Saints/Feasts/Fasts to be commemmorated/celebrated: Fast of the Nativity (Advent)
Leavetaking of the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos Into the Temple
Hieromartyr Clement the Pope of Rome
Commemorated on November 25
The Hieromartyr Clement, Pope of Rome, was born at Rome into a rich and illustrious family. Separated from his parents from childhood by force of circumstances, Clement was raised by strangers. Living in Rome, the youth received a fine education, he was surrounded by luxury, and had access to the imperial court. But these comforts brought him no joy, and pagan wisdom failed to attract him. He began to ponder the meaning of life.
When the news of Christ and His teaching began to reach the capital, St Clement left his home and estate and went to the lands where the Apostles were preaching. At Alexandria St Clement met the holy Apostle Barnabas, listening to his words with deep attention, and perceiving the power and truth of the Word of God. Arriving in Palestine, St Clement was baptized by the holy Apostle Peter and became his zealous disciple and constant companion, sharing his toil and sufferings with him. Shortly before his own sufferings and death, St Peter consecrated St Clement as Bishop of Rome. After the death of the Apostle Peter, St Linus (67-79) was the next Bishop of Rome, succeeded by St Anacletus (79-91), and then St Clement (92-101).
The virtuous life, charitable works and prayerful activity of St Clement converted many to Christ. He once baptized 424 people on the day of Pascha. Among the baptized were people of all social classes: slaves, officials, and even members of the imperial family.
The pagans, seeing the success of his apostolic preaching, denounced St Clement to the emperor Trajan (98-117), accusing the saint of insulting the pagan gods. The emperor banished St Clement from the capital, sending him to the Crimea, to work at a stone quarry near the city of Cherson. Many of the saint's disciples followed after him voluntarily, preferring to go into exile rather than live without their spiritual Father.
When he arrived at the place of exile, St Clement found many Christian believers there, sentenced to labor under harsh conditions amidst a scarcity of water. He prayed together with the condemned, and the Lord appeared to him in the form of a lamb and revealed the location of a spring, from which gushed forth a veritable river of water. This miracle attracted a multitude of people to St Clement. Hearing the zealous preacher, hundreds of pagans were converted to Christ. Each day 500 or more men were baptized. And there in the stone quarry, a church was built, in which he served as priest.
The apostolic activity of the saint aroused the wrath of the emperor Trajan, and he ordered that St Clement be drowned. They threw the martyr into the sea with an anchor tied to his neck. This occurred in the year 101.
The saint's faithful disciples Cornelius and Fibius asked the people to pray that the Lord would permit them to see the martyr's body. The sea drew back a distance of three miles from the shore and the people walked out on the seabed until they found a marble cave shaped like a church. There they found the incorrupt body of their archpastor in this "Angelic Church" formed by God. After this, each year on the anniversary of St Clement's martyric death the sea receded, and for seven days Christians were able to venerate his holy relics.
During the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Nicephorus (802-811), by divine providence, the sea failed to withdraw, and the relics of St Clement became inaccessible for fifty years. In the time of the emperor Michael and his mother Theodora (855-867), Sts Cyril and Methodius visited Cherson. When they learned of the concealed relics of St Clement, they asked Bishop George of Cherson to pray that the Lord would show them the relics of the hieromartyr.
Sts Cyril and Methodius walked along the shore in procession with the clergy who came with them from Constantinople. Through the fervent prayers of everyone gathered there, the holy relics of St Clement miraculously appeared on the surface of the sea at midnight. They solemnly took them to the Church of the Holy Apostles at Constantinople. A portion of the relics were then brought to Rome by Sts Cyril and Methodius, but a large portion of the relics was later brought to Kiev by the holy Prince Vladimir (July 15) and placed in the Desyatin-Tithe church, together with the relics of St Fibius, where a chapel dedicated to St Clement had been built. The hieromartyr Clement is widely venerated in Russia. From ancient times, many churches have been dedicated to him.
St Clement, who belongs to the Apostolic Fathers, has left to us a spiritual legacy (two Epistles to the Corinthians) the first written examples of Christian teaching after the writings of the holy Apostles.
