SUNDAY OF THE PUBLICAN AND THE PHARISEE — Tone 1. Beginning of the Lenten Triodion. Ven. Stephen (in monasticism Simeon), the Myrrhgusher, Prince of Serbia (1199).
Tone 1 Troparion (Resurrection)
When the stone had been sealed by the Jews, while the soldiers were guarding Your most pure body, You rose on the third day, O Savior, granting life to the world. The powers of heaven therefore cried to You, O Giver of Life: “Glory to Your Resurrection, O Christ!
Glory to Your Kingdom!// Glory to Your dispensation, O Lover of mankind!”
Tone 4 Troparion (St. Nicholas)
You proved yourself to be be a holy priest, O Nicholas. You served God in Myra and lived the gospel of Christ. You offered your life for your people, And rescued the innocent from death. Therefore God has glorified you as a trustworthy guide of things divine.
Tone 4 Kontakion (from the Lenten Triodion)
Let us flee from the pride of the Pharisee! Let us learn humility from the Publican’s tears!
Let us cry to our Savior: “Have mercy on us,// O only merciful One!”
Tone 1 Prokeimenon (Resurrection)
Let Your mercy, O Lord, be upon us /as we have set our hope on You! (Ps. 32:22)
V. Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous! Praise befits the just! (Ps. 32:1)
2 Timothy 3:10-15 (Epistle)
But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra – what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
V. God gives vengeance unto me, and subdues people under me. (Ps. 17:48)
V. He magnifies the salvation of the King and deals mercifully with David, His anointed, and his seed forever. (Ps. 17:51)
Prayer Before the Gospel
Illumine our hearts, O Master and Lover of mankind, with the pure light of Your divine knowledge, and open the eyes of our mind to the understanding of Your Gospel teachings. Implant also in us the fear of Your blessed commandments, that trampling down all carnal desires, we may enter upon a spiritual manner of living, both thinking and doing such things as are well-pleasing to You. For You are the illumination of our souls and bodies, O Christ our God, and unto You do we send up glory, together with Your Father, Who is without beginning, and Your all-holy, good, and life-giving Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.
Luke 18:10-14 (Gospel)
“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men – extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Matthew 5:14-19 (Gospel, Hierarchs)
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. heart and our passions. Our gods are our flesh, entertainments, money and vanities.
Fr. Thomas Hopko
In the Orthodox Church the liturgical day begins in the evening with the setting of the sun. This practice follows the Biblical account of creation: “And there was evening and there was morning, one day” (Gen 1.5).
The Vespers service in the Church always begins with the chanting of the evening psalm: “. . . the sun knows it’s time for setting, Thou makest darkness and it is night . . .” (Ps 104.19–20). This psalm, which glorifies God’s creation of the world, is man’s very first act of worship, for man first of all meets God as Creator.
Bless the Lord, oh my soul, O Lord my God, Thou art very great . . .
O Lord, how manifold are Thy works! In wisdom hast Thou made them all. The earth is full of Thy creatures (Ps 104.24).
Following the psalm, the Great Litany, the opening petition of all liturgical services of the Church is intoned. In it we pray to the Lord for everyone and everything.
Following this litany a number of psalms are chanted, a different group each evening. These psalms normally are omitted in parish churches though they are done in monasteries. On the eve of Sunday, however, sections of the first psalm and the other psalms which are chanted to begin the week are usually sung even in parish churches.
Psalm 141 is always sung at Vespers. During this psalm the evening incense is offered:
Lord, I call upon Thee, hear me. Hear me, O Lord.
Let my prayer arise in Thy sight as incense.
And let the lifting up of my hands be an evening sacrifice. Hear me, O Lord (Ps 141.1–2).
At this point special hymns are sung for the particular day. If it be a Church feast: songs in honor of the celebration are sung. On Saturday evenings, the eve of the Lord’s Day, these hymns always praise Christ’s resurrection from the dead.
The special hymns normally end with a song called a Theotokion which honors Mary, the Mother of Christ. Following this, the vesperal hymn is sung. If it be a special feast or the eve of Sunday, the celebrant will come to the center or the church building with lighted candles and incense. This hymn belongs to every Vespers service.
O Gladsome Light of the holy glory of the Immortal Father, heavenly, holy, blessed Jesus Christ. Now we have come to the setting of the sun and behold the light of evening. We praise God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. For it is right at all times to worship Thee with voices of praise, O Son of God and Giver of Life, therefore all the world glorifies Thee.
Christ is praised as the Light which illumines man’s darkness, the Light of the world and of the Kingdom of God which shall have no evening (Is 60.20, Rev 21.25).
A verse from the Psalms, the prokeimenon, follows—a different one for each day, announcing the day’s spiritual theme. If it be a special day, three readings from the Old Testament are included. Then more evening prayers and petitions follow with additional hymns for the particular day, all of which end with the chanting of the Song of Saint Simeon: Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace according to Thy word, for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation: which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people.
A light for revelation to the Gentiles, and to be the glory of Thy people Israel (Lk 1.29–32).
After proclaiming our own vision of Christ, the Light and Salvation of the world, we say the prayers of the Thrice-Holy (trisagion) through to the Our Father. We sing the main theme song of the day, called the Troparion, and we are dismissed with the usual benediction.
The service of Vespers takes us through creation, sin, and salvation in Christ. It leads us to the meditation of God’s word and the glorification of his love for men. It instructs us and allows us to praise God for the particular events or persons whose memory is celebrated and made present to us in the Church. It prepares us for the sleep of the night and the dawn of the new day to come. On the evening before the Divine Liturgy, it begins our movement into the most perfect communion with God in the sacramental mysteries.