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The 2nd Day of the Month of December

(and also on the 12th day of June)

Commemoration of the Venerable John, Heraclemon, Andrew and Theophilus of Egypt

At Vespers

At “Lord, I have cried…,” these stichera, in Tone VIII, Special Melody: “O most glorious wonder…”

Oh, wondrous life! Oh, great endurance! Right fruitful trees of paradise which flourished in the desert, sprung from a single root and grafted onto the one true Vine, O John, Heraclemon, Andrew and Theophilus, fill ye with the sweetness of spiritual fruit us who honor and hymn thee.

Enduring the noonday sun in the desert, ye freed yourselves from the burning heat of the passions, and by your thirst for salvation overcoming natural thirst, ye discovered a fountain overflowing unto eternal life and gave drink to your souls with the streams thereof. Wherefore, by your supplications bedew our desiccated souls, vouchsafing that we bring forth the fruitfulness of the virtues.

Emulators of the Forerunner and imitators of the feats of Elijah, offspring of the desert, glory and adornment of fasters, by your life did ye amaze the bodiless ones. Wherefore, ye have become fellow citizens with the bodiless; and now, therefore, from heaven watch over those who struggle spiritually and show them speedy aid, guiding them to the eternal mansions.

Glory…, in Tone VII

Laying aside today all the cares of life, come ye, let us make haste to the temple of the Lord, celebrating the radiant memory of the venerable ones; and well instructed in their life, let us purify our senses and sanctify our lips with prayer; and sighing over our offenses from the depths of our hearts, let us cry out to our Savior, Jesus most sweet: By their prayers, O Christ God, have mercy upon us!

Now and ever…, Theotokion, or this Stavrotheotokion, in the same tone

When the Virgin, Thy Mother, beheld Thee nailed to the Cross at Calvary, illegally condemned by the Jews, O my Christ, she cried out: “Woe is me!, O my most beloved son! What is this strange sight? How can the mindless children of the Jews nail Thee, the Lord of all, to a cross?”

At the Aposticha, Glory…, in Tone V

With what praises shall we honor you, O venerable ones? What hymns shall we sing to you, who from your youth gave your life over to Christ, and emulated the feats of him who is the greatest of those born of woman? The mind is not able, and every tongue that speaketh boastful words falleth silent, yet our hearts are inflamed all the more with eagerness; wherefore, we entreat you: Instead of hymns accept our faith and love.

Now and ever…, Theotokion, or this Stavrotheotokion, in the same tone

Let us all weep and lift up our hands; and let us beat our breast, weeping fervently, bending our knees, earnestly beating our face against the ground; and let us sigh toward the heights of heaven, for we have angered God with unseemly deeds and by rejecting His commandments. Yet do we cry out: “Through the intercession of Thy Mother at the judgment which is to come, deliver us, who have grieved Thee yet repent; for for us didst Thou become incarnate and endure the Cross; and cause us to share in Thy kingdom.”

Troparion, in Tone IV

O God of our fathers, deal ever with us according to Thy gentleness; take not Thy mercy from us, but by their supplications direct our life in peace.

At Matins

The canon of the venerable ones, the acrostic whereof is: “We glorify your holy memory, O Venerable Ones,” the composition of Valeria, in Tone VIII

Ode I

Irmos: The staff of Moses, once working a wonder, striking the sea in the form of the Cross and dividing it, drowned the mounted tyrant Pharaoh, and saved Israel who fled on foot, chanting a hymn unto God.

Behold now, what is so good or so joyous as for brethren to dwell together in unity? Attentive to this divinely inspired word, and working out your salvation together, ye did persist in prayers and labors in singleness of mind, chanting with one mouth and one heart unto the Trinity, consubstantial and indivisible.

Purchasing that which is eternal with that which is transitory and corruptible, ye made a blessed exchange in your earthly life; for, lo! ye took up labors and struggle, that ye might obtain heavenly rest; ye loved the desert, that ye might delight in the garden of paradise; ye endured the burning heat of noonday, that ye might abide eternally in a place of refreshment; and hunger and thirst did ye bear, that ye might give drink to your souls with streams of immortality and nourish yourselves with the most sweet sight of the countenance of God, chanting with the angels a new hymn unto Him.

