The 12th Day of the Blessed Month of Babah
Departure of Abba Demetrius the First, the Twelfth Pope of Alexandria
On this day of the year 224 A.D. departed the father, the pure virgin, the fighter of lusts, the vanquisher of anture, Abba Demetrius the First, the twelfth Pope of Alexandria. This saint was an illiterate farmer, and was married. He lived with his wife forty-seven years until he was chosen a patriarch. They did not know one another as married people, but remained throughout that period in their virginity and chastity, a fact which no one knew. When the departure of St.Yulianus, the eleventh Pope drew near, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a vision and told him about this saint and that he was to be a patriarch after him. He gave him a sign and told him, "Tomorrow a man shall come to you having a cluster of grapes, seize him and pray over him." Then he woke from his sleep. He told the bishops and the priests who were with him about this vision.
So it happened on the next day that St.Demetrius found a cluster of grapes out of season. He carried it to St.Yulianus, so that he might be blessed by him. The father, the patriarch, took him by the hand and told those present, "This is your patriarch who will be chosen after me." Then he prayed over him and they held him and kept him until the departure of Abba Yulianus, whereupon they finished the prayers over him and he was filled with heavenly grace. The Lrod enlightened his mind and he learned how to read and write. He studied the church books and their interpretations. The words of grace flew from his mouth when he preached. It was he who established the reckoning of the Epacts, by which the dates of fasting were determined on a fixed basis. The Christians used to fast the holy forty days right after the Epiphany, as the Lord Christ fasted after his baptism. Then they fasted the Passion week separately. The Christians used to celebrate Easter on the fourteenth of Neesan (April) and that meant they celebrated with the Jews not recognizing that the Christian Passover was to be in memory of the Resuurrection of the Lord Christ which was after the Mosaic Passover. For that, Pope Demetrius took care to establish fixed bases for fasts and Christian holy days. He joined the Holy Fast to the Passion Week. He wrote in the respect to Agabius Bishop of Jerusalem, to Maximus the patriarch of Antioch, to the patriarch of Rome and to others, and all approved of it and continued to follow his rules up until the present, with the exception of the Church of Rome which deviated from that and followed, since the sixteenth century, the Gregorian Calendar. To the Popes of the Coptic Church was the prime credit in determining the Easter Day; and they thus sent their Easter messages all over the world, so that the Christians would celebrate Easter on the same day forming a universal joy.
God was with this father because of his purity of heart. He was given the gift that after he finished the liturgy and the people came forward to partake of the Holy Mysteries, he used to see the Lord Christ pushing forward with His Hand those of them who were worthy. But if one came forward who did not deserve the Holy Communion, he would see his sins and would not allow him to partake of it until he confessed his sins and the father admonished him for them and said to him, "Turn away from your sin and repent, after that come and partake of the Holy Mysteries." His flocks were straightened during his time. Because he rebuked the sinners much, and urged them to repent to lead a chaste life, some of them murmured and said, "This man is married, how can he rebuke us?" The Lord Almighty wished to show them his virtues, so the angel of the Lord came to him at night and told him, "Demetrius, do not seek your salvation and let others be destroyed with their doubt." The father asked him to clarify this statement and the angel told him, "You must reveal the mystery which is between yourself and your wife to the people that you might remove the doubt from them." On the following morning, after he had celebrated the divine liturgy, he ordered the people not to leave the church. He took red-hot coal and placed it in his wife's veil and his garment, then they went around in the church and their clothes did not burn. The people were amazed at this miracle. He told them that he and his wife did not know each other as married people till that day. the doubt was removed from the people and they realized the purity of this father and his virginity. During his time, some opposing men appeared whose name were Aklemos, Origen, and Orianus and others who wrote forbidden books and so he excommunicated them. During the days of his papacy, he did not stop teaching and confirming the believers in the Orthodox Faith. When he had grown old and became weak, they carried him on a litter to the church to teach the people. He was one hundred and five years old, having spent fifteen years unmarried, forty-seven years until he became partriarch and forty-three in office, then he departed in peace.
May his prayers and blessings be with us all. Amen.
Martyrdom of St.Matthew the Evangelist
On this day also was the martyrdom of St.Matthew the Evangelist. He was one of the twelve disciples and his name was Levi. He was the one sitting at the receipt of custom outside the city of Capernaum, when the Lord Christ said unto him, "Follow me." He left all, rose up, and followed Him. He made for the Lord Christ a great feast in his own house. That made the Pharisees murmur against him saying to His desciples, "Why does your teacher eat and drink with publicans and sinners ?" Jesus answering said unto them, "They that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." (Luke 5:27-32) He had preached in the land of Palastine and Tyre and Sidon. Then he went Ethiopia and entered the city of priest adn converted them to the knowledge of God. That was when he wished to enter the city, but met a young man who told ihm, "You will not be able to go in unless you shave off the hair of your head and carry palm branches in your hand." He did as the young man told him. And, as he was thinking about that, the Lord Christ appeared to him in the form of the young man who had met him earlier, and He encouraged and comforted him, then disappeared. He realized that this young man was the Lord of Glory Himself. Then he entered the city like one of the priests. He went to the temple of Apollo and found the high priest, and talked with him concerning the idols that they are worshipping. He made clear to him how those idols did not hear or sense anything and how the True Mighty Lord is He who created the Heaven and the earth. The Lord made through him a wonder: a table came down to them from heaven and a great light shone around them. When Hermes the priest saw this wonder, he asked him, "What is the name of your God?" The apostle replied, "My God is the Lord Christ." Hermes, the priest, believed in him and many people followed him. When the governor of the city knew that, he ordered to burn them. It happened at the same time that the son of the governor died. St.Matthew the apostle prayed and made supplications to God to raise the son and the Lord answered him and raised the child from death. When the governor saw that, he and the rest of the people of the city believed. St.Matthew baptized them and ordered a bishop and priests for them and built a church.
After he had preached in other countries, he went back to Jerusalem. Some of the Jews which had been preached to, and had believed and been baptized by him, gathered with him and asked him to write down what he had preached to them. He wrote the beginning of the Gospel attributed to him in the Hebrew language but he did not complete it. It was said that he finished his preaching in India, in the first year of the reign of Claudius and the ninth year from the Ascension. His martyrdom was effected by stoning by the hands of Justus the governor, and his body was buried in a holy place in Carthage of Caesarea with certain believing men.
May his prayers and blessings be with us all. Amen.
Commemorative Feast of Michael the Archangel
On the twelfth of each month we celebrate commemorating the honorable Michael the Archangel, the head of the Heavenly Hosts, who stands at all times before the throne of the Divine Majesty on behalf of the human race.
May his intercessions and blessings be with us all, and Glory be to God forever. Amen.