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Daily Devotional

Saturday, February 24, 2018 (NS)
February 11, 2018 (OS)


Commemorations

Movable Calendar (Pascalion):

The Saturday of the First Week of the Great Fast

Fixed Calendar:

11. The commemoration of Hieromartyr Blaise, Bishop of Sebaste, and our holy Father Demetri, Wonder-worker of Vologda.


Fasting Information

Fast day, but Shell Fish, Wine and Oil Allowed.

Holy & Great Fast


Scripture Readings

Movable Calendar (Pascalion):

The Saturday of the First Week of the Great Fast

Epistle:

The Reading is from the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Hebrews[§ 303]. Brethren:

1 1God, Who of old, in many parts and in many ways, spoke to the fathers through the prophets, 2did in these last of days speak to us through the Son, Whom He appointed heir of all things, by Whom also He made the ages, 3Who being the effulgence of the glory and impress of His hypostasis, and bearing all things by the word of His power, having made for Himself our purification through Himself, sat down on the right of the Majesty in high places, 4having become so much better than the angels, as He hath inherited a more excellent name than they. 5For to which of the angels said He at any time, "Thou art My Son, today I have begotten Thee[Ps. 2:7]"? And again, "I will be to Him for a Father, and He shall be to Me for a Son [2 Kgs.(2 Sam.) 7:14]"? 6And whenever He again should bring in the firstborn into the inhabited world, He saith, "And let all the angels of God do homage to Him [Deut. 32:43 LXX; cf. Ps. 96(97):8(7)]." 7And indeed with reference to the angels He saith, "The One Who maketh His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire[Ps. 103(104):5(4)]"; 8but with reference to the Son, "Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Thy kingdom [Ps. 44(45):5(6)]. 9"Thou didst love righteousness and didst hate lawlessness; on this account, God, Thy God, anointed Thee with the oil of gladness beyond Thy fellows [Ps. 44(45):6(7)]." 10And, "Thou, O Lord, in the beginning founded the earth, and the heavens are the works of Thy hands [Ps. 101(102):25]. 11"They shall perish, but Thou remainest; and they shall all become old as an outer garment[Ps. 101(102):26], 12"and as a covering Thou shalt roll them up, and they shall be changed. But Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail [Ps. 101(102):26, 27]."

Another Reading for Saturday of the First Week of the Great Fast

in Commemoration of Saint Theodore

The Reading is from the Second Epistle of Saint Paul to Saint Timothy[§ 292]. Child Timothy:

2 1Be thou empowered in the grace that is in Christ Jesus; 2and the things which thou heardest from me in the midst of many witnesses, commit thou these things to faithful men who shall be competent also to teach others. 3Thou therefore suffer hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4No one serving as a soldier is entangled with the affairs of life, in order that he might please the one who enlisted him. 5And if anyone also contend as an athlete in the games, he is not crowned unless he contend lawfully. 6The farmer who laboreth must be first to partake of the fruits. 7Be considering what I say; O may the Lord give thee understanding in all things! 8Be remembering Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, Who hath been raised from the dead, according to my Gospel, 9in which I suffer hardship even to bonds as a malefactor, but the word of God hath not been bound. 10On this account I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they might also attain salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

Gospel:

The Reading is from the Holy Gospel according to Saint Mark [§ 10]. At that time:

2 23During the sabbath days Jesus was going along through the sown fields; and His disciples began to make their way plucking the ears of grain. 24And the Pharisees were saying to Him, "Behold, why do they that which is not lawful on the sabbath days?" 25And He was saying to them, "Did ye not ever read what David did when he had need and hungered, he and those with him: 26"how he entered into the house of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the loaves set forth before the presence of God, which it is not lawful to eat, except for the priests, and gave also to those who were with him?" 27And He was saying to them, "The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. 28"Therefore the Son of Man is Lord also of the sabbath."

3 1And He entered again into the synagogue; and a man was there whose hand had been withered. 2And they were watching Him closely, whether He would cure him on the sabbath, in order that they might accuse Him. 3And He saith to the man who had the withered hand, "Arise and stand in the midst." 4And He saith to them, "Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?" But they were silent. 5And having looked round about on them with wrath, being grieved for the hardness of their heart, He saith to the man, "Stretch forth thy hand." And he stretched it forth, and his hand was restored sound as the other.

Commemoration of Saint Theodore

The Reading is from the Holy Gospel according to Saint John [§ 52]. The Lord said to His disciples:

15 17"These things I command you, that ye be loving one another.

18"If the world hate you, ye know that it hath hated Me before it hath hated you. 19"If ye were of the world, the world would love its own; but because ye are not of the world-but I chose you for Myself out of the world-therefore the world hateth you. 20"Keep on remembering the word which I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his lord.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21"But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they know not the One Who sent Me. 22"If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no pretext for their sin. 23"The one who hateth Me hateth My Father also. 24"If I did not do the works among them which no other one hath done, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated both Me and My Father. 25"But this cometh to pass that the word might be fulfilled which hath been written in their law: 'They hated Me without a cause [cf. Ps. 34(35):22, 68(69):5(4)].' 26"But whenever the Paraclete should come, Whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of the truth Who proceedeth from the Father, that One shall bear witness concerning Me. 27"And ye also are bearing witness, because ye have been with Me from the beginning.

16 1"These things I have spoken to you, in order that ye should not be made to stumble. 2"They shall put you out of the synagogues; yea moreover, there cometh an hour that everyone who killeth you should think that he offereth God a service."

