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Daily Devotional

Sunday, October 21, 2018 (NS)
October 8, 2018 (OS)


Commemorations

Movable Calendar (Pascalion):

Sunday of the Twenty-First Week

Mode Four -- Tenth Eothinon

Fixed Calendar:

The commemoration of our holy Mother Pelagia.


Fasting Information

No Fasting.


Scripture Readings

Movable Calendar (Pascalion):

Sunday of the Twenty-First Week

Mode Four -- Tenth Eothinon

Epistle:

The Reading is from the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Galatians [§ 203]. Brethren:

2 16Knowing then that a man is not being justified by the works of the law, except through faith in Jesus Christ, even we believed in Christ Jesus, in order that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; because by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. 17But if, while we sought to be justified in Christ, we ourselves also were found sinners, is then Christ a minister of sin? May it not be! 18For if I build again these things which I destroyed, I constitute myself a transgressor. 19For I through the law died to the law, in order that I might live to God. 20I have been crucified with Christ; and I no longer live, but Christ liveth in me; and the life that I now live in the flesh I live in faith,in that of the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Gospel:

The Reading is from the Holy Gospel according to Saint Luke [§ 30]. At that time:

7 11 Jesus was going into a city which is called Nain; and a considerable number of His disciples were going with Him, and a great crowd. 12Now as He drew near to the gate of the city, behold, there was also being carried out one who had died, an only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a considerable crowd from the city was with her. 13And after the Lord saw her, He was moved with compassion toward her, and said to her, "Cease weeping." 14And He approached and touched the bier, and those bearing it stood still. And He said, "Young man, I say to thee, arise." 15And the dead man sat up and began to talk. And He gave him to his mother. 16And fear took hold of all, and they were glorifying God, saying, "A great prophet hath been raised up among us"; and, "God visited His people."

Fixed Calendar:

The commemoration of our holy Mother Pelagia.

Epistle:

The Reading is from the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Ephesians [§ 229]. Brethren:

5 8Be walking as children of light- 9for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth- 10proving what is well-pleasing to the Lord. 11And cease having fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather even reprove them. 12For it is shameful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. 13But all things which are reproved are made manifest by the light; for all which is made manifest is light. 14Wherefore, He saith, "Rouse thyself, thou who sleepest, and arise from the dead, and the Christ shall shine on thee [cf. Is. 9:2, 26:19, 52:1, 60:1, 2]."

15Be taking heed then how exactly ye walk, not as unwise ones, but as wise ones, 16redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17On this account cease becoming foolish, but become as ones understanding what the will of the Lord is. 18And cease being drunk with wine, in which is prodigality, but keep on being filled with the Spirit, 19speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and chanting in your heart to the Lord.

Gospel:

No reading given.


Lives of the Saints
(Prologue)

October 21st - Civil Calendar
October 8th - Church Calendar

1. Our Holy Mother Pelagia.

Our Holy Mother Pelagia.A repentant sinner, she was born a pagan in Antioch and endowed by God with great physical beauty, but she used this beauty to destroy her own soul and those of others, acquiring great wealth from her prostitution. One day, walking past the church of the holy martyr Julian, where Bishop Nonnus was preaching, she turned into the church and listened to the sermon, which was about the Dreadful Judgement and the punishment of sinners. These words so shook her, and wrought so great a change in her, that she was of a sudden filled with self-loathing and fear of God, and, repenting of all her filthy sins, fell down before St Nonnus, begging him to baptise her: 'Holy father, be merciful to me, a sinner; baptise me, and teach me repentance. I am a sea of iniquity, an abyss of destruction, a net and weapon of the devil.' Thus this penitent implored Christ's hierarch with tears. And he baptised her. Blessed Romana, a deaconess of that church, stood sponsor to her at her baptism and, after that, as her spiritual mother, grounded her well in the Christian faith. But Pelagia was not content just to be baptised. Feeling the weight of her many sins and the pricking of her conscience, she decided on a great ascesis. She gave away to the poor the enormous wealth she had amassed by her immorality and went secretly to Jerusalem, where, under a man's name as the monk Pelagius, she shut herself in a cell on the Mount of Olives and there began a strict ascesis of fasting, prayer and vigils. Three years later. St Nonnus' deacon, James, visited her and found her still alive, but when he went to her again a few days later, he found her dead body and gave it burial. St Pelagia entered into rest in about 461. Thus that sometime great sinner, by repentance and striving, received the mercy of God, the forgiveness of her sins and sanctification, and her purified and sanctified soul was made worthy of the Kingdom of God.

