Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Midlands, U.K.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014 | Thoout 7, 1731

The Seventh Day of the Blessed Month of Thoout

Vespers

Vespers Gospel

Stand in the fear of God and listen to the Holy Gospel. A reading from the Gospel according to our teacher Saint Matthew the Evangelist. May His Blessings be with us all. From the Psalms of our teacher David the prophet. May his blessings be with us all.
Psalms 109:4,7

The LORD has sworn And will not relent, "You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek." He shall drink of the brook by the wayside; Therefore He shall lift up the head.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Our Lord God, Savior, and King of us all, Jesus Christ, the Living Son of God to whom be glory forever. Amen.
Matthew 16:13-19

When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" So they said, "Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."
And Glory be to God forever


Matins

Matins Gospel

Stand in the fear of God and listen to the Holy Gospel. A reading from the Gospel according to our teacher Saint John the Evangelist. May His Blessings be with us all. From the Psalms of our teacher David the prophet. May his blessings be with us all.
Psalms 72:23,24,28

Nevertheless I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel, And afterward receive me to glory. But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, That I may declare all Your works.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Our Lord God, Savior, and King of us all, Jesus Christ, the Living Son of God to whom be glory forever. Amen.
John 15:17-25

These things I command you, that you love one another. "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My names sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, They hated Me without a cause.
And Glory be to God forever


Divine Liturgy

Pauline Epistle

Paul, the servant of our Lord Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, appointed to the Gospel of God. A reading from the 2 Epistle of our teacher Paul to the Corinthians. May his blessings be upon us. Amen
2 Corinthians 4:5-5:11

For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you. And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, "I believed and therefore I spoke,"we also believe and therefore speak, knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.
The grace of God the Father be with you all. Amen.

Catholic Epistle

A Reading from the 1 Epistle of St. Peter. May his blessing be upon us. Amen
1 Peter 2:18-3:7

Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: "Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth"; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousnessby whose stripes you were healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. Do not let your adornment be merely outwardarranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror. Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. The world passes away, and its desires; but he who does the will of God abides forever. Amen.

Acts of the Apostles

The Acts of our fathers the apostles, may their blessings be with us.
Acts of the Apostles 20:17-38

From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church. And when they had come to him, he said to them: "You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. "And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more. Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. "So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I have coveted no ones silver or gold or apparel. Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, It is more blessed to give than to receive." And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. Then they all wept freely, and fell on Pauls neck and kissed him, sorrowing most of all for the words which he spoke, that they would see his face no more. And they accompanied him to the ship.
The word of the Lord shall grow, multiply, be mighty, and be confirmed, in the holy Church of God. Amen.

Synaxarium

The Seventh Day of the Blessed Coptic Month of Thoout, may God make it always received, year after year, with reassurance and tranquility, while our sins are forgiven by the tender mercies of our God my fathers and brothers, Amen.
Martyrdom of Saint Agathon, Saint Peter, Saint John, Saint Ammon, Saint Ammona and their Mother Saint Rebecca
On this day also was the martyrdom of Saints Agathon, Peter, John, Ammon, and Ammona and their mother, Rebecca. They were from Kemola of the district of Kus. Our Lord Jesus Christ appeared to them and informed them of what would happen to them and how they would receive the crown of martyrdom in the city of Shoubra which is near Alexandria, and that their bodies would be carried to the city of Nakarha in the district of Behairah. The Saints rejoiced at this vision, and they rose up early and gave all their possessions to the poor.

Agathon, their eldest brother, was a man of high position in the city and was loved by everyone. Rebecca, their mother, encouraged them and incited them to bear the torture patiently for the name of the Lord Christ. Then they came to the city of Kus and confessed their belief in Christ before Dionysius, the governor, who tortured them severely. He started with their mother who bore the torture patiently and with joy, and then tortured her five children. When he was weary of torturing them, he was advised to send them to Alexandria so that they might not lead other people astray, for they were loved by everyone. Because of them, many confessed their belief in Jesus Christ and received the crown of martyrdom.

When they were brought before Armenius, the governor of Alexandria who learned about their case, he tortured them very severely. He hacked their bodies, cast them in a boiler, squeezed them with wheels, then crucified them upside down. From all these sufferings, our Lord Christ saved them until the governor and all his people were ashamed.

