Old Calendar Orthodox Daily Digest for 1/31/2022

Fasting Guidelines

33rd Week after Pentecost. Tone seven.
Today is fast-free!

Today’s Commemorations

  • St. Athanasius the Great (373) and St. Cyril (444), archbishops of Alexandria.
  • Venerable Cyril , schemamonk, and Venerable Maria , schemanun (1337) (parents of St. Sergius of Radonezh).
  • New Hieromartyr Michael priest (1919).
  • New Hieromartyr Eugene priest (1930).
  • New Hieromartyrs Vladimir, Nicholas, Sergius Alexander priests (1938).
  • Venerable Athanasius , abbot of Syanzhema (Valaam) (1550).
  • Venerable Athanasius of Novolok, monk (16th-17th c.).
  • Venerable Marcian of Cyrrhus in Syria, monk (ca. 303).
  • Martyr Xenia.
  • St. Maximus of Serbia, metropolitan (1516) (Serbia).
  • Venerable Silvanus, of Palestine, monk.
  • St. Leobardus of Marmoutier (6th c.) (Gaul).
  • Martyr Theodula and her companions Helladius, Boethius, Evagrius and Macarius of Anazarbus in Cilicia, (304).
  • St. Ephraim the Lesser, the Philosopher (1101) (Georgia).
  • Venerable Hieromonk Alexi (Shushania) of Teklati (1923) (Georgia).
  • St. Joachim, patriarch of Turnovo (1235).
  • St. Ninnidh of Inismacsaint (6th c.) (Celtic & British).

Scripture Readings

James 2:14-26
What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe-and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

Mark 10:46-52
Now they came to Jericho. As He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. Then they called the blind man, saying to him, “Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.” And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus. So Jesus answered and said to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” The blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road.

Hebrews 13:7-16 (St. Athanasius and St. Cyril)
Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them. We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

Matthew 5:14-19 (St. Athanasius and St. Cyril)
You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Saints and Feasts Celebrated Today

St. Athanasius the Great (373) and St. Cyril (444), archbishops of Alexandria.
St. Athanasius  the Great (373) and  St. Cyril  (444), archbishops of Alexandria. Sainted Athanasias and Cyril, Archbishops of Alexandria, have a conjoined feast established to them in acknowledgement of the profound gratitude of Holy Church for their incessant lengthy labour in affirmation of the dogmas of the Orthodox faith and their zealous defense of such against heretical teachings.       The account about Saint Athanasias is located under 2 May, and about Saint Cyril – under 9 June.

Venerable Cyril , schemamonk, and Venerable Maria , schemanun (1337) (parents of St. Sergius of Radonezh).
Venerable  Cyril , schemamonk, and Venerable  Maria , schemanun (1337) (parents of St. Sergius of Radonezh). Saint Cyril and his wife Maria were the parents of St Sergius of Radonezh (September 25). They belonged to the nobility, but more importantly, they were pious and faithful Christians who were adorned with every virtue.       When the child in Maria’s womb cried out three times in church during Liturgy, people were astonished. Although frightened at first, Maria came to see this event as a sign from God that her child would become a chosen vessel of divine grace. She and her husband agreed that if the child was a boy, they would bring him to church and dedicate him to God. This child, the second of their three sons, was born around 1314. He was named Bartholomew at his baptism.       Because of civil strife, St Cyril moved his family from Rostov to Radonezh when Bartholomew was still a boy.       Later, when their son expressed a desire to enter the monastic life, Sts Cyril and Maria asked him to wait and take care of them until they passed away, because his brothers Stephen and Peter were both married and had their own family responsibilities. The young Bartholomew obeyed his parents, and did everything he could to please them. They later decided to retire to separate monasteries, and departed to the Lord after a few years. It is believed that Sts Cyril and Maria both reposed in 1337.       Forty days after burying his parents, Bartholomew settled their estate, giving his share to his brother Peter. He then went to the monastery when he was twenty-three years old, and was tonsured on October 7 with the name Sergius (in honor of the martyr St Sergius who is commemorated on that day). As everyone knows, St Sergius of Radonezh became one of Russia’s greatest and most revered saints.       St Cyril was glorified by the Orthodox Church of Russia in 1992. He is also commemorated on September 28, and on July 6 (Synaxis of the Saints of Radonezh).

