Orthodox Calendar

Feb. 11, 2024
36th Sunday after Pentecost

No Fast

Commemorations

  • Ven. Dimitry of Priluk
  • Hieromartyr Blaise, bishop of Sebaste (316)
  • St Theodora the Empress (867)

Scripture Readings (KJV)

Mark 16.9-20 (3rd Matins Gospel)

9Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils. 10And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept. 11And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.

12After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country. 13And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them.

14Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. 15And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. 17And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

19So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. 20And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.

1 Timothy 1.15-17 (Epistle)

15This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. 16Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. 17Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Matthew 15.21-28 (Gospel)

21Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. 22And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. 23But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. 24But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 25Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. 26But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. 27And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. 28Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

Commemorations (abbamoses.com)

Hieromartyr Blaise, bishop of Sebaste (316)

He was born in the province of Armenia, and was a physician by profession. Such was his reputation for holiness that his fellow-citizens elected him Bishop of Sebaste in eastern Anatolia. Though there were few Christians in that pagan city, the bishop labored tirelessly for his flock, encouraging them to stand firm during the fierce persecutions then raging, and visiting the martyrs in prison.

When the city was stripped of Christians, all of whom had fled or been killed, the bishop, already an old man, withdrew to a cave on Mount Argea and devoted himself entirely to prayer. As they often do, the wild beasts sensed his sanctity, and gathered around the cave, waiting quietly for him to give his blessing or heal their injuries and ailments.

The persecutors, who had not stopped hunting for the bishop, eventually found his cave, and were amazed to find it like a second Eden, with lions, tigers, bears and wolves grazing peacefully around it. The Saint greeted them cheerfully and told them that he knew from a vision that they were coming for him.

As Blaise was taken back to Sebaste, the peace and gentleness that seemed to radiate from the Saint were enough in themselves to turn many pagan bystanders to faith in Christ. Diseases of men and animals were cured as he walked by. One mother brought him her child, who was choking on a fishbone. The Saint put his hand down the child’s throat, took out the fishbone, and prayed to the Lord to restore him to full health. (For this reason he is invoked in the West for the cure of throat ailments).

At his trial, the holy bishop fearlessly confessed Christ and scorned the idols, for which he was savagely beaten with rods and thrown into a dungeon. Seven women and two of their children were imprisoned with him. The women were slain first after many tortures. The Synaxarion continues, “Having failed in his efforts to break Saint Blaise’s resolve, Agricolaus [the governor] condemned him to be drowned in the lake. The holy Martyr made the sign of the Cross at the water’s edge and began walking across the surface of the lake as the Saviour had done on the Sea of Galilee. On reaching the middle, he invited the pagans to join him, if they believed they could trust themselves to their gods. Sixty-eight of them took up the challenge and drowned, while a bright angel appeared and invited the Saint to return to the shore in order to receive the crown of glory.” Then Blaise and the two young children were beheaded together.

Saint Blaise is one of the most-venerated holy healers in both the East and the West. He is called upon for protection from wild beasts, and for the healing of every kind of ailment. His head is kept at the Monastery of Konstamonitou on Mount Athos.

St Theodora the Empress (867)

Theodora was the wife of Emperor Theophilus the Iconoclast, but secretly revered the icons, and protected others who did, until the emperor’s death. Upon his death, she quickly restored veneration of icons to churches throughout the empire, the event celebrated on the upcoming Sunday of Orthodoxy, the first Sunday of the Great Fast. She ruled wisely as regent for the young emperor Michael for fifteen years: she is said to have initiated the mission of Sts Cyril and Methodios to the Slavs. Before Michael III reached his majority, he was prevailed upon by Bardas, Theodora’s brother, to depose her and send her to a monastery, where she finished her life in peace and holiness.

When Constantinople fell, her incorrupt relics were taken to Corfu along with those of St Spyridon. They are still venerated there.

There is a much-debated story that, when Theophilus was dying, the Empress, moved by compassion for him, brought an icon of the Mother of God out of hiding and laid it on his face; and that Theophilus, coming to himself, kissed the holy icon and confessed the true Faith before giving up his soul. Other accounts say that the Emperor died in heresy. It seems possible that the holy Empress circulated the story to ensure that her departed husband would be remembered in the Church’s prayers.

Venerable Demetrius of Priluki (1392)

He entered monastic life as a youth and was a disciple of St Sergius of Radonezh. After years of monastic obedience he was ordained to the priesthood, then founded a monastery on the shores of Lake Priluki, whose rule followed that of the Lavra of St Sergius. Saint Demetrius, who was exceptionally handsome, always concealed his face behind his monastic veil and never conversed with women. Once a noblewoman, driven by curiosity, managed to catch sight of his face in church. She immediately fell paralyzed to the ground. The Saint asked her ‘My child, why did you want to gaze at the face of a sinner who has long been dead to the world?’ He then gave her some words of instruction in the spiritual life and sent her away healed.

In time St Demetrius became so renowned in Russia that the flow of visitors burdened him and he retreated to an uninhabited area to live as a hermit, until he was found out and made abbot of a nearby monastery. He kept a constant fast, living only on prosphora and water. In his own lifetime the Saint was known for his gift of prophecy, his care for the poor, and his healings. Once his brother sought his blessing to trade with the pagans in the far north. He made a good profit there and asked for a blessing to return. This time the Saint would not give his blessing, but his brother went anyway, and was killed by pagans.

Toward the end of his life St Demetrius withdrew into solitude in his cell. One day the brethren noticed a wonderful aroma of incense coming from his cell and knew that he had departed this life for heaven. After his repose he continued to work countless miracles, healing illnesses (especially the plague), and driving away invaders.