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.’
Composite 5 - Wisdom of Solomon 4, 6, 7, 2 (Vespers)
1When a just man is praised, peoples will be glad; for immortality is his memory, because it is known both to God and humankind, and his soul is pleasing to the Lord. Therefore, O men, desire wisdom, and long for it and be instructed. For her beginning is love and keeping of laws. Honour Wisdom, that you may reign for ever. I will declare the mysteries of God to you and not hide them from you. Because he is both the guide of Wisdom and the One who sets right the wise. In his hand are all prudence, and knowledge of works. Wisdom, the artificer of all things, taught me, for in her is an understanding spirit, holy, brightness of the eternal light and image of the goodness of God. She makes friends of God and prophets. She is more lovely than the sun, and beyond every order of the stars. If compared to light, she is found before it. She delivered her devotees from toils, and guided them in straight paths. She gave them holy knowledge and protected them from those who lay in ambush for them. She awarded them a mighty contest, that all might know that true religion is more powerful than all, and that wickedness can never prevail against Wisdom, nor will justice in passing sentence overlook evil people. For they said in themselves, not reasoning correctly, ‘Let us overpower the just one, let us not spare his saintliness, nor feel reverence for the aged grey hairs of an elder. Let our strength be law. Let us lie in ambush for the just, for he is a hindrance to us and he is opposed to our works and alleges the sins of our upbringing. He claims to have knowledge of God, and calls himself a child of the Lord. He has become a reproof to our thoughts. He is grievous for us even to look at, for his life is not like others and his paths are quite different. We are reckoned by him to be counterfeit, and he keeps away from our ways as from filth. He calls the end of just people blessed. Let us see if his words are true, and let us test what will happen to him at the end. Let us examine him by insult and torture, that we may know his forbearance and make trial of his patience. Let us condemn him to a shameful death, for he will have protection from his own words.’ This was how they argued, and they were deceived, for their wickedness had blinded them. And they did not know the mysteries of God, nor did they judge that you alone are God, who have authority over life and death, who save in time of tribulation and deliver from every ill; pitying and merciful, giving grace to your holy ones, and by your right arm resisting the proud.
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.
Acts 6.8-7.5, 47-60 (Epistle)
8And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.
9Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen.
10And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.
11Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.
12And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council,
13And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:
14For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.
15And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.
1Then said the high priest, Are these things so?
2And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran,
3And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall shew thee.
4Then came he out of the land of the Chaldæans, and dwelt in Charran: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell.
5And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child.
47But Solomon built him an house.
48Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet,
49Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?
50Hath not my hand made all these things?
51Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.
52Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:
53Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.
54When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.
55But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,
56And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
57Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,
58And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.
59And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
60And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
(Epistle, St Alexis)
11But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
12For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
13For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:
14And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
15But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,
16To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:
17Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.
18Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.
19But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.
John 4.46-54 (Gospel)
46So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum.
47When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judæa into Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son: for he was at the point of death.
48Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.
49The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die.
50Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way.
51And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth.
52Then enquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.
53So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house.
54This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judæa into Galilee.
(Gospel, St Alexis)
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.
Commemoration of the Apparition of the Sign of the Precious Cross over Jerusalem in 351 AD
On this day in 351, during the reign of Constantius, son of Constantine the Great, the sign of the Cross appeared over Jerusalem. Cyril, Patriarch of Jerusalem, wrote “At about the third hour of the day [mid-morning] an enormous cross, formed of light, appeared in the heaven above holy Golgotha and reaching to the holy Mount of Olives, being seen not by one or two only, but manifest with perfect clarity to the whole multitude of the city; not, as one might suppose, rushing swiftly past in fancy, but seen openly above the earth many hours in plain sight, and overcoming the beams of the sun with its dazzling rays.”
Our Holy Fathers of Georgia (6th c.)
“In the sixth century, two hundred years after St Nina had preached the Gospel in Georgia, the most holy Mother of God appeared to John, an ascetic of Antioch, and commanded him to choose twelve of his disciples and go to Georgia, to strengthen the Orthodox faith there. John did so. Reaching Georgia, these twelve missionaries were formally welcomed by the prince of that country and the Catholicos, Eulalius, and immediately began their work with great zeal. The people gathered around them in hordes, and they strengthened them in the Faith with great wisdom and many miracles. The chief of these Christ-loving missionaries was St John of Zedan, and the names of the others were: Abidus, Antony, David, Zeno, Thaddeus, Jesse, Isderius, Joseph, Michael, Pyrrus, Stephen and Shio. With apostolic zeal, they all strengthened the Christian faith in Georgia, founded many monasteries and left many disciples to follow them. Thus they became worthy of glory in heaven and power on earth.” (Prologue)
Martyr Acacius the Centurion at Byzantium (303)
He was an officer in the Roman army during the reign of the Emperor Maximian, and a Christian from his childhood. Summoned before the judges, he said that he had inherited a steadfast faith from his parents, and that he would not waver in it, having seen his faith confirmed many times in the miracles worked by the relics of the Saints. He courageously endured torture in Pyrrinthus of Thrace, then was taken to Byzantium where, after further cruel tortures, he was beheaded.
St Alexis Toth of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania (1909) (April 24 OC)
This light of Orthodoxy in North America was born in Austro-Hungary in 1854, to poor Carpatho-Russian parents. His father was a priest in the Eastern-rite Roman Catholic church and, following in his father’s footsteps, he was ordained in 1878. In 1889 he was appointed to serve as pastor to a Uniate parish in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Prompted partly by the strong hostility of the American Roman Catholic hierarchy at that time to Eastern-rite practices, he convened a meeting of about ten Eastern-rite priests in Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania, where the divinely-led decision was made to seek to return to the Orthodox faith. Fr Alexis contacted Bishop Vladimir of the Russian church in San Francisco, who, in 1891, received Fr Alexis and 361 of his parishioners back into the faith of their ancestors.
From that time forward, Fr Alexis worked tirelessly, at great personal sacrifice, to proclaim the truths of the Orthodox faith, especially to those still attached to its mimic, Byzantine Catholicism. For long periods of time he received little or no salary and (despite claims that he had embraced Orthodoxy to enrich himself) worked in a bakery to support himself. Through his work, thousands of Christians in North America were led into the fullness of the Orthodox Faith during his lifetime.
St Alexis reposed in 1909. He was officially glorified in 1994. His holy relics can be venerated at St Tikhon’s Monastery in South Canaan, Pennsylvania.
St Lydia of Philippi (1st c.)
She is mentioned in chapter 16 of the Acts of the Apostles. A seller of purple cloth and a believer in God, she was baptized along with her household by St Paul, who stayed at her house during his missionary travels. She is the first recorded convert to Christianity in Europe.