Saturday, December 10, 2011

December 10, 2011 - 26th Friday After Pentecost (12th of Luke)

FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:

Menas, Hermogenes, & Eugraphos, Martyrs of Alexandria
Thomas the Righteous of Bithynia

Τῶν Ἁγίων Μαρτύρων Μηνᾶ τοῦ Καλλικελάδου, Ἑρμογένους καί Εὐγράφου.

READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:

The Reading is from St. Paul's Letter to the Galatians 3:8-12
BRETHREN, the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "in you shall all the nations be blessed." So then, those who are men of faith are blessed with Abraham who had faith. For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed be every one who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, and do them." Now it is evident that no man is justified before God by the law; for "the righteous shall live by faith"; but the law does not rest on faith, for "He who does them shall live by them."

Πρὸς Γαλάτας 3:8-12
Ἀδελφοί, προϊδοῦσα δὲ ἡ γραφὴ ὅτι ἐκ πίστεως δικαιοῖ τὰ ἔθνη ὁ θεός, προευηγγελίσατο τῷ Ἀβραὰμ ὅτι Ἐνευλογηθήσονται ἐν σοὶ πάντα τὰ ἔθνη. Ὥστε οἱ ἐκ πίστεως εὐλογοῦνται σὺν τῷ πιστῷ Ἀβραάμ. Ὅσοι γὰρ ἐξ ἔργων νόμου εἰσίν, ὑπὸ κατάραν εἰσίν· γέγραπται γάρ, Ἐπικατάρατος πᾶς ὃς οὐκ ἐμμένει ἐν πᾶσιν τοῖς γεγραμμένοις ἐν τῷ βιβλίῳ τοῦ νόμου, τοῦ ποιῆσαι αὐτά. Ὅτι δὲ ἐν νόμῳ οὐδεὶς δικαιοῦται παρὰ τῷ θεῷ, δῆλον· ὅτι Ὁ δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεως ζήσεται· ὁ δὲ νόμος οὐκ ἔστιν ἐκ πίστεως, ἀλλʼ Ὁ ποιήσας αὐτὰ ἄνθρωπος ζήσεται ἐν αὐτοῖς.

The Reading is from Luke 13:19-29
The Lord said this parable, "The kingdom of God is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his garden; and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches." And again he said, "To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? It is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened." He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. And some one said to him, "Lord, will those who are saved be few?" And he said to them, "Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the householder has risen up and shut the door, you will begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, 'Lord, open to us.' He will answer you, 'I do not know where you come from.' Then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.' But he will say, 'I tell you, I do not know where you come from; depart from me, all you workers of iniquity!' There you will weep and gnash your teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves thrust out. And men will come from east and west, and from north and south, and sit at table in the kingdom of God."

Κατὰ Λουκᾶν 13.19-29
Εἶπεν ὁ Κύριος τήν παραβολὴν ταύτην· Ὁμοία ἐστὶ κόκκῳ σινάπεως, ὃν λαβὼν ἄνθρωπος ἔβαλεν εἰς κῆπον ἑαυτοῦ· καὶ ηὔξησε καὶ ἐγένετο εἰς δένδρον μέγα, καὶ τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ κατεσκήνωσεν ἐν τοῖς κλάδοις αὐτοῦ. Πάλιν εἶπε· τίνι ὁμοιώσω τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ; ὁμοία ἐστὶ ζύμῃ, ἣν λαβοῦσα γυνὴ ἔκρυψεν εἰς ἀλεύρου σάτα τρία, ἕως οὗ ἐζυμώθη ὅλον. Καὶ διεπορεύετο κατὰ πόλεις καὶ κώμας διδάσκων καὶ πορείαν ποιούμενος εἰς ῾Ιερουσαλήμ. εἶπε δέ τις αὐτῷ· Κύριε, εἰ ὀλίγοι οἱ σῳζόμενοι; ὁ δὲ εἶπε πρὸς αὐτούς· ἀγωνίζεσθε εἰσελθεῖν διὰ τῆς στενῆς πύλης· ὅτι πολλοί, λέγω ὑμῖν, ζητήσουσιν εἰσελθεῖν καὶ οὐκ ἰσχύσουσιν. ἀφ᾿ οὗ ἂν ἐγερθῇ ὁ οἰκοδεσπότης καὶ ἀποκλείσῃ τὴν θύραν, καὶ ἄρξησθε ἔξω ἑστάναι καὶ κρούειν τὴν θύραν λέγοντες· Κύριε Κύριε, ἄνοιξον ἡμῖν· καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ἐρεῖ ὑμῖν, οὐκ οἶδα ὑμᾶς πόθεν ἐστέ. τότε ἄρξεσθε λέγειν· ἐφάγομεν ἐνώπιόν σου καὶ ἐπίομεν, καὶ ἐν ταῖς πλατείαις ἡμῶν ἐδίδαξας· καὶ ἐρεῖ· λέγω ὑμῖν, οὐκ οἶδα ὑμᾶς πόθεν ἐστέ· ἀπόστητε ἀπ᾿ ἐμοῦ πάντες οἱ ἐργάται τῆς ἀδικίας. ἐκεῖ ἔσται ὁ κλαυθμὸς καὶ ὁ βρυγμὸς τῶν ὀδόντων, ὅταν ὄψησθε ᾿Αβραὰμ καὶ ᾿Ισαὰκ καὶ ᾿Ιακὼβ καὶ πάντας τοὺς προφήτας ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τοῦ Θεοῦ, ὑμᾶς δὲ ἐκβαλλομένους ἔξω, καὶ ἥξουσιν ἀπὸ ἀνατολῶν καὶ δυσμῶν καὶ ἀπὸ βορρᾶ καὶ νότου, καὶ ἀνακλιθήσονται ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τοῦ Θεοῦ.

READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:

Τῇ Ι' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, ἄθλησις τῶν Ἁγίων τοῦ Χριστοῦ Μαρτύρων, Μηνᾶ τοῦ καλλικελάδου, Ἑρμογένους, καὶ Εὐγράφου.
Τμηθεὶς ὁ Μηνᾶς, κἂν κελαδεῖν οὐκ ἔχῃ,
Φιμοῖ κελαδοῦν δυσσεβείας τὸ στόμα.
Τὴν δυσσέβειαν ἐκπτύσας Ἑρμογένης,
Ὑπῆρξε Μάρτυς εὐσεβείας ἐκ ξίφους.
Τὰς ἐκ μαχαίρας, Εὔγραφε, τρώσεις φέρων,
Ὀξὺς Θεοῦ κάλαμος ὤφθης, εὖ γράφων.
Εὐκέλαδος δεκάτῃ Μηνᾶς ξίφει αὐχένα δῶκεν.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, ὁ Ἅγιος Γέμελλος, σταυρωθείς, τελειοῦται.
Ὑπὲρ Θεοῦ Γέμελλος ἐσταυρωμένου,
Τὴν ἐν ξύλῳ σταύρωσιν ἀσμένως φέρει.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ὁσίου Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Θωμᾶ τοῦ Δεφουρκινοῦ.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Ἱερομάρτυς Θεότεκνος, ξίφει τελειοῦται.
Ὁ Ἅγιος μάρτυς Μαριανός, λιθοβοληθεὶς τελειοῦται.
Ὁ Ἅγιος μάρτυς Εὐγένιος, ξύλοις τυπτόμενος, τελειοῦται.
Ταῖς αὐτῶν ἁγίαις πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεός, ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.

Saint Menas, according to the Synaxaristes, had Athens as his homeland. He was a military officer, an educated man and skilled in speech, wherefore he was surnamed Kallikelados ("most eloquent"); Eugraphos was his scribe. Both had Christian parents. The Emperor Maximinus (he was the successor of Alexander Severus, and reigned from 235 to 238) sent Saint Menas to Alexandria to employ his eloquence to end a certain strife among the citizens. Saint Menas, having accomplished this, also employed his eloquence to strengthen the Christians in their faith, which when Maximinus heard, he sent Hermogenes, who was an eparch born to unbelievers to turn Menas away from Christ. But Hermogenes rather came to the Faith of Christ because of the miracles wrought by Saint Menas. Saints Menas, Eugraphos, and Hermogenes received the crown of martyrdom in the year 235.

Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Δι ἐγκρατείας, τῶν παθῶν τὰς πυριφλέκτους, ἀπονεκρώσαντες ὁρμᾷς καὶ τὰς κινήσεις, τοῦ Χριστοῦ οἱ Μάρτυρες, ἔλαβον τὴν χάριν, τὰς νόσους ἀποδιώκειν τῶν ἀσθενῶν, καὶ ζῶντες καὶ μετὰ τέλος θαυματουργεῖν, ὄντως θαῦμα παράδοξον! ὅτι Ὀστέα γυμνά, ἐκβλύζουσιν ἰάματα. Δόξα τῶ μόνω Θεῷ ἡμῶν.
Since they had slain through their abstinence and struggles the fiery ragings and fierce motions of the passions, the staunch Martyrs of Christ God laid hold on the graces to drive off the pains and illnesses of the sick and work wonders both while living and after death. Strange indeed is the miracle! That these bare bones should pour forth such overflowing streams of cures. Glory be to our only God.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Τῆς στρατείας ἥρπασε, σὲ τῆς προσκαίρου, καὶ ἀφθάρτου ἔδειξε, συγκληρονομον ὧ Μηνᾶ, σὺν τοὶς συνάθλοις σου Κύριος, ὁ παρασχὼν σοὶ τὸν ἄφθαρτον στέφανον.
The Lord snatched thee out of the temporal army, making thee a fellow-heir of the eternal, O Menas, with them that suffered and died with thee; and He doth grant thee the crown incorruptible.

Των αγίων Μαρτύρων η άθληση μοιάζει σαν τα δένδρα, που γύρω στις ρίζες τους πετούν νεόφυτα και παραβλάσταρα. Όταν ένας μαρτυρή, γύρω του φυτρώνουν νέοι μάρτυρες, όπως συνέβη με τον άγιο Μηνά τον καλλικέλαδο και τους δύο συναθλητάς του Ερμογένη και Εύγραφο, των οποίων η Εκκλησία σήμερα γιορτάζει την μνήμη. Ο άγιος Μηνάς, στρατιωτικός το επάγγελμα, στάλθηκε στην Αλεξάνδρεια, για να διαλύση επαναστατικές ταραχές και με τον καλό του τρόπο και τον ωραίο του λόγο - γι' αυτό κι ωνομάσθηκε καλλικέλαδος - κατώρθωσε να τους κάμη όλους σχεδόν χριστιανούς. Εστάλθηκεν ύστερα ο Ερμογένης για να συλλάβη τον Μηνά και με τα πρώτα βασανιστήρια στα οποία τον υπέβαλε, βλέποντας την καρτερία του, έγινε κι αυτός χριστιανός. Στο κοινό μαρτύριο τελευταίος ακολούθησε ο Εύγραφος, γραμματέας του Μηνά. Η Εκκλησία, όπως το είπε και ο Χριστός, είναι σαν το κλήμα· όσο κλαδεύεται, τόσο πετά νέα κλήματα και κάνει καρπό.

Οἱ Ἅγιοι Μηνᾶς ὁ Καλλικέλαδος, Ἑρμογένης καὶ Εὔγραφος
Ὁ Μηνᾶς ἦταν Ἀθηναῖος καὶ ἀπὸ τὴν οἰκογένειά του εἰδωλολάτρης. Ὅταν ὅμως ἐκπαιδεύτηκε καὶ μορφώθηκε ἀρκετά, διαπίστωσε ὅτι ἡ πολυθεΐα ἦταν μᾶλλον ψέμα καὶ πλάνη. Στὴ μελέτη τῶν φιλοσόφων ἐπίσης, δὲν μπόρεσε νὰ βρεῖ κάτι τὸ ἀληθινό. Τότε προχώρησε στὴ μελέτη χριστιανικῶν συγγραμμάτων καὶ ἔπειτα τοῦ Εὐαγγελίου, ὅπου καὶ βρῆκε αὐτὸ ποὺ τὸν γέμιζε ψυχικά, δηλαδὴ τὸ φῶς καὶ τὴν ἀλήθεια. Ἔτσι, ὁ Μῆνας ἔγινε χριστιανός. Ἀργότερα, ὁ βασιλιὰς Μαξιμίνος (311-313), μὴ γνωρίζοντας ὅτι εἶναι χριστιανός, τὸν ἔκανε ἔπαρχο Ἀλεξανδρείας. Ἀλλὰ ὅταν ὁ βασιλιὰς αὐτὸς διέταξε διωγμοὺς στὴν πόλη αὐτή, ὁ Μηνᾶς ὄχι μόνο δὲν ἐξετέλεσε τὴν διαταγή, ἀλλὰ καὶ συνετέλεσε νὰ πληθυνθοῦν οἱ χριστιανικὲς τάξεις. Τότε ὁ Μαξιμίνος ἔστειλε νέο ἔπαρχο, τὸν Ἀθηναῖο λόγιο Ἑρμογένη. Αὐτός, τηρῶντας τὸ γράμμα τοῦ νόμου, βασάνισε σκληρὰ τὸ Μηνᾶ καὶ τὸν ἔκλεισε στὴ φυλακή, γιὰ νὰ πεθάνει ἐκεῖ μέσα ἀπὸ τὶς πληγές του. Μετὰ ἀπὸ καιρό, ὅταν ὁ Ἑρμογένης ἔστειλε νὰ διαπιστώσουν ἂν καὶ πότε πέθανε ὁ Μηνᾶς, διαπίστωσαν ὅτι ὄχι μόνο δὲν εἶχε πεθάνει, ἀλλὰ καὶ οἱ πληγές του θεραπεύθηκαν. Τότε δημόσια τὸν ῥώτησε πὼς ἔγινε αὐτό. Ὁ Μηνᾶς ἀπάντησε ὅτι θεραπεύθηκε τὴν ὥρα ποὺ πεσμένος στὸ ἔδαφος ἔψαλλε: «Ἐὰν πορευθῶ ἐν μέσῳ σκιᾶς θανάτου, οὐ φοβηθήσομαι κακά, ὅτι σὺ μετ᾿ ἐμοῦ εἶ Κύριε». Ἐὰν δηλαδὴ ἀντικρίσω τὸ θάνατο, δὲ θὰ φοβηθῶ μήπως πάθω κακό, διότι σὺ εἶσαι μαζί μου, Κύριε. Ἡ ἀπάντηση εἶχε σὰν ἀποτέλεσμα νὰ γίνει χριστιανὸς ὁ Ἑρμογένης καὶ κάποιος διακεκριμένος πολίτης, ὁ Εὔγραφος. Ἀργότερα, ὅλους μαζὶ τοὺς ἀποκεφάλισαν.

