FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:
Menas of Egypt
Saint Victor and Stephanie
Theodore the Studite
Holy Martyr Vincent
Τῶν Ἁγίων Μαρτύρων Μηνᾶ, Βίκτωρος καί Βικεντίου.
Τῆς Ἁγίας Μάρτυρος Στεφανίδος·
καί τοῦ Ὁσίου Πατρός ἡμῶν καί Ὁμολογητοῦ Θεοδώρου τοῦ Στουδίτου
READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:
The Reading is from St. Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians 4:6-15
Brethren, it is the God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.
Since we have the same spirit of faith as he had who wrote, "I believed, and so I spoke," we too believed, and so we speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into His presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
Πρὸς Κορινθίους β' 4:6-15
Ἀδελφοί, ὁ θεὸς ὁ εἰπὼν ἐκ σκότους φῶς λάμψαι, ὃς ἔλαμψεν ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ἡμῶν πρὸς φωτισμὸν τῆς γνώσεως τῆς δόξης τοῦ θεοῦ ἐν προσώπῳ Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ. Ἔχομεν δὲ τὸν θησαυρὸν τοῦτον ἐν ὀστρακίνοις σκεύεσιν, ἵνα ἡ ὑπερβολὴ τῆς δυνάμεως ᾖ τοῦ θεοῦ, καὶ μὴ ἐξ ἡμῶν· ἐν παντὶ θλιβόμενοι, ἀλλʼ οὐ στενοχωρούμενοι· ἀπορούμενοι, ἀλλʼ οὐκ ἐξαπορούμενοι· διωκόμενοι, ἀλλʼ οὐκ ἐγκαταλειπόμενοι· καταβαλλόμενοι, ἀλλʼ οὐκ ἀπολλύμενοι· πάντοτε τὴν νέκρωσιν τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ ἐν τῷ σώματι περιφέροντες, ἵνα καὶ ἡ ζωὴ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ ἐν τῷ σώματι ἡμῶν φανερωθῇ. Ἀεὶ γὰρ ἡμεῖς οἱ ζῶντες εἰς θάνατον παραδιδόμεθα διὰ Ἰησοῦν, ἵνα καὶ ἡ ζωὴ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ φανερωθῇ ἐν τῇ θνητῇ σαρκὶ ἡμῶν. Ὥστε ὁ μὲν θάνατος ἐν ἡμῖν ἐνεργεῖται, ἡ δὲ ζωὴ ἐν ὑμῖν. Ἔχοντες δὲ τὸ αὐτὸ πνεῦμα τῆς πίστεως, κατὰ τὸ γεγραμμένον, Ἐπίστευσα, διὸ ἐλάλησα, καὶ ἡμεῖς πιστεύομεν, διὸ καὶ λαλοῦμεν· εἰδότες ὅτι ὁ ἐγείρας τὸν κύριον Ἰησοῦν καὶ ἡμᾶς διὰ Ἰησοῦ ἐγερεῖ, καὶ παραστήσει σὺν ὑμῖν. Τὰ γὰρ πάντα διʼ ὑμᾶς, ἵνα ἡ χάρις πλεονάσασα διὰ τῶν πλειόνων τὴν εὐχαριστίαν περισσεύσῃ εἰς τὴν δόξαν τοῦ θεοῦ.
The Reading is from Luke 13:31-35
At that very hour some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, "Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you." And he said to them, "Go and tell that fox, 'Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course. Nevertheless I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.' O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!'"
Κατὰ Λουκᾶν 13.31-35
Τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ, προσῆλθόν τινες Φαρισαῖοι λέγοντες αὐτῷ· ἔξελθε καὶ πορεύου ἐντεῦθεν, ὅτι ῾Ηρῴδης θέλει σε ἀποκτεῖναι. καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· πορευθέντες εἴπατε τῇ ἀλώπεκι ταύτῃ· ἰδοὺ ἐκβάλλω δαιμόνια καὶ ἰάσεις ἐπιτελῶ σήμερον καὶ αὔριον, καὶ τῇ τρίτῃ τελειοῦμαι· πλὴν δεῖ με σήμερον καὶ αὔριον καὶ τῇ ἐχομένῃ πορεύεσθαι, ὅτι οὐκ ἐνδέχεται προφήτην ἀπολέσθαι ἔξω ῾Ιερουσαλήμ. ῾Ιερουσαλὴμ ῾Ιερουσαλήμ, ἡ ἀποκτέννουσα τοὺς προφήτας καὶ λιθοβολοῦσα τοὺς ἀπεσταλμένους πρὸς αὐτήν! ποσάκις ἠθέλησα ἐπισυνάξαι τὰ τέκνα σου ὃν τρόπον ὄρνις τὴν ἑαυτῆς νοσσιὰν ὑπὸ τὰς πτέρυγας, καὶ οὐκ ἠθελήσατε! ἰδοὺ ἀφίεται ὑμῖν ὁ οἶκος ὑμῶν ἔρημος. λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν ὅτι οὐ μή με ἴδητε ἕως ἂν ἥξῃ ὅτε εἴπητε· εὐλογημένος ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἐν ὀνόματι Κυρίου.
READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:
Τῇ ΙΑ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Μεγαλομάρτυρος Μηνᾶ τοῦ ἐν τῷ Κοτυαείῳ.
Αἴγυπτος ὄντως, εἰ τέκοι, τίκτει μέγα.
Τμηθεὶς ἀληθὲς τοῦτο Μηνᾶς δεικνύει.
Μηνᾶς ἑνδεκάτῃ ἔτλη ξίφος γηθόσυνος κῆρ.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Μάρτυρος Βίκτωρος.
Οὐ δειλιῶν ἦν οὐδὲ Βίκτωρ πρὸς ξίφος,
Πᾶσαν μακρὰν που καρδίας θεὶς δειλίαν.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Μάρτυρος Βικεντίου Διακόνου.
Βληθεὶς ὁ Βικέντιος ἐν φρουρᾷ φέρει.
Λυθεὶς δὲ φρουρᾶς σαρκικῆς ἄνω τρέχει.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τῆς Ἁγίας Μάρτυρος Στεφανίδος.
