Wednesday, December 14, 2011

December 14, 2011 - 27th Wednesday After Pentecost (13th of Luke)


FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:

Thyrsos, Leucius, & Callinicos, Martyrs of Apollonia

Τῶν Ἁγίων Μαρτύρων Θύρσου, Λευκίου, Καλλινίκου, Φιλήμονος, Ἀπολλωνίου, Ἀρριανοῦ καί τῶν σύν αὐτοῖς.

READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:

The Reading is from St. Paul's First Letter to Timothy 5:22-25; 6:1-11
TIMOTHY, my son, do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor participate in another man's sins; keep yourself pure. No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments. The sins of some men are conspicuous, pointing to judgment, but the sins of others appear later. So also good deeds are conspicuous; and even when they are not, they cannot remain hidden. Let all who are under the yoke of slavery regard their masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be defamed. Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brethren; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their service are believers and beloved. Teach and urge these duties. If any one teaches otherwise and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching which accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit, he knows nothing; he has a morbid craving for controversy and for disputes about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, base suspicions, and wrangling among men who are depraved in mind and bereft of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. There is great gain in godliness with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world; but if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs. But as for you, man of God, shun all this.

Πρὸς Τιμόθεον α' 5:22-25;6:1-11
Τέκνον Τιμόθεε, χεῖρας ταχέως μηδενὶ ἐπιτίθει, μηδὲ κοινώνει ἁμαρτίαις ἀλλοτρίαις· σεαυτὸν ἁγνὸν τήρει. Μηκέτι ὑδροπότει, ἀλλʼ οἴνῳ ὀλίγῳ χρῶ, διὰ τὸν στόμαχον σου καὶ τὰς πυκνάς σοῦ ἀσθενείας. Τινῶν ἀνθρώπων αἱ ἁμαρτίαι πρόδηλοί εἰσιν, προάγουσαι εἰς κρίσιν· τισὶν δὲ καὶ ἐπακολουθοῦσιν. Ὡσαύτως καὶ τὰ καλὰ ἔργα πρόδηλα ἐστίν· καὶ τὰ ἄλλως ἔχοντα κρυβῆναι οὐ δύνανται. Ὅσοι εἰσὶν ὑπὸ ζυγὸν δοῦλοι, τοὺς ἰδίους δεσπότας πάσης τιμῆς ἀξίους ἡγείσθωσαν, ἵνα μὴ τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ ἡ διδασκαλία βλασφημῆται. Οἱ δὲ πιστοὺς ἔχοντες δεσπότας μὴ καταφρονείτωσαν, ὅτι ἀδελφοί εἰσιν· ἀλλὰ μᾶλλον δουλευέτωσαν, ὅτι πιστοί εἰσιν καὶ ἀγαπητοὶ οἱ τῆς εὐεργεσίας ἀντιλαμβανόμενοι. Ταῦτα δίδασκε καὶ παρακάλει. Εἴ τις ἑτεροδιδασκαλεῖ, καὶ μὴ προσέρχεται ὑγιαίνουσιν λόγοις, τοῖς τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ, καὶ τῇ κατʼ εὐσέβειαν διδασκαλίᾳ, τετύφωται, μηδὲν ἐπιστάμενος, ἀλλὰ νοσῶν περὶ ζητήσεις καὶ λογομαχίας, ἐξ ὧν γίνεται φθόνος, ἔρις, βλασφημίαι, ὑπόνοιαι πονηραί, διαπαρατριβαὶ διεφθαρμένων ἀνθρώπων τὸν νοῦν, καὶ ἀπεστερημένων τῆς ἀληθείας, νομιζόντων πορισμὸν εἶναι τὴν εὐσέβειαν. Ἀφίστασο ἀπὸ τῶν τοιούτων. Ἔστιν δὲ πορισμὸς μέγας ἡ εὐσέβεια μετὰ αὐταρκείας· οὐδὲν γὰρ εἰσηνέγκαμεν εἰς τὸν κόσμον, δῆλον ὅτι οὐδὲ ἐξενεγκεῖν τι δυνάμεθα· ἔχοντες δὲ διατροφὰς καὶ σκεπάσματα τούτοις ἀρκεσθησόμεθα. Οἱ δὲ βουλόμενοι πλουτεῖν ἐμπίπτουσιν εἰς πειρασμὸν καὶ παγίδα καὶ ἐπιθυμίας πολλὰς ἀνοήτους καὶ βλαβεράς, αἵτινες βυθίζουσιν τοὺς ἀνθρώπους εἰς ὄλεθρον καὶ ἀπώλειαν. Ῥίζα γὰρ πάντων τῶν κακῶν ἐστιν ἡ φιλαργυρία· ἧς τινες ὀρεγόμενοι ἀπεπλανήθησαν ἀπὸ τῆς πίστεως, καὶ ἑαυτοὺς περιέπειραν ὀδύναις πολλαῖς. Σὺ δέ, ὦ ἄνθρωπε τοῦ θεοῦ, ταῦτα φεῦγε· δίωκε δὲ δικαιοσύνην, εὐσέβειαν, πίστιν, ἀγάπην, ὑπομονήν, πρᾳότητα.

