Quick Links

Daily Readings

Daily Scripture Readings, Troparion and Kontakion

Read More

Holy Fathers

Selected quotes and teachings of the Holy Fathers

Read More


Learn about the lives of the saints of the Orthodox Church

Read More


Daily Reading:

January 10/23

32nd Week After Pentecost

+ + +

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit:

Illumine my heart, O Master who lovest mankind, with the pure light of Thy divine knowledge. Open Thou the eyes of my mind to the understanding of Thy Gospel teachings. Implant also in me a love for Thy blessed commandments. Grant me the grace to overcome all my carnal desires, so that I may enter more completely into a spiritual manner of living, both thinking and doing such things as are well pleasing to Thee. For Thou art the illumination of our souls and bodies, O Christ our God, and unto Thee do we ascribe glory, together with Thine all-holy, good and life-creating Spirit; now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O Lord Jesus Christ, open Thou the eyes of my heart, that I may hear Thy word and understand and do Thy will, for I am a sojourner upon the earth. Hide not Thy commandments from me, but open mine eyes, that I may perceive the wonders of Thy law. Speak unto me the hidden and secret things of Thy wisdom. On Thee do I set my hope, O my God, that Thou shalt enlighten my mind and understanding with the light of Thy knowledge, not only to cherish those things which are written, but to do them; that in reading the lives and sayings of the Saints I may not sin, but that such may serve for my restoration, enlightenment and sanctification, for the salvation of my soul, and the inheritance of life everlasting. For Thou art the enlightenment of those who lie in darkness, and from Thee cometh every good deed and every gift. Amen.

By the intercessions of Thine All-immaculate Mother and of all Thy Saints, Lord Jesus Christ, our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen

+ + +



James 2:14-26

What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had 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

And they came to Jericho: and as He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me. And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou son of David, have mercy on me. And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee. And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus. And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.

+ + +


Troparion of the Feast Tone l
When Thou wast baptized in the Jordan, O Lord,/ the worship of the Trinity made its appearance./ For the voice of the Father bore witness to Thee/ when He called Thee His beloved Son./ And the Spirit in the form of a dove/ confirmed the truth of the word./ O Christ our God, Who hast appeared and hast enlightened the world,/ glory to Thee!

Troparion of St Gregory of Nyssa Tone 3
Thou hast shown forth thy watchfulness/ and wast a fervent preacher of godliness:/ by the wisdom of thy teachings thou dost gladden the Church's faithful./ Righteous Father Gregory,/ entreat Christ our God to grant us His great mercy.

Troparion of St Dometian Tone 4
Thou wast entrusted with the care of the flock of Christ,/ as one pure and filled with divine Light./ Thou didst adorn the vesture of thy priesthood with asceticism and many miracles./ Thou wast a foremost Hierarch of the Church,/ O righteous Father Dometian.

Troparion of St Marcian the Presbyter Tone 4
Godly adornment of the righteous,/ thou art a steward of Christ's mysteries/ and a living temple of the light-creating Trinity:/ thou didst raise up churches to the glory of God, O Holy Marcian,/ and didst worthily attain to glory on high.

Kontakion of the Feast Tone 4
Thou hast appeared today to the world,/ and Thy light, O Lord, has been signed upon us/ who with full knowledge sing to Thee./ Thou hast come, Thou hast appeared,/ O Unapproachable Light.

Kontakion of St Gregory Tone 1
Watchful with the eyes of thy soul/ and a vigilant shepherd for the world,/ with wisdom and thy fervent intercession thou didst drive off heretics like wolves,/ keeping thy flock unharmed.

Kontakion of St Dometian Tone 3
Dometian, adornment of Hierarchs,/ thou didst shine forth in Christ's Church/ as a vessel of the Holy Spirit./ By the grace of the priesthood/ all saw thee to be venerable by thy virtue.

Kontakion of St Marcian the Presbyter Tone 2
Holy Marcian, thou didst live righteously on earth/ and wast a living vessel of divine Light./ Having blamelessly served the Lord as a priest,/ thou art rejoicing with the Angels in heaven.

+ + +

Personal relationship of St. Gregory with the Theotokos

We have said before that every saint loves the Panagia. Sainthood is not understood without this Theotokophilia. And it occurs because the saints, after tasting the love of God, communing of the Body and Blood of Christ, and experiencing the gifts of the incarnation of Christ, feel the need to give thanks also to that Person who was the cause of this great joy. It is well known that the saints are very sensitive and are therefore grateful for even the smallest gifts which they receive, and much more for the great gift of the deification of human nature, which came about in the womb of the Theotokos. She gave her flesh to the Son and Word of God for his incarnation.

This is also the case with St. Gregory Palamas. However, the saint felt love for the Panagia also for other reasons. He was granted to see her in his life; he was her protégé. We shall give some details to demonstrate this truth, as his biographer and fellow monk, Philotheos Kokkinos, Patriarch of Constantinople, describes them.

