Wednesday, June 30, 2010

June 30th: Synaxis of the Holy and most praiseworthy Twelve Apostles

The Synaxis of the Glorious and All-Praiseworthy Twelve Apostles of Christ appears to be an ancient Feast. The Church honors each of the Twelve Apostles on separate dates during the year, and has established a general commemoration for all of them on the day after the commemoration of the Glorious and First-Ranked among the Apostles Peter and Paul. The holy God-crowned Emperor Constantine the Great (May 21) built a church in Constantinople in honor of the Twelve Apostles. There are instructions for celebrating this Feast which date from the fourth century.
The Twelve Apostles are:
1. Peter: Renamed by Jesus to Peter (meaning rock), his original name was Simon bar Jonah
2. Andrew: The brother of Simon/Peter.
3. James, son of Zebedee: The brother of John.
4. John: The brother of James. Jesus named both of them Bo-aner'ges, which means "sons of thunder'.''
5. Philip: From the Bethsaida of Galilee
6. Bartholomew, son of Talemai; usually identified with Nathanael.
7. Matthew: The tax collector.
8. Thomas: Judas Thomas Didymus - Aramaic T'oma' = twin, and Greek Didymos = twin.
9. James, son of Alphaeus: Generally identified with "James the Less."
10. Thaddeus.
11. Simon the Zealot
12. Matthias as an apostle shortly after Jesus' resurrection. He replaced Judas Iscariot.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

June 29th: Feast of SS. Peter and Paul, Prime Apostles

Sermon of Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo
Today the Holy Church piously remembers the sufferings of the Holy Glorious and All-Praised Apostles Peter and Paul.
St. Peter, the fervent follower of Jesus Christ, for the profound confession of His Divinity: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God," was deemed worthy by the Savior to hear in answer, "Blessed art thou, Simon ... I tell thee, that thou art Peter [Petrus], and on this stone [petra] I build My Church" (Mt.16:16-18). On "this stone" [petra], is on that which thou sayest: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God" it is on this thy confession I build My Church. Wherefore the "thou art Peter": it is from the "stone" [petra] that Peter [Petrus] is, and not from Peter [Petrus] that the "stone" [petra] is, just as the Christian is from Christ, and not Christ from the Christian. Do you want to know, from what sort of "rock" [petra] the Apostle Peter [Petrus] was named? Hear the Apostle Paul: "Brethren, I do not want ye to be ignorant," says the Apostle of Christ, "how all our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ" (1 Cor.10: 1-4). Here is the from whence the "Rock" is Peter.
Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the final days of His earthly life, in the days of His mission to the race of man, chose from among the disciples His twelve Apostles to preach the Word of God. Among them, the Apostle Peter for his fiery ardor was vouchsafed to occupy the first place (Mt.10:2) and to be as it were the representative person for all the Church. Therefore it is said to him, preferentially, after the confession: "I will give unto thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in the heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth: shall be loosed in heaven" (Mt.16: 19). Therefore it was not one man, but rather the One Universal Church, that received these "keys" and the right "to bind and loosen." And that it was actually the Church that received this right, and not exclusively a single person, turn your attention to another place of the Scriptures, where the same Lord says to all His Apostles, "Receive ye the Holy Spirit" and further after this, "Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them: and whose soever sins ye retain, are retained" (John 20: 22-23); or: "whatsoever ye bind upon the earth, shall be bound in Heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth, shall be loosened in heaven" (Mt.18:18). Thus, it is the Church that binds, the Church that loosens; the Church, built upon the foundational cornerstone, Jesus Christ Himself (Eph 2:20), doth bind and loosen. Let both the binding and the loosening be feared: the loosening, in order not to fall under this again; the binding, in order not to remain forever in this condition. Therefore "Iniquities ensnare a man, and everyone is bound in the chains of his own sins," says Wisdom (Prov 5:22); and except for Holy Church nowhere is it possible to receive the loosening.
After His Resurrection the Lord entrusted the Apostle Peter to shepherd His spiritual flock not because, that among the disciples only Peter alone was pre-deserved to shepherd the flock of Christ, but Christ addresses Himself chiefly to Peter because, that Peter was first among the Apostles and as such the representative of the Church; besides which, having turned in this instance to Peter alone, as to the top Apostle, Christ by this confirms the unity of the Church. "Simon of John" -- says the Lord to Peter -- "lovest thou Me?" -- and the Apostle answered: "Yea, Lord, Thou knowest that I love Thee"; and a second time it was thus asked, and a second time he thus answered; being asked a third time, seeing that as it were not believed, he was saddened. But how is it possible for him not to believe That One, Who knew his heart? And wherefore then Peter answered: "Lord, Thou knowest all; Thou knowest that I love Thee." "And sayeth Jesus to him" all three times "Feed My sheep" (John 20:15-17).
Besides this, the triple appealing of the Savior to Peter and the triple confession of Peter before the Lord had a particular beneficial purpose for the Apostle. That one, to whom was given "the keys of the kingdom" and the right "to bind and to loose," bound himself thrice by fear and cowardice (Mt.26:69-75), and the Lord thrice loosens him by His appeal and in turn by his confession of strong love. And to shepherd literally the flock of Christ was acquired by all the Apostles and their successors. "Take heed, therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock," the Apostle Paul urges church presbyters, "over which the Holy Spirit hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of the God, which He hath purchased with His own blood" (Acts 20:28); and the Apostle Peter to the elders: "Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof not by constraint, but willingly: not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind: neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being examples to the flock. And when is appeared the Prince of pastors, ye will receive unfading crowns of glory" (1 Pet. 5:2-4).
It is remarkable that Christ, having said to Peter: "Feed My sheep," did not say: "Feed thy sheep," but rather to feed, good servant, the sheep of the Lord. "Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?" (1 Cor.1:13). "Feed My sheep". Wherefore "wolfish robbers, wolfish oppressors, deceitful teachers and mercenaries, not being concerned about the flock" (Mt.7:15; Acts 20:29; 2 Pet 2:1; John 10:12), having plundered a strange flock and making of the spoils as though it be of their own particular gain, they think that they feed their flock. Such are not good pastors, as pastors of the Lord. "The good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep" (John 10:11), entrusted to Him by the chief Shepherd Himself (1 Pet 5:4). And the Apostle Peter, true to his calling, gave his soul for the very flock of Christ, having sealed his apostleship by a martyr's death, is now glorified throughout all the world.
The Apostle Paul, formerly Saul, was changed from a robbing wolf into a meek lamb. Formerly he was an enemy of the Church, then is manifest as an Apostle. Formerly he stalked it, then preached it. Having received from the high priests the authority at large to throw all Christians in chains for execution, he was already on the way, he breathed out "threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord" (Acts 9:1), he thirsted for blood, but "He that dwells in the Heavens shall laugh him to scorn" (Ps 2:4). When he, "having persecuted and vexed" in such manner "the Church of God" (1Cor.15:9; Acts 8:5), he came near Damascus, and the Lord from Heaven called to him: "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" and I am here, and I am there, I am everywhere: here is My head; there is My body. There becomes nothing of a surprise in this; we ourselves are members of the Body of Christ. "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me; it is hard for thee to kick against the goad" (Acts 9:4-5). Saul, however, "trembling and frightened", cried out: "Who art Thou, Lord?" The Lord answered him, "I am Jesus Whom thou persecutest."
And Saul suddenly undergoes a change: "What wantest Thou me to do?" -- he cries out. And suddenly for him there is the Voice: "Arise, and go to the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do" (Acts 9:6). Here the Lord sends Ananias: "Arise and go into the street" to a man, "by the name of Saul," and baptize him, "for this one is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel" (Acts 9: 11, 15, 18). This vessel must be filled with My Grace. "Ananias, however, answered: Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he hath done to Thy saints in Jerusalem: and here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Thy Name" (Acts 9:13-14). But the Lord urgently commands Ananias: "Search for and fetch him, for this vessel is chosen by Me: for I shall show him what great things he must suffer for My name's sake" (Acts 9:11, 15-16).
And actually the Lord did show the Apostle Paul what things he had to suffer for His Name. He instructed him the deeds; He did not stop at the chains, the fetters, the prisons and shipwrecks; He Himself felt for him in his sufferings, He Himself guided him towards this day. On a single day the memory of the sufferings of both these Apostles is celebrated, though they suffered on separate days, but by the spirit and the closeness of their suffering they constitute one. Peter went first, and Paul followed soon after him. Formerly called Saul, and then Paul, having transformed his pride into humility. His very name (Paulus), meaning "small, little, less," demonstrates this. What is the Apostle Paul after this? Ask him, and he himself gives answer to this: "I am," says he, "the least of the Apostles... but I have labored more abundantly than all of them: yet not I, but the grace of God, which was with me" (1 Cor.15:9-10).
And so, brethren, celebrating now the memory of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, remembering their venerable sufferings, we esteem their true faith and holy life, we esteem the innocence of their sufferings and pure confession. Loving in them the sublime quality and imitating them by great exploits, "in which to be likened to them" (2 Thess 3: 5-9), and we shall attain to that eternal bliss which is prepared for all the saints. The path of our life before was more grievous, thornier, harder, but "we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses" (Heb 12: 1), having passed by along it, made now for us easier, and lighter, and more readily passable. First there passed along it "the author and finisher of our faith," our Lord Jesus Christ Himself (Heb 12: 2); His daring Apostles followed after Him; then the martyrs, children, women, virgins and a great multitude of witnesses. Who acted in them and helped them on this path? He Who said, "Without Me ye can do nothing" (John 15: 5).

Monday, June 28, 2010

June 28th: Translation of the Relics of SS. Cyrus and John

The Transfer of the Relics of the Holy Martyrs, Unmercenaries and Wonderworkers, Cyrus and John from the city of Konopa, near Alexandria (where they suffered in the year 311) to the nearby village of Manuphin, took place in the year 412. This Egyptian village prompted fear in everyone, since in a former time there was a pagan temple inhabited by evil spirits. Patriarch Theophilus (385-412) wanted to cleanse this place of demons, but he died. His wish was fulfilled by his successor in the See of Alexandria, the holy Patriarch Cyril (412-444). He prayed fervently in carrying out this project. An angel of the Lord appeared in a vision to the hierarch and commanded the venerable relics of Sts Cyrus and John be transferred to Manuphin. His Holiness Patriarch Cyril did the angel's bidding and built a church at Manuphin in the name of the holy martyrs. From that time this place was purified of the Enemy's influence, and by the prayers of the holy Martyrs Cyrus and John there began to occur many miracles, healings of the sick and infirm.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

June 27th: St. Sampson

Our venerable father Sampson, called "Father of the Poor." He lived in the time of the Emperor Justinian. He insisted that along with the magnificent Cathedral of Holy Wisdom, there should be built a great hospital worthy of its position and of the Imperial prestige.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

June 26th: St. David

Our venerable Father St. David, Hermit, was a native of Mesopotamia, settled in a solitary place near Thessalonica where he served God for seventy years. He died about the fifth century.

Friday, June 25, 2010

June 25th: St. Febronia

St. Febronia, Venerable-martyr, a young nun in her 20th year, was a victim of ohe persecution under Diocletian in 304 at Sybapolis in Syria.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

June 24th: The Nativity of the Venerable and Glorious Prophet and Forerunner John the Baptist

He that was greater than all who are born of women, the Prophet who received God's testimony that he surpassed all the Prophets, was born of the aged and barren Elizabeth (Luke 1:7) and filled all his kinsmen, and those that lived round about, with gladness and wonder. But even more wondrous was that which followed on the eighth day when he was circumcised, that is, the day on which a male child receives his name. Those present called him Zacharias, the name of his father. But the mother said, "Not so, but he shall be called John." Since the child's father was unable to speak, he was asked, by means of a sign, to indicate the child's name. He then asked for a tablet and wrote, "His name is John." And immediately Zacharias' mouth was opened, his tongue was loosed from its silence of nine months, and filled with the Holy Spirit, he blessed the God of Israel, Who had fulfilled the promises made to their fathers, and had visited them that were sitting in darkness and the shadow of death, and had sent to them the light of salvation.
Zacharias prophesied concerning the child also, saying that he would be a Prophet of the Most High and Forerunner of Jesus Christ. And the child John, who was filled with grace, grew and waxed strong in the Spirit; and he was in the wilderness until the day of his showing to Israel (Luke 1:57-80). His name is a variation of the Hebrew "Johanan," which means "Yahweh is gracious."

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

June 23rd: St. Agrippina of Rome

St. Agrippina, martyr, endured cruel tortures and death for her Faith in the reign of the Emperpr Valerian in the year 256.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

June 22nd: St. Eusebius

St. Eusebius, Priest and Martyr, Bishop of Samos, contended against the Arians. He was banished to Thrace but recalled after four years. Died around 379 or 380. Died when an Arian woman threw a heavy tile from a rooftop upon his head, killing him.

Monday, June 21, 2010

June 21st: St. Julian of Tarsus

St. Julian of Tarsus, martyr, was a soldier of the Emperor. He was cuelly tortured to death for his Faith in Christ.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

June 20th: St. Methodius

St. Methodius, Priest and Martyr, was Bishop of Patara in the reign of Aurelian in 275.

On this day also in the year 2010, it is the 4th Sunday after Pentecost.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

June 19th: St. Jude The Apostle

St. Jude the Apostle, brother of St. James the Less, and thus related to Our Lord Jesus Christ. He was one of the Twelve, and also called Thaddeus. He preached in Mesopotamia and with St. Simon, in Persia. Both suffered martyrdom in Persia.

Friday, June 18, 2010

June 18th: St. Leontius

St. leontius, martyr, suffered torture and death for Christ in Tripoli in Phoenicia about the year 76 in the reign of Vespasian, Emperor.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

June 17th: SS. Manuel, Sabel, and Izmael

SS. Manuel, Sabel, and Izmael were Persian Martyrs, sent by their King Baitan to negociate peace with the Emperor Julian the Apostate. Tradition has it that Julian had them arrested, condemned, beheaded, and their bodies burned about the year 362.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

June 16th: St. Tychon

St. Tychon was Bishop of Amathunsa, conspicuous for his detestation of idolatry and his care of the poor. He died around 450.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

June 15th: The Prophet Amos

The Prophet Amos was the father of Isaias the Prophet.

Monday, June 14, 2010

June 14th: St. Elisseus, Prophet

St. Elisseus the Prophet, was of the Tribe of Ruben and son of Saphath, born in 816 B.C. On him fell the mantle of Elias, and he continued the work of that great Prophet.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

June 13th: Ss. Aquilina and Trephellius

St. Aquilina, martyr, suffered death in 117 under the Emperor Trajan in Byblos in Syria. St. Trephellius, Bishop of Levkusia in Cyprus, suffered at the hands of the Ariansespecially because of his loyality to St. Athanasius. He died about 370.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

June 12th: St. Onufrius the Great

St. Onufrius the Great, our venerable Father, was a hermit who lived for sixty years in the desert of Thebes. He died around the year 345 in the reign of Constantius.

Friday, June 11, 2010

June 11th: SS. Bartholomew and Banabas

Ss. Bartholomew and Barnabas were Apostles. Bartholomew is thought by many to be Nathaniel, the "Israelite without guile" of St. John's Gospel. He suffered martyrdom in Greater Armenia, and his relics are in his church Rome. St. Barnabas was one of the Seventy discipl;es. He laboured with St. Paul in Antioch, Seleucia, and is said to have been stoned to death by the Jews on the Island of Cyprus.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Pray For The Repose Of The Soul Of Metropolitan Basil

Vicnaja pamjat! Eternal Memory!

The Metropolitan of the Byzantine Catholic Metropolia of Pittsburgh, fell asleep in the Lord today. Please pray for him: With the souls of the Just brought to perfection, give rest, O Savior, to the soul of Your servant + BASIL, keeping him for the blessed life with You, for You love mankind.

In blessed repose, grant, O Lord, eternal rest to your departed servant,
the high priest Metropolitan Basil, and remember him forever.
Eternal Memory!

Here are some prayers from the PANACHIDA, the prayer service for the Departed.

With the souls of the Just brought to perfection, give rest, O Savior, to the soul of Your servant + BASIL, keeping them for the blessed life with You, for You love mankind.

In the place of rest which is Yours, O Lord, where all Your Saints repose, give rest to the soul of Your servant, for You alone love mankind.

Glory be to the Father +, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

You are the God Who descended into the realm of death and ended the sorrow of the captives; give rest, also, to the soul of Your servant, O Lord.

Now and ever, and forever. Amen.

O Virgin, the only pure and immaculate, you gave birth to God; intercede for the salvation of the soul of your servant.

June 10th: St. Timothy

St. Timothy, Priest and Martyr, and Bishop of Prusia in Bithynia in Asia Minor. Suffered death in the persecution under Julian the Apostate in 362.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

June 9th: St. Cyril of Alexandria

St. Cyril was Archbishop of Alexandria. Opposed the Nestorians and taught the divine and human natures of Christ are united in oneness of person, and that the Blessed Virgin Mary ought to be trult called the Mother of God. St. Cyril presided over the 3rd Eucumenical Council at Ephesus in 431. He died in 444.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

June 8th: translation of the Relics St. Theodore the Great Martyr

St. Theodore was a General in the Army of the Emperor Licinius. He suffered death at Heracles in thrace in 318.

Monday, June 7, 2010

June 7th: St. Theodotus

St. Theodotus, Priest and Martyr, Bishop of Ancyra. Called Wonderwoker, he was cruelly tortured to death.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

June 6th: St. Bessarion

St. Bessarion, called wonderworker because of his virtues and miracles and compared to Moses, and some of the other Prophets. He is thought to have died before the year 400.

In 2010, today is also the Second Sunday After Pentecost.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

June 5th: Dorotheon of Tyre

At Tyre, St. Dorotheus, a priest, who suffered greatly under Diocletian, but survived until the reign of Julian, under whom his venerable age of one hundred and seven years was crowned with martyrdom.

Friday, June 4, 2010

June 4th: St. Metrophanes

Our Holy Father Metrophanes: First Patriarch of Constantinople Emperor Constantine the Great fondly respected Metrophanes, bishop of Byzantium, and as regarded him as his spiritual father. Because Metrophanes was in ill health (being well over a hundred years of age), he was unable to participate in the First Ecumenical Council which was held at Nicea in the year 325 A.D., but instead sent his Chor-bishop (Choriepiscopus) Alexander, as his representative. At the Council, Constantine conferred upon Metrophanes the title of Patriarch. He was thus the first Patriarch of Constantinople. Constantine had the Fathers of the Ecumenical Council visit the holy and aged patriarch. In their presence Metrophanes held the hand of Athanasius, Archdeacon of Alexandria, [later known as Athanasius the Great, Patriarch of Alexandria] and praised his efforts to expose the false teaching (arianism) of the arch-heretic Arius. Arius denied that the Son of God was truly God. The holy patriarch named Alexander of Alexandria to be his successor at Constantinople. After asking the forgiveness of all he may have ever offended, Metrophanes fell asleep in the Lord a few days later. (325 A.D.)

TROPARION, tone 4: The sincerity of your deeds has revealed you to your people as a teacher of moderation, a model of faith, and an example of virtue. Therefore, you attained greatness through humility, and wealth through poverty. O Father and Archbishop Metrophanes, ask Christ our God to save our souls.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

June 3rd: Saint Lucillian

Saint Lucillian was martyred under the Emperor Aurelian (270-275 A.D.). Lucillian was an elderly man who for much of his adult life was a pagan priest. He turned away from paganism when he discovered Christ and received holy illumination through the Mystery of Baptism. Later on, holy elder was arrested and brought before the magistrate Silvanus. As Lucillian refused to renounce his faith in Christ and had no intention of returning to his old religion, he was subjected to cruel tortures. He was imprisoned, scourged, suspended by ropes with his head toward the ground, and his jawbone was broken by the guards. In prison he met four youths (Claudius, Hypatius, Paul and Dionysius) who were also imprisoned for their faith in Christ. Lucillian and the four youths were brought before the magistrate again. As the elder and the four youths remained firm in faith, the magistrate ordered that they be killed by being thrown into a furnace. It happened that a torrent of rain doused the fire of the furnace and the five brave Christians were spared death by fire. They were later led to (pre-Christian) Byzantium where they were martyred: the youths by beheading and the elder by crucifixion.

O Lord our God, your Holy Martyrs Lucillian, Claudius, Hypatius, Paul and Dionysius, have deserved the crown of immortality on account of their good fight. Armed with your strength, they have vanquished their persecutors and crushed Satan's dreadful might. Through their supplications, O Christ God, save our souls!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

June 2nd; St. Nicephoros

NIcephoros was Patriarch of Constantinople. Defended the practice of the veneration of Icons against the Iconoclasts in the persecution of leo the Armenian. Died in the 15th year of his exile in 771 in the reign of Constantine V Copronymus, Emperor.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Reminder about Apostle's Fast

In the Byzantine Catholic Metropolia of Pittsburgh (to which our own Eparchy is united) May 31 to June 28 is observed by voluntary abstinence from meat on Wednesdays as well as the usually obligatory abstinence on Fridays.

June 1st, St. Justin the Martyr

St. Justin was a great philosopher, born in Sichem in the Palestine. Delved deeply into philosophical meditations. Became a Christian and wrote apologies for the Faith. Was beheaded in Rome in the year 167 in the Reign of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius.