FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:
Silas & Silvanos the Apostles of the 70
St. Julitta of Caesaria
Τῶν Ἁγίων Ἀποστόλων ἐκ τῶν Ἑβδομήκοντα Σίλα, Σιλουανοῦ, Κρήσκεντος, Ἐπαινετοῦ καί Ἀνδρονίκου.
READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:
The Reading is from Acts of the Apostles 15:35-41
IN THOSE DAYS, Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also. And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, "Come, let us return and visit the brethren in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are." And Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work. And there arose a sharp contention, so that they separated from each other; Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of the Lord. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
Πράξεις Ἀποστόλων 15:35-41
Ἐν ταῖς ἡμεραῖς ἐκείναις, Παῦλος δὲ καὶ Βαρνάβας διέτριβον ἐν Ἀντιοχείᾳ, διδάσκοντες καὶ εὐαγγελιζόμενοι, μετὰ καὶ ἑτέρων πολλῶν, τὸν λόγον τοῦ κυρίου. Μετὰ δέ τινας ἡμέρας εἶπεν Παῦλος πρὸς Βαρνάβαν, Ἐπιστρέψαντες δὴ ἐπισκεψώμεθα τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς ἡμῶν κατὰ πᾶσαν πόλιν, ἐν αἷς κατηγγείλαμεν τὸν λόγον τοῦ κυρίου, πῶς ἔχουσιν. Βαρνάβας δὲ ἐβουλεύσατοN συμπαραλαβεῖν τὸν Ἰωάννην, τὸν καλούμενον Μάρκον. Παῦλος δὲ ἠξίου, τὸν ἀποστάντα ἀπʼ αὐτῶν ἀπὸ Παμφυλίας, καὶ μὴ συνελθόντα αὐτοῖς εἰς τὸ ἔργον, μὴ συμπαραλαβεῖνN τοῦτον. Ἐγένετο οὖν παροξυσμός, ὥστε ἀποχωρισθῆναι αὐτοὺς ἀπʼ ἀλλήλων, τόν τε Βαρνάβαν παραλαβόντα τὸν Μάρκον ἐκπλεῦσαι εἰς Κύπρον· Παῦλος δὲ ἐπιλεξάμενος Σίλαν ἐξῆλθεν, παραδοθεὶς τῇ χάριτι τοῦ θεοῦ ὑπὸ τῶν ἀδελφῶν. Διήρχετο δὲ τὴν Συρίαν καὶ Κιλικίαν, ἐπιστηρίζων τὰς ἐκκλησίας.
The Reading is from Matthew 18:1-11
At that time, the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
"Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
"Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the man by whom the temptation comes! And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life maimed or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the Gehenna fire.
"See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven. For the Son of man came to save the lost."
Κατὰ Ματθαῖον 18.1-11
Τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ, προσῆλθον οἱ μαθηταὶ τῷ ᾿Ιησοῦ λέγοντες· τίς ἄρα μείζων ἐστὶν ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τῶν οὐρανῶν; καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς παιδίον ἔστησεν αὐτὸ ἐν μέσῳ αὐτῶν καὶ εἶπεν· ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ἐὰν μὴ στραφῆτε καὶ γένησθε ὡς τὰ παιδία, οὐ μὴ εἰσέλθητε εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν. ὅστις οὖν ταπεινώσει ἑαυτὸν ὡς τὸ παιδίον τοῦτο, οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ μείζων ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τῶν οὐρανῶν. καὶ ὃς ἐὰν δέξηται παιδίον τοιοῦτον ἓν ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί μου, ἐμὲ δέχεται· ὃς δ᾿ ἂν σκανδαλίσῃ ἕνα τῶν μικρῶν τούτων τῶν πιστευόντων εἰς ἐμέ, συμφέρει αὐτῷ ἵνα κρεμασθῇ μύλος ὀνικὸς εἰς τὸν τράχηλον αὐτοῦ καὶ καταποντισθῇ ἐν τῷ πελάγει τῆς θαλάσσης. Οὐαὶ τῷ κόσμῳ ἀπὸ τῶν σκανδάλων· ἀνάγκη γάρ ἐστιν ἐλθεῖν τὰ σκάνδαλα· πλὴν οὐαὶ τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ ἐκείνῳ δι᾿ οὗ τὸ σκάνδαλον ἔρχεται. εἰ δὲ ἡ χείρ σου ἢ ὁ πούς σου σκανδαλίζει σε, ἔκκοψον αὐτὰ καὶ βάλε ἀπὸ σοῦ· καλόν σοί ἐστιν εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν ζωὴν χωλὸν ἢ κυλλόν, ἢ δύο χεῖρας ἢ δύο πόδας ἔχοντα βληθῆναι εἰς τὸ πῦρ τὸ αἰώνιον. καὶ εἰ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου σκανδαλίζει σε, ἔξελε αὐτὸν καὶ βάλε ἀπὸ σοῦ· καλόν σοί ἐστι μονόφθαλμον εἰς τὴν ζωὴν εἰσελθεῖν, ἢ δύο ὀφθαλμοὺς ἔχοντα βληθῆναι εἰς τὴν γέενναν τοῦ πυρός. ῾Ορᾶτε μὴ καταφρονήσητε ἑνὸς τῶν μικρῶν τούτων· λέγω γὰρ ὑμῖν ὅτι οἱ ἄγγελοι αὐτῶν ἐν οὐρανοῖς διὰ παντὸς βλέπουσι τὸ πρόσωπον τοῦ πατρός μου τοῦ ἐν οὐρανοῖς. ἦλθε γὰρ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου σῶσαι τὸ ἀπολωλός.
READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:
Τῇ Λ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, Μνήμη τῶν Ἁγίων Ἀποστόλων ἐκ τῶν Ἑβδομήκοντα, Σίλα, Σιλουανοῦ, Κρήσκεντος, Ἐπαινετοῦ καὶ Ἀνδρονίκου.
Ἐπαινετὸς Κρήσκης τε καὶ Σιλουανός,
Σίλας καὶ Ἀνδρόνικος, αἰνείσθων ἅμα.
Πέντ' ἔβαν ἐκ βιότου μύσται Θεοῦ ἐν τριακοστῇ.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τῆς Ἁγίας Μάρτυρος Ἰουλίττης τῆς ἐκ Καισαρείας.
Ταῖς αὐτῶν ἁγίαις πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεός, ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.
Saint Silas was a companion and fellow labourer of the Apostle Paul: "And Paul chose Silas and departed...and he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches" (Acts 15:40-41). He later became Bishop of Corinth, and reposed in peace. Saint Silvanos became Bishop of Thessalonica, and also reposed in peace. Saint Crescents, whom Saint Paul mentions in his Second Epistle to Timothy(4:10), became Bishop of Chalcedon, and brought many to the Faith. As for him whom the Apostle of the Nations praises as "my well-beloved Epenetus, the first-fruits of Achaia unto Christ" (Roman 16:5), he became Bishop of Carthage, and after enduring many afflictions from the idolators, and bringing many of them to Christ, he departed to the Lord.
Apolytikion in the Third Tone
Απόστολοι Άγιοι, πρεσβεύσατε τώ ελεήμονι Θεώ ίνα πταισμάτων άφεσιν, παράσχη ταίς ψυχάς ημών.
O Holy Apostles, intercede to our merciful God, that He may grant our souls forgiveness of sins.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Εις τά τού κόσμου δραμόντες πληρώματα, θεογνωσίας τόν λόγον εσπείρατε, καί στάχυν πολύχουν δραψάμενοι, τώ Βασιλεί τών απάντων προσήξατε, Απόστολοι Χριστού παναοίδιμοι.
Ye have appeared as great and fruit-bearing branches of Christ the Vine, O God-proclaiming Apostles, bearing the virtues in great clusters, wisdom's fruit, which pour forth upon us all the sweet wine of salvation; which when we receive within, we are drunken with gladness, and celebrate your honoured memory. Pray that our sins be forgiven and we be saved.
Ο Απόστολος Παύλος γράφει σε μία του Επιστολή· "...τα πάντα εζημιώθην και ηγούμαι σκύβαλα είναι ίνα Χριστόν κερδήσω και ευρεθώ εν αυτώ...". Στην ιστορία της Εκκλησίας πολλοί Άγιοι επανέλαβαν τα λόγια του Αποστόλου, ανάμεσα στους οποίους είναι η αγία Μάρτυς Ιουλίττα, της οποίας την μνήμη τιμά σήμερα η Εκκλησία. Το μαρτύριό της το εγκωμίασε ο Μέγας Βασίλειος σε ένα του λόγο, που είναι κι αυτό δείγμα της θέσεως που κατέχει η Αγία μεταξύ των μαρτύρων και της τιμής που της είχαν στην πατρίδα της, την Καισάρεια της Καππαδοκίας. Είναι πολύ ηρωική και αξιοθαύμαστη η απάντηση που έδωκεν η Ιουλίττα - μία γυναίκα, αν πρέπη να την ονομάζουμε γυναίκα, όπως λέει ο Μ. Βασίλειος - στους δημίους της, η απάντηση που τη ζηλεύομε σήμερα. Εκείνοι της επρότειναν να αρνηθή τον Χριστό κι εκείνη απάντησε· "Ας χαθούν όλα... Ας χαθή και το κορμί μου. Τον Χριστό δεν θα τον αρνηθώ ποτέ".
