The Feastday of Saint Valsios (Blaise) and Saint Theodora the Empress

Saint Theodora the Empress

Saint Theodora the Empress

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 ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.

FROM SAINT JOHN CHRYSOSTOM

"Do you see what a great thing gentleness is? More than any vehemence, it pricks our hearts, inflicts a keener wound. For in the case of bodies which have become callous, the man that strikes upon them does not affect the sense so powerfully, but if he first mollify them and make them tender, then he pierces them effectually. But that which softens is not wrath, not vehement accusation, not personal abuse; it is gentleness."

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TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):

On February 11th 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: Saint Vlasios (Blaise), Bishop of Sevaste; Saint Theodore the Empress, protectress of Orthodox Christiantiy; New Holy Martyr George of Serbia (+1515); Saint Demetrios of Prilursk; Saint Vsevolod, Prince of Pskov; Finding of the holy relics of Prophet Zacharias, father of Saint John the Baptist and Forerunner; Saint Gobnata of Ireland; "Corfu" Holy Icon of the Theotokos (Mother of God).

+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Bishops, Holy Empress, Holy Princes, Holy Prophets, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.

THE HIEROMARTYR VLASIOS (BLAISE), BISHOP OF SEVASTE. Born in Cappadocia, Saint Vlasios (Blaise) was meek and God-fearing from early childhood. He was chosen for his virtues as Bishop of Sevaste, and was a great spiritual and moral light in the pagan town. During a period of violent persecution of Christians, Saint Vlasios (Blaise) encouraged his flock and visited the holy martyrs in prison, among whom was the famous Efstratius (Eustratios).

When the city of Sevaste was left entirely denuded of Christians--some killed and other fled--Saint Vlasios, by then was an old man, retired to the mountain of Argeos and lived there in a cave. Ferocious wild beasts, recognizing a holy man, came to him and he gently tamed them. But the persecutors found the Saint in that hidden spot and took him for trial. On the way there, Saint Vlasios (Blaise) healed a boy who had a bone struck in his throat and, at the petition of a poor widow, made the wolf that had taken her pig return it to her. He contested for the Faith under Licinius in the year 316 AD. Saint Vlasios (Blaise) is invoked for the healing of throat ailments. The benighted judges tortured him, flogging him terribly. By his steadfastness in the Christian faith, Saint Vlasios brought many unbelievers to the Faith. Seven women and two children were thrown into prison with him; the women were slain first, than Saint Vlasios (Blaise) and the two children. He suffered and was glorified in the year of Our Lord 316 AD.

SAINT THEODORA THE EMPRESS. The Empress was from Paphlagonia and was the daughter of a certain Marinos, the commander of a military regiment. While being the wife of the wicked Emperor Theophilos, the last of iconoclasts (opponents of holy icons), she adorned the royal diadem with her virtue and piety. As long as her husband lived, she privately venerated holy icons, despise his displeasure. After the death of Theophilos, Saint Theodora reigned and governed the Empire wisely for fifteen years with her son who was not yet of age to rule. Michael III, the veneration of the Holy Icons being immediately restored at the Council of Constantinople in 842 AD. This was the occasion of the institution of the feast of the Triumph of Orthodoxy, which is celebrated to this day on the First Sunday in the Great Fast. This holy woman, who gave such service to the Church, gave her soul to God on February 11th, 867 AD. By the wonderful providence of God, it was at that time of the total Triumph of Orthodoxy over the heresies that Saints Cyril and Methodios were sent as missionaries to the Slav peoples. In 857 AD she forsook her royal power and entered a certain women's monastery in Constantinople called Gastria, where she finished the course of her life in holiness and reposed in the Lord. Her sacred and incorrupt remains, are found in the Greek island of Corfu (Kerkyra), in the church of the Most Holy Theotokos of the Cave, in the capital city of the island.

Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. Fourth Tone

As a sharer of the ways and a successor to the throne of the Apostles, O inspired of God, thou foundest discipline to be a means of ascent to divine vision.

Wherefore, having rightly divided the word of truth, thou didst also contest for the Faith even unto blood, O Hieromartyr Blaise. Intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved

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Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn of St. Theodora the Empress. Plagal First

As a right worthy namesake of gifts bestowed of God, and a divinely-wrought image of holy wisdom and faith, thou didst make the Church to shine with godly piety; for thou didst demonstrate to all that the Saints in every age have shown honor to the icons, O Theodora, thou righteous and fair adornment of the Orthodox.

TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:

Holy Epistle Lesson: Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:1-6
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 10:1, 5-8

PREPARATION BEFORE HOLY COMMUNION

Psalm 24

The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein; for He has founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the rivers.

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false, and does not bear false witness.

He will receive blessing from the Lord, and vindication from the God of his salvation. Such is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob.

Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors! That the King of glory may come in! Who is the King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle! Lift up your heads, O gates! That the King of glory may come in! Who is the King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory!

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A PRAYER OF SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS

Lord Jesus Christ, my God, You alone have the power to forgive sins. In Your love and goodness forgive all the sins that I have committed, whether in knowledge or in ignorance, in word or in deed. Make me worthy without condemnation to receive Your Divine, glorious, pure and Life-Giving Mysteries. Grant that my communion of Your Body and Blood be not unto my punishment or increase of sins but unto my cleansing of soul, purification of body, protection against adversaries and pledge of eternal life in Your Kingdom. For You are the God of mercy and compassion, and to You I give glory, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

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A PRAYER OF SAINT JOHN CHRYSOSTOM

O Lord, my God, I know that I am not worthy that You should enter into my soul's habitation because it is desolate and in ruins. You will find no fitting place therein to lay Your head.

But as from on high You humbled Yourself and came to us, so now submit to the measure of my lowliness. As You consented to lie in a manger, consent now to come into the manger of my soul and body. As You did not scorn to enter and to dine with sinners in the house of Simon the leper, scorn not to enter into the house of my humble soul, although I, too, am a sinner and leper. As You did not cast out the sinful woman, a harlot, when she approached to touch You, so have also compassion on me, a sinner, as I approach to touch You.

Lord and Master, let the burning fire of Your Holy Body and Precious Blood be unto me for cleansing, enlightenment and strengthening of my soul and body; for relief of the burden of my many transgressions, protection from all diabolical influence, restraint of my sinful habits and the putting to death of my evil passions; for help in obeying Your Commandments, growth in Your grace and attainment of Your Kingdom.

I come to You, Christ my God, not in presumption but taking courage from Your loving goodness, and that I may not, by long abstaining from Your communion, become prey to the adversary. I entreat You, my Lord, Who alone are Holy, sanctify my soul and heart, my feelings and emotions. Renew me wholly, implant Your awe in my being, and imprint Your mark of Holiness on me. Become my helper and protector, guide my life in peace and make me worthy to stand with Your Saints at the right hand of Your glory, through the intercessions of Your Pure Mother, of the heavenly Powers and of all Your Saints. Amen.

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Divine Services on Thursday, February 11th:

Orthros (Matins) at 9:00 a.m.
Divine Liturgy at 10:00 a.m.

Place of worship: Saint Nektarios Chapel.

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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.

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Glory Be To GOD For All Things!

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

+Father George