Old Calendar Orthodox Daily Digest for 3/20/2021

Fasting Guidelines

First Saturday of the Great Lent. Tone seven.
Great Lent. Food with Oil

Scripture Readings

Hebrews 1:1-12
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For to which of the angels did He ever say: “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You”? And again: “I will be to Him a Father, And He shall be to Me a Son”? But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: “Let all the angels of God worship Him.” And of the angels He says: “Who makes His angels spirits And His ministers a flame of fire.” But to the Son He says: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.” And: “You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain; And they will all grow old like a garment; Like a cloak You will fold them up, And they will be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will not fail.”

2 Timothy 2:1-10 (St. Theodore)
You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops. Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things. Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

Mark 2:23 – 3:5
Now it happened that He went through the grainfields on the Sabbath; and as they went His disciples began to pluck the heads of grain. And the Pharisees said to Him, “Look, why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” But He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and hungry, he and those with him: how he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the showbread, which is not lawful to eat except for the priests, and also gave some to those who were with him? And He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath. And He entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand. So they watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. And He said to the man who had the withered hand, “Step forward.” Then He said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they kept silent. And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other.

John 15:17-16:2 (St. Theodore)
These things I command you, that you love one another. If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’ But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning. These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service.

Saints and Feasts Celebrated Today

Great Martyr Theodore Tyro (306) ( movable holiday on Saturday of the 1st week of the Great Lent ).
Great Martyr  Theodore  Tyro (306) ( movable holiday on Saturday of the 1st week of the Great Lent ). The Holy Martyr Theodore of Tyre was a soldier in the city of Alasium of the Pontine district (northeast province of Asia Minor, stretching alongside the coast of the Pontus Euxine, i.e. the Black Sea), under the command of a certain Brincus. They commanded him to offer sacrifice to idols. Saint Theodore firmly and in a loud voice confessed his faith in Christ the Saviour. The commander gave him several days to think it over, during which time Saint Theodore prayed intensely. They charged him with setting afire a pagan temple and threw him into prison for death by starvation. The Lord Jesus Christ appeared to him there, comforting and encouraging him. Brought again to the governor, Saint Theodore yet once more boldly and fearlessly confessed his faith, for which he was subjected to new torments and condemned to burning. The martyr Theodore without hesitation climbed onto the bon-fire and with prayer and laudation gave up his holy soul to God. This occurred in about the year 306 under the Roman emperor Gallerius (305-311). Unharmed by the fire, the body of Saint Theodore was buried in the city of Eukhaitakheia, not far from Amasium. His relics were afterwards transferred to Tsar’grad, to a church dedicated to his name. His head is situated in Italy, in the city of Gaeto. Later on, 50 years after the martyr’s death of Saint Theodore, the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363), wanting to commit an outrage upon the christians, commanded the city-commander of Constantinople during the first week of Great Lent to sprinkle all the food provisions in the market-places with the blood of idol-sacrifices. Saint Theodore, having appeared in a dream to archbishop Eudoxios, ordered him to inform all the christians, , that no one should buy anything at the market-places, but rather to eat cooked wheat with honey , kolivo ( kut’ya or sochivo). In memory of this occurrence the Orthodox Church annually makes celebration of the holy GreatMartyr Theodore of Tyre on Saturday of the first week of Great Lent. On the eve of Saturday, on Friday, in the Divine Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts after the amvon prayer there is read the molieben-kanon to the holy GreatMartyr Theodore, compiled by the monk John Damascene. After this, kolivo is blessed and distributed to the faithful. The celebration to the GreatMartyr Theodore on Saturday of the first week of Great Lent was set by the Patriarch of Constantinople Nektarios (381-397).

