Scripture Readings (KJV)
(Matins Gospel, St Tikhon)
1 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.
2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.
6 This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them.
7 Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.
8 All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.
9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
10 Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her:
11 That ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations; that ye may milk out, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory.
12 For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees.
13 As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem.
14 And when ye see this, your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall flourish like an herb: and the hand of the LORD shall be known toward his servants, and his indignation toward his enemies.
15 For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire.
16 For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many.
17 They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens behind one tree in the midst, eating swine’s flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the LORD.
18 For I know their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory.
19 And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, that draw the bow, to Tubal, and Javan, to the isles afar off, that have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles.
20 And they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the LORD out of all nations upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the LORD, as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the LORD.
21 And I will also take of them for priests and for Levites, saith the LORD.
22 For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain.
23 And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.
24 And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.
Genesis 49.33-50.26 (Vespers)
33 And when Jacob had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto his people.
1 And Joseph fell upon his father’s face, and wept upon him, and kissed him.
2 And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father: and the physicians embalmed Israel.
3 And forty days were fulfilled for him; for so are fulfilled the days of those which are embalmed: and the Egyptians mourned for him threescore and ten days.
4 And when the days of his mourning were past, Joseph spake unto the house of Pharaoh, saying, If now I have found grace in your eyes, speak, I pray you, in the ears of Pharaoh, saying,
5 My father made me swear, saying, Lo, I die: in my grave which I have digged for me in the land of Canaan, there shalt thou bury me. Now therefore let me go up, I pray thee, and bury my father, and I will come again.
6 And Pharaoh said, Go up, and bury thy father, according as he made thee swear.
7 And Joseph went up to bury his father: and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt,
8 And all the house of Joseph, and his brethren, and his father’s house: only their little ones, and their flocks, and their herds, they left in the land of Goshen.
9 And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen: and it was a very great company.
10 And they came to the threshingfloor of Atad, which is beyond Jordan, and there they mourned with a great and very sore lamentation: and he made a mourning for his father seven days.
11 And when the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning in the floor of Atad, they said, This is a grievous mourning to the Egyptians: wherefore the name of it was called Abel-mizraim, which is beyond Jordan.
12 And his sons did unto him according as he commanded them:
13 For his sons carried him into the land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, which Abraham bought with the field for a possession of a buryingplace of Ephron the Hittite, before Mamre.
14 And Joseph returned into Egypt, he, and his brethren, and all that went up with him to bury his father, after he had buried his father.
15 And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him.
16 And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying,
17 So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him.
18 And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants.
19 And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God?
20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.
21 Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.
22 And Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he, and his father’s house: and Joseph lived an hundred and ten years.
23 And Joseph saw Ephraim’s children of the third generation: the children also of Machir the son of Manasseh were brought up upon Joseph’s knees.
24 And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.
25 And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.
26 So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.
Proverbs 31.8-31 (Vespers)
8 Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction.
9 Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.
10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
14 She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.
16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.
17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.
18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.
19 She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
24 She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
25 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.
29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.
(Epistle, St Tikhon)
26 For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;
27 Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.
28 For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.
1 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;
2 A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.
(Gospel, St Tikhon)
9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.
13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.
14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.
16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
Holy Martyr Calliopius, with his mother Theoclea (304)
Calliopius was the only son of a senator from Pamphylia and his wife Theoclea, who had long prayed to God for a child. The devout Theoclea reared her son in purity of life and love for God from infancy. When persecution of Christians broke out under Maximian, Theoclea put Calliopius aboard a ship bound for Pompeiopolis to save him from the persecutors. But Calliopius, as soon as he disembarked, encountered a pagan festival, where he was arrested when he refused to make sacrifice to the idols. Brought before the governor Maximus, he freely confessed that he was a Christian. For this he was cruelly tortured and thrown into prison. His mother, hearing of his torments, sold her goods and hurried to comfort him and encourage him in his martyrdom.
