Scripture Readings (KJV)
(Matins Gospel, St Tikhon)
1Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.
2But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
3To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
4And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
5And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.
6This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them.
7Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.
8All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.
9I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
Hebrews 9.24-28 (Epistle)
24For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:
25Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;
26For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
27And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
28So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
1Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.
2For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary.
3And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all;
4Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;
5And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly.
6Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God.
7But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:
(Epistle, St Tikhon)
26For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;
27Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.
28For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.
1Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;
2A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.
Mark 8.27-31 (Gospel)
27And Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Cæsarea Philippi: and by the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am?
28And they answered, John the Baptist: but some say, Elias; and others, One of the prophets.
29And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ.
30And he charged them that they should tell no man of him.
31And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.
Luke 10.38-42, 11.27-28
38Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.
39And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.
40But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
41And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
42But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
27And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked.
28But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.
(Gospel, St Tikhon)
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.
Holy Martyr Calliopius, with his mother Theoclea (304)
Calliopius was the only son of a senator from Pamphylia and his wife Theoclea, who had long prayed to God for a child. The devout Theoclea reared her son in purity of life and love for God from infancy. When persecution of Christians broke out under Maximian, Theoclea put Calliopius aboard a ship bound for Pompeiopolis to save him from the persecutors. But Calliopius, as soon as he disembarked, encountered a pagan festival, where he was arrested when he refused to make sacrifice to the idols. Brought before the governor Maximus, he freely confessed that he was a Christian. For this he was cruelly tortured and thrown into prison. His mother, hearing of his torments, sold her goods and hurried to comfort him and encourage him in his martyrdom.
Calliopius was sentenced to death by crucifixion, as it happened on Holy Thursday; but the holy Theoclea bribed the officials to postpone the execution by one day, so that her son might imitate the Lord’s Crucifixion on the day that He endured it; she also prevailed upon the torturers to crucify Calliopius upside-down (like St Peter) in humility toward the Lord. When her son’s lifeless body was taken down from the cross, Theoclea cast herself upon it and died.
St George the Confessor, bishop of Mitylene (ca. 820)
The righteous George was Metropolitan of Mitylene. In his old age, a persecution was unleashed against the Church by the iconoclast Emperor Leo V (the Armenian). To further his plans, the Emperor summoned a Council of bishops which he expected to support his iconoclasm. At the Council, George and some other faithful bishops refused to follow the Emperor’s wishes, and openly stood in defense of the icons. For his stance, George was publicly humiliated, then sent into exile at Cherson on the Black Sea. There, after many years of extreme privation, the holy bishop died. By his prayers many were healed, both during his life and after his repose.
St Nilus (Nil Sorsky), abbot of Sora (1508)
St Nilus established the monastic skete (a community of monks living separately like hermits, but sharing some common life) in Russia. He took one side of a religious controversy that troubled the Russian Church’s life for many years. St Nilus and his disciples claimed that prayer and ascetic struggle are the whole purpose of monastic life, and opposed monastic ownership of property, or involvement in works such as almshouses, hospitals, and orphanages. Joseph, abbot of Volokalamsk, took up the argument on the other side, insisting that the Church and its monks should be involved in good works (and have the means to do those works) as well as in prayer. The two groups became known as the “Possessors” (Joseph’s side) and the “Non-Possessors” (Nilus’ side). Each group had reason to be troubled by the other’s extremes: Monasteries owned huge amounts of land, kept serfs, and were subject to corruption by involvement in finance; at the same time, the Church formed most of the ‘welfare’ system of Russia, and the Non-possessors did not suggest how the poor were to be tended, or orphans cared for, without the monasteries’ charity. Many of the Non-possessors tended toward a non-Russian and almost un-Orthodox puritanism, condemning beautiful churches and icons as diversions from true spirituality.
The Possessors (not surprisingly) were favored by the Tsarist government, and eventually won out. The artificial division of the Church into mystical and practical ‘parties,’ and the victory of one of the parties, led to a period of stagnation in the Russian church that was only corrected two hundred years later, when a great renewal of religious life, characterized by such holy Fathers as St Paisios Velichkovsky and St Seraphim of Sarov, restored the fullness and balance of Orthodox life to the Russian church.
An indication of the fullness of Orthodoxy: the Church has glorified not only St Nilus but his opponent St Joseph of Volokalamsk, who is commemorated on Sept. 9.
Saint Savvas the New of Kalymnos (1948) (March 25 OC)
He was born in Thrace to a poor family. Early in life he desired to become a monk and, failing to get his parents’ consent, left secretly for Mt Athos. After several years there, he traveled to Palestine, where he entered the Monastery of St George the Chozebite. In 1903 he was ordained to the priesthood. From 1907–1916 he lived in severe asceticism as a hermit on the banks of the Jordan. After living in several monasteries in Greece, he served with St Nektarios of Aegina for the last year of the Saint’s life (he reposed in 1920). After six more years on Aegina, Fr Savvas moved to the island of Kalymnos, where he spent the remainder of his life. He lived in quietness and asceticism, acquiring a reputation throughout the island as a confessor and spiritual father. He slept only a few hours each night, and gave away any money that came to him the same day, since he believed that it was wrong for a monk to have money in his cell after nightfall.