The Holy Hieromartyrs of Cherson: Basil , Ephraim , Capito , Eugene , Aetherius , Elpidius , and Agathodorus (4th c.).
The Holy Hieromartyrs of Cherson:  Basil ,  Ephraim ,  Capito ,  Eugene ,  Aetherius ,  Elpidius , and  Agathodorus  (4th c.). The Holy PriestMartyrs Basil, Ephrem, Eugene, Elpidias, Agathodoros, Etherias and Kapiton carried the evangelium (Good News) of Christ into the North Black Sea region from the Danube (Dunaj) to the Dniepr, including the Crimea, and they sealed their apostolic activity with a martyr’s death during the IV Century in the city of Tauridian Chersonessus. Long before the Baptism of Rus’ under Saint Vladimir, the Christian faith had already spread into the Crimea, which in antiquity was called Tauridia and was ruled by the Roman emperor. The beginning of the enlightenment of Tauridia is attributed to the holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called (+ 62, Comm. 30 November). Its very enemies even contributed to the further spread of Christianity, and contrary to their intent: the Roman emperors banished to this area transgressors against the state, , which Christianity and the confessors of Christ were considered to be during the first three centuries. Thus, during the reign of Trajan (98-117) Saint Clement, Bishop of Rome (+ 101, Comm. 25 November), was exiled for imprisonment to the Inkermann stone-quarry. There he continued with his preaching, and there also he accepted a martyr’s end. The pagans inhabiting the Crimean land stubbornly resisted the spread of Christianity. But the faith of Christ, through its self-denying preachers, grew strong and was affirmed. Many an evangeliser gave his life for this struggle. At the beginning of the IV Century a bishop’s cathedra (presiding-chair) was established at Chersonnesus. This was a critical period, when Chersonnesus served as a base for the Roman armies, which constantly passed through in their dependence upon Byzantium. During the reign of Diocletian (284-305), in the year 300 (that is, still before the persecution which the emperor started in the year 303), , the Jerusalem Patriarch Hermonos (303-313) dispatched many bishops for preaching the Gospel in various lands. Two of them, Ephrem and Basil, arrived in Chersonnesus and planted there the Word of God. Later on, Saint Ephrem went to the peoples living along the Danube, where he underwent many tribulations and sorrows. At the time of the start of the persecution he was beheaded (exactly known is only the day of his death , 7 March). The preaching at Chersonnesus was continued by Saint Basil, the companion of Saint Ephrem. He set many idol-worshippers onto the pathway of truth. Other wayward inhabitants of the city, enraged at his activity, showed wrathful resistance: the saint was arrested, mercilessly beaten and thrown out of the city. Having withdrawn to a mountain and settling in a cave, he incessantly prayed God for those that expelled him, that He might illumine them with the light of true Divine-knowledge. And the Lord sent the unbelieving a miracle. The only son of an important citizen of Chersonnesus died. The dead one appeared to his parents in a dream and said, that a certain man named Basil by his prayers to the True God could resurrect him from the dead. When the parents had searched out the saint and besought him to work the miracle, Saint Basil answered, that he himself , was a sinful man and had not the power to resuscitate the dead, but the Lord Almighty could fulfill their request if they were to believe in Him. For a long time the saint prayed, invoking the Name of the Holy Trinity. Then, having blessed water, he sprinkled it on the dead one, who then came alive. The saint returned to the city with honour, and many believed and were baptised. Soon, by order of the emperor Maximian Galerius (305-311), the persecution against Christians spread with renewed force. The Christ-haters rose up also against Saint Basil: on 7 March 309 he was dragged at night from his house; they tied him up, dragged him along the streets and beat him to death with stones and canes. The body of the saint was thrown out of the city for devouring by dogs and birds, and for many days it was left unburied, but remained untouched. Then Christians secretly buried the body of the holy martyr in a cave. A year later, having learned of the martyr’s death of Saint Basil, three of his companions , Bishops Eugene (Eugenios), Elpidias and Agathodoros , left off their preaching in the Hellespontine region, and arrived at Chersonnesus to continue his holy work. They underwent many hardships for the salvation of human souls. All three bishops shared the fate of their predecessor , demon-driven pagans likewise stoned them on 7 March 311. After the passing of several years, a time already during the reign of holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Constantine the Great (306-337, Comm. 21 May), Bishop Etherias arrived in Chersonnesus from Jerusalem. At first he also encountered hostility on the part of the pagans, but the holy emperor in declaring freedom for the Christian faith would not tolerate acts of violence against the preacher: he issued a decree, by which it was declared that at Chersonnesus the Christians should be able to make Divine-services without hindrance. Through the efforts of Saint Etherias a church was built in the city, where the saint peacefully governed his flock. To thank the emperor for protecting the Christians, Saint Etherias journeyed to Constantinople. On the return trip he fell ill and died on the island of Amos (in Greece) on 7 March. In place of Saint Etherias, the holy emperor Constantine sent to Chersonnesus Bishop Kapiton. The Christians met him with joy, but the pagans demanded from the new bishop a sign, so as to believe in the God Whom he preached. Placing all his hope on the Lord, Saint Kapiton in clergy garb went into a red-hot bonfire, and for a long while he prayed in the fire and emerged from it unharmed, gathering up in his phelonion the red-hot coals. Many of the unbelievers were then persuaded in the power of the Christian God. About this miracle and the great faith of Saint Kapiton, reports were made to Saint Constantine and the holy fathers of the First OEcumenical Council (325). After several years Saint Kapiton journeyed on business to Constantinople, but the ship hit a storm at the mouth of the Dniepr River. The local people (pagans) seized hold of the ship and drowned all those on board, including Saint Kapiton. This however occurred on 21 December. The memory of the holy bishop of the Church was set in conjunction with the other Chersonnesus PriestMartyrs , 7 March. The preaching of the priestmartyrs strengthened the faith in Christ in the Chersonnesus. From the beginning of the V Century this city became a spiritual centre, from which Christianity spread northwards towards Rus’. And all the more during the IX Century Chersonnesus exerted influence on the Russians, who had begun to settle in the city. Present-day archeological excavations have shown, that in the city were more than fifty churches, dating to the V-XIV Centuries. In the year 987 it was at Chersonnesus that holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Prince Vladimir accepted Baptism. This ancient city was a cradle of Christianity for Rus’.

Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “Surety of Sinners” in Korets (1622), Odrin (1843) and Moscow (1848).
The Icon of the Mother of God , “Pledge for Sinners” (“Sporuchnitsa Greshnykh”) , is called thus because of the inscription preserved on the icon: “I am a Pledge in trust for sinners to My Son…”. This image was first glorified by miracles at the Nikolaevsk Odrina [BedChamber] men’s monastery of the former Orlovsk governance in the mid-XIX Century. The ancient icon of the Mother of God “Pledge for Sinners” because of its old condition was not afforded the proper reverence and stood in an old chaplet at the monastery gates. But in 1843 it was revealed in vision-dreams to many of the people, that through the Prescience of God, the icon was embued with miraculous power. They solemnly conveyed the icon into the church. Believers began to throng to it in prayer for the healing of their sorrows and sicknesses. The first to receive healing was a crippled lad, the mother of whom prayed fervently before the icon. The icon was glorified in particular during the time of a cholera epidemic, when many fell deathly ill, and making their way to it, were by it restored to health. At the monastery in honour of the wonderworking image was built a large church with three altars. On the Icon “Pledge for Sinners”, the Mother of God is depicted with the Christ-Child on Her left arm, Who with both His hands holds onto Her right hand. The heads of the Mother of God and the Christ-Child are set in crowns. In 1848, through the zeal of the Muscovite Dimitrii Boncheskul, a copy was made of the wonderworking image and placed in his home. Soon it was glorified as a source of curative myrh, given to many for restoration of health from grievous illnesses. They carried this wonderworking copy into a church of Saint Nicholas at Chamovnika, where then was built a chapel in honour of the Icon of the Mother of God “Pledge for Sinners”. Besides 7 March, celebration of this icon is also made on 29 May.