Οἱ Ἅγιοι Σίλας, Σιλουανός, Ἐπαινετός, Κρήσκης καὶ Ἀνδρόνικος οἱ Ἀπόστολοι
Ὅλοι οἱ Ἅγιοι αὐτοὶ ἦταν ἀπὸ τοὺς ἑβδομήκοντα μαθητὲς τοῦ Κυρίου καὶ ὅλοι ὑπηρέτησαν τὸ Εὐαγγέλιο τοῦ Χριστοῦ «ἐν κόπῳ καὶ μόχθω, ἐν ἀγρυπνίαις πολλάκις, ἐν λιμῷ καὶ δίψει, ἐν νηστείαις πολλάκις, ἐν ψύχει καὶ γυμνότητι». Δηλαδή, ὑπηρέτησαν τὸν Κύριο μὲ κόπο καὶ μόχθο, μὲ ἀγρυπνίες πολλὲς φορές, μὲ πείνα καὶ δίψα στὶς μακρινὲς ὁδοιπορίες, μὲ νηστεῖες, μὲ ψῦχος καὶ γυμνότητα. Πράγματι, ὁ μὲν Σίλας στοὺς Φιλίππους τῆς Μακεδονίας, χτυπήθηκε καὶ φυλακίστηκε μαζὶ μὲ τὸν Παῦλο (Πράξ. ιστ´ 25-39). Καὶ ἀφοῦ ἔπειτα ἀκολούθησε τὸν Παῦλο σὲ πολλὲς περιοδεῖες του, ἔγινε ἐπίσκοπος Κορίνθου. Ὁ δὲ Κρήσκης ἐμόχθησε σὰν ἐπίσκοπος Καρχηδόνος. Ὁ Σιλουανός, σὰν ἐπίσκοπος Θεσσαλονίκης, ὅπου ἔκανε πολλοὺς ἀγῶνες καὶ ὑπέστη πολλὰ βάσανα γιὰ τὴν διάδοση τοῦ Εὐαγγελίου. Μὲ τὸν ἴδιο τρόπο ἀγωνίστηκε καὶ ὁ Ἐπαινετός, σὰν ἐπίσκοπος Καρθαγένης. Ἀλλὰ καὶ ὁ Ἅγιος Ἀνδρόνικος μὲ τοὺς ἴδιους κόπους καὶ στερήσεις ἀγωνίστηκε γιὰ τὴν πίστη στὸ Εὐαγγέλιο τοῦ Κυρίου μας Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.
Ἡ Ἁγία Ἰουλίττη ἀπὸ τὴν Καισάρεια
Ἡ ἁγία Ἰουλίττη ἔζησε στὴν Καισάρεια τῆς Καππαδοκίας, στὰ χρόνια τοῦ Μεγάλου Βασιλείου, ὁ ὁποῖος ἔτρεφε μεγάλη ὑπόληψη πρὸς αὐτή, λόγω τῆς εὐσέβειας καὶ τῶν πολλῶν ἀρετῶν της. Ἡ Ἰουλίττη εἶχε μεγάλη περιουσία καὶ πολεμήθηκε ἀπὸ κάποιο πλεονέκτη καὶ ἅρπαγα ἰσχυρό, ποὺ τὴν ἔμπλεξε σὲ δίκες καὶ κίνησε ἐναντίον της ψευδομάρτυρες. Ἡ Ἰουλίττη παρακάλεσε τὸν Μέγα Βασίλειο νὰ τὴν προστατέψει. Αὐτός, γνωρίζοντας τὸ δίκιο της, δέχτηκε καὶ ἔγραψε στὸν Παλλάδιο, ἄνδρα χρηστὸ καὶ θεοφοβούμενο, νὰ συνηγορήσει ὑπὲρ τῆς Ἰουλίττης στὸν ἔπαρχο. Στὴν ἴδια δὲ γράφει, γιὰ νὰ τὴν ἐνδυναμώσει, ὅτι «δυνατὸς δὲ ὁ ἅγιος (Θεός) διαγαγεῖν σε πάσης θλίψεως, μόνον ἐὰν ἀληθινῇ καὶ γνησίᾳ καρδίᾳ ἐλπίσωμεν ἐπ᾿ αὐτόν». Τελικὰ ὁ ἀντίδικος τῆς Ἰουλίττης, τὴν κατάγγειλε ὅτι ἔβριζε τὰ -ὑπὲρ τῆς εἰδωλολατρίας- διατάγματα τοῦ Ἰουλιανοῦ. Ὅταν ρωτήθηκε γι᾿ αὐτὸ ἡ Ἰουλίττη, ἀπάντησε ὅτι καταδικάζει τὴν εἰδωλολατρία καὶ καθῆκον της εἶναι νὰ ἐνισχύει τοὺς χριστιανοὺς στὴν ἀληθινὴ πίστη. Γιὰ τὴν ὁμολογία της αὐτή, καταδικάστηκε καὶ ρίχτηκε στὴ φωτιά.
