Prayer of St. Ephraim
Κύριε καὶ Δέσποτα τῆς ζωῆς μου, πνεῦμα ἀργίας, περιεργίας, φιλαρχίας, καὶ ἀργολογίας μή μοι δῷς.,
Πνεῦμα δὲ σωφροσύνης,ταπεινοφροσύνης, ὑπομονῆς, καὶ ἀγάπης χάρισαί μοι τῷ σῷ δούλῳ.
Ναί, Κύριε Βασιλεῦ, δώρησαι μοι τοῦ ὁρᾶν τὰ ἐμὰ πταίσματα