Our venerable father and confessor Procopius the Decapolite lived during the eighth century in the region of Decapolis, to the east of Lake Galilee. There he labored for his salvation, struggling in asceticism. St. Procopius, his fellow ascetic St. Basil, and others zealous for holy Orthodoxy rose up against the Iconoclast heresy of those times. By order of the emperor Leo the Isaurian, St. Procopius was arrested, subjected to a fierce scourging and thrown into prison. Here he languished together with St. Basil until the death of the oppressive emperor, after which the holy confessors were set free. St. Procopius lived the rest of his life in peace, guiding many on the way of virtue and salvation.
Your abundant tears made the wilderness bloom, and your suffering made your labors fruitful a hundredfold; you became a shining torch over the world. O venerable father Procopius, pray to Christ our God that He may save our souls.
Today the church acknowledges you as a star before dawn, dispelling the darkness of error. Therefore, she honors you, O glorious Procopius, as one who contemplates heaven.
The Lord God made for the man and his wife garments of skins, with which he clothed them. Then the Lord God said: See! The man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil! Now, what if he also reaches out his hand to take fruit from the tree of life, and eats of it and lives forever? The Lord God therefore banished him from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he had been taken. He expelled the man, stationing the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword east of the garden of Eden, to guard the way to the tree of life.
The man had intercourse with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, saying, “I have produced a male child with the help of the Lord.” Next she gave birth to his brother Abel. Abel became a herder of flocks, and Cain a tiller of the ground. In the course of time Cain brought an offering to the Lord from the fruit of the ground, while Abel, for his part, brought the patty portion of the firstlings of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry and dejected. Then the Lord said to Cain: Why are you so angry? Why are you dejected? If you act rightly, you will be accepted; but if not, sin lies in wait at the door: its urge is for you, yet you can rule over it.
Those who scoff, he scoffs at, but the lowly he favors.
The wise will possess glory, but fools will bear shame.
Hear, O children, a father’s instruction, be attentive, that you may gain understanding!
Yes, excellent advice I give you; my teaching do not forsake.
When I was my father’s child, tender, the darling of my mother,
He taught me and said to me: “Let your heart hold fast my words: keep my commands, and live!
Get wisdom, get understanding! Do not forget or turn aside from the words of my mouth.
Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you; love her, and she will safeguard you;
The beginning of wisdom is: get wisdom; whatever else you get, get understanding.
Extol her, and she will exalt you; she will bring you honors if you embrace her;
She will put on your head a graceful diadem; a glorious crown will she bestow on you.”
Hear, my son, and receive my words, and the years of your life shall be many.
On the way of wisdom I direct you, I lead you on straight paths.
When you walk, your step will not be impeded, and should you run, you will not stumble.
Hold fast to instruction, never let it go; keep it, for it is your life.
The path of the wicked do not enter, nor walk in the ways of the evil;
Shun it, do not cross it, turn aside from it, pass on.
For they cannot rest unless they have done evil; if they do not trip anyone they lose sleep.
For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence.
But the path of the just is like shining light, that grows in brilliance till perfect day.
The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know on what they stumble.
My son, to my words be attentive, to my sayings incline your ear;
Let them not slip from your sight, keep them within your heart;
For they are life to those who find them, bringing health to one’s whole being.
With all vigilance guard your heart, for in it are the source of life.
Dishonest mouth put away from you, deceitful lips put far from you.
Icon courtesy of Jack Figel, Eastern Christian Publications – ecpubs.com
Sunday, February 26 –