April 3 (old calendar) / April 16 (new)
Ven. Nicetas the Confessor, Abbot of Medikion (824). Virgin Martyr Theodosia of Tyre, and Martyr Irene (307-308). St. Illyricus of Mt. Myrsinon in the Peloponnesus. Martyrs Elpidephorus, Dius, Bithonius and Galycus. Icon of the Most-holy Theotokos “THE UNFADING BLOOM”.
SAINT NICETAS THE CONFESSOR
Saint Nicetas the Confessor was born in Bithynian Caesarea (northwest Asia Minor) of a pious family. His mother died eight days after his birth, and his father Philaretos became a monk. The child remained in the care of his grandmother, who raised him in a true Christian spirit. From his youth Saint Nicetas attended church and was a disciple of the hermit Stephanos. With his blessing, Saint Nicetas set off to the Mydicia monastery, where Saint Nicephorus (March 13) was the igumen.
After seven years of virtuous life at the monastery, famed for its strict monastic rule, Saint Nicetas was ordained presbyter. Saint Nicephorus, knowing the holy life of the young monk, entrusted to him the guidance of the monastery when he himself became ill.
Not wanting power, Saint Nicetas devoted himself to the enlightenment and welfare of the monastery. He guided the brethren by his own example. Soon the fame of the lofty life of its inhabitants of the monastery attracted many seeking salvation. After several years, the number of monks had increased to one hundred.
When Saint Nicephorus departed to the Lord in his old age, the brethren unanimously chose Saint Nicetas as igumen.
The Lord granted Saint Nicetas the gift of wonderworking. Through his prayer a deaf-mute child received the gift of speech; two demon-possessed women were healed; he restored reason to one who had lost his mind, and many of the sick were healed of their infirmities.
During these years under the emperor Leo the Armenian (813-820), the Iconoclast heresy resurfaced and oppression increased. Orthodox bishops were deposed and banished. At Constantinople a council of heretics was convened in 815, at which they deposed the holy Patriarch Nicephorus (806-815), and in his place they chose the heretical layman Theodotus. They also installed heretics in place of exiled and imprisoned Orthodox bishops.
The emperor summoned all the heads of the monasteries and tried to bring them over to the Iconoclast heresy. Among those summoned was Saint Nicetas, who stood firmly for the Orthodox confession. Following his example, all the igumens remained faithful to the veneration of holy icons. Therefore, they threw him into prison. Saint Nicetas bravely underwent all the tribulations and encouraged firmness of spirit in the other prisoners.
Then the emperor and the false patriarch Theodotus attempted to trick those who remained faithful to Orthodox teaching. They promised that the emperor would give them their freedom and permit the veneration of the icons on one condition: that they take Communion from the pseudo-patriarch Theodotus.
For a long time the saint had doubts about entering into communion with a heretic, but other prisoners begged him to go along with them. Acceding to their entreaties, Saint Nicetas went into the church, where icons were put out to deceive the confessors, and he accepted Communion.
But when he returned to his monastery and saw that the persecution against icons was continuing, he then repented of his deed, returned to Constantinople and fearlessly denounced the Iconoclast heresy. He ignored all the emperor’s threats.
Saint Nicetas was again locked up in prison for six years until the death of the emperor Leo the Armenian. Enduring hunger and travail, Saint Nicetas worked miracles by the power of his prayers: through his prayer the Phrygian ruler released two captives without ransom; three shipwrecked men for whom Saint Nicetas prayed, were thrown up on shore by the waves.
Saint Nicetas reposed in the Lord in 824. The saint’s body was buried at the monastery with reverence. Later, his relics became a source of healing for those coming to venerate the holy confessor.
Troparion of the saint, tone 4
You were a firm pillar and an undaunted guardian of sacred tradition, O Nicetas; / you were adorned with holy dispassion and became an illustrious confessor of the Faith. / Accept the prayers of those who cry to you, / interceding for them with Christ our God.
Kontakion of the saint, tone 2
You acquired a heavenly mind and life, / shining as brightly as the sun in the splendor of your deeds! / Father Nicetas, you enlighten those in the darkness of life guiding them all to God. / Pray without ceasing for us all!
Isaiah 49:6-10 (6th Hour)
- Indeed He says, ‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.
- Thus says the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, their Holy One, to Him whom man despises, to Him Whom the nation abhors, to the servant of rulers: “Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the Lord Who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, Who has chosen You.”
- Thus says the Lord: “In an acceptable time I have heard You, and in the day of salvation I have helped You; I will preserve You and give You as a covenant to the people, to restore the earth, to cause them to inherit the desolate heritages;
- that You may say to the prisoners, ‘Go forth,’ to those who are in darkness, ‘Show yourselves.’ “They shall feed along the roads, and their pastures shall be on all desolate heights.
- They shall neither hunger nor thirst, neither heat nor sun shall strike them; for He who has mercy on them will lead them, even by the springs of water He will guide them.
Genesis 31:3-16 (Vespers, 1st reading)
- Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your family, and I will be with you.”
- So Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah to the field, to his flock,
- and said to them, “I see your father’s countenance, that it is not favorable toward me as before; but the God of my father has been with me.
- “And you know that with all my might I have served your father.
- “Yet your father has deceived me and changed my wages ten times, but God did not allow him to hurt me.
- “If he said thus: ‘The speckled shall be your wages,’ then all the flocks bore speckled. And if he said thus: ‘The streaked shall be your wages,’ then all the flocks bore streaked.
- “So God has taken away the livestock of your father and given them to me.
- “And it happened, at the time when the flocks conceived, that I lifted my eyes and saw in a dream, and behold, the rams which leaped upon the flocks were streaked, speckled, and gray-spotted.
- “Then the Angel of God spoke to me in a dream, saying, ‘Jacob.’ And I said, ‘Here I am.’
- “And He said, ‘Lift your eyes now and see, all the rams which leap on the flocks are streaked, speckled, and gray-spotted; for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you.
- ‘I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed the pillar and where you made a vow to Me. Now arise, get out of this land, and return to the land of your family.’”
- Then Rachel and Leah answered and said to him, “Is there still any portion or inheritance for us in our father’s house?
- “Are we not considered strangers by him? For he has sold us, and also completely consumed our money.
- “For all these riches which God has taken from our father are really ours and our children’s; now then, whatever God has said to you, do it.”
Proverbs 21:3-21 (Vespers, 2nd reading)
- To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.
- A haughty look, a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked are sin.
- The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.
- Getting treasures by a lying tongue is the fleeting fantasy of those who seek death.
- The violence of the wicked will destroy them, because they refuse to do justice.
- The way of a guilty man is perverse; but as for the pure, his work is right.
- Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious woman.
- The soul of the wicked desires evil; his neighbor finds no favor in his eyes.
- When the scoffer is punished, the simple is made wise; but when the wise is instructed, he receives knowledge.
- The righteous God wisely considers the house of the wicked, overthrowing the wicked for their wickedness.
- Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard.
- A gift in secret pacifies anger, and a bribe behind the back, strong wrath.
- It is a joy for the just to do justice, but destruction will come to the workers of iniquity.
- A man who wanders from the way of understanding will rest in the assembly of the dead.
- He who loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich.
- The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous, and the unfaithful for the upright.
- Better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman.
- There is desirable treasure, and oil in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man squanders it.
- He who follows righteousness and mercy finds life, righteousness, and honor.