- The Assembly Of The Holy Glorious And Praise Worthy Apostles Even though each of the Twelve Great Apostles has his own particular feast day during the year, the Church has set aside this day as a general feast of all the apostles together, and Paul with them. These are the names and the separate feast days of the Holy Twelve:
Saint Peter June 29 and January 16
Saint Andrew November 30
Saint James, The Son Of Zebedee April 30
Saint John The Theologian September 26 and May 8
Saint Philip November 14
Saint Bartholomew June 11 and August 25
Saint Thomas October 6
Saint Matthew The Evangelist November 16
Saint James, The Son Of Alphaeus October 9
Saint Thaddeus Or Jude, The Brother Of James June 19
Saint Simon The Zealot May 10
Saint Matthias August 9
Saint Paul June 29
Let us also recall how each one of these, the most holy and selfless men in the history of the world, ended his earthly life:
Saint Peter was crucified upside down.
Saint Andrew was crucified.
Saint James, the son of Zebedee was beheaded.
Saint John the Theologian died in a miraculous manner.
Saint Philip was crucified.
Saint Bartholomew was crucified, scrapped (flayed) and beheaded.
Saint Thomas was pierced with five spears.
Saint Matthew the Evangelist was burned alive.
Saint James, the son of Alphaeus was crucified.
Saint Thaddeus or Jude, the Brother of James was crucified.
Saint Simon the Zealot was crucified.
Saint Matthias was stoned and then beheaded after death.
Saint Paul was beheaded.
Blessed Peter The Crown-Prince Peter was a Tartar by descent and the nephew of the Tartar King Berkai. He heard a sermon on salvation from Bishop Cyril of Rostov and the words clung to his heart. When he further witnessed the miraculous healing of Berkai’s son by the prayers of Bishop Cyril, he secretly left the Golden Horde and fled to Rostov, where he was baptized. He dedicated himself, with all his soul and heart, to asceticism and the study of the honorable Faith. On the shore of a lake Saints Peter and Paul once appeared to him at night in a dream and commanded him to build a church in their name on that spot, giving him the amount of money necessary for that purpose. Indeed, Blessed Peter indeed built a beautiful church in that place, and was tonsured a monk there in old age, following the death of his wife. Blessed Peter died peacefully in ripe old age on June 29, 1290 A.D. and his church became–and remains–a monastery called the Petrovski Monastery.
Venerable George The Iberian [Georgian] George was born in Iberia or Georgia in 1014 A.D. and was related to the Georgian kings. George received a good classical education in his childhood, but his heart drew him to the spiritual life. After living in asceticism with the famous spiritual father George in the Black Mountain, he fled to Holy Mount Athos and continued his asceticism in the Monastery of Iveron, where he became abbot. With the help of Emperor Constantine Monomachus, he restored Iveron and covered the monastery church with a lead roof, which remains even to our day. He translated the Holy Scriptures, the Prologue and the Divine Service books into the Georgian language. King Bagrat invited him to Georgia to teach the people. He received a royal welcome in his homeland and he traveled all over, teaching both the clergy and the people. When he was in old age he desired to die on Mt. Athos and set out on the way, but death overtook him in Constantinople in the year 1067 A.D. His relics were translated to Iveron. Even though he died on May 24, the Georgians commemorate him on June 30, considering him to be “equal to the apostles.”
Hymn Of Praise
The Holy Apostles
Like a dry desert, the whole world was;
Across it the chariot of the Spirit flew–
A fiery vision, the Holy Apostles.
The All-holy Spirit, through them, rebuilt the universe.
Rivers of wondrous grace flowed,
And brought the dead desert to life.
Wonderful Apostles, water-bearing clouds,
Simple ones, wise ones, fishermen, heroes!
From the Ganges to the Thames, they carried the torch;
From the Nile to Pontus, holiness they proclaimed.
From variegated Persia to bronze Gaul,
Wherever feet trod or galleys sailed:
Everywhere, the miracle of the Incarnate God, they brought,
Everywhere, the name of the resurrected Christ, they proclaimed,
Without complaint and fear, without confusion.
Mountains and seas to them were not obstacles;
The sword did not frighten them, nor persecution prevent them;
Nor by all the fires of hades that against them erupted were they stopped.
Truth guided them, not a false fable.
“Our life is Christ, and death a beautiful gain!”
Thus they spoke. To such as these, what could be done?
Crucify their bodies? Scrape (flay) their skin?
The world did this, but what harm did it do them?
May they reign eternally! Thus has God judged.
Concern for the good of all people! That concern filled the exalted spirits and noble hearts of the holy apostles. Writing about the Apostle Paul, St. John Chrysostom calls him “the universal father of the world.” “As though he had given birth to the entire world,” says Chrysostom, “he anxiously labored and tried to bring all into the Kingdom.” Indeed the title “universal father of the world” is most exalted, and if this title could be given to anyone other than God, it could only be to the apostles of Christ. By their parental concern for the whole world, they in truth were “the universal fathers of the world.” There are many mothers in the world who care less about their own children than the apostles cared about the good of their persecutors and adversaries. The Apostle Peter twice saved his most bitter adversary, Simon the Magician, from death: once when the people wanted to burn him and another time when a dog wanted to tear him to pieces. Just think how the world repaid these their benefactors! As if they were the greatest robbers and criminals. Oh, how true are the words of St. Cyril, who said: “As long as we are in the body, we Christians seem the same as pagans; the difference is only in the spirit.”
To contemplate the miraculous repentance of the thief on the Cross: But the other one rebuked him: “Have you no fear of God seeing you are under the same sentence?” (St. Luke 23:40):
- How the wise thief sensed God’s closeness in his suffering, repented and prayed to God for salvation, while the suffering of the foolish thief incited him to blaspheme God;
- How I, who am also a thief as a result of sin, should be like the wise thief, whose suffering did not estrange him from God but rather drew him closer to God–to God and to salvation.
About the power and the efficacy of good works
“For such is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men” (1 Peter 2:15).
Brethren, it is difficult to argue with an atheist; it is difficult to talk with a madman; it is difficult to persuade an embittered man. It is difficult to convince an atheist, a madman or an embittered man with words. You will convince them more easily by deeds. They may through observing you by reason of your good works glorify God (1 Peter 2:12). Do good to those who wish to argue with you, and you will win the argument. One deed of compassion will bring the madman to his senses and will pacify the embittered man more quickly than many hours of conversation. If atheism, madness and bitterness stem from ignorance, that ignorance is like a rage which can quickly be restrained by good works. If you argue with an atheist in his own rabid manner, you strengthen the rage of atheism. If you converse with madman by derision, the darkness of his madness is increased. If you think you will overcome an embittered man with anger, you will stir up a greater fire of bitterness. A meek and good deed is like water on a fire. Always remember the holy apostles and their successful methods of behavior toward men. If an atheist provokes you, it is not the man that provokes you but the devil; for man by nature is religious. If a madman swears at you, it is not the man that swears at you but the devil; for man by nature is reasonable. If an embittered man persecutes you, it is not the man that persecutes you but the devil; for man by nature is good. The devil provokes you to lengthy arguments and unfruitful conversations, but he flees from good deeds. Do good in the name of Christ, and the devil will flee. Only then will you have dealings with men, with true men; pious, reasonable and good. Therefore, whatever you do, do it in the name of the Lord. O All-good Lord, help us to do good and by good to conquer in Your name. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.