Ὁ Ἅγιος Γέμελος ὁ Πολύαθλος
Ἔζησε στὰ χρόνια τοῦ βασιλιᾶ Ἰουλιανοῦ τοῦ παραβάτη (361-363) καὶ πατρίδα του ἦταν ἡ Ἄγκυρα τῆς Μικρᾶς Ἀσίας. Ὅταν κάποτε ὁ Ἰουλιανὸς πέρασε ἀπὸ τὴν πατρίδα του, πληροφορήθηκε, ὅτι ὁ Χριστιανὸς αὐτὸς δὲν ἔπαψε νὰ ἀγωνίζεται καὶ νὰ προσελκύει εἰδωλολάτρες στὴ χριστιανικὴ πίστη. Ὅταν διέταξε καὶ τὸν ὁδήγησαν μπροστά του, ὁ Γέμελος δὲν δίστασε καὶ ἐκεῖ νὰ ὁμολογήσει τὰ τῆς χριστιανικῆς πίστης. Ὁ Ἰουλιανὸς ἐξοργισμένος, διέταξε καὶ τοῦ ἔμπηξαν μυτερὰ ξύλα κατὰ μῆκος τῶν δακτύλων του. Κατόπιν ἔβαλαν πάνω στὸ σῶμα του πυρακτωμένο σίδερο καὶ στὴ συνέχεια τὸν χτύπησαν ἀλύπητα μὲ σιδερένια καὶ ἀγκυλωτὰ ῥαβδιά. Ἐπειδὴ ὅμως ὁ Γέμελος δὲν πτοήθηκε, τὸν σταύρωσαν καὶ ἔτσι παρέδωσε στὸν στεφανοδότη Κύριο τὴν ἁγία του ψυχή.