Apostles Silas, Silvanus, Crescens, Epenetus, and Andronicus of the Seventy
St Silas was a companion and fellow-worker of the Apostle Paul (see Acts 15). He became Bishop of Corinth and reposed in peace. St Silvanus became Bishop of Thessalonica and reposed in peace. St Crescens, mentioned by St Paul in 2 Timothy 4:10, became Bishop of Chalcedon. St Epenetus, praised by St Paul in Romans 16:5 as "my well-beloved Epenetus, the first-fruits of Achaia" (that is the first Christian from the Greek land) became Bishop of Carthage. St Andronicus and his fellow-worker Junia are also commemorated May 17.
Hieromarytyr Polychronius, Bishop of Babylon, and those with him (251)
"when the Emperor decius conquered Babylon, he arrested Polychronius, together with three priests, two deacons and two baptised princes, Eudin and Senis. Polychronius would make no reply before the Emperor, but kept silent, while St Parmenius, one of the priests, spoke for them all. The Emperor took the bishop and priests to Persia, to the city of Kordoba, and had them beheaded with an axe, but he took the princes with him to Rome, threw them first to the wild beasts and then had them slain with the sword. They all suffered with honour in 251." (Prologue)
Venerable Angelina, Princess of Albania.
She was the daughter of Scanderbeg, Albania's national hero. She married Stefan, Prince of Serbia, a kinsman of Scanderbeg who sought refuge in his court. Stefan, a gentle, God-fearing man, had been blinded by the Turkish Sultan. Princess Angelina, loving him despite his loss of his vision and his worldly kingdom, married him with her father's blessing. Together they had two sons, George and John. When their sons were grown, Albania was ravaged by an invasion of the Turks. Stefan, with Angelina and their sons, fled to Italy, where they lived until his repose in 1468. The widowed Angelina buried her husband in his Serbian homeland and devoted her remaining years to good works. Her elder son George gave up his princely title and entered monastic life. John married but died without children in 1503. When Angelina had outlived her two sons as well as her husband she too entered monastic life. She was buried with her sons at Krušedol monastery in northern Serbia. There her miracle-working relics are venerated to this day, and a service is held each year in her memory. She, her husband and her two sons are all glorified as saints of the Church.
The Holy Disciples from the Seventy: Silas, Sylvanus (Siluanos), Crescentius, Epenetos and Andronikos were disciples of the Saviour.
The Disciple from the Seventy, Saint Silas, was a respected figure in the original Church at Jerusalem, "of the chief men amongst the brethren" (Acts 15: 22). The Council of the Apostles was convened at Jerusalem in the year 51 to deal with the question, whether it be necessary for Christians converted from among the Gentile-pagans to observe the (Old Testament) Mosaic Law [the Law-code contained in the Pentateuch, or Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament]. The Apostles afterwards sent a message with Paul and Barnabas to the Antioch Christians, in which they reported by resolve of the Council, Christians of Gentile-pagan origin were free from having to observe the prescripts of the Mosaic Law. But it was prescribed for them, nonetheless, that they refrain of partaking of foods offered to idols, from things strangled and from blood, to refrain from fornication, and to do naught else than that which be seemly (Acts 15: 20-29). Together with Saints Paul and Barnabas, the Council of the Apostles sent along members of the Jerusalem Church, Saints Silas and Jude, to explain the message in greater detail, since they both were filled with the indwelling grace of the Holy Spirit. Saint Jude thereafter was sent back to Jerusalem, but Saint Silas remained at Antioch and zealously assisted Saint Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, on his missionary journeys preaching the Gospel. They visited Syria, Cilicia, Macedonia.
In the city of Philippi they were accused of inciting unrest among the people, and for this they were arrested, thrashed with canes, and then thrown into prison. At midnight, when the holy saints were at prayer, suddenly there occurred a strong earthquake, their chains fell off from them and the doors of the prison opened. The prison guard, supposing that the prisoners had fled, wanted to kill himself, but was stopped by the Apostle Paul. Then, all atremble he fell down at the feet of the saints, and with faith accepted their "euangelos" ("good-news") about Christ. He then led them out of the prison and took them to his own home, where he washed their wounds, and was baptised together with all his household.