The Reading is from Mark 8:30-34
At that time, Jesus charged his disciples to tell no one that he is the Christ. And he began to teach them that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter, and said, "Get behind me, Satan! For you are not on the side of God, but of men." And he called to him the multitude with his disciples, and said to them, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."

Κατὰ Μᾶρκον 8.30-34
Τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ, ἐπετίμησεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ ἵνα μηδενὶ λέγωσι περὶ αὐτοῦ. Καὶ ἤρξατο διδάσκειν αὐτοὺς ὅτι δεῖ τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου πολλὰ παθεῖν, καὶ ἀποδοκιμασθῆναι ἀπὸ τῶν πρεσβυτέρων καὶ τῶν ἀρχιερέων καὶ τῶν γραμματέων, καὶ ἀποκτανθῆναι, καὶ μετὰ τρεῖς ἡμέρας ἀναστῆναι· καὶ παρρησίᾳ τὸν λόγον ἐλάλει. καὶ προσλαβόμενος αὐτὸν ὁ Πέτρος ἤρξατο ἐπιτιμᾶν αὐτῷ. ὁ δὲ ἐπιστραφεὶς καὶ ἰδὼν τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ ἐπετίμησε τῷ Πέτρῳ λέγων· ὕπαγε ὀπίσω μου, σατανᾶ· ὅτι οὐ φρονεῖς τὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἀλλὰ τὰ τῶν ἀνθρώπων. Καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος τὸν ὄχλον σὺν τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· ὅστις θέλει ὀπίσω μου ἀκολουθεῖν, ἀπαρνησάσθω ἑαυτὸν καὶ ἀράτω τὸν σταυρὸν αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἀκολουθείτω μοι.

READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:

Τῇ ΙΔ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, Ἄθλησις τῶν Ἁγίων Μαρτύρων, Θύρσου, Λευκίου καὶ Καλλινίκου.
Οὐ δένδρινόν σε, Θύρσε, θύρσον ὁ πρίων,
Πρὸ τῆς τελευτῆς εὗρεν, ὡς ῥᾷστα πρῖσαι.
Ὁ πνεῦμα λευκὸς Λεύκιος, τμηθεὶς ξίφει,
Τὸ σῶμα βάπτει φοινικοῦν ἐξ αἱμάτων.
Ὁ Καλλίνικος, ἐκκοπεὶς τὸν αὐχένα,
Ὑπῆρξε Καλλίνικος ἐκ τῶν πραγμάτων.
Πρῖσιν ἀλύξας, Θύρσε, θάνες δεκάτῃ γε τετάρτῃ.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ , Μνήμη τῶν Ἁγίων Μαρτύρων, Φιλήμονος, Ἀπολλωνίου, Ἀρριανοῦ καὶ τῶν σὺν αὐτοῖς .
Ἔτερπεν αὐλοῖς πρὶν Φιλήμων τοὺς φίλους,
Τανῦν δὲ τμηθείς, τέρπεται τέρψιν ξένην.
Ἀπολλώνιον, υἱὸν Ὑψίστου θέσει,
Κτείνουσι υἱοὶ τῆς ἀπωλείας ξίφει.
Τὸν Ἀρριανὸν ἐργάται πονηρίας.
Ἔργον θαλάσσης δεικνύουσιν ἀφρόνως.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ , Μνήμη τῶν τεσσάρων Προτικτόρων, τῶν συναθλησάντων τῷ Ἁγίῳ Ἀρριανῷ.
Βάπτισμα πόντος τοῖς Προτίκτορσι ξένον,
Φοροῦσι σάκκους, ὡς στολὰς ἐμφωτίους.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τῆς μετὰ φιλανθρωπίας ἐπενεχθείσης ἡμῖν φοβερᾶς ἀπειλῆς τοῦ σεισμοῦ, ἧς παρ' ἐλπίδα πᾶσαν ἐλυτρώσατο ἡμᾶς ὁ Φιλάνθρωπος Κύριος.
Ἔσεισας, ἀλλ' ἔστησας αὖθις γῆν Λόγε.
Τῆς σῆς γὰρ ὀργῆς οἶκτός ἐστι τὸ πλέον.
Ταῖς τῶν ἁγίων σου πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεός, ἐλέησον, καὶ σῶσον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.

Of these, the Martyrs who were from Asia Minor contested for piety's sake during the reign of Decius, in 250. Saint Leucius, seeing the slaughter of the Christians, reproached the Governor Cumbricius, for which he was hung up, harrowed mercilessly on his sides, then beheaded. For boldly professing himself a Christian and rebuking the Governor for worshipping stocks and stones as gods, Saint Thyrsos, after many horrible tortures, was sentenced to be sawn asunder, but the saw would not cut, and became so heavy in the executioners' hands that they could not move it; Saint Thyrsos then gave up his spirit, at Apollonia in the Hellespont. Saint Callinicos a priest of the idols, was converted through the martyrdom and miracles of Saint Thyrsos, and was beheaded.

During the reign of Diocletian (284-305), the Governor of Antinoe in the Thebaid of Upper Egypt was Arian, a fierce persecutor who had sent many Christians to a violent death, among them Saints Timothy and Maura (see May 3) and Saint Sabine (Mar. 16). When he had imprisoned Christians for their confession of faith, one of them, named Apollonius, a reader of the Church, lost his courage at the sight of the instruments of torture, and thought how he might escape torments without denying Christ. He gave money to Philemon a flute-player and a pagan, that he might put on Apollonius' clothes and offer sacrifice before Arian, so that all would think Apollonius to have done the Governor's will, and he might be released. Philemon agreed to this, but when the time came to offer sacrifice, enlightened by divine grace, he declared himself a Christian instead. He and Apollonius, who also confessed Christ when the fraud was exposed, were both beheaded. Before beheading them, Arian had commanded that they be shot with arrows, but while they remained unharmed, Arian himself was wounded by one of the arrows; Saint Philemon foretold that after his martyrdom, Arian would be healed at his tomb. When this came to pass, Arian, the persecutor who had slain so many servants of Christ, himself believed in Christ and was baptized with four of his bodyguards. Diocletian heard of this and had Arian and his body-guards brought to him. For their confession of Christ, they were cast into the sea, and received the crown of life everlasting.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Οι Μάρτυρές σου, Κύριε, εν τή αθλήσει αυτών, στεφάνους εκομίσαντο τής αφθαρσίας, εκ σού τού Θεού ημών, σχόντες γάρ τήν ισχύν σου, τούς τυράννους καθείλον, έθραυσαν καί δαιμόνων, τά ανίσχυρα θράση. Αυτών ταίς ικεσίαις, Χριστέ ο Θεός, σώσον τάς ψυχάς ημών.
Thy Martyrs, O Lord, in their courageous contest for Thee received as the prize the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since they possessed Thy strength, they cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons' strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by their prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Τοὺς φωστήρας ἅπαντες, τῆς Ἐκκλησίας, συνελθόντες σήμερον, ἐν ἐγκωμίοις ἱεροῖς, ἀνευφημοῦντες ὑμνήσωμεν, ὡς ἀθλοφόρους Χριστοῦ τοῦ Θεοῦ ἡμῶν.
As we gather on this day, let us all honour with divine and sacred songs the luminaries of the Church as we extol them with hymns of praise as trophy-bearers and Martyrs of Christ our God.

