New Calendar Orthodox Daily Digest for 2/28/2021

Fasting Guidelines

Sunday February 28, 2021
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Scripture Readings


Luke 24:12-35 (5th Matins Gospel)

But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened. Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him. And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?” Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?” And He said to them, “What things?” So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.” Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther. But they constrained Him, saying, “Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” And He went in to stay with them. Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight. And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread.


1 Corinthians 6:12-20 (Epistle)

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.


Luke 15:11-32 (Gospel)

Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry. Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’ But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’”

Saints and Feasts Celebrated Today

Sunday of the Prodigal Son
Sunday of the Prodigal Son The Sunday after the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee is the Sunday of the Prodigal Son. This parable of God’s forgiveness calls us to “come to ourselves” as did the prodigal son, to see ourselves as being “in a far country” far from the Father’s house, and to make the journey of return to God. We are given every assurance by the Master that our heavenly Father will receive us with joy and gladness. We must only “arise and go,” confessing our self-inflicted and sinful separation from that “home” where we truly belong (Luke 15:11-24).After the Polyeleion at Matins, we first hear the lenten hymn “By the Waters of Babylon.” It will be sung for the next two Sundays before Lent begins, and it serves to reinforce the theme of exile in today’s Gospel. Starting tomorrow, the weekday readings summarize the events of Holy Week. On Monday we read Saint Mark’s account of the Entry into Jerusalem. On Tuesday we read how Judas went to the chief priests and offered to betray the Lord. On the night before His death Christ tells His disciples that one of them will betray Him. He also predicts that they will desert Him, and that Peter will deny Him three times. On Wednesday the Gospel describes how Judas betrayed the Savior with a kiss. Thursday’s Gospel tells how Jesus was questioned by Pilate. On Friday we read the narrative of Christ’s crucifixion and death.

Venerable Basil the Confessor, companion of Venerable Procopius at Decapolis
Venerable Basil the Confessor, companion of Venerable Procopius at Decapolis Saint Basil the Confessor was a monk and suffered during the reign of the iconoclast emperor Leo the Isaurian (717-741). When a persecution started against those who venerated holy icons, Saint Basil and his companion Saint Procopius of Decapolis (February 27) were subjected to much torture and locked up in prison. Here both martyrs languished for a long while, until the death of the impious emperor. When the holy Confessors Basil and Procopius were set free along with other venerators of holy icons, they continued in their monastic struggles, instructing many in the Orthodox Faith and the virtuous life. Saint Basil died peacefully in the year 750.

