Scripture Readings (KJV)
Isaiah 61.1-9 (Vespers)
1The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
2To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
3To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.
4And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.
5And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.
6But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.
7For your shame ye shall have double; and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess the double: everlasting joy shall be unto them.
8For I the LORD love judgment, I hate robbery for burnt offering; and I will direct their work in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
9And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people: all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the LORD hath blessed.
Composite 24 - Leviticus 26 (Vespers)
1The Lord spoke to the children of Israel saying, ‘If you walk in my ordinances and keep my commandments and do them, I will give you rain in its season and the earth will give its produce and the trees of the plains their fruit. Your threshing time will overtake the vintage, and the vintage will overtake the sowing. You will eat your bread to the full and dwell in safety on your land; and no one shall make you afraid. And I will destroy the evil wild beasts from your lands, and war shall not pass through your land, and enemies will fall before you. Five of you will pursue a hundred and a hundred of you will pursue tens of thousands. And I will look upon you and bless you and make you increase and multiply and I will establish my covenant with you. And you will eat what is old and very old, and bring out the old to make way for the new. And my soul will not abhor you, and I will walk among you, and I will be your God and you shall be my people. But if you will not listen to me, nor observe these ordinances of mine, but disobey them, and if your soul loathes my judgements, so that you do not keep all my commandments, I in turn will treat you like this: I will bring distress upon you, and you will sow your seed in vain and your enemies will devour your labours. And I will set my face against you and you will fall before your foes and they will pursue you and you will flee though no one pursues you; and I will smash the arrogance of your pride. And I will make the heaven like iron for you and your earth like solid bronze. And your strength will be in vain and your land will not give its fruit, and the trees of the field will not give their fruit. And I will send the wild beasts of the earth against you, and they will consume your cattle, and the sword will come against you and make you few in number. And your land will be desert and your farms will be desert; because you have walked against me crookedly, and I will walk against you with crooked rage, says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel’.
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.
1 Corinthians 1.26-29 (Epistle)
26For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
27But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
28And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
29That no flesh should glory in his presence.
1 Timothy 2.1-7
(Epistle, New Year)
1I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
2For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
3For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
4Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
5For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
6Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
7Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.
(Epistle, St Simeon)
12Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
13Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
14And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
15And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
Matthew 20.29-34 (Gospel)
29And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed him.
30And, behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David.
31And the multitude rebuked them, because they should hold their peace: but they cried the more, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David.
32And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you?
33They say unto him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened.
34So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him.
(Gospel, New Year)
16And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.
17And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,
18The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
19To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
20And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.
21And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
22And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son?
(Gospel, St Simeon)
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.
The Beginning of the Church's Year
The First Ecumenical Council established that the Church’s year would begin on September 1st, continuing the practice of the Roman Empire at that time. For centuries, the beginning of the civil year coincided with the Church year, but later changed, first in western Europe, then in Russia in the time of Peter the Great.
Our Holy Father Symeon Stylites (459)
Born in Syria, he was a shepherd, but at the age of eighteen he left home and became a monk, practicing the strictest asceticism. At times he fasted for forty days. After a few years at a monastery he took up an ascetical discipline unique at that time: mounting a pillar, he stood on it night and day in prayer. Though he sought only seclusion and prayer, his holiness became famous, and thousands would make pilgrimage to receive a word from him or to touch his garments. Countless nomadic Arabs came to faith in Christ through the power of his example and prayers. To retreat further from the world, he used progressively taller pillars: his first pillar was about ten feet high, his final one about fifty. He was known also for the soundness of his counsel: he confirned the Orthodox doctrine at the Council of Chalcedon and persuaded the Empress Eudocia, who had been seduced by Monophysite beliefs, to return to the true Christian faith. After about forty years lived in asceticism, he reposed in peace at the age of sixty-nine.
He was at first suspected of taking up his way of life out of pride, but his monastic brethren confirmed his humility thus: They went to him as a group, and told him that the brotherhood had decided that he should come down from his pillar and rejoin them. Immediately he began to climb down from the pillar. Seeing his obedience and humility, they told him to remain with their blessing.
Righteous Joshua, Son of Nun
In the Septuagint he is called Jesus, the Greek form of Joshua. Of the Hebrews who fled Egypt in the Exodus, only he and Caleb were found worthy to enter the Promised Land. He was Moses’ chosen successor to lead the Hebrew people. Read his story in the Old Testament book that bears his name. He reposed at the age of 110, about 1500 years before Christ.
Saint Meletios the Younger (1095-1124)
He was born in Cappadocia around 1035. He became a monk in Constantinople, but after a few years he went on pilgrimage to Jerusalem and Rome, then settled at a small monastery near Thebes. Here Meletios became known for his piety: he wore one garment of woven horsehair and, as the Synaxarion says, ‘never let his eyelids slumber without having bathed the mat he lay on with his tears.’ After twenty-eight years of ascetical labors Meletius, seeking to escape his increasing renown, departed the monastery, eventually settling near the Monastery of the Bodiless Powers near Myoupolis in Greece. Here he thought that he would be able to pray in obscurity, but once again the fame of his virtues attracted a monastic community around him. By order of the Patriarch of Constantinople he was ordained to the priesthood and, much against his will, made abbot of the monastic colony. The Emperor Alexander Comnenus wished to give a large gift of money to the monastery, but the Saint, unwilling to store up wealth on earth, would only accept enough for the essential needs of his monks: ‘but’ (the Synaxarion says) ‘as a sign of gratitude, he protected the pious Emperor in all his campaigns from that time forth, by his prayer.’ After many years caring for the monastery, in which he revealed gifts of healing, insight and prophecy, Saint Meletios reposed in peace, aged about seventy years, sometime between 1095 and 1124.
Holy New Martyr Angelis (1680)
He was a goldsmith living in Constantinople. While he was celebrating the Dormition of the Theotokos with some friends in a nearby village, the party was joined by some Turkish neighbors. The Christians and Turks drank a great amount together, and at one point entertained themselves by exchanging headgear. The next day, when everyone had sobered up, a Turk asked Angelis why he was not wearing a Muslim turban, for wearing it once was a sign of conversion. (To our knowledge this is not Islamic law, but was a ploy to pressure the young Angelis into conversion.) The dismayed Angelis was brought before a judge and given the choice of converting to Islam or being put to torture and death. Though the young man had shown little seriousness about his faith before this, he was filled with the Holy Spirit and boldly confessed Christ, willingly accepting a Martyr’s end. He was beheaded on Sunday, September 1, 1680.