December 19 (old calendar) / January 1st (new)
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December 19 (old calendar) / January 1st (new)

Nativity Fast

Martyr Boniface at Tarsus in Cilicia, and Righteous Aglæ (Aglaída) of Rome (290). Ven. Ilya (Elias) of Murom, Wonderworker of the Kiev Caves (Near Caves—1188). Martyrs Elias, Probus, and Ares in Cilicia (308). St. Boniface the Merciful, Bishop of Ferentino (6th c.). St. Gregory, Archbishop of Omirits (ca. 552).

SAINT BONIFACE

19 décembre

The Holy Martyr Boniface was the slave of a rich young Roman woman named Aglaida and he dwelt with her in an iniquitous cohabitation. But they both felt the sting of conscience and they wanted somehow to be cleansed of their sin. And the Lord granted them the possibility to wash away their sin with their blood and to finish their life in repentance.

Aglaida learned that whoever keeps relics of the holy martyrs in the home and venerates them receives great help in gaining salvation. Under their influence, sin is diminished and virtue prevails. She arranged for Boniface to go to the East, where there was a fierce persecution against Christians, and she asked him to bring back the relics of some martyr, who would become a guide and protector for them.

As he was leaving, Boniface laughed and asked, “My lady, if I do not find any relics, and if I myself suffer for Christ, will you accept my body with reverence?” Aglaida scolded him, saying that he was setting off on a sacred mission, but he was not taking it seriously. Boniface pondered her words, and during the whole journey he thought that he was unworthy of touching the bodies of the martyrs.

Arriving at Tarsus in Cilicia, Boniface left his companions at the inn and proceeded to the city square, where they were torturing Christians. Struck by the beastly horrible torments, and seeing the faces of the holy martyrs radiant with the grace of the Lord, Boniface marveled at their courage. He embraced them and kissed their feet, asking them to pray that he might be found worthy to suffer with them.

The judge asked Boniface who he was. He replied, “I am a Christian,” and then refused to offer sacrifice to idols. They stripped him and hung him upside down, beating him so hard that the flesh fell from his body, exposing the bone. They stuck needles under his nails, and finally they poured molten tin down his throat, but by the power of the Lord he remained unharmed. The people who witnessed this miracle shouted, “Great is the God of the Christians!” Then they began to throw stones at the judge, and then they headed for the pagan temple, in order to cast down the idols.

On the following morning, when things had quieted down somewhat, the judge directed that the holy martyr be thrown into a cauldron of boiling tar, but this also caused the sufferer no harm. An angel come down from Heaven and bedewed him as he stepped into the cauldron. The tar overflowed the cauldron, splattering and burning the torturers themselves. Saint Boniface was then sentenced to beheading by the sword. Blood and a milky fluid flowed from his wounds. Beholding such a miracle, about 550 men believed in Christ.

Saint Boniface’s companions, waiting for two days at the inn for him in vain, began searching for him, thinking that he had gotten drunk somewhere. At first their search was without success, but finally they came across a man who had been an eyewitness to the martyr’s death. The man also led them to the place where the decapitated body lay. Saint Boniface’s companions tearfully begged his forgiveness for their unseemly thoughts about him. After they ransomed the martyr’s remains, they brought them back to Rome.

On the eve of their arrival an angel appeared to Aglaida in her sleep and told her to prepare herself to receive her former slave, now the brother and fellow-servant of the angels. Aglaida summoned the clergy, and she received the holy relics with great reverence. Then she built a church on the site of his grave and dedicated it to the holy martyr. There she enshrined his relics, glorified by numerous miracles. After distributing all her wealth to the poor, she withdrew to a monastery, where she spent fifteen years in repentance, then fell asleep in the Lord. She was buried beside Saint Boniface. The sins of the one were washed away by his blood, the other was purified by her tears and asceticism. Both were found worthy to appear unsullied before our Lord Jesus Christ, Who desires not the death of a sinner, but that he should turn from his wickedness and live (Ezek. 33:11).

We pray to Saint Boniface for deliverance from drunkenness.

Troparion of the saint, tone 4

You fervently followed the way of the martyrs Confessing Christ before unbelievers, O Boniface. You gave your body to modest Aglae As an imperishable treasure. Healing and mercy flow from it for the world.

Kontakion  of the saint, tone 4

Willingly you offered yourself as a blameless sacrifice to the One about to be born of the Virgin for our sake, holy crown-bearer, all-wise Boniface.

James 3:1-10 (Epistle)

1

My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.

2

For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.

3

Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body.

4

Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires.

5

Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!

6

And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.

7

For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind.

8

But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

9

With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God.

10

Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.

Mark 10:2-12 (Gospel)

2

The Pharisees came and asked Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” testing Him.

3

And He answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you?”

4

They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to dismiss her.”

5

And Jesus answered and said to them, “Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.

6

But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’

7

‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife,

8

‘and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh.

9

Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.

10

In the house His disciples also asked Him again about the same matter.

11

So He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her.

12

And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.

Mc X, 2-12

Les pharisiens l’abordèrent; et, pour l’éprouver, ils lui demandèrent s’il est permis à un homme de répudiée sa femme. Il leur répondit: Que vous a prescrit Moïse? Moïse, dirent-ils, a permis d’écrire une lettre de divorce et de répudier. Et Jésus leur dit: C’est à cause de la dureté de votre cœur que Moïse vous a donné ce précepte. Mais au commencement de la création, Dieu fit l’homme et la femme; c’est pourquoi l’homme quittera son père et sa mère, et s’attachera à sa femme, et les deux deviendront une seule chair. Ainsi ils ne sont plus deux, mais ils sont une seule chair. Que l’homme donc ne sépare pas ce que Dieu a joint. Lorsqu’ils furent dans la maison, les disciples l’interrogèrent encore là-dessus. Il leur dit: Celui qui répudie sa femme et qui en épouse une autre, commet un adultère à son égard; et si une femme quitte son mari et en épouse un autre, elle commet un adultère.

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About the Author

Emma Cazabonne

Emma Cazabonne

Emma Cazabonne was born and raised in France. She taught English before entering the Cistercian Order. She translated and published articles relevant to her interest in Cistercian spirituality, the Middle Ages, and Orthodoxy. She moved to the United States in 2001, converted to Orthodoxy in 2008, and married. Her husband is an Orthodox priest. She continued to publish articles, a Cistercian texts anthology, then finally launched her career in literary translation, while teaching French. If you are interested in having your book translated into French, she can be contacted here https://wordsandpeace.com/contact-me/

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