When Mary the Virgin was about fourteen years old, the Archangel Gabriel came to Joseph's dwelling, where she was living, and said to her, 'Rejoice, thou Full of Grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.' Receiving assurance that she had been chosen to be the Mother of God Himself, she answered in humility, 'Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.' Immediately, the Holy Spirit came upon her, the power of the Most High overshadowed her, and the Incarnation, long awaited by the whole creation, took place: He who contains the whole universe consented to be contained in the womb of one woman, the most holy Theotokos. The Church teaches us that it was within the holy Virgin's power to refuse the divine conception: her knowing and willing acceptance, the consummation of the faith of the whole righteous remnant of Israel, shows us that our very salvation is the fruit of the cooperation (synergia) of human faithfulness with God's saving grace. Carrying in her womb the Savior of the Universe, the Virgin went to the hills of Judea to stay with her kinswoman Elizabeth, who six months before had conceived in her old age (by Zacharias the priest) St John the Forerunner. As the holy Virgin approached, the child John leaped in his mother's womb for joy, prophesying the coming of Emmanuel. Feeling the prophecy, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and blessed the holy Mary and the fruit of her womb. And Mary in turn glorified God, saying 'My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior' (Luke ch. 1).
Judges 1, 2; Psalm 72:1·14; Proverbs 15:1·5; Luke 2:1·24
"Two friends, John and Sergius, swore brotherhood before the icon of the holy Mother of God in this monastery. John was a rich man, with a five-year-old son, Zachariah. John fell ill, and at his death commended his son to the care of Sergius, and left in Sergius' keeping a large sum of silver and gold for him to hand over to Zachariah when he had grown up. When Zachariah came of age, however, Sergius denied receiving anything from the deceased John. Then Zachariah said: 'Let him swear before the same icon of the most holy Mother of God, in front of which he accepted brotherhood with my late father, that he received nothing from John, and then I will seek nothing more from him.' Sergius agreed, but when he had sworn this and went up to kiss the icon, some force held him back and would not allow him to come near. Then, tormented all at once by a demon, he began to cry out: 'Holy fathers Antony and Theodosius, do not let this merciless angel destroy me!' The demon had attacked him by God's permission. He then told them of all the money which John had left. But when they opened the box, they found double the amount. Taking it, Zachariah gave it to the monastery and was himself tonsured as a monk. He lived a long time and was worthy of God's great gifts, entering peacefully into eternity."
He was born in Neapolis (Naples) to a pagan father and a Christian mother, and became an officer in the Roman army. Though he was not baptised, his mother had secretly instructed him in the Christian faith. Once, in a battle, his company was completely surrounded by the enemy, and Nikon recalled his mother's counseling that, whenever he was in trouble, he should make the sign of the Cross and call upon Christ. This he did, and was immediately filled with strength and resolution, so that the enemy's army was routed. Nikon went home, openly crying out 'Great is the God of the Christians!' to the great joy of his mother. He traveled secretly to Cyzicus in Asia, where the bishop Theodosius baptised him. He then entered a monastery to spend his days in prayer and study. But some years later Theodosius, who was near death, had a vision in which he was told to consecrate Nikon as his successor. He summoned Nikon from the monastery and, to the monk's amazement, immediately ordained him a deacon, then a priest, then a bishop. Later, bishop Nikon returned to Italy to preach the Gospel of Christ. In Naples, he found his mother still alive, and remained with her until her death. He then set out with nine disciples, former fellow-soldiers, to proclaim the Faith. Through the Saint's grace-filled preaching and example, many more disciples were soon added to this number. At that time a great persecution of Christians was underway, and Quintinianus, ruler of that region, seized Nikon and his companions and handed them over to the torturers. One hundred ninety of Nikon's companions perished under torture. Nikon himself was beaten, flayed, and even thrown from a high cliff, but was miraculously preserved. Finally he was slain by the sword and his body thrown in a field to be eaten by the beasts. A shepherd boy, possessed by a spirit of madness, found the body, fell on it, and was instantly healed. He told his story to some Christians, who found the body and gave it honorable burial. Saint Nikon contested during the reign of the Emperor Decius.
Genesis 5:32-6:8 Proverbs 6:20-7:1