From Philippi Saints Paul and Silas proceeded on to the cities of Amphypolis, Apollonia and Soluneia (Thessalonika). In each city they made new converts to Christ and built up the Church.
At Corinth the holy Disciple Silas was ordained bishop, and he there worked many a miracle and sign, and there too he finished his life.
The Holy Disciple Sylvanus (Siluanos) preached the Word of God together with the chief Apostles Peter and Paul. In his First OEcumenical Epistle, the holy Apostle Peter makes mention of him: "This in brief have I written to ye through Sylvanus, your true brother, I do think..." (1 Pet. 5: 12). Saint Sylvanus was made bishop at Soluneia (Thessalonika) and died there a martyr, having undergone many a sorrow and misfortune for the Lord's sake.
About the Holy Disciple Crescentius the holy Apostle Paul makes mention in his Second Epistle to Timothy (2 Tim. 4: 10), saying that Crescentius had gone preaching to Galatia. He was made bishop there, and afterwards he preached the Word of God in Gaul (modern-day France). In the city of Vienna (modern-day Austria) the holy Disciple Crescentius established his student Zacharius as bishop. Having returned to Galatia, he died a martyr under the emperor Trajan (98-117).
The Holy Disciple Epenetus was made bishop at Carthage. In his Epistle to the Romans, the holy Apostle Paul writes: "Greet my dear Epenetus, who is from the beginnings in Achaia [alt. Asia] for Christ" (Rom. 16: 5).
The Disciple Andronicus is mentioned also in this same Epistle by the Apostle Paul: "Greet Andronicus and Junia [June], my kinsfolk, famed amongst the Apostles and even before me believing in Christ" (Rom. 16: 7). The holy Disciple Andronicus was bishop in Pannonia (modern-day Hungary) (Comm. of Saints Andronicus and Junia is 17 May).
The Holy Martyr John the Warrior served in the imperial army of the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363). Amidst other soldiers he was dispatched to seek out and kill Christians. Keeping up the external appearances of being a persecutor, Saint John in fact rendered great help to persecuted Christians: those who had been arrested -- he set free, others he warned of dangers threatening them, and assisted in their flight. Saint John showed charity not only to Christians, but to all the destitute and those needing help: he visited with the sick, and he consoled the grieving. When Julian the Apostate learned about the actions of the saint, he ordered him locked up in prison.
In the year 363 Julian the Apostate was killed in his war with the Persians. Saint John was set free and devoted his life to service of neighbour, and he lived in holiness and purity. He died in his old age.
The precise year of his death is unknown, and the place of burial of Saint John the Warrior was gradually forgotten. But then he appeared to a certain pious woman and indicated the place of his repose. It became known throughout the region. His uncovered relics were placed in a church of the Apostle John the Theologian in Constantinople. The Lord granted the relics of Saint John the Warrior the graced power of healing. Through the prayers of Saint John the aggrieved and sorrowing received comfort.
In the Russian Church, Saint John the Warrior is sacredly revered as a great intercessor in sorrows and difficult circumstances.
The Uncovering of the Relics of the Monk German of Solovetsk occurred in the year 1484. Saint German lived as an hermit at the River Vyg, by a chapel. It was here in about the year 1429 that the Monk Savvatii, from Valaamo monastery, came upon him, in seeking a solitary place for his ascetic deeds. German told Savvatii about Solovetsk Island, and both monks, in negotiating the sea, settled upon Solovetsk. They built themselves a cell beneathe the Sekir Heights, where they lived for six years. Upon the repose of Savvatii (+ 27 September 1435), the Monk German continued his ascetic efforts on the island together with another wilderness-dweller, the Monk Zosima (Comm. 17 April). German lived on the island for more than 50 years.
Being unlettered, but made wise by Divine Providence and wanting to preserve the memory about the efforts of the Monk Savvatii to edify many others, he summoned clergy to write down his memories about the Monks Savvatii and Zosima, and about the events which occurred during their lifetime. The Monk German loved to listen to edifying readings and in his final instruction to his students he bid them gather books at the monastery. For the domestic and other needs of the monastery the monk into his old age made dangerous sailings and prolonged journeys to the mainland. On one of these excursions to Novgorod in 1479 he died at the Antoniev monastery. They conveyed his body to the Solovetsk monastery, but because of some ruffians they had to make burial at a chapel in the village of Khavron'in on the River Svira. In 1484, when it was decided to move the grave to the place of the activities of the monk, his relics were found undecayed.
