Scripture Readings (KJV)
1 Peter 1.1-2.6 (Vespers)
1Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
2Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
4To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
5Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
6Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
7That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
8Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
9Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
10Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:
11Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.
12Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.
13Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
14As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:
15But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;
16Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
17And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:
18Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
19But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
20Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,
21Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.
22Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
23Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
24For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:
25But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.
1Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,
2As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:
3If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
4To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,
5Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
6Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.
1 Peter 2.21-3.9 (Vespers)
21For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
22Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
23Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:
24Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
25For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.
1Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;
2While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.
3Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;
4But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
5For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:
6Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.
7Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
8Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:
9Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.
1 Peter 4.1-11 (Vespers)
1Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;
2That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.
3For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:
4Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:
5Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.
6For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.
7But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.
8And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.
9Use hospitality one to another without grudging.
10As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
11If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
15So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
16He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
17He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
18Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.
19This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.
20Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?
21Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?
22Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.
23Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?
24This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.
25And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.
1 Thessalonians 1.1-5 (Epistle)
1Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
2We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers;
3Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;
4Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.
5For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.
1 Corinthians 4.9-16
(Epistle, St Philip)
9For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.
10We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.
11Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace;
12And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:
13Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.
14I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you.
15For though ye have ten thousand instructers in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.
16Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.
Luke 14.12-15 (Gospel)
12Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee.
13But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:
14And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.
15And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.
(Gospel, St Philip)
43The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me.
44Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.
45Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.
46And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.
47Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!
48Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.
49Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.
50Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these.
51And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.
Holy Apostle Philip
He was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and a diligent student of the Law and the Prophets. When he first met Jesus, he followed Him right away and told Nathanael, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote” (John 1) After Christ’s Ascension, Philip was chosen to proclaim the Gospel in Asia (the western province of Asia Minor). He traveled with Bartholomew (commemorated June 11) and his sister Mariamne, all of them joyfully enduring great sufferings and persecutions in the Lord’s service. In Hierapolis in Phrygia, they healed the Governor’s wife of an eye affliction, and she believed in the Lord. The Governor was so infuriated by this that he had Philip crucified upside-down. At the moment he gave up his soul to God, the ground opened, swallowing up a great many pagan priests and the Governor. Many of the surviving pagans, terrified, believed in Christ and were baptized by Bartholomew. Saint Bartholomew went on to preach the Gospel in many places; Mariamne traveled to the Jordan River, where she reposed in peace.
Among the Slavic peoples, the Nativity Fast is often called Filipovka since it commences immediately after this feast.
St Gregory Palamas (1359)
The teaching of St Gregory is so fundamental to Orthodoxy that he is especially commemorated each year in Great Lent on the Sunday following the Sunday of Orthodoxy (as well as on Nov. 14); Bishop Kallistos observes in the English edition of the Philokalia, “his successful defence of the divine and uncreated character of the light of Tabor…[is] seen as a direct continuation of the preceding celebration, as nothing less than a renewed Triumph of Orthodoxy.”
The son of a prominent family, St Gregory was born (1296) and raised in Constantinople. At about age twenty, he abandoned a promising secular career to become a monk on Mt Athos. (His family joined him en masse: two of his brothers went with him to the Holy Mountain; at the same time his widowed mother, two of his sisters, and many of the household servants also entered monastic life.) He spent the next twenty years living as a hermit, spending five days a week in complete solitude, then joining the brethren on weekends for the Divine Liturgy and its accompanying services.
Around 1335 he was called to live a much more public life in defense of the faith and spirituality of the Church. A Greek living in Italy, Barlaam the Calabrian, had launched an attack on the hesychastic spirituality of the Church. Fundamentally, Barlaam denied that man can attain to a true vision of God Himself, or true union with Him, in this life. Gregory, recognizing in this an attack on the Christian faith itself, responded. He even left the Holy Mountain and re-settled in Constantinople so as better to wage the struggle, which had become so public that a Church Council was called to settle the issue. St Gregory’s views were affirmed, and Barlaam’s condemned, at the Council of Constantinople of 1341.
Though Barlaam himself returned to Italy, a series of his followers continued the attack, eventually resulting in two more Councils in 1347 and 1351, both of which affirmed the hesychasts’ position. Metropolitan Hierotheos (The Mind of the Orthodox Church) writes that these councils have “all the marks of an Ecumenical Council.” This, along with the fact that St Gregory’s views are affirmed in the Synodikon of Orthodoxy (appointed to be read in churches every Sunday of Orthodoxy), and his commemoration every second Sunday of Great Lent, makes clear that his teaching is a basic and indispensable part of the Orthodox Faith.
In 1347 St Gregory was consecrated Metropolitan of Thessaloniki, where he served until his repose. (He spent a year of this period as the prisoner of Turkish pirates). Despite (or due to?) his austere monastic background, he was revered by his flock: immediately after his repose in 1359, popular veneration of him sprang up in Thessaloniki, Constantinople and Mt Athos and, in 1368, only nine years after his death, the Church officially glorified him as a saint.
St Gregory was always clear that unceasing mental prayer is not a special calling of monastics, but is possible and desirable for every Christian in every walk of life. See his On the Necessity of Constant Prayer for all Christians, reproduced on this site.
Pious Emperor Justinian and His Wife Theodora (565)
“The pious Emperor Justinian was a fervent Christian and a man of genius in every field. His long reign (527-65) was a decisive period in the history of the Empire from the administrative, diplomatic, military, economic, legal, cultural and ecclesiastical points of view. He was the real founder of the Christian Empire, who brought together again the old Roman Empire that had been torn to pieces by barbarian invaders. He believed that upholding the Orthodox faith and maintaining the symphony of Church and State were essential for the well-being of the Empire. He had a deep knowledge of theology and wrote several treatises on dogmas of the faith. He forbad pagan worship in the Empire, and was unremitting in pursuit of heretics and sectarians. He did all he could to reconcile the Monophysites to the Council of Chalcedon. In 553, he summoned to Constantinople the fifth Ecumentical Council (25 July), which reaffirmed the condemnation of Nestorius and also condemned Origen.
“The splendor of the churches and of everything that testified to the divine glory was brought to a culmination in the Empire of Justinian. He rebuilt the Great Church of Saint Sophia in Constantinople where, it was said, the service of God was so wonderfully ordered that it was as if heaven had come down to earth. He made great gifts to the monasteries of Egypt and of Palestine and built the Monastery of Saint Catherine at Mount Sinai. In all that he did, he had the help and support of his wife, the pious Empress Theodora. Justinian died on 14 November 565, without having been able to restore full unity to the Church, but he had set the Empire on firm foundations that would endure for centuries.” (Synaxarion)
It was Justinian who built the great Church of the Holy Wisdom (Agia Sophia), perhaps the most magnificent Christian church. The hymn “Only-begotten Son” was inserted in the Divine Liturgy at his command, and is thought to have been composed by him.
Note: There is some controversy about the inclusion of Justinian in the Synaxaria. His fervent labors to reconcile the Monophysites to the Church have led some writers to conclude that he himself embraced Monophysite errors; others dispute this. Lacking the wisdom to resolve the question, we only note that he is included in Ormylia Monastery’s Synaxarion (quoted above), but some Synaxaria have turned his commemoration into that of the Emperor Justin (518-527).