Blessed Nicholas (Salos) of Pskov the Fool-For-Christ
Blessed Nicholas (Salos) of Pskov the Fool-For-Christ Blessed Nicholas of Pskov lived the life of a holy fool for more than three decades. Long before his death he acquired the grace of the Holy Spirit and was granted the gifts of wonderworking and of prophecy. The Pskov people of his time called him Mikula [Mikola, Nikola] the Fool. Even during his lifetime they revered him as a saint, even calling him Mikula the saintly. In February 1570, after a devastating campaign against Novgorod, Tsar Ivan the Terrible moved against Pskov, suspecting the inhabitants of treason. As the Pskov Chronicler relates, “the Tsar came … with great fierceness, like a roaring lion, to tear apart innocent people and to shed much blood.” On the first Saturday of Great Lent, the whole city prayed to be delivered from the Tsar’s wrath. Hearing the peal of the bell for Matins in Pskov, the Tsar’s heart was softened when he read the inscription on the fifteenth century wonderworking Liubyatov Tenderness Icon of the Mother of God (March 19) in the Monastery of Saint Nicholas (the Tsar’s army was at Lubyatov). “Be tender of heart,” he said to his soldiers. “Blunt your swords upon the stones, and let there be an end to killing.” All the inhabitants of Pskov came out upon the streets, and each family knelt at the gate of their house, bearing bread and salt to the meet the Tsar. On one of the streets Blessed Nicholas ran toward the Tsar astride a stick as though riding a horse, and cried out: “Ivanushko, Ivanushko, eat our bread and salt, and not Christian blood.” The Tsar gave orders to capture the holy fool, but he disappeared. Though he had forbidden his men to kill, Ivan still intended to sack the city. The Tsar attended a Molieben at the Trinity cathedral, and he venerated the relics of holy Prince Vsevolod-Gabriel (February 11), and expressed his wish to receive the blessing of the holy fool Nicholas. The saint instructed the Tsar “by many terrible sayings,” to stop the killing and not to plunder the holy churches of God. But Ivan did not heed him and gave orders to remove the bell from the Trinity cathedral. Then, as the saint prophesied, the Tsar’s finest horse fell dead. The blessed one invited the Tsar to visit his cell under the bell tower. When the Tsar arrived at the cell of the saint, he said, “Hush, come in and have a drink of water from us, there is no reason you should shun it.” Then the holy fool offered the Tsar a piece of raw meat. “I am a Christian and do not eat meat during Lent”, said Ivan to him. “But you drink human blood,” the saint replied. Frightened by the fulfillment of the saint’s prophecy and denounced for his wicked deeds, Ivan the Terrible ordered a stop to the looting and fled from the city. The Oprichniki, witnessing this, wrote: “The mighty tyrant … departed beaten and shamed, driven off as though by an enemy. Thus did a worthless beggar terrify and drive off the Tsar with his multitude of a thousand soldiers.” Blessed Nicholas died on February 28, 1576 and was buried in the Trinity cathedral of the city he had saved. Such honors were granted only to the Pskov princes, and later on, to bishops. The local veneration of the saint began five years after his death. In the year 1581, during a siege of Pskov by the soldiers of the Polish king Stephen Bathory, the Mother of God appeared to the blacksmith Dorotheus together with a number of Pskov saints praying for the city. Among these was Blessed Nicholas (the account about the Pskov-Protection Icon of the Mother of God is found under October 1). At the Trinity cathedral they still venerate the relics of Blessed Nicholas of Pskov, who was “a holy fool in the flesh, and by assuming this holy folly he became a citizen of the heavenly Jerusalem” (Troparion). He also “transformed the Tsar’s wild thoughts into mercy” (Kontakion).

Hieromartyr Proterius, Patriarch of Alexandria
Hieromartyr Proterius, Patriarch of Alexandria The Hieromartyr Proterius, Patriarch of Alexandria, and those with him. The priest Proterius lived in Alexandria during the patriarchal tenure of Dioscorus (444-451), an adherent of the Monophysite heresy of Eutyches. Proterius fearlessly denounced the heretics and confessed the Orthodox Faith. In 451 at the Fourth Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon, the heresy of Eutyches was condemned and the teaching of Christ as Perfect God and Perfect Man, existing in these two natures “unconfusedly” and “indivisibly” [and “immutably” and “inseparably”] was set forth. The heretic Dioscorus was deposed and exiled, and Proterius, distinguished for his strict and virtuous life, was placed upon the patriarchal throne of Alexandria. However, many supporters of Dioscorus remained in Alexandria. Rebelling against the election of Proterius, they rioted and burned the soldiers who were sent out to pacify them. The pious emperor Marcian (450-457) deprived the Alexandrians of all the privileges they were accustomed to, and sent new and reinforced detachments of soldiers. The inhabitants of the city then quieted down and begged Patriarch Proterius to intercede with the emperor to restore their former privileges to them. The kindly saint consented and readily obtained their request. After the death of Marcian the heretics again raised their heads. Presbyter Menignus (“the Cat”), himself striving for the patriarchal dignity, and taking advantage of the absence of the prefect of the city, was at the head of the rioters. Saint Proterius decided to leave Alexandria, but that night he saw in a dream the holy Prophet Isaiah, who said to him, “Return to the city, I am waiting to take you.” The saint realized that this was a prediction of his martyric end. He returned to Alexandria and concealed himself in a baptistry. The insolent heretics broke into this refuge and killed the Patriarch and six men who were with him. The fact that it was Holy Saturday and the Canon of Pascha was being sung did not stop them. In their insane hatred they tied a rope to the body of the murdered Patriarch, and dragged it through the streets. They beat and lacerated it, and finally they burned it, scattering the ashes to the wind. The Orthodox reported this to the holy Emperor Leo (457-474) and Saint Anatolius, Patriarch of Constantinople (July 3). An army arrived at Alexandria, the rebellion was crushed, and Menignus was brought to trial and exiled. Regarding the death of the Hieromartyr Proterius, four Thracian bishops of his time wrote: “We consider His Holiness Proterius to be in the ranks and choir of the saints, and we beseech God to be compassionate and merciful to us through his prayers.”

