FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:
Matthias, Apostle of the 70
Anthony the Martyr of Alexandria
Afterfeast of the Transfiguration of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:
The Reading is from Acts of the Apostles 1:12-17, 21-26
IN THOSE DAYS, the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day's journey away; and when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaios and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
In those days Peter stood up among the brethren (the company of persons was in all about a hundred and twenty), and said, "Brethren, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David, concerning Judas who was guide to those who arrested Jesus. For he was numbered among us, and was allotted his share in this ministry. "So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us-one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection."
And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was surnamed Justos, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, "Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, show which one of these two thou hast chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside, to go to his own place." And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was enrolled with the eleven apostles.
Πράξεις Ἀποστόλων 1:12-17, 21-26
Ἐν ταῖς ἡμεραῖς ἐκείναις, ὑπέστρεψαν εἰς Ἱερουσαλὴμ ἀπὸ ὄρους τοῦ καλουμένου Ἐλαιῶνος, ὅ ἐστιν ἐγγὺς Ἱερουσαλήμ, σαββάτου ἔχον ὁδόν. Καὶ ὅτε εἰσῆλθον, ἀνέβησαν εἰς τὸ ὑπερῷον οὗ ἦσαν καταμένοντες, ὅ τε Πέτρος καὶ Ἰάκωβος καὶ Ἰωάννης καὶ Ἀνδρέας, Φίλιππος καὶ Θωμᾶς, Βαρθολομαῖος καὶ Ματθαῖος, Ἰάκωβος Ἀλφαίου καὶ Σίμων ὁ Ζηλωτής, καὶ Ἰούδας Ἰακώβου. Οὗτοι πάντες ἦσαν προσκαρτεροῦντες ὁμοθυμαδὸν τῇ προσευχῇ καὶ τῇ δεήσει, σὺν γυναιξὶν καὶ Μαρίᾳ τῇ μητρὶ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ, καὶ σὺν τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς αὐτοῦ. Καὶ ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ταύταις ἀναστὰς Πέτρος ἐν μέσῳ τῶν μαθητῶν εἶπεν - ἦν τε ὄχλος ὀνομάτων ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ ὡς ἑκατὸν εἴκοσι - Ἄνδρες ἀδελφοί, ἔδει πληρωθῆναι τὴν γραφὴν ταύτην, ἣν προεῖπεν τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον διὰ στόματος Δαυὶδ περὶ Ἰούδα, τοῦ γενομένου ὁδηγοῦ τοῖς συλλαβοῦσιν τὸν Ἰησοῦν. Ὅτι κατηριθμημένος ἦν σὺν ἡμῖν, καὶ ἔλαχεν τὸν κλῆρον τῆς διακονίας ταύτης. Δεῖ οὖν τῶν συνελθόντων ἡμῖν ἀνδρῶν ἐν παντὶ χρόνῳ ἐν ᾧ εἰσῆλθεν καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ἐφʼ ἡμᾶς ὁ κύριος Ἰησοῦς, ἀρξάμενος ἀπὸ τοῦ βαπτίσματος Ἰωάννου, ἕως τῆς ἡμέρας ἧς ἀνελήφθη ἀφʼ ἡμῶν, μάρτυρα τῆς ἀναστάσεως αὐτοῦ γενέσθαι σὺν ἡμῖν ἕνα τούτων. Καὶ ἔστησαν δύο, Ἰωσὴφ τὸν καλούμενον Βαρσαβᾶν, ὃς ἐπεκλήθη Ἰοῦστος, καὶ Ματθίαν. Καὶ προσευξάμενοι εἶπον, Σὺ κύριε καρδιογνῶστα πάντων, ἀνάδειξον ὃν ἐξελέξω, ἐκ τούτων τῶν δύο ἕνα λαβεῖν τὸν κλῆρον τῆς διακονίας ταύτης καὶ ἀποστολῆς, ἐξ ἧς παρέβη Ἰούδας, πορευθῆναι εἰς τὸν τόπον τὸν ἴδιον. Καὶ ἔδωκαν κλήρους αὐτῶν, καὶ ἔπεσεν ὁ κλῆρος ἐπὶ Ματθίαν, καὶ συγκατεψηφίσθη μετὰ τῶν ἕνδεκα ἀποστόλων.