Venerable Athanasius , abbot of Syanzhema (Valaam) (1550).
Venerable  Athanasius , abbot of Syanzhema (Valaam) (1550). The Monk Athanasii (Afanasii) of Syadem and Vologda was a disciple of the Monk Alexander of Svir (+ 1533, Comm. 30 August). After the death of his mentor, he established in the forests of Karelia the Dormition (Uspenie) hermitage, not far from the city of Olonets, amidst the islands of Syadem and Roschinsk. The slander and pettiness of the local inhabitants compelled the Monk Athanasii to move back to the Svir monastery, where they chose him as hegumen. Later returning to the Uspenie hermitage, the monk died in about the year 1550 in extreme old age and was buried on one of the promontories of Roschinsk island. Afterwards there was built over his grave a church in the name of Saints Athanasias and Cyril of Alexandria, into which in 1720 were placed the unperished relics of the saint.

St. Ephraim the Lesser, the Philosopher (1101) (Georgia).
St. Ephraim the Lesser, the Philosopher (1101) (Georgia). Today little is known about the life of venerable Ephraim the Lesser, the great 11th-century writer, translator, philosopher, and defender of the Georgian Church. His work Reminiscences and other sources, however, provide us with the means to speculate about the major periods of his life and labors.       In 1027, when King Bagrat IV (1027-1072) ascended the Georgian throne, many noblemen of the Tao region in southern Georgia relocated to Greece. Among them was the honorable Vache, son of Karichi, whom scholars believe was Ephraim’s father.       After receiving a Greek education in Constantinople, Ephraim settled in the Black Mountains near Antioch and began his labors there. His achievements in Georgian theological and philosophical writing are immeasurable. The number of his works is almost one hundred, and the subjects cover nearly every branch of theological inquiry. Ephraim even developed his own theory of translation, which later formed the foundation for written composition in the Georgian language. His theory consists of three essential points:       1. A composition must be translated from the original, that is, from the language in which it was first written.       2. The translation must carry the same literal meaning as the original, but accuracy in this regard must not violate the nature of the language into which the text is being translated.       3. A section of commentary that examines all relevant historical, grammatical, and literary issues should be included with the translated text.       Ephraim translated five of the works of St. Dionysius the Areopagite, The Ascetic Rules of St. Basil the Great, the writings of St. Ephraim the Syrian, commentaries on the Epistles and Psalms, and many other important patristic writings.       Among Ephraim the Lesser’s original works, his most significant is An Explanation of the Reasons for the Conversion of Georgia, a compilation of existing essays and his own commentaries on the nation’s conversion.       In the second half of the 11th century, the monks of Antioch and the Black Mountains began to deny the independence of the Georgian Church. Among other claims, they argued that none of the Apostles had preached the Christian Faith in Georgia. It became necessary to prove that the Georgian Church was indeed autocephalous, and members of the nation’s elite accordingly called upon Ephraim to settle this issue. Ephraim studied many patristic writings in the original Greek, gathered the ancient sources, and succeeded in fully securing the independent existence of the Georgian Church.       St. Ephraim wrote the following about the Apostles’ preaching: “Know that from the time the Apostles were preaching, according to the Prophet David: Their voice was heard through all the earth, and their words resounded in every village (c.f. Ps. 18:4). In Georgia, Andrew the First-called preached the Gospel in Avazgia (now Abkhazeti), and from there he journeyed to Ossetia (now Shida Kartli). Bartholomew also preached in Georgia, in the Kartli region.”       St. Ephraim never left the Black Mountains. In 1091 he was enthroned as the abbot of Kastana Monastery (The precise location of Kastana is unknown, but according to modern archaeologists, it was probably in the Black Mountains. For a full discussion of the subject see: Wachtang Z. Djobadze, Materials for the study of Georgian monasteries in the Western environs of Antioch on the Orontes (Louvain: Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium, 1976), pp. 101-3)       Our holy father Ephraim reposed in the Lord around the year 1101. He is included in a list of the departed compiled by the Council of Ruisi-Urbnisi in 1103, and the year of his death has been approximated from the information given in this source.       Ephraim was canonized by the Orthodox Church of Georgia because of his God-pleasing life and the many commendable works he performed on behalf of the Church and his nation.