Όταν ο Ιησούς Χριστός ανέβαινε στα Ιεροσόλυμα και στον δρόμο προέλεγε στους μαθητάς του για το εκούσιο Πάθος του και δύο από τους δώδεκα ζήτησαν πρωτοκαθεδρία δεξιά κι αριστερά του, τότ' εκείνος τους είπε: "Ούκ οίδατε τί αιτείσθε. Δύνασθε πιείν το ποτήριον ό εγώ πίνω και το βάπτισμα ό εγώ βαπτίζομαι βαπτισθήναι;". Κι όταν εκείνοι του είπαν "δυνάμεθα", ο Χριστός απάντησε: "Το μεν ποτήριον ο εγώ πίνω πίεσθε και το βάπτισμα ο εγώ βαπτίζομαι βαπτισθήσεσθε". Εννοούσε με αυτά τα λόγια το πικρό ποτήριο του Πάθους και το βάπτισμα στο αίμα του Σταυρού. Και πραγματικά, μαρτυρικός ήταν ο θάνατος σχεδόν όλων των Αποστόλων και πολλών από τους Αγίους. Μερικοί μάλιστα από τους Μάρτυρας, μέχρι τη στιγμή του μαρτυρίου των, δεν είχαν δεχτή το βάπτισμα. Βαπτίσθηκαν στο αίμα τους. Στο αίμα του βαπτίσθηκε κι ο άγιος Φιλήμων, του οποίου η Εκκλησία σήμερα γιορτάζει την μνήμη.

Οἱ Ἅγιοι Θύρσος, Λεύκιος καὶ Καλλίνικος (κατ᾿ ἄλλους Κορωνᾶτος)
Ἔζησαν στὰ μέσα τοῦ 3ου αἰῶνα μ.Χ. Κατάγονταν ἀπὸ τὴν Βιθυνία καὶ κατοικοῦσαν στὴν Καισαρεία. Ἀνῆκαν ὅλοι σὲ διακεκριμένες οἰκογένειες. Ἦταν χαρακτῆρες ταπεινοὶ καὶ ἀγαποῦσαν τὸ Θεὸ «ἐν ἀγάπῃ ἀνυποκρίτῳ», δηλαδὴ μὲ ἀγάπη πραγματικὴ καὶ ἐλεύθερη ἀπὸ ὑποκρισία. Γι᾿ αὐτὸ ἀπέφευγαν τὸ θόρυβο τῆς δημοσιότητας, ἀλλὰ ὅμως ἦταν πασίγνωστοι γιὰ τὴν γεμάτη ἐλεημοσύνες ζωή τους. Ὁ ἔπαρχος Κουμβρίκιος, φανατικὸς εἰδωλολάτρης, βλέποντας νὰ προοδεύουν οἱ χριστιανοί, προσπαθοῦσε μὲ κάθε τρόπο νὰ τοὺς περιορίσει. Αὐτὴ ἡ κατάσταση ἔκανε τὸ Λεύκιο καὶ πῆγε στὸν ἔπαρχο. Τὸν παρακάλεσε νὰ εἶναι μετριότερος πρὸς τοὺς χριστιανούς. Μόλις τὸ ἄκουσε αὐτὸ ὁ Κουμβρίκιος, ἀμέσως τὸν συνέλαβε, τὸν καταδίκασε σὲ θάνατο καὶ τὸ πρωί, ἔξω ἀπὸ τὴν πόλη τὸν ἀποκεφάλισε. Τὸ γεγονὸς λύπησε τοὺς χριστιανούς, ἀλλὰ ἄναψε ἀκόμα περισσότερο τὴν φλόγα τῆς πίστης πρὸς τὸ Χριστό. Μετὰ ἀπὸ δυὸ ἡμέρες, πῆγε ἄλλος χριστιανὸς στὸν ἔπαρχο, ὁ Θύρσος. Θαῤῥαλέα του εἶπε ὅτι ἡ εἰδωλολατρία εἶναι πλάνη καὶ ὅτι τελικὸς νικητὴς θὰ εἶναι ὁ Χριστός. Αὐτὰ καὶ ἄλλα πολλὰ σοφὰ λόγια του Θύρσου, τὰ ἄκουσε καὶ ἕνας ἱερέας τῶν εἰδώλων, ὁ Καλλίνικος. Ἡ ψυχή του φωτίστηκε καὶ δήλωσε ὅτι εἶναι χριστιανός. Τότε, ἐπὶ τόπου ὁ ἔπαρχος ἀποκεφάλισε τὸν Καλλίνικο καὶ πριόνισε τὸ Θύρσο.

