Scripture Readings (KJV)
Composite 2 - Proverbs 10, 3, 8 (Vespers)
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 4 - Proverbs 10; Wisdom of Solomon 6, 7, 8, 9 (Vespers)
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.’
Wisdom of Solomon 4.7-15 (Vespers)
7But though the righteous be prevented with death, yet shall he be in rest.
8For honourable age is not that which standeth in length of time, nor that is measured by number of years.
9But wisdom is the gray hair unto men, and an unspotted life is old age.
10He pleased God, and was beloved of him: so that living among sinners he was translated.
11Yea speedily was he taken away, lest that wickedness should alter his understanding, or deceit beguile his soul.
12For the bewitching of naughtiness doth obscure things that are honest; and the wandering of concupiscence doth undermine the simple mind.
13He, being made perfect in a short time, fulfilled a long time:
14For his soul pleased the Lord: therefore hasted he to take him away from among the wicked.
15This the people saw, and understood it not, neither laid they up this in their minds, That his grace and mercy is with his saints, and that he hath respect unto his chosen.
1Verily, 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.
2But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
3To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
4And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
5And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.
6This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them.
7Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.
8All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.
9I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
Hebrews 7.1-6 (Epistle)
1For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him;
2To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;
3Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.
4Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.
5And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham:
6But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises.
1 Corinthians 12.7-11
(Epistle, St Gregory)
7But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
8For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
9To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
10To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
11But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
Luke 21.28-33 (Gospel)
28And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
29And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees;
30When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.
31So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.
32Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.
33Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
(Gospel, St Gregory)
9I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
10The 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.
11I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
12But 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.
13The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.
14I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
15As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.
16And 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.
Our Father among the Saints Gregory the Theologian, Archbishop of Constantinople (389)
This light of the Church is one of only three holy Fathers whom the Church has honored with the name “the Theologian” (the others are St John the Evangelist and Theologian, and St Symeon the New Theologian).
He was born in 329 in Arianzus in Cappadocia to a pious and holy family: his father Gregory, mother Nonna, brother Caesarius and sister Gorgonia are all counted among the Saints of the Church. His father later became Bishop of Nazianzus. He studied in Palestine, then in Alexandria, then in Athens. On the way to Athens, his ship was almost sunk in a violent storm; Gregory, who had not yet been baptized, prayed to the Lord to preserve him, and promised that henceforth he would dedicate his entire life to God. Immediately the storm ceased.
In Athens, Gregory’s fellow students included St Basil the Great and the future Emperor Julian the Apostate. The friendship between Gregory and Basil blossomed into a true spiritual friendship; they were loving brothers in Christ for the rest of their lives. After completing their studies, Sts Gregory and Basil lived together as monks in hermitage at Pontus. Much against St Gregory’s will, his father ordained him a priest, and St Basil consecrated him Bishop of Sasima (in the Archdiocese of Caesarea, over which St Basil was Archbishop).
In 381 the Second Ecumenical Council condemned Macedonius, Archbishop of Constantinople, and appointed St Gregory in his place. When he arrived in the City, he found that the Arians controlled all the churches, and he was forced to “rule” from a small house chapel. From there he preached his five great sermons on the Trinity, the Triadika; these were so powerfully influential that when he left Constantinople two years later, every church in the City had been restored to the Orthodox.
St Gregory was always a theologian and a contemplative, not an administrator, and the duties of Archbishop were agonizing to him. In 382 he received permission from a council of his fellow-bishops and the Emperor to retire from the see of Constantinople. He returned to Nazianzus (for which reason he is sometimes called St Gregory of Nazianzus). There he reposed in peace in 391 at the age of sixty-two.
His writings show a theological depth and a sublimity of expression perhaps unsurpassed in the Church. His teaching on the Holy Trinity is a great bastion of Orthodox Faith; in almost every one of his published homilies he preaches the Trinity undivided and of one essence.