Hieromartyr Nestor, Bishop of Magydos in Pamphylia
Hieromartyr Nestor, Bishop of Magydos in Pamphylia The Hieromartyr Nestor, Bishop of Magydos in Pamphylia During a persecution against Christians under the emperor Decius (249-251), he was arrested while praying in his home. He learned of the suffering awaiting him through a peculiar vision. He saw a lamb prepared for sacrifice. The ruler of the city of Magydos sent him for trial to Perge. On the way there Saint Nestor was strengthened in spirit when he heard a Voice from Heaven, after which an earthquake occurred. After cruel tortures at Perge the hieromartyr was crucified in the year 250.

Venerable Marina and Kyra of Syria
Venerable Marina and Kyra of Syria Saints Marina (Marana) and Kyra (Cyra), sisters by birth, lived during the fourth century in the city of Veria (or Berea) in Syria. Their parents were illustrious and rich, but the sisters left home and departed the city when they had reached maturity. Having cleared off a small plot of land, the holy virgins sealed up the entrance to their refuge with rocks and clay, leaving only a narrow opening through which food was passed to them. Their little hut had no roof, and so they were exposed to the elements. On their bodies they wore heavy iron chains and patiently endured hunger. During a three year period, they ate food only once every forty days. Their former servants came to them, wanting to join their ascetic life. The saints put them in a separate hut next to their own enclosure and they spoke to them through a window, exhorting them to deeds of prayer and fasting. The life of the holy ascetics Marana and Kyra was described by Bishop Theodoret of Cyrrhus in his Religiosa Historica. Out of respect for his hierarchical dignity, the holy virgins allowed him into their dwelling. Theodoret conversed with them and persuaded them to remove the heavy chains they wore under their clothing. Kyra, who was weak in body, was always stooped under their weight and was unable to sit upright. Once he left, however, they resumed wearing the chains. So they lived in asceticism for forty years. They disturbed their solitude only to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to pray at the Sepulchre of the Lord. During their journey (which took twenty days) they ate no food until they had prayed at the Holy Places. On the way back, they also went without eating. They did the same thing at another time, when they journeyed to the grave of the Protomartyr Thekla (September 24) at Seleucia, Isauria. Saints Marana and Kyra died in about the year 450. Their ascetical life equaled that of the great male ascetics of the desert, and they received the same crown of victory from Christ the Savior.