Hieromartyr Peter the Archbishop of Alexandria
Commemorated on November 25
The Holy Hieromartyr Peter, Archbishop of Alexandria, was born and raised at Alexandria. He was a highly educated man, and was head of the school of Alexandria. In the year 300 he became the archpastor of the Alexandrian Church, succeeding his teacher and spiritual guide, the holy Bishop Theonas.
Forced into exile from the city during the anti-Christian persecutions under the emperors Diocletian and Maximian, St Peter traveled through many lands, encouraging his flock by letter. Again returned to his city, in order to guide the Alexandrian Church personally during this dangerous period. The saint secretly visited Christians locked up in prison, encouraging them to be steadfast in faith, assisting the widows and orphans, preaching the Word of God, constantly praying and officiating at the divine services. And the Lord kept him safe from the hands of the persecutors.
During this time of unrest the iniquitous heretic Arius, who denied the divinity of Jesus Christ, sowed the tares of his impious teaching. When Arius refused to be corrected and submit to the truth, St Peter anathematized the heretic and excommunicated him from the Church. Arius then sent two of St Peter's priests to beg the saint to lift the excommunication from him, pretending that he had repented and given up his false teachings. This was not true, for Arius hoped to succeed St Peter as Archbishop of Alexandria. St Peter, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, saw through the wickedness and deceit of Arius, and so he instructed his flock not to believe Arius nor to accept him into communion.
Under the wise nurturing of St Peter the Church of Alexandria strengthened and grew in spite of the persecutions. But finally, on orders from the emperor Maximian (305-311), the saint was arrested and sentenced to death. A multitude of people gathered at the entrance of the prison, expressing their outrage. Wanting to avoid bloodshed and a riot by the people, the saint sent a message to the authorities, in which he suggested that they make an opening in the back wall of the prison, so that he might be taken away secretly to execution.
In the dark of the night St Peter went with the executioners, who took him beyond the city walls and beheaded him at the same spot where formerly St Mark had been executed. That night a certain pious virgin heard a Voice from heaven saying, "Peter was first among the Apostles; Peter is the last of the Alexandrian Martyrs." This took place in the year 311. In the morning, when people learned of the death of their bishop, a crowd gathered at the place of execution. They took up the body and head of the martyr and went to the church, dressing him in his bishop's vestments, they sat him in his throne at the high place in the altar. During his life St Peter never sat on it, but sat on a footstool instead. The saint once explained that whenever he approached his throne he beheld a heavenly light shining on it, and he sensed the presence of a divine power. Therefore, he didn't dare to sit there.
The Lord Jesus Christ once appeared to St Peter as a twelve-year-old child wearing a robe that was torn from top to bottom. St Peter asked the Savior who had torn his garment, and He replied, "That madman Arius has torn it by dividing the people whom I have redeemed by My blood. Do not receive him into Communion with the Church, for he has worked evil against Me and My flock."
St Peter, a great champion of Orthodoxy, is known also as a profound theologian. Passages from his book, "On the Divinity (of Jesus Christ)", were consulted at the Councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon. Of all his works, the most widely known and highly esteemed by the Church are his "Penitential Canons".
St Peter of Galatia
Commemorated on November 25
Saint Peter of Galatia left home at the age of seven, then spent the rest of his life in ascetical labors as a monk. At first, he remained in Galatia, then went to Palestine. Later, he went to Antioch. There he enclosed himself in a tomb, devoting himself to deeds of prayer and strict abstinence. He partook of bread and water only every other day. In these exploits he was granted from God the gift of wonderworking, healing infirmities and expelling devils.
St Peter died around the year 429 at the age of ninety-nine. His Life was written by Theodoret of Cyrrhus, whose mother had been healed by the saint
St Clement the Bishop of Ochrid and Enlightener of the Bulgarians
Commemorated on November 25
Saints Clement, Bishop of Ochrid, Equal of the Apostles, Naum, Sava, Gorazd and Angelar were Slavs, disciples of Sts Cyril and Methodius (May 11). At first they lived as ascetics in Moravia, where St Gorazd succeded St Methodius as bishop. He was fluent in Slavonic, Greek and Latin. Sts Clement, Naum, Angelar and Sava were priests.