Ὁ Ὅσιος Θωμᾶς ὁ Δεφουρκινός
Μὲ τὴν προσευχή, τὴν ἐξομολόγηση, τὴν μελέτη, τὴν ἀγρυπνία, τὴν μεγάλη ἐγκράτεια καὶ τὴν θεία κοινωνία, ἐνισχυόταν ἀπὸ τὸν Θεὸ ὁ Ὅσιος Θωμᾶς ὅταν ἦταν νέος, ἀπὸ τοὺς μολυσμοὺς τῆς σάρκας καὶ τοῦ πνεύματος. Ἔζησε τὸν 9ο μ. Χ. αἰῶνα, καὶ ἡ πατρίδα του βρισκόταν στοὺς πρόποδες τοῦ ὄρους Κυμιναίου. Ἀνατράφηκε χριστιανικὰ ἀπὸ τὴν παιδική του ἡλικία, διατηρῶντας τὴν πίστη καὶ τὴν ἁγνότητά του ἀπὸ τὴν νεανική του ἀνάπτυξη. Κινούμενος ἀπὸ ἱερὸ πόθο ὁ Θωμᾶς, ἐπισκέφθηκε πολλὰ μοναστήρια καὶ ἀποκόμισε πολλὲς ἀρετὲς ἀπὸ τὰ ἐκεῖ μεγάλα ὑποδείγματα τῆς εὐσέβειας. Ἀργότερα ἔγινε καὶ ἴδιος μοναχὸς καὶ δίδασκε μὲ ζῆλο τὸ Εὐαγγέλιο μαζὶ μὲ ἄλλους μοναχοὺς σὲ πόλεις καὶ χωριά, κατὰ τὶς τεσσαρακοστές. Ὁ ἐκεῖ ἐπίσκοπος, ἐκτιμοῦσε τόσο πολὺ τὶς μεγάλες ἀρετὲς τοῦ Θωμᾶ, ὥστε ὅταν κάποιος μεγιστάνας τῆς Κωνσταντινουπόλεως ἔκτισε Μονὴ κοντὰ στὸ Σαγκάριο ποταμό, τὸν διόρισε ἡγούμενό της. Ἡ προτίμηση αὐτὴ δικαιώθηκε περίτρανα, διότι ὁ Θωμᾶς κυβέρνησε τὸ μοναστήρι μὲ πολλὴ τάξη καὶ ὑπῆρξε πρότυπο μοναχικῆς ζωῆς στοὺς συμμοναστές του. Ἰδιαίτερα πολλαπλασίασε τοὺς οἰκονομικοὺς πόρους τῆς Μονῆς, γιὰ νὰ βοηθάει αὐτοὺς ποὺ προσέφευγαν σ᾿ αὐτή. Ὁ Ὅσιος Θωμᾶς ἀξιώθηκε ἀπὸ τὸν Θεὸ καὶ τοῦ προορατικοῦ χαρίσματος. Κάποτε μάλιστα, ἔγραψε ἀπάντηση στὸν βασιλιὰ Λέοντα τὸ σοφό, χωρὶς ν᾿ ἀνοίξει τὴν ἐπιστολὴ ποὺ τοῦ ἔστειλε! Ἀργότερα ὁ Θωμᾶς, ἀποσύρθηκε σὲ κάποιο εἰρηνικὸ ἡσυχαστήριο καὶ ἐκεῖ τὸν βρῆκε ὁ θάνατος σὲ βαθιὰ γεράματα, ἀλλὰ καὶ σὲ συνεχὴ πνευματικὴ ἄνθιση καὶ ἀκμή.

Holy Martyrs Menas, Hermogenes and Eugraphus (235)
Menas was an Athenian, a courtier of the Emperor Maximinus, and a secret Christian. Once there was an outbreak of civil unrest in Alexandria, brought about by various political factions, and by the increasing success of Christian missionaries in turning the Alexandrian people from the idols. The Emperor sent Menas to reconcile the parties and settle the dispute. On his arrival, Menas quickly resolved the political troubles and restored peace to the city; but instead of putting down Christianity as the Emperor had desired, he did everything in his power to protect the Christians and encourage the spread of the Gospel. When word of this came to the Emperor, he sent another trusted courtier, Hermogenes, to re-establish Imperial authority and to execute Menas if he would not renounce Christ. Hermogenes followed these orders scrupulously: he subjected the godly Menas to various horrid tortures in the public arena. But Menas was miraculously preserved through them all, and when he finally appeared in the arena, flanked by two shining Angels, Hermogenes repented and confessed Christ. He in turn became such a fervent advocate for the Gospel that he was soon made a Bishop (!). Finally the Emperor decided that the only solution was to come to Alexandria himself. There he had both Menas and Hermogenes cruelly tortured to death in secret, lest they perform any public miracles; but when the Emperor presented himself before the people at the arena the following day, the two Saints, miraculously preserved, appeared there also, causing the people to cry out "Christ is the only true God!" At the sight, Menas' scribe Eugraphus declared himself a Christian, leaped into the arena and publicly demanded the honor of dying with them. All three were beheaded. Their precious relics were later taken to Constantinople, where they worked many miracles.