Calliopius was sentenced to death by crucifixion, as it happened on Holy Thursday; but the holy Theoclea bribed the officials to postpone the execution by one day, so that her son might imitate the Lord’s Crucifixion on the day that He endured it; she also prevailed upon the torturers to crucify Calliopius upside-down (like St Peter) in humility toward the Lord. When her son’s lifeless body was taken down from the cross, Theoclea cast herself upon it and died.
St George the Confessor, bishop of Mitylene (~820)
The righteous George was Metropolitan of Mitylene. In his old age, a persecution was unleashed against the Church by the iconoclast Emperor Leo V (the Armenian). To further his plans, the Emperor summoned a Council of bishops which he expected to support his iconoclasm. At the Council, George and some other faithful bishops refused to follow the Emperor’s wishes, and openly stood in defense of the icons. For his stance, George was publicly humiliated, then sent into exile at Cherson on the Black Sea. There, after many years of extreme privation, the holy bishop died. By his prayers many were healed, both during his life and after his repose.
St Nilus (Nil Sorsky), abbot of Sora (1508)
St Nilus established the monastic skete (a community of monks living separately like hermits, but sharing some common life) in Russia. He took one side of a religious controversy that troubled the Russian Church’s life for many years. St Nilus and his disciples claimed that prayer and ascetic struggle are the whole purpose of monastic life, and opposed monastic ownership of property, or involvement in works such as almshouses, hospitals, and orphanages. Joseph, abbot of Volokalamsk, took up the argument on the other side, insisting that the Church and its monks should be involved in good works (and have the means to do those works) as well as in prayer. The two groups became known as the “Possessors” (Joseph’s side) and the “Non-Possessors” (Nilus’ side). Each group had reason to be troubled by the other’s extremes: Monasteries owned huge amounts of land, kept serfs, and were subject to corruption by involvement in finance; at the same time, the Church formed most of the ‘welfare’ system of Russia, and the Non-possessors did not suggest how the poor were to be tended, or orphans cared for, without the monasteries’ charity. Many of the Non-possessors tended toward a non-Russian and almost un-Orthodox puritanism, condemning beautiful churches and icons as diversions from true spirituality.
The Possessors (not surprisingly) were favored by the Tsarist government, and eventually won out. The artificial division of the Church into mystical and practical ‘parties,’ and the victory of one of the parties, led to a period of stagnation in the Russian church that was only corrected two hundred years later, when a great renewal of religious life, characterized by such holy Fathers as St Paisios Velichkovsky and St Seraphim of Sarov, restored the fullness and balance of Orthodox life to the Russian church.
An indication of the fullness of Orthodoxy: the Church has glorified not only St Nilus but his opponent St Joseph of Volokalamsk, who is commemorated on Sept. 9.
Saint Savvas the New of Kalymnos (1948) (March 25 OC)
He was born in Thrace to a poor family. Early in life he desired to become a monk and, failing to get his parents’ consent, left secretly for Mt Athos. After several years there, he traveled to Palestine, where he entered the Monastery of St George the Chozebite. In 1903 he was ordained to the priesthood. From 1907–1916 he lived in severe asceticism as a hermit on the banks of the Jordan. After living in several monasteries in Greece, he served with St Nektarios of Aegina for the last year of the Saint’s life (he reposed in 1920). After six more years on Aegina, Fr Savvas moved to the island of Kalymnos, where he spent the remainder of his life. He lived in quietness and asceticism, acquiring a reputation throughout the island as a confessor and spiritual father. He slept only a few hours each night, and gave away any money that came to him the same day, since he believed that it was wrong for a monk to have money in his cell after nightfall.
Saint Savvas reposed on the Old Calendar feast of the Annunciation in 1948. Innumerable miracles and healings have been wrought through his intercession. A striking example occurred in 1957: A group of young islanders were talking about the Saint, and one of them, who doubted his sanctity, said ‘If this lamp breaks I’ll believe.’ At that moment the lamp shattered spontaneously.
