who descended upon Her "taught (Her) all things" (St. John 14:26), and "instructed (Her) in all truth" (St. John 16:13). Being enlightened, She began to labor all the more zealously to perform what She had heard from Her Son and Redeemer, so as to ascend to Him and to be with Him.
The end of the earthly life of the Most Holy Mother of God was the beginning of Her Greatness. "Being adorned with Divine Glory" (Irmos of the Canon of the Dormition), She reigns with Him and has boldness towards Him as His Mother according to the flesh, and as one in spirit with Him, as one who performed the will of God and instructed others (St. Matthew 5:19). Merciful and full of love, She manifests Her love towards Her Son and God in love for the human race. She intercedes for it before the Merciful One, and going about the earth, She helps men.
Having experienced all the difficulties of earthly life, the Intercessor of the Christian race sees every tear, hears every groan and entreaty directed to Her. Especially near to Her are those who labor in the battle with the passions and are zealous for a God-pleasing life. But even in worldly cares She is an irreplaceable helper. "Joy of all who sorrow and intercessor for the offended, feeder of the hungry, consolation of travelers, harbor of the storm-tossed, visitation of the sick, protection and intercessor for the infirm, staff of old age, Thou art the Mother of God on high, O Most Pure One" (Sticheron of the Service of the Hodigitria). "The hope and intercessions and refuge of Christians," "The Mother of God unceasing in prayers" (Kontakion of Dormition), "saving the world by Thine unceasing prayer" (Theotokion of the Third Tone). "She day and night doth pray for us, and the scepters of kingdoms are confirmed by Her prayers" (daily Nocturne).
There is no intellect or words to express the greatness of Her Who was born in the sinful human race but became "More Honorable than the Cherubim and beyond compare more Glorious than the Seraphim." "Seeing the grace of the secret mysteries of God made manifest and clearly fulfilled in the Virgin, I rejoice; and I know not how to understand the strange and secret manner whereby the Undefiled has been revealed as alone chosen above all creation, visible and spiritual. Therefore, wishing to praise her, I am struck dumb with amazement in both mind and speech. Yet still I dare to proclaim and magnify Her: "She is indeed the heavenly Tebernacle" (Ikos of the Entry into the Temple). "Every tongue is at a loss to praise Thee as is due; even a spirit from the world above is filled with dizziness, when it seeks to sing Thy praises, O Theotokos. But since Thou art good, accept our faith. Thou knowest well our love inspired by God, for Thou art the Protector of Christians, and we magnify Thee" (Irmos of the 9th Canticle, Service of the Theophany).
MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God