St Catherine of Alexandria

Troparion for St Catherine:

By your virtues as by rays of the sun you enlightened the unbelieving philosophers, and like the most bright moon you drove away the darkness of disbelief from those walking in the night; you convinced the queen, and also chastised the tyrant, God-summoned bride, blessed Catherine.

You hastened with desire to the heavenly bridal chamber of the fairest Bridegroom Christ, and you were crowned by Him with a royal crown; standing before Him with the angels, pray for us who keep your most sacred memory.

Saint Philemon and companions

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.

St John Chrysostom

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.”

St Moses the prophet

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.

Saints Cosmas and Damian

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.

Holy Prophet Amos

The Holy Prophet Amos is known as the prophet of doom, the third of the Twelve Minor Prophets who lived during the eighth century before Jesus Christ. Amos accurately foretold the destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel due to the unfaithfulness of the Israelites. That is, the tribes of Israel were governed by an idol-worshipper and the people joined in that worship of a golden calf (a false god) instead of the One, Living God. Thus, they rejected the God of Israel.

Biographically, little is known about his life and what we known comes from his book in the Bible, the first to be named after a Hebrew prophet.

Erastus, Olympus, Rodion, and companions –Apostles

On the Byzantine liturgical calendar today we commemorate the holy apostles, Erastus, Olympus, Rodion, and their companions. Remembered as apostles and little heard of unless you are a student of sacred Scripture.

When St Paul wrote his letter to the Romans he was staying in Corinth. Erastus was the treasurer of that city and a supporter of St Paul. Rodion, or Herodion, is greeted by Paul as a compatriot in the same letter. Olympus is another of the saints singled out for a special greeting. He and his companions were the core of the Church in Rome. (NS).

Erastus, Olympus, Rodion, and their companions, pray for us.

St Theodosius of the caves at Kiev

Our venerable father, Theodosius, abbot of the mon­astery of the caves at Kiev, called the initiator of the common life in ancient Rus.

Theodosius lived two centuries before St. Francis, in Kievan Russia, where the Gospel had only recently been preached for the first time. Like Francis, Theodosius was filled with compassion for the poor and longing for a life of simplicity. He, too, experienced violent opposition from his parents, and eventually took refuge with the hermit, An­thony, in a cave near Kiev.

In time-honored scenario, their life of solitude soon attracted so many followers that by 1062, there were built monastic buildings above ground to house the large community now headed by Theodosius. Adding his own vision to the mo­nastic precepts he learned from Anthony, he tempered Greek and Syrian severity with Slavic compassion. His rule stressed obedience, mutual love, meekness, and simplicity. Above all, in his dealings with monks, peasants, and princes, he reflected the kenosis, or self-emptying, of Christ. Chronicles of the time recount how Theodosius participated in all the labors of the monastery, and was often mistaken by visi­tors for the cook or the gardener. The respect he earned from princes and nobles prompted a flow of wealth into the monastery, which Theodosius used to feed, clothe, and nurse the poor and imprisoned. By the time he died in 1074, Russia had an important and thriving center of monastic life less than 100 years after its conversion. (NS)

The Holy Apostle and Evangelist Matthew

At the beginning of the Fast before Christmas, we celebrate the feast of St. Matthew, who wrote one of the Gospels of the birth of our Lord. (St. Luke is the other.) St. Matthew’s purpose was to show how the prophecies of the Covenant were fulfilled in Jesus. Therefore, he is the son of Abraham and the Son of David. He fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah that a virgin would give birth, the prophecy of Micah that he would be born in Bethlehem, the prophecy of Jeremiah that the innocents would die, and that he would be called a Nazorean. Matthew tells us of the visit of the Magi, the massacre of the innocents, and the flight into Egypt. It is also Matthew who presents to us the model figure of St. Joseph. Just as the Joseph of the Old Testament saved his people in Egypt, so the Joseph of the New Testament saves the hope of the people, Jesus, by taking him to Egypt. We have no better model of human fatherhood. Joseph is a righteous man (Matthew 1:19), who is open to God’s revelation through his messenger angel that the child of Mary is of God, a faith that goes beyond human knowledge. It is Joseph who protects the child, his foster son, so that Jesus, the Savior, could someday fulfill the plan of the heavenly Father. It is Joseph who re-orders his whole life for the sake of his beloved child. Joseph, then, is a model of divine fatherhood, “from whom every fatherhood in heaven and on earth is named. (Ephesians 3:15)”

St Mary Magdalene

The Church recalls the memory of the holy myrrhbearer and equal of the apostles, Mary Magdalene.

There are several Marys mentioned in the New Testament. The surname Magdalene distinguishes this Mary as the one from the town of Magdala. Luke’s gospel mentions that Jesus relieved her of seven devils, which could have simply been some kind of physical or mental illness. Scripture gives evidence of her life as a devoted follower of Christ whose loyalty remained firm when even the faith of the other twelve apostles wavered.

It is most likely that the unnamed woman who washed Christ’s feet with her tears, dried them with her hair, and then anointed them was Mary Magdalene, as depicted in many icons of her.