Orthodox Calendar

January 31, 2023

No Fast

Commemorations

  • Unmercenaries Cyrus and John
  • Venerable Nicetas, hermit of the Kiev Caves and Bishop of Novgorod (1108)
  • Marcella of Rome (410)

Scripture Readings (KJV)

1 Peter 3.10-22 (Epistle)

10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:

11 Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.

12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.

13 And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?

14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;

15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.

17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.

18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;

20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us(not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.

Mark 12.18-27 (Gospel)

18 Then come unto him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection; and they asked him, saying,

19 Master, Moses wrote unto us, If a man’s brother die, and leave his wife behind him, and leave no children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.

20 Now there were seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and dying left no seed.

21 And the second took her, and died, neither left he any seed: and the third likewise.

22 And the seven had her, and left no seed: last of all the woman died also.

23 In the resurrection therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to wife.

24 And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?

25 For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven.

26 And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?

27 He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err.

Commemorations (abbamoses.com)

Holy Wonderworkers and Unmercenaries Cyrus and John, and those with them (311)

They are counted among the Unmercenary Physicians. Cyrus was a physician living in Alexandria. A pious Christian, he healed not only bodies but souls, bringing many to Christ, and often healing through prayer rather than the use of his medicines. He often said to his patients, 'If you want to keep clear of illness, take care not to sin, because more often than not illness is a result of sin.' When Diocletian's persecution broke out, Cyrus was denounced to the pagan governor and fled to Arabia, where he became a monk. He gained great renown there by healing many ailments using only the sign of the Cross.

John was a soldier from Edessa who heard of Cyrus' deeds and, leaving the army, sought him out. They met in Egypt, where John became a monk and Cyrus' disciple, joining him in the practice of the virtues and in healing illnesses by prayer.

They heard of the arrest of a Christian lady named Athanasia and her daughters Theoctista and Eudoxia. Concerned that the tender maidens might renounce Christ under torture, the two monks sought them out to encourage them in their confession of the Faith. They themselves were captured, and the governor decided to have them tortured in front of the women, assuming that this would break their spirit. Instead, Cyrus and John bore their sufferings so patiently and boldly that the women were only strengthened in their resolve. Seeing that he had failed, the governor had all five of them beheaded. Their bodies were placed in the Church of St Mark in Alexandria.

In the fifth century the relics of Sts Cyrus and John were enshrined in a church at Aboukir near Alexandria by St Cyril (June 9). There they were the source of abundant healings and miracles, and the shrine became one of the greatest places of pilgrimage in the Christian world.

Venerable Nicetas, hermit of the Kiev Caves and Bishop of Novgorod (1108)

His is a remarkable story of spiritual delusion (prelest in Russian) and repentance of delusion. Nicetas was a young and zealous monk of the Lavra of the Kiev Caves who, against the advice of his abbot St Nikon (March 25), retired alone to a cave and walled himself in. Some time later, the young monk experienced a delightful scent filling his cave. Believing himself to be receiving a divine revelation, he cried out 'Lord, show Thyself to me, that I might worship Thee face to face!' A voice answered, 'I am sending you an angel: do whatever he tells you.' The Devil soon appeared to him as an 'angel of light' and Nicetas, completely taken in, prostrated before him. The Devil ordered him to stop praying and to devote all his time to reading and memorizing the Old Testament. Nicetas obeyed without question. After awhile, the Devil began to reveal to him things that were happening in the outside world, so that the young monk acquired a reputation for prophecy among visitors to his cave. When the Elders of the Caves realized that Nicetas never spoke to his visitors or anyone else of the New Testament, they decided that he was beguiled by the Devil. Breaking down the door of his cave, they drove out the deceiver by their prayers and forcibly took the young hermit back to the monastery.

As soon as the evil angel had been driven off, Nicetas became like a young child: he instantly forgot the entire Old Testament (which he had virtually memorized) and even lost the ability to read, so that he had to be sent to school again. Slowly he returned to himself, realized his former delusion and repented in tears. Thereafter he devoted himself to humility and obedience in the monastic community. Such was his repentance and progress in the virtues that he was later made Bishop of Novgorod. He reposed in peace in 1108 and became known for working many miracles, especially healing of blindness.

Marcella of Rome (410)

The daughter of a prominent Roman family, she was given in marriage despite her reluctance, but was widowed after less than a year. Following the example of the prophetess Anna, she dedicated her widowhood to God and turned her fine house in Rome into a monastery, living there in strict asceticism.

“When the Church was riven by controversies about the doctrines of Origen, Saint Marcella kept silent for a while but, deciding at length to take up the cause of Orthodoxy, and maintaining a sweet and gentle manner in the exchanges, she succeeded in confounding the arguments of the heretics.” (Ormylia Synaxarion)

When the Goths invaded and pillaged Rome in 410 they broke into her house. Marcella received them calmly, but when they demanded money she answered that no one as poorly clothed as she was could be expected to have any money. At this the invaders beat her mercilessly despite her great age. She bore their blows without complaint, asking only that they spare her spiritual daughter Principia. Struck to the heart by her response, the barbarians took her and her disciple to the Church of St Paul, where she reposed two days later.