The Enlighteners of the Slavs were opposed by German missionaries, who had the support of the Pope and the patronage of the Moravian prince Svyatopolk. The struggle centered around the questions of the need for divine services in Slavonic, the Filioque and Saturday fasting. Pope Stephen VI prohibited the use of Slavonic in church.
The proponents of the three-tongued heresy (who wanted to use only Hebrew, Greek, or Latin for Church purposes), after setting aside the ancestral language of the Slavic peoples, brought the disciples of St Methodius to trial, including St Clement. They subjected them to fierce torture: dragging them through thorns, and holding them in prison for a long time, just as they had done with their spiritual Father, St Methodius.
In 886, some of the prisoners were sold to slave-traders, and ended up in the Venice marketplace. The ambassador of the Byzantine Emperor Basil the Macedonian went to Venice, ransomed the saints and brought them to Constantinople. The older confessors were banished. It is not known where St Gorazd went, nor where St Sava found shelter. Naum and Angelar went to Bulgaria.
In 907 Moravia collapsed under the onslaught of the Magyars, and Moravian refugees escaped along those same paths followed earlier by the saints they had exiled.
The Bulgarians received the Slavonic confessors with respect and requested them to conduct divine services in the Slavonic language. The Bulgarian prince Boris sought out such people as the disciples of St Methodius, who labored for the enlightenment of his nation. The saints immediately began to study Slavonic books collected by the Bulgarian nobles.
St Angelar soon died, and St Clement received the appointment to teach at Kutmichivitsa, a region in southwest Macedonia. In the Eastern Church a worthy man was chosen to be a teacher, someone known for his pious life, and possessed with a gift of words. St Clement was a teacher while he was still in Moravia. In Bulgaria, St Clement worked as an instructor until 893. He organized a school at the princely court, which attained high esteem during the reign of Simeon. In southwest Macedonia he created separate schools for adults and for children.
St Clement instructed the children in reading and in writing. The total number of his students was enormous. Those chosen and accepted for the clergy amounted to 3500 men. In the year 893, St Clement became Bishop of Dremvitsa, or Velitsa, and St Naum took his place.
St Clement was the first Bulgarian hierarch to serve, preach and write in the Slavonic language. To this end he systematically prepared clergy from among the Slavic people. The holy bishop labored for the glory of God into his old age. When his strength failed, and he was unable to fulfill his responsibilities in the cathedral, he asked Tsar Simeon to let him retire.
The Tsar urged the saint not to forsake the cathedral, and St Clement agreed to continue his episcopal service. After this he went to Ochrid, to a monastery he founded. There the saint continued with his translation activities and translated important parts of the PENTEKOSTARION.
Soon the saint became seriously ill and departed to the Lord in the year 916. The saint's body was placed in a coffin he made with his own hands, and was buried in Ochrid's St Panteleimon monastery.
St Clement is considered the first Slavonic author. He not only continued the translation work begun by Sts Cyril and Methodius, but also left behind works of his own composition, the first samples of Slavonic spiritual literature.
Many of the lessons and sermons of St Clement were brought to Russia, where they were read and lovingly copied by pious Russian Christians.
St Clement is also commemorated on July 27.
1 Timothy 6:17-21 (Epistle)
17 Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.
18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share,
19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
20 O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge-
21 by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith. Grace be with you. Amen
Hebrews 9:1-7 (Epistle, Theotokos)
1 Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary.
2 For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary;
3 and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All,
4 which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron's rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant;
5 and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.
6 Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services.
7 But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people's sins committed in ignorance;
Luke 18:31-34 (Gospel)
31 Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished.
32 For He will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon.
33 They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.
34 But they understood none of these things; this saying was hidden from them, and they did not know the things which were spoken.
Luke 10:38-42; 11:27-28 (Gospel, Theotokos)
38 Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house.
39 And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word.
40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me."
41 And Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.
42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.
27 And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, "Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!"
28 But He said, "More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!"