Scripture Readings (KJV)
1 Corinthians 1.1-9 (Epistle)
1Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,
2Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:
3Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
4I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;
5That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;
6Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:
7So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:
8Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
Matthew 13.24-30 (Gospel)
24Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
25But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.
26But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.
27So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?
28He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?
29But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.
30Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.
Commemoration of the Miracle (451) of Great-martyr Euphemia the All-praised, of Chalcedon (304)
St Euphemia is commemorated on September 16; today we commemorate the miracle wrought by her relics during the Fourth Ecumenical Council. After much debate and no progress among the defenders of Orthodoxy and the proponents of the Monophysite heresy, the two parties agreed each to write their different definitions of the Faith in two separate books, and to ask God to show them the truth. They placed the two books in the case containing St Euphemia’s relics, sealed the case, and departed. After three days of constant vigil and supplication, they opened the reliquary in the presence of the Emperor, and found the Monophysite book under the feet of the Saint, and the Orthodox book in her right hand.
Blessed Equal-to-the-Apostles Olga, princess of Russia, in holy baptism called Helen (969).
“Saint Olga, renowned for her wisdom and sobriety, in her youth became the wife of Igor, Great Prince of Kiev, who ruled during the tenth century. After her husband’s death, she herself ruled capably, and was finally moved to accept the Faith of Christ. She travelled to Constantinople to receive Holy Baptism. The Emperor, seeing her outward beauty and inward greatness, asked her to marry him. She said she could not do this before she was baptized; she furthermore asked him to be her Godfather at the font, which he agreed to do. After she was baptized (receiving the name of Helen), the Emperor repeated his proposal of marriage. She answered that now he was her father, through Holy Baptism, and that not even among the heathen was it heard of a man marrying his daughter. Gracefully accepting to be outwitted by her, he sent her back to her land with priests and sacred texts and holy icons. Although her son Svyatoslav remained a pagan, she planted the seed of faith in her grandson Vladimir (see July 15). She reposed in peace in 969.” (Great Horologion)
New Martyrs Nikodemos (1722) and Nektarios (1820)
These two martyrs were unrelated, but their stories are similar. Both were Christians who embraced Islam at an early age under the Turks. Both later repented and, after doing penance, resolved to return to the place of their apostasy and accept martyrdom. Both presented themselves to the Turks, proclaimed their Christian faith, and were beheaded according to Islamic law.
Saint Nikodemos not only embraced Islam, but forced his family to do the same. One of his sons fled to the Holy Mountain and became a monk. The father pursued him there, but was moved to repentance by the holiness of the place and became a monk himself. After three years of penance, he resolved to return home to Albania and embrace his martyrdom.
Saint Nektarios converted to Islam (the Prologue says under duress) at the age of seventeen. When his mother saw him dressed as a Turk, she cried “Get away from me! I do not know you. I bore you as a Christian, not a Turk!” Repenting of his deed he went to the Holy Mountain and became a monk. Like St Nikodemos, he determined after a few years to return home and accept martyrdom for Christ.
St Sophrony of Essex (1993) (June 28 OC)
He was born in Russia in 1896. As a young man, he lived an artist’s life, trying to succeed as a painter while engaging in a wide-ranging spiritual search which included study of the Eastern religions. He fled to Paris during the Russian Revolution. There he rediscovered the Orthodoxy of his childhood and gave his life wholly to repentance and prayer, often spending hours at a time prostrated and weeping on the floor of his Paris apartment. In 1925 he moved to Mt Athos, where he lived as a monk for more than twenty years. On the Holy Mountain he became the spiritual child of the holy elder Silouan. After St Silouan’s repose, his own health badly damaged by living in a damp cave, he was granted permission by his monastery to leave the Holy Mountain and write a life of St Silouan. This is St Silouan of Mt Athos, a great spiritual treasure which includes the writings of the Saint as well as Fr Sophrony’s profound reflections on his life. (It was largely through Fr Sophrony’s work that St Silouan, who lived an almost completely hidden life, was glorified by the Church).
In 1959 Fr Sophrony founded the Monastery of St John the Baptist in Essex, England, where he lived until his repose. He was a spiritual father to Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpakthos, one of present-day Orthodoxy’s most profound spiritual writers, who has said this about him: “I ascertained from almost the first meeting… that Father Sophrony was a Theologian of our Church, a God-seer. I realized, that is, that the Elder had seen the Uncreated Light… I had discerned that he was truly a God-seer, because otherwise his whole life, his whole demeanor, the words he said, the counsels, and in any case his whole personality, could not be justified. He was literally altered by the uncreated Grace of God.” At Essex, he was known as spiritual father to many and (little publicized) as a wonderworker and intercessor. He reposed in peace in 1993. In 2019 He was formally glorified as a Saint of the Church by the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
Any who wish to drink from the deep well of his teaching can read (in addition to St Silouan) his books On Prayer and We Shall See Him As He Is.
“Any and every dogmatic error will inevitably reflect on one’s spiritual life.” — Elder Sophrony