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.
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.
Hebrews 11.17-23, 27-31 (Epistle)
17By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,
18Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:
19Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.
20By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.
21By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.
22By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.
23By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment.
27By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.
28Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.
29By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.
30By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.
31By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.
(Epistle, St Theodosius)
17Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
18Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.
19But I beseech you the rather to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner.
20Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,
21Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Mark 9.42-10.1 (Gospel)
42And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.
43And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:
44Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
45And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:
46Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
47And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:
48Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
49For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.
50Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.
1And he arose from thence, and cometh into the coasts of Judæa by the farther side of Jordan: and the people resort unto him again; and, as he was wont, he taught them again.
(Gospel, St Theodosius)
17And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people out of all Judæa and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases;
18And they that were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed.
19And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all.
20And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.
21Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.
22Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.
23Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.
Holy Martyr Agatha of Palermo in Sicily (251)
She is one of the best loved and most venerated Martyrs of the West. She was born to a noble family in Catania or Palermo in Sicily. At an early age she consecrated herself to the Lord and, though very beautiful, sought only to adorn herself with the virtues. During the persecution under Decius (251), she was arrested as a Christian; at this time she was about fifteen years old. Quintinian, the Governor of Sicily, was taken by her beauty and offered to marry her, thinking in that way not only to possess her body but her riches as well. When she spurned his advances, and continued to mock the idols, he grew angry and decided to have her tortured. She was gruesomely tormented and cast bleeding into a dungeon to die; but in the night her Guardian Angel brought the Apostle Peter to her, and he healed her wounds. The following day, the Governor ordered that she be subjected to further torments, but at his words the city was shaken by an earthquake and part of the palace collapsed. The terrified people stormed the palace and demanded that Agatha be released, lest they be subject to the wrath of her God. The Saint was returned to her prison cell, where in response to her prayers she was allowed to give up her soul to God.
At Agatha’s burial, attended by many, her Guardian Angel appeared and placed a marble slab on her tomb, inscribed with the words ‘A righteous mind, self- determining, honor from God, the deliverance of her fatherland.’ Quintinian died soon thereafter, thrown from his chariot.
On the first anniversary of Agatha’s death, Mt Etna erupted and Catania was about to be engulfed in lava. Christians and pagans together, remembering the inscription on her tomb, took the slab from the tomb and bore it like a shield to the river of lava, which was immediately stopped. The same miracle has happened many times in the following centuries, and Saint Agatha is venerated as the Protectress of Catania and Sicily, loved and honored by Christians of the East and the West.
Our Holy Father Polyeuctus, Patriarch of Constantinople (970)
Born in Constantinople, he was made a eunuch in childhood by his parents, who hoped that he would go into the Byzantine civil service. But he became a monk, and so distinguished himself for his holiness and learning that in 956 he was made Patriarch of Constantinople by the Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitos. In his own day he was called ‘the Second Chrysostom’ for the power of his preaching and his zeal for the Orthodox faith.
In 957, St Polyeuctus baptized the Russian princess St Olga (July 11) in Constantinople; at her baptism, he spoke these prophetic words: ‘Blessed are you among all the women of Russia, for you have rejected darkness and desired the light. Moreover, the children of the Russian land will bless you in every generation.’ He fell asleep in peace in 970.
Holy New Martyr Antony of Athens (1774)
‘Saint Antony was the son of poor Christians from Athens. In order to help his parents, he entered the service of an Albanian Muslim at the age of twelve. In 1770, during the repression which followed the Greek rising in the Peloponnese, his masters sold him to some Turks, who tried in vain to convert him. He was then sold to a succession of five harsh, fanatical masters, but he remained unshaken in the Faith, and was bought at last by a Christian coppersmith in Constantinople. Having been warned one night in a dream that he would receive God’s help to obtain the glory of martyrdom, he was recognized next day in the street by one of his former masters, who began shouting to the passers-by that the young Christian was his runaway slave and an apostate from Islam. Antony was dragged to the court amid much commotion. He confessed that he was willing to die a thousand deaths for the love of Christ. “You would become a Christian more easily than you could make me deny my Christ,” he told the judge. Unable to persuade the Saint to feign conversion in order to save his life and under pressure from false witnesses, the judge reluctantly committed him to prison. Antony consoled the other Christian prisoners, gave away what little money he had to the poor, and wrote to thank his master for all his kindnesses and through him asked the forgiveness of all Christians and besought the prayers of the Church.
‘As the vizir delayed passing sentence, the Saint’s accusers made a complaint to the Sultan Abdul Hamid who, fearing a breach of the peace, ordered his immediate execution. The valiant sixteen-year-old went joyfully to the place of martyrdom. He offered his neck to the executioner, who struck him lightly three times to see if the pain would make him yield. Then, finding that he remained steady, he cut his throat like a slaughtered lamb.’ (Synaxarion)