Daily Readings for Thursday, December 16, 2021



The Holy Prophet Aggaeus (Haggai), Modestos, Archbishop of Jerusalem, Our Righeous Mother Blessed Empress Theophania, Nicholas, Patriarch of Constantinople, Memnonus, Archbishop of Ephesus


Timothy, my son, the saying is sure: If any one aspires to the office of bishop, he desires a noble task. Now a bishop must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sensible, dignified, hospitable, an apt teacher, no drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and no lover of money. He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way; for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may be puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil; moreover he must be well thought of by outsiders, or he may fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. Deacons likewise must be serious, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for gain; they must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them also be tested first; then if they prove themselves blameless let them serve as deacons. The women likewise must be serious, not slanderers, but temperate, faithful in all things. Let deacons be the husband of one wife, and let them manage their children and their households well; for those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.

MARK 9:10-15

At that time, the disciples kept the word of Jesus to themselves, questioning what the rising from the dead meant. And they asked him, "Why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?" And he said to them, "Elijah does come first to restore all things; and how is it written of the Son of man, that he should suffer many things and be treated with contempt? But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him." And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd about them, and scribes arguing with them. And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed, and ran up to him and greeted him.

Prophet Haggai

The Holy Prophet Haggai was the tenth of the Twelve Minor Prophets. He was of the Tribe of Levi and he prophesied during the times of the Persian emperor Darius Hystaspis (prior to 500 B.C.). Upon the return of the Jews from the Babylonian Captivity, he persuaded the people to build the Second Temple at Jerusalem, and he proclaimed that the Messiah would appear in this Temple in the last times.

It is believed that Haggai was buried with the priests at Jerusalem, since he was descended from Aaron.

Martyr Marinus of Rome

The Martyr Marinus was a soldier who suffered in Caesarea of Palestine in the third century. When he was about to be promoted to centurion, he refused to swear the customary oath invoking the pagan gods, or to offer sacrifice to idols. Saint Marinus was beheaded after cruel tortures, and buried by Saint Asterius (August 7).

Blessed Empress Theophano

The Holy Empress Theophano was the first wife of Emperor Leo VI the Wise (886-911). She and Leo were locked up in prison for three years, because Leo was falsely accused of intending to assassinate his father, Emperor Basil the Macedonian. After receiving her freedom, she spent her life in prayer and fasting, earnestly struggling for her salvation.

Living in the world, she renounced everything worldly. She was a benefactor to the poor, and was generous toward monasteries. She was a true mother to her subjects, caring for widows and orphans, and consoling the sorrowful. Saint Theophano died in 893 or 894.

Even before her death her husband started to build a church, intending to dedicate it to Theophano, but she forbade him to do so. It was this emperor who decreed that the Sunday after Pentecost be dedicated to All Saints. Believing that his wife was one of the righteous, he knew that she would also be honored whenever the Feast of All Saints was celebrated.

Her holy relics are preserved in Constantinople.

Saint Sophia

Saint Sophia, in the world Solomonia, a Great Princess, was the daughter of the noble Yuri Saburov. In the year 1505 she was chosen as bride by the heir to the throne, the future Great Prince Basil. Their marriage was unhappy, because Solomonia remained childless, so he divorced her. In order to have an heir, Great Prince Basil decided to wed a second time (to Elena Glinsky) and on November 25, 1525 he ordered Solomonia to become a nun. Forcibly tonsured with the name Sophia, Solomonia was sent under guard to the Suzdal Protection convent, where by ascetic deeds she banished from her heart worldly thoughts, and totally dedicated herself to God.

Prince Kurbsky calls the blessed princess “a Monastic Martyr.” In the manuscript Lives of the Saints she is called “the holy Righteous Princess Sophia the Nun, the wonderworker, who dwelt at the Protection monastery.” Under Tsar Theodore they revered her as a saint. Tsaritsa Irene sent to Suzdal, “to the Great Princess Solomonia, also called Sophia, a velvet veil with depiction of the Savior and other saints.” Patriarch Joseph wrote to Archbishop Serapion of Suzdal about serving Panikhidas and Moliebens for Sophia. Saint Sophia departed to God in the year 1542. The Suzdal sacristan Ananias speaks of several miraculous healings at her grave.