Δένδροις Στεφανὶς προσδεθεῖσα φοινίκων,
Τῶν Μαρτύρων ἤνθησεν ὡς φοίνιξ μέσον.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Θεοδώρου, Ἡγουμένου τοῦ Στουδίου.
Πολλὰς ἀμοιβάς, Θεόδωρε Τρισμάκαρ,
Βίου μεταστάς, ὡς βιοὺς εὖ, προσδόκα.
Τοῦ Ἁγίου καὶ μακαρίου Μαξίμου τοῦ διὰ Χριστὸν Σαλοῦ, τοῦ ἐν Μόσχᾳ θαυματουργοῦ Ῥώσσου.
Ταῖς αὐτῶν Ἁγίαις πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεὸς ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.
Saint Menas, who had Egypt as his fatherland, contested in Cotyaeion of Phrygia in 296 during the reign of Diocletian and Maximian. A soldier distinguished for his valour in war, he renounced his rank and withdrew to devote himself to ascetical struggles and prayer in the mountains. Filled with zeal and more than human courage, he presented himself in the midst of a pagan festival in Cotyaeion and declared himself to be a Christian. After terrible torments which he endured with astonishing courage, he was beheaded. His martyrium in Egypt became a place of universal pilgrimage; evidence of ancient journeys to his shrine have been found as far away as Ireland. The glory and refuge of the Christians of Egypt, he has been revealed to be a worker of great miracles and a swift defender for all who call on him with faith; besides all else, he is also invoked for help in finding lost objects.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Στρατείαν κατέλιπες τήν κοσμικήν, αθλητά, ουράνιον είληφας τήν κληρουχίαν, σόφε, καί στέφος αμάραντον, δόξαν αποδιώξας βασιλέως γηϊνου, άθλους δέ διανύσας μαρτυρίου γενναίου. Διό, μεγαλομάρτυς Μηνά, πρέσβευε σωθήναι ημάς.
With great valour of soul, thou didst strive in martyrdom, and having fought the good fight, O divine Great Martyr Menas, thou from Heaven hast received the gift of miracles; for God hath shown thee to the world as a worker of great signs, and He made thee our protector and a swift help in afflictions and ever-vigilant defence from harm.
Saints Victor and Stephanie contested in Damascus in 160, during the reign of Antoninus Pius. The pagans arrested Saint Victor as a Christian and cut off his fingers, put out his eyes, and beheaded him. As Saint Stephanie, the wife of a certain soldier, and a Christian, saw Vic-tor's nobility in his sufferings, she loudly cried out to call him blessed and to say that she saw two crowns prepared, one for him, and one for herself. She also was taken, and was tied to two palm trees which had been bowed down; when they were released, she was torn asunder.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Τής στρατείας ήρπασε, τής επικήρου, καί αφθάρτου έδειξε, σέ Αθλοφόρε κοινωνόν, Μηνά Χριστός ο Θεός ημών, ο τών Μαρτύρων ακήρατος στέφανος.
As godly-minded athletes and Martyrs who strove for piety, the Church doth honour and glorify this day the godly contests and travails of Menas the prizewinner, noble Victor, brave Vincent, and valiant Stephanie, and lovingly doth cry out and glorify Christ, the Friend of man.
Saint Vincent is the most illustrious of the Martyrs of Spain. Because of his virtue, he was ordained deacon by Valerius, Bishop of Saragossa, who, because of his advanced age and an impediment in his speech, commissioned Vincent to be preacher of the Gospel. In 303, the impious Emperors Diocletian and Maximian sent Dacian to Spain as governor, with an edict to persecute the clergy. Saint Vincent was brought with Bishop Valerius to Valencia; the bishop was sent into exile, but the holy deacon was tortured on a rack, and after suffering other cruel torments, gave up his soul into the hands of God on January 22 in the year 304.
Saint Theodore the Studite was born in Constantinople in 759; his pious parents were named Photinus and Theoctiste. He assumed the monastic habit in his youth, at the monastery called Sakkoudion, and became abbot there in 794. About the year 784 he was ordained deacon, and later presbyter by the most holy Patriarch Tarasius. On joining the brotherhood of the Monastery of Studium (which was named after its founder Studius, a Roman consul), the Saint received the surname "Studite." He proved to be a fervent zealot for the traditions of the Fathers and contested even unto death for the sake of his reverence for the holy icons. He endured three exiles because of his pious zeal. During the third one, to which he was condemned by the Iconoclast autocrat, Leo the Armenian, he endured courageously - being beaten and bound and led from one dark dungeon to another - for seven whole years. Finally he was recalled from exile by Michael the Stutterer. Receiving thus a small respite from his labours of long endurance, he reposed in the Lord on November 11, 826, a Sunday, while his disciples, who stood round about him, chanted the 118th Psalm. Some say that after receiving the immaculate Mysteries, he himself began chanting this psalm. And on reaching the verse, ' I will never forget Thy statutes, for in them hast Thou quickened me" (Ps. 118:93), he gave up his spirit, having lived for sixty-seven years. In addition to his other sacred writings, he composed, with the collaboration of his brother Joseph, almost the whole of the compunctionate book of the Triodion (see also July 14).
Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Ορθοδοξίας Οδηγέ, ευσεβίας διδάσκαλε καί σεμνότητος, τής οικουμένης ο φωστήρ, αρχιερέων θεόπνευστον εγκαλλώπισμα, Θεόδωρε σοφέ, ταίς διδαχαίς σου πάντας εφώτισας, λύρα τού Πνεύματος, πρέσβευε Χριστώ τώ Θεώ, σωθήναι τάς ψυχάς ημών.
Guide of Orthodoxy, teacher of piety and holiness, luminary of the world, God-inspired adornment of monastics, O wise Theodore, by thy teachings thou hast enlightened all, O harp of the Spirit. Intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.
Kontakion in the Second Tone
Τόν ασκητικόν, ισάγγελόν τε βίον σου, τοίς αθλητικοίς, εφαίδρυνας παλαίσμασι, καί Αγγέλοις σύσκηνος, θεομάκαρ ώφθης Θεόδωρε, σύν αυτοίς Χριστώ τώ Θεώ, πρεσβεύων απαύστως υπέρ πάντων ημών.
