Prologue entry for 12/08/23 (read on 12/21/23 on the Old Calendar)
1. The Venerable Patapius
Patapius was born and brought up in the Faith and in the fear of God by pious parents in the Egyptian city of Thebes. At an early age he perceived and abhorred the vanity of this world and withdrew into the wilderness of Egypt. There he devoted himself to a life of asceticism, cleansing his heart of all earthly desires and thoughts, for the sake of God’s love. However, when his virtues became known among the people, they began to come to him and to seek solace from him in their sufferings. Fearing the praise of men, which darkens the minds of men and separates them from God, Patapius fled this wilderness to Constantinople, for this wonderful saint thought that he could hide himself more easily from people in the city than in the wilderness. Patapius built a hut for himself in the proximity of the Church of Blachernae in Constantinople. There, immured and unknown, he continued his interrupted life of eremetic asceticism. However, a light cannot be hidden. A child, blind from birth, was led by God’s providence to St. Patapius. He besought the saint to pray to God that he be given his sight and be able to look upon God’s creation–thus allowing him to praise God all the more. Patapius having compassion on the suffering child, prayed to God, and the child’s sight was restored. This miracle revealed God’s chosen one throughout the entire city, and people rushed to him for healing, comfort and instruction. Patapius healed an eminent man of dropsy by tracing the sign of the Cross over him and anointing him with oil. By making the sign of the Cross in the air with his hand, he freed a youth from an unclean spirit that had cruelly tormented him. The evil spirit, with a loud shriek, came out from God’s creature like smoke. He made the sign of the Cross over a woman who had a sore on her breast all filled with worms, and made her healthy. Many other miracles did St. Patapius perform, all through prayer in the name of Christ and by the sign of the Cross. He entered into rest peacefully in great old age and took up his habitation in the Heavenly Kingdom in the seventh century.
2. The Holy Apostles Sosthenes, Apollos, Tychicus, Epaphroditus, Onesiphorus,
Cephas And Caesar All of them are commemorated on January 4 with the other lesser apostles. St. Apollos is also commemorated separately on September 10; St. Onesiphorus, September 7; Saints Cephas and Caesar, March 30. St. Sosthenes was bishop in Caesarea, and St. Tychicus was his successor in the same city. Epaphroditus was bishop in Andriopolis in Pamphylia; Cephas, in Iconium; and Caesar, in the Colophon Peloponnese. They all preached the Gospel of Christ with burning love, endured suffering for His holy name and entered into the Kingdom of Eternal Joy.
3. The Holy Martyrs In Africa
They suffered for the truth of the Orthodox Faith at the hands of the Arian heretics during the reign of the Vandal King Gunerik or Genzerik (477-484). Two priests were burned and sixty more had their tongues cut out. In addition, three hundred laymen were beheaded. All of them suffered, but they defeated falsehood and confirmed Orthodoxy through their deaths, handing the Faith down to us pure and untarnished. The Lord crowned them with wreaths of glory in His Immortal Kingdom.
Hymn Of Praise
The Venerable Papapius
Patapius, like a mariner,
Fixes his gaze into the tempest,
Where he will see the light of the harbor
Beyond this vain and glorious world,
Agitated by the winds of passions,
Darkened by the gloom of vanity.
He casts a glance to the heavens—
Patapius, like a mariner.
The spirit is the eye for seeing heaven
And the wondrous heavenly world—
A true spirit in a pure heart.
Patapius, his soul directed to God,
Bathed his heart in tender tears.
Concentrated, he awaits the light,
The light of heaven, the calm harbor—
Patapius, like a mariner.
Whosoever seeks shall find;
Whosoever knocks, to him it shall be opened.
The Merciful God loves the saints,
The thirsty seekers of the Kingdom of God.
He captured Patapius's glance,
And revealed the heavenly light to him.
Patapius saw and he wept—
God's light inflamed by tears—
Until he sailed to the calm harbor.
His life has remained a wondrous sign
To voyagers on the open seas of the world.
He who surrenders himself completely to God is guided by God to salvation, and is used by Him for the benefit of many others. St. Nicholas, devoted to the will of God, fled from the glory of men, from his city of Patara, and came to the city of Myra in Lycia, where he knew no one and was known by no one. Without any means–for, although he had been wealthy by virtue of his family, he had abandoned everything–without acquaintances and without plans, he walked as an unknown one throughout the city, waiting for God to direct his steps. At that time John the Archbishop of Myra died, and the Synod gathered for the election of a new archbishop, but could not agree on any person who had been nominated. Finally, the members of the Synod decided to fast and pray to God that He would designate the one who was most worthy of this calling. God heeded the prayers of His servants and revealed to them the one most worthy. When the presiding bishop stood for prayer, a man appeared to him in light and told him to go out early, stand in front of the church, and await the first one who would enter for morning prayer. “Appoint him as archbishop; his name is Nicholas,” he said. Seeing and hearing this, the bishop informed all of his companions. Early the next day, he went in front of the church and waited. At that moment St. Nicholas, who had the habit of rising early for prayer, appeared. Seeing him, the bishop asked him: “What is your name, son?” Nicholas remained silent. The bishop again asked him, and he replied: “I am called Nicholas, O Bishop, the servant of your holiness.” Then the bishop took him by the hand, brought him before the Synod, and said: “Receive, brethren, your shepherd, who was anointed by the Holy Spirit and was elected not by the Synod of men but rather by the providence of God.”
Contemplate the first brotherhood of men upon earth (Genesis 4):
- How Cain and Abel were the first brothers on earth;
- How Abel was virtuous and God-fearing, and Cain was envious and self-willed;
- How the envious Cain slew the virtuous Abel.
on the curse of sinful works
Cursed is the ground in thy works (Genesis 3:17). After Adam and Eve’s sin, God pronounced a punishment. He did not pronounce the punishment immediately but after waiting a period of time for their repentance. This is shown in the conversation into which God entered with Adam after his sin. Where art thou? (Genesis 3:9), God asked Adam. And when Adam said that he hid because of his nakedness, God asked him again: Who told thee that thou wast naked? (Genesis 3:11). Instead of repenting, Adam then began to accuse his wife. After that, God pronounced the punishment. Upon the serpent, which served as the weapon of the devil, fell the infinite curse. The woman was condemned to bear children in pain and to have her will subject to the authority of her husband. This is not a curse but rather a punishment with hope. Man was condemned to work the land. But what do the words, Cursed is the ground in thy works, mean? Did God curse the ground as He cursed the serpent with an infinite curse? By no means! The ground is cursed only in the sinful works of man. Because of man’s sin, the earth produces thorns; because of sin, there is infertility; because of sin, there are droughts, floods, earthquakes, plagues, and destructive insects such as grasshoppers and caterpillars. That the ground is not cursed in its entirety is clear from this: that the earth also produces good fruits. God, through the prayers of the righteous, has always blessed the fruits of the earth necessary for human life, and even the angels of God, as the guests of Abraham, tasted the earth’s harvest (Genesis 18:1-8). For in what way is the earth and all the rest of God’s creation (except the serpent) culpable for Adam’s sin? Nevertheless, the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now (Romans 8:22). All creation does not groan or travail because of a curse upon itself but rather because of man’s sinful works, which are cursed. O my brethren, let us be ashamed of our sin, for which even God’s innocent creation suffers. O Gracious God, forgive us our past sins and protect us from future sins. O Merciful God, have mercy on all Thine innocent creatures, who suffer because of us, and ease their suffering. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.