Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Midlands, U.K.

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Thursday, January 29, 2015 | Tobe 21, 1731

The Twenty First Day of the Blessed Month of Tobe

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 Luke 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 86:2,5,7

The LORD loves the gates of Zion More than all the dwellings of Jacob. And of Zion it will be said, "This one and that one were born in her; And the Most High Himself shall establish her." Both the singers and the players on instruments say, "All my springs are in you."

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.
Luke 10:38-42

Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus feet and heard His word. 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." And Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her."
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 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 47:7,1

As when You break the ships of Tarshish With an east wind. Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised In the city of our God, In His holy mountain.

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 12:35-50

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, "Teacher, we want to see a sign from You." But He answered and said to them, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here. "When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, I will return to my house from which I came. And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation." While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him. Then one said to Him, "Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You." But He answered and said to the one who told Him, "Who is My mother and who are My brothers?" And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, "Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother."
And Glory be to God forever


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 Epistle of our teacher Paul to the Hebrews. May his blessings be upon us. Amen
Hebrews 9:1-12

Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary. For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, 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, Aarons rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail. Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services. But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the peoples sins committed in ignorance; the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing. It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation. But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.
The grace of God the Father be with you all. Amen.

Catholic Epistle

A Reading from the 2 Epistle of St. John. May his blessing be upon us. Amen
2 John 1:1-13

The Elder,To the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all those who have known the truth, because of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever: Grace, mercy, and peace will be with you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love. I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we received commandment from the Father. And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another. This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it. For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward. Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds. Having many things to write to you, I did not wish to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, that our joy may be full. The children of your elect sister greet you. Amen.
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 1:1-14

The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, "which,"He said, "you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" And He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven." Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath days journey. And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.
The word of the Lord shall grow, multiply, be mighty, and be confirmed, in the holy Church of God. Amen.

Synaxarium

The Twenty First Day of the Blessed Coptic Month of Tobe, 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.
Departure of Holy Virgin Theotokos Saint Mary
On this day, Our Lady, the all pure, Virgin St. Mary, the Mother of God, departed. As she was always praying in the holy sepulcher, the Holy Spirit informed her that she was about to depart from this temporal world. When the time of her departure arrived, the virgins of the Mount of Olives came to her, with the apostles, who were still alive, and they surrounded her bed. The Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom is the glory, with a host of thousands and thousands of angels came to her and comforted her and told her about the eternal joy that was prepared for her, and she rejoiced. The apostles and the virgins asked her to bless them. She stretched her hand and blessed them all, and she gave up her pure spirit in the hand of her Son and God, and He took her spirit to the heavenly mansions. The apostles prepared the body in a fitting manner and carried it to Gethsemane. Some of the Jews blocked their way to prevent them from burying the body. One of the Jews seized the coffin with his hands, which were separated instantly from his body and they remained attached to the coffin. He regretted his evil deed and wept bitterly. Through the supplications of the saintly apostles, his hands were reattached to his body, and he believed in the Lord Christ. When they placed the body in the tomb, the Lord hid it from them.

St. Thomas the Apostle was not present at the time of St. Mary's departure. He wanted to go to Jerusalem and a cloud carried him there. On his way, he saw the pure body of St. Mary carried by the angels and ascended to heaven with it. One of the angels told him, 'Make haste and kiss the pure body of St. Mary,' and he did. When St. Thomas arrived where the disciples were, they told him about St. Mary's departure and he said to them, 'You know how I conducted myself at the resurrection of the Lord Christ, and I will not believe unless I see her body.' They went with him to the tomb, and uncovered the place of the body but they did not find it, and everyone was perplexed and surprised. St. Thomas told them how he saw the holy body and the angels that were ascending with it. They heard the Holy Spirit saying to them, 'The Lord did not will to leave her body on earth.' The Lord had promised his pure apostles to let them see her in the flesh once again. They were waiting for this promise to be fulfilled, until the 16th day of the month of Misra, when the promise was fulfilled and they saw her. The years of her life on earth were 60 years. She was 12 years old when she left the temple. She spent 34 years in Joseph's house, until the Ascension of the Lord, and 14 years with St. John the Evangelist, according to the commandment of the Lord which he told her at the cross, 'Behold, this is your son,' and to St. John, 'Behold, this is your mother.'
May her intercession be for us all. Amen.

Departure of Saint Hilaria the Daughter of Emperor Zeno
On this day also, St. Hilaria, daughter of Emperor Zeno, departed. Emperor Zeno was an Orthodox believer, who loved the church. He had only two daughters, Hilaria and her sister, Thaopesta. Their father brought them up and taught them the fundamentals of the Orthodox faith. Hilaria, since her young age, loved to live a solitary life, and she thought about the monastic life. When she was 18 years old, she left the court of her father and traveled to Egypt, disguised in men's clothing. She went to the wilderness of St. Macarius, where she met a holy man by the name of Anba Pemwah. She told him about her desire to become a monk and she was ordained a monk under the name of Hilary. Three years later, Anba Pemwah found out that she was Hilaria, the daughter of Emperor Zeno. He kept her secret, and placed her in a cave, and visited her from time to time. She stayed there for fifteen years. When she did not grow a beard, the monks thought that she was an eunuch, and they called her 'Hilary, the eunuch'.