The Holy Martyrs Minos, Hermogenes and Eugraphos suffered for their faith in Christ under the emperor Maximian (305-313).
Saint Minos was sent by the emperor from Athens to Alexandria to suppress the riots that had arisen between the Christians and the pagans. Distinguished for his gift of eloquence, Minos instead openly began to preach the Christian faith and he converted many pagans to Christ. Learning of this, Maximian dispatched Hermogenes to the Alexandria district to conduct a trial over the saints, and moreover was given orders to purge the city of Christians. Hermogenes, although he was a pagan, was distinguished however by his reverent bearing. And struck by the endurance of Saint Minos under torture and by his miraculous healing after the cruel torments, he also came to believe in Christ. Maximian himself then arrived in Alexandria. Neither the astonishing stoic endurance under torture of Saints Minos and Hermogenes, nor even the miracles of these days manifest of God in this city, in any way mollified the emperor, but instead vexed him all the more. The emperor personally stabbed Saint Eugraphos, the secretary of Saint Minos, and then gave orders to behead the holy Martyrs Minos and Hermogenes.
The remains of the holy martyrs, cast into the sea in an iron chest, were afterwards found (about this see under 17 February) and transferred to Constantinople. The emperor Justinian built a church in the name of the holy Martyr Minos of Alexandria. Saint Joseph the Melodist (Comm. 4 April) composed a canon in honour of the holy martyrs.

THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:

1. The Holy Martyrs Menas, Hermogenes and Eugraphus
Both Menas and Hermogenes were born in Athens. They both lived in Byzantium, being held in great honor by the emperor and the people. Menas was known for his great learning and eloquence of speech and, although he acted outwardly as a pagan, he was a convinced Christian in his heart. Hermogenes was Eparch of Byzantium and acted as a pagan both inwardly and outwardly, but he was compassionate and performed many good deeds. When a dispute flared up between the Christians and the pagans in Alexandria, Emperor Maximin dispatched Menas to calm the disturbance and to root out the Christians from the city. Menas went and restored peace, but he declared himself a Christian and converted many pagans to the true Faith by his eloquence and many miracles. Hearing of this, the emperor sent Hermogenes to punish Menas and to smother Christianity. Hermogenes brought Menas to trial, cut off his feet and tongue, gouged out his eyes, and then cast him into prison. In prison, the Lord Jesus Himself appeared to Menas, healing and comforting His suffering servant. Seeing Menas miraculously healed, Hermogenes was baptized. He began to preach the powerful Christian Faith and was consecrated as Bishop of Alexandria. Then the enraged Maximin went to Alexandria himself and subjected Menas and Hermogenes to cruel tortures, which they courageously endured, helped by God's grace. Beholding the bravery of these soldiers of Christ and the miracles of God upon them, Eugraphus, secretary and friend of St. Menas, appeared before the tribunal and cried out to the emperor's face: ``I too am a Christian!'' The emperor became enraged, drew his sword and beheaded St. Eugraphus. Following this, the evil emperor ordered the executioner to behead St. Menas and St. Hermogenes. Their holy relics, thrown into the sea, miraculously floated to Constantinople, where the bishop, to whom this was revealed in a dream, solemnly met them and honorably buried them.

2. The Venerable Angelina and St. Jovan the Despot
Angelina was the daughter of the Albanian prince, George Skenderbeg, and the wife of Stefan, Despot of Serbia, who was the son of Despot George. She endured exile with her husband and shared with him all the bitterness of life in Serbia as well as in Albania and Italy. She raised her sons Maxim and Jovan in a truly Christian spirit. Following the death of her husband, she was tonsured a nun, devoting herself entirely to prayer, acts of charity and the building and restoring of holy churches. A faithful wife, an excellent mother and a perfect Christian, she in truth merited the title ``Mother Angelina,'' as the people call her even now. Her miracle-working relics, together with those of her righteous husband Stefan and her devoted sons Maxim and Jovan, rest in the Monastery of Kru edol (although some of the relics were destroyed by the Turks). She entered into rest and took up her habitation in the Immortal Kingdom at the beginning of the sixteenth century.

3. The Holy Martyr Gemellus
Gemellus was an honorable citizen of Ancyra. When Emperor Julian the Apostate came to this city, Gemellus came before him and openly denounced him for his apostasy. For this, he was tortured and crucified in the year 361. While in pain on the Cross, he heard a voice from heaven saying: ``Blessed are you, Gemellus!''

