The Eve of the Nativity of Christ

Wednesday January 6, 2021 / December 24, 2020

31st Week after Pentecost. Tone five.
Fast. Food with Oil

The Eve of the Nativity of Christ (Rozhdestvenskyi Sochelnik). Nun-martyr Eugenia of Rome, and with her Martyrs Philip her father, Protus, Hyacinth (Jacinth), Basilla, and Claudia (262). New Hieromartyr Innocentius (1928). New Hieromartyr Sergius priest (1942). Venerable Nicholas the Monk of Bulgaria (9th c.).

The Scripture Readings

Hebrews 1:1-2 Royal Hours – 1st Hour
Matthew 1:18-25 Royal Hours – 1st Hour
Galatians 3:23-29 Royal Hours – 3rd Hour
Luke 2:1-20 Royal Hours – 3rd Hour
Hebrews 1:10-2:3 Royal Hours – 6th Hour
Matthew 2:1-12 Royal Hours – 6th Hour
Hebrews 2:11-18 Royal Hours – 9th Hour
Matthew 2:13-23 Royal Hours – 9th Hour
Hebrews 1:1-12 Liturgy
Luke 2:1-20 Liturgy

The Monastic-Martyress Eugenia

Commemorated on December 24

Monastic Martyress Eugenia

      The Monastic-Martyress Eugenia, by birth a Roman, lived at Alexandria, where her father, Philip, was sent by the emperor Commodus (180-192) in the capacity of governor of Egypt. Eugenia received a fine upbringing and was noted for her good disposition and beauty. Many an illustrious youth sought her hand, but she did not wish to enter into marriage. And having become acquainted with the Epistles of the Apostle Paul, she yearned with all her soul to become a Christian and so in secret from her parents, in the company of her two servants Protus and Hyacinthus, attired in men’s garb, she set out to a men’s monastery. There together with her servants and companions she accepted holy Baptism from bishop Elias, who learned about her in a vision, and he gave blessing for her to pursue asceticism at the monastery as the monk Eugene.
      By her ascetic feats Saint Eugenia acquired the gift of healing. One time a rich young woman named Melania turned to her for help. Seeing what before her seemed a young monk, this woman burned with an impure passion, and upon being spurned, she contrived a slander about a forcible attempt. Saint Eugenia came to trial before the governor of Egypt, i.e. her father, and she was forced to reveal her secret. Her parents were exuberant, finding before them one over whom they had long grieved. After a certain while they all accepted holy Baptism. But Philip, upon the denunciation of pagans, was displaced from the post of governor. The Alexandrian Christians chose him as their bishop. The new governor, fearing the wrath of the people, did not dare openly to execute Philip, but instead dispatched assassins. During the time of solitary prayer of Saint Philip, they inflicted wounds upon him, from which he died three days later as a martyr.

Having thus become widowed, Saint Claudia and her daughter and servants set out to her estates, situated near Rome. There Eugenia continued with monastic life. She brought many young women to Christ, and Claudia built a wanderers hostel and aided the widowed. After the course of several peaceful years, the emperor Galienus (260-268) began anew the persecution against Christians, and many of them found refuge with Saints Claudia and Eugenia. During these times a young Roman girl, named Vacilla, orphaned and of imperial lineage, heard about the Christians and Saint Eugenia, and wanting to meet the saint she wrote her a letter. In answer, Saint Eugenia sent her friends and co-ascetics, Protus and Hyacinthus, who enlightened Vacilla, and she accepted holy Baptism. The servant of Vacilla then told her fiancee Pompei, that his fiancee had become a Christian, and Pompei made complaint to the emperor against the Christians for preaching celibacy. Summoned to answer, Vacilla refused to enter into marriage with Pompei, and for this they killed her with a sword. They dragged Saints Protus and Hyacinthus into an idolous temple for making them sacrifice, but just as they entered therein, the idol fell down and was shattered. The holy Martyrs Protus and Hyacinthus were beheaded. They likewise by force brought Saint Eugenia to the temple of Diana, but she did not even enter it, when all the pagan temple with its idol collapsed. They threw the holy martyress into the Tiber with a stone about her neck, but the stone plunged downwards and she remained unharmed. She remained unharmed also in fire. Then they cast her into a pit, where she remained for 10 days. During this time the Saviour Himself appeared to her and announced, that she would enter into the Heavenly Kingdom on the day of the Nativity of Christ. When this radiant feastday was come in the year 262, the executioner killed the holy martyress with a sword. Saint Claudia soon also received a martyr’s crown. Saint Eugenia had told her beforehand about her day of death.

© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

HYMN OF PRAISE

THE VENERABLE MARTYR EUGENIA

Eugenia, a glorious maiden, recognized God

And dedicated herself completely to His service.

She sacrificed this temporary life for the eternal and endless one;

To Christ the Eternal she betrothed her heart.

With patience she conquered the vice of evil

And gained the wondrous grace of God.

With the angels in heaven she now rejoices;

With the saints she gloriously celebrates the eternal feast.

Eugenia, beautiful virgin, God sanctified you.

Remember us sinners before God even now.


REFLECTION

Victory over temptation is victory over death. This is shown by a wondrous experience of St. Nicholas the Commander. When this commander went off with King Nicephorus’s army against the Bulgarians, it happened that he spent the night in a wayside inn. The innkeeper had a daughter, a young girl, who, attracted by the imperial commander’s outward beauty, began to entice him into sin. Nicholas refused her once, saying to her that this was enticing him into a satanic act. Nevertheless, the shameless girl came a second and a third time to the commander’s room and again tempted him to an impure act. The commander refused both the second and third propositions even more decisively, counseling her to preserve her virginity and not to give her body and soul over to the devil. Finally, he said to her that he was a soldier and was going to war, and that it was unworthy and dangerous for a soldier to soil himself with such a misdeed, which would anger God and lead him to certain death. Thus, this God-loving man conquered temptation. The following day, he moved farther on with the army. The next night, he saw the following vision: He was standing in a spacious field and saw near him a powerful man sitting with his right leg crossed over his left. Before them stood two armies in the field, one facing the other, the Greeks and the Bulgarians. This powerful man told him to watch carefully what was about to happen. Nicholas looked and saw the following: As long as the powerful man kept his right leg crossed over the left, the Greek army overcame the Bulgarian army, and when he changed his position and placed his left leg over the right leg, the Bulgarians charged and ferociously cut down the Greeks. Then this powerful man brought the commander closer to the slaughtered Greek army. The entire field was covered with corpses, body beside body. Only in the middle of these corpses was there an empty space, large enough for the body of a man. Then the man said to Nicholas: “This place was appointed for your body, but since you defeated the devil’s temptations three times last night, you saved your body and soul from death.” That which Nicholas saw in his dream, he saw precisely in reality at the time of the battle. The entire Greek army perished on the battlefield, but Nicholas returned home alive, not to the barracks anymore, but to a monastery.

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the assembly of the forefathers, prophets and righteous ones in the heavens:

1. How, before Christ, they fulfilled God’s law;

2. How they foretold Christ the Lord both in word and in the image of their lives;

3. How they now rejoice in the Kingdom of Christ.

HOMILY

on the righteous Joseph

Then Joseph her husband, being a just man … did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him (Matthew 1:19, 24).

One must fear God more than men, and one must obey God more than men. This is the lesson from the life of the Righteous Joseph, the kinsman and guardian of the Holy Virgin Mary. He lived at the time of the juncture between the Law and grace, and was faithful to the Law until grace appeared; then, when the new grace of God appeared, he became faithful to grace. Obedient to the letter of the Law, he wanted to put the Holy Virgin away when she conceived the Savior of the world in her most pure body. But when an angel of God announced to him that Mary had conceived of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20), he abandoned his intention and did not put her away, but did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him. He did not reason for himself, but obeyed the will of God. Therefore, God made him worthy of great glory, both on earth and in heaven. Quietly and secretly he served God, and God glorified him openly. Not only was he made worthy of the Kingdom of God but also his sons and daughters were. What father would want anything more than that his son would be an apostle of Christ? And Joseph had two sons who were apostles. Thus, God glorifies those who fear Him and obey Him.

O great Lord, God of the righteous Joseph, help us sinners also to love Thy righteousness and to fear only Thee.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.