Meanwhile, her sister Thaopesta became possessed with an unclean spirit, and her father spent on her a great deal of money in vain. The men of his court advised the Emperor to send her to the elders of Sheheat (Scetis), for the fame of their holiness had spread to all the Roman districts. The Emperor sent her with one of the noble men in the empire, accompanied by many soldiers and several servants. He sent a letter with the nobleman to the elders of the wilderness telling them about his pain and grief. The Emperor told them that God had given him two daughters: one departed and did not return and he did not know where she was, and the other became possessed with an evil spirit who tormented her often. He asked them to pray for her, so that the Lord might heal her from what was ailing her, so that she would be a comfort to him in place of his disappeared daughter. When the princess arrived at the wilderness of Sheheat (Scetis) with her entourage, and the elders read the emperor's letter, they prayed for her for many days, but she was not healed. At the end, the fathers decided that St. Hilary the eunuch (Hilaria, her sister) should take her and pray for her healing. St. Hilary refused, but the elders obliged her to take her. St. Hilary knew that she was her sister but her sister did not recognize her. St. Hilaria embraced and kissed her sister often then left to weep outside. A few days later, Thaopesta, her sister, was healed from her illness, and St. Hilaria took her to the elders and said to them, 'Through your prayers, God has granted her healing.' The elders sent Thaopesta back to her father in peace.

When Thaopesta arrived to her father, he and all those who were in the palace rejoiced for her safe return, and offered many thanks to the Lord Christ. Her father asked her about her stay in Sheheat (Scetis), and she said that St. Hilary, the eunuch who healed her by his prayers, embraced her and kissed her often. When the Emperor heard this, he had some doubts about this monk. He sent to the elders asking them to send St. Hilary, who healed his daughter, in order to receive his blessings. When the elders ordered 'him' to go to the Emperor, 'he' wept bitterly before the elders, pleading with them to spare 'him' from the trip. They told 'him' that the emperor was a righteous man who loved the holy church and that it was only proper not to disobey him according to the Holy Scriptures. After a great effort, St. Hilaria went to the Emperor, who saluted 'him' and all those who were with 'him'. Then, he had a private meeting with Hilaria together with the Empress. They asked 'him', 'How did you 'the holy man' embrace and kiss the princess?' Then Hilaria asked them to bring the Bible and to pledge to 'him' not to prevent 'him' from going back to the wilderness after answering their inquiry. They brought the Bible and pledged to 'him' as he wished. Then 'he' made 'himself' known to them saying, 'I am your daughter Hilaria,' and she told them all that had happened to her. Her parents wept with a loud voice and all the people in the palace were in confusion. She remained three months, then she wanted to return, and when her parents refused, she reminded them of their oath. Then the Emperor wrote to the Governor of Egypt, demanding him to send a hundred bushels of wheat every year and six hundred measures of oil and all that the monks needed in the wilderness, on a yearly basis. The Emperor saw to it also that many cells were built for the monks. He also built a beautiful palace in the monastery of St. Macarius. From that time on, the number of monks increased in the wilderness. St. Hilaria stayed five years after her return to the wilderness, then departed in peace. No one knew that she was a woman until after her death.
May Her prayers be with us. Amen.

Departure of Saint Gregory the Bishop of Nyssa
On this day also, of the year 396 A.D., St. Gregory of Nyssa, the brother of St. Basil the Great, departed. This great father of the church was virtuous and so were his brothers. He was very well versed in the art of discourse and in the Greek language. He was also strongly zealous in his Orthodox faith. When these good characteristics were known about him, he was chosen bishop against his will, and was ordained over the city of Nyssa. He shepherded the flock of Christ that was entrusted to him, very well. He illumined the souls with his sermons and discourses. He interpreted many books of the Holy Bible. He was exiled at the time of Emperor Valens, but returned to Nyssa by the order of Emperor Theodosius the Great, in 378 A.D. When the one hundred and fifty fathers gathered together in the second Universal Council in Constantinople, in 381 A.D., because of the heresy of Macedonius, the archbishop of the city, at the order of Emperor Theodosius, St. Gregory, was one of the fathers present. He silenced Sabilius, Macedonius, and Apolinarus, arguing their heretic opinions and exposing the fallacies of their heresies. It was said about him, that while he was celebrating the Divine Liturgy, he saw the cherubim on the altar. After thirty-three years as the bishop of Nyssa, his brother St. Basil came to visit him, for St. Gregory was sick as a result of his austere ascetic life. St. Gregory received his brother with joy. Once, when St. Gregory was about to start the holy mass, he fell into a trance, and the Virgin St. Mary appeared to him and said, 'Today, you will come to us.' He departed the same day, and St. Basil, his brother, prayed over him, and he was buried with great honors.
May His prayers be with us and Glory be to our God forever. 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 Luke 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 44:11,12

So the King will greatly desire your beauty; Because He is your Lord, worship Him. And the daughter of Tyre will come with a gift; The rich among the people will seek your favor.

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.
Luke 1:39-56

Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord." And Mary said: "My soul magnifies the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, And holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him From generation to generation. He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, And exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, And the rich He has sent away empty. He has helped His servant Israel, In remembrance of His mercy, As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and to his seed forever." And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her house.
And Glory be to God forever