The Sunday of the Holy Forefathers

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

'Many are called but few are chosen'. So says Christ in today's Gospel. If we think of the knowledge of God conserved among different peoples in the world before Christ, these words have a special significance.<--break->

Saint Spyridon the Wonderworker, Bishop of Tremithus

The island of Cyprus was both the birthplace and the place where this glorious saint served the Church. Spyridon was born of simple parents, farmers, and he remained simple and humble until his death. He married in his youth and had children, but when his wife died he devoted himself completely to the service of God. Because of his exceptional piety, he was chosen as bishop of the city of Tremithus. Yet even as a bishop, he did not change his simple way of living, handling his livestock and cultivating his land himself. He used very little of the fruits of his labor for himself; instead, he distributed a greater share to the needy. He manifested great miracles by God’s power: he brought down rain in time of drought, stopped the flow of a river, raised several people from the dead, healed Emperor Constantius of a grave illness, saw and heard angels of God, foresaw future events, discerned the secrets of men’s hearts, converted many to the true Faith, and did much else. He took part in the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea [325], and he brought many heretics back to Orthodoxy by his simple and clear ex- positions of the Faith as well as by his mighty miracles. He was so simply dressed that once, when he wanted to enter the imperial court at the invitation of the emperor, a soldier, thinking that he was a beggar, struck him on the face. Meek and guileless, Spyridon turned the other cheek to him. He glorified God through many miracles and was of benefit, not only to many individuals but also to the whole Church of God. He entered into rest in the Lord in the year 348. His miracle-working relics rest on the island of Corfu, and even today they glorify God with many miracles.

Life of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Myra

This glorious saint, celebrated even today throughout the entire world, was the only son of his eminent and wealthy parents, Theophanes and Nona, citizens of the city of Patara in Lycia. Since he was the only son bestowed on them by God, the parents returned the gift to God by dedicating their son to Him.

St. Nicholas learned of the spiritual life from his uncle Nicholas, Bishop of Patara, and was tonsured a monk in the Monastery of New Zion founded by his uncle. Following the death of his parents, Nicholas distributed all his inherited goods to the poor, not keeping anything for himself. As a priest in Patara, he was known for his charity, even though he carefully concealed his charitable works, fulfilling the words of the Lord: Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth (Matthew 6:3).When he gave himself over to solitude and silence, thinking to live that way until his death, a voice from on high came to him: ``Nicholas, for your ascetic labor, work among the people, if thou desirest to be crowned by Me.'' Immediately after that, by God's wondrous providence, he was chosen archbishop of the city of Myra in Lycia. Merciful, wise and fearless, Nicholas was a true shepherd to his flock.

Saint Sabbas the Sanctified

The unknown village of Mutalaska, in the province of Cappadocia, became famous through this great luminary of the Orthodox Church. Sava was born there of his parents John and Sophia. At the age of eight, he left the home of his parents and was tonsured a monk in a nearby monastic community called Flavian's. After ten years, he moved to the monasteries of Palestine and remained longest in the Monastery of St. Euthymius the Great (January 20) and Theoctistus. The clairvoyant Euthymius prophesied of Sava that he would become a famous monk and a teacher of monks and that he would establish a lavra greater than all the lavras of that time. After the death of Euthymius, Sava withdrew to the desert, where he lived for five years as a hermit in a cave shown to him by an angel of God.

The Holy Prophet Habakkuk (Abbacum)

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.