The PriestMartyr Polychronios, Bishop of Babylon, Presbyters Parmenias, Elimos and Chrysotelos, Deacons Luke and Muko, Holy Persian Prince-Martyrs Abdones and Sennis, and the Holy Martyrs Olympios and Maximos suffered during the III Century during a time of persecution against Christians under the emperor Decius (249-251). Decius, having gained a victory over the Persians and having seized territories from them, found there many a Christian and he began a persecution against them. The Babylonian bishop, Saint Polychronios, his presbyters Parmenias, Elimos, Chrysotelos and two deacons, Luke and Muko, were arrested and brought to the emperor, who commanded them to offer sacrifice to idols. But Saint Polychronios boldly replied to Decius: "We do offer ourselves in sacrifice to our Lord Jesus Christ, but your insignificant idols, wrought by human hands, we shalt never worship". For these words the enraged Decius had the confessors thrown into prison. At a second interrogation Saint Polychronios stood silent. Thereupon Decius said to the presbyters: "Your leader is voiceless". Saint Parmenias retorted: "The holy bishop is not without voice, but he doth not wish to defile his pure lips and "cast pearls before swine"" (Mt. 7: 6). In a rage Decius commanded the tongue of Saint Parmenias to be cut out for these words. In spite of this happening, Parmenias, in turning to Saint Polychronios, clearly uttered the words: "Pray thou for me, father, for I behold upon thee the Holy Spirit". By order of Decius they began to strike the holy Bishop Polychronios about the mouth with stones, and he, lifting up his eyes to heaven, gave up the spirit. They left his body laying there afront the pagan-temple of Saturn. By night there came the two Persian princes, Abdones and Sennis, secret Christians, and they buried the body of the holy martyr along the city walls.
Decius soon set off to the city of Kordula and gave orders to bring along the three presbyters and two deacons. At Kordula he again demanded the martyrs to offer sacrifice to idols, but Saint Parmenias, in spite of his cut-out tongue, loudly and firmly answered refusal for all.
Reckoning that Saint Parmenias could speak without a tongue through some sort of magic power, Decius gave orders to intensify the tortures and to burn at the confessors with fire. At this moment was heard a Voice from Heaven: "Come unto Me, ye humble of heart". Decius considered this Voice also the work of magic and he gave orders to behead the martyrs. The Persian princes Abdones and Sennis by night carried off the bodies of the martyrs and buried them in their own village, near Kordula. Reports of this were made to Decius. They arrested the princes and brought them to the emperor who, in seeing their brave and steadfast confession of faith in Christ, commanded the holy princes to be locked up in prison. The saints rejoiced and glorified God for such a fate.
And on this same day another two Persians named Olympios and Maximos were brought before Decius on charges of being Christians. For their bold confession of faith in Christ, the holy martyrs after being fiercely tortured were beheaded by the sword. For five days their bodies lay unburied, but on the sixth day Christians secretly by night gave their remains reverent burial.
Returning to Rome, Decius took with him the captives Abdones and Sennis in chains. And at Rome, having summoned the pagan-priests, Decius demanded the saints to offer sacrifice to the gods, promising freedom and honours. The holy martyrs answered: "We offer ourselves in sacrifice only to our God Jesus Christ, -- wherefore offer thy sacrifice to thine own gods". Decius thereupon sentenced them to be devoured by wild beasts. They set loose upon them two lions, and later on four bears, which would not touch the holy martyrs but instead lay only at their feet. Then they ran through Abdones and Sennis with swords. Their bodies lay for three days afront an idol to frighten Christians. By night a secret Christian, Cyrenius by name, took the bodies of the martyrs and buried them in his own home. The holy Martyrs Abdones and Sennis suffered in the year 251. Their relics are preserved in the church of Saint Mark at Rome.