Venerable Athanasius of Novolok, monk (16th-17th c.).
Righteous Athanasii (Afanasii) of Navolotsk went at the end of the XVI Century from the Kargopol’ region to the Olonets land, where he founded a monastery 78 versts from what later emerged as the city of Petrozavodsk. The saint died near the Verkholedsk suburb not far from Shenkursk.

Venerable Marcian of Cyrrhus in Syria, monk (ca. 303).
The Monk Marcian of Syr’ asceticised in the wilderness near the city of Syr’. Having built himself a small hut, he settled in it, passing the time at prayer, singing psalms and reading the Divine books. His food was very skimpy. Reports about his holy life attracted to him many zealous ascetics, and the Monk Marcian established a monastery for them.       The blessing of God rested upon the saint, and he possessed the gift of wonderworking. One time a serpent crawled into his cell towards him, and the monk made the sign of the cross and the serpent perished, having been burnt up by flames. At night, when the ascetic read, an Heavenly light shined for him. The monk also worked many other miracles on behalf of the brethren. He died in peace about the year 388.

St. Maximus of Serbia, metropolitan (1516) (Serbia).
Sainted Maxim (Maksim) the New, despoton of Serbia, was the son of king Stefan of Serbia (Comm. 10 December), and was Metropolitan of Ugro-Valakhia. He died on 18 January 1516.