Departing from this sin-loving world as did the chosen people from Egypt, and delivered from the demonic hordes as from the warriors of Pharaoh, ye did attain unto the Thebaïd, strengthened by the right hand of God; and laboring there ascetically, ye made your abode in the wilderness. Wherefore, delighting now, not in an earthly promised land, but in heaven, ye chant to Christ God a hymn of victory.

Theotokion: Thou art an aid to those who travel the narrow way, O Theotokos, for by thee are the afflicted strengthened and in thee do the weak become strong; in thee do the saints boast and by thee are sinners saved. We hymn thine ineffable loving-kindness.

Ode III

Irmos: O Christ, Who in the beginning established the heavens in wisdom and founded the earth upon the waters, make me steadfast upon the rock of Thy commandments; for none is holy as Thee, O Thou Who lovest mankind.

O venerable ones, establish us in the love of Christ, wherein ye were established by God, that having loved our neighbor as ourselves and forgiving the trespasses of those who trespass against us, we may obtain forgiveness of our sins.

Young in years, but elders in understanding were ye shown to be, O venerable ones, when, forsaking all the beauties of this world and looking toward the end of all things, ye made your abode in the desert; that following after Christ there with diligence, ye might, by the narrow and exceeding sorrowful gate, rather than by the most opportune path, enter in unto the Kingdom of heaven. Wherefore, ye now abide in the mansions of paradise.

Taught by faith and the fear of God, protected by the grace of the Holy Spirit, having Christ alone as instructor after the repose of your abba, ye acquired certain salvation, and amazed the angels with your great patience. Wherefore, be ye now our instructors, and teach us to fulfill the commandments of the Lord.

Theotokion: The unceasing amazement of the angels, and the never-ending routing of demons, the salvation of men art thou, O all-immaculate Virgin. In thee do we confidently boast. With thee do we lay low our adversaries, and through thee do we hope to obtain eternal life.

Sessional hymn, in Tone VII

Wandering in the desert of the virtues, and tormented by spiritual thirst, we have found you to be like the four rivers of paradise, O venerable ones; for to all who follow your life ye pour forth streams of grace abundantly and bedew withered hearts with your prayers, and ye give joy as drink to the souls of the faithful. Now celebrating your most glorious memory, we humbly entreat you, O blessed ones, that through your fervent supplications ye rain down upon us the mercy of God.

Glory…, Now and ever….: Theotokion

Rejoice, O thou through whom the Word immutably became flesh and dwelt among us! Rejoice, O pure one, joy of the venerable and the righteous, and salvation of us, the faithful! Rejoice, O Mother of Christ God!

Stavrotheotokion

O pure, Ever-virgin Theotokos, beholding thy Son hanging upon the Cross, and weeping as a mother, thou didst magnify His strange condescension, O Mistress who knewest not wedlock.

Ode IV

Irmos: Thou art my strength, O Lord, Thou art my power; Thou art my God, Thou art my joy, Who, without leaving the bosom of the Father, hast visited our lowliness. Wherefore, with the Prophet Habbakuk I cry unto Thee: Glory to Thy power, O Thou Who lovest mankind!

Wishing to flee the broad path that leadeth to destruction, O venerable ones, ye chose the desert as a habitation for yourselves and adopted voluntary poverty, laying up spiritual treasure in heaven. Wherefore, ye discovered Christ, the priceless Pearl, and ye glorified His most wondrous economy for you.

The ranks of angels were amazed, beholding mortal men taking upon themselves the ministry of the angels, and were nourished most wondrously with the most pure Body and Blood of Christ; and with awe they cried out to God: Glory to Thy loving-kindness, O Thou Who lovest mankind! Glory to Thy condescension, O Christ! Glory to Thy power, O Lord!

O Christ, Thou didst glorify Thy servants, bestowing strength upon them to confront the demons, ever strengthening them for their struggles, and especially, sending them an angel and vouchsafing them mystically the divine communion of Thy Body and Blood. Glory to Thy power, O Lord!

Theotokion: Daughter of mortal Adam, and Mother of God art thou truly, O Theotokos, who gavest birth ineffably to thy Creator and Lord, Who redeemeth the generation of Adam from corruption. Glory to the ineffable counsel of God!

Ode V

Irmos: Wherefore hast Thou turned Thy face from me, O Light never-waning? And why hath a strange darkness covered me, wretch that I am? But turn me, and guide my steps to the light of Thy commandments, I pray.

