1. On this day is the commemoration of the honorable angel Michael, the Archangel, who is standing before God the Almighty interceding on behalf of the human race saying, "O Thou Who art not prone to anger, do not be angry. O Righteous One, have mercy on Your creation. O Thou Who is long suffering, do not destroy the work of Thy Hands."
His intercession be with us. Amen.
2. On this day also, the great father Abba Hedra, Bishop of Aswan, departed. His parents, who were Christians, raised him and taught him the fear of God since an early age. When he was 18 years old, his parents wanted him to marry one of his relatives, but he refused with the excuse that he was ill. That morning he went to church early, prayed with the congregation asking the Lord Christ to reveal to him, through the readings of the scriptures, what was His will for him. He heard what comforted him.
When he left the church, he saw a deceased person was carried and on his way to the cemetery. He walked among the mourners, talking to himself saying, "Listen Hedra, it is not this one that died but you yourself who died from this futile world." When they arrived at the cemetery and buried the deceased, he did not go back to his home but joined the monastery and lived among the monks.
When his family and friends heard what he did, they went and told him, "In so doing you have brought grief to us and have saddened your fiancee's heart." They added, "You can worship God in any place you desire." When they failed to change his mind, they went back with grief-filled hearts for his separation.
Henceforth St. Hedra went on in intense worship, asceticism, continuous fasting, uninterrupted prayers, and numerous metanias. He was a contemporary of St. Poemin and became his disciple. St. Hedra was guided by Anba Poemin's teachings and his good example.
Eight years later, he asked to live a solitary life in the desert. Anba Poemin asked him to read the biography of the great saint Anba Antonius (Antony) the father of all monks, in order to learn how to fight the evil enemy, Satan. When the elders allowed him, he went in the desert until he found a cave wherein he lived. He lived there for many years fighting the devil and his soldiers.
The devil tempted him frequently. One time the devil appeared with a sword in his hand and wanted to cut off Anba Hedra's hands. The saint cried to the Lord and the devil disappeared at once. One day he left his cave and when he came back, he found a huge dragon in the cave. He prayed to the Lord saying, "My Lord and Master, if it is Your will for me to live with this beast, so be it" He then looked at the dragon and found that it was cut into three pieces.
He was in a continuous war with the devils, awakened during the night and unsettled during the day, but the Lord saved him from them all. The defiled spirits cried saying, "Woe to you Hedra for your prayers burnt us and expelled us from the wilderness."
He shut himself up in his cell. Nevertheless, they brought the sick and those with evil spirits to him, he prayed over oil, anointed them with it, and they were healed immediately.
Syrian monks came to him, asking about unclear issues in the Scriptures (Holy Books). He explained all to them and they marvelled at his knowledge, saying, "We have been in many monasteries and mountains, visited teachers and philosophers, but we did not find anyone to explain these issues as St. Hedra did."
When the bishop of the city of Aswan departed, some of the people of the city went to the monastery. There they met the Syrian monks who praised St. Hedra highly. They went to St. Hedra and took him, against his will, and travelled to Alexandria. Anba Theophilus, Pope of Alexandria, ordained him bishop over them. When he sat on his chair, he went on preaching to his people and teaching them the way of life. He performed many miracles and lived the rest of his life in a good demeanor then departed in peace.
His prayers be with us. Amen.
3. Today we also commemorate the departure of St. John the Confessor.
His prayers be with us. Amen.
4. Also on this day, of the year 249 A.D., a holy Council was assembled in the city of Rome. This was in the first year of the reign of Decius, the infidel, and during the days of Cornelius, Pope of Rome, Dionysius, Pope of Alexandria, Flavianus, Patriarch of Antioch, and Germanus, Archbishop of Jerusalem.
They assembled to judge Novatus (Benates), a priest who said that whoever denied Christ and forsook the faith in the time of persecution, will not be accepted when he repents. Those who committed fornication shall not be accepted when they repent. Abba Cornelius rebuked him for what he was saying, but he did not hearken. Abba Cornelius gathered a Council of 60 bishops and 18 learned priests and deacons of Rome to debate with Novatus his teachings.
These, he said were based on the words of St. Paul in his epistle to the Hebrews, "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame." (Hebrews 6:4-6)
The fathers replied and explained to him that the Apostle did not say this concerning the man who repents but concerning the man who intends to be baptized every time he is fallen into sin, for baptism can be carried on only once. Therefore, the Apostle went on saying, "They crucify again for themselves the Son of God and put Him to an open shame." The Apostle here explains that since the crucifixion happened only once, so it is for baptism. As for the door to repentance, it is open to every repentant, otherwise everyone who falls in the sin of denying Christ or sins again will not be accepted even if he repents.
That would mean then that David's repentance was not accepted, and when Peter denied the Lord Jesus, his repentance also was not accepted. Therefore, the coming of the Holy Spirit upon St. Peter would be worthless also, setting him to shepherd His flock, invalid, and that would nullify every baptism he performed. On the whole, according to Novatus' opinion, everyone would have perished and that is extreme ignorance.
Christ the Lord came to the world to save sinners and to lead them to repentance for He said, "Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." (Luke 13:3)
All those who gathered against Novatus advised him to abandon his erroneous opinion and repent for it. They told him, "Do not be an enemy of God, yourself and of all mankind." Since Novatus did not relinquish his opinion, the Council exiled him, and excommunicated him and all those who believed in his word.
The prayers of those saints be with us and Glory be to our God forever. Amen.
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