Venerable Hieromonk Alexi (Shushania) of Teklati (1923) (Georgia).
Ssaint Alexi (Shushania) was born September 23, 1852, in the village of Noqalaqevi, in the Senaki district of Samegrelo, to a pious Christian couple. His father died in 1868, after giving the sixteen-year-old future hieromonk his blessing to care for the family.       In the same year that his father died, Alexi journeyed to Jerusalem on a pilgrimage, and from there to Constantinople to visit his uncle, Islam Shushania, a successful merchant and a clever and pious man. During this visit, Alexi became fascinated with the trade industry and resolved to become a merchant as well. But he would soon discover that God’s will was different from his own.       One day Alexi borrowed a small icon of St. John the Baptist from his uncle, confined himself to his room, and there began to experience great inner warfare. He was moved by a profound love for his mother, sisters, brothers, and friends, but at the same time he sensed an invisible force calling him to the spiritual life.       After several agonizing hours, Alexi finally asked himself, “How can I fulfill my father’s will? He entrusted me with the responsibility to look after the family—how can I reconcile this with God’s calling?”       To his great wonder, an invisible instructor answered him, saying, “If you die now, who will take over your responsibilities?” The answer was clear. “God will!” Alexi proclaimed. And he heard the voice again.       “So die to the world, entrust everything to God, and He will minister to your family.”       The encounter transformed Alexi’s life. Afterwards he confined himself to his room for months, reading the Holy Scriptures, and keeping a strict fast. Witnessing the radical change in Alexi’s way of life, his uncle thought it would be best for them to leave Constantinople and return to Georgia.       It was not long before Alexi’s loved ones realized he had made a covenant with God, and that he would enter the monastic life. His brothers and sisters were distressed upon hearing the news, but his mother gave thanks to God and blessed her son.       At the age of twenty Alexi moved to Teklati Women’s Monastery. He began to lead a strict ascetic life and went from village to village, caring for those ill with tuberculosis, cholera, and other serious illnesses, and burying the corpses of the homeless.       Several years passed, and many became convinced that Alexi was a fool-for-Christ. He preached the Word of God with intensity, and his life was an example for many. His preaching inspired his mother, Elene, his younger sister Salome, and his brother Besarion to join him in the monastic life. After he was tonsured a monk, Besarion made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and remained there for several years.       Because of his exemplary service to the Lord, he was ordained a priest at Martvili Monastery. Later he was tonsured into the great schema. Alexi also spent time on Mt. Athos. After returning from the Holy Mountain, he made a pilgrimage to the Kiev Caves Monastery, then returned to Georgia to continue his labors.       Around the year 1885 St. Alexi moved to Gelati Monastery, where he continued to study and produced several original works. In 1886 he was reassigned to Khobi Monastery and ordained a deacon by Bishop Grigol, and in 1888 he was ordained a hieromonk. Two years later, in 1890, he became ill and returned to be with his mother and sisters at Teklati Monastery.       According to God’s will his health was restored, and in 1891 Alexi fashioned a cell for himself in the mountainous village of Menji (also called “Archangels’ Hill”), near the place where he was born. He gathered his disciples and undertook a stricter ascetic life. Fr. Alexi’s health was so improved that he was able to celebrate the divine services again.       The holy father would receive alms, but he distributed most of what was given to him. He divided the alms in three parts: the first he put aside for his personal needs, the second, for the church and its guests, and the third, for the poor and infirm.       St. Alexi kept a life-size cross in his cell, and when he prayed he supported the cross on his back, since it reminded him of the position in which St. Simon of Cyrene carried the Holy Cross to Christ’s Crucifixion on Golgotha.       In spite of his strict ascetic life, Hieromonk Alexi was remarkably close to the people in his community and was loved by many for the spiritual warmth that he radiated.       After many years the strict ascetic life finally took its toll on Fr. Alexi’s health. He dismissed his pupils and spent the last years of his earthly life (from around the year 1915) with his cousins, the schemanuns Akepsima and Pasto. St. Alexi reposed January 18, 1923, frail from a long and labor-filled life in the service of the Lord.       For forty days after his death, the schemanuns Akepsima and Pasto remained in his cell for fear that the Communist government’s henchmen would destroy his humble dwelling. Later they buried Fr. Alexi’s body at Teklati, and themselves began to labor at the Archangels’ Monastery. With the blessing of Metropolitan Eprem of Batumi-hemokmedi and Chqondidi, Schemanun Akepsima and Abbess Pasto translated Fr. Alexi’s incorrupt relics from Teklati to the Archangels’ Monastery and buried them near the east wall of the temple on January 8, 1960.       St. Alexi was canonized on September 18, 1995.

Additional Saints and Feasts Celebrated Today

New Hieromartyr Michael priest (1919).

New Hieromartyr Eugene priest (1930).

New Hieromartyrs Vladimir, Nicholas, Sergius Alexander priests (1938).

Martyr Xenia.

Venerable Silvanus, of Palestine, monk.

St. Leobardus of Marmoutier (6th c.) (Gaul).

Martyr Theodula and her companions Helladius, Boethius, Evagrius and Macarius of Anazarbus in Cilicia, (304).

St. Joachim, patriarch of Turnovo (1235).

St. Ninnidh of Inismacsaint (6th c.) (Celtic & British).

Today’s Hymns

Ss. Athanasius & Cyril, Archbishops of Alexandria, Troparion, Tone IV
O God of our fathers,
deal with us ever according to Thy meekness.
Deprive
us not of Thy mercy,
but through their supplications
direct our life in
peace.

Or this troparion, Tone III
Shining forth with works of Orthodoxy and reducing all heresy to ashes,
ye
were victors and conquerors, enriching all with piety;
and, having greatly
adorned the Church,
ye have acquired Christ God, as is meet,
Who granteth us
great mercy.

Kontakion of the Holy Hierarchs, Tone IV “Thou hast appeared”
O sacred primates most great, champions of the Church of Christ,
preserve
all who chant:
Save those who honor Thee with faith, O Compassionate One!

Download today’s octoechos HERE.

Download today’s menaion HERE.

Courtesy of St. Sergius Church


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

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