The Reading is from Matthew 21:43-46
The Lord said to the Jews who had come to him: "Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing the fruits of it. And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but when it falls on any one, it will crush him."
When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them. But when they tried to arrest him, they feared the multitudes, because they held him to be a prophet.
Κατὰ Ματθαῖον 21.43-46
Εἶπεν ὁ Κύριος πρὸς τοὺς ἐληλυθότας πρὸς αὐτὸν Ἰουδαίους· Λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ἀρθήσεται ἀφ᾿ ὑμῶν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ δοθήσεται ἔθνει ποιοῦντι τοὺς καρποὺς αὐτῆς·καὶ ὁ πεσὼν ἐπὶ τὸν λίθον τοῦτον συνθλασθήσεται· ἐφ᾿ ὃν δ᾿ ἂν πέσῃ, λικμήσει αὐτόν.καὶ ἀκούσαντες οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ οἱ Φαρισαῖοι τὰς παραβολὰς αὐτοῦ ἔγνωσαν ὅτι περὶ αὐτῶν λέγει·καὶ ζητοῦντες αὐτὸν κρατῆσαι ἐφοβήθησαν τοὺς ὄχλους, ἐπειδὴ ὡς προφήτην αὐτὸν εἶχον.
READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:
Τῇ Θ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Ἀποστόλου Ματθία.
Ἐξῆλθεν ἀρθείς, Ἰούδας ἐπὶ βρόχου,
Εἰσῆλθεν ἀρθείς, Ματθίας ἐπὶ ξύλου.
Ἤρθη ἀμφ' ἐνάτῃ ξύλῳ ἠύθεος Ματθίας.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, μνήμη τῶν Ἁγίων δέκα μαρτύρων, τῶν διὰ τὴν Ἁγίαν Εἰκόνα τοῦ Σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ Θεοῦ, τὴν ἐν τῇ Χαλκῇ πύλῃ, ἀθλησάντων, Ἰουλιανοῦ, Μαρκιανοῦ, Ἰωάννου, Ἰακώβου, Ἀλεξίου, Δημητρίου, Φωτίου, Πέτρου, Λεοντίου, καὶ Μαρίας τῆς Πατρικίας.
Ἐχθρὸν Θεοῦ κτείναντες ἄνδρες ἐννέα,
Φίλοι γίνονται τῷ Θεῷ διὰ ξίφους.
Ἐμοῦ τραχήλου Σῶτερ αἷμα προσδέχου,
Μαρία φησίν, ὡς τὸ μύρον Μαρίας.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, μνήμη τῆς Ἀθλήσεως τοῦ Ἁγίου μάρτυρος Ἀντωνίου.
Ὁ ὅσιος ἡμῶν Ψόης εὐχόμενος τελειοῦται.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, μνήμη τῆς εὑρέσεως τῆς ἀχειροποιήτου καὶ σεβασμίας Εἰκόνος τῶν Καμουλιανῶν, ἥπερ εὕρεσις συνεγράφη παρὰ τοῦ ἐν Ἁγίοις Γρηγορίου Ἐπισκόπου Νύσσης.
Ταῖς τῶν Ἁγίων σου πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεὸς ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.
After Judas by transgression fell from his apostleship (Acts 1: 25), and hanging himself out of despair ended his life with a wretched and shameful death (Matt. 27: 5), then, that the number of the Twelve not be lacking, all the disciples gathered in one place after the Ascension of the Savior (the number of men and women being 120), and they chose two men from among them, Joseph, called Barsabas, who was also surnamed Justus, and Matthias, and they set them in the midst. Then they prayed to God and cast lots, "and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven Apostles" (Acts 1: 15-26). And thus, having taken the place of Judas, Matthias fulfilled the work of apostleship and the prophecy concerning Judas, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David: "And his bishopric let another take" (Ps. 108:7). After this, it is said, Matthias preached the Gospel in Ethiopia, and completed his life there in martyrdom.