Finally, he ordered to have their heads cut off and to have their bodies drowned in the sea. God sent forth an angel to a rich man from the city of Nakarha and commanded him to take the bodies of the saints and the man was exceedingly glad for that. He came to where the bodies were, gave the soldiers much silver and took the holy bodies. When he laid them in the church, he heard a voice saying, 'This is abode of the saints.' The bodies remained there till the time of persecutions passed, then their existence was revealed and a big church was built for them. God made manifest from their relics, signs, and wonders. Then they transferred the bodies to the city of Sonbat, where there is a church known as, 'The Five and Their Mother' or 'El-Sitt Refka' (Lady Rebecca). Many visit this church every year to get their blessing.
May their intercession be for all. Amen.

Departure of Saint Severianus the Bishop of Gabla
On this day also departed the righteous holy father, Abba Severianus, Bishop of Gabla in Greece. The name of his father was Blaryanos. He studied the earthly wisdom of the Athenians and then went to Caesarea for higher studies. He returned to Rome where he studied the doctrines of the Church, and learned the Old and New Testaments in a few years. After this his parents departed and left him a great wealth. He wished to give it all to Christ so that he might receive it back a hundred-fold. He built a hotel to house the strangers, the poor, and the afflicted, and planted gardens to have the fruits distributed to the poor. His name was given to these places after his departure from this world. His uncle who was the governor of that city informed Emperor Honorius that he had squandered all his money for the name of the Lord Christ to receive from Him back a hundred-fold as He had promised in His Holy Gospel. The emperor was pleased. He invited him and commanded him not to leave the palace. He used to take him along to the church. In those days Pope Yonakendios was sitting on the chair of Rome, and it was revealed to him by God that Severianus would be in charge of a large group. The Pope loved and honored him, and wished not to be separated from him, and he was loved by everyone.

When St. Severianus (Sawiros) saw that everyone honored him, he became afraid of losing his labor, so he decided to escape from earthly honors secretly. The angel of the Lord appeared to him and commanded him to go to the city of Gabla and there he would become father to many souls. After having put on the garb of the monks, he departed by night and with him was his disciple, Theodore. God sent to him a light to guide him to his destination. There was a monastery led by a holy abbot who learned in a vision about the coming of St. Severianus. He went out and welcomed him and told him about his vision. His fame reached that region and a countless number of people came to him. The Emperor Theodosius had one of the monasteries renewed for him to live in as the angel had determined for him. He became the comforter of many souls. He continued to teach and instruct the monks until they became saints like angels.

God performed many wonders at his hands. The daughter of the governor of Gabla had an evil spirit dwelling in her and the spirit said to her father, 'If you drive away Severianus from this place, I will get out of your daughter.' When her father informed the saint about that, he wrote him a paper saying: 'In the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, get out of her.' When he returned to his daughter with this paper, straightaway the devil screamed and left her. Once some magicians agreed with some soldiers to break into his monastery, but they were smitten with blindness and they remained like this for three days until the saint prayed for them to be cured.

Philatheus, the Bishop of the city, learned in a vision from God that St. Severianus (Sawiros) would succeed him on his chair and he said this to his people. When St. Severianus was ordained, he looked after his people in the best way. There was in that city a Jew called Sektar who was proud of his knowledge. He came to the saint and debated with him until finally he was convinced of the correctness of Christianity and the faith in the Lord Christ; many other magicians also believed. During his days, Egypt became as proud of its monks as Constantinople was of Saint John Chrysostom (of the Golden Mouth). When the Persians declared war against Honorius and Arcadius, they sent to St. Severianus asking for his prayers for the kingdom. He sent back to them saying, 'If we belong to Christ, and our kingdom belongs to Christ, we have no need for armor or spears or troops.' And he reminded them of what the Lord had done with those previous kings who pleased Him.

When Empress Eudoxia was angry with Chrysostom (of the Golden Mouth), she brought St. Severianus with others for the trial of St. Chrysostom. He admonished her saying, 'John Chrysostom (of the Golden Mouth) did nothing worthy of banishment,' but she would not hearken to him. He wrote many discourses and sermons which still exist in the church books till now. He waxed old reaching the age of one hundred years. Ten days before his death, the angel of God appeared to him and informed him of the day of his departure from this world. He gave advice to his people and then departed in peace. His pure body was prepared as was met and was placed in the sepulcher. His departure was two years before that of St. John Chrysostom (of the Golden Mouth).
May his prayers be with us all, and Glory be to God forever. Amen.

