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Special Occasions This Week
Saints for the Week: We have many saints with interesting write-ups in this week's bulletin. Be sure to check out the rest of this bulletin, online on the church's website, OrthodoxSanAngelo.org.
Ninth Orthros Gospel
The Reading is from John 20:19-31
On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them: "Peace be with you." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them: "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."
Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him: "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them: "Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe."
Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said: "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing." Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe."
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.
Sunday after Epiphany
The Reading is from St. Paul's Letter to the Ephesians 4:7-13
BRETHREN, grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. Therefore it is said, "When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men." (in saying, "He ascended," what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is he who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
Sunday after Epiphany
The Reading is from Matthew 4:12-17
At that time, when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth he went and dwelt in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: "The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, toward the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned." From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Saint Gregory, the younger brother of Basil the Great, illustrious in speech and a zealot for the Orthodox Faith, was born in 331. His brother Basil was encouraged by their elder sister Macrina to prefer the service of God to a secular career (see July 19); Saint Gregory was moved in a similar way by his godly mother Emily, who, when Gregory was still a young man, implored him to attend a service in honor of the holy Forty Martyrs at her retreat at Annesi on the River Iris. Saint Gregory came at his mother's bidding, but being wearied with the journey, and feeling little zeal, he fell asleep during the service. The Forty Martyrs then appeared to him in a dream, threatening him and reproaching him for his slothfulness. After this he repented and became very diligent in the service of God.
Gregory became bishop in 372, and because of his Orthodoxy he was exiled in 374 by Valens, who was of one mind with the Arians. After the death of Valens in 378, Gregory was recalled to his throne by the Emperor Gratian. He attended the Local Council of Antioch, which sent him to visit the churches of Arabia and Palestine, which had been defiled and ravaged by Arianism. He attended the Second Ecumenical Council, which was assembled in Constantinople in 381. Having lived some sixty years and left behind many remarkable writings, he reposed about the year 395. The acts of the Seventh Ecumenical Council call him 'Father of Fathers."
This Saint had Cappadocia as his homeland. He lived during the years of Leo of Thrace, who reigned from 457 to 474. The Saint established in the Holy Land a great communal monastery, wherein he was the shepherd of many monks. While Saint Sabbas was the head of the hermits of Palestine, Saint Theodosius was governor of those living the cenobitic life, for which reason he is called the Cenobiarch. Together with Saint Sabbas, towards whom he cherished a deep brotherly love in Christ, he defended the whole land of Palestine from the heresy of the Monophysites, which was championed by the Emperor Anastasius and might very well have triumphed in the Holy Land without the opposition of these two great monastic fathers and their zealous defense of the Holy Council of Chalcedon. Having lived for 103 years, he reposed in peace.
Saint Tatiana was the daughter of a most distinguished consul of Rome. She became a deaconess of the Church, and for her confession of the Faith of Christ, she endured many torments. As she was suffering, angels punished her tormentors with the same torments they inflicted on her, until they cried out that they could no longer endure the scourges invisibly brought upon them. She was beheaded during the reign of Alexander Severus (111-135).
Saints Hermylus and Stratonicus contested for piety's sake during the reign of Licinius, in the year 314. Saint Hermylus was a deacon, and Stratonicus was his friend. For his confession of Christ, Hermylus was beaten so fiercely that his whole body was covered with wounds. Stratonicus, seeing him endure this and other torments that left him half dead, wept with grief for his friend. From this he was discovered to be a Christian, and when he had openly professed his Faith and had been beaten, he and Hermylus were cast into the Danube River, receiving the crown of martyrdom.
As for the holy Martyrs of Sinai and Raithu, those of Sinai contested during the reign of Diocletian, about the year 296; those of Raithu were slain about the middle of the fifth century. On both occasions, the perpetrators of these massacres were a barbarian tribe called Blemmyes, from the parts of Arabia and Egypt.
Because of the Apodosis of the Feast of Holy Theophany also on the 14th of January, the liturgical services to the Holy Fathers slain at Sinai and Raitho are transferred to January 13th.
