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Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Daily Reading:

Tuesday December 22nd/January 4th
32nd Week After Pentecost
NATIVITY FAST

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In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit:

Illumine my heart, O Master who lovest mankind, with the pure light of Thy divine knowledge. Open Thou the eyes of my mind to the understanding of Thy Gospel teachings. Implant also in me a love for Thy blessed commandments. Grant me the grace to overcome all my carnal desires, so that I may enter more completely into a spiritual manner of living, both thinking and doing such things as are well pleasing to Thee. For Thou art the illumination of our souls and bodies, O Christ our God, and unto Thee do we ascribe glory, together with Thine all-holy, good and life-creating Spirit; now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.


O Lord Jesus Christ, open Thou the eyes of my heart, that I may hear Thy word and understand and do Thy will, for I am a sojourner upon the earth. Hide not Thy commandments from me, but open mine eyes, that I may perceive the wonders of Thy law. Speak unto me the hidden and secret things of Thy wisdom. On Thee do I set my hope, O my God, that Thou shalt enlighten my mind and understanding with the light of Thy knowledge, not only to cherish those things which are written, but to do them; that in reading the lives and sayings of the Saints I may not sin, but that such may serve for my restoration, enlightenment and sanctification, for the salvation of my soul, and the inheritance of life everlasting. For Thou art the enlightenment of those who lie in darkness, and from Thee cometh every good deed and every gift. Amen.

By the intercessions of Thine All-immaculate Mother and of all Thy Saints, Lord Jesus Christ, our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen


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Tuesday

LITURGY

James 3:1-10


My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.



Mark 11:11-23



And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when He had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, He went out unto Bethany with the twelve. And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, He was hungry: And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, He came, if haply He might find any thing thereon: and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. And Jesus answered and said unto it, "No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever." And His disciples heard it. And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. And He taught, saying unto them, "Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? But ye have made it a den of thieves." And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy Him: for they feared Him, because all the people was astonished at His doctrine. And when even was come, He went out of the city. And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto Him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away. And Jesus answering saith unto them, "Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith."


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GREAT MARTYR ANASTASIA OF ROME, THE FREER FROM BONDS


Troparion of the Forefeast Tone 4
Make ready, Bethlehem, Eden has been opened to all./ Prepare Ephratha, for the Tree of Life has blossomed in the cave from the Virgin./ Her womb was a spiritual paradise whence came the Divine Plant./ If we eat it we shall live and not die like Adam./ Christ is born to raise up the image that of old had fallen.

Troparion of Great Martyr Anastasia Tone 5
As a martyr thou didst emulate the deeds of the martyrs,/ to whom thou didst minister,/ and striving didst overcome the enemy./ Thou art an abundant, copious source of grace/ for all who fervently come to thee/ O godly-minded Anastasia.

Kontakion of the Forefeast Tone 3
Today the Virgin is coming to the cave/ to give birth to the eternal Word./ Rejoice at the message, O earth;/ with the Angels and Shepherds give glory/ to Him Who was willing to be seen as a Child/ while remaining God throughout all ages.

Kontakion of Great Martyr Anastasia Tone 2
Those in temptations and afflictions hasten to thy temple/ and are restored by the grace that dwells in thee,/ for thou dost ever pour forth healings for the world,/ O Great Martyr Anastasia.

18-24
SUNDAY BEFORE THE NATIVITY OF THE SAVIOUR


Troparion Tone 2
Great are the achievements of faith!/ In the fountain of flame, as in refreshing water, the Three Holy Children rejoiced./ And the Prophet Daniel proved a shepherd of lions as of sheep./ By their prayers, O Christ our God, save our souls.

Kontakion Tone 1
O Bethlehem, rejoice! Make ready, Ephratha!/ The ewe is hastening to give birth to the Great Shepherd Whom she carries in her womb./ The Godbearing Fathers rejoice at seeing Him,/ and the Shepherds praise the Virgin who suckles Him.


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The Glorious Martyr of Christ, Anastasia the Deliverer from Potions was a Roman by birth. She suffered for Christ during the time of Diocletian's persecution of the Church (284 – 305 A.D.). She was a most comely, wealthy and virtuous maiden who was nurtured in the Faith by her pious mother, Fausta. Her father, Praepexatus, was a pagan. Saint Anastasia's teacher in her youth was an educated and pious Christian named Chrysogonos. After the repose of her mother, her father forced Saint Anastasia to marry a pagan named Publius Patricius, who was prodigal in life. The blessed one had a love of virginity and feigning illness preserved her virginity.

Saint Anastasia was also very compassionate. Clothing herself in the garb of a beggar, and accompanied by only one servant, at night she secretly visited the homes of the poor and brought them what was needed for their daily sustenance. The Holy one also visited the prisons where the martyrs of Christ were. She washed and kissed their wounds and paid ransom to the prison guards to loose the Martyrs from their chains. When her servant told Publius about everything, he subjected his wife to a beating and locked her up at home. She was not allowed to speak to anyone, not even her beloved teacher Chrysogonos.

