Scripture Readings (KJV)
5Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:
6I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;
7To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.
8I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.
9Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.
10Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein; the isles, and the inhabitants thereof.
11Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar doth inhabit: let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains.
12Let them give glory unto the LORD, and declare his praise in the islands.
13The LORD shall go forth as a mighty man, he shall stir up jealousy like a man of war: he shall cry, yea, roar; he shall prevail against his enemies.
14I have long time holden my peace; I have been still, and refrained myself: now will I cry like a travailing woman; I will destroy and devour at once.
15I will make waste mountains and hills, and dry up all their herbs; and I will make the rivers islands, and I will dry up the pools.
16And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.
Genesis 18.20-33 (Vespers)
20And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;
21I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.
22And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.
23And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?
24Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?
25That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?
26And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.
27And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes:
28Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it.
29And he spake unto him yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there. And he said, I will not do it for forty’s sake.
30And he said unto him, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Peradventure there shall thirty be found there. And he said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there.
31And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord: Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for twenty’s sake.
32And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten’s sake.
33And the LORD went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place.
Proverbs 16.17-17.17 (Vespers)
17The highway of the upright is to depart from evil: he that keepeth his way preserveth his soul.
18Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
19Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.
20He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the LORD, happy is he.
21The wise in heart shall be called prudent: and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning.
22Understanding is a wellspring of life unto him that hath it: but the instruction of fools is folly.
23The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips.
24Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.
25There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
26He that laboureth laboureth for himself; for his mouth craveth it of him.
27An ungodly man diggeth up evil: and in his lips there is as a burning fire.
28A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends.
29A violent man enticeth his neighbour, and leadeth him into the way that is not good.
30He shutteth his eyes to devise froward things: moving his lips he bringeth evil to pass.
31The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness.
32He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.
33The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.
1Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife.
2A wise servant shall have rule over a son that causeth shame, and shall have part of the inheritance among the brethren.
3The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts.
4A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue.
5Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker: and he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished.
6Children’s children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers.
7Excellent speech becometh not a fool: much less do lying lips a prince.
8A gift is as a precious stone in the eyes of him that hath it: whithersoever it turneth, it prospereth.
9He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.
10A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool.
11An evil man seeketh only rebellion: therefore a cruel messenger shall be sent against him.
12Let a bear robbed of her whelps meet a man, rather than a fool in his folly.
13Whoso rewardeth evil for good, evil shall not depart from his house.
14The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with.
15He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD.
16Wherefore is there a price in the hand of a fool to get wisdom, seeing he hath no heart to it?
17A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
Composite 2 - Proverbs 10, 3, 8
(Vespers, St Innocent)
1The memory of a just man is praised, and the Lord’s blessing is upon his head. Blessed is one who has found wisdom; a mortal who knows understanding. To import her is better than treasures of gold and silver. She is more valuable than precious stones; nothing of value equals her worth. Justice proceeds from her mouth; she bears law and mercy on her tongue. Therefore, my children, listen to me, for I speak weighty things. And blessed is the one who keeps my ways. For my goings out are the goings out of life, and favour is prepared from the Lord. Therefore I exhort you, and utter my voice to the children of humankind. Because I, Wisdom, have prepared counsel, knowledge and understanding. I have called on them. Counsel and sureness are mine; prudence is mine, strength is mine. I love those who are my friends, while those who seek me will find grace. You innocent, then, understand cunning; you untaught, take it to heart. Listen to me, for I will speak weighty things, and I will open right things from my lips. Because my throat will meditate truth; lying lips are abominable before me. All the words of my mouth are with justice, there is nothing crooked in them nor twisted. They are all straight for those who understand, and right for those who find knowledge. For I teach you what is true, that your hope may be in the Lord and that you may be filled with spirit.
Composite 3 - Wisdom of Solomon 4, 5
(Vespers, St Innocent)
1A just man if he comes to his end will be at rest. A just man who dies will condemn the ungodly who are alive; for they will see the end of a just man and will not understand what they counselled concerning him. For the Lord will break the ungodly, render them voiceless and cast them headlong, and he will shake them from the foundations and they will be utterly worsted in sorrow, and their memory shall perish. They shall come with fear at the accounting of their sins, and their iniquities will convict them to their face. Then the just will stand with much boldness in the face of those who afflicted him and made his toils of no account. When they see this they will be troubled with great fear and will be amazed at the wonder of his salvation. For they will say as they repent and with anguish they will groan and say: Is this he whom we fools once made a laughing stock and a byword of reproach? We reckoned his life folly and his end dishonour. How has he been numbered among the children of God and his lot with the Saints? Therefore we have erred from the way of truth and the light of righteousness has not shone on us and the sun has not dawned on us. We have been filled with paths of lawlessness and destruction and journeyed through trackless paths, but have not known the way of the Lord.