The holy virgin Nina was from Cappadocia. According to some, her father Zabulon was a friend of the holy Great Martyr George, whose father was a Cappadocian. The conversion of Georgia by Saint Nina is reported in the Church histories of Rufinus, Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret: Rufinus, writing less than a hundred years after Saint Nina, said that he heard the history in Jerusalem from a Georgian Prince named Bacurius. Saint Nina was taken captive by the Georgians (whom the Greek accounts call Iberians), and while in captivity she lived a very devout life of sobriety and virtue, praying unceasingly night and day; this drew the attention of the Georgians, and to all who asked her about her way of life, she preached the dispensation of Christ. When she healed by her prayer a certain woman's sick child, whom no one else had been able to help, the report of her came to the ears of the Queen of Georgia, who was herself gravely afflicted with an incurable malady. She asked that the captive women be brought to her, but Saint Nina declined out of modesty, so the Queen commanded them to carry her to Nina. Saint Nina healed her immediately, and the Queen returned home in joy. When she extolled Nina and her faith to the king, he gave her no heed, although she mentioned it to him often. But while hunting in the forest, he was shrouded with an impenetrable darkness in which he lost his way, became separated from his men, and fell into despair; he made a vow that if Christ should deliver him, he would worship him alone. The light of day straightway shone again, and the king fulfilled his vow. He and the Queen were instructed in the Faith by Saint Nina, and they with the whole Georgian nation became Christ's. The King also sent an embassy to Saint Constantine the Great, informing him of their conversion, and requesting that priests be sent to Georgia. Saint Nina reposed in peace in about the year 335. The above-mentioned Church historians speak of her without calling her Nina. She is celebrated in the Roman Martyrology on December 15 under the name Christina.
Because of the Apodosis of the Feast of Holy Theophany also on the 14th of January, the liturgical services to Saint Nina are transferred to January 13th.
Saint John, who was from Constantinople, was the son of illustrious parents -- Eutropius the Senator and Theodora. At twelve years of age he departed secretly from his home and went to the Monastery of the Unsleeping (see Dec. 29). Aflame with longing for his parents, he returned after six years to his father's home in the guise of a pauper and beggar. Living in a small hut at the gates of his parents' house (wherefrom he is called "hut-dweller"), he remained unknown therein for many years, and suffered mockery at the hands of those who had been his own servants. Foreknowing his death, he revealed himself to his parents, and within a few moments reposed, about the year 450.
Saint Paul, first among hermits, was born about 227 in the Thebaid of Egypt. In 250 he fled into the wilderness because of the persecution raging at that time under Decius. Having lived a solitary life in a certain cave for ninety-one years, he reposed in 341, at the age of 114, and was buried by Anthony the Great, who had been directed thither by God several days before the Saint's repose.
Herod Agrippa, the grandson of Herod the Great and king of the Jews, grew wroth against the Church of Christ, and slew James, the brother of John the Evangelist. Seeing that this pleased the Jews, he took Peter also into custody and locked him up in prison, intending to keep him there until after the feast of the Passover, so that he could win the favour of the people by presenting him to them as a victim. But the Apostle was saved when he was miraculously set free by an Angel (Acts 12:1-19). The chains wherewith the Apostle was bound received from his most sacred body the grace of sanctification and healing, which is bestowed upon the faithful who draw nigh with faith.
That such sacred treasures work wonders and many healings is witnessed by the divine Scripture, where it speaks concerning Paul, saying that the Christians in Ephesus had such reverence for him, that his handkerchiefs and aprons, taken up with much reverence, healed the sick of their maladies: "So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them" (Acts 19:12). But not only the Apostles' clothing (which certainly touched the bodies of the sick), but even their shadow alone performed healings. On beholding this, people put their sick on stretchers and beds and brought them out into the streets that, when Peter passed by, his shadow "might overshadow some of them"(Acts 5:15). From this the Orthodox Catholic Church has learned to show reverence and piety not only to the relics of their bodies, but also in the clothing of God's Saints.