Venerable John Cassian the Roman
Venerable John Cassian the Roman Saint John Cassian the Roman was born around 360, probably in Lesser Scythia (in Dacia Pontica). His pious Christian parents gave him an excellent classical education, and also instructed him in the Holy Scriptures and in the spiritual life. Saint John entered a monastery in the diocese of Tomis, where his friend and relative Saint Germanus labored as an ascetic. In 380, desiring to venerate the Holy Places, Saint John went to Jerusalem with his sister and his friend Saint Germanus. The two monks stayed at a Bethlehem monastery, not far from where the Savior was born. After five years at the monastery, Saints John and Germanus traveled through the Thebaid and the desert monasteries of Sketis for seven years, drawing upon the spiritual experience of countless ascetics. The Egyptian monks taught them many useful things about spiritual struggles, prayer, and humility. Like honeybees they journeyed from place to place, gathering the sweet nectar of spiritual wisdom. The notes Saint John made formed the basis of his book called CONFERENCES WITH THE FATHERS in twenty-four chapters.Returning to Bethlehem for a brief time, the spiritual brothers lived for three years in complete solitude. Then they went back to Egypt and lived there until 399. Because of the disturbances caused by Archbishop Theophilus of Alexandria to the monasteries along the Nile, they decided to go to Constantinople, after hearing of the virtue and holiness of Saint John Chrysostom. The great hierarch ordained Saint John Cassian as a deacon and accepted him as a disciple. John and Germanus remained with Saint John Chrysostom for five years, learning many profitable things from him. When Chrysostom was exiled from Constantinople in 404, Saints John Cassian and Germanus went to Rome to plead his case before Innocent I. Cassian was ordained to the holy priesthood in Rome, or perhaps later in Gaul. After Chrysostom’s death in 407, Saint John Cassian went to Massilia [Marseilles] in Gaul (now France). There he established two cenobitic monasteries in 415, one for men and another for women, based on the model of Eastern monasticism. At the request of Bishop Castor of Aptia Julia (in southern Gaul), Cassian wrote THE INSTITUTES OF CENOBITIC LIFE (De Institutis Coenobiorum) in twelve books, describing the life of the Palestinian and Egyptian monks. Written between 417-419, the volume included four books describing the clothing of the monks of Palestine and Egypt, their schedule of prayer and services, and how new monks were received into the monasteries.The last eight books were devoted to the eight deadly sins and how to overcome them. Through his writings, Saint John Cassian provided Christians of the West with examples of cenobitic monasteries, and acquainted them with the asceticism of the Orthodox East. Cassian speaks as a spiritual guide about the purpose of life, about attaining discernment, about renunciation of the world, about the passions of the flesh and spirit, about the hardships faced by the righteous, and about prayer. Saint John Cassian also wrote CONFERENCES WITH THE FATHERS (Collationes Patrum) in twenty-four books in the form of conversations about the perfection of love, about purity, about God’s help, about understanding Scripture, about the gifts of God, about friendship, about the use of language, about the four levels of monasticism, about the solitary life and cenobitic life, about repentance, about fasting, about nightly meditations, and about spiritual mortification. This last has the explanatory title “I do what I do not want to do.” Books 1-10 of the CONFERENCES describe Saint John’s conversations with the Fathers of Sketis between 393-399. Books 11-17 relate conversations with the Fathers of Panephysis, and the last seven books are devoted to conversations with monks from the region of Diolkos.In 431 Saint John Cassian wrote his final work, ON THE INCARNATION OF THE LORD, AGAINST NESTORIUS (De Incarnationem Domini Contra Nestorium). In seven books he opposed the heresy, citing many Eastern and Western teachers to support his arguments. In his works, Saint John Cassian was grounded in the spiritual experience of the ascetics, and criticized the abstract reasoning of Saint Augustine (June 15). Saint John said that “grace is defended less adequately by pompous words and loquacious contention, dialectic syllogisms and the eloquence of Cicero (i.e. Augustine), than by the example of the Egyptian ascetics.” In the words of Saint John of the Ladder (March 30), “great Cassian reasons loftily and excellently.” His writings are also praised in the Rule of Saint Benedict. Saint John Cassian lived in the West for many years, but his spiritual homeland was the Orthodox East. He fell asleep in the Lord in the year 435. His holy relics rest in an underground chapel in the Monastery of Saint Victor in Marseilles. His head and right hand are in the main church.

Venerable John-Barsanuphius, Bishop of Damascus
Venerable John-Barsanuphius, Bishop of Damascus Saint John, called Barsanuphius, was a native of Palestine. He was baptized when he was eighteen years old, and later became a monk. Because of his ascetic life, Saint John was consecrated Archbishop of Damascus. Because of his love for the solitary life, Saint John gave up his position as hierarch and secretly withdrew to Alexandria, calling himself Barsanuphius. Then he went into the Nitrian desert, arrived at a monastery, and begged the igumen to accept him into the monastery to serve the Elders. He conscientiously fulfilled this obedience by day, and spent his nights in prayer. Theodore of Nitria saw the monk, and knew that he was a bishop. Saint John concealed himself again and withdrew into Egypt, where he lived in asceticism until the end of his days.