Apolytikion in the Third Tone
Απόστολε Άγιε Ματθία, πρέσβευε τώ ελεήμονι Θεώ ίνα πταισμάτων άφεσιν, παράσχη ταίς ψυχάς ημών.
O Holy Apostle Matthias, intercede to our merciful God, that He may grant our souls forgiveness of sins.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Φωταυγής ως ήλιος είς πάντα κόσμον, εξελθών ο φθόγγος σου, καταφωτίζει τών εθνών, τήν Εκκλησίαν εν χάριτι, θαυματοφόρε Ματθία Απόστολε.
Truly, into all the world thy sound hath gone forth as a brightly-beaming sun; and it enlighteneth by grace the Church of all nations on the earth, O wonderworking Matthias, Apostle of Christ.
Apolytikion in the Grave Tone
Μετεμορθώθης εν τώ όρει Χριστέ ο Θεός, δείξας τοίς Μαθηταίς σου τήν δόξαν σου, καθώς ήδυναντο, Λάμψον καί ημίν τοίς αμαρτωλοίς, τό φώς σου τό αϊδιον, πρεσβείαις τής Θεοτόκου, φωτοδότα δόξα σοι.
You were transfigured on the Mount, Christ God revealing Your glory to Your disciples, insofar as they could comprehend. Illuminate us sinners also with Your everlasting light, through the intercessions of the Theotokos. Giver of light, glory to You.
Για να συμπληρωθή ο αριθμός των δώδεκα Αποστόλων ύστερα από την προδοσία και τον θάνατο του Ιούδα, οι Απόστολοι και οι Μαθηταί, μετά την Ανάσταση του Κυρίου, εξέλεξαν τον Ματθία, του οποίου η Εκκλησία σήμερα τιμά την μνήμη. Για την προδοσία του Ιούδα και για την εκλογή του Ματθία είναι το εξής γραμμένο προφητικά στους Ψαλμούς· "Γενηθήτω η επαύλις αυτού έρημος και μη έστω ο κατοικών εν αυτή". Και· "την επισκοπήν αυτού λάβοι έτερος". Έτσι συμβαίνει πάντα· ξεκλήρισαν σπιτικά και χάθηκαν από το πρόσωπο της γης άνθρωποι, που ετιμήθηκαν από τον Θεό, γιατί εστάθηκαν ανάξιοι να εκτιμήσουν κι επρόδωσαν την κλήση τους. Και τη θέση τους την πήραν άλλοι, για να γίνουν αυτοί "μάρτυρες της Αναστάσεως", που δεν προφθαίνουν ποτέ να την δουν οι προδότες. Δεν θα λείψουν ποτέ άνθρωποι για να υπηρετήσουν στο έργο του Θεού, όσοι κι αν είναι οι μιμηταί του Ιούδα, οι αρνηταί και οι προδόται.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Ματθίας ὁ Ἀπόστολος
