Wednesday, December 15, 2021 / December 2, 2021
26th Week after Pentecost. Tone eight.
Nativity (St. Philip’s Fast). By Monastic Charter: Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)
Prophet Habakkuk (Abbacum) (7th c. B.C.). New Hieromartyr Mathew priest (1921). New Hieromartyr Demetrius priest and Venerable Vera confessor (1932). New Hieromartyrs Alexis, Constantine, Nicholas, Sergius, Vladimir, John, Theodore, Nicholas, John, Nicholas, Paul, Sergius priests, Hieromartyr Danact, Cosmas,, Woman Hieromartyrs Theuromia, Tamara, Antonina, and Mary; and Virgin-martyrs Mary and Matrona (1937). Virgin-martyr Mary (1938). Martyr Boris (1942). Venerable Athanasius “the Resurrected,” recluse of the Kiev Caves, whose relics are in the Near Caves (1176). Venerable Athanasius, recluse of the Kiev Caves whose relics are in the Far Caves (13th c.). Martyr Myrope of Chios (251). Venerables John, Heraclemon, Andrew, and Theophilus of Egypt (4th c.). Venerable Jesse (Ise), bishop of Tsilkani in Georgia (6th c.) (Georgia). St. Stephen-Urosh IV, king (1371), and St. Helen of Serbia. Icon of the Mother of God, named “Gerontissa
The Prophet Habbakuk
Commemorated on December 2
The Holy Prophet Avvakum (Habbakuk), one of the 12 Minor Prophets, was descended from the Tribe of Simeon, and he prophesied in about the year 650 B.C.
The Prophet Avvakum foresaw the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, the Babylonian Captivity and the later return of the captives to their native-land. During the time of the war with the Babylonians the prophet withdrew to Arabia, where with him there occurred the following miracle. When he was bringing dinner to the reapers, he met with an Angel of the Lord, and instantly by the strength of his spirit he was transported to Babylon, where at the time the Prophet Daniel was languishing in prison. Thus, the food, intended for the reapers, assuaged the hunger of the exhausted Prophet Daniel. After the end of the war with the Babylonians, the Prophet Avvakum returned to his fatherland and died in extreme old age. His relics were found at the time of the holy Constantinople Emperor Theodosius he Younger (408-450).
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.
1. THE HOLY PROPHET HABAKKUK
Habakkuk was the son of Asaphat from the tribe of Simeon. He prophesied six hundred years before Christ, during the time of King Manasseh, and foretold the destruction of Jerusalem. When Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, attacked Jerusalem, Habakkuk sought refuge in the land of the Ishmaelites. From there he returned to Judea, where he lived as a farmer. One day he was carrying lunch to the workers in the fields, when suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared to him and said: Go carry the dinner that thou hast into Babylon unto Daniel, who is in the lion’s den (Daniel 14:34*). But Habakkuk responded: Lord, I never saw Babylon; neither do I know where the den is (Daniel 14:34-35). Then the angel took him by the hair and instantly brought him to Babylon, over an immense distance, to the lion’s den, where Daniel had been cast by King Cyrus as a punishment for not worshiping the idols. O Daniel, Daniel, cried Habakkuk, take the dinner which God hath sent thee (Daniel 14:37), and Daniel took it and ate. Then the angel of God again took Habakkuk and carried him back to his field in Judea. Habakkuk also prophesied the liberation of Jerusalem and the time of the coming of Christ. He entered into rest in ripe old age and was buried at Kela. His relics were discovered during the reign of Theodosius the Great.
From Prologue of Saint Nikolai Velimirovic
HYMN OF PRAISE
SAINT UROŠ, KING OF SERBIA
Like the wind, Dušan’s power passed away,
But Uroš’s holiness forever remains.
Weak in tyranny, powerful in virtue;
Powerful in virtue, righteousness and truth;
Uroš, with all his heart, fell in love with Christ God,
Gaining heaven and losing the world.
No sin tainted his soul.
Defeated, he conquered; slain, he lives.
