WEDNESDAY OF THE 16TH WEEK
ABSTAIN FROM MEAT, FISH, DAIRY, EGGS, WINE, OLIVE OIL
Leavetaking of the Presentation of Our Lord and Savior in the Temple, Nicephoros the Martyr of Antioch, Markellos, Philagrios, & Pankratios the Hieromartyrs, Teilo, Bishop of Llandaff
ST. PETER’S FIRST UNIVERSAL LETTER 4:1-11
Beloved, since Christ suffered in the flesh for us, arm yourselves with the same thought, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer by human passions but by the will of God. Let the time that is past suffice for doing what the Gentiles like to do, living in licentiousness, passions, drunkenness, revels, carousing, and lawless idolatry. They are surprised that you do not now join them in the same wild profligacy, and they abuse you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is why the gospel was preached even to the dead, that though judged in the flesh like men, they might live in the spirit like God.
The end of all things is at hand; therefore keep sane and sober for your prayers. Above all hold unfailing your love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins. Practice hospitality ungrudgingly to one another. As each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who utters oracles of God; whoever renders service, as one who renders it by the strength which God supplies; in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
At that time, one of the scribes came up to Jesus. Hearing the Sadducees disputing with him, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, "Which commandment is the first of all?" Jesus answered, "The first is, 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." And the scribe said to him, "You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that he is one, and there is no other but he; and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices." And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And after that no one dared to ask him any question. And as Jesus taught in the temple, he said, "How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? David himself, inspired by the Holy Spirit, declared,
'The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, till I put your enemies under your feet.'
David himself calls him Lord; so how is he his son?" And the great throng heard him gladly.
The Leavetaking of the Meeting of the Lord usually falls on February 9, but may be moved if the Feast falls during the period of the Triodion. In that case, the Typikon must be consulted for information on the Leavetaking.
Usually, the entire office of the Feast is repeated except for the Entrance, festal readings, and Litya at Vespers, and the Polyeleos and festal Gospel at Matins. The festal Antiphons are not sung at Liturgy, and the Epistle and Gospel of the day are read.
The Holy Martyr Nikēphóros lived in the city of Syrian Antioch. In this city lived also the presbyter Sapricius, with whom Nikēphóros was very friendly, so that they were considered as brothers. They quarreled because of some disagreement, and their former love changed into enmity and hate.
After a certain time Nikēphóros came to his senses, repented of his sin and more than once asked Sapricius, through mutual friends, to forgive him. Sapricius, however, did not wish to forgive him. Nikēphóros then went to his former friend and fervently asked forgiveness, but Sapricius was adamant.
At this time the emperors Valerian (253-259) and Gallius (260-268) began to persecute Christians, and one of the first brought before the court was the priest Sapricius. He firmly confessed himself a Christian, underwent tortures for his faith and was condemned to death by beheading with a sword. As they led Sapricius to execution, Nikēphóros tearfully implored his forgiveness saying, “O martyr of Christ, forgive me if I have sinned against you in any way.”
The priest Sapricius remained stubborn, and even as he approached death he refused to forgive his fellow Christian. Seeing the hardness of his heart, the Lord withdrew His blessing from Sapricius, and would not let him receive the crown of martyrdom. At the last moment, he suddenly became afraid of death and agreed to offer sacrifice to idols. In vain did Saint Nikēphóros urge Sapricius not to lose his reward through apostasy, since he already stood on the threshold of the heavenly Kingdom.
Saint Nikēphóros then said to the executioner, “I am a Christian, and I believe in our Lord Jesus Christ. Execute me in place of Sapricius.” The executioners reported this to the governor. He decided to free Sapricius, and to behead Nikēphóros in his place. Thus did Saint Nikēphóros inherit the Kingdom and receive a martyr’s crown.
In 1764, the body of Saint Innocent of Irkutsk was discovered incorrupt during restoration work on the Ascension monastery’s Tikhvin church. Many miracles occurred not only at Irkutsk, but also in remote places of Siberia, for those who flocked to the saint with prayer. This moved the Most Holy Synod to uncover the relics and to glorify the saint in the year 1800.