Departure of Pope Dioscorus I (444-451) the 25th Patriarch of Alexandria and the See of Saint Mark
On this day of the year 451 A.D., departed the blessed father and the great hero of the Orthodox faith, Saint Dioscorus, the twenty-fifth Pope of Alexandria. His departure took place on the island of Gagra, after he had fought a good fight defending the Orthodox faith.

When he was summoned to the Council of Chalcedon by the order of Emperor Marcianus, he saw a great assembly of six hundred and thirty bishops. Saint Dioscorus said, 'In whom is faith lacking that it is necessary to gather this great assembly?' They told him, 'This assembly has been convened by the emperor's command.' He replied, 'If this assembly has been convened by the command our Lord Jesus Christ, I may stay and say what God gives me to say; but if this assembly has been convened by the emperor's command, let the emperor manage his assembly as he pleases.' When he saw that Leo the Archbishop of Rome was teaching that Christ has two natures and two wills after His unity, he spoke to confute this new belief. He stated that our Lord Jesus Christ is one, He who was invited to the wedding as a man and changed the water into wine as God, and that the two natures were not separate in all of His works. Quoting Pope Cyril, he said, 'The union of the Word of God with the flesh is like the union of the spirit with the body, and like the union of fire and iron: even if they are of two different natures, by their unity they became one. Similarly, our Lord Christ is one Messiah, one Nature, and one Will.' None of those who were gathered at that assembly dared to contradict him. Among them were some who had attended the Council of Ephesus, which had been convened against Nestor. They informed the Emperor Marcianus and the Empress Belkarya that no one disobeyed their commands concerning the faith of except Dioscorus the Patriarch of the City of Alexandria. They brought him, and the senior bishops of the Council debated and discussed the matter till it was evening, but St. Dioscorus would not deviate from his Orthodox belief.

The emperor and empress were irritated at this, and the empress commanded to smite him on his mouth, and to pluck out the hair of his beard, which was done. He took the hair and the teeth that had dropped out, and sent them to Alexandria saying, 'This is the fruit of Faith.' When the rest of the bishops saw what had happened to Dioscorus, they agreed with the king, being afraid of undergoing the same fate. They signed the document of the belief that Christ has two distinct and separate natures. When St. Dioscorus knew this, he sent for the document pretending that he wanted to sign it too. But when he read the document, he wrote at its foot that he excommunicated them all as well as everyone who deviated from the Orthodox Faith. The king was enraged and he commanded to banish him to the Island of Gagra, along with St. Macarius, the Bishop of Edko, and two others, and the Council of Chalcedon was resumed.

When they took St. Dioscorus to the island of Gagra, its bishop, because he was a Nestorian, met him with contempt and disdain. But God performed at the hands of St. Dioscorus so that all obeyed him and magnified his greatness because God honors His chosen ones in every place. St. Dioscorus told St. Macarius, his companion in exile, 'You shall receive the crown of martyrdom in Alexandria.' He sent him with one of the believing merchants to Alexandria, where he earned the crown of martyrdom.

St. Dioscorus, having ended his good fight, departed from this worthless life and received the crown of eternal life. He departed in the island of Gagra where his body was laid.
May his blessings and prayers be with us all. Amen.

Divine Liturgy Gospel

Stand in the fear of God and listen to the Holy Gospel. A reading from the Gospel according to our teacher Saint John the Evangelist. May His Blessings be with us all. From the Psalms of our teacher David the prophet. May his blessings be with us all.
Psalms 106:32,41,42

Let them exalt Him also in the assembly of the people, And praise Him in the company of the elders. Yet He sets the poor on high, far from affliction, And makes their families like a flock. The righteous see it and rejoice, And all iniquity stops its mouth.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Our Lord God, Savior, and King of us all, Jesus Christ, the Living Son of God to whom be glory forever. Amen.
John 10:1-16

"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers." Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them. Then Jesus said to them again, "Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.
And Glory be to God forever