Ascetic in truth and equal to the Angel's life, thy life was made bright with contests and martyric trials; and the holy Angels' companion was thou, Theodore, blest of God; now together with them, O Saint, thou ceaselessly prayest Christ in our behalf.
Μια ιδέα για τον τρόπο, με τον οποίον ωμολογούσαν οι άγιοι Μάρτυρες την πίστη τους κι έδιναν τη ζωή τους για τον Χριστό, μπορούμε να λάβωμε από τον διάλογο μεταξύ του ηγεμόνος και του αγίου Μηνά, του οποίου η Εκκλησία σήμερα γιορτάζει την μνήμη. Στα ερωτήματα και τις δελεαστικές προτάσεις του ηγεμόνος ο Μηνάς απάντησε: "Κατάγομαι από την Αίγυπτο. Είμαι χριστιανός και ονομάζομαι Μηνάς. ΄Ημουν στρατιώτης και βλέποντας την ασέβεια των ειδωλολατρών, έφυγα στο όρος. ΄Ηρθα τώρα να ομολογήσω τον Χριστό. Πιστεύω πως φανερά ο χριστιανός οφείλει να ομολογή την πίστη του και να μην φοβάτει εκείνους που μπορούν να σκοτώσουν το σώμα, όχι όμως και την ψυχή...". Τίποτα δεν μπόρεσε να λυγίση και να κάμψη τον Άγιο και ο ηγεμόνας, ανίσχυρος μπροστά στην αδάμαστη ψυχή, εξέδωκε την απόφασή του: "Μηνάς ο αιγύπτιος, υβρίσας τους Θεούς, διατάσσομεν ίνα αποκεφαλισθή".
Ὁ Ἅγιος Μηνᾶς «ὁ ἐν τῷ Κοτυαείῳ» ὁ Μεγαλομάρτυρας
Ἔζησε τὸν 3ο αἰῶνα μ.Χ. ἐπὶ Μαξιμιανοῦ καὶ Διοκλητιανοῦ. Γεννήθηκε ἀπὸ εἰδωλολάτρες γονεῖς στὴν Αἴγυπτο, ἀλλὰ ὁ Μηνᾶς ἀπὸ ἔφηβος γνώρισε τὸ Χριστὸ καὶ ἀφοσιώθηκε μὲ ὅλην του τὴν καρδιὰ σ᾿ Αὐτόν. Ὅταν ἀπολύθηκε ἀπὸ τὶς τάξεις τοῦ στρατοῦ, θέλησε νὰ ἀποσυρθεῖ σὲ τόπο, ὅπου τὸ σῶμα του καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα του νὰ εἶναι ἐκτὸς κάθε εἰδωλολατρικοῦ ἐρεθίσματος. Κατέφυγε στὸ ὄρος Κοτυάειον τῆς Φρυγίας, ὅπου μαζὶ μὲ ἄλλους ζοῦσαν σὰν μία αὐτόνομη καὶ ἐλεύθερη κοινωνία Χριστοῦ. Ὅταν ὅμως ἐξεῤῥάγη ὁ διωγμὸς κατὰ τῶν χριστιανῶν, ὁ Μηνᾶς δὲν ἄντεξε καὶ κατέβηκε στὴν πόλη νὰ ὁμολογήσει τὸ Χριστό. Σὲ μία πανήγυρη τῶν εἰδωλολατρῶν, ὅρμησε μὲ θάῤῥος καὶ ἐν μέσῳ ὅλων διακήρυξε ὅτι ἕνας εἶναι ὁ ἀληθινὸς Θεός, ὁ Κύριος Ἰησοῦς Χριστός. Ἀμέσως ὅλοι ἔπεσαν ἐπάνω του, τὸν συνέλαβαν καὶ ὁ δικαστὴς Πυῤῥὸς τὸν ἔκρινε ἔνοχο θανάτου. Τότε ὁ Μηνᾶς ἀπάντησε: « Ὥστε δικάζομαι σὰν ἔνοχος ἐπειδὴ στὸ πανηγύρι σας διακήρυξα τὴν ἀλήθεια τοῦ Θεοῦ μου, χωρὶς νὰ ἀγγίξω κανένα ἀπὸ σᾶς. Τότε ἐσεῖς τί εἶσθε, ὅταν ὄχι μόνο τὴν θρησκεία μας βρίζετε, ἀλλὰ καὶ μὲ χίλια δυὸ βάσανα θανατώνετε νέους, γέρους, γυναῖκες καὶ παιδιά; Αὐτὴ λοιπὸν εἶναι ἡ δικαιοσύνη σας; Αὐτὰ τὰ φῶτα σας; Αὐτὸς ὁ πολιτισμός σας; Μοῦ προτείνετε νὰ θυσιάσω στὰ εἴδωλα γιὰ νὰ διαφύγω τὸ θάνατο. Μὴ χάνετε λοιπὸν τὸν καιρό σας. Τὸ θῦμα εἶναι μπροστά σας καὶ δὲν ἔχει ἀνάγκη τῆς διαφυγῆς ποὺ τοῦ προτείνετε. Διότι τὸ αἷμα μου θὰ φανεῖ ἰσχυρότερο καὶ θὰ σᾶς καταπνίξει». Ἐξαγριωμένοι ἀπὸ τὴν ἀπάντηση οἱ εἰδωλολάτρες, μὲ φρικτὸ τρόπο τὸν ἀποκεφάλισαν (304 μ.Χ.).
