Schedule this week:
Epiphany (Theophany) of Christ
Martyrs Theopemptos the bishop of Nicomedia and Theonas the former magician; Venerable Syncletica of Alexandria; Venerable-martyr Romanos of Athos
(Image from www.orthodoxroad.com)
Wednesday, January 1st, 5:30 p.m: Service of Small Compline with the Canon of the Nativity of Christ (there will not be a Bible Study session following, this week)
Saturday, January 4, 5:00 p.m. – Vespers (Confession available after)
Sunday, January 5, 9:00 a.m. – Orthros;
10:00 a.m. – Divine Liturgy & Feast of Epiphany Sanctification of the Water service
THE EPISTLE (For the Sunday before the Theophany of Christ)
O Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance. Unto Thee, O Lord, will I cry, O my God.
The Reading from the Second Epistle of St. Paul to St. Timothy. (4:5-8)
My child Timothy, be watchful in all things, suffer hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For, I am already being poured out as a libation, and the season of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, and I have guarded the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will reward me at that day, and not to me only, but also to all those who have loved His appearing.
THE GOSPEL (For the Sunday before the Theophany of Christ)
The reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Mark. (1:1-8)
The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way; the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” John the Baptizer appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And there went out to him all the country of Judea, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, and had a leather girdle around his waist, and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “After me comes He Who is mightier than I, the strap of Whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Saints of the Day – courtesy of www.abbamoses.com
- January 5
- Eve of Theophany
- Holy Martyrs Theopemptus and Theonas (~290)
- Theopemptus was a bishop (some say in Nicomedia) who contested for Christ during the fierce persecutions of the Emperor Diocletian. For openly confessing the Faith, he was arrested and brought before the Emperor himself, whom he fearlessly convicted for his cruelty and ungodliness. The saint was then subjected to several cruel tortures, from which he miraculously emerged unhurt. He was given a deadly poison to drink, prepared by a sorcerer named Theonas. When Theonas saw that the holy bishop was unharmed by his potion, he was led to confess Christ. Finally, St Theopemptus was beheaded, and Theonas thrown in a pit and buried alive.
- Our Venerable Mother Syncletike (4th c.)
- She was the daughter of wealthy and devout parents in Alexandria. Though much desired as a bride for her great beauty, intelligence and wealth, she showed no interest in any worldly attraction and, when her parents died, gave away all of her large fortune. She then fled with her blind sister to the desert, where she became the foundress of monastic life for women in the Egyptian desert, just as St Anthony had for men. At first she attempted to struggle in solitude, hiding her ascetic labors from all and keeping strict silence before all people. But in time her holiness became known, and a company of young women formed around her, seeking to emulate and share in her way of life. At first she kept her silence even with them, but at last was forced out of love to give way to their pleas and reveal to them the wisdom that had been implanted in her. A settled monastic community grew around her, and she became known to all as Amma, the feminine form of the title Abba.
At the age of eighty-five, she was stricken with an agonizing cancer that slowly destroyed and putrefied her body. She bore these heavy trials with patience and thanksgiving, and told her disciples: “If illness strikes us, let us not be distressed as though physical exhaustion could prevent us from singing God’s praises; for all these things are for our good and for the purification of our desires. Fasting and ascesis are enjoined on us only because of our appetites; so if illness has blunted their edge, there is no longer any need for ascetic labors. To endure illness patiently and to send up thanksgiving to God is the greatest ascesis of all.”
Eventually her illness deprived her even of the power of speech, but it was said that the sight of her joyful and serene countenance amid her sufferings was better than any other teaching, and the faithful continued to flock to her to receive a blessing. After a three-month martyrdom, she departed this life, having predicted the day of her death.
It is said that St Syncletike was the virgin who sheltered St Athanasius the Great when he was driven into hiding for more than a year by the Arians. Her biography, which the Synaxarion calls “one of the basic texts of Orthodox spirituality,” is attributed to St Athanasius.