4. The Venerable Thomas Defourkinos [of Bithynia]
Thomas was a great ascetic, a conqueror of demons, and a seer. Emperor Leo the Wise wrote him a letter, and he replied without even opening it. He entered into rest in the Lord in great old age in the ninth century.

HYMN OF PRAISE
The Venerable Angelina
The God-pleaser, holy Angelina,
Holy in marriage and also as a nun,
Patient in suffering, merciful in doing good,
Full of sorrow for another's sorrow-
She looked to God, her Comforter,
And was calmed by the Cross of Christ the Savior.
She was a comfort to her husband, an example to her children;
And the children of the holy mother became saints.
Whoever invokes the name of Mother Angelina
Will see all his suffering quickly fade away.
In a time of gloom, when the empire collapsed,
When many harmed their souls by sin,
When the darkness of the Turks encompassed the land,
Angelina saved the souls of the Serbs
By pointing to heaven with her finger and her spirit,
Consoling them with Christ, healing them by the Cross.
And now she hastens to every aching soul,
And with greater power she both heals and consoles.
Whoever invokes the name of Mother Angelina,
Will see all his suffering quickly fade away.

REFLECTION
In innumerable ways the Living Lord knows when to show mercy and when to chastise, when to deliver the faithful from temptations, when to turn unbelievers into believers, and when to punish incorrigible persecutors of the Faith. When the evil Maximin slew the wonderful martyrs of Christ, Menas, Hermogenes, and Eugraphus, he boarded a boat with his retinue and set sail from Alexandria for Byzantium. But suddenly he was blinded, being blind beforehand in soul and mind, and began to complain to those among his retinue of invisible hands that were harshly striking him. Shortly after that he died wickedly, just as he had lived. At the time of St. Ambrose the following incident occurred: The heretical Empress Justina had persuaded Euthymius, a landowner from Milan, to somehow seize the bishop, whom she hated, and to take him somewhere far away into exile. Euthymius prepared a cart and settled in a house near the church so that he could more easily catch sight of Ambrose alone and carry him off in the cart. And precisely on the day when he had arranged and prepared everything to seize Ambrose, an imperial order arrived that Euthymius immediately be exiled because of some crime. That day, the soldiers came, bound the malicious one, and took him off into exile in the very cart that he had prepared for Ambrose's banishment. On another occasion, an Arian entered the church where St. Ambrose was celebrating, with the intention of hearing from his mouth something for which Ambrose could be denounced. Looking around, this heretic saw God's saint instructing the people and beheld a shining angel alongside him, whispering words in his ear. Being greatly frightened by this, he became ashamed of himself, rejected the heresy and returned to Orthodoxy.

CONTEMPLATION
Contemplate the deluge of the world (Genesis 7):
1. How there was a flood of corruption in the world before the water flooded the world;
2. How the long-suffering God permitted the flood because of the sins of mankind, and how the water flooded the entire earth.

HOMILY
on Abraham
I … am but dust and ashes (Genesis 18:27).
These are the words that the righteous Abraham spoke of himself. Brethren, ridiculous are those people who pride themselves on their association with worldly princes and noblemen and begin to think highly of themselves. Abraham was found worthy to converse with the Eternal and Almighty King. Nevertheless, he remained unwavering in his humility, calling himself dust and ashes. Who was this Abraham, that he was found worthy of so much of God's favor in his lifetime and praise after his death, from the Apostle (Galatians 3, Hebrews 11), and even from the Lord Christ Himself (Luke 16:22, John 8:39)? He was a peasant who possessed all the virtues, living always according to the Law of God, a man with a firm faith in God, a lover of justice, hospitable, compassionate, courageous, obedient, pure and humble. However, Abraham is especially glorified for his faith, a powerful faith. Abraham was one hundred years old when God told him that his wife, barren until then, would bear a son, and he believed. And even before Sarah had given birth to Isaac, God said to Abraham: I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth (Genesis 13:16). Abraham believed and doubted not. And when an only son was born to Abraham, God commanded him, as a test, to offer his only son as a sacrifice. Abraham was prepared to do this, had God not turned him from it at the last moment. How complete was this wonderful man's faith and obedience to God! Therefore God blessed him and made him glorious on earth and in heaven. Brethren, blessed are they who, without hesitation, believe in God and fulfill His holy commandments. The blessing of God will accompany them in both worlds.
O our Blessed Creator, bless us sinners also and number us among Thine elect, who have a share with Abraham in Thy Kingdom.
 To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.