The General Commemoration of the Most Holy Mother of God.


From the Prologue

On the second day of Christmas, the Christian Church gives glory and praise to the most holy Mother of God, who bore our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ. This feast is called a 'general commemoration' because, on this day, all the faithful come together to glorify her, the Mother of God, and to celebrate a triumphant, common feast in her honour. In Ochrid, it has been the custom from time immemorial that, on the eve of the second day of Christmas, Vespers has been celebrated only in the church of the Mother of God, the Chieftain. All the clergy and people there together glorify the most pure Mother of God.

NAME:Commemoration of the Flight into Egypt

The wise men, astrologers, from the East, having worshipped the Lord in Bethlehem, returned home, at the command of an angel, another way. Herod, that wicked King, planned to slaughter all the children in Bethlehem, but God saw Herod's intention and sent His angel to Joseph. The angel of God spoke to Joseph in a dream and commanded him to take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt. Joseph did this. Taking the divine Child and His most pure Mother, he travelled first to Nazareth (Lk. 2:39), where he set his household affairs in order and then, taking his son James with them, went off to Egypt (Matt. 2:14). And so the words of the prophet: 'The Lord, riding upon a swift cloud, shall come into Egypt' (Is. 19:1), were fulfilled. In old Cairo today the cave where the holy family lived can be seen, and in the village of Matarea near Cairo, the tree under which the Mother of God rested with the Lord Jesus, where a miraculous spring of water sprang up under the tree. They lived in Egypt for several years, and then the holy family returned to Palestine in response to a command by an angel of God. And so a second prophecy was fulfilled: 'Out of Egypt have I called My Son' (Hosea 11:1). Herod was dead, and on his bloodstained throne sat a worthy successor in his wicked son Archelaus. Joseph, hearing that Archelaus was reigning in Jerusalem, returned to Galilee, to his town of Nazareth, where he settled in his own home. Galilee was at that time ruled by another of Herod's sons, Herod the Younger, who was somewhat better than his wicked brother Archelaus.

NAME:Our Holy Father Evarestus.

Reading the works of St Ephraim the Syrian, he abandoned the diplomatic service and became a monk. He was very strict with himself and wore chains on his body, eating dry bread only once a week. He lived for seventy-five years, and went to the Lord in about 825.

NAME:St Euthymius the Confessor, Bishop of Sardis.

He took part in the Seventh Ecumenical Council, and spent about thirty years in exile for his veneration of icons. Under the Emperor Theophilus the Iconoclast, he was flogged with bull-whips, during which he died a martyr in 840 and received a wreath of glory in heaven.

NAME:Our Holy Father Constantine of Synnada.

He was a Jew who came to the Christian faith. When the Cross was made on his head at his baptism, it remained visible there till his death in Constantinople in the seventh century. He is famed for his fasting and for his many miracles. For seven years before his death, he foretold the day of it.

From The Prologue From Ochrid by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
©1985 Lazarica Press, Birmingham UK

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