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.
Proverbs 10.31-11.12 (Vespers)
31The mouth of the just bringeth forth wisdom: but the froward tongue shall be cut out.
32The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable: but the mouth of the wicked speaketh frowardness.
1A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight.
2When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.
3The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.
4Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death.
5The righteousness of the perfect shall direct his way: but the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness.
6The righteousness of the upright shall deliver them: but transgressors shall be taken in their own naughtiness.
7When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish: and the hope of unjust men perisheth.
8The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead.
9An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered.
10When it goeth well with the righteous, the city rejoiceth: and when the wicked perish, there is shouting.
11By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted: but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.
12He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace.
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 4.1-13 (Epistle)
1Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.
2For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.
3For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
4For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.
5And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.
6Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:
7Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
8For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.
9There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
10For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.
11Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
12For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
13Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
(Epistle, St Nicholas)
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.
Luke 21.12-19 (Gospel)
12But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake.
13And it shall turn to you for a testimony.
14Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer:
15For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.
16And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death.
17And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake.
18But there shall not an hair of your head perish.
19In your patience possess ye your souls.
(Gospel, St Nicholas)
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.
Our Father among the Saints Nicholas the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Myra (345)
Our beloved holy Father Nicholas is, along with St George (and second to the All-holy Theotokos), probably the best-loved Saint of the Church. His numberless miracles through the ages, on behalf of the countless Christians who have called on him, cannot be told.
He was born in Lycia (in Asia Minor) around the end of the third century, to pious Christian parents. His love of virtue, and his zeal for observing the canons of the Church, were evident from his infancy, when he would abstain from his mother’s breast every Wednesday and Friday until the evening. From early youth he was inclined to solitude and silence; in fact, not a single written or spoken word of the Saint has come down to us. Though ordained a priest by his uncle, Archbishop Nicholas, he attempted to withdraw to a hermit’s life in the Holy Land; but he was told by revelation that he was to return home to serve the Church publicly and be the salvation of many souls.
When his parents died, he gave away all of his inheritance to the needy, and thereafter almsgiving was his greatest glory. He always took particular care that his charity be done in secret. Perhaps the most famous story of his open-handedness concerns a debt-ridden man who had no money to provide dowries for his daughters, or even to support them, and in despair had resolved to give them into prostitution. On three successive nights the Saint threw a bag of gold into the window of the man’s house, saving him and his daughters from sin and hopelessness. The man searched relentlessly to find and thank his benefactor; when at last he discovered that it was Nicholas, the Saint made him promise not to reveal the good deed until after he had died. (This story may be the thin thread that connects the Saint with the modern-day Santa Claus).
God honored his faithfulness by granting him unparalleled gifts of healing and wonderworking. Several times he calmed storms by his prayers and saved the ship that he was sailing in. Through the centuries he has often done the same for sailors who call out to him, and is considered the patron of sailors and all who go to sea.
He was elected Bishop of Myra not long before the great persecutions under Diocletian and Maximian (c. 305), and was put in prison, from which he continued to encourage his flock in the Faith. When the Arian heresy wracked the Church not long after Constantine came to the throne, St Nicholas was one of the 318 Bishops who gathered in Nicea in 325. There he was so incensed at the blasphemies of Arius that he struck him on the face. This put the other bishops in a quandary, since the canons require that any hierarch who strikes anyone must be deposed. Sadly, they prepared to depose the holy Nicholas; but in the night the Lord Jesus and the most Holy Theotokos appeared to them, telling them that the Saint had acted solely out of love for Truth, not from hatred or passion, and that they should not act against him.
While still in the flesh, he sometimes miraculously appeared in distant places to save the lives of the faithful. He once saved the city of Myra from famine by appearing to the captain of a ship full of grain, telling him to take his cargo to the city. He appeared in a dream to Constantine to intercede for the lives of three Roman officers who had been falsely condemned; the three grateful soldiers later became monks.
The holy bishop reposed in peace around 345. His holy relics were placed in a church built in his honor in Myra, where they were venerated by throngs of pilgrims every year. In 1087, after Myra was conquered by the Saracens, the Saint’s relics were translated to Bari in southern Italy, where they are venerated today. Every year, quantities of fragrant myrrh are gathered from the casket containing his holy relics.
New Martyr Nicolas Karamos of Smyrna (1657)
He was a Christian living in Smyrna under Ottoman rule. One day he lost his temper in an argument and exclaimed that he would “turn Turk” before he would give way in the dispute. Immediately, some Turks watching the argument seized Nicolas and brought him before the judge to honor his promise. Nicolas, who had come to his senses, declared ‘If it please God, I will never deny my Lord Jesus Christ, the true God who will come to judge the living and the dead.’ The judge had the humble confessor flogged and tortured through thirty-six days, but he remained firm in his confession of Christ, despite even the tears of his mother and his wife. Finally, the judge had him hanged on March 19 1657. His torments and faithfulness were seen by some Western visitors; so moved were they that they recovered his body from the sea (where it had been cast after hanging) and took it to Europe.
St Maximus, Metropolitan of Kiev & Vladimir (1305)
He was one of the bold Confessors who opposed the false Union of Lyons perpetrated by the Emperor Michael VIII in 1274. In 1283 he became Metropolitan of Kiev (and thus of the whole Russian Church). At that time the Principality of Kiev had been reduced to ruins by the Tatar invaders. Saint Maximus received a revelation from God that he should transfer the metropolitanate from Kiev to Vladimir. On the night following the move to Vladimir, the Most Holy Theotokos appeared to the Saint, saying ‘You have done well, Maximus my servant, in coming to live in my city!’ She then put a mantle on his shoulders which he found when he awoke.
Saint Maximus reposed in peace in 1305. His body, interred in the Cathedral of Vladimir, was found to be incorrupt in the nineteenth century.