Monday, December 25, 2017

How You Can Help the Mystagogy Resource Center This Christmas

Dear Readers:

With the Christmas season underway, we tend to lose focus on the true meaning of the holiday amid all the hustle and bustle. And the true meaning of the holiday is best arrived at through the prescription of the Church during the Advent Season, which is threefold - prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Giving is important during the Christmas season because we imitate God by doing so, Who gave us His Only Begotten Son. There are many ways we can give back to God in gratitude and to give to our fellow people, and we should take advantage of these opportunities as much as we can. Among these is to support a ministry that is beneficial to you and to thousands like you, such as the Mystagogy Resource Center.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Synaxarion of Saint Dounale the Confessor, Who Was Renamed Stephen

St. Dounale the Confessor (Feast Day - December 17)


Stephen was vested with crowns of virtues,
Shining here he goes to the crowns above.

He was a ruler of his own land, which was an island, called by some Nivertis, and by others Berroe. It is rained upon by the ocean, and located near the Gadeiras [Cadiz], which is a neck of land in Spain. He had much wealth, and was raised with pious faith and Christian doctrines, who lived more for God than for people. The renowned one counted all the things of this world as dung, and he left his authority to his sons. And going to Rome, he was dressed in the monastic schema, namely that of a crusader. He then withdrew from there, and went to famed Constantinople. There he conversed with the emperors Constantine and Romanos Porphyrogenitos in the year 919, by whom he was sent to Jerusalem (for this is what he sought from them). Arriving there, he received the great and angelic schema by the Patriarch of Jerusalem known as Christodoulos, and from Dounale he was renamed Stephen.

A Poem on Abraham and Isaac (St. Ephraim the Syrian)


Among the many metrical texts in Greek attributed to Saint Ephraim the Syrian are a number of long poems devoted to Old Testament figures. The one presented here is particularly interesting since it is clearly related to a text of Saint Gregory of Nyssa On the Nature of the Son, which may be found in PG 46:565-576. It is very difficult to decide which text is the earlier and the few few scholars who have given any attention to the subject are divided. I am inclined to think that St Gregory’s text is the earlier, since it includes none of the passages in St Ephrem’s text which are explicitly Christological; for example the long typological series of stanzas (9 to 27) on the Incarnation, or that on Isaac and Christ (94 to 106). Whether the poem has links to the Syrian Ephraim is another very difficult question. The description of the tree on which the ram is found hanging as ’a Sabek plant’ must be based on the Septuagint, on the other hand the idea that the tree and the ram were a special miraculous creation is also found in St Ephraim’s own Syriac Commentary on Genesis, ’The ram had not been there, since Isaac asked about the lamb. The tree was not there, since the wood on Isaac’s shoulders shows it. The mountain threw up the tree, and the tree the ram; so that by the ram which was hanging from the tree and became a sacrifice for Abraham’s son, might be prefigured the one who hung like a ram from the wood, and who would taste death for the whole world’. [On Genesis, 20.1]

Synaxarion for the Sunday of the Holy Forefathers

Sunday of the Holy Forefathers (Second Sunday Before Christmas)


Receive joy O Forefathers of old,
Beholding Christ the Messiah drawing near.
Rejoice Abraham, for you have been shown to be the great-grandfather of Christ.

The subject of the blessed Abraham is known as much by the wise men as by common Christians. For the Book of Genesis, written by the Prophet Moses, which speaks of him, is read to be heard by all Christians in the Church, during the fasting days of the Holy and Great Lent. Wherefore we all learn from this book, that our forefather Abraham was from the land of the Chaldeans, and he was a gentile. The Chaldeans were a nation before the Jews. And his father Terah was an idolater. The divine Abraham was also an idolater, but he was not prevented by this from coming to know the true God. Rather, we should say something strange, for the great Abraham even by this idolatry was led to understand the true God.

Gospel Commentary for the Twenty-Eighth Sunday after Pentecost (St. Theophylact of Ochrid)

Twenty-Eighth Sunday after Pentecost (or Eleventh Sunday of Luke)
Parable of the Great Supper

Luke 14:16-24

From The Explanation of the Gospel of St. Luke

By Blessed Theophylact, Archbishop of Ochrid and Bulgaria

16-20. Then said He unto him, "A certain man made a great supper, and called many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were called, 'Come; for all things are now ready.' And they all with one accord began to make excuse. The first said unto him, 'I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.' And another said, 'I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.' And another said, 'I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.'

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