My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
A MORNING PRAYER
+In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
As I rise from sleep I thank Thee, O Holy Trinity, for because of Thy Great Goodness and long-suffering Thou wast not wroth with me, the slothful and sinner, nor didst Thou destroy me in mine iniquities, but didst show Thy wonted love for man, and when I was prostrate in despair, Thou didst raise me to keep the morning watch and glorify Ty dominion. And now enlighten Thou the eyes of my mind, open my mouth to meditate on Thy words and to understand Thy Commandments, and to do Thy Will, and to chant unto Thee in heartfelt confession, and praise Thine All-Holy Name, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On December 4th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors, and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints: Holy Great Martyr Barbara and her fellow Martyr Juliana; our Righteous Father John of Damascus, Monk and Presbyter of Mar Savvas Monastery; our Righteous Father John the Wonderworker, Bishop of Polyvotos in Phrygia; Holy Martyrs Christodoulos and Christodoula were perfected in martyrdom by the sword; Holy New Hieromartyr Seraphim, Bishop of Phanarion, was perfected in martyrdom by impalement in the year 1601 AD; Saint Peter Chrysologos, Bishope of Revenna; our Father among the Saints Gennadius, Bishop of Novgorod.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Wonderworkers, Holy Bishops, Holy Presbyters, Holy Ascetics, Holy Fathers, Holy Mothers, Holy Evangelists, Holy Preachers, Holy Virgins, O Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
THE HOLY GREAT MARTYR BARBARA AND OUR RIGHTEOUS FATHER JOHN OF DAMASCUS. Saint Barbara was from Heliopolis of Phoenicia and lived during the reign of Maximian. Saint Barbara was the daughter of a certain idolater named Dioscoros. When Barbara came of age, she was enlightened in her pure heart and secretly believed in the Holy Trinity. About this time Dioscoros began building a bath-house; before it was finished he was required to go away to attend to certain matters, and in his absence Barbara directed the workmen to build a third window in addition to the two her father had commanded. She also inscribed the sign of the Cross with her finger upon the marble of the bath-house, leaving the saving sign cut as deeply into the marble as if it had been done with an iron tool. When the Synaxarion of Saint Barbara was written, the marble of the bath-house and the cross inscribed by Saint Barbara were still preserved and many healings were worked there. When Dioscoros returned, he asked why the third window had been added; Saint Barbara began to declare to him the mystery of the Holy Trinity. Because she refused to renounce her faith, Dioscoros, her father, tortured St. Barbara, his daughter, inhumanly, and after subjecting her to many sufferings he beheaded her with his own hands, in the year of our Lord 290.
SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS. Saint John was born in Damascus about the year 675 AD, the son of wealthy and pious parents, of the family of Mansur. He was reared together with Saint Cosmas (see October 14th), who had been adopted by Saint John's father Sergius, a man of high rank in the service of the Caliph of Damascus. Both of these young men were instructed by a certain monk, also named Cosmas, who had been taken captive in Italy by the Arabs and later ransomed by Saint John's father. Saint John became a great philosopher and enlightener of the age in which he lived, and was honored by the Caliph with the dignity of counselor.
When Emperor Leo the Isaurian (reigned 717-741 AD) began his war on the holy icons, Saint John wrote epistles defending their veneration. Since the Saint, being under the Caliph of Damascus, was beyond Leo's power, the Iconoclast Emperor had a letter forged in Saint John's handwriting which invited Leo to attack Damascus, saying the city guard was then weak; Leo then sent this letter to the Caliph, who in his fury punished Saint John's supposed treason with the severing of his right hand. The Saint obtained the Caliph's permission to have his severed hand again, and that night prayed fervently to the Most Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary before her holy icon. She appeared to him in a dream and healed his hand, which, when he awoke, he found to be healed in truth. This miracle convinced the Caliph of his innocence, and he restored him to his office as counselor. The Saint, however, with many pleadings obtained his permission to withdraw from the world to become a monk. He assumed the monastic habit in the Monastery of Saint Savvas. There he had as elder (geronda) a very simple and austere monk who commanded him neither to write to anyone, nor to speak of the worldly knowledge he had acquired, and Saint faithfully obeyed. A monk grieving over his brother's death, however, after insisting vehemently, prevailed upon Saint John to write a funeral hymn to console him for his brother's death. When Saint John's elder learned of his transgression of the rule he had given him, he cast him out of his cell, and would only accept him back after Saint John had humbly, with much self-condemnation and without murmuring, consented to clean all the latrines in the lavra. After his elder had received him back, our Lady Theotokos appeared to the elder and sternly charged him not to hinder Saint John any longer from his writings and composition of hymns.
In his writings he fought courageously against the Iconoclasts Leo the Isaurian and his son Constantine Copronymus. He was also the first to write a refutation of Islam. The time he had spent as a counselor in the courts of the Muslims of Damascus had given him opportunity to learn their teachings at first hand, and he wrote against their errors with a sound understanding of their essence. Saint John was surnamed Chrysorroas ("Golden-stream") because of the eloquence of his rhetorical style and the great abundance of his writings; this name--Chrysorroas--was also the name of the river that flows by Damascus. In his writings he set forth the Orthodox Faith with exactness and order. In his old age, after his foster-brother Cosmas had been made bishop of Maiuma, Saint John also was ordained presbyter by the Patriarch of Jerusalem. Having lived eighty-four years, he reposed in peace in 760 AD. In addition to his theological writings, he adorned the Church of Christ with metrical and prose hymns and composed many of the Prosomia used as the models for the melodies of the Church's liturgical chant; he also composed many of the sacred hymns for the feasts of the Lord Savior and the Theotokos. The life of Saint John of Damascus was written by John, Patriarch of Jerusalem.
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn of the Holy Martyr. Fourth Tone
Let us honor Saint Barbara, for she hath broken the snares of the enemy; and like a sparrow, she, the all-modest maiden, was delivered out of them by the help and weapon of the Cross.
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn of the Righteous One. Plagal of Fourth Tone
Guide of Orthodoxy, teacher of piety and holiness, luminary of the world, God-inspired adornment of monastics, O wise John, by thy teachings thou hast enlightened all, O harp of the Spirit. Intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Galatians 3:23-29; 4:1-5
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Mark 5:24-34
INSPIRING SAYINGS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"My child, do not listen at all to these thoughts of hatred towards the brethren, but drive them away immediately, and start saying the prayer, or tell Satan, 'The more you bring me thoughts of hatred, devil, the more I will love my brethren. For I have an order from my Christ not only to love them, but even to sacrifice myself for them, just as Christ sacrificed Himself for me, the wretch'. And at once embrace the things about them that annoy you, and say, 'Just look how much I love them. O envious Satan! I will die for them!' By doing this, God sees your good intentions and the method you are using to conquer the devil, and He will come at once to your aid to deliver you." (Geronda [Elder Ephraim Philotheitis).
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