The PriestMartyr Bishop Valentine (Valentinus or Ualentinos) and his Three Disciples the Holy Martyrs Proculus, Ephibius and Apollonius, and Righteous Avundius lived during the III Century. Saint Valentine was bishop in Umbria (Italy), in the city of Interamnum. He had the gift from God of healing various maladies through prayer to the Lord Jesus Christ. during this time there had come from Athens to Rome the three pagan youths Proculus, Ephibius and Apollonius, for further study in the Roman sciences and language. They found themselves a tutor, by the name of Craton, and lived in his home. It so happened, that the son of Craton named Cherimon fell grievously ill, and his spine was so contorted that it left his head at his knees. Craton turned to Bishop Valentine with an ardent request for help for his sick son. Having come to Rome for Craton, the holy bishop secluded himself in the same room with the sick youth and prayed fervently all night. When day came, the happy parents beheld their son all healed, they believed in Christ and were baptised together with all their household. Craton's students, the youths Proculus, Ephibius and Apollonius likewise accepted holy Baptism and became, together with Cherimon, devoted disciples of Saint Valentine. Fame about the spiritual teacher quickly spread, and many a youth and lad was converted to the faith in Christ. In their number was also the city-head's son, Avundius, who having accepted holy Baptism was ablaze in spirit and openly confessed himself a Christian in front of everyone. This was a bold thing to do, since at this time pagan polytheism ruled in the world, and Christianity was persecuted. The wrath of the youth's father and other city leaders fell upon holy Bishop Valentine, the teacher of the youths. They began to demand that renounce Christ and worship idols. After much torture they threw him into prison, where his students started coming to him. Learning of this, the city-head gave orders to take Valentine out of the prison and behead him. Saint Valentine's students Proculus, Ephibius and Apollonius took the body of their teacher and carried it off to the city of Interamnum, where with reverence they buried it. They spent their days at the grave of the holy bishop in prayer, and to them gathered both believers and pagans also, whom they converted to the true faith. This became known to the authorities. They arrested the youths and threw them in prison. Fearing that people might break the sufferers out of prison, the executioners by night beheaded them. Righteous Avundius, learning that his friends had been locked up in prison, hastened off to them, but finding them no longer alive, he grieved deeply. He took up their bodies and buried them at the grave of holy Bishop Valentine.
The Okonsk Icon of the Mother of God, by tradition, was received by the Gruzian (Georgian) emperor Vakhtang IV from Jerusalem and initially it was situated at the Gaenat monastery in Gruzia. The Gruzian emperor's son George Alexandrovich transferred the holy icon to the cathedral church of the village of Lyskov, Nizhegorod diocese.
THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:
1. THE HOLY APOSTLES SILAS, SILVANUS, CRESCENS, EPAENETUS AND ANDRONICUS
All were numbered among the Seventy Apostles. St. Silas was sent from Jerusalem to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas to settle the dispute between the faithful there regarding circumcision: namely, that it was not necessary to circumcise pagans when they convert to Christianity. "Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole Church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren" (Acts of the Apostles 15:22). After that, Silas traveled with Paul throughout Asia and Macedonia and was appointed as the bishop in Corinth, where he peacefully died.
St. Silvanus assisted both of the Chief Apostles. "By Silvanus, a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose, I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand" (1 Peter 5:12).
"For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, Who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in him was yea" (2 Corinthians 1:19). As the bishop of Thessalonica, Silvanus labored much and suffered much until he finally exchanged this earthly life for the heavenly life.
St. Crescens was a companion of the Apostle Paul and after that the bishop in Galatia and a missionary in Gaul, where he died as a martyr for Christ during the reign of Trajan. "For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia" (2 Timothy 4:10).
St. Epaenetus is mentioned by the Apostle Paul. He was the bishop in Carthage. "Salute my well beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ" (Romans 16:5).
St. Andronicus, the bishop of Pannonia, is commemorated separately on May 17. "Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me" (Romans 16:7).
2. THE HOLY PRIESTLY-MARTYR VALENTINE
Valentine was the bishop of the Italian City of Interamna. He cured the brother of the Roman tribune, Frontanus, of an illness. When Cherimon, the son of the renown philosopher Craton, took ill and at the advice of Frontanus, Craton summoned Bishop Valentine to Rome. Cherimon was completely crippled, so that his head was bent over between his knees. Valentine closed himself off in a room with Cherimon and spent the entire night in prayer. The next day he brought Cherimon out completely cured and handed him over to his father. Then Craton with his entire household and three of his disciples, was baptized. Cherimon left the home of his father and went with Valentine. Also baptized at that time was Abundius, the son of the Roman eparch. Enraged at this, the eparch arrested Valentine and after much torture he was beheaded. Also beheaded at this time were those three disciples of Craton: Proclus, Abibus and Apollonius. Their bodies were taken by Abundius and he buried them with honor. They all suffered in the year 273 A.D. and became citizens of the Heavenly Kingdom.
3. THE PRIESTLY-MARTYR POLYCHRONIUS, BISHOP OF BABYLON
When Emperor Decius overran Babylon, he captured Polychronius with three presbyters, two deacons and two baptized princes, Eudin and Senis. Polychronius did not want to respond before the emperor and remained silent, while St.Parmenius, the presbyter, spoke on behalf of all. The emperor took the bishop and priests to Persia, to the city of Kordoba, and there they were beheaded. The princes, Eudin and Senis, were taken with them to Rome and there, at first, they were thrown to the wild beasts and later slain by the sword. They all suffered honorably in the year 251 A.D.