Saint Anastasia then began to correspond secretly with her teacher Chrysogonos, who told the saint to be patient, to cleave to the Cross of Christ, and to accept the Lord's will. He also foretold the impending death of Publius in the sea. After a certain while Publius did indeed drown, as he was setting out with a delegation to Persia. After the death of her husband, Saint Anastasia began to distribute her property to the poor and suffering.

At that time, the Emperor Diocletian was informed that the Christians, who filled the prisons of Rome, endured unbelievable tortures through the prayers and efforts of Saint Chrysogonos. The emperor gave orders to kill all the martyrs in a single night and for Chrysogonos to be sent to him at Aquileia. Saint Anastasia followed her teacher at a distance.

The emperor interrogated Saint Chrysogonos personally and even promised to appoint him, Eparch of Rome, but he could not make him renounce his faith. Therefore, he commanded that the Saint be beheaded and thrown into the sea. The body and severed head of the holy martyr were carried to shore by the waves. There by Divine Providence, the relics were found by a presbyter named Zoilus who placed them in a coffer, and concealed them at his home.

Saint Chrysogonos appeared to Zoilus and informed him that martyrdom was at hand for three of his spiritual daughters, Agape, Chione and Irene (April 16). Saint Chrysogonos also told him that Saint Anastasia was coming to them to encourage them in their martyric struggle. Saint Chrysogonos foretold that Saint Zoilus would also fall asleep on the same day as the martyrdom of the three sisters. Nine days later, the words of Saint Chrysogonos were fulfilled. Saint Anastasia also saw the same vision and went to Saint Zoilus and the three maidens before their tortures. When Saint Zoilus fell asleep in the Lord and the three martyrs gave up their souls to the Lord, Saint Anastasia buried them.

Having carried out her teacher's request, the saint went from city to city ministering to Christian prisoners. Proficient in the medical arts of the time, she zealously cared for captives far and wide, healing their wounds and relieving their suffering. Because of her labours, Saint Anastasia received the name Deliverer from Potions (Pharmakolytria), since by her intercessions she has healed many from the effects of potions, poisons, and other harmful substances.

She made the acquaintance of the pious young widow Theodote, finding in her a faithful helper. Theodote was taken for questioning when it was learned that she was a Christian. Meanwhile, Saint Anastasia was arrested in Illyricum (Roman Province of Modern Albania and part of Serbia). This occurred just after all the Christian captives there had been martyred in a single night by order of Diocletian. Saint Anastasia had come to one of the prisons, and finding no one there, she began to weep loudly. The jailers realized that she was a Christian and took her to the governor of the district, who tried to persuade her to deny Christ by threatening her with torture. After his unsuccessful attempts to persuade Saint Anastasia to offer sacrifice to idols, he handed her over to the pagan priest Ulpian in Rome.

The cunning pagan offered Saint Anastasia the choice between luxury and riches or grievous sufferings. He set before her gold, precious stones and fine clothing, and also fearsome instruments of torture and told her to choose. The crafty man was put to shame by the bride of Christ. Saint Anastasia refused the riches and chose the tools of torture.

But the Lord prolonged the earthly life of the saint, and Ulpian gave her three days to reconsider. Charmed by Saint Anastasia's beauty, the pagan priest decided to defile her purity. However, when he tried to touch her he suddenly became blind. His head began to ache so severely that he screamed like a madman. He asked to be taken to a pagan temple to appeal to the idols for help, but on the way he fell down and died.

Saint Anastasia was set free and she and Saint Theodote again devoted themselves to the care of imprisoned Christians. Before long, Saint Theodote and her three sons received the crowns of martyrdom. Her eldest son, Saint Evodus, stood bravely before the judge and endured beatings without protest. After lengthy torture, they were all thrown into a red-hot oven.

Saint Anastasia was imprisoned again and condemned to death by starvation. She remained in prison without food for sixty days. Saint Theodote appeared to the martyr every night and gave her courage. Seeing that hunger caused Saint Anastasia no harm whatsoever, the judge sentenced her to drowning together with other prisoners. Among them was Saint Eutychianos, who was condemned for his Christian faith.

The prisoners were put onto a ship which went out into the open sea. The soldiers bored holes in the ship and got into a boat. Saint Theodote appeared to the captives and guided the ship to shore. When they reached dry land, 120 pagan men believed in Christ and were baptized by Saints Anastasia and Eutychianos. All were captured and received a martyr's crown. Saint Anastasia was stretched between four pillars and burned alive. She received the crown of martyrdom on Decemeber 22. A certain pious woman named Apollinaria buried her body, which was unharmed by the fire, in the garden outside her house.

In the fifth century the relics of Saint Anastasia were transferred to the imperial capital, Constantinople, where a church was built and dedicated to her. Later the head and one of her hands of the Great Martyr were transferred to the monastery of Saint Anastasia, Deliverer from Potions, near Thessaloniki, Greece. There as well in Constantinople many miracles took place.