The following account is from Mother Nectaria McLees’ Evlogeite! A pilgrim’s guide to Greece: ‘His last words of counsel to his nuns were, “…love… is the bond of perfection,” and to the abbess he said, “Love, love, love (Agapa, agapa, agapa).” Then he clapped his hands six times, saying “The Lord, the Lord, the Lord…”
‘In 1957 his relics were uncovered in the presence of Metropolitan Isidoros of Kalymnos, who described them as “the bones being perfectly joined, and the vestments intact.” When the sepulchre was opened a divine and otherworldly fragrance covered the area, even to the outskirts of town far below. In 1961, an iconographer of the Skete of Kapsokalyvia on Mount Athos painted an icon of St. Savvas at Abbess Philothei’s request. The icon arrived by ferry, and as it was being transferred from the post office to the customs house where the nuns would pick it up, the convent bell began ringing by itself and continued until the icon was brought to the monastery.’
St Justin (Popovic) of Chelije in Serbia (1979) (March 25 OC)
He was born on the Feast of the Annunciation 1894, in Vranje, South Serbia, to a family whose seven previous generations had been headed by priests (Popovich means ‘family or son of a priest’ in Serbian). He began reading the scriptures at a young age, and as an adult carried a New Testament with him, reading three chapters every day. He studied at the Seminary of St Sava in Belgrade while St Nikolai Velimirovic (March 18) was on the faculty. In 1914, Blagoje (as he was called before his tonsure) completed the nine-year seminary program. He desired to become a monk, but postponed entry into the monastic ranks due to the outbreak of war and the poor health of his parents. He spent the war caring for his parents and serving as a student nurse.
In 1915 he was tonsured a monk under the name Justin, after St Justin the Philosopher. Shortly thereafter he traveled to Petrograd to study at the seminary; there he acquired a deep, first-hand knowledge of the Russian ascetical tradition and a lifelong love of Russian spirituality, especially that of the common people. He then attended Oxford University from 1916 to 1919, writing a doctoral dissertation which was rejected. After a brief return to Belgrade, he entered the Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Athens. As in Russia, he used his time there not merely to study but to drink in the Orthodox spirituality of the Greek people. He was ordained to the diaconate while in Greece, then to the priesthood after returning to Belgrade in 1922. He wept ‘as a newborn babe’ throughout his ordination service. One of his first labors as a priest was to translate the Divine Liturgy into modern Serbian. During this period he came to know Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky (later first hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church abroad) and St John Maximovich, both of whom were living in Serbia as exiles from the Russian Revolution.
Father Justin’s preaching, writing and spiritual counsel became known throughout his country. In 1931 he was sent to Czechoslovakia to help in reorganizing the Church there (then under the jurisdiction of the Serbian Church), which was greatly tried and weakened by Uniatism. Realizing the people’s crying need a clear exposition of the Faith in their own language, he began in 1932 his three-volume Dogmas of the Orthodox Church. The first volume was so well-received that Fr Justin was made Professor of Dogmatics at the Seminary of St Sava, where he remained, completing the Dogmas and several other books, until the end of World War II. The new atheistic Communist regime then banned him from the university system, and Fr Justin lived from that time on in various Serbian monasteries.
In 1948 he entered Chelije Monastery, where he remained until his repose in 1979. He became Archimandrite and spiritual head of the Monastery. It was during this period that he emerged as a great light of Orthodoxy: pious believers from all parts of Yugoslavia, from Greece, and from all over the world traveled to Chelije to hear the holy Justin’s preaching and seek his counsel.
Saint Justin reposed in peace in 1979 at the age of 85, on the Feast of the Annunciation — the date of his birth. Since his repose, many miracles have been witnessed at his grave: healings, flashes of unearthly light from his tomb, and conversions of unbelievers by his prayers. His many writings are increasingly recognized as a fount of pure Orthodox teaching in the midst of our dark time.
Note: St Justin is commemorated on the anniversary of his repose, so his commemoration only coincides with the Feast of the Annunciation on the Old Calendar.