Scripture Readings (KJV)
2 Thessalonians 2.1-12 (Epistle)
1Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
2That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
3Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
4Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
5Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
6And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
7For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
8And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
9Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
10And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
11And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
12That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
Luke 15.1-10 (Gospel)
1Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.
2And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.
3And he spake this parable unto them, saying,
4What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
5And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
6And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.
7I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
8Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?
9And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.
10Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
Our Venerable Father Gregory the Wonderworker, Bishop of Neocaesarea (ca. 275)
He was born to a prominent pagan family in Neocaesarea, where Christianity was at the time almost unknown. Nonetheless, Gregory found and embraced the faith of Christ at an early age. His parents educated him at the finest schools of the day in Athens, Alexandria, and Beirut; he and his brother spent five years studying under the great Origen, though, the Synaxarion is quick to note, “They possessed enough discernment, however, to avoid certain errors into which Origen was led by the excessive boldness of his speculations about the mysteries of God.”
Refusing many tempting offers of worldly position, Gregory withdrew to the wilderness to live in ascesis. However, the Archbishop of Amesia, familiar with his holiness and ability, consecrated him Bishop of Neocaesarea against his will, and Gregory in obedience took up his see at about the age of thirty.
When he entered the city as bishop, it contained only seventeen Christians. Through the Saint’s tireless and grace-filled preaching, and through the steady stream of miracles that he wrought there, he brought so many to the faith that when he died, only seventeen of the city’s inhabitants were still pagans.
Bishop Gregory’s countless miracles were so famed that he became known to all as the Wonderworker. Once, the Most Holy Mother of God appeared to him with Saint John the Theologian and revealed divine mysteries to him directly, a grace granted to very few. Even his detractors called him a second Moses. He reposed in peace in 275.
Our Holy Father Longinus (4th or 5th c.)
“Our holy Father Longinus lived in the Egyptian deserts during the fourth or fifth century. Among other sayings of his, are the following: A dead man judges no one, and it is just the same with the man who is humble. To someone who wanted to go to live in exile, he replied: Unless you guard your tongue, you will not be able to live in exile wherever you go. To someone else who wanted to live in solitude, he said: If you do not exercise the virtues in the midst of men, still less will you be able to do so in solitude. By his life and his words he taught love of humility as superior to all the works of ascesis, saying: Fasting humbles the body, vigil purifies the intellect and stillness leads to the affliction that baptizes man anew and cleanses him of all sin.
We also owe to him the famous saying: Shed your blood and receive the Spirit.” (Synaxarion)
Our Holy Mother Hilda, Abbess of Whitby (680)
A noble kinswoman of St Edwin, king of Northumbria (commemorated October 12), Hilda was baptized at a young age through the preaching of St Paulinus, one of the first missionaries sent from Rome to British Isles. At the age of thirty-three she renounced the world and entered monastic life. At first, she sought to enter a monastery near Paris in Gaul, but she was called back to her homeland by St Aidan, Bishop of Lindisfarne (August 31), who, discerning her already-apparent spiritual gifts, set her as Abbess of a small monastery. As her gifts of discernment and spiritual guidance became more widely-known, she led larger monasteries, finally establishing the Monastery of Whitby in 657. The Saint spent the next thirty-three years directing the Monastery, which became a beacon of Christian life throughout the British Isles and beyond. The Monastery was unusual by modern standards in that it comprised both a women’s and a men’s monastic house, with Mother Hilda as spiritual head of both. The community became a training-ground for priests and bishops who went on to spread the Gospel of Christ throughout Britain.
Commoners, kings and Bishop Aidan himself came regularly to her for spiritual counsel, and she was in her own lifetime regarded as the Mother of her country. For the last six years of her life she was afflicted with an unremitting burning fever, but she continued her holy work undeterred until her repose in 680. At the moment of her death, Saint Begu, in a different monastery, was awakened by a vision of Hilda’s soul being borne up to heaven by a company of angels.
The Synaxarion concludes, “Saint Hilda, like her contemporaries Saint Etheldreda (23 June) and Saint Ebba (25 Aug.), belongs to that monastic company of women of royal birth who exercised a formative influence in the English Church of the seventh century, but she is also a rare example of a spiritual Mother, who received from God the gift of directing not only nuns but monks and bishops as well; for in the Lord Jesus there is neither male nor female, but a new creation (Gal. 3:28).”
Our Holy Father Nikon of Radonezh (1426)
He was born in 1350 in the town of Yuriev-in-the-fields, between Rostov and Radonezh. At a very young age he sought out St Sergius of Radonezh, seeking to be his disciple; but the Saint placed him in another monastery, where he soon became known as the ‘lover of obedience’ for his humility and selflessness. At last, when he was about thirty and had been ordained to the priesthood, he was able to go to Radonezh, where St Sergius, discerning his advanced spiritual state, made Nikon his cell-attendant. At the death of St Sergius, the brethren unanimously elected Nikon as their Abbot. In 1408, St Nikon was warned in an apparition that the monastery would be sacked by Tatars, so he and his monks fled with the monastery’s books and sacred vessels. When they returned they found that the monastery had been burned to the ground. Setting to work immediately, they built a new monastery over the next few years. In 1422 the relics of St Sergius, which had been miraculously preserved in the Tatar attack, were installed in the new monastery church.
The Synaxarion concludes: “Full of years and already transported in spirit to the Kingdom of Heaven, Saint Nikon said to his disciples, ‘Take me from here to the bright church prepared for me by the prayers of my spiritual father. I do not want to stay any longer here below!’ When he had communicated in the holy Mysteries and blessed his brethren one by one, he cried out, ‘O my soul, draw near with joy to the place that has been prepared for thy rest. Draw near with joy because Christ is calling thee!’ Then he fell asleep in peace. He was laid to rest opposite the tomb of Saint Sergius. Since then he has often appeared with Saint Sergius in order to heal the sick or to protect the Holy Trinity Lavra in times of danger.”