The holy martyr Eleutherius was born of noble and eminent parents in Rome. Eleutherius was the fruit of the people who heard the Gospel from the apostles. He became bishop of Illyria, and was a model shepherd. He was arrested and martyred by the emperor Hadrian in the year 120.
Our venerable father Paul of Latra lived the ascetic life on a mountain called Lastos in Asia Minor. He worked many miracles, and our Lord took him in his old age in the year 950.
Our holy father Stephen, bishop of Surozh was born in Cappadocia and educated by St. Germanus the Patriarch. He was taken from his hermitage and made bishop of Surozh (now Sudak in the Crimea.). Stephen suffered a great deal from the emperor Leo the Armenian. After the emperor’s demise, Stephen was returned to his flock, which he governed with grace and truth during the late 8th century.
You shared in the apostles’ way of life and succeeded to their throne, divinely inspired bishop. You found access to contemplation in the active life. Therefore, you rightly taught the word of truth and struggled for the faith to the shedding of your blood. O Priest-Martyr Eleutherius, pray to Christ our God to save our souls.
You were numbered among the monks and a companion of angels, and so we raise this song to you, O glorious Paul. Pray that we may find mercy for our souls.
As an inspiration to priests, venerable father, and as one who reenacted the Passion, we come with petitions and praise to you. O Priest-Martyr Eleutherius: deliver us from trouble of any kind. As we approach with love to keep your memory, pray without ceasing for all of us.
You acted maturely from your childhood and spurned the goods of the world. You became a temple of the Trinity in your quest for the divine life. You enlighten those who come to you. And so we sing: Rejoice, generous father Paul.
Titus 1: 5-14
Titus, my son: My purpose in leaving you in Crete was that you might accomplish what had been left undone, especially the appointment of presbyters in every town. As I instructed you, a presbyter must be irreproachable, married only once, the father of children who are believers and are known not to be wild and insubordinate. The bishop as God’s steward must be blameless. He may not be self-willed or arrogant, a drunkard, a violent or greedy man. He should, on the contrary, be hospitable and a lover of goodness; steady, just, holy, and self-controlled. In his teaching he must hold fast to the authentic message, so that he will be able both to encourage men to follow sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict it. There are many irresponsible teachers, especially those among the Jewish converts – men who are simply talkers and deceivers. These must be silence. They are upsetting whole families by teaching things they have no right to teach – and all for sordid gain! A man of Crete, one of their own prophets, has testified, “Cretans have ever been liars, beasts, and lazy gluttons,” and that is the simple truth!
Admonish them sharply, in an attempt to keep them close to sound faith, and unaffected by Jewish myths or rules invented by men who have swerved from the truth.
Mark 7: 24-30
From that place Jesus went off to the territory of Tyre and Sidon. He retired to a certain house and wanted no one to recognize him; however, he could not escape notice. Soon a woman, whose small daughter had an unclean spirit, heard about him. She approached him and crouched at his feet. The woman who was Greek–a Syro-Phoenician by birth–began to beg him to expel the demon from her daughter. He told her: “Let the sons of the household satisfy themselves at table first. It is not right to take food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” “Please, Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the family’s leavings.” Then he said to her, “For such a reply, be off now! The demon has already left your daughter.” When she got home, she found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.
Icon courtesy of Jack Figel, Eastern Christian Publications – ecpubs.com
Wednesday, December 14 –