Daily Readings for Thursday, February 09, 2023



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


Brethren, if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we may be sure that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He who says "I know him" but disobeys his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps his word, in him truly love for God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him: he who says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

MARK 13:31-37: 14:1-2

The Lord said to his disciples, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Watch therefore — for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning — lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Watch.” It was now two days before the Passover and the feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth, and kill him; for they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be a tumult of the people.”

Leavetaking of the Meeting of our Lord in the Temple

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.

Martyr Nikephoros of Antioch, in Syria

The Holy Martyr Nikephoros (Nikēphóros) lived in the city of Syrian Antioch. In this city lived also the presbyter Sapricius, with whom Nikephoros 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 Nikephoros 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. Nikephoros 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, Nikephoros 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 Nikephoros urge Sapricius not to lose his reward through apostasy, since he already stood on the threshold of the heavenly Kingdom.

Saint Nikephoros 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 Nikephoros in his place. Thus did Saint Nikephoros inherit the Kingdom and receive a martyr’s crown.

Uncovering of the relics of Saint Innocent, Bishop of Irkutsk

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.

Venerable Pancratius of the Kiev Caves

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.

Venerable Nikēphóros of Vazheozersk

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.

Venerable Gennadius of Vazheozersk

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.

Hieromartyrs Marcellus, Bishop of Sicily, Philagrius, Bishop of Cyprus, and Pancratius, Bishop of Taoromina

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.

Venerable Shio Mgvime

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.

Virgin Martyr Apollonia

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.

Venerable Romanós of Cilicia

Saint Romanós was from the city of Rosón in Cilicia, but he spent his anchoritic life in strict fasting in a cave near Antioch during the V century. There, at the foot of a mountain, he built a small cell, in which he struggled as an ascetic. He wore heavy chains under his hair shirt, and for many years he did not light a fire in his cell.

Because of his most holy life, God granted him the grace of working miracles. Reports of his holiness attracted great crowds of the faithful to him, who asked for his blessing. The Saint healed several persons who suffered from grave illnesses, and through his prayers, many infertile women were able to give birth to healthy children.

The charisma1 of working miracles did not make him proud. Quite the contrary! The Saint often quoted the words of Saint Paul: "Therefore, let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall" (I Corinthians 10:12). He also said that it is no great thing to perform miracles, but rather to do works of righteousness and to keep God's commandments.

Thus, after leading a God-pleasing life, Saint Romanós reposed in peace. He is also commemorated on November 27.

Saint Romanós is one of many Saints whose intercession we seek for deliverance from childlessness and barreness. Some of the others are: Saint Stylianos (November 26), Saint Hypatios the Igoumen of Rufinianus in Chalcedon († March 31, 446), Saints Theodore and John (July 12).

1 χάρισματα = Extraordinary powers given to certain individuals by God, enabling them to serve the Church by the grace of the Holy Spirit.