Πῶς ὁ Ματθίας κατατάχθηκε στὸ χορὸ τῶν δώδεκα Ἀποστόλων, τὸ γνωρίζουμε ἀπὸ τὶς Πράξεις τῶν Ἀποστόλων. Μετὰ τὴν προδοσία καὶ τὸν ἀπαγχονισμὸ τοῦ Ἰούδα καὶ μετὰ τὴν Ἀνάληψη τοῦ Κυρίου, οἱ ἕντεκα μαθητὲς μὲ τὴν Παναγία βρίσκονταν στὸ ὑπερῷον. Τότε ὁ Πέτρος πρότεινε νὰ ἐκλεγεῖ ἄλλος ἀντὶ τοῦ Ἰούδα, ἀπὸ τοὺς ἄνδρες ποὺ ἀκολουθοῦσαν ὑπηρετώντας τὸ Χριστό. Ἡ πρόταση ἔγινε δεκτὴ καὶ τέθηκαν δυὸ ὑποψήφιοι: ὁ Ἰωσὴφ ὁ καλούμενος Βαρσαββᾶς καὶ ὁ Ματθίας. Τότε ἔβαλαν κλῆρο, καὶ δίνοντας σὲ ὅλους ἐμᾶς παράδειγμα ἐναπόθεσης κάθε ἐκλογῆς μας στὸ Θεό, προσευχήθηκαν ὅλοι μαζὶ ὡς ἑξῆς: «Σὺ Κύριε, καρδιογνῶστα πάντων, ἀνάδειξαν ὃν ἐξελέξω ἐκ τούτων τῶν δυὸ ἕνα, λαβεῖν τὸν κλῆρον τῆς διακονίας ταύτης καὶ ἀποστολῆς». Δηλαδή: Σὺ Κύριε, ποὺ γνωρίζεις τὶς καρδιὲς ὅλων, φανέρωσε καθαρὰ ἐκεῖνον ποὺ ἐξέλεξες, ἕναν ἀπὸ αὐτοὺς τοὺς δυό, γιὰ νὰ ἐπωμισθεῖ τὸ ἀξίωμα τῆς ἀποστολικῆς διακονίας. Στὴ συνέχεια ὁ κλῆρος ἔπεσε στὸ Ματθία. Καὶ ἔτσι προστέθηκε στοὺς ἕντεκα Ἀποστόλους. Ἀπὸ τὴν μετέπειτα ζωὴ τοῦ Ματθία, γνωρίζουμε ὅτι κήρυξε τὸ Εὐαγγέλιο στὴν Αἰθιοπία, ὅπου καὶ τελείωσε τὴν ζωή του μαρτυρικά.
Οἱ Ἅγιοι 10 Μάρτυρες, Ἰουλιανός, Μαρκιανός, Ἰωάννης, Ἰάκωβος, Ἀλέξιος, Δημήτριος, Φώτιος, Πέτρος, Λεόντιος καὶ Μαρία ἡ Πατρικία, ποὺ μαρτύρησαν στὴ Χάλκη
Τὸ μαρτύριο τῶν Ἁγίων αὐτῶν, ἀναφέρεται στὰ χρόνια του εἰκονομάχου αὐτοκράτορα Λέοντα τοῦ Γ´. Ὁ ὁποῖος, ὅπως εἶναι γνωστό, μὲ διάταγμά του τὸ 728 ἐμπόδισε ὁλοσχερῶς τὴν ἀνάρτηση ἁγίων εἰκόνων, ὄχι μόνο στὶς ἐκκλησίες ἀλλὰ σ᾿ ὁποιοδήποτε ἄλλο μέρος. Στὸ διάταγμα αὐτὸ ἀντιστάθηκε ὁ Πατριάρχης Γερμανός, ἀλλὰ ὁ βασιλιὰς συγκάλεσε συνέδριο καὶ καταδίκασε τὴν στάση τοῦ Πατριάρχη. Τότε αὐτὸς παραιτήθηκε καὶ δυστυχῶς τὴν θέση του δέχτηκε νὰ πάρει ὁ σύγκελλος καὶ μαθητής του Ἀναστάσιος. Ὁ ὁποῖος ἄρχισε ἀμέσως νὰ ἐκτελεῖ τὸ αὐτοκρατορικὸ διάταγμα. Τότε κάποιος ἀξιωματικός, πολὺ προκλητικὰ πῆγε σὲ μία οἰκοδομὴ ποὺ ἀποτελοῦσε κατὰ κάποιο τρόπο τὰ προπύλαια τῶν ἀνακτόρων, καὶ ὀνομαζόταν Χάλκη Πύλη διότι ἡ στέγη της ἦταν χάλκινη, καὶ μὲ ἕνα τσεκοῦρι ἄρχισε νὰ ξηλώνει τὴν εἰκόνα τοῦ Χριστοῦ ποὺ ἦταν πάνω σ᾿ αὐτή. Ἐξοργισμένος ὁ ὀρθόδοξος λαὸς μπροστὰ σ᾿ αὐτὸ τὸ ἔγκλημα, ἔριξε τὸν ἀσεβῆ ἀξιωματικὸ ἀπὸ τὴν σκάλα, πάνω στὴν ὁποία ἦταν, μὲ ἀποτέλεσμα αὐτὸς νὰ σκοτωθεῖ. Τότε ὁ βασιλιὰς ἔστειλε τὴν φρουρά του καὶ σκότωσε πολλοὺς ἀπὸ τὸ ἔντονα διαμαρτυρόμενο πλῆθος. Μεταξὺ αὐτῶν ἦταν καὶ οἱ δέκα συγκεκριμένοι Μάρτυρες. Τὰ δὲ ὀνόματά τους ἦταν τὰ ἑξῆς: Ἰουλιανός, Μαρκιανός, Ἰωάννης, Ἰάκωβος, Ἀλέξιος, Δημήτριος, Φώτιος, Πέτρος, Λεόντιος καὶ Μαρία ἡ Πατρικία.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Ἀντωνῖνος (στὰ Μηναῖα γράφεται Ἀντώνιος) ἀπὸ τὴν Ἀλεξάνδρεια
