Scripture Readings (KJV)
Isaiah 2.2-3 (Vespers)
2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.
3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
Composite 21 - Isaiah 62.10-63.3, 7-9 (Vespers)
1 Thus says the Lord: Walk, go through my gates; prepare my way and make a way for my people, and cast the stones out of the way; raise up a standard for the nations. For see, the Lord has made it heard to the ends of the earth: Say to the daughter of Sion: See, your Saviour has come, and his reward is with him, and his work before his face. And he will call it a holy people, redeemed by the Lord; while you will be called a city sought after, and not forsaken. Who is this who comes from Edom, the scarlet of his garments from Bosor, thus beautiful in his apparel? He cries out with much strength. I reason of justice and judgement of salvation. Why are your garments red, and your clothing as from a trodden winepress? I am full of the trodden grape; I have trampled the winepress quite alone, and no man from the nations was with me. I have remembered the mercy of the Lord, I will recall the Lord’s virtues, the Lord’s praise for all the things with which He rewards us. The Lord is a good judge for the house of Israel; he deals with us according to his mercy and according to the multitude of his justice. And he said: Are you not my people? Children will surely not be rebellious; and he became for them salvation out of their every distress. It was not an emissary, not an Angel, but the Lord himself saved them because he loved them and spared them. He redeemed them and took them up and exalted them all the days of the age.
Composite 22 - Zechariah 14.1, 4, 8-11 (Vespers)
1 Thus says the Lord: See, the day of the Lord is coming, and on that day his feet will stand upon the mount of Olives, opposite Jerusalem, where the sun rises. And on that day living water will come out from Jerusalem, half towards the first sea and half towards the last sea; in spring and in summer it shall be so; and the Lord will be for a King over all the earth; in that day there shall be one Lord, and his name, compassing all the earth and the wilderness from Gabaa as far as Remmon, south of Jerusalem; and he shall be exalted and remain on his place from the gate of Benjamin as far as the place of the first gate, as far as the gate of Gomor and as far as the tower of Anameël and as far as the tower of the corners and as far as the king’s winepresses; they shall dwell in it and there shall be no more curse and Jerusalem shall dwell confidently.
9 Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.
10 And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept.
11 And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.
12 After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country.
13 And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them.
14 Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.
15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.
20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.
Acts 1.1-12 (Epistle)
1 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,
2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:
3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:
4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.
5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judæa, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;
11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
12 Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day ’ s journey.
Luke 24.36-53 (Gospel)
36 And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
37 But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.
38 And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?
39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.
40 And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.
41 And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat?
42 And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.
43 And he took it, and did eat before them.
44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
48 And ye are witnesses of these things.
49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
50 And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.
51 And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.
52 And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:
53 And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.
St Nikephoros the Confessor, patriarch of Constantinople (829)
He was born in Constantinople around 758, of pious parents: his father had been exiled under Constantine Copronymus for his steadfast veneration of the holy icons. Nikephoros served in the imperial palace as a secretary, but later renounced worldly success to struggle in monastic life near Constantinople. He built and administered a monastery which soon became filled with monks; but he himself never took the monastic habit, feeling himself unworthy. Though a layman, he took part in the Seventh Ecumenical Council at the request of the Emperor and Patriarch because of his remarkable knowledge of Holy Scripture. Much against his will, he was made Patriarch of Constantinople at the death of Patriarch Tarasios. He was made a monk, then elevated through all the priestly orders in a few days, then enthroned at St Sophia in 806.
A few years later, the Emperor Leo the Armenian took the throne. Patriarch Nikephoros, as was customary, sent him a Confession of the Orthodox Faith to sign. Leo put off signing the document until his coronation, then revealed himself to be an Iconoclast heretic. The Patriarch tried quietly to bring him back to the Orthodox faith, but to no avail. When the Emperor, in his turn, tried to make the holy Nikephoros bow to iconoclasm, the Patriarch clearly and publicly upheld the veneration of the holy Icons. For this he was deposed and driven into exile at the Monastery of St Theodore, which he himself had founded. Here he reposed, having served for nine years as Patriarch, and thirteen years in exile and privation.
Holy New Martyr Constantine (1819)
He was born a Muslim on the island of Lesbos (Mitylene), but became convinced of the truth of Christ after he was healed of a serious illness by the aid of holy water in a church. He traveled to the Holy Mountain and was baptised at the monastery of Kapsokalyvia. Later, he was seized by the Turks, who first tortured him viciously and, when he would not deny the Faith, hanged him in Constantinople.
Hieromartyr Erazmo of Ochrid (303)
“This saint was born in Antioch and lived in the reigns of Diocletian and Maximian. He lived in strict asceticism on Mount Lebanon, and was endowed by God with great wonderworking gifts. As a bishop, he set out to preach the Gospel. Arriving at the city of Ochrid, he restored the son of a man called Anastasius to life by his prayers, and baptised him. At this time, Erazmo baptised many other pagans and tore down the idolatrous altar in Ochrid. For this he was denounced to the Emperor Maximian, who was at that time staying in Illyria. The Emperor brought him before the copper image of Zeus, and ordered him to bring sacrifices and worship the idol. St Erazmo, by his power, caused a terrible dragon to come out of the statue, which terrified all the people. The saint then worked another wonder, and the dragon died. Then the saint preached Christ and baptised 20,000 souls. The furious Emperor commanded that all 20,000 be beheaded, and put Erazmo to harsh torture, before throwing him into prison. But an angel of God appeared to him, as once to the Apostle Peter, and led him out of the prison. After that, this servant of God went to Campania, where he preached the Gospel to the people, then returned again to the town of Hermelia, where he withdrew to a cave and lived in asceticism for the rest of his days. At the time of his death, he prostrated three times towards the East and, with upraised hands, prayed to God to forgive and give eternal life to all those who would, with faith, call upon his name. At the end of his prayer, a voice was heard from heaven: ‘Let it be as thou hast asked, My little healer Erazmo!’ The saint looked up once more to heaven with great joy and saw a wreath of glory descending upon him, and a choir of angels, prophets, apostles and martyrs waiting to receive his holy soul. He finally cried: ‘Lord, receive my spirit!’, and breathed his last, in about the year 303. The cave and chapel of St Erazmo stand to this day not far from Ochrid, and from there is proclaimed to this day the great power of the man of God, Erazmo the hieromartyr.” (Prologue)
Note: St Erazmo is commemorated on May 4th in the Slavonic Menaion, but St Nikolai Velomirovich gives today as the date on which he was been commemorated in Ochrid “from time immemorial”.