St Josaphat

Exactly 400 years ago, November 12, 1623, in Vitebs свяku martyr death accepted Saint Josaphat, Archbishop of Polots бkij – Apostle of Unity.

The relics of our Ukrainian saint, honored by the entire Catholic Church, rest today in the side throne of Saint Basil in Saint Peter’s Basilica.

Saint Josaphat, pray to God for us!

Saint Moses, the great and holy prophet

Today we liturgically recall the Holy Great Prophet Moses, revered as a saint in the Catholic Church. His commemoration is mostly recalled by Eastern Christianity though he is list among the holy people in the Latin Church. Moses died sixteenth centuries before Jesus Christ, having lived for some 120 years.

The Troparion for Saint Moses reads:

O prophet Moses, you reached the summit of virtues. By this you came to see the glory of God. You received the tablets of the grace-giving Law and became the crown of prophets and a mystery of piety; for you carried grace deep within you.

The Prophet Moses, whose name means “one who draws forth,” or “is drawn from,” that is, from the water –was known as the one who spoke to Spoke, and even saw him. Moses also has the very rare and interesting title of “God seer.” Many scholars will say Moses is the model for people of faith: he “was the pinnacle of the lovers of wisdom, the supremely wise lawgiver, the most ancient historian of all.”

Fr Petras writes,

On Mt. Horeb the great prophet Moses saw God in the bush that burned without being consumed, and God revealed his Name to him, “I am who I am” (Exodus 3:14). It is this Name of God that we invoke in the Anaphora of St. Basil the Great, “O Eternal Being ….” On Mt. Sinai God revealed a portion of his glory to Moses when he gave him the ten commandments. On Mt. Tabor, Moses stood with Elijah to witness the glory of God revealed though Jesus. Today we honor this Great Prophet who has led us into the presence of God, who led his people into the land promised by God, who today leads us to an understanding of God, essential Being, the Creator of all that is, the Cause of all that is good and the Lover of each and every person, “In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

Three Holy Hierarchs

Happy Feast – Three Holy Hierarchs

To settle a dispute in the 12th century over whether Basil the Great, Gregory Nazianzus or John Chrysostom was the preeminent church father, it was decided to show the senselessness of such argument by celebrating all three together. Emperor Alexius Comnenus chose this date.

Circumcision of the Lord and St Basil the Great

Today on the Byzantine calendar, the Church commemorates both the Circumcision of the Lord and our father among the saints Basil the Great, Archbishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia.

Our Lord was circumcised on the eighth day after His Nativity in accordance with Jewish law as a sign of God’s covenant with Abraham and his descendants. The significance of this is manyfold; in emptying Himself, He who wrote the Law submitted Himself to it, which He came not to destroy but to fulfil. This submission also demonstrated that Christ was truly incarnate, truly robed in flesh, and not simply appearing to be a man.

Saint Basil the Great was born to a wealthy yet pious family at Caesarea in 330. Highly educated in philosophy, philology, oratory, law, naturalist, astronomy, mathematics and medicine, he developed a close friendship with Saint Gregory the Theologian in Athens. He later returned to Caesarea, where he became an ascetic and laid the foundations of Eastern monasticism, later being joined by Saint Gregory.

As the heresy of Arianism spread through the Empire and even to the imperial throne, Saint Basil arose as one of the principal defenders of Orthodoxy, being consecrated Archbishop of Caesarea in 370. He died on 1 January nine years later, shortly after blessing his friend Saint Gregory to accept consecration as Archbishop of Constantinople, and was immediately acclaimed as a saint. The Church continues to celebrate the Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great today and on nine other occasions during the year. (SSC)

Holy Prophet Haggai

The Holy Prophet Haggai

The Holy Prophet Haggai. whose Feast is today, December 16th, was the tenth of the Twelve Minor Prophets. Little of his personal history is known to us. What we do know is that Haggai was of the Tribe of Levi and he prophesied during the times of the Persian emperor Darius Hystaspis (prior to 500 BC). Haggai was concerned for the authentic worship of God, especially need for the purity of Temple worship and promised the people that God would bless His people with fruitfulness and prosperity, overthrow the Gentiles. Upon the return of the Jews from the Babylonian Captivity, he persuaded the people to build the Second Temple at Jerusalem, and he proclaimed that the Messiah would appear in this Temple in the last times. Hence his importance for Christians.

Some scholars say that Haggai was buried with the priests at Jerusalem, since he was descended from Aaron.

The Kontakion for this holy prophet reads:

Enlightened by the Spirit, your pure heart became the dwelling place of most splendid prophecy; for you saw things far off as if they were near. Therefore, we honor you, blessed and glorious Prophet Haggai.

St Savva

Today our Church recalls one the important saints, Our Venerabe Father Savva (Saba or Sabbas) the Sanctified.

St Savva first entered a monastery near his home in Cappadocia, but in the year 457 he travelled to Jerusalem and sought out St Euthymius. After spending some time under his instruction, Savva spent several years in seclusion in the Kedron wilderness. He was soon surrounded by followers. He organized them into a semi-eremitical community known as a lavra, which consisted of caves in a wild gorge in the wilderness between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. The reputation he gained for wisdom and holiness earned him an unsought role in ecclesiastical history. The patriarch of Jerusalem ordained Savva priest and made him his vicar, or archimandrite, over all the eremitical settlements in Palestine.

St Savva, together with St Euthymius, was responsible for keeping the vast number of monks in Jerusalem and the rest of Palestine loyal to the decrees of the Council of Chalcedon concerning the two natures of Christ.

Savva was 93 when he died on this date in 532. The Typicon of St Savva, while probably not his actual composition, had enormous influence on the shape of worship in orthodox churches (who pray the Divine Liturgies of St John Chrysostom and St Basil).

In 1256 the Crusaders removed the body of St Savva to Venice, where it was enshrined until 1965 when Pope Paul VI returned it to the lavra that is today known as Mar Savva. This lavra has a history of nearly fifteen hundred years, which makes it one of the oldest inhabited monasteries in the Christian world today. (NS)

St John Damascene

Also, today we liturgically recall St John Damascene on the same day we commemorate St Barbara.

The feast of Christmas is a theological feast. It is a celebration of God incarnate, taking our nature to perfect it. Jesus commanded us poor mortals to “be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:47). How can we do this – only by imitating our Lord Jesus Christ, who is perfect God and perfect man, as we see in this passage from the Damascene:

“For the divine Word was not made one with flesh that had an independent pre-existence, but taking up his abode in the womb of the holy Virgin, he unreservedly in his own subsistence took upon himself through the pure blood of the eternal Virgin a body of flesh animated with the spirit of reason and thought, thus assuming to himself the first-fruits of man’s compound nature, himself, the Word, having become a subsistence in the flesh. So that he is at once flesh, and at the same time flesh of God the Word, and likewise flesh animated, possessing both reason and thought.

Therefore we speak not of man as having become God, but of God as having become Man. For being by nature perfect God, he naturally became likewise perfect man: and did not change his nature nor make the dispensation an empty show, but became, without confusion or change or division, one in subsistence with the flesh, which was conceived of the holy Virgin, and animated with reason and thought, and had found existence in him, while he did not change the nature of his divinity into the essence of flesh, nor the essence of flesh into the nature of his divinity, and did not make one compound nature out of his divine nature and the human nature he had assumed.” (On the Orthodox Faith, 3.2,

As a result of his theology of the Incarnation, John was able to defend with strength the importance of icons. If, in Jesus, God took a human face, then we can make images of him. We pray, holy Father John, make our Christmas a feast of perfection, for “God is with us.”

Meditation by Archpriest David Petras