Scripture Readings (KJV)
1 Thessalonians 2.9-14 (Epistle)
9For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.
10Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:
11As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children,
12That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.
13For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
14For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews:
Luke 13.1-9 (Gospel)
1There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilæans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.
2And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilæans were sinners above all the Galilæans, because they suffered such things?
3I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
4Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?
5I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
6He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.
7Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?
8And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:
9And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.
Our Father among the Saints Nectarius (Nektarios), bishop of Pentapolis, Wonderworker, and founder of the Monastery of the Holy Trinity on Aegina (1920).
“Saint Nectarius was born in Selyvria of Thrace on October 11, 1846. After putting himself through school in Constantinople with much hard labour, he became a monk on Chios in 1876, receiving the monastic name of Lazarus; because of his virtue, a year later he was ordained deacon, receiving the new name of Nectarius. Under the patronage of Patriarch Sophronius of Alexandria, Nectarius went to Athens to study in 1882; completing his theological studies in 1885, he went to Alexandria, where Patriarch Sophronius ordained him priest on March 23, 1886 in the Cathedral of Saint Sabbas, and in August of the same year, in the Church of Saint Nicholas in Cairo, made him Archimandrite. Archimandrite Nectarius showed much zeal both for preaching the word of God, and for the beauty of God’s house. He greatly beautified the Church of Saint Nicholas in Cairo, and years later, when Nectarius was in Athens, Saint Nicholas appeared to him in a dream, embracing him and telling him he was going to exalt him very high.
“On January 15, 1889, in the same Church of Saint Nicholas, Nectarius was consecrated Metropolitan of Pentapolis in eastern Libya, which was under the jurisdiction of Alexandria. Although Nectarius’ swift ascent through the degrees of ecclesiastical office did not affect his modesty and childlike innocence, it aroused the envy of lesser men, who convinced the elderly Sophronius that Nectarius had it in his heart to become Patriarch. Since the people loved Nectarius, the Patriarch was troubled by the slanders. On May 3, 1890, Sophronius relieved Metropolitan Nectarius of his duties; in July of the same year, he commanded Nectarius to leave Egypt.
“Without seeking to avenge or even to defend himself, the innocent Metropolitan left for Athens, where he found that accusations of immorality had arrived before him. Because his good name had been soiled, he was unable to find a position worthy of a bishop, and in February of 1891 accepted the position of provincial preacher in Euboia; then, in 1894, he was appointed dean of the Rizarios Ecclesiastical School in Athens. Through his eloquent sermons, his unwearying labours to educate fitting men for the priesthood, his generous almsdeeds despite his own poverty, and the holiness, meekness, and fatherly love that were manifest in him, he became a shining light and a spiritual guide to many. At the request of certain pious women, in 1904 he began the building of his convent of the Holy Trinity on the island of Aegina while yet dean of the Rizarios School; finding later that his presence there was needed, he took up his residence on Aegina in 1908, where he spent the last years of his life, devoting himself to the direction of his convent and to very intense prayer; he was sometimes seen lifted above the ground while rapt in prayer. He became the protector of all Aegina, through his prayers delivering the island from drought, healing the sick, and casting out demons. Here also he endured wicked slanders with singular patience, forgiving his false accusers and not seeking to avenge himself. Although he had already worked wonders in life, an innumerable multitude of miracles have been wrought after his repose in 1920 through his holy relics, which for many years remained incorrupt. There is hardly a malady that has not been cured through his prayers; but Saint Nectarius is especially renowned for his healings of cancer for sufferers in all parts of the world.” (Great Horologion)
Our Venerable Father John the Dwarf (John the Short) (4th c.)
He lived in the desert of Skete (Scetis) in Egypt during the fourth century, the golden age of the Desert Fathers. Nothing is known of his life in the world. He spent many years as the disciple of Abba Ammoes, who was very severe with him. Once the Elder took a dry stick, stuck it in the sand, and commanded John to water it every day until it bore fruit. Though this was plainly impossible, John performed the task uncomplainingly, walking a great distance to fetch the water, for three years. At the end of that time, the stick bore fruit. Abba Ammoes brought it to church the following Sunday and called out to the brethren, “Come and eat the fruit of obedience!” Though he had never praised or thanked his disciple, before he died Abba Ammoes said of John, “He is an angel, not a man.” After his elder’s repose, Abba John withdrew further into the desert, devoting all his time to vigil and prayer. As he prayed he would weave baskets, which he sold to meet his few needs. Sometimes he was so rapt in prayer that he would keep weaving until the basket reached an absurd size, filling his cell.