All the Serbian nobles, proud and hot-tempered,
While living could not do
That which now the relics of St. Uroš do–
Uroš the Powerful, the God-pleaser.
Rich men, turned to dust, no longer reign,
But the crowned Uroš, rich in justice and God’s truth,
Even now reigns,
And eases the pains of his people,
Offering up prayers before Christ in Paradise,
Imploring mercy for his people from the Lord.
O King Uroš, holy and noble one,
Help us to fulfill God’s law!
“Who has ever returned from the other world to inform us of it?” Thus the unbelievers ask. One should reply to them: “Repent of your sins if you wish to find out; make yourselves worthy and you will see.” St. Habakkuk traveled with an angel. St. Myrope saw a host of angels and among them the martyr, St. Isidore. St. Athanasius of the Kiev Caves was dead to this world for two days and alive only in the other world. Upon the return of his soul to his body, they gathered around him and asked him: “How did you return to life? What did you see? What did you hear?” He would say nothing about it, being totally in horror at that which he had seen in the other world, and would only say: “Save yourselves!” When they pressured him to tell a little more of what he had seen in the other world after death, he replied: “Even if I should tell you, you would not believe me or listen to me.” When they urged him yet further, however, he said among other things: “Repent every moment and pray to the Lord Jesus Christ and to His Most-pure Mother.” Even in our own time, there are cases of those who have temporarily died, and the visions and accounts of those who have returned to life in the body do not contradict but rather complement one another. For example, every person who dies sees one part of that other world that is vast and incomparably larger than this world. Many people, at death, see their long-dead relatives and speak with them. This is almost a common occurrence. In 1926 A.D., in the village of Vevčani, Meletije P. was on his deathbed. He spoke with his children, who had died twenty years earlier. When his living relatives said to him, “You’re rambling!” he replied, “I am not rambling, but rather I am speaking with them as I am speaking with you, and I see them as I see you.”
Contemplate the sinful fall of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3):
1. How Adam and Eve, before their sin, were clothed in innocence and did not see themselves naked;
2. How, after sinning, Adam and Eve saw themselves naked and hid themselves from God;
3. How every virtue is clothing, and every sin is nakedness.
on the joyful revelations in the first sentence of the Bible
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth (Genesis 1:1).
How compact and full is God’s every word! It is like folded linen, which can be carried under the arm and spread upon the grass over a large area. How many, many priceless good things does this word of God reveal to us: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. First of all, it shows us that God is the only eternal and uncreated One. And this first revelation brings about in us the first inexpressible joy. In this whirlpool of change and transience, we are inexpressibly happy that our Creator is beyond change and transience. It further tells us that the one and only good God is the Creator of the world, and since He is the Creator, He is also both the Almighty and the Provider. And this second revelation brings about in us a second inexpressible joy. The world did not proceed out of chaos or chance, without thought and purpose, rather it proceeded from the All-wise God, omniscient and most-merciful, Who is in control of it and is guiding it toward its intended goal. It further reveals to us that this world had a beginning, and consequently it will have an end. And this third revelation brings about in us inexpressible joy. For it would be sad if this world were eternal, and if all its goals, immediate and distant, were to be found only within itself. This would indeed cause a whirlpool in the mind of the intelligent, and sadness in the heart of the righteous. It finally points out to us that God created two worlds, the heavenly and the earthly, or the incorporeal and the corporeal. And this fourth revelation brings us a fourth inexpressible joy. As we now raise our gaze to the heights and rejoice in the sun, moon and stars above our heads, so we can raise our spirit to the spiritual world, toward the angelic world, which is akin to us but purer and brighter than us. We rejoice, for we know that there is a world better than ours, which we will also enter and, like weary travelers, return home and find rest. Oh, how sadly would men’s gaze wander around the world if this were the only world and there were no starry heavens! And how sorrowfully would the spirit of man wander in the material world if there were not a spiritual world, the heavenly!
O Most-gracious Lord, glory to Thee and praise.
To Thee alone be glory and praise forever. Amen.