Fixed Calendar:

11. The commemoration of Hieromartyr Blaise, Bishop of Sebaste, and our holy Father Demetri, Wonder-worker of Vologda.

Epistle:

For the Hieromartyr:

The Reading is from the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Hebrews [§ 311]. Brethren:

4 14Having then a great High Priest Who hath passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us be holding fast our confession. 15For we do not have a High Priest Who is not able to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One Who hath been tempted in all respects according to our likeness, without sin. 16Let us therefore be coming with boldness to the throne of grace, that we might receive mercy and find grace for help in due season.

5 1For every high priest being taken from among men is being appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins, 2who is able to feel in due measure with those who are ignorant and led astray, since he himself also is compassed about with weakness. 3And by reason of this he ought, even for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins. 4And no one taketh the honor to himself, but he who is called by God, even as also Aaron. 5Thus also the Christ glorified not Himself to become a high priest, but the One Who said to Him, "Thou art My Son, today I have begotten Thee [Ps. 2:7]." 6Even as He saith also in another place, "Thou art a priest forever according to the order of Melchisedek[Ps. 109(110):4]."

For the Wonder-worker:

The Reading is from the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Galatians [§ 213]. Brethren:

5 22The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, 23meekness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24But they who are of the Christ crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts. 25If we live by the Spirit, let us also be walking by the Spirit. 26Let us not become vainglorious, provoking one another, envying one another.

6 1Brethren, even if a man should be overtaken in some transgression, ye, the spiritual ones, be restoring such a one in the spirit of meekness, looking out for thyself, lest thou also be tempted. 2Keep on bearing one another's burdens, and thus fill up the law of the Christ.

Gospel:

For the Hieromartyr:

The Reading is from the Holy Gospel according to Saint Matthew [§ mid 34]. At that time:

10 1After Jesus called to Himself His twelve disciples, He gave to them authority over unclean spirits, so as to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every weakness....5These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, "Do not begin to go into the way of the nations, and do not begin to enter into a city of the Samaritans. 6"But go rather to the sheep, the lost of the house of Israel. 7"And as ye go, be preaching, saying, 'The kingdom of the heavens hath drawn near.' 8"Be healing the sick, cleansing lepers, raising the dead, casting out demons; freely ye received, freely give."


Lives of the Saints
(Prologue)

February 24th - Civil Calendar
February 11th - Church Calendar

1. The Hieromartyr Blaise, Bishop of Sebaste.

Born in Cappadocia, Blaise was meek and God-fearing from early childhood. He was chosen for his virtues as bishop of Sebaste, and was a great spiritual and moral light in that pagan town. During a period of violent persecution of Christians, Blaise encouraged his flock and visited the martyrs in prison, among whom was the famous Eustratius.

When the city of Sebaste was left entirely denuded of Christians - some killed and others fled - Blaise, by then an old man, retired to the mountain of Argeos and lived there in a cave. Ferocious wild beasts, recognizing a holy man, came to him and he gently tamed them. But the persecutors found the saint in that hidden spot and took him for trial. On the way there, Blaise healed a boy who had a bone stuck in his throat, and at the petition of a poor widow, made the wolf that had taken her pig return it to her. The benighted judges tortured him, flogging him terribly. By his steadfastness in the Christian faith, Blaise brought many unbelievers to the Faith. Seven women and two children were thrown into prison with him; the women were slain first, then Blaise and the two children. He suffered and was glorified in 316.

Blaise's prayers are sought for the health and well-being of domestic animals and for protection from wild beasts. In the West, he is also invoked against sore throats.

2. The Holy Martyr George of Kratov.

George was a Serbian from the town of Kratov. As a young man, George was a goldsmith; and in his heart and soul a faithful and devout Christian. As soon as he reached the age of eighteen, the Turks tried to convert him to Islam, but George remained as firm as a diamond in the Faith. The Turks then tortured him with many harsh tortures and finally burned him alive at the stake. He suffered for the Christian faith on February 11th, 1515, in Sophia in the time of Sultan Selim, and was glorified with unfading glory in heaven.

3. St Theodora.

A Greek Empress, she was the wife of the wicked Emperor Theophilus the Iconoclast. After the death of Theophilus, Theodora reigned with her son, Michael III, and the veneration of icons were immediately restored at the Council of Constantinople in 842. This was the occasion of the institution of the Feast of the Triumph Orthodoxy, which is celebrated to this day on the first Sunday in the Great Fast. This holy woman who gave such service to the Church gave her soul to God on February 11th, 867. By the wonderful providence of God, it was at this time of total triumph of Orthodoxy over all heresies that Saints Cyril and Methodius were sent as missionaries to the Slav peoples.

FOR CONSIDERATION

Matter is not, of itself, evil, as certain Christian heretics (for example, the Manicheans) and some philosophers have asserted. Not only is it not evil; it is not the sole spreader of evil, for the spirit does this just as much as matter does. Every material thing is weighed down and inhibited by the soul of man, but it is not evil. Matter is corruptible, weak and helpless in comparison with the immortal spirit, but it is not itself evil. If it were evil, how could the Lord Jesus have instituted the Holy Communion from bread and wine, and how could bread and wine be called His body and blood? If matter were in itself evil, how could people be baptized in water? How could the Apostle James have ordained that the sick be anointed with oil? How could blessed water stay fresh and have miraculous powers? How could the Cross have power? How could Christ's robe have borne the healing power of the Savior, from which the woman with the issue of blood was healed? How could the relics of the saints and how could icons have such wonder-working gifts, and such good from the kingdom of blessings befriend man? How, further, could good come to man through evil? No; matter is in no way evil in itself.


Daily Scripture Readings taken from The Orthodox New Testament, translated and published by Holy Apostles Convent, Buena Vista, Colorado, copyright © 2000, used with permission, all rights reserved.

Daily Prologue Readings taken from The Prologue of Ochrid, by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic, translated by Mother Maria, published by Lazarica Press, Birmingham, England, copyright © 1985, all rights reserved.


Archbishop Gregory
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