When, after many years, Abba John was delivered from all evil thoughts, Abba Poemen (commemorated August 27) told him to pray to God for another temptation to struggle against, for only in this way does the soul make progress. He rejoiced when he was insulted, was never known to be angry with anyone, and would run away as fast as he could if he ever saw men quarreling. He reposed in peace.
“Pray earnestly with compunction and vigilance. Pay no attention to the faults of others. Do not measure yourself against other people, for you are lower than every creature.” — Abba John the Dwarf
Holy Martyrs Onesiphorus and Porphyrius (284)
During the reign of Diocletian and Maximian, these pious Christians were arrested and brought before the judge, where they boldly proclaimed Christ the only true King and God. For this they were viciously tortured, but even when stretched on hot gridiron they gave thanks to God. The holy ones’ joy infuriated their tormentors who finally tied them behind wild horses, who were set to gallop over rough countryside, tearing the two innocent martyrs to pieces. Pious Christians retrieved their relics and buried them at a town called Panceanon.
In an early account, Onesiphorus is identified with the companion whom St Paul mentions in 2 Timothy 4:19; this is not impossible, but most accounts do not mention this detail.
Our Holy Mother Matrona (492)
She was from Perga in Pamphylia, and married very young, to a youth named Domitian, to whom she bore a daughter. The couple settled in Constantinople. Matrona became so constant in attending all-night vigils in the city’s many churches that her husband suspected her of infidelity and forbade her to go out. This was unbearable to Matrona, who fled the house with her daughter. Determined to embrace monastic life, she gave her daughter into the care of a nun named Susanna, disguised herself as a eunuch, and entered the monastery of St Bassian (October 10) under the name of Babylas. Though she amazed all with her zeal and ascetic labors, Bassian one day discerned that she was a woman. Though he reprimanded her severely, he was unwilling to drive her away from monastic life because of her zeal; so he directed her to go to Emesa in Syria to enter a women’s monastery there.
Matrona continued to advance in the virtues, and once healed a blind man by anointing his eyes with myrrh from the head of St John the Baptist (which had been miraculously discovered around that time). The miracle became widely-known, and because of it Matrona’s husband learned of her whereabouts. When he came to her monastery she escaped to Jerusalem, but he pursued her there too. She fled from place to place, even living for several years in an abandoned pagan temple in Beirut, where she was constantly assaulted by the demons that inhabited the place. In time several pagan women, seeing her struggles, asked to be her disciples, and a small monastic community sprang up in the pagan temple. After a few years she and her disciples made their way back to to Constantinople, where St Bassian received her joyfully and helped her to establish a monastery. There she was visited by the Empress Verina, wife of Leo the Great, and many other noblewomen of the City, some of whom left all to join Matrona in monastic life. Saint Matrona lived to be almost one hundred years old and reposed in peace, having foretold the day of her death.
Saint Symeon Metaphrastes (960)
He was born in Constantinople, and through his exceptional intellect and learning rose to the rank of Logothete (Imperial Counselor), serving under three successive Emperors. He was so successful in negotiating with the Arabs who had occupied Crete that the Emperor Basil II asked him to name his own reward. Symeon asked only that he be allowed to retire from public service and become a monk. The Emperor, though sad to lose such a valuable counselor, let him go, asking that he pray for his sins.
In monastic life, Symeon continued to apply his gifts of learning: from scattered manuscripts and earlier anthologies, he assembled a collection of Lives of almost 150 Saints, a work which forms the basis of the Synaxaria in use today. He also compiled a Universal Chronicle and edited the treatises of several Fathers of the Church. Because of his skilled and diligent labors, he is called Metaphrastes, meaning ‘Translator’ or ‘editor’. He is the author of many beautiful prayers still in regular use today (one is found in the Prayers of Preparation for Communion). At his repose, a sweet-smelling and healing myrrh flowed from his body.