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 ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
ON JANUARY 17TH WE COMMEMORATE THE FEAST OF OUR HOLY FATHER ANTONIOS (ANTHONY) THE GREAT
Saint Antonios (Anthony) was an Egyptia, born about 250 AD in a village called Quemen-el-Arons near Heracleopolis. After the death of his rich and noble parents, he shared his inherited possessions with his sister, who was still in her minority, made sure that she was cared for, gave away his half of the inheritance to the poor and, at the age of twenty, consecrated himself to the life of asceticism that he had desired from childhood. At first he lived near his own village but then, in order to escape the disturbance of men, went off into the desert, on the shores of the Red Sea, where he spent twenty years as a hermit in company with no-one but God, in Unceasing Prayer, pondering and contemplation, patiently undergoing inexpressible demonic temptations. His fame spread through the whole world and around him gathered many disciples whom he, by word and example, placed on the path of salvation. In eighty-five years of ascetic life, he went only twice to Alexandria: the first time to seek martyrdom during a time of persecution of the Church, and the second at the invitation of Saint Athanasius the Great, to refute the Arian heresy. He departed this life at the age of 105, leaving behind a whole army of disciples and followers. And, although Saint Antonios was unlettered (uneducated) he was, as a counselor and teacher, one of the most learned men of his age, as also was Saint Athanasios the Great. When some Hellenic (Greek) philosophers tried to test him with literary learning, Saint Antonios shamed them with the question: 'Which is older, the understanding or the book? And which of these is the source of the other? The shamed philosophers dispersed, for they saw that they had only book-learning without understanding, while Saint Anthony had understanding. Here was a man who had attained perfection insofar as man is able on earth. Here was an educator of educators and teacher of teachers, who for a whole 85 years perfected himself, and only thus was able to perfect many others. Full of years and great works, Saint Antonios entered into rest in the Lord in the year 356 AD.
Saint Athanasius says of him that "countenance had a great and wonderful grace. This gift also he had from the Savior. For if he were present in a great company of monks, and any one who did not know him previously wished to see him, immediately coming forward he passed by the rest, and hurried to Saint Anthony, as though attracted by his appearance. Yet neither in height nor breadth was he conspicuous above others, but in the serenity of his manner and the purity of his soul."
So passing his life, and becoming an example of virtue and a rule for monastics, he reposed on January 17th.
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. Fourth Tone
Emulating the ways of Elias the zealot, and following the straight paths of the Baptist, O Father Anthony, thou madest of the wilderness a city, and didst support the world by thy prayers. Wherefore intercede with Christ Our God that our souls be saved.
Kontakion Hymn. Second Tone
Thou leftest behind all earthly cares and turbulence, and leddest a life of stillness and tranquility, emulating John the Baptist in every way, O most righteous one. Wherefore, we acclaim thee with him, O first of the Fathers, Father Anthony.
Saint Antonios teaches: "Learn to desire humility, for that will cover all your sins. All sin is hateful to God, but the most hateful of all is pride of heart. Do not consider yourself learned (educated) of wise, or all your toil will be lost and your ship will arrive empty at the shore...If you have great power, threaten no man with death; know that according to nature you also are subject to death and that each soul takes off its body as its final clothing."
In Byzantium there was a strange and instructive custom at the coronation of the Emperor in Saint Sophia's. This was that, when the Patriarch placed the crown on the Emperor's head, he at the same time placed in his hand a silk purse filled with grave-dust, that the Emperor might be mindful of his death, flee all pride and be humble.
ON JANUARY 18TH WE COMMEMORATE THE FEAST DAY OF SAINT ATHANASIOS THE GREAT, ARCHBISHOP OF ALEXANDRIA
Saint Athanasios the Great was born in Alexandria in 296 AD, he had from childhood an inclination to the spiritual life. He was a deacon with Archbishop of Alexander and accompanied him to Nicaea, to the First Ecumenical Council in 325 AD. At this Synod (Council), Saint Athanasius became famed for his learning, his devotion and his zeal for Orthodoxy, and contributed very greatly to the containing of the Arian heresy and the strengthening of Orthodox Christianity. After the death of Alexander, Saint Athanasius was chosen as Archbishop of Alexandria. He remained in his achiepiscopal calling for more than 40 years, although he was not on the archiepiscopal throne the whole time. He was persecuted by heretics through almost the whole of his life, particularly by the Emperors Constantius, Julian and Valens, by Bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia and many others, and by the heretic Arius and his followers. He was forced to hide from his persecutors in a well, a grave, private houses and the deserts. Twice he was forced to flee to Rome. Only just before his death did he have a peaceful period as a good shepherd with his flock, which truly loved him. There are few Saints who have been so callously slandered and so criminally persecuted as Saint Athanasius. But his great soul endured all with patience for the love of Christ and at last emerged victorious from all these terrible and lengthy struggles. He often went to Saint Anthony for advice and moral support, revering him as his spiritual father. He suffered greatly for the Truth, until the Lord gave him rest in His Kingdom as His faithful servant, in the year 373 AD.
Saint Gregory the Theologian, in his Oration On the Great Athanasius, said he was "Angelic in appearance, more angelic in mind;...rebuking with the tenderness of a father, praising with the dignity of a ruler...Everything was harmonious, as an air upon a single lyre, and in the same key; his life, his teaching, his struggles, his dangers, his return, and his conduct after his return...he treated so mildly and gently those who has injured him, that even they themselves, if I may say so, did not find his restoration distasteful."
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. Third Tone
Shining forth with works of Orthodoxy, ye quenched every false belief and teaching and became trophy-bearers and conquerors. And since ye made all things rich with true piety, greatly adorning the Church with magnificence, Athanasius and wise Cyril, ye both have worthily found Christ God, Who doth grant great mercy unto all.
Kontakion Hymn. Fourth Tone
Great high priest of piety and noble champions of the holy Church of Christ, keep and preserve all those who chant: O most compassionate Lord, do Thou graciously save those who faithfully honor Thee.
To the question, why did the Son of God reveal Himself to the world as man and not in the shape of some other creature, the wise Saint Athanasius replied thus: "If they ask why He did not reveal Himself in the form of some greater creature: for example, the sun, the moon or stars, or as flame or space, but as man, let them know that the Lord did not come simply to reveal Himself but to heal and teach those that suffer. For simply to reveal Himself and make His spectators marvel would mean to come as a show. Coming as a Healer and Teacher, He had not only to come, but to come in such a way that the revelation should be bearable to the wretched men whom He had come to serve. No single creature has been in error in the eyes of God save man alone; neither the sun nor the moon nor the sky, the stars nor water nor space has been unfaithful to its state, but, on the contrary, knowing their Creator and their King--the Logos/Word--they will live as they were created. Only human beings have turned themselves from good and changed that truth which belongs to God into deceit, as they transferred the knowledge of Him to devils and idols. What is there, therefore, unlikely in the Logo's/ Word's (the Son of God's) revealing Himself as man in order to save mankind?" Indeed, we ask the unbelievers of our generation: 'In what form would you wish God to reveal Himself, if not as man?" (Source: The Prologue from Ochrid)
DIVINE SERVICES FOR THE 17TH AND 18TH
Orthros (Matins) at 9:00 a.m.
Divine Liturgies at 10:00 a.m.
Place of Worship: Chapel of Saint Nektarios
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God