Scripture Readings (KJV)
Wisdom of Solomon 3.1-9 (Vespers)
1But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and there shall no torment touch them.
2In the sight of the unwise they seemed to die: and their departure is taken for misery,
3And their going from us to be utter destruction: but they are in peace.
4For though they be punished in the sight of men, yet is their hope full of immortality.
5And having been a little chastised, they shall be greatly rewarded: for God proved them, and found them worthy for himself.
6As gold in the furnace hath he tried them, and received them as a burnt offering.
7And in the time of their visitation they shall shine, and run to and fro like sparks among the stubble.
8They shall judge the nations, and have dominion over the people, and their Lord shall reign for ever.
9They that put their trust in him shall understand the truth: and such as be faithful in love shall abide with him: for grace and mercy is to his saints, and he hath care for his elect.
Wisdom of Solomon 5.15-6.3 (Vespers)
15But the righteous live for evermore; their reward also is with the Lord, and the care of them is with the most High.
16Therefore shall they receive a glorious kingdom, and a beautiful crown from the Lord’s hand: for with his right hand shall he cover them, and with his arm shall he protect them.
17He shall take to him his jealousy for complete armour, and make the creature his weapon for the revenge of his enemies.
18He shall put on righteousness as a breastplate, and true judgment instead of an helmet.
19He shall take holiness for an invincible shield.
20His severe wrath shall he sharpen for a sword, and the world shall fight with him against the unwise.
21Then shall the right aiming thunderbolts go abroad; and from the clouds, as from a well drawn bow, shall they fly to the mark.
22And hailstones full of wrath shall be cast as out of a stone bow, and the water of the sea shall rage against them, and the floods shall cruelly drown them.
23Yea, a mighty wind shall stand up against them, and like a storm shall blow them away: thus iniquity shall lay waste the whole earth, and ill dealing shall overthrow the thrones of the mighty.
1Hear therefore, O ye kings, and understand; learn, ye that be judges of the ends of the earth.
2Give ear, ye that rule the people, and glory in the multitude of nations.
3For power is given you of the Lord, and sovereignty from the Highest, who shall try your works, and search out your counsels.
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.
27All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.
28Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
2 Timothy 2.20-26 (Epistle)
20But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.
21If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.
22Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
23But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.
24And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
25In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
26And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
(Epistle, St Seraphim)
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
24And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
25If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
26Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
1Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
2Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
Luke 19.37-44 (Gospel)
37And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen;
38Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.
39And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples.
40And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.
41And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,
42Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.
43For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side,
44And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.
(Gospel, St Seraphim)
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.
St Seraphim of Sarov (1833)
“Saint Seraphim was born in the town of Kursk in 1759. From tender childhood he was under the protection of the most holy Mother of God, who, when he was nine years old, appeared to him in a vision, and through her icon of Kursk, healed him from a grave sickness from which he had not been expected to recover. At the age of nineteen he entered the monastery of Sarov, where he amazed all with his obedience, his lofty asceticism, and his great humility. In 1780 the Saint was stricken with a sickness which he manfully endured for three years, until our Lady the Theotokos healed him, appearing to him with the Apostles Peter and John. He was tonsured a monk in 1786, being named for the holy Hieromartyr Seraphim, Bishop of Phanarion (Dec. 4), and was ordained deacon a year later. In his unquenchable love for God, he continually added labours to labours, increasing in virtue and prayer with titan strides. Once, during the Divine Liturgy of Holy and Great Thursday he was counted worthy of a vision of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who appeared encompassed by the heavenly hosts. After this dread vision, he gave himself over to greater labours.
“In 1794, Saint Seraphim took up the solitary life in a cell in the forest. This period of extreme asceticism lasted some fifteen years, until 1810. It was at this time that he took upon himself one of the greatest feats of his life. Assailed with despondency and a storm of contrary thoughts raised by the enemy of our salvation, the Saint passed a thousand nights on a rock, continuing in prayer until God gave him complete victory over the enemy. On another occasion, he was assaulted by robbers, who broke his chest and his head with their blows, leaving him almost dead. Here again, he began to recover after an appearance of the most Holy Theotokos, who came to him with the Apostles Peter and John, and pointing to Saint Seraphim, uttered these awesome words, ‘This is one of my kind.’