Πατρίδα του ἡ Ἀλεξάνδρεια, ὅπου μὲ ζῆλο κήρυττε δημόσια τὴν ἀλήθεια τοῦ Εὐαγγελίου τοῦ Κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. Συνελήφθη ἀπὸ τὸν ἄρχοντα τῆς Ἀλεξάνδρειας καὶ βασανίστηκε σκληρά. Στὴν ἀρχὴ τὸν κρέμασαν καὶ ξέσχισαν τὶς σάρκες του. Κατόπιν τὸν ἔριξαν μέσα σὲ ἀναμμένο καμίνι, ὅπου παρέδωσε τὴν ἁγία ψυχή του στὸν Θεό. Τὸ ἅγιο λείψανό του βρέθηκε μέσα στὸ καμίνι ἀπείραχτο, χωρὶς ἡ φωτιὰ νὰ βλάψει οὔτε μία τρίχα ἀπὸ τὰ μαλλιὰ τῆς κεφαλῆς του.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Ψόης
Ἀπεβίωσε εἰρηνικὰ προσευχόμενος.
Εὕρεσις τῆς Ἀχειροποιήτου Εἰκόνας τοῦ Χριστοῦ στὰ Καμουλιανά
Ἡ ψευδεπίγραφη αὐτὴ διήγηση γιὰ τὴν εὕρεση τῆς ἀχειροποίητης εἰκόνας τοῦ Χριστοῦ, ἀπὸ τὴν εἰδωλολάτρισσα Ἀκυλίνα καὶ μετέπειτα χριστιανὴ (σύμφωνα μὲ τὴν διήγηση), μέσα σὲ κιβώτιο, ἀποδόθηκε στὸν Γρηγόριο Νύσσης, ἀπὸ κάποιον μεταγενέστερο, προκειμένου νὰ δώσει κῦρος σ᾿ αὐτή.
Apostle Matthias (1st c.)
He was numbered among the Seventy. Then, when Judas who betrayed Christ had taken his own life, The disciples (120 men and women) convened to choose one who would take his place among the Twelve. They nominated two, Joseph (called Barsabas or Justus) and Matthias, then cast lots. The lot fell to Matthais, who henceforth was numbered among the Twelve (See Acts ch. 1). Accounts of his Apostolate after this vary. According to some, he preached the Gospel in Ethiopia and met his martyrdom there. According to others, after visiting Ethiopia he returned to Judea, where he was tried and condemned by Ananias the High Priest, and stoned to death, then beheaded.
Holy Martyr Anthony (2nd c.)
A native of Alexandria, he was brought before the pagan governor and tortured for his faith, but would not renounce Christ. Finally he was burned alive, but from the flames he called out: 'My beloved brethren, do not be enslaved by your bodies, but give thought to your souls, given to you by God and kin to God and to the heavenly powers.'