4. SAINT JOHN THE SOLDIER
John was secretly a Christian. He was sent by Emperor Julian the Apostate to slay Christians but he did not kill them rather assisted them to hide. Julian cast him into a prison in Constantinople. When the evil Emperor Julian was slain, John gave himself over to a life of asceticism, living in purity and holiness. He died peacefully in old age. After his death, he appeared to some who needed his help. Prayers directed to St. John help to seek out robbers.
5. THE VENERABLE MOTHER ANGELINA
Angelina was a Serbian Princess [Despotica]. Her relics repose in the Monastery Krusedol (December 12).
HYMN OF PRAISE
The pagan ruler, the terrible Emperor Decius,
In fury cried out: O Polychronius,
Why do you not honor the gods of Rome, O Elder?
Royal commands, why do you not want to hear?
But the saint remains silent, nothing does he speak.
Again the emperor asks him and the saint does not speak.
This man is a mute! Decius concluded.
Our father is not a mute, Parmenius said,
Does not want to speak but keeps his mouth pure,
Keeps his mouth pure according to the command of Christ:
Do not cast your pearls before swine,
Do not give to the dogs; divine things!
The saint keeps the pearl, keeps it in himself,
So as not to soil his mouth speaking to you.
Decius infuriated as never before in his life,
Ordered that Parmenius' tongue be severed.
They severed his tongue. But to him, what does that mean
The speech of the saint became more beautiful and stronger?
That, the Lord battles for His zealous servants.
Keeps them from shame and the mockery of men.
One needs to distinguish a sinner from a penitent. If you have taken upon yourself the role to rebuke the sinner, guard yourself well, that you do not rebuke the penitent also. How dear the repentant sinner is to God, call to mind the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Therefore, let it be very dear for you, he who has become dear to God. At one time it happened that a monk succumbed to sin for which he was banished from the monastery. This monk went to St. Anthony, confessed his sin, repented and remained with Anthony for a period of time. Then Anthony sent him back again to the monastery but they did not receive him and, again, they banished him. Again, the penitent came to Anthony. Again, Anthony sent him back to the monastery with a message to the fathers of the monastery: "One boat experienced shipwreck and lost its cargo; with great difficulty did that boat arrive in the harbor and you wish to drown even that which was saved from drowning!" Hearing this wise message, the fathers received with joy the penitent brother into the monastery.
To contemplate the miraculous victory of Gideon over the Midianites (Judges 7):
1. How Gideon gathered thirty-two thousand soldiers and set out against the Midianites;
2. How God commanded him to reduce the number, so that the Israelites would not brag about themselves and say that they defeated [the Midianites] and not God;
3. How Gideon selected only three hundred soldiers and defeated the Midianites who were numerous "as grasshoppers" (Judges 7:12).
About the coming of the Dreadful Day of the Lord
"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up" (2 Peter 3:10).
Dreadful is the day of the Lord, O how inexpressibly dreadful! Dreadful because of its inexorable justice and also because of its unexpectancy. The Lord Himself commanded: "Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour" (St. Matthew 25:13), and the apostle who, with his own ears, heard these words only repeats them. He who is afraid of thieves watches every night, so that the thief would not surprise him. He, who is afraid of the Day of the Lord, watches every day and every hour in order that that day and that hour would not unexpectedly catch him in sin. We are so accustomed to the correct rotation of the course of time, and on the correct passage of day and night, that we do not suspect the approaching noise of that day which will overshadow all days and hold back the wheel of time and smash its tiny spokes. So also will it be when the sun places its fiery face over millions of wax candles and blots out their glow and melts their wax. Dreadful, dreadful, dreadful is the Day of the Lord! When that day places its fiery face over the candles of today's day, these will be snuffed out and darkened, "the heavens shall pass away with great noise," the heavens, by which the present average days are counted, "and the elements shall melt with fervent heat" the material elements, the earth, water, air and fire will disintegrate. They will cease to be. Everything will be new. Our earthly homeland and all works on it will be burned up. They will cease to be. Everything will be new. All our works will burn up; when God does not have pity on His works, would He then pity our works? God will not seek works but workers. All workers will appear before Him for judgment and their works He will burn up. And all will be new. Who will be judged, will be judged; who will be rewarded, will be rewarded, for all eternity. Brethren, dreadful, truly dreadful is the Day of the Lord! Dreadful because of its unexpectancy and dreadful because of the inexorable justice of God.
O Just Lord, make us sober and vigilant! Command Your holy angels to keep us in sobriety and vigilance, so that sin does not inebriate us and cause us to sleep.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.