Οἱ Ἅγιοι Φιλήμων, Ἀπολλώνιος, Ἀρριανός καὶ οἱ τέσσερις Προτεκτοράτοι
Οἱ Ἅγιοι αὐτοὶ ἔζησαν στὰ χρόνια τοῦ βασιλιᾶ Διοκλητιανοῦ (290). Καὶ τὸ μαρτύριό τους ἔγινε ὡς ἑξῆς: Ὁ ἡγεμόνας τῆς Θήβας στὴν Αἴγυπτο Ἀῤῥιανός, συνέλαβε 37 χριστιανούς. Ἕνας ἀπ᾿ αὐτούς, ὁ Ἀπολλώνιος, δείλιασε τὰ βασανιστήρια καὶ ἔδωσε τέσσερα φλουριὰ καὶ τὰ ῥοῦχα του στὸν Φιλήμονα, ποὺ ἔπαιζε σουραῦλι καὶ νὰ θυσιάσει αὐτὸς στὰ εἴδωλα ἀντ᾿ αὐτοῦ. Ὁ Φιλήμονας φόρεσε τὰ ῥοῦχα, συγχρόνως συνδέθηκε νοητὰ καὶ μὲ τὴ χριστιανικὴ πίστη. Καὶ ὅταν διατάχθηκε νὰ θυσιάσει στὰ εἴδωλα, αὐτὸς ὁμολόγησε τὸν Χριστό. Τότε ὁ ἡγεμόνας πρόσταξε νὰ ἔλθει ὁ Φιλήμονας νὰ παίξει μὲ τὸ σουραῦλι του, γιὰ νὰ ἑλκυσθεῖ ὁ δῆθεν Ἀπολλώνιος. Ἀλλ᾿ ὁ Φιλήμονας φανερώθηκε καὶ ὁ ἡγεμόνας ἔμεινε ἔκπληκτος. Τοῦ εἶπε ὅμως ὅτι δὲν εἶναι χριστιανός, διότι δὲν ἔχει βαπτισθεῖ. Τότε ὁ Φιλήμονας προσευχήθηκε θερμὰ καὶ ἀμέσως ἔβρεξε δυνατά. Ἡ βροχὴ αὐτή, πληροφορήθηκε ὁ Φιλήμονας ὅτι ἦταν βάπτισμα γι᾿ αὐτόν. Ἐπειδὴ ὅμως ὁ Ἀπολλώνιος ἔγινε αἰτία νὰ πιστέψει ὁ Φιλήμονας, ὁ ἡγεμόνας τὸν ἔφερε μπροστά του καὶ αὐτὸς ὁμολόγησε τὸν Χριστό. Αὐτὸ εἶχε σὰν ἀποτέλεσμα, ὁ Ἀῤῥιανὸς νὰ τοὺς βασανίσει σκληρὰ καὶ κατόπιν τοὺς ἀποκεφάλισε. Ἀλλὰ καὶ ὁ Ἀῤῥιανὸς τυφλώθηκε. Στὸν ὕπνο του ὅμως, φάνηκε ὁ Φιλήμονας καὶ τοῦ εἶπε ν᾿ ἀλείψει στὰ μάτια του χῶμα ἀπὸ τὸν τάφο του καὶ θὰ θεραπευτεῖ. Πρᾶγμα ποὺ ἔγινε. Τότε πίστεψε στὸν Χριστὸ ὁ Ἀῤῥιανὸς μὲ τέσσερις σωματοφυλακές του καὶ ἀργότερα ὅλοι μαζὶ μαρτύρησαν.