Ὁ Ἅγιος Βίκτωρ ὁ Μεγαλομάρτυρας
Ἀνήκει στὸ μαρτυρικὸ χορό, ποὺ μὲ τὸ αἷμα τοῦ πότισε τὸ ζωηφόρο δένδρο τῆς χριστιανικῆς πίστης τὸν δεύτερο αἰῶνα μετὰ Χριστόν, ὅταν βασιλιὰς ἦταν ὁ Ἀντωνῖνος (160). Οἱ ὑπηρεσίες του ὑπὲρ τοῦ Εὐαγγελίου, εἶχαν σὰν στάδιο τὴν Ἰταλία. Ἐκεῖ ὁ Βίκτωρ ἔτρεχε σὲ διάφορες πόλεις καὶ ἔσπερνε τὸ λόγο τῆς σωτηρίας. Συλλαμβάνεται γι᾿ αὐτὸ καὶ ἐκβιάζεται νὰ προσφέρει θυσία στὰ εἴδωλα. Ἐπειδὴ ὅμως δὲν λύγισε, τοῦ ἔβγαλαν τὰ μάτια καὶ τὸν κρέμασαν μὲ τὸ κεφάλι πρὸς τὰ κάτω. Ἔτσι παρέδωσε τὴν γενναία καὶ ἁγία ψυχή του.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Βικέντιος ὁ Διάκονος Ἱερομάρτυρας
Ὁ Ἅγιος αὐτὸς ἔζησε στὰ χρόνια τοῦ βασιλιᾶ Μαξιμίνου καὶ ἡγεμόνα Δατιανοῦ (235). Ἦταν Διάκονος στὴν Αὐγουστόπολη (Σαραγόσα) τῆς Ἱσπανίας καὶ δίδασκε τὸν λόγο τοῦ Θεοῦ μαζὶ μὲ τὸν ἐπίσκοπο Οὐαλέριο. Ὁ ἴδιος γεννήθηκε στὴν Οὐέσκα τῆς Ἱσπανίας. Κάποτε λοιπόν, συνελήφθη μαζὶ μὲ τὸν ἐπίσκοπο καὶ ὁδηγήθηκαν στὸν ἄρχοντα Δατιανό. Αὐτὸς τοὺς ἔδεσε μὲ ἁλυσίδες καὶ ἔτσι ἁλυσοδεμένους τοὺς ἔστειλε στὴν πιὸ σκοτεινὴ φυλακὴ τῆς πόλης Βαλέντια. Ἀφοῦ πέρασαν μερικὲς μέρες, ἔβγαλε ἀπὸ τὴν φυλακὴ τὸν Βικέντιο καὶ πρόσταξε νὰ τὸν καταξεσχίσουν. Ἔπειτα τὸν κάρφωσαν ἐπάνω σ᾿ ἕνα σταυρὸ καὶ χτύπησαν δυνατὰ ὅλα του τὰ μέλη. Κατόπιν ἔκαψαν τὶς πλευρές του καὶ ἐξάρθρωσαν ὅλο τὸ σῶμα, μὲ ἀποτέλεσμα ὁ Ἅγιος νὰ παραδώσει τὸ πνεῦμα στὸν στεφανοδότη Θεό. Εὐλαβεῖς χριστιανοί, πῆραν τὸ σῶμα του καὶ τὸ ἔθαψαν μὲ τὴν ἁρμόζουσα τιμή.
Ἡ Ἁγία Στεφανίδα
Ἦταν γυναῖκα ἑνὸς στρατιωτικοῦ στὴν Ἰταλία τὸ 160, ὅταν βασιλιὰς ἦταν ὁ Ἀντωνῖνος. Στὸ μεταξὺ πέθανε ὁ ἄνδρας της καὶ ἔμεινε χήρα. Αὐτὴ λοιπόν, χριστιανὴ ἀπὸ τοὺς προγόνους της ἀκόμα, βλέποντας τὸν Ἅγιο Βίκτωρα ὅτι βασανιζόταν ὑπερβολικά, τὸν μακάρισε γιὰ τὴν ἀνδρεία του. Ἡ ἐκδήλωσή της αὐτὴ ὅμως, προκάλεσε τοὺς εἰδωλολάτρες καὶ τὴν ὁδήγησαν στὸν ἡγεμόνα. Ἐπειδὴ καὶ ἐκεῖ ὁμολόγησε μὲ θάῤῥος τὸν Χριστό, ἔδεσαν τὰ χέρια της στὶς κορυφὲς δυὸ δένδρων (φοινίκων), ποὺ μὲ τὴν βία λύγισαν, κατόπιν τὰ ἄφησαν ἐλεύθερα καὶ ὅπως μὲ ὁρμὴ ἐπανῆλθαν στὴν ἀρχική τους θέση, ἔσχισαν τὴν Ἁγία στὰ δυό, καὶ ἔτσι παρέδωσε τὴν μακαρία ψυχή της στὰ χέρια τοῦ Θεοῦ.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Θεόδωρος ὁ Ὁμολογητὴς ἡγούμενος Μονῆς Στουδίου
Γεννήθηκε στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη τὸ 759 καὶ ἦταν γιὸς τοῦ Φωτεινοῦ καὶ τῆς Θεοκτίστης. Στὴν ἀνατροφή του ἄσκησε μεγάλη ἐπιῤῥοὴ ὁ θεῖος του Πλάτων, μία ἀπὸ τὶς μεγαλύτερες μορφὲς τῆς ἐκκλησίας τῆς Κωνσταντινουπόλεως. Ὁ Θεόδωρος ἔγινε μοναχὸς πρῶτα στὴ Μονὴ τοῦ Σακκουδίωνος (κοντὰ στὴν Προῦσα), ποὺ ἀνήγειραν οἱ γονεῖς του στὸ κτῆμα τους μὲ τὴν ὀνομασία Βοσκήτιον. Ἀργότερα ἔγινε καὶ ἡγούμενος αὐτῆς, ἀφοῦ ἀποσύρθηκε ὁ θεῖος του Πλάτων λόγω γήρατος. Γιὰ τὴν ἀντίστασή του ὁ Θεόδωρος, στὸ γάμο τοῦ βασιλιᾶ Κωνσταντίνου ΣΤ´ μὲ τὴν Θεοδότη, ἐξορίστηκε στὴ Θεσσαλονίκη. Ἐπανῆλθε στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη μετὰ τὸν θάνατο τοῦ Κωνσταντίνου καὶ ἐγκαταστάθηκε στὴ Μονὴ Στουδίου σὰν ἡγούμενος. Ἀλλὰ καὶ πάλι γιὰ τὴν ἀντίστασή του στὴν χειροτονία τοῦ Νικηφόρου ἀπὸ λαϊκὸ σὲ Πατριάρχη, ἐξορίστηκε μαζὶ μὲ τὸν θεῖο του Πλάτωνα (809). Ἐπέστρεψε ἀπὸ τὴν ἐξορία τὸ 812 στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη, γιὰ νὰ ἐξοριστεῖ τρίτη φορὰ ἀπὸ τὸν Λέοντα τὸ Ε´, ἐπειδὴ μὲ πολὺ θάῤῥος ὑπερασπίστηκε τὶς ἱερὲς εἰκόνες καὶ τὸ ὀρθόδοξο φρόνημα. Πέθανε στὴν ἐξορία τὸ 826 σὲ ἡλικία 67 ἐτῶν, στὴ χερσόνησο τοῦ Ἀκρίτα τοῦ Ἁγίου Τρύφωνα. Τὸ δὲ σῶμα του μετακομίστηκε στὴν Πριγκιπόνησο, ὅπου καὶ ἐτάφη. Ὕστερα δέ, ἐπὶ Πατριάρχου Μεθοδίου, τὸ 844 ἀνακομίστηκε στὴ βασιλεύουσα, μαζὶ μὲ τὸ λείψανο τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ του Ἰωσὴφ τοῦ Θεσσαλονίκης καὶ ἐτάφη στὴ Μονὴ Στουδίου.