The Holy Apostle Matthias was born at Bethlehem, and was a descendent of the Tribe of Judah. From his early childhood he studied the Law of God in accord with the Books of Scripture under the guidance of Saint Simeon the God-Receiver. When the Lord Jesus Christ revealed Himself to the world, Saint Matthias believed in Him as the Messiah, followed constantly after Him and was numbered amongst the Seventy Disciples, whom the Lord "did send by twos before His face" (Lk. 10: 1). After the Ascension of the Saviour, Saint Matthias was chosen by lot to replace amongst the 12 Apostles the fallen-away Judas Iscariot (Acts 1: 15-26). After the Descent of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Matthias preached the Gospel at Jerusalem and in Judea together with the other Apostles (Acts 6: 2, 8: 14). From Jerusalem he went with the Apostles Peter and Andrew to Syrian Antioch, and was in the Cappadocian city of Tianum and Sinope. Here the Apostle Matthias was locked into prison, from which he was miraculously freed by the Apostle Andrew the First-Called. The Apostle Matthias journeyed after this to Amasia, a city on the shore of the sea. During a 3 year journey of the Apostle Andrew, Saint Matthias was with him at Edessa and Sebasteia. According to Church tradition, he was preaching at Pontine AEthiopia (presently Western Gruzia / Georgia) and Macedonia. He was frequently subjected to deadly peril, but the Lord preserved him alive to further preach the Gospel. One time pagans forced the apostle to drink a poison potion. The apostle drank it and not only did he himself remain unharmed, but he also healed other prisoners which had been blinded by the potion. When Saint Matthias left the prison, the pagans searched for him in vain -- since he had become invisible to them. Another time, when the pagans had become enraged intending to kill the apostle, the earth opened up and engulfed them. The Apostle Matthias returned to Judea and did not cease with the enlightening of his countrymen with the light of Christ's teachings. He worked great miracles in the Name of the Lord Jesus and he converted a great many to faith in Christ. The Jewish High-Priest Ananias hated Christ and earlier had commanded the Apostle James, Brother of the Lord, to be flung down from the heights of the Temple, and now he ordered that the Apostle Matthias be arrested and brought for judgement before the Sanhedrin at Jerusalem. The impious Ananias uttered a speech in which he blasphemously slandered the Lord. By way of answer, the Apostle Matthias pointed out in the prophesies of the New Testament, that Jesus Christ -- is the True God, the Messiah promised Israel by God, the Son of God, Consubstantial and Co-Eternal with God the Father. After these words the Apostle Matthias was sentenced to death by the Sanhedrin and stoned. When Saint Matthias was already dead, the Jews, to hide their malefaction, cut off his head as being an enemy of Caesar. (According to several historians, the Apostle Matthias was crucified on a cross, and indicate that he instead died at Colchis). The Apostle Matthias received the martyr's crown of death for Christ in about the year 63.
The Martyr Anthony, a native of the city of Alexandria, was a Christian. For his confession of faith they tied him to a tree and tore at his body with iron, and then sentenced him to burning. Standing already amidst the bon-fire, he calmly exhorted those standing about to toil not for body for soul in aspiring towards God. After the bon-fire flared up, the body of the saint remained unharmed. The time of his end is unknown.
The Monk Psoe was a disciple of the Monk Pakhomios the Great (Comm. 15 May) and lived during the IV Century in the Egyptian wilderness.
The Martyrs Julian, Marcian, John, James, Alexis, Demetrios, Photios, Peter, Leontios, Maria the Patrician, the Protospatharion ("Sword-Captain") Gregory and Others suffered for holy icons in the year 730 under the Iconoclast emperor Leo the Isaurian (717-741). The emperor deposed the holy Patriarch Germanos (715-730) from the patriarchal throne and sent him off to prison, raising up onto the patriarchal throne the iconoclast Athanasias (730-753). By decree of the emperor, all icons were to be confiscated from homes and churches and then destroyed. At Constantinople from the time of the holy nobleborn emperor Constantine the Great (324-337) there was over the so-called "Copper Gates" a wonderworking icon of the Saviour, wrought from copper. The emperor and heretic-patriarch Anastasias gave orders to seize this icon. The gathered crowd became outraged at this sacrilege. And in the crowd was the Patrician Maria, a woman of illustrious family, who with many others rushed to the ladder and pulled it from the wall to keep the soldier from touching the icon. The ladder came down, and the soldier standing on it fell to his death. This occurred on 19 January 730. The Protospatherion ("Sword-Captain") Gregorios and the Martyr-Nun Theodosia (Comm. 29 May) also took part in the defense of the icon. Learning of this, the emperor gave over to death a multitude of the faithful -- the names and number of which are known only to the Lord. The Protospatherion Gregory also received a martyr's death. But there are known some of the Orthodox among those -- Julian, Marcian, John, James, Alexis, Demetrios, Leontios, Photios and Peter -- who were locked up in prison and kept there for about 8 months, each day being beaten with 500 blows; in these torments they remained alive by the power of Christ and bravely endured their sufferings. By order of the emperor were burnt with red-hot iron and their heads cut off. Saint Maria the Patrician, who had not been locked up in prison, learning about the approaching executions, voluntarily accepted a martyr's death. The bodies of the martyrs were buried in a pelagic (seashore) area near the church of the holy Mary Theodore and were uncovered unperished 139 years later.