Contemplating the ineffable light of Tabor with noetic eyes, dwelling on earth in the flesh, but abiding in spirit with the angels, ye truly became citizens of heaven, O venerable ones. Wherefore, from an angel ye received the holy Mysteries of Christ. Honored, therefore, on earth by God with such care for you, what glories are ye now vouchsafed in heaven? But as ye have boldness before the Holy Trinity, pray unceasingly for us sinners, that He enlighten and save our souls.

In the firmament of heaven four noetic stars have been revealed unto us, shining brightly with rays of the virtues and driving away the oppressive gloom of sin: our venerable and God-bearing fathers John, Heraclemon, Andrew and Theophilus. Wherefore, by their supplications, O Christ God, grant us cleansing from our sins, for Thou art compassionate.

Driving away the dark forms of the evil spirits with the name of Christ, and striking them with the precious Cross as with a sword of fire, ye were shown to be conquerors of temptations and deception. Wherefore, having shone forth like the sun with the righteous in the kingdom of heaven, ye delight in the vision of the most radiant countenance of God. Beseech Christ God, O venerable ones, that He grant us might against all the power of the enemy and save us, in that He loveth mankind.

Theotokion: Enlighten our hearts which have been darkened by evil passions, O all-hymned one, for thou art the Mother of the Sun of righteousness and Mother of the never-waning Light, that, illumined by His rays and shining with the radiance of glory undimmed, we may don the bright garment of salvation.

Ode VI

Irmos: Cleanse me, O Savior, for many are my transgressions; and lead me up from the abyss of evils, I pray, for to Thee have I cried, and Thou hast hearkened to me, O God of my salvation.

Pondering your life, which equalled that of the angels, O venerable ones, we are beset by fear and trembling. How did ye survive in the impassable desert? How did ye endure burning heat and cold, hunger and thirst? How did ye repel the assaults of the demons? We hymn your struggles, we honor your repose, and we implore you to ask of Christ the forgiveness of our sins.

Bound by bonds of natural love, ye were united by the most mighty bonds of love divine; brethren in the flesh, ye became brethren in Christ, and with one mouth did ye offer up prayer to the triune God; wherefore, inseparable, ye dwell in the heavens. Pray ye now for us sinners, O venerable ones, that having put aside all evil forever, we may learn unfeigned brotherly love, and thus fulfill the foremost commandment of the Lord.

In Christ-like fashion ye crucified your flesh with its passions and lusts, O venerable ones; wherefore, having ascended to the heights of dispassion, ye have become citizens of heaven. And now, dwelling with the bodiless ones, pray ye boldly, O holy ones, that having lifted up our mind which hath drooped down, and raised up our earthly eyes from this earthly vale, we may cry out to God from the depths of our degradation.

Theotokion: From the foul pit of vile passions and vain imaginings lead us up, O all-immaculate Virgin, for thou art an inexhaustible treasury of purity and an abyss of loving-kindness. Through thee is strength against the demons bestowed; through thee is victory over the passions given; through thee do we who call upon thine all-pure name hope to be saved.

Kontakion, in Tone VIII

Come, let us hymn those who were brethren in the flesh, yet more so in spirit: the glorious John with the faithful Heraclemon, wondrous Andrew, and Theophilus, beloved of God. For, lo! loving the cruel life of the desert, they attained unto the longed-for heavenly homeland; where, abiding now in blessedness, they pray with boldness for our souls.

Ikos: Tell us, O venerable ones, what is the sweetness of the desert? What is the joy of a life of silence? What is the consolation of labors day and night? For we behold you as radiant of countenance, resplendent with exceeding great joy. Wherefore, ye teach us to walk the narrow path, and lead us to the mansions of eternal repose, where with you all those who have been pleasing to Christ now pray with boldness for our souls.

Ode VII

Irmos: Once, in Babylon, the fire stood in awe of the condescension of God; wherefore, the youths, dancing with joyous step in the furnace, as in a meadow, chanted: Blessed art Thou, O God of our fathers!

Truly ye were virgins, desert-dwellers, fasters, ascetics, earthly angels and heavenly men, O venerable ones, instructed by the grace of the Holy Spirit, to Whom we now cry out, honoring your memory: Blessed art Thou, O God of our fathers!