Holy Martyr Menas (~304)
This holy Martyr was an Egyptian and a soldier during the reigns of Diocletian and Maximian. Though he was known for his valor in combat, he renounced his soldier's rank when his legion was ordered to seize Christians in north Africa. Fleeing to the mountains, he dwelt there for some time in silence and solitude, devoting his days to prayer. In time, he presented himself at a pagan festival, denounced the idols and declared himself a Christian. For this he was handed over to the governor of the city, who subjected him to horrible tortures and finally had him beheaded. Some faithful retrieved part of his relics and gave them honorable burial near Lake Mareotis, about thirty miles from Alexandria. The church built over his tomb became a place of pilgrimage not only for countless Egyptians but for Christians all over the world: evidence has been found of journeys to his shrine from as far away as Ireland.
The Synaxarion gives an account of the Saint's intervention in the Second World War: "In June 1942, during the North-Africa campaign that was decisive for the outcome of the Second World War, the German forces under the command of General Rommel were on their way to Alexandria, and happened to make a halt near a place which the Arabs call El-Alamein after Saint Menas. An ancient ruined church there was dedicated to the Saint; and there some people say he is buried. Here the weaker Allied forces including some Greeks confronted the numerically and militarily superior German army, and the result of the coming battle seemed certain. During the first night of engagement, Saint Menas appeared in the midst of the German camp at the head of a caravan of camels, exactly as he was shown on the walls of the ruined church in one of the frescoes depicting his miracles. This astounding and terrifying apparition so undermined German morale that it contributed to the brilliant victory of the Allies. The Church of Saint Menas was restored in thanksgiving and a small monastery was established there."
Our Righteous Father Theodore the Studite (826)
"Saint Theodore the Studite was born in Constantinople in 759; his pious parents were named Photinus and Theoctiste. He assumed the monastic habit in his youth, at the monastery called Sakkoudion, and became abbot there in 794. About the year 784 he was ordained deacon, and later presbyter by the most holy Patriarch Tarasius. On joining the brotherhood of the Monastery of Studium (which was named after its founder Studius, a Roman consul), the Saint received the surname "Studite." He proved to be a fervent zealot for the traditions of the Fathers and contested even unto death for the sake of his reverence for the holy icons. He endured three exiles because of his pious zeal. During the third one, to which he was condemned by the Iconoclast autocrat, Leo the Armenian, he endured courageously being beaten and bound and led from one dark dungeon to another for seven whole years. Finally he was recalled from exile by Michael the Stutterer. Receiving thus a small respite from his labours of long endurance, he reposed in the Lord on November 11, 826, a Sunday, while his disciples, who stood round about him, chanted the 118th Psalm. Some say that after receiving the immaculate Mysteries, he himself began chanting this psalm. And on reaching the verse, "I will never forget Thy statutes, for in them hast Thou quickened me" (v. 93) he gave up his spirit, having lived for sixty-seven years. In addition to his other sacred writings, he composed, with the collaboration of his brother Joseph, almost the whole of the compunctionate book of the Triodion." (Great Horologion)
St Theodore helped to establish the Studion (or Stoudion) Monastery in Constantinople, and was its Abbot. Under his guidance the Stoudion Monastery became the leading center of Orthodox piety and Byzantine culture of its time. The monks lived a radically common life: they did not even have their own cells, but slept in large dormitories.
The Holy GreatMartyr Menas, an Egyptian by birth, was a soldier and served in the city Kotuan under the centurion Firmilian during the reign of the emperors Diocletian and Maximian (284-305). When the co-emperors began the then fiercest persecution against Christians in history, the saint lost all desire to serve these persecutors and, having left the service, he withdrew to a mountain, where he asceticised in fasting and prayer. Once during the time of a pagan feastday he happened to arrive in the city, in which earlier he had served. At the climax of the festal games, which all the city had come out to see, rang out the accusing voice of the saint of God, preaching faith in Christ, the Saviour of the world.
At trial before the governor Pyrrhos the saint bravely confessed his faith and said, that he had come hither, in order to denounce all of impiety. Saint Menas spurned he suggestion to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, and he was put to cruel tortures, after which he as beheaded. This occurred in the year 304. The body of the holy martyr as ordered to be burnt. Christians by night gathered up from the burnt-out fire the undestroyed remains of the martyr, which later were installed in a church in his name, built after the cessation of the persecution at the place of the suffering and death of the GreatMartyr Menas.
The Holy Martyr Victor was a soldier during the reign of the emperor Marcus Auelius the Philosopher (161-180). When the emperor began a persecution against Christians, Victor refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. Such obligatory sacrifices were made as a test of the loyalty of a soldier to the gods, the emperor and the state. The saint was given over to torture, but he came through all the torments unharmed. By the power of prayer he was victorious over a sorcerer, who from that point in time gave up give sorcery and became a Christian. Through the prayer of the saint, blind soldiers were suddenly restored their sight. Beholding the miracle, manifest by the Lord through Saint Victor, a young pious spouse of one of the torturers, Stephanida, openly glorified Christ, for which she was condemned to cruel execution: they tied her to two bended-over palm trees, which in springing back straight tore apart the martyress. The holy Martyr Victor was beheaded. The martyrs suffered in the II Century at Damascus, where also heir venerable remains were consigned to burial.