Saint Germanus of Dacia Pontica (Dobrogea)
Saint Germanus of Dacia Pontica (Dobrogea) Saint Germanus the Daco-Roman was born in the mid-fourth century, probably on the borders of Cassian and the Caves in the diocese of Tomis (in what is now Romania), and was related to Saint John Cassian (February 29). Saint Germanus, who was older than Saint John, was tonsured at one of the local monasteries when he was still a young man. The holy bishop Saint Theotimus I (April 20) may have been his Spiritual Father.In turn, Saint Germanus became the Spiritual Father, friend, and teacher of Saint John Cassian, instructing him in monastic perfection. They both lived at one of the monasteries of Dacia Pontica for a short time, and then worked together in Bethlehem from 380-385. Later, they traveled to Egypt and visited some of its cenobitic monasteries. They also visited the hermits of Nitria and Mount Sinai, seeking to benefit from their holy example and wise counsel. Saints Germanus and John went to Constantinople in 399 in order to be near Saint John Chrysostom (November 13), and around this time Germanus was deemed worthy of ordination to the holy priesthood. When Chrysostom was deposed and exiled in 404, the two saints journeyed to Rome in order to plead his case before Pope Innocent I. Saint Germanus completed the course of his life in the early fifth century, perhaps at the monastery estabished by Saint John Cassian at Marseilles, or in one of the monasteries of Dacia Pontica. The inscription on the saint’s scroll is an abbreviated quotation from Psalm 17/18:1. It reads: The Lord is my strength and deliverer.

Venerable Domnica (Domnina) of Syria
Saint Domnica (Domnina) was a Syrian nun, and a companion of Saints Marana and Kyra.

Heiromartyr Theokteristus
The Holy Martyr Theokteristus, Igumen of the Pelekete monastery, suffered for the holy icons under the impious emperor Constantine Copronymos (741-775). Also subjected to tortures were Saint Stephen the New (November 28), and other pious monks. Saint Theokteristus was burned with boiling tar. The holy martyr was a spiritual writer, and composed a Canon to the Mother of God “Sustainer in Many Misfortunes.”

Saint Leo of Cappadocia
Saint Leo of Cappadocia fulfilled the commandment to love his neighbor by suggesting to the Saracens, who had captured three sickly monks, that he take the place of these infirm captives with himself, since he was healthy and able to work. While journeying in the desert, Saint Leo weakened and was not able to go any farther. He was beheaded with the sword, thereby laying down his life for his neighbor.

