In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit:
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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Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh. Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace. From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
"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. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses."
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another? Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you. Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.
And they come again to Jerusalem: and as He was walking in the temple, there come to Him the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders, And say unto Him, "By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things?" And Jesus answered and said unto them, "I will also ask of you one question, and answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? Answer me." And they reasoned with themselves, saying, "If we shall say, 'From heaven'; he will say, 'Why then did ye not believe him?' But if we shall say, 'Of men'; they feared the people: for all men counted John, that he was a prophet indeed. And they answered and said unto Jesus, "We cannot tell". And Jesus answering saith unto them, "Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things."
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THE HOLY TEN MARTYRS OF CRETE
ST NIPHON, BISHOP OF CONSTANTIANA
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 the Holy Ten Martyrs of Crete Tone 3
Let us honour Crete who brought forth these flowers,/ boughs of martyrs, pearls of Christ./ They shamed the thousandfold power of demons/ although only ten in number./ They were crowned as Christ's valiant martyrs.
Troparion of St Niphon, Bishop of Constantiana Tone 4
Thou wast chosen by God to be shepherd and herald of His Church,/ and to teach repentance to the fallen./ By thy prayers thou didst reveal the demons' deceits/ and thy countenance shone like Moses'./ O Father Niphon, pray to Christ our God for those who honour thee.
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 the Holy Ten Martyrs of Crete Tone 4
The holy struggle of the Martyrs shines as brightly as the morning star./ It has shone on Him Who was born in a cave,/ Whom the Virgin seedlessly conceived.
Kontakion of St Niphon of Constantiana Tone 2
Thou didst subdue the flesh by fear of God/ and didst soar to the heights of knowledge./ Thou didst attain to thy desire, O blessed Niphon./ Intercede to Christ our God for all who honour thee.
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 Ten Holy Martyrs of Crete
They suffered for Christ the Lord during Decius's persecution, in the year 250. Their names were: Theodulus, Satuminus, Euporus, Gelasius, Eunician, Zoticus,Pompey, Agathopous, Basilides and Evaristus. They were all honoured and eminent citizens, the cream of the cream. When they were taken to the scaffold, they were filled with joy and discussed among themselves who would be the first to be beheaded,because each wanted to be the first to go to his beloved Christ. 'Men they prayed: 'O Lord, forgive Thy servants and accept our outpoured blood on our own behalf and that of our kinsfolk and friends and all our fatherland, that all may be released from the darkness of ignorance and come to know Thee, the true light, O eternal King!'They were beheaded and entered into the Kingdom of glory, to eternal rejoicing.
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St Niphon the Wonderworker
Born in Paphlagonia, he was brought up in Constantinople at the court of a great commander. Falling into low company, the young Niphon became dissolute and gave himself to great sin and vice. Because of his sin, he could not even pray to God. By the mercy of the most holy Mother of God, he was brought back to the way of righteousness and became a monk. He had innumerable visions of the heavenly world and waged a four-year war with the demons, who whispered to him incessantly: 'There is no God! There is no God!', but, when the Lord Jesus Himself appeared to him alive on an icon, Niphon received great power over the evil spirits and was freed from these heavy temptations. He had such insight that he saw angels and demons around men as clearly as he saw the people themselves, and he could discern men's thoughts. He often spoke with angels and disputed with demons. He built a church to the most holy Mother of God in Constantinople, gathered many monks together and saved many souls. Alexander, the Archbishop of Alexandria, through a heavenly revelation, consecrated him bishop of the town of Constantia on Cyprus. Niphon was already old by that time, and, governing the Church of God well for a short period, entered into Christ's eternal Kingdom. St Athanasius the Great visited him at the time of his death, being then archdeacon of the church in Alexandria, and he saw Niphon's face shine like the sun.
The Prologue From Ochrid
of St. Nikolai (Velimirovic) Bishop of Zhicha