Ὁ Ἅγιος Ὑπάτιος καὶ οἱ μαζὶ μ᾿ αὐτὸν μαρτυρήσαντες 36 Μάρτυρες
Ἄγνωστος στὸν Συναξαριστὴ τοῦ Ἁγίου Νικόδημου καὶ τὰ ἔντυπα Μηναῖα. Ἡ μνήμη του βρίσκεται στὸν Παρισινὸ Κώδικα 1590 μαζὶ μὲ αὐτὴ τοῦ Φιλήμονα καὶ Ἀπολλώνιου (14 Δεκ.) καὶ ἦταν ἕνας ἀπὸ τοὺς 36 μάρτυρες ἀπὸ τὴν Θηθαΐδα τῆς Αἰγύπτου ἐπὶ ἡγεμόνα Ἀῤῥιανοῦ (14 Δεκεμ.).

Holy Martyrs Thyrsus, Leucis and Callinicus (250)
These martyrs contested in Asia Minor during the reign of Decius. Thyrsus and Leucis were executed after horrible torture for confessing themselves as Christians and rebuking the Governor for his slaughter of their brethren. Callinicus was a pagan priest, converted by witnessing the martyrdom and miracles of St Thyrsus; he was beheaded.

Holy Martyrs Philemon, Apollonius, Arian and those with them (3rd c.)
"During the reign of Diocletian (284-305), the Governor of Antinoe in the Thebaid of Upper Egypt was Arian, a fierce persecutor who had sent many Christians to a violent death, among them Saints Timothy and Maura (see May 3) and Saint Sabine (Mar. 16). When he had imprisoned thirty-seven Christians for their confession of faith, one of them, named Apollonius, a reader of the Church, lost his courage at the sight of the instruments of torture, and thought how he might escape torments without denying Christ. He gave money to Philemon, a flute-player and a pagan, that he might put on Apollonius' clothes and offer sacrifices before Arian, so that all would think Apollonius to have done the Governor's will, and he might be released. Philemon agreed to this, but when the time came to offer sacrifice, enlightened by divine grace, he declared himself a Christian instead. He and Apollonius, who also confessed Christ when the fraud was exposed, were both beheaded. Before beheading them, Arian had commanded that they be shot with arrows, but while they remained unharmed, Arian himself was wounded by one of the arrows; Saint Philemon foretold that after his martyrdom, Arian would be healed at his tomb. When this came to pass, Arian, the persecutor who had slain so many servants of Christ, himself believed in Christ and was baptized with four of his body-guards. Diocletian heard of this and had Arian and his body-guards brought to him. For their confession of Christ, they were cast into the sea, and received the crown of life everlasting." (Great Horologion)

Menologion 3.0
The Holy Martyrs Thyrsos, Leukios and Kallinikos suffered for Christ under the emperor Decius (249-251) at Bithynian Caesarea. Saint Leukios, having reproached the governor Qumvricius for his unjust persecution of Christians, after torture was beheaded by the sword. Saint Thyrsos, sentenced to cruel tortures and torments, endured them unharmed and by the will of God he died peacefully. The pagan priest Kallinikos, having seen the bravery and the miracle involving Saint Thyrsos, believed in Christ and boldly confessed the true faith, for which he was beheaded by the sword.