The Monk Makarii of Oredezhsk was a student of the Monk Alexander of Svirsk (+ 30 August 1533). He pursued asceticism at the River Oredezha at Lake Ladoga, where he founded a monastery. He died in the year 1532.
The Restoration of the Temple of the 40 Martyrs is celebrated on this day. At Tsar'grad two churches were built to them: one, by the emperor Anastasias I (491-518), and the other, by the emperor Tiberius (578-582). For this feastday is known a service in the Greek Meneion of the XIII Century.
THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:
1. THE HOLY APOSTLE MATTHIAS
Matthias was born in Bethlehem of the tribe of Judah. He studied with St. Simeon the "Receiver of God" in Jerusalem. When the Lord went out to preach about the Kingdom of God Matthias then joined the others who loved the Lord, for he himself loved Him with all his heart and with delight did he hear His words and witnessed His works. In the beginning, Matthias was numbered among the Seventy Lesser Disciples of Christ but following the resurrection of the Lord, since the place of Judas was vacated, the apostles, by drawing lots, chose this Matthias in place of Judas as one of the Twelve Great Apostles. "And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was surnamed Justus and Matthias. And they prayed and said: 'You Lord, who knows the hearts of all men, show which of these two You have chosen, that he may take part of this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell that he might go to his own place' " (Acts 1:23-26). Receiving the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, Matthias set out to preach the Gospel, first of all in Judea and after that in Ethiopia where he endured great tortures for the sake of Christ. It is held that he preached throughout Macedonia where they wanted to blind him but he became invisible to his torturers and thus escaped danger. Being in prison, the Lord appeared to him, encouraged him and freed him. Finally, he returned again to his work in Judea. There he was accused and brought to court before the high priest Ananias before whom he fearlessly witnessed for Christ. Ananias, the same Ananias, who before that, slew the Apostle James, condemned Matthias to death. They led Matthias out, stoned him to death and, after that, decapitated him with an axe (this was the Roman manner of killing a person who was sentenced to death and the hypocritical Jews applied this method on the dead man so as to show the Romans that the slain person was an enemy of Rome). Thus, this great apostle of Christ died and took up habitation in the eternal joy of his Lord.
2. THE HOLY MARTYR ANTHONY
Anthony was a citizen of Alexandria. Brought before the pagan prince, he freely confessed his faith and was tortured, flogged and scrapped but he would not deny Christ. Finally, he was thrown into a fire and, from the midst of the fire, he spoke to the people: "My beloved brethren, do not be a slave to the body but rather concern yourself more about the soul which is given to you by God and is kindred to God and to the heavenly hosts." And so, instructing his people and burning in the fire, Anthony gave up his holy soul to God.
3. THE HOLY MARTYRS JULIAN AND MARCIAN AND OTHERS WITH THEM
They all suffered at the hands of the wicked Emperor Leo the Isaurian in defense of icons in the year 716 A.D. and were crowned with unfading glory.
HYMN OF PRAISE
SAINT MATTHIAS, THE APOSTLE
Matthias, the Apostle, spoke about Christ
And openly witnessed, before the Jews:
He is that Messiah, about Whom the Scripture writes,
He is the Son of God, Who from on High descended,
He is the Word of God, Divine Hypostasis,
About Him the prophets clearly spoke:
Moses prophesied: A prophet as I
From God, with radiance will shine among you.