The first indication is the fact that from an early age he was given into the protection of the Theotokos by his father. Before his father died, St. Gregory's mother asked him to ask the emperor to protect his children. That saintly man not only did not accept her words, but rebuked her in a way and said to her: "I do not leave my children to some earthly rulers, but I leave my children to this Mistress of all, the mother of the king of heaven". He did not want to leave his children to the protection of the earthly kings, but to the Mother of the King of heaven. And indeed at the time when he said these things he was looking at the icon of the Theotokos which was in front of him. St. Philotheos says in his biography of St. Gregory that the words of his holy father came true, because the Theotokos herself persuaded the emperor to take care of the orphan children, but also later "she was seen to be their protectress and guide, and in every way the saviour of both their souls and their bodies".

The second circumstance which shows that his father's prophetic words were actually fulfilled and the Theotokos was a wonderful sponsor, governess and doyenne, came from the period of his studies. At the beginning of his studies the saint had difficulty in memorizing. Then he placed a restriction on himself not to come near the books and not to begin reading without first having knelt three time before the icon of the Theotokos, saying a prayer at the same time. When he did this work every day he succeeded very easily in memorizing and reciting the lessons. But if he sometimes forgot to follow this rule, "even the recitation failed right away". At the same time, as St. Philotheos says, the Panagia persuaded the emperor to be the guardian of the children and to assume all their personal expenses. Furthermore the emperor showed particular sympathy, for he invited them to come to see him and talked with them in a kind and loving way.

The third sign is from the period of his asceticism on Mount Athos. Immediately after he came to the Holy Mountain he gave himself over with great zeal to ascesis, fasting, vigil and unceasing prayer. It is significant, according to the information of St. Philotheos Kokkinos, that he prayed unceasingly to the Theotokos. He prayed day and night to God, projecting the Mother of God "as guide, protector and mediator, all the time bringing before his eyes her aid and her countenance, with words and prayers and noetic movements, and pondering the way of obedience with her guidance". So in the first two years the saint was praying constantly to God, with the Panagia as his guide and mediator. The prayer which he was saying at that time was "Enlighten my darkness".

During a great stillness, while his nous had turned inward and to God, John the Evangelist appeared to him, not in a dream, but in a vision, and assured him that he had been sent "as a messenger from the Queen beyond", to find out why he was constantly praying: "Enlighten my darkness; enlighten my darkness". St. Gregory replied that, since he is a passionate man, he was praying to be enlightened by God to be conformed to His saving will. Then John the Evangelist said: "Do not be afraid, do not doubt... the Queen of all is giving the order through us: 'I myself will be your help'". And when again St. Gregory asked when the Theotokos would be his help and ally, in the present or future life, then the Evangelist replied: "both before and now, in both the present and the future".

This appearance of St. John the Evangelist, sent by the Most holy Theotokos, was revealed by St. Gregory himself years later to his fellow-monk Dorotheos, later Metropolitan of Thessaloniki. It is characteristic that the Theotokos heard the prayer and assured him that, just as longer ago, so also now and in the future, she would be his helper and defender, and moreover, that she was filling him with divine gifts.

The fourth sign is the revelation which the Theotokos herself made to St. Gregory. It was at the time when he had returned to the Lavra, but he was staying at St. Sabbas frontisterion outside the Monastery of the Great Lavra. He once prayed for himself and his escort to the Panagia, "the usual governor and deliverer", that both their guidance and their journey toward God might be unimpeded, but also that they might have what they needed for their nourishment, in order not to be very much occupied with collecting supplies and neglect prayer. Then the Panagia, the Queen of all, appeared in a vision, "dressed modestly and purely", just as the holy icons present her. Many saints had appeared and were following her. Then the Theotokos turned and gave them the order to serve St. Gregory and his escort: "From now on you are to be stewards and distributors of the necessities for Gregory and his escort". And St. Gregory was assured that from then on "all that was necessary for our bodily needs was offered us without effort wherever we happened to be".

From what we have said it is clear that St. Gregory Palamas had a close relationship and communion with the Theotokos. All the things that he writes about her, which we shall see further on, are obviously not dry, intellectual thoughts and reasoning conjectures, but experiences of the Panagia. This explains his great love for her. We can also see the progressive manifestation and revelation of the Theotokos. At first, through his father's prayer she took up his protection. Then she showed him clearly that he must trust in her, for she would protect him throughout his studies. Then, through John the Evangelist she assured him that she would be his helper and protector, and finally she herself was revealed personally. Throughout his life the saint was convinced that he had the protection and help of the Theotokos, and therefore he struggled with strength and courage, expounded the theology of the Church in an orthodox way and defeated the heresies of his times.