The Holy Martyrs Philemon, Apollonios, Arian and Theotykhos suffered for the faith in Egypt, at the city of Antinoe, under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). Saint Arian up until his conversion to Christ was a persecutor of Christians, among which number were the martyrs Apollonios and Philemon. The Martyr Apollonios, at first fearing to face the sufferings, asked the pagan-musician Philemon to change into his clothing and make the appearance of offering sacrifice to idols for him. But unexpectedly Saint Philemon confessed himself a Christian afront the pagans. Saint Apollonios repented himself and also confessed Christ. After torture both martyrs were executed. Their torturer Arian, -- his injured eye having been healed by ashes taken from the remains of Philemon, repented and was converted to the Christian faith and baptised together with all his household and body-guards. Out of love for Christ they voluntarily went to torture and were sentenced to death. Among the body-guards the eldest was the Martyr Theotykhos, remembered together with the other saints. The Martyrs Philemon and Apollonios died on 16 March 286, and the Martyrs Arian and Theotykhos -- on 4 March 287.

THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:

1. The Holy Martyrs Thyrsus, Leucius and Callinicus
Saints Thyrsus and Leucius were honorable citizens of Caesarea of Bithynia, the former being baptized and the latter being a Christian catechumen. Callinicus, however, was a pagan priest. When Emperor Decius's heir, Cumbricius, began to mercilessly torture and murder Christians, the fearless Leucius appeared before him and, reproaching him, said: ``Why have you waged war against your own soul, O Cumbricius?'' The enraged judge ordered that he be flogged, tortured and finally beheaded. The tortured Leucius went to his beheading as joyfully as if he were going to a wedding. Witnessing the death of the courageous Leucius, blessed Thyrsus, inflamed with divine zeal like that of Leucius, also appeared before the judge and reproached him for his evil crimes and for his unbelief in the One True God. He also was flogged and cast into prison. The invisible hand of God healed him of his wounds, opened the prison door and led him out. Thyrsus immediately went to Phileas, the Bishop of Caesarea, to be baptized by him. After his baptism, he was again seized and tortured, but he endured the tortures, bearing them as though in a dream and not in reality. By the power of his prayer, many idols fell down. The pagan priest Callinicus, upon seeing this, converted to the Christian Faith, and both he and Thyrsus were condemned to death. Callinicus was beheaded, and they placed Thyrsus in a wooden coffin to be sawn in half. However, the power of God would not permit this, and the saw was unable to cut into the wood. Then St. Thyrsus arose from the coffin and prayed to God, rendering Him thanks for the tortures, and he peacefully gave up his soul to his Lord. At the end of the fourth century, the Emperor Flavian built a church to St. Thyrsus near Constantinople and placed his holy relics in it. The saint appeared in a vision to Empress Pulcheria and counseled her to bury the relics of the Forty Martyrs alongside his.

2. The Holy Martyrs Philemon, Apollonius, Arianus and others

During the reign of Diocletian, a certain judge Arianus cruelly persecuted the Christians of Egypt. He seized Apollonius and threatened him with tortures. Apollonius, afraid of the tortures, bribed a certain well-known pagan musician, Philemon, to offer sacrifices to the idols in his place, disguised in his clothes. When Philemon appeared before the idols, the light of the Christian Faith suddenly shone in his heart, and he made the sign of the Cross. After he came out of the temple, he began to shout: ``I am a Christian! A servant of Christ the Living God!'' Hearing this, the judge laughed, thinking that Philemon was mocking the Christians. Later, Philemon endured horrible tortures. Rain fell from heaven and baptized him. Finally, Philemon and Apollonius were beheaded by Arianus the judge. Then, because his blind eye was healed in a miraculous manner at Philemon's grave, Arianus himself became a Christian. Arianus was condemned to death by Emperor Diocletian and was slain with four soldiers who likewise declared themselves Christians.

