December 29 (old calendar) / January 11 (new)
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December 29 (old calendar) / January 11 (new)

Fast

Afterfeast of the Nativity of ChristSaturday after the Nativity. The 14,000 Infants (Holy Innocents) slain by Herod at Bethlehem. Ven. Marcellus, Abbot of the Monastery of the “Unsleeping Ones” (485). Ven. Mark the Grave-digger, Theophilus, and John, of the Kiev Caves (Near Caves—11th-12th c.). Ven. Theóphil of Luga and Omutch (15th c.). Ven. Thaddeus the Confessor, of the Studion (818).

HOLY INNOCENTS

29 décembre

14,000 Holy Infants were killed by King Herod in Bethlehem. When the time came for the Incarnation of the Son of God and His Birth of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, Magi in the East beheld a new star in the heavens, foretelling the Nativity of the King of the Jews. They journeyed immediately to Jerusalem to worship the Child, and the star showed them the way. Having worshipped the divine Infant, they did not return to Jerusalem to Herod, as he had ordered them, but being warned by God in a dream, they went back to their country by another way. Herod finally realized that his scheme to find the Child would not be successful, and he ordered that all the male children two years old and younger at Bethlehem and its surroundings be killed. He thought that the divine Infant, Whom he considered a rival, would be among the dead children.

The murdered infants thus became the first martyrs for Christ. The rage of Herod fell also on Simeon the God-Receiver (February 3), who declared before everyone in the Temple that the Messiah had been born. When the holy Elder died, Herod would not give permission for him to be properly buried. On the orders of King Herod, the holy prophet and priest Zachariah was also killed. He was murdered in Jerusalem between the Temple and the altar (Mt. 23:35) because he would not tell the whereabouts of his son John, the future Baptist of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The wrath of God soon fell upon Herod himself: a horrid condition struck him down and he died, eaten by worms while still alive. Before his death, the impious king murdered the chief priests and scribes of the Jews, and also his brother, and his sister and her husband, and also his own wife Mariam, and three of his sons, and seventy men of wisdom who were members of the Sanhedrin. He initiated this bloodbath so that the day of his death would not be one of rejoicing, but one of mourning.

TROPARIA AND KONTAKIA 

Troparion of the Nativity, tone 4

Your Nativity, O Christ our God, Has shone to the world the Light of wisdom! For by it, those who worshiped the stars, Were taught by a Star to adore You, The Sun of Righteousness, And to know You, the Orient from on High. O Lord, glory to You!

Troparion of the saints, tone 1

As acceptable victims and freshly plucked flowers, as divine first-fruits and newborn lambs, you were offered to Christ who was born as a child, holy innocents. You mocked Herod’s wickedness; now we beseech you: “Unceasingly pray for our souls.”

Kontakion of the saints, tone 6

When the King was born in Bethlehem, the Magi came from the east. Having been guided by the star on high, they brought Him gifts. But in his exceeding wrath, Herod mowed down the infants as wheat; lamenting that the rule of his kingdom had come to an end.

Kontakion of the Nativity, tone 3

Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One, And the earth offers a cave to the Unapproachable One! Angels with shepherds glorify Him! The wise men journey with a star! Since for our sake the Eternal God was born as a Little Child!

2 Peter 1:1-10 (Epistle)

1

Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ,To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

2

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,

3

as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,

4

by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

5

But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge,

6

to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness,

7

to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.

8

For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

9

For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.

10

Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble;

Mark 12:1-12 (Gospel)

1

Then He began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a place for the wine vat and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country.

2

Now at vintage-time he sent a servant to the vinedressers, that he might receive some of the fruit of the vineyard from the vinedressers.

3

And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed.

4

Again he sent them another servant, and at him they threw stones, wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully treated.

5

And again he sent another, and him they killed; and many others, beating some and killing some.

6

Therefore still having one son, his beloved, he also sent him to them last, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’

7

But those vinedressers said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’

8

So they took him and killed him and cast him out of the vineyard.

9

Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the vinedressers, and give the vineyard to others.

10

Have you not even read this Scripture:’The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone.

11

This was the LORD’s doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes’?”

12

And they sought to lay hands on Him, but feared the multitude, for they knew He had spoken the parable against them. So they left Him and went away.

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About the Author

Emma Cazabonne

Emma Cazabonne

Beside an anthology on Cistercian texts, Emma Cazabonne has translated and published articles on Cistercian spirituality, the Middle Ages, and Orthodoxy. She converted to Orthodoxy in 2008. Her husband is an Orthodox priest. 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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