The Holy Martyr Vincent from his childhood was the student of a wise pastor, the bishop of the city of Augustopolis (now Saragossa, Spain), Blessed Valerian. When he reached mature age, the virtuous, educated and eloquent Vincent was ordained deacon by Bishop Valerian. And since the bishop himself was not adept in speech, he gave the blessing to preach in church and among the people to his deacon, a eloquent orator. By order of Diocletian (284-305), in the city of Valencia in Spain there arrived the governor Dacian with full authority to search out and execute Christians. Denunciations were made to the governor about the wise bishop and his deacon the preacher. The soldiers mounted on horses dragged behind them the elder and his student in chains from Augustopolis to Valencia, and there they threw them beaten and tortured into prison, where hey gave them neither food nor water. They subjected the bishop to the first interrogation. The elder spoke quietly, tongue-tied it seemed and uncertain. Then Saint Vincent came forward. The saint made the most eloquent preaching of his life before the judges and assembled people, confessing and glorifying God, proclaimed in the Trinity -- Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Having dispatched the bishop back to prison, the persecutor gave orders to torture the holy deacon. The martyr underwent many a torment: while crucified on a cross, they whipped and burnt at him with red-hot rods. When he was set loose from the cross, he then himself joyfully climbed back upon it, asking the executioner to again renail him, so that he might suffer the torments of the Cross of the Saviour. After the tortures they threw the martyr back into prison, and the guard at night heard with astonishment how he sang psalms, and beholding in the prison an unearthly radiant light. The next morning the holy martyr was condemned to be burned. This occurred in the year 304.
The Monk Theodore the Studite was born in the year 758 at Constantinople into a family of the imperial tax-collector Photinos and his spouse Theoktista -- both pious Christians. The Monk Theodore received a serious and systematic education from the best rhetoricians, philosophers and theologians within the capital city.
During this time in the Byzantine empire the Iconoclast heresy had become widespread, and it was supported also by the impious emperor Constantine Kopronymos (741-775). the views of the emperor-iconoclast and his court decidedly conflicted with the religious sensitivity of Photinos, who was fervently an adherent of Orthodoxy, and so he left government service. Later on the parents of Saint Theodore, by mutual consent, gave away their substance to the poor, took their leave of each other and accepted monastic tonsure. Their son Theodore soon became widely known in the capital for his participation of the then numerous disputes concerning icon-veneration. Accomplished in the oratorical art, and with a free command of terminology and logic of the philosophers, and chief thing of all, a profound knowledge of Christian dogmatics, adept in the letter and the spirit of the Holy Scriptures, -- all this invariably brought victory in the disputes to Saint Theodore, the zealous denouncer of the Iconoclast heresy.
The VII OEcumenical Council put an end to the Church dissensions. It was convened through the initiative and under the auspices of the pious Empress Irene. The OEcumenical Council through its settings as he highest authority in the life of the Church forever denounced and spurned Iconoclasm.
Among the fathers of the Council was Blessed Platon (Comm. 5 April), an uncle of Saint Theodore, and who for a long time had asceticised on Mount Olympos. An elder and lofty of life, Blessed Platon at the conclusion of the Council summoned his nephews -- Theodore together with his brothers Joseph and Euthymios -- to the monk's life in the wilderness. The brothers gratefully accepted the guidance of their kinsman, experienced in the spiritual life.
Having departed Constantinople, they set off to the locale of Sakudian, not far from Olympos. The solitude and the beauty of the place, its difficulty of access for unaspiring people, met with the approval of the elder and his nephews, and they decided to remain here. The brothers built a church in the name of Saint John the Theologian, and gradually there began to throng here those thirsting for monastic deeds. And thus arose a monastery, the hegumen of which was Blessed Platon.
The life of the Monk Theodore was truly ascetic. He toiled at his own heavy and dirty work. He strictly kept fast, and each day he made confession to his spiritual father -- the starets-elder Platon, revealing to him all his doings and thoughts, and carefully he fulfilled all his counsels and guidances. Theodore daily made time for spiritual reflection, he bared his soul to God, unburdened of any earthly concern, making as it were a certain secret service to Him. The Monk Theodore unfailingly read the Holy Scripture and works of the holy fathers, among them finding his closest affinity to the works of Saint Basil the Great.
After several years of the monk's life, the Monk Theodore accepted the dignity of presbyter at the guidance of his spiritual father. When Blessed Platon went to his repose, the brethren unanimously chose the Monk Theodore as hegumen of the monastery. Swayed at the wish of his confessor, the Monk Theodore accepted being chosen, but imposed upon himself still greater deeds of asceticism. He taught the brethren by the example of his own virtuous life and also by fervent fatherly instruction.
When the emperor transgressed against the Church's canons, the events of outside life disturbed the tranquillity in the monastic cells. The Monk Theodore bravely distributed a circular missive through the monasteries, in which he declared the emperor Constantine VI (780-797) excommunicated from the Church for abusing the Divine regulations concerning Christian marriage. The Monk Theodore and ten of his co-ascetics were sent into exile to the city of Soluneia (Thessalonika). But there also the accusing voice of the monk continued to ring out. Upon her return to the throne, Saint Irene in 796 set free the Monk Theodore, and gave over to him the desolate Studite monastery near Kopronyma. The saint soon gathered to the monastery about 1,000 monks. For governing the monastery the Monk Theodore wrote an ustav-rule of monastic life, since called the "Studite rule". The Monk Theodore likewise came out with many missives against the Iconoclasts. For his dogmatic works, and also the canons and triodes written by him, Blessed Theoktistos termed the Monk Theodore "a fiery teacher of the Church".
When Nicephoros seized the imperial throne, deposing the pious Empress Irene, he likewise crudely transgressed against Church regulations by restoring to the Church on his own authority an earlier excommunicated presbyter. The Monk Theodore again came out with denunciation of the emperor. After torture the monk was again sent into exile, where he spent more than two years. The monk was then set free by the gentle and pious emperor Michael, who succeeded to the throne upon the death of Nicephoros and his son Staurikios in a war against barbarians. Their death for a long while had been foretold by the Monk Theodore.