Composite 4 - Proverbs 10; Wisdom of Solomon 6, 7, 8, 9
(Vespers, St Innocent)
1The mouth of a just man distils wisdom; the lips of men know graces. The mouth of the wise meditates wisdom; justice delivers them from death. When a just man dies hope is not lost; for a just son is born for life, and among his good things he will pluck the fruit of justice. There is light at all times for the just, and they will find grace and glory from the Lord. The tongue of the wise knows what is good, and wisdom will take its rest in their hearts. The Lord loves holy hearts; while all who are blameless in the way are acceptable to him. The wisdom of the Lord will enlighten the face of the understanding; for she anticipates those who desire her before they know it, and is easily contemplated by those who love her. One who rises for her at dawn will not toil, and one who keeps vigil because of her will be without care. For she goes about seeking those who are worthy of her, and shows herself favourably to those on her paths. Wickedness will never prevail against wisdom. Because of this I too became a lover of her beauty and became her friend, and I sought her out from my youth, and I sought to take her as my bride, because the Master of all things loved her, for she is an initiate of the knowledge of God and one who chooses his works. Her toils are virtues; she herself teaches sobriety and prudence; justice and courage, than which things nothing is more useful in human life. If anyone longs for much experience, she knows how to compare things of old and those that are to come. She knows the twists of words and the explanations of riddles. She foresees signs and wonders and the outcomes of seasons and times. And to all she is a good counsellor. Because immortality is in her, and fame in the fellowship of her words. Therefore I appealed to the Lord and besought him and said from my whole heart, ‘God of my Fathers and Lord of mercy, who made all things by your Word, and established humanity by your Wisdom to be sovereign over the creatures that had come into being by you, and to order the world in holiness and justice, give me Wisdom who sits by your throne, and do not reject me from among your children, for I am your servant and the son of your maid servant. Send her out from your holy dwelling and from the throne of your glory, that she may be present with me and teach me what is well pleasing before you. And she will guide me with knowledge and guard me with her glory. For all the thoughts of mortals are wretched and their ideas are unstable.’
St John Klimakos (John of the Ladder) of Sinai (649)
He is best known as the author of the Ladder of Divine Ascent, a treasury of spiritual wisdom which is read in its entirety in monasteries during every Lenten season. He is also commemorated on the Fourth Sunday of Great Lent.
Nothing is known of his life before he entered the monastery at Mount Sinai (now St Katherine’s Monastery) at the age of sixteen; he remained there until his death at the age of eighty. After he first arrived, he spent nineteen years in strict obedience to his spiritual father, Martyrios. When Martyrios died, John retired to a nearby cave, where he lived in the strictest asceticism for twenty years. (It was during these years that he wrote the Ladder.) He reluctantly returned to the monastery when he was made abbot by the brethren, and spent the rest of his days guiding his spiritual children in the way of salvation.
Once he heard a monk criticize him for speaking too much; rather than reproach the monk, he himself kept silence for a full year, never uttering a word until the brethren begged him to speak again. At another time a large company of pilgrims came to Mt Sinai. At supper they all saw a young man, dressed as a Jew, serving at table and giving orders to the other servants, then suddenly disappearing. When they wondered among themselves what this could mean, John said ‘Do not try to look for him; that was the prophet Moses serving you in his own home.’
When the holy abbot knew that his death was approaching, he appointed his own brother, George, as his successor. George grieved the approaching death of his beloved brother, but St John told him that, if he was found worthy to stand close to God after his death, he would pray that George be taken up to heaven in the same year. So it happened: ten months after St John’s death, George reposed in the Lord.
Commemoration of an Uncondemning Monk
“This monk died joyfully because he had never in his life condemned anyone. He was lazy, careless, disinclined to prayer, but throughout his entire life he had never judged anyone. And when he lay dying, he was full of joy. The brethren asked him how he could die so joyfully with all his sins, and he replied: ‘I have just seen the angels, and they showed me a page with all my many sins. I said to them: “The Lord said: ‘Judge not, that ye be not judged.’ I have never judged anyone and I hope in the mercy of God, that He will not judge me.” And the angels tore up the sheet of paper.’ Hearing this, the monks wondered at it and learned from it.” (From the Prologue)