2. Our Holy Mother Thais.

A repentant sinner, she was an Egyptian by birth. Like St Pelagia, Thais spent her youth in prostitution, being set on the way of evil living by her shameless mother. But God the merciful, who desires not that sinners should perish but that they should be saved, found a way in His wonderful providence to save the sinful Thais. One of the disciples of St Antony the Great, Paphnutius the Sindonite, heard of Thais, of her sinful life and the spiritual poison with which she was poisoning the souls of many, and he decided, with God's help, to save her. Holy Paphnutius, therefore, dressed himself in ordinary clothes, took a gold piece and went to the town. He found Thais and gave her the coin. Thais, thinking that the man had given her the gold piece with evil intent, took Paphnutius off to her room. Then Paphnutius opened his blessed lips and denounced Thais' sin, calling her to repentance. Thais' soul and conscience were roused, and she gave herself to tears of heartfelt repentance. Giving away all her goods to the needy, she went to a monastery of virgins, near to Paphnutius' hermitage, and stayed there for about three years, shut in a cell and living only on bread and water. Just before her death, St Paphnutius visited her, and made her leave her cell against her will. She quickly fell ill and, after a short illness, gave her purified and sanctified soul to God. St Paul the Simple, another disciple of St Antony, saw in a vision in Paradise a most beautiful dwelling prepared for the penitent Thais. This holy soul entered into rest in about 340.

3. The Holy Martyr Pelagia.

She was a virgin of an eminent family in Antioch. In the time of the Emperor Numerian, the governor of Antioch sent soldiers to bring Pelagia to trial as a known Christian. The soldiers surrounded the house and called the holy maiden to the door. She appeared, and when she heard that they had come to take her for trial, she pretended delight and asked the soldiers to wait a moment or two while she got herself ready. She then climbed up onto the roof of the house, raised her hands to heaven and prayed for a long time, begging God to receive her soul and not let her virginity be fouled. God did so, and her dead body fell in front of the soldiers. 'Her death', writes Chrysostom, 'came about not as a natural occurrence but by the command of God', and he continues: 'And thus this virginal body, purer than any gold, lay on the earth: angels surrounded it, archangels paid it honour and Christ Himself was with her.'

In the Slavonic Prologue, there is recorded the following occurrence with an unrepentant sinner: A deacon, Raphael, was sick unto death. This was told to St Epiphanius, who loved Raphael, and the elder came to him at once. Recognising his spiritual father, Raphael began to weep and wail bitterly. Epiphanius also wept, then asked the deacon why he was in such grief. The deacon replied: 'Woe is me, devils have snatched away my works, and the angels of God have withdrawn themselves from me!' After that, he began to bleat like a goat, and then bark like a dog. And at that he gave up his soul. St Epiphanius said that this was because of some great sin, unconfessed and unrepented.

FOR CONSIDERATION

Oh, when shall we get to the point of making as much effort over our souls as we do over our bodies? When shall we come to the desire to bedeck ourselves with virtues before God and His glorious angels as much as we bedeck ourselves with vain and transitory outward gauds? Pelagia and Thais were, in the beginning, only aware of their bodies, while their souls were like slaves lying bound in the prison of their flesh. They were both bedecked with vanity, clothed in vanity, adorned with vanity, surrounded by vanity and flattered by vanity. But what a sudden change! What a divine step in their lives! Stranger than if a wild apple tree were to change its nature and begin to bear sweet apples, or if some turgid and stinking pool somehow cleared itself and became pure drinking water. When Bishop Nonnus, with the other bishops, first saw Pelagia the sinner in her external resplendence, clad in the costliest garments, ornamented, adorned, bedecked with rings, necklaces and baubles, perfumed, surrounded by slaves–when the bishop saw her, he burst into tears and said to his companions: 'I have indeed learned much from this woman. God will bring her before His Dreadful Judgement and will rebuke us through her. For think: how many hours does this woman spend in her room washing herself, dressing herself, titivating herself, preening herself in the mirror–and what for? Only to appear lovelier in men's eyes. And we, who have an immortal Bridegroom in heaven–we do not exert ourselves to bedeck our souls with repentance, we do not hasten to bathe them in tears of repentance or to clothe them in the beauty of the virtues, that they may appear lovelier in God's eyes.'


Daily Scripture Readings taken from The Orthodox New Testament, translated and published by Holy Apostles Convent, Buena Vista, Colorado, copyright © 2000, used with permission, all rights reserved.

Daily Prologue Readings taken from The Prologue of Ochrid, by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic, translated by Mother Maria, published by Lazarica Press, Birmingham, England, copyright © 1985, all rights reserved.


Archbishop Gregory
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