December 23 (old calendar) / January 5 (new)
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December 23 (old calendar) / January 5 (new)

Nativity Fast

Forefeast of the Nativity of ChristSaturday before the Nativity.
Holy Ten Martyrs of Crete: Theodulus, Saturninus, Euporus, Gelasius, Eunician, Zoticus, Pompeius, Agathopus, Basilides, and Evaristus (3rd c.). Martyr Euporus (3rd c.). Repose of St. Theoctíst, Archbishop of Novgorod (1310). St. Niphon, Bishop of Cyprus (4th c.). St. Paul, Bishop of Neo-Cæsarea (4th c.).

Holy Ten Martyrs of Crete

23 décembre

The Ten Holy Martyrs of Crete: Theodulus, Saturninus, Euporus, Gelasius, Eunician, Zoticus, Pompius, Agathopus, Basilides and Evaristus suffered for Christ during the third century under the emperor Decius (249-251). The governor of Crete, also named Decius, fiercely persecuted the Church, and arrested anyone who believed in Christ. Once, ten Christians were brought before him from various cities of Crete, who at the trial steadfastly confessed their faith in Christ and refused to worship idols.

For thirty days they were subjected to cruel tortures, and with the help of God they all persevered, glorifying God. Before their death they prayed that the Lord would enlighten their torturers with the light of the true Faith. Since pain did not influence them, the saints were beheaded.

St Paul of Constantinople (November 6) visited Crete about a hundred years later. He took the relics of the holy martyrs to Constantinople to serve as a protection for the city, and a source of blessings for the faithful.

TROPARIA AND KONTAKIA 

Troparion of the forefeast, tone 4

Prepare, O Bethlehem, for Eden has been opened to all! Adorn yourself, O Ephratha, for the tree of life blossoms forth from the Virgin in the cave! Her womb is a spiritual paradise planted with the Divine Fruit: If we eat of it, we shall live forever and not die like Adam. Christ comes to restore the image which He made in the beginning!

Troparion of the saints, tone 4

In their sufferings, O Lord, Thy martyrs received imperishable crowns from Thee our God; for, possessed of Thy might, they set at nought the tormentors and crushed the feeble audacity of the demons. By their supplications save Thou our souls.

Kontakion of the saints, tone 4

A morning-star hath shone forth, the honorable contest of the martyrs illumining for us beforehand Him Who is born in the cave, to Whom the Virgin gave birth without seed.

Kontakion of the forefeast, tone 3

Today the Virgin comes to the cave to give birth to the Eternal Word. Hear the glad tidings and rejoice, O universe! Glorify with the angels and the shepherds the Eternal God, who is willing to appear as a little child!

Galatians 3:8-12 (Epistle – Saturday Before)

8

And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.”

9

So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.

10

For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.”

11

But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.”

12

Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.”

Luke 13:18-29 (Gospel – Saturday Before)

18

Then He said, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it?

19

It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and put in his garden; and it grew and became a large tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches.

20

And again He said, “To what shall I liken the kingdom of God?

21

It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.

22

And He went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem.

23

Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” And He said to them,

24

Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.

25

When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’

26

then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’

27

But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’

28

There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out.

29

They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God.

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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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