Saint Meletius, Archbishop of Khar’kov and Akhtyrsk
The name of Meletios Leontovich, Archbishop of Khar’kov and Akhtyrsk, who reposed righteously on February 29, 1840 was deeply respected and honored by his former flock. The residents of Khar’kov faithfully visit his grave in the Cave Church of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos Monastery. Here Memorial Services are offered for his soul, and at the same time, they ask for his prayers for themselves and their relatives. The memory of his saintly life, his love for the poor, and his meekness, still live among his contemporaries who call him “The Unmercenary Vladika.” There are many stories about the meek way he governed his diocese. The Most Reverend Meletios (Michael, in the world)1 was a teacher of the Greek language in 1814. He was transferred to the (Mogilev) Seminary in Kiev in 1817 as its director, and later became rector of the Kiev Academy. In 1826, he was consecrated as vicar bishop of the Metropolitan of Kiev, and then transferred to Irkutsk in Siberia. He came to Kharkov in 1835, the diocese which he governed for 5 and one half years. We have the following narrative by a parish priest, concerning Vladika’s all night prayer and abstinence. While visiting parishes of his Diocese, the Archbishop stopped for the night in the village of Preobrazhensk, in the Zmievsk region. The local priest, in whose house he was to stay, wanted to do his best for the comfort of his important guest. He prepared a room, furnishing it with rugs and soft furniture for the Archbishop’s rest. After the usual welcome and evening service, His Eminence retired to the room which had been prepared for him. As it later turned out, however, he was not concerned about rest for his body, but for the benefit of the soul, which finds rest in prayer and conversation with God. It happened that the door of the room had a small opening in it, so that by the light of the lampada, the priest who occupied the next room was able to see everything that happened in the Archbishop’s room. Unable to sleep, the priest heard a muffled noise in the next room and, with all possible caution, walked over to the opening in the door and looked. He saw the Archbishop clothed in just a cassock, with his head uncovered, kneeling and fervently praying with his hands raised. After watching him for a long time, the priest finally went to lie down, but some sort of fear would not allow him to go to sleep. After a while, he went to the door again and saw the same thing. The Archbishop’s prayerful conversation with God continued for almost the whole night. Only toward morning did the man of prayer remove his cassock and roll it up to use as a pillow. He lay on the floor and fell asleep, mussing the bedclothes somewhat to make it appear that he had slept in the bed all night. When the priest awoke at dawn, he rushed to the door again and saw the Archbishop at prayer, just as before. His Father Confessor, Father Sergius, always remembered Vladika’s humility and purity of heart. According to his words, the Archbishop’s Confession was most touching, detailed, and sincere. Like many children, he regarded his smallest sins as very grave, and humbly repented of them. He confessed every month, and each Confession lasted for a long time. The Archbishop gave an account of all his deeds, and of his most secret thoughts. He would always weep after Confession, when he knelt and received absolution. After this Mystery, his face always shone with unearthly joy. Once, the Father Confessor was touched by Vladika’s great humility, and told him so. “Do you think it is easy to acquire this inner humility?” Archbishop Meletios asked with a meek smile. In his relationships with everyone, the Archbishop was most welcoming and cordial. His conversations were absorbing, and brought untold pleasure to his listeners. Everyone, the wealthy dignitary, the poor clerk, the wretched widow, all received the same welcome from him. To the rich he spoke mostly about the incorruptible treasures of everlasting life, and of the perishable nature of earthly treasures. He advised them to exchange worldly goods for the eternal good things. He comforted the poor worker with the promise of a heavenly reward for his labors. He told the widow that God Himself is the Father of orphans and widows. While comforting everyone with his words, he also extended his hand to the needy with material help. He used up all his income for this purpose. Vladika himself lived in utter want, even though he appeared before his visitors in garb suited to his rank, usually in something purple (his favorite color). After his death, only eight rubles in paper money and change was found. Once, during the Divine Liturgy, a young man, who was inclined to piety, was amazed by Archbishop Meletios’s reverence and prayerful spirit as he offered the Bloodless Sacrifice. Mentally, he recognized him as a righteous man, and thought to himself: “How fortunate those people who serve such a man must be.” At the end of the Holy Liturgy a monk came up to the young man and asked him to come with him, as the Archbishop had ordered. Amazed, he obeyed. The monk took him to Vladika’s reception room, and then left. Soon Archbishop Meletios himself entered. Vladika warmly greeted the confused young man with great love and questioned him in detail. Suddenly, he asked him to become his cell attendant. Shocked by Vladika’s clairvoyance, the young man fell at his feet and readily accepted the offer. Afterward, by his way of life, he fully proved the correctness of Vladika’s choice, and later still, when he was a monk, he remembered this decisive event in his life with much tenderness. During his last illness, Archbishop Meletios was so weak that he was unable to stand up to pray, so he performed his Rule of prayer while sitting on his bed, supported on all sides by pillows. Three days before his death, while seated in this position, Archbishop Meletios ordered his cell attendant to lie down in the same room with him, something he had never done before. The cell attendant himself said later that he felt some sort of fear, and was unable to fall asleep. Noticing this, Vladika told him to cover himself with his (the Archbishop’s) rasson, saying, “Now you will not be afraid, and perhaps you will soon fall asleep.” Instantly, the cell attendant fell asleep. While asleep, he had a vision foretelling the Archbishop’s death. When the vision ended, the attendant’s whole body shook, and he woke up. Before him he saw the Archbishop lying on his back, with his eyes raised up toward Heaven. His face shone with an unearthly radiance. Archbishop Meletios called the now awakened cell attendant to him and said in a quiet voice that he would die in three days, asking him not to say anything about this to anyone. The repose of Archbishop Meletios took place exactly three days later, on February 29, 1840, soon after he received the Holy Mysteries, and his departure was most peaceful and calm. His much-laboring body rested in the church so the faithful could give him the last kiss, until the Bishop of Kursk could get there for the funeral. At this time, according to the testimony of his Father Confessor Father Sergius, Vladika’s body was so soft that, when he came to wash him with rose water, he found it flexible. Noticing that the omophorion had been pushed to one side, Father Sergius bowed to the Archbishop as if he were still alive, then lifted the body and sat it down. After rearranging the omophorion, he laid the body down again, to the great amazement of those who were present. Archbishop Meletios’s body is buried in a crypt located under the lower church of the Protection Monastery. Now, in that section, there is a church dedicated to the Three Hierarchs (January 30), where Memorial Services were being conducted for the Archbishop’s soul, as requested by pilgrims. Above the coffin there is an icon with a lampada before it. Now the peace is broken only rarely, by the footsteps of a pilgrim. Saint Meletios of Khar’kov is also commemorated on February 12 (his Name Day). 1 He was born on November 6, 1784 in the Ekaterinoslav region, and received the name Michael in Holy Baptism. His father died when the child was quite young.

