Orthodox Calendar

January 18, 2023
Wednesday of the 32nd week after Pentecost

Fast

Commemorations

  • Ss Athanasius the Great and Cyril of Alexandria

Scripture Readings (KJV)

James 3.11-4.6 (Epistle)

11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?

12 Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.

13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.

14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.

15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.

16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.

17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

1 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?

2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.

3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?

6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.

Mark 10.11-16 (Gospel)

11 And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her.

12 And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.

13 And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.

14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter there in.

16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.

Commemorations (abbamoses.com)

Our Holy Fathers Athanasius the Great (373) and Cyril (444), Patriarchs of Alexandria

Saint Athanasius, pillar of Orthodoxy and Father of the Church, was born in Alexandria in 275, to pious Christian parents. Even as a child, his piety and devotion to the Faith were so notable that Alexander, the Patriarch of the city, took Athanasius under his protection. As a student, he acquired a thorough education, but was more interested in the things of God than in secular learning, and withdrew for a time into the desert to sit at the feet of Saint Anthony (January 17), whose disciple he became and whose biography he later wrote. On returning to Alexandria, he was ordained to the diaconate and began his public labors for the Church. He wrote his treatise On the Incarnation, when he was only twenty. (It contains a phrase, still often quoted today, that express in a few words some of the depths of the Mystery of the Incarnation: God became man that man might become god.)

Just at this time Arius, a priest in Alexandria, was promoting his enticing view that the Son and Word of God is not of one essence with the Father, but a divine creation of the Father. This view, which (as Athanasius realized) strikes at the very possibility of mankind's salvation, gained wide acceptance and seemed for a time to threaten the Christian Faith itself. In 325, the Emperor Constantine the Great convoked a Council of the Church at Nicaea to settle the turmoil that the Arian teaching had spread through the Church. Athanasius attended the Council, and defended the Orthodox view so powerfully that he won the admiration of the Orthodox and the undying enmity of the Arians. From that time forth his life was founded on the defense of the true consubstantiality (homoousia) of the Son with the Father.

In 326, not long before his death, Patriarch Alexander appointed Athanasius to be his successor, and Athanasius was duly elevated to the patriarchal throne. He was active in his pastoral role, traveling throughout Egypt, visiting churches and monasteries, and working tirelessly not only to put down the Arian heresy, but to resolve various schisms and moral declines that affected his territory.

Though the Arian heresy had apparently been condemned once and for all at Nicea, Arius had many powerful allies throughout the Empire, even in the Imperial court, and Athanasius was soon subjected to many kinds of persecution, some local, some coming from the Imperial throne itself. Though he was Patriarch of Alexandria for more than forty years, a large amount of that time was spent in hiding from powerful enemies who threatened him with imprisonment or death. Twice he fled to Rome for protection by the Pope, who in the early centuries of the Church was a consistent champion of Orthodoxy against its various enemies. From his various hiding places, Athanasius issued tracts, treatises and epistles which helped to rally the faithful throughout Christendom to the Orthodox cause.

In 366, the Emperor Valens, fearing a revolt of the Egyptians on behalf of their beloved Archbishop, officially restored Athanasius to favor, and he was able to spend the last seven years of his life in peace. Of his forty-seven years as Patriarch, about seventeen were spent in hiding or exile. He reposed in peace in 373, having given his entire adult life, at great suffering, to the defense of the Faith of Christ.

With St Athanasius, the Church commemorates St Cyril (Kyrillos), also Archbishop of Alexandria (412-44). His lot was to defend the Faith against the heretic Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople, who denied that Christ in his Incarnation truly united the divine with the human nature. Cyril attempted in private correspondence to restore Nestorius to the Christian faith, and when this failed he, along with Pope Celestine of Rome, led the defense of Orthodoxy against Nestorius' teaching. Saint Cyril presided at the Third Ecumenical Council in 431, at which the Nestorian error was officially overthrown. After guiding his flock for thirty-two years, he reposed in 444.