In order to avert civil war, the emperor Michael abdicated the throne to his military commander Leo the Armenian. The new emperor proved to be an iconoclast. The hierarchs and teachers of the Church attempted to reason with the impious emperor, but in vain. Leo prohibited the veneration of holy icons and gave them over for abuse. In answer to such iniquity, the Monk Theodore with the brethren made a religious procession around the monastery with highly raised icons and the singing of the tropar to the image of the Saviour Not-Made-by-Hand (Comm. 16 August). The emperor angrily threatened the saint with death, but the monk openly continued to encourage believers in Orthodoxy. Then the emperor sentenced the Monk Theodore and his student Nicholas to exile, at first in Illyria at the fortress of Metopa, and later in Anatolia at Boneta. But even from prison the confessor continued his struggle against heresy.
Tormented by the executioners which the emperor sent to Boneta, deprived almost of food and drink, covered over with sores and barely alive, Theodore and Nicholas endured everything with prayer and thanksgiving to God. At Smyrna, where they dispatched the martyrs from Boneta, the Monk Theodore healed from a terrible illness a military commander -- a nephew of the emperor and like-minded with him, by having ordered him to repent of the wicked doings of Iconoclasm. But the fellow again later relapsed into heresy, and then died.
Having been murdered by his own soldiers, Leo the Armenian was replaced by the equally impious though tolerant emperor Michael II Traulos (the Stammerer). The new emperor set free all the Orthodox fathers and confessors from prison, but in the capital he prohibited icon-veneration. The Monk Theodore did not want to return to Constantinople and so decided to settle in Bithynia in the city of Chersonessus, near the church of the holy Martyr Tryphon. In spite of serious illness, the Monk Theodore celebrated Divine Liturgy daily and instructed the brethren. Foreseeing his end, the saint summoned the brethren and in last wishes bid them to preserve Orthodoxy, to venerate holy icons and observe the monastic ustav-rule. Then he ordered the brethren to take candles and sing the canon for the parting of the soul from the body. Just before the singing of the words "I forget not Thine commandments ever, for in them hath I lived" -- the Monk Theodore expired to the Lord, in the year 826.
At this selfsame hour there occurred a vision to the Monk Ilarion of Dalmatia (Comm. 6 June). An heavenly light shone amidst singing and the voice was heard: "This is the soul of the Monk Theodore, having suffered even to the extent of its blood for holy icons, which now departeth unto the Lord".
The Monk Theodore during his life and after his death worked many a miracle: those invoking his name have been delivered from conflagrations, from attack of wild beasts, they have received healing, thanks to God and to His holy saint -- the Monk Theodore the Studite.
On 26 January is celebrated the memory of the transfer of the relics of the Monk Theodore the Studite from Chersonessus to Constantinople in the year 845.
Blessed Maxim, Fool-for-Christ, lived at Moscow. About his parentage, time and place of birth, nothing is known. Saint Maxim chose one of the most difficult and thorny paths to salvation, voluntarily for the sake of Christ having taken upon himself the guise of a fool. Summer and winter Maxim walked about almost naked, bearing with prayer both the heat and cold. He had a saying: "Fierce though be the winter, yet sweet be paradise". Rus' very much loved its holy fools, it esteemed their deep humility, it heeded their wisdom, expressed profitably and aphoristically in the proverbial sayings of the people's language. And everyone heeded the holy fools: everyone from the great princes on down to the least beggar.
Blessed Maxim lived at a difficult time for the Russian people. Tatar incursions, droughts, epidemics were endemic and people perished. The saint said to the unfortunate: "Not everything is by the weave of the wool, some be opposite... They have won the fight, admit it, and bow the lower; weep not for the beaten, weep rather the unbeaten; let us show tolerance and in this we shalt at least be human; gradually even raw firewood ignites; for toleration may God grant salvation". But the saint did not only speak words of consolation. His angry denunciations frightened the mighty of his world. Blessed Maxim was wont to say to the rich and illustrious: "An idolatrous house, and a conscience corrupted; everyone is baptised, let everyone pray; God doth detect every wrong. He deceiveth not thee, nor deceivest thou He".
Blessed Maxim died on 11 November 1434 and as buried at the church of the holy Princes Boris and Gleb. Miraculous healings began occurring from the relics of the saint of God. In a circular missive of 1547, metropolitan Makarii enjoined "the singing and celebration at Moscow to the new Wonderworker Maxim, Fool-for-Christ". That same year on 13 August the relics of Blessed Maxim were uncovered undecayed. The church of Saints Boris and Gleb, at which the saint was buried, burned in the year 1568. On its place was built a new church, which they consecrated in the name of Saint Maxim, Fool-for-Christ. And into this church was put the venerable relics of Saint Maxim.
THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:
1. The Holy Great-martyr Menas
Menas was an Egyptian by birth and a soldier by profession. As a true Christian, he was not able to witness the abominable sacrificial offerings to the idols and left the army, the town, the people and everything else, and went to a deserted mountain, for it was easier for him to live among the wild beasts than with pagans. One day Menas clairvoyantly discerned a pagan celebration in the town of Cotyaeus. He descended into the town and openly declared his faith in Christ the Living God. He denounced idolatry and paganism as falsehood and darkness. Pyrrhus, eparch of that town, asked Menas who he was and where he was from. The saint replied: ``My fatherland is Egypt, my name is Menas. I was an officer, but witnessing the worship of idols, I renounced your honors. I now come before you all to proclaim my Christ as the true God, that He may proclaim me as His servant in the Heavenly Kingdom.'' Hearing this, Pyrrhus subjected St. Menas to severe tortures. They flogged him, scraped him with iron claws, burned him with torches, and tortured him by various other means, and finally beheaded him with the sword. They threw his body into a fire so that Christians would not be able to retrieve it, but Christians recovered several parts of his body from the fire nevertheless. They reverently buried those remains, which were later transferred to Alexandria and buried there, where a church was built over them. St. Menas suffered in about the year 304 and went to the Kingdom of Christ. He was and remains a great miracle-worker, both on earth and in heaven. Whoever glorifies St. Menas and invokes his help with faith, receives his help. The saint has often appeared as a warrior on horseback, arriving to help the faithful or punish the unfaithful.