HYMN OF PRAISE
The Holy Martyrs Thyrsus, Leucius, and Callinicus
You knew the Faith, you acknowledged Christ,
You gave your bodies to save your souls:
For this your names shine in the heavens,
And an unquenchable fire glows in the Church.
Immortal heroes, pray for us,
That sinful clouds be turned away from us.
Blessed Leucius and noble Thyrsus,
Glorious Callinicus and worthy Philemon,
nd the others in order, who endured grievous torments-
Now you are citizens of a better universe.
O beautiful beacons, pray for us;
Martyrs of God, pray for the Church.
You knew love, a heavenly possession,
The earth knew it not, not even its true name;
You saw it wholly in the Son of God,
In the sign of the Crucifixion and in His bloody brow.
Now, you are near to God and behold His face.
You cover our sins by your prayers.

REFLECTION
There are three types of praiseworthy zeal: zeal in cleansing oneself of sinful desires and thoughts, zeal for the truth of the Faith, and zeal for God's justice among men. All three of these filled the soul of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker to perfection. He showed zeal in purifying himself throughout his life, vigilantly guarding over his heart. He especially showed zeal for the truth of the Faith at the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea [325] when he entered into a fearful confrontation with Arius. His zeal for God's justice among men was seen particularly in two notable events, when on each occasion he saved three innocent men from the punishment of death. Once, in his absence from the city of Myra, the avaricious commander Eustathius condemned three men to be beheaded, receiving a bribe for this from some of their enemies. Informed of this, St. Nicholas returned to Myra with the greatest haste. The condemned men had already been brought to the place of execution, and the executioner had already raised the sword over the innocent men. At that moment, Nicholas grabbed the sword, pulled it out of the executioner's hand, and freed the condemned men. Afterward, he rebuked the commander Eustathius and brought him to shame and repentance. In a similar way, three imperial commanders-Nepotian, Ursus and Herpylion-were slandered before Eulavius the Eparch of Constantinople and before the emperor himself. The emperor signed their death sentence. On the eve of their execution, the three commanders prayed to God, saying: ``O God of Nicholas, deliver us innocent ones from death!'' That night, St. Nicholas appeared to both the emperor and the eparch in a dream, rebuked them for this injustice, and ordered them to free the three commanders from prison immediately. The next day, the emperor and eparch each related to the other the same dream and they immediately freed the commanders, both from the death sentence and from prison.

CONTEMPLATION
Contemplate Abraham's obedience:
1. How Abraham obeyed God when He ordered him to go out from his country, his kindred and his father's house (Genesis 12);
2. How He obeyed God when He commanded him to offer his only son as a sacrifice (Genesis 22).

HOMILY
on Jacob
For I have seen God face to face and my life is preserved (Genesis 32:30).
The God of Abraham and Isaac is also the God of Jacob the faithful, the obedient, the merciful and the meek. The meek beholder of God, Jacob, can be called the ``one who saw God.'' For in truth he was meek, and he saw God and spoke with God, and he saw the angels of God and the ladder from earth to heaven. By his meekness he defeated Laban his father-in-law, and Esau his brother; by his meekness he made peace between his wives, Leah and Rachel; for his meekness he was even dear to pharaoh. Jacob's meekness is a prefiguration of the meekness of Christ. Blessed are the meek, said the Lord, for they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5). These words were also realized in Jacob. He inherited the land of his fathers; his descendants were delivered from Egypt and inherited the Promised Land; through Christ the Lord, his descendant according to the flesh, he inherited the whole earth, that is, the Church of God which spread over the entire world. I have seen God face to face. Jacob saw God in the form of man but not as true man. And even this vision was only a prefiguring of the true Incarnation of God as man. And my life is preserved. His soul was preserved from fear and from every unrighteousness. If Jacob was preserved by only seeing a vision of God, how much easier is it for us to be preserved who know God as true man and as the God-man.
O meek Lord, the strength and glory of the meek, as Thou didst preserve Jacob by Thy vision, preserve us also by Thy true Body and Blood.
 To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.