Daily Readings for Wednesday, December 14, 2022



Martyrs Thyrsus, Leucius, and Callinicus of Asia Minor, and Philemon, Apollonius, and Arian of Alexandria


Timothy, my son, do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor participate in another man’s sins; keep yourself pure. No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments. The sins of some men are conspicuous, pointing to judgment, but the sins of others appear later. So also good deeds are conspicuous; and even when they are not, they cannot remain hidden. Let all who are under the yoke of slavery regard their masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be defamed. Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brethren; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their service are believers and beloved. Teach and urge these duties. If any one teaches otherwise and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching which accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit, he knows nothing; he has a morbid craving for controversy and for disputes about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, base suspicions, and wrangling among men who are depraved in mind and bereft of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. There is great gain in godliness with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world; but if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs. But as for you, man of God, shun all this.

MARK 8:30-34

At that time, Jesus charged his disciples to tell no one about him, that he is the Christ. And he began to teach them that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter, and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not on the side of God, but of men.” And he called to him the multitude with his disciples, and said to them, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

Martyrs Thyrsos, Leukios, and Kallinikos

The Holy Martyrs Thyrsos, Leukios, and Kallinikos, suffered for Christ under Emperor Decius (249-251) at Caesarea in Bithynίa. When Saint Leukios reproached the prefect Cumbricius for his unjust persecution of Christians, he was tortured and then executed.

Saint Thyrsos, who was still a catechumen, was nonetheless eager for martyrdom. He was sentenced to cruel tortures after refusing to offer sacrifice to the idols. Citing the words of the Prophet Jeremiah (2:27), he ridiculed those who worshiped idols made of wood and stone.

The Saint’s arms and legs were pulled out of their sockets, his eyes were plucked out, and his teeth were smashed with a hammer. He was taken to a heathen temple, where, by his prayers, he toppled a statue of Apollo. Cumbricius was outraged by this, and he ordered even greater torments be devised for the athlete of Christ. Saint Thyrsos endured them all, then died after making the Sign of the Cross. The pagan priest Kallinikos, after witnessing the bravery of Saint Thyrsos and the miracle he performed, believed in Christ and boldly confessed the true Faith, for which he was beheaded.

Martyrs Philḗmon, Apollonios, Arrian, and Theonas of Alexandria

These Saints lived during the reign of Emperor Diocletian (ca. 290). Arrian, the ruler of Thebes in Egypt, arrested 37 Christians, including Saints Askalon and Leonidas (May 20). Arrian gave them the choice of sacrificing to the idols, or being tortured and executed. Most preferred to die rather than deny Christ. One of them, the Reader Apollonios, was afraid of being tortured, so his gave his clothes and four gold coins to a pagan musician named Philḗmon to offer sacrifice to the idols in his place. Philḗmon wore Apolonnios' clothes and covered his face. As he approached the altar, his heart was illumined with divine grace, and the eyes of his mind were opened. He made the Sign of the Cross and confessed Christ.

The ruler asked what this meant, and Philḗmon cried aloud, "I am a Christian, and the servant of Christ."

Then Arrian sent for Philḗmon to come and play his flute, in order to calm "Apollonios" so that he would be more inclined to worship idols. Arrian's servants could not find Philḗmon, so instead they brought his brother Theonas. Recognizing his disguised brother, Theonas laughed and said, "Philḗmon stands before you."

Arrian ordered Philḗmon's face to be uncovered, then told him to take off Apollonios' garments and to offer sacrifice with him. Instead, Philḗmon ridiculed the pagan "gods." He said that he had truly become a Christian, although he had not been baptized. Philḗmon prayed fervently, and suddenly a heavy rain fell, which was a Baptism for him.

Since it was Apollonios who caused Philḗmon to believe, Arrian brought him before him as well, and this time he confessed Christ. As a result, Arrian tortured them cruelly, and then beheaded them.

Immediately, Arrian was stricken with blindness. Saint Philḗmon appeared to him in a dream and told him to smear some dirt from his grave on his eyes, and he would be cured. That is exactly what happened. Then Arrian and his four bodyguards believed in Christ, and later they were all martyred together circa 305.

Saint Hilarion, Metropolitan of Suzdal and Yuriev

Saint Hilarion, Metropolitan of Suzdal and Yuriev (in the world John), was born November 13, 1631 into the family of the lower city priest Ananias. His father, famed for his piety and reading, was one of three candidates for the Patriarchal throne, together with the future Patriarch Nikon (1652-1658).

John entered a monastery in 1653. In 1655, he became founder and builder of the Phlorischev wilderness monastery not far from the city of Gorokhovetsa. In his monastic struggles, the saint wrestled with fleshly passions. When he fell down in exhaustion before the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God beseeching Her help, the Mother of God shielded him with gracious power and calmed his spirit.

Once, when Saint Hilarion was serving Vespers together with a hierodeacon, robbers burst into the church. They killed the deacon and started to set Saint Hilarion on fire, asking him where the monastery treasure was hid. They did not believe that there was no gold in the monastery. Overcome by the pain, Saint Hilarion turned to the wonderworking icon and said, “O All-Pure Virgin Mary, Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ! If they injure me with the fire, I shall no longer have the ability to glorify Thy Son and Thee.” Suddenly the robbers heard the shouts of people searching for them, and they fled.

Another time, Saint Hilarion in passing by the church heard a voice: “I shall glorify thee throughout all the land.” He trembled, and going into the vestibule, he found no people there. On the portico he found only the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God. The ascetic fell down before the image with tears and confessed his unworthiness.

Later on, when the saint had begun the construction of a stone church, he was very sad that concerns about the construction and disagreements among the workers were distracting him from prayer. While serving in church with the brethren, he was preoccupied by these thoughts and began to regret undertaking the work. With tears he besought the Mother of God not to abandon him and to deliver him from these worries.

When he finished his prayer, Saint Hilarion remained alone in church and began again to think about the construction. And so he fell asleep. In a dream the Mother of God appeared to him and said, “Transfer My icon, named the Vladimir, from this hot church and put it in the newly-built stone church, and I shall be your Helper there”.

Saint Hilarion awoke and ordered the large bell to be rung. The monks immediately assembled. All went to the hot church and, having prayed before the icon, solemnly transferred it from the portico into the temple. After serving the all night Vigil, Divine Liturgy and a Molieben, the saint told the brethren of his vision. Then in procession they transferred the icon to the church under construction, where they set it in the midst of the woods. From that time the construction went successfully and was soon completed. The saint wanted to dedicate the temple in honor of the icon, but he it was revealed to him in a vision that the temple was to be consecrated in honor of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos.

In the wilderness monastery he maintained a very strict community rule. In 1694, the saint sent a letter to the Phlorischev monastery in which he reminisced about his own monastic Rule at this monastery: “Under me, a sinner, no one possessed anything of his own, but all was shared in common. Many of you may remember that former cenobitic community. And you also remember that I consigned to the fire those possessions which would destroy that cenobitic community.”

On December 11, 1681, the saint was consecrated as Archbishop of Suzdal and Yuriev, and in 1682 he was elevated to the dignity of Metropolitan and remained on the Suzda’ cathedra until February 1705. The saint died peacefully on December 14, 1707 and was buried in the Suzdal cathedral in honor of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos. The saint was known for his unceasing concern for the poor. After his death they found only three coins.

The wonderworking Icon of the Mother of God of Vladimir-Phlorischev (August 26) had been painted by the renowned iconographer John Chirov in 1464 at Nizhni Novgorod in fulfillment of a vow of John Vetoshnikov.