2. The Holy Martyr Stefan of Deèani, King of Serbia
Stefan was the son of King Milutin and father of Tsar Du an. By the command of his ill-informed father, Stefan was blinded, and at the command of his capricious son (Du an), was strangled in his old age. When he was blinded, St. Nicholas appeared to him in the church at Ovèe Polje (Field of the Sheep) and showed him his eyes saying: ``Stefan, be not afraid: behold your eyes in my palm. In due time, I will return them to you.'' Stefan spent five years in Constantinople as a prisoner in the Monastery of the Pantocrator. By his wisdom and asceticism, his meekness and piety, his patience and benevolence, Stefan not only surpassed all the monks in his monastery, but all monks in Constantinople. When five years had passed, St. Nicholas again appeared to him and said: ``I came to fulfill my promise.'' He then traced the sign of the Cross on the blind king, and Stefan received his sight. In thanksgiving to God, Stefan built the Church of Deèani, one of the most marvelous works of Byzantine artistic beauty, and one of the most famous monuments of Serbian piety. The holy King Stefan, with St. Sava and the holy Prince Lazar, constitute a most glorious trinity of holiness, nobility and self-sacrifice-the gift of the Serbian people. St. Stefan lived his earthly life as a martyr, and died as a martyr in the year 1336, receiving the wreath of immortal glory from the Almighty God Whom he had faithfully served.
3. The Holy Martyrs Victor and Stephanida
Victor was a soldier of Roman birth. He was tortured for Christ during the reign of Emperor Antoninus. At the time of his torture a young woman, Stephanida, declared that she too was a Christian. Victor was beheaded and Stephanida was pulled apart by having her legs bound to the tops of two palm trees.
4. The Holy Martyr Vincent the Deacon
Vincent was from the diocese of Saragossa in Spain. He was cruelly tortured for the Lord Jesus Christ, then burned on an iron grid. He gave up his soul to God in the year 304. His body reposes in Rome in the church bearing his name.
5. The Venerable Theodore the Studite
Theodore was the famous abbot of the Studite monastery (the Studium). He suffered greatly for the holy icons, and was a wise organizer of the monastic life, a divinely inspired teacher of Orthodoxy and a wonderful ascetic. He entered into rest in Constantinople, in the year 826 at the age of sixty-eight.
6. Saint Uro ica, Prince of Serbia
Uro ica was the son of King Dragutin. He preserved his purity and chastity in marriage. Myrrh flowed from his grave.
HYMN OF PRAISE
The Holy Martyr Stefan of Deèani, King of Serbia
Tortured and persecuted, Holy King Stefan of Deèani
Endured pains and persecutions as a true Christian.
And when it seemed he was defeated by all,
He was actually victorious, powerful and unscathed.
He defeated his father by patient endurance,
And Cantacuzene by profound wisdom.
With silence he overcame malicious Simonida,
And with trust in God he overcame King Shishman.
He was even more powerful than his mighty son-
For those who do not sin are always more powerful.
Earthly power always ends without a glimmer,
But there is no end to heavenly power.
King Stefan of Deèani, meek and beloved,
Drew his strength from heavenly power:
His power and glory were from Christ,
And from Christ was his life, throne and sovereignty.
Stefan understood this, and this he confessed;
That is why he defeated all adversaries in the end.
Pray for us, O wondrous king,
That God may grant us salvation and mercy.
If ever there was a holy king who sat on the throne of an earthly kingdom, that was the holy King Stefan of Deèani. The Greeks, who otherwise considered the Slavs barbarians, were amazed at the beauty of St. Stefan's soul as one of the rarest wonders of the time. When the Emperor Cantacuzene sent the abbot of the Monastery of the Pantocrator to Milutin on some official business, King Milutin inquired about his son Stefan. ``O King, are you asking me about the second Job?'' the abbot replied. ``Be assured that his poverty stands above your royal greatness.'' For his part, the Byzantine emperor acted very cruelly toward the blind Stefan: he confined him to one area of the court and forbade everyone access to him. After that, he sent him to the Monastery of the Pantocrator, hoping that the monastery would force him into strict monastic asceticism, and that he would become weak and perish there. But God preserved the Blessed Stefan and he endured the ascetic labor of fasting and prayer like the best of monks. They began to speak of his wisdom throughout all of Constantinople, and the emperor began to respect him and often sought advice from him. For example, St. Stefan contributed to the defeat of the infamous heresy of Barlaam, against which St. Gregory of Palamas fought. Barlaam then resided in Constantinople, and by skillful intrigue, had won over many high-ranking clerics and civil officials to his way of thinking. In perplexity, the emperor summoned Stefan and asked him what he should do. The wise Stefan replied with the words of the Psalmist: Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate Thee? (Psalm 139:21), and also said: ``Dangerous men must be banished from society.'' Heeding this, Emperor Cantacuzene drove Barlaam from the capital with dishonor.
on the Creator of the new man
… for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace (Ephesians 2:15).
When He came to earth, the Lord, the Lover of Mankind, came to all men, not just to some. The Jews awaited a messiah; He came as the Messiah. The pagans awaited a redeemer; He came as the Redeemer. He came with equal love for both the Jews and the pagans. There was no other group on earth-only the Jews and the pagans. The Jews were the only ones in the world who believed in one God, whereas the pagans worshiped idols. But the Jews had obscured their faith by their transgressions and, therefore, knew nothing. Thus, both the Jews and the pagans had become equal in their ignorance and equal in the curse of sin with which Adam had burdened the benighted earth. As of old Adam did not belong to the Jews exclusively, but also to the pagans, for they both descended from him, so Christ, the new Adam, did not belong to one or the other, but to both, for He saved both. The Lord Jesus could not side with the Jewish kingdom of empty legal formalism, or the Hellenic kingdom (including paganism in general) of naturalistic fables and demonic divinations and sorcery. Rather, He healed them both. He took both of these sick ones and he created the new man. And this is the Church of God. Thus, the Lord annulled and cast out both Judaism and Hellenism, and created His Holy Church.
O Lord Jesus, All-good and All-wise, everything Thou hast done is good and wise beyond words.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.