Venerable Paul the Simple of Egypt, disciple of St. Anthony the Great (4th c.).
The Monk Paul the Simple lived in the IV Century. He was called Simple for his simplicity of heart and gentleness. The monk had been married, but having learned about the infidelity of his spouse, he left her and set off into the wilderness to the Monk Anthony the Great (Comm. 17 January). Paul was already 60 years old, and Saint Anthony at first did not accept Paul, since he was unfit for harshness of the hermit’s life. Paul stood at the cell of the ascetic for three days, saying that he would sooner die than go from there. Then the Monk Anthony settled Paul in with him, and long tested his endurance and humility by hard work, severe fasting, with nightly vigils, constant singing of psalms and with poklon-bowings to the ground. Finally the Monk Anthony decided to settle Paul into a separate cell. For many years of ascetic exploits the Lord granted the Monk Paul both perspicacity, and the power to cast out demons. When they brought a possessed youth to the Monk Anthony, he guided the sick one to the Monk Paul with the words: “Those great in faith can cast out only small demons, but the humble like Paul the Simple, have power over the princes among demons”.

St. Paul the Confessor, bishop of Prusias in Bithynia (850).
Sainted Paul the Confessor was bishop of the city of Prusiada (a province of Bithynia in Asia Minor) at a time, when the iconoclasts raged against the faith of Christ. Zealously having entered into the defense of Christian holy things on the basis of the word of Holy Scripture, Saint Paul was subjected to harassment and persecution together with Saint Theophylaktos (Comm. 8 March). The holy confessor reposed in about the year 850.

Venerable Emilian of Rome.
The Monk Emilian of Italy (in the world Victorinus) was by birth a Roman, and until he was an old man, he led a sinful life. Having repented finally, he withdrew to a monastery, accepted monasticism with the name of Emilian, and the remainder of his days he humbly served God, astounding the brethren by his uncomplaining obedience and strict fasting. The monks noted, that by night Emilian secretly visited a cave, situated not far from the monastery. One time the hegumen followed him and found the Monk Emilian in the cave, praying with tears of contrition, and illumined by an unearthly light, and heard a Voice from above: “Emilian, thine sins art remitted thee”. Deeply moved by all that had happened, the heguman after morning Divine-services asked the elder to tell the brethren his secret, and the saint told everyone about the great mercy of God towards him. Then the hegumen explained to the brethren: “The Lord could have forgiven him his sin in quiet, but for the sake of us all He did manifest His mercy with the appearance of light and a voice, so that we all might behold His grace and mercy to sinners sincerely repenting”. The Monk Emilian spent the remainder of his days in spiritual joy and he peacefully expired to the Lord.

Venerable Laurence, founder of the monastery of the Mother of God on Salamis (1707) (Greek).
The Monk Laurentios was churchwarden of a monastery in honour of the MostHoly Mother of God on the island of Salamis. He reposed on 6 March 1770, and his memory is made on 7 March.

Additional Saints and Feasts Celebrated Today

New Hieromartyr Nicholas priest (1930).

New Hieromartyr Nilus, Virgin-martyrs Matrona, Mary, Eudocia, Ecaterina, Antonina, Nadezhda, Xenia, and Anna (1938).

Sts. Nestor and Arcadius, bishops of Tremithus (Greek).

St. Ephraim, Patriarch of Antioch (546).

St. Dandus and all Saints of Thrace.

St. Eosterwine, abbot of Wearmount.

Today’s Hymns

The First Week of Great Lent, Kontakion, Tone VI
My soul, my soul, arise! Why are you sleeping? The end is drawing near, and
you will be confounded. Awake, then, and be watchful, that Christ our God may
spare you, Who is everywhere present and fills all things.

Great Martyr Theodore Tyro, Troparion, Tone II
Great are the triumphs of faith! In a fountain of flame the holy martyr
Theodore rejoiced as in refreshing water. For having been made a whole burnt
offering by fire, he was offered as sweet bread to the Trinity. By his prayers,
O Christ our God, save our souls.

Kontakion, Tone VIII
Having received the faith of Christ in thy heart as an inner shield, thou
didst overcome all the opposing forces, O great champion, and thou hast been
crowned with a heavenly crown, O Theodore, for thou art eternally invincible.

The Hieromartyrs of Cherson
No Troparion is given in the Menaion.


Hymns, Readings, Feast Day, and Fasting Information provided by Holy Trinity Orthodox Church.

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