Consuming the passions, like a dry branch, with the fire of prayer, and moistening your hearts with the dew of tears, tried like gold in the furnace of patience, ye shone forth with rays of the virtues, O venerable ones. Amazed thereby, we cry out to the Maker of all, Whom ye glorified by your way of life: Blessed art Thou, O God of our fathers!

A brother helped by a brother is like a strong city. Thus, O venerable ones, bearing one another’s burdens, and struggling in unity of mind, offering prayer to God with one mouth, delivered from the gaping maw of hell as from the lions’ jaws, like the children saved of old in the furnace, ye cried out: Blessed art Thou, O God of our fathers!

Theotokion: O Theotokos, who remained unconsumed by the fire of the Godhead and quenched the furnace of deception in the world, who bore in thy womb Him Who is upborne by the cherubim: With the dew of thy prayers quench thou the flame of the passions, that saved by thee we may unceasingly cry out to thy Son: Blessed art Thou, O God of our fathers!

Ode VIII

Irmos: Madly did the Chaldæan tyrant heat the furnace sevenfold for the pious ones; but, beholding them saved by a higher Power, he cried out to the Creator and Deliverer: Ye children, bless; ye priests, hymn; ye people, exalt Him supremely for all ages!

Emulating John, the Forerunner of the Lord, ye took up your abode in the desert, learning true repentance in silence, and cutting the tares of the passions down to the root with the scythe of the fear of God, that ye be not cast into everlasting fire like a dry branch. Hence, like fruitful olive trees ye flourished, and full of good works, transplanted from this earthly and burdensome life, ye praise God for ever in the paradise of delight.

Following Elijah of the fiery chariot in your life, abiding in the desert, more than he were ye nourished most gloriously. For a raven brought him tangible food, but an angel of the Lord placed before you the true Body and Blood of Christ. Oh, strange mystery! Oh, the good will of God! May His Name be blessed for ever!

Your prayer was like unto a pillar of fire, reaching from the earth to the heavens, O venerable ones. For, lo! it was offered from hearts consumed by divine fire, and with oneness of soul and unity of mind was it proffered. Wherefore, instruct us in prayer, O holy ones, that having acquired boldness before God, we may glorify the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit for ever!

Theotokion: Our hearts inflamed with the fire of divine love for thee, O Virgin, we know not the fullness of thy praise, O all-hymned one; for every tongue that speaketh boastful words doth fail, desiring to make known thy greatness, O Queen. Yet, O most good one, with silent mouths and yet more silent hearts may we be acceptable unto thee.

Ode IX

Irmos: Heaven was stricken with awe, and the ends of the earth were amazed, that God hath appeared in the flesh, and that thy womb became more spacious than the heavens. Wherefore, the ranks of men and angels magnify thee as the Theotokos.

Having acquired the guilelessness of Abel and the chastity of Joseph, the faith of Abraham, and the meekness of David, O venerable ones, meetly have ye been numbered among the choir of the righteous. But knowing that ye live even after death and yet more, are concerned for our salvation, we magnify you with heartfelt love.

Glorifying your most festive memory, and faithfully hymning your ascetic struggles, may we not be forgotten by you, O holy ones. Be ye mindful of us sinners when ye raise your venerable hands on high to God, praying for the whole world; that, vouchsafed divine gifts through your mediation, we may unceasingly magnify God Who is wondrous in His saints.

With love we honor your memory, O venerable ones, and with faith we venerate your ascetic feats; with fear we praise your great patience. Wherefore, we earnestly pray: Remember us, O blessed ones, who stand at the throne of the King of glory, fulfilling our humble requests which are of benefit, that we may magnify your aid and God’s love for mankind.

Theotokion: Thou didst name for Thyself a Mother, O Savior, to whom Thou didst give the human race in adoption. Be Thou well pleased to obey her, O Christ, when, praying for us sinners, she boldly stretcheth forth her all-pure hands to Thee, our God; and save us, for the sake of the Theotokos, that with joy and love we may magnify her intercession.

Exapostilarion, Glory…

Desert-loving doves, swallows of heaven, announcing the spring of the Spirit in the world, taking flight from the winter of sin to the summer of dispassion, ever soaring aloft on wings of divine desire, taking shelter from the burning noonday heat of the passions beneath the shadow of the Tree of the Cross, ye did thereby avoid the talons of the cruel hawk; wherefore, abiding now in the heavenly garden, ye praise God, the Creator of all, forever.

The Menaion of the Orthodox Church © Isaac E. Lambertsen