And King David said: All the generations of the earth
By Him, will be glorious and blessed.
Isaiah, with a courageous spirit, toward heaven flies
And saw and said: "A virgin shall conceive
And give birth to a Son and a name to Him give,
Emmanuel, will He be called 'God is with us' ".
Still Jonah, the prototype of His burial was,
As the burial, so also the resurrection
When, in the belly of the whale, for three days, he lay
And by God again, made worthy of life,
The shadows have past and the prophecies fulfilled,
The promised words, in the flesh, came.
But, in vain does the awake man speak to the one who sleeps,
He who sleeps throughout the entire day, in the day, does not believe.
To take another's sin upon one's self, that is one form of martyrdom and the sign of one's overwhelming love for one's fellow man. As death is the consequence of sin, to take another's sin on one's self means to add to your own death still another death, "And sin, when it is finished, brings forth death" (St. James 1:15). However, God rewards with resurrection those who, out of love, take another' s death upon themselves. There are many examples how the saints took upon themselves the sins of their fellow men. Thus, it is said of St. Ammon: a brother fell into sin and came to Ammon and said to him that because of the sin he committed, he must leave the monastery and return to the world. Ammon said to the brother that he will take his sin upon himself and counseled the brother to remain in the monastery. The brother remained in the monastery and the elder Ammon proceeded to offer repentance and prayers to God. After a short time, the elder Ammon received a revelation from God that that sin is forgiven because of his love for the brother. When St. Macarius, St. Simeon the "fool for Christ", St. Theodora and others were accused of promiscuity, they did not defend themselves but, taking upon themselves the sin of others, received the weighty punishment for sin and patiently endured all until God revealed their innocence to men.
To contemplate the punishment of God upon the people of Israel for the sins of the sons of Eli, the judge and high priest (1 Samuel 4 1 Kings 4):
1. How the sons of the high priest [Hophni and Phinehas] sinned openly and secretly in Shiloh before the Ark of the Covenant;
2. How God gave the victory in battle to the Philistines over Israel in which many thousands of Israelites were slain, together with the sons of the high priest and the Ark of the Covenant was seized;
3. How, because of the sins of the elders of the people, God permits suffering on the entire nation.
About the nothingness of the sinful before the majesty of God
"Enter into the rock and hide thee in the dust, for the fear of the Lord and for the glory of His majesty" (Isaiah 2:10).
This is a bitter sneer of the prophet to his people, an idolatrous people. The people had rejected the faith in the one true God and began to worship idols of stone and earth. What will you do, O evil people, when "the fear of the Lord" appears? Where will you flee, when the "glory of His majesty" appears? Flee into the rocks from which you have made a god for yourselves! Flee into the dust, from which you have made a god for yourselves! O, how terrifying is the sneer of this discerning prophet! Who can enter into a rock and hide themselves? Who can flee into the dust and conceal himself from the Most High?
However, brethren let us leave the idolatry of the Jews for which they have been punished enough and, for a moment, let us look at the idolatry among us Christians. What is amassed gold, if not idol? What are gleaned fields other than an idol of dust? What are luxurious clothes other than an idol made from the skins and hairs of animals? Where will the idolaters of our generation hide when "the fear of the Lord" appears and when "the glory of his majesty" appears? Flee to gold, worshippers of gold! Flee to the earth, worshippers of the earth! Hide in the skins of animals and bury yourself with the hairs of foxes and the fibers of the dead silk worm, O, you idolators! O bitter irony! All of this will be burned in the Day of the Lord, on that Dreadful Day. And man will stand face to face with the only Majestic and Eternal One. All the idols of mankind will be destroyed by fire before men and the Immortal Judge will ask the idolators: "Where are your gods?"
Isaiah, the son of Amos, the prophet of God, lived on earth a long time ago but his vision, even today, is dreadful, beneficial and, again, dreadful.
To You, the only One, the only living Lord, do we worship! All else is passing dust. Help us Lord, help us that our mind and heart does not adhere to the passing dust but to You, only to You, the only Living One.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.