Devpeteruv Icon of the Mother of God
This Icon appeared on February 29, 1392. One of the oldest shrines of the Devpeteruv (Девпетерувская) Icon of the Mother of God is now located in the Nikolaev church of the village of Batyushkova, or Batatkova, Dmitrovsky district of Moscow Province. In this image, the child Jesus is shown resting on the Virgin’s right shoulder; His left hand is on His Mother’s left shoulder, and her right hand is on His right shoulder. In Tambov’s Transfiguration Cathedral, above the tomb of St. Pitirim (July 28), there is another list of the miracles of the Devpeteruv Icon of the Mother of God. This image once belonged to St. Pitirim, and before it, he offered his fervent prayers to the Lord God. The Icon became especially famous in 1833 after a miracle took place. A certain woman, whose husband was falsely accused of a crime and sent to prison, once saw an Elder whom she did not know in a dream. This Elder ordered her to search the cathedral for the Icon from St. Pitirim’s cell, and to have a Moleben served before it. He also showed her the Icon itself. The woman found the Saint’s Icon and asked for a Moleben to be served before it. Shortly afterward, her husband was acquitted and released from prison.

Today’s Hymns

Sunday of the Prodigal Son – Troparion & Kontakion
Kontakion — Tone 3
I have recklessly forgotten Your glory, O Father;
and among sinners I have scattered the riches which You had given me.
Therefore, I cry to You like the Prodigal:
‘I have sinned before You, O compassionate Father;
receive me a penitent and make me as one of Your hired servants.’

Venerable Basil the Confessor, companion of Venerable Procopius at Decapolis – Troparion & Kontakion
Troparion — Tone 1
Dweller of the desert and angel in the body,
you were shown to be a wonder-worker, our God-bearing Father Basil.
You received heavenly gifts through fasting, vigil, and prayer:
Healing the sick and the souls of those drawn to you by faith.
Glory to Him who gave you strength!
Glory to Him who granted you a crown!
Glory to Him who through you grants healing to all!
Kontakion — Tone 2
You received a revelation of God from on high, O wise one,
and withdrew from the midst of the world’s tumult.
You lived the monastic life with honor,
receiving the power to work miracles and heal diseases by grace,
most blessed and holy Basil.

