Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
The Prologue from Ohrid
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December 81. 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
Patapius, like a mariner,
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):
Cursed is the ground in thy works (Genesis 3:17).
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