“In 1810, at the age of fifty, weakened by his more than human struggles, Saint Seraphim returned to the monastery for the third part of his ascetical labours, in which he lived as a recluse, until 1825. For the first five years of his reclusion, he spoke to no one at all, and little is known of this period. After five years, he began receiving visitors little by little, giving counsel and consolation to ailing souls. In 1825, the most holy Theotokos appeared to the Saint and revealed to him that it was pleasing to God that he fully end his reclusion; from this time the number of people who came to see him grew daily. It was also at the command of the holy Virgin that he undertook the spiritual direction of the Diveyevo Convent. He healed bodily ailments, foretold things to come, brought hardened sinners to repentance, and saw clearly the secrets of the heart of those who came to him. Through his utter humility and childlike simplicity, his unrivalled ascetical travails, and his angel-like love for God, he ascended to the holiness and greatness of the ancient God-bearing Fathers and became, like Anthony for Egypt, the physician for the whole Russian land. In all, the most holy Theotokos appeared to him twelve times in his life. The last was on Annunciation, 1831, to announce to him that he would soon enter into his rest. She appeared to him accompanied by twelve virgins martyrs and monastic saints with Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Theologian. With a body ailing and broken from innumerable hardships, and an unspotted soul shining with the light of Heaven, the Saint lived less than two years after this, falling asleep in peace on January 2, 1833, chanting Paschal hymns. On the night of his repose, the righteous Philaret of the Glinsk Hermitage beheld his soul ascending to Heaven in light. Because of the universal testimony to the singular holiness of his life, and the seas of miracles that he performed both in life and after death, his veneration quickly spread beyond the boundaries of the Russian Empire to every corner of the earth. See also July 19.” (Great Horologion)
July 19 is the commemoration of the uncovering of St Seraphim’s holy relics, which was attended by Tsar Nicholas II.
Saint Seraphim’s life became a perpetual celebration of Pascha: in his later years he dressed in a white garment, greeted everyone, regardless of the season, with “Christ is Risen!” and chanted the Pascha service every day of the year.
St Sylvester, Pope of Rome (335)
He was a native of Rome. Because of his virtue and love for all, the faithful made him Pope against his will upon the death of Pope Miltiades in 314. He was Pope when Constantine the Great ended the persecution of the Church, and personally instructed the Emperor in the Faith. Unable to attend the Council of Nicaea personally, he sent delegates to represent him and uphold the Orthodox faith there. He reposed in peace in 325.
Once, in a debate between the Saint and Zambrius, a Jewish scribe and occultist, Zambrius whispered a magic word in the ear of a bull, upon which the animal fell down dead. Zambrius then challenged the Pope to do as much in the name of Christ. The holy bishop replied, ‘My God gives life and resurrection, not death.’ Lifting his hands to heaven, he restored the creature to life. The Emperor and the crowd who witnessed the debate cheered the Saint, and many decided to be baptized.
Venerable Juliana of Lazarevskoye (1604)
The daughter of a devout and generous official in the Tsar’s court, she was orphaned at the age of six and reared by relatives. At the age of sixteen she was given in marriage to George Ossorguin, a nobleman who lived on an estate at Lavarevskoye, near Murom.
The couple were a model of Christian marriage. When her husband was at home, they would devote much of their time to praying together. When he was away in service to the Tsar, she would devote whole nights to prayer and handiwork. Since she was not free to give away her fortune as she desired, she earned money for almsgiving by the work of her hands, something unheard-of for a lady of her rank. When anyone died in the village she prayed for him at length, and if he were indigent she would pay for his funeral.
When two of the pious couple’s sons died, Juliana asked her husband to let her enter a monastery. He refused because they had other young children who needed her care; but he gave her permission to live a monastic life under his roof. From this time forward, she increased her fasts, spent her nights in prayer, and slept on the floor. When her husband died ten years later, her wealth was at her own disposal, and she devoted all of it to works of mercy. When her family criticized her for depriving herself so harshly, especially for her severe fasting, she answered ‘Whatever my body loses now won’t be food for worms later. What is the point of fattening the flesh only to lose the soul?’
From 1601 to 1603, Russia was struck for three years by the worst famine in its history, so severe that men ate human flesh in their desperation. Saint Juliana sold all her livestock, gave away all the provisions in her barns, and freed all her serfs who wished to leave. Those who remained became her family, with whom she shared all she had. By her prayers, bitter and inedible plants became palatable so that they could be made into bread. The holy woman, despite almost killing privation, never complained, but seemed more cheerful than ever before.
Saint Juliana reposed in peace at the age of seventy in 1604. At the moment of her death a bright halo was seen above her head. Ten years later her body was found incorrupt, and her tomb filled with a fragrant myrrh. She was venerated among the Russian people from that time forward, though it was not until 1988 that she was officially glorified by the Moscow Patriarchate.
Holy New Martyr George the Georgian (1770)
A native of Georgia, he was sold as a slave to a Turk and made a Muslim in his youth. He lived a long life as a Muslim, seemingly having no memory of the faith or language of his parents. Without warning, however, when he had reached the age of seventy, his conscience awakened, he presented himself to the judge and stated that he had been born a Christian and wished to die a Christian. The old man remained immovable under questioning, exhortation, threats and, finally, torture; he would only say ‘I am a Christian; I want to die a Christian!’ The executioners hanged him, then cut him down to see if this last trial would change his mind. When he assured them once again that he was a Christian, they hanged him again, and he was allowed to claim his martyrdom.