Hieromartyr Proterius, Patriarch of Alexandria – Troparion & Kontakion
Troparion — Tone 4
By sharing in the ways of the Apostles,
you became a successor to their throne.
Through the practice of virtue, you found the way to divine contemplation, O inspired one of God;
by teaching the word of truth without error, you defended the Faith,
even to the shedding of your blood.
Hieromartyr Proterius, entreat Christ God to save our souls.

Hieromartyr Nestor, Bishop of Magydos in Pamphylia – Troparion & Kontakion
Troparion — Tone 4
By sharing in the ways of the Apostles,
you became a successor to their throne.
Through the practice of virtue, you found the way to divine contemplation, O inspired one of God;
by teaching the word of truth without error, you defended the Faith,
even to the shedding of your blood.
Hieromartyr Nestor, entreat Christ God to save our souls.

Venerable Marina and Kyra of Syria – Troparion & Kontakion
Troparion — Tone 8
By a flood of tears you made the desert fertile,
and your longing for God brought forth fruits in abundance.
By the radiance of miracles you illumined the whole universe!
O our holy mothers Marina and Kyra, pray to Christ our God to save our souls!

Venerable Domnica (Domnina) of Syria – Troparion & Kontakion
Troparion — Tone 8
By a flood of tears you made the desert fertile,
and your longing for God brought forth fruits in abundance.
By the radiance of miracles you illumined the whole universe!
O our holy mother Domnica, pray to Christ our God to save our souls!

Venerable John Cassian the Roman – Troparion & Kontakion
Troparion — Tone 8
Having cleansed yourself through fasting,
you attained the understanding of wisdom,
and from the desert fathers You learned the restraint of the passions.
To this end through your prayers grant our flesh obedience to the spirit.
For you are the teacher, O venerable John Cassian,
of all who in Christ praise your memory.
Troparion — Tone 8
The image of God was truly preserved in you, O Father,
for you took up the Cross and followed Christ.
By so doing you taught us to disregard the flesh for it passes away
but to care instead for the soul, since it is immortal.
Therefore your spirit, venerable John Cassian, rejoices with the angels.
Kontakion — Tone 4
As a venerable monk,
you consecrated your life to God,
and radiant with virtue, O John Cassian,
you shine like the sun with the splendor of your divine teachings,
illumining ever the hearts of all who honor you.
Entreat Christ earnestly in behalf of those
who praise you with fervent love.

Venerable John-Barsanuphius, Bishop of Damascus – Troparion & Kontakion
Troparion — Tone 8
By a flood of tears you made the desert fertile,
and your longing for God brought forth fruits in abundance.
By the radiance of miracles you illumined the whole universe!
O our holy father John, pray to Christ our God to save our souls!

Heiromartyr Theokteristus – Troparion & Kontakion
Troparion — Tone 4
By sharing in the ways of the Apostles,
you became a successor to their throne.
Through the practice of virtue, you found the way to divine contemplation, O inspired one of God;
by teaching the word of truth without error, you defended the Faith,
even to the shedding of your blood.
Hieromartyr Theokteristus, entreat Christ God to save our souls.

Saint Meletius, Archbishop of Khar’kov and Akhtyrsk – Troparion & Kontakion
Troparion — Tone 4
In truth you were revealed to your flock as a rule of faith,
an image of humility and a teacher of abstinence;
your humility exalted you;
your poverty enriched you.
Hierarch Father Meletius,
entreat Christ our God
that our souls may be saved.

Saint Germanus of Dacia Pontica (Dobrogea) – Troparion & Kontakion
Troparion — Tone 8
By a flood of tears you made the desert fertile,
and your longing for God brought forth fruits in abundance.
By the radiance of miracles you illumined the whole universe!
O our holy father Germanus, pray to Christ our God to save our souls!


Readings and Feast Day Information provided by The Orthodox Church in America (OCA).

Fasting guidelines provided by The Greek American Orthodox Archdiocese (GOARCH).

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