Hymns of the Day
While the stone was sealed by the Jews, and the soldiers were guarding thy most pure body. Thou didst rise on the third day, O Savior, granting life to the world. For which caused the heavenly powers cried aloud unto thee, O Giver of life, Glory to thy Resurrection, O Christ! Glory to thy kingdom! Glory to thy providence, O thou who alone art the lover of mankind.
Thou, O Christ, art our God of exceeding praise who didst establish our holy Fathers as luminous stars upon earth, and through them didst guide us unto the true Faith, O most merciful One, glory to thee.
O foremost in the ranks of Apostles,and teachers of the world, Peter and Paul, intercede with the Master of all to grant safety to the world,and to our souls the Great Mercy.
O protection of Christians that cannot be put to shame, mediation unto the Creator most constant: O despise not the suppliant voices of those who have sinned, but be thou quick, o good one, to come unto our aid, who in faith cry unto thee. Hasten to intercession, and speed thou to make supplications, thou who dost ever protect, O Theotokos, them that honor thee.
Gospel and Epistle Readings
The Reading is from St. Paul’s Letter to Titus 3:8-15
TITUS, my son, the saying is sure. I desire you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to apply themselves to good deeds; these are excellent and profitable to men. But avoid stupid controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels over the law, for they are unprofitable and futile. As for a man who is factious, after admonishing him once or twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is perverted and sinful; he is self-condemned.
When I send Artemas or Tychicos to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there. Do your best to speed Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; see that they lack nothing. And let our people learn to apply themselves to good deeds, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not to be unfruitful.
All who are with me send greeting to you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. Amen.
Sunday of the 7th Ecumenical Council
The Reading is from Luke 8:5-15
The Lord said this parable: “A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell along the path, and was trodden under foot, and the birds of the air devoured it. And some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns grew with it and choked it. And some fell into good soil and grew, and yielded a hundredfold.” And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but for others they are in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand. Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, that they may not believe and be saved. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy; but these have no root, they believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. And as for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bring forth fruit with patience.” As he said these things, he cried out “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Saints and Feasts
The name Thomas means, “twin.” He was one of the Twelve, a Galilean by birth. Sophroneus (not the famous Patriarch of Jerusalem [7th Century, celebrated March 11], but a friend of Jerome’s), quoted also by Jerome, says that Saint Thomas preached to the Parthians, Pesians, Medes, Hyrcanians, Bactrians, and neighbouring nations. According to Heracleon, the Apostle died a natural death; according to other accounts, he was martyred at Meliapur His tomb was known by Saint John Chrysostom to be at Edessa in Syria, to which city his holy relics may have been translated from India in the fourth century.
These holy Martyrs were Romans of high rank in the service of the Emperor Maximian, to whom it was reported that they did not take part in the festivals of the idols. When he called them into his presence, they confessed their Faith in the one God. He had them arrayed in women’s clothes and paraded through the streets in mockery. They were afterwards scourged, from which Saint Bacchus died. This was about the year 296. Saint Sergius was then taken to Resapha in Syria, where he was tortured and beheaded. His tomb in Resapha became a very famous shrine, to which pilgrims came from as far away as Western Europe; Resapha was later renamed Sergiopolis in his honour.
This Saint was a prominent actress of the city of Antioch, and a pagan, who lived a life of unrestrained prodigality and led many to perdition. Instructed and baptized by a certain bishop named Nonnus (Saint Nonnus is commemorated Nov. 10), she departed for the Mount of Olives near Jerusalem, where she lived as a recluse, feigning to be a eunuch called Pelagia. She lived in such holiness and repentance that within three or four years she was deemed worthy to repose in an odour of sanctity, in the middle of the fifth century. Her tomb on the Mount of Olives has been a place of pilgrimage ever since.
The holy Apostle James was one of the Twelve, and preached Christ to many nations, and finally suffered death by crucifixion.
On this day we also celebrate the Synaxis of the Righteous Fathers of Optina Hermitage in Russia, who struggled valiantly in the monastic life in prayer, humility, obedience, and love, and whom God deemed worthy of the lofty gifts of discernment, prophecy, clairvoyance, and eldership, that is, the grace to guide souls on the unerring path of salvation. They are Leo (who reposed in 1841), Macarius (1860), Moses (1862), Anthony (1865), Hilarion (1873), Ambrose (1891), Anatolius (1894), Isaacius (1894), Joseph (1911), Barsanuphius (1913), Anatolius (1922), Nectarius (1928), Nicon (1931), and Isaacius (1936).
Saint Symeon became a monk of the Studite Monastery as a young man, under the guidance of the elder Symeon the Pious. Afterwards he struggled at the Monastery of Saint Mamas in Constantinople, of which he became abbot. After enduring many trials and afflictions in his life of piety, he reposed in 1022. Marvelling at the heights of prayer and holiness to which he attained, and the loftiness of the teachings of his life and writings, the church calls him “the New Theologian.” Only to two others, John the Evangelist and Gregory, Patriarch of Constantinople, has the church given the name “Theologian.” Saint Symeon reposed on March 12, but since this always falls in the Great Fast, his feast is kept today.
Saint Philip, who had four daughters that prophesied, was from Caesarea of Palestine. He preached throughout Samaria; it was he also who met the eunuch of Candace, the Queen of the Ethiopians, as the eunuch was reading the Prophet Esaias, and he instructed and baptized him (Acts 8:26-39). He reposed in Tralles of Asia Minor while preaching the Gospel.
Wisdom of the Fathers
For by seed here He means His doctrine, and by land, the souls of men, and by the sower, Himself …. For as the sower makes no distinction in the land submitted to him, but simply and indifferently casts his seed; so He Himself too makes no distinction of rich and poor, of wise and unwise, of slothful or diligent, of brave or cowardly; but He discourses unto all, fulfilling His part, although foreknowing the results.
Since there are certain people who find great fault with us for adoring and honoring both the image of the Savior and that of our Lady, as well as those of the rest of the saints and servants of Christ, let them hear how from the beginning God made man to His own image. For what reason, then, do we adore one another, except because we have been made to the image of God? As the inspired Basil, who is deeply learned in theology, says: “the honor paid to the image conveys to the original.,” and the original is the thing imaged from which the copy is made.