In 1804, a feastday was established to celebrate his memory throughout all Russia on November 26, since the Icon of the Mother of God “of the Sign” is commemorated on the actual day of his repose (November 27). Today we commemorate the uncovering of his relics in 1805.
The holy hieromonk Pancratius performed the divine services with much grace, and received the gift of working miracles. He shared his gifts with those who asked, healing the sick with fasting, prayer, and anointing with holy oil.
Saint Nikēphóros of Vazhe Lake came to Saint Alexander of Svir (April 17) in the year 1510 and was warmly received by him. In 1518 he made a visit, with the blessing of his mentor, to Saint Cyril of New Lake (February 4). When Nikēphóros approached New Lake, he was fatigued by his long journey and lay down in the darkness and fell asleep.
Saint Cyril hastened by boat to row across the lake and awoke him. Saint Nikēphóros spent eight days in spiritual conversation with the saint. Nikēphóros then journeyed to Kiev to venerate the relics of the saints of the Caves.
Upon his return, and with the blessing of Saint Alexander, he settled at Vazhe Lake, where Saint Gennadius pursued asceticism. Saint Nikēphóros built the Church of the Transfiguration and a monastery, where he lived until his own death.
In the second half of the nineteenth century, in the Zadne-Nikiforov wilderness, a church was built and dedicated to Saints Nikēphóros and Gennadius of Vazhe Lake. The relics of the saints were put to rest in a hidden place in the monastery they founded.
Saint Gennadius of Vazhe Lake was the son of rich parents but, giving away everything, he became a disciple of Saint Alexander of Svir and lived with him in asceticism as a hermit by the river Svira. Afterwards, with blessing of Saint Alexander, he went to Vazhe Lake, twelve versts from the Svir monastery. And here, having built a cell, he spent his solitary ascetic life with two of his disciples.
Before his death, Saint Gennadius told his disciple, “Here at this place shall be a church and a monastery.” The holy ascetic reposed on January 8, 1516.
The Hieromartyrs Marcellus, Philagrius and Pancratius were disciples of the holy Apostle Peter and were made bishops by him: Saints Marcellus of Sicily, Philagrius of Cyprus, and Pancratius of Taormina. They were put to death for spreading the faith of Christ among the pagans.
Saint Shio was one of the twelve disciples of Saint John Zedazeni. They were holy Syrian (Cappadocian) ascetics, the founders of Georgian monasticism, who arrived in Georgia from Cappadocia in the mid-sixth century. The holy Thirteen Cappadocian Fathers were actually Georgians, who received their spiritual schooling at the renowned Lavra of Saint Simeon the Stylite and at other monasteries of Syria and Mesopotamia, intending to return to their native land and assist in its Christian enlightenment.
Saint Shio is also commemorated on May 9.
Saint Apollonia was an elderly virgin and deaconess of Alexandria, whose martyrdom was described by Saint Dionysius of Alexandria (October 5) in one of his letters.
When Decius became emperor in 249, he launched the greatest attack upon Christianity up to that time, becoming the first emperor to call for its total extermination. Saint Dionysius says that the persecution started at Alexandria a year before it began in other places, incited by a certain “prophet and poet of evil,” who stirred up the people against the Christians.
Backed by the power of the government, the pagans massacred Christians, believing that they were serving their false gods by doing so. The “aged and excellent virgin Apollonia” was seized and struck in the face until all her teeth were knocked out. The mob built a fire outside the city and threatened to burn her alive unless she agreed to worship the idols and sacrifice to the emperor’s genius.
Saint Apollonia asked the pagans to let go of her for a moment so that she could pray. As soon as they did, she leaped into the flames and was consumed, receiving a double crown of martyrdom and virginity. Because of the nature of her torments, she is sometimes depicted with a golden tooth hanging from a necklace, or holding a tooth in a pair of pincers. She is invoked by those suffering from toothache.
No information available at this time.