Saint Savvas reposed on the Old Calendar feast of the Annunciation in 1948. Innumerable miracles and healings have been wrought through his intercession. A striking example occurred in 1957: A group of young islanders were talking about the Saint, and one of them, who doubted his sanctity, said ‘If this lamp breaks I’ll believe.’ At that moment the lamp shattered spontaneously.
The following account is from Mother Nectaria McLees’ Evlogeite! A pilgrim’s guide to Greece: ‘His last words of counsel to his nuns were, “…love… is the bond of perfection,” and to the abbess he said, “Love, love, love (Agapa, agapa, agapa).” Then he clapped his hands six times, saying “The Lord, the Lord, the Lord…”
‘In 1957 his relics were uncovered in the presence of Metropolitan Isidoros of Kalymnos, who described them as “the bones being perfectly joined, and the vestments intact.” When the sepulchre was opened a divine and otherworldly fragrance covered the area, even to the outskirts of town far below. In 1961, an iconographer of the Skete of Kapsokalyvia on Mount Athos painted an icon of St. Savvas at Abbess Philothei’s request. The icon arrived by ferry, and as it was being transferred from the post office to the customs house where the nuns would pick it up, the convent bell began ringing by itself and continued until the icon was brought to the monastery.’
St Justin (Popovic) of Chelije in Serbia (1979) (March 25 OC)
He was born on the Feast of the Annunciation 1894, in Vranje, South Serbia, to a family whose seven previous generations had been headed by priests (Popovich means ‘family or son of a priest’ in Serbian). He began reading the scriptures at a young age, and as an adult carried a New Testament with him, reading three chapters every day. He studied at the Seminary of St Sava in Belgrade while St Nikolai Velimirovic (March 18) was on the faculty. In 1914, Blagoje (as he was called before his tonsure) completed the nine-year seminary program. He desired to become a monk, but postponed entry into the monastic ranks due to the outbreak of war and the poor health of his parents. He spent the war caring for his parents and serving as a student nurse.
In 1915 he was tonsured a monk under the name Justin, after St Justin the Philosopher. Shortly thereafter he traveled to Petrograd to study at the seminary; there he acquired a deep, first-hand knowledge of the Russian ascetical tradition and a lifelong love of Russian spirituality, especially that of the common people. He then attended Oxford University from 1916 to 1919, writing a doctoral dissertation which was rejected. After a brief return to Belgrade, he entered the Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Athens. As in Russia, he used his time there not merely to study but to drink in the Orthodox spirituality of the Greek people. He was ordained to the diaconate while in Greece, then to the priesthood after returning to Belgrade in 1922. He wept ‘as a newborn babe’ throughout his ordination service. One of his first labors as a priest was to translate the Divine Liturgy into modern Serbian. During this period he came to know Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky (later first hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church abroad) and St John Maximovich, both of whom were living in Serbia as exiles from the Russian Revolution.
Father Justin’s preaching, writing and spiritual counsel became known throughout his country. In 1931 he was sent to Czechoslovakia to help in reorganizing the Church there (then under the jurisdiction of the Serbian Church), which was greatly tried and weakened by Uniatism. Realizing the people’s crying need a clear exposition of the Faith in their own language, he began in 1932 his three-volume Dogmas of the Orthodox Church. The first volume was so well-received that Fr Justin was made Professor of Dogmatics at the Seminary of St Sava, where he remained, completing the Dogmas and several other books, until the end of World War II. The new atheistic Communist regime then banned him from the university system, and Fr Justin lived from that time on in various Serbian monasteries.
In 1948 he entered Chelije Monastery, where he remained until his repose in 1979. He became Archimandrite and spiritual head of the Monastery. It was during this period that he emerged as a great light of Orthodoxy: pious believers from all parts of Yugoslavia, from Greece, and from all over the world traveled to Chelije to hear the holy Justin’s preaching and seek his counsel.
Saint Justin reposed in peace in 1979 at the age of 85, on the Feast of the Annunciation — the date of his birth. Since his repose, many miracles have been witnessed at his grave: healings, flashes of unearthly light from his tomb, and conversions of unbelievers by his prayers. His many writings are increasingly recognized as a fount of pure Orthodox teaching in the midst of our dark time.
Note: St Justin is commemorated on the anniversary of his repose, so his commemoration only coincides with the Feast of the Annunciation on the Old Calendar.