The feast of St. Andrew is the beginning of a new relationship of God with his people. He is the first-called, the first follower of Christ particularly as Rabbi, as Messiah and Savior. What does it mean to be Christian? It means to follow Christ without hesitation and without selfishness. This feast is truly a reflection of Christmas. Jesus is the first-born of the Father, the first-born of all creation, the new Adam, the re-Creator of the human race.
Andrew is the first-called, but he is simply the forerunner of all who choose Christ, in a world that is hostile to Christ and his renewal. On this feast, we also begin the singing of Christmas stichera. At Psalm 140 of Vespers, we see that Bethlehem is filled with the fire of the Godhead, “Isaiah, dance for joy: receive the word of God. Prophesy to the Virgin Mary that the bush burning with fire will not be consumed by the radiance of our God.” At the Apostichera, we question the righteous Joseph, “Tell us, O Joseph: How is it that you bring the Maiden which you received from the Temple to Bethlehem pregnant?” Through divine intervention, the sending of an angel, he sees through to the holiness of his wife. The stichera at Vespers tells us that the Light that never sets has come into the world in the town of Bethlehem, and is worshiped by the angels, the shepherds and the Magi, a theme to be repeated frequently in the Christmas feast.
Today the Church commemorates the memory of one Saint Paul’s close collaborators in preaching Savior’s Good News. He was born in Turkey and died in Colossae.
One of Saint Philemon’s biographers writes:
These four Apostles were all disciples of the Apostle Paul, and are mentioned individually in his Epistle to Philemon. In the first verse of this epistle, he writes: “Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker – also to Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier — and to the church that meets in your home.”
Philemon was made the Bishop of Gaza by the Apostle Paul. He drove away from the inhabitants the darkness of ignorance and illuminated them with the light of the knowledge of God. Then he and his wife, Apphia, with the Apostle Archippus his son, ministered to the town of Colossae from its Christian center, Philemon’s home. There also they preached the word of truth.
Today, November 13th, we commemorate the great Saint John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople. It’s his edition of the Divine Liturgy we pray most Sundays of the church year. He’s also one of the best preachers we had.
Today’s saint ought to be very familiar to you as you will recall at the end of each Liturgy of his we pray the priest always announces his name along with St Ann’s name and the saint of the day.
The Apolytikion of John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople reads, and we pray:
“The grace of your words illuminated the universe like a shining beacon. It amassed treasures of munificence in the world. It demonstrated the greatness of humility, teaching us by your own words; therefore, O Father John Chrysostom, intercede to Christ the Logos for the salvation of our souls.”
“If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. … No slave is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.” (John 15:18.20)
Bishop Kallistos Ware [+2022] said that today is truly the age of martyrs. More people are giving witness to Christ than ever before.
Today, the Byzantine Catholic Church remembers Blessed Theodore Romzha, who was killed by the Communists as he performed his pastoral duties. In the epistle read today, St. Paul reflects on what Christians have always had to do to follow Christ, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church. (Colossians 1:24)” This, St. Paul, comes from the great mystery of the Church: Christ in us, our hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27) We do not give up our lives for our own purposes, but because we know that our life is in Christ. We die not only for some ideal, but in witness to a person -the Jesus Christ, our Lord, “light from light, true God from true God.” This is why in history Christians have been persecuted by all kinds of organizations and ideologies and economic systems which perceive Jesus, the Giver of Life, as a threat.
Blessed Petro Pavlo Oros, a martyr
The Holy Father authorized to promulgate the Decrees concerning the martyrdom of the Servant of God Petro Pavlo Oros, Priest of the Eparchy of Mukachevo (Ukraine), thus beatifying one of the underground bishops, killed in hatred of the faith on 28 August 1953. The date of death is significant: it was the feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God (on the Julian calendar).
Blessed Theodore Romzha was the consecrator of Father Petro Pavlo to the episcopate.
This event will be celebrated also in the Eparchy of Passaic: on Saturday, October 29th at 10am the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy will be celebrated at St Mary Byzantine Catholic Church in Hillsborough, New Jersey. Metropolitan William Skurla will serve the Liturgy.
Today, the Church honors the memory of the Holy Great Prophet Moses, called the God-Seer and lawgiver, and born into the tribe of Levi. Scholars say he flourished 14th–13th century BCE. As we know, under Moses’ leadership the Hebrew people were lead to their freedom from the Egyptian oppressors in what is called the Exodus, meeting with God (see the image with this post) AND received the revelation from God that became the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible).
Moses is also listed in the Roman Martyrology. The entry for Moses reads:
1. Commemoratio sancti Moysis, prophetae, quem Deus elegit, ut populum in Aegypto oppressum liberaret et in terram promissionis adduceret; cui etiam in monte Sina sese revelavit dicens: “Ego sum qui sum”, atque legem proposuit, quae vitam populi electi regeret. Ille servus Dei in monte Nebo terrae Moab coram terra promissionis plenus dierum obiit.
Today is the feast of the Holy Apostle Matthias, chosen to continue the Mission.
The Church prays in her Liturgy:
Chosen by lot through the grace of the Spirit, you were numbered with the twelve divine Apostles. Proclaiming with them the Word who emptied himself in the flesh for our sake, you were filled by the Lord with wondrous powers. O illustrious Apostle Matthias, entreat him to grant to those who praise your name the remission of sins and great mercy.
Though chosen by lot, as it were, by chance, Matthias still had one supreme qualification for being added to the twelve apostles, he was, in the words of Peter, “one of the men who accompanied us the whole time the Lord Jesus came and went among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day on which he was taken up from us, become with us a witness to his resurrection.”
Saints Cosmas and Damian were twins born to Christian parents in Arabia, in the third century. They lived in the region around the border between modern day Turkey and Syria. …[The brothers] were physicians who were renowned for their skill as well as their refusal to charge for their services. Before beside manner was a “thing”, they had a loving and respectful way, and for this reason, they were called by the Church “unmercenary physicians” (Anargyroi in Greek).
Their charity and Christian witness won many converts to the faith and earned them a place of prominence in the Christian communities of Asia Minor. Therefore, when the Diocletian persecutions began in the latter half of the third century they were of some of the first to be sought out for execution.
Today we are given as a model of holiness and witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ the venerable father, Samson, called the hospitable, priest and physician. Samson is numbered among a few who are ordained priests and physicians, so we ought to make it a point to ask for his intercession as we all face medical concerns personally or with family and friends.
The Church teaches us the place St Samson has among the great Cloud of Witnesses in the Troparion for the Divine Liturgy. We have a clear expectation for our own Christian life in seeing St Samson extolled:
“Patience reaped you your reward, O holy father, for you persevered in constant prayer and devotion. In your great love for the poor and the afflicted, you attended to their needs of body and soul. So now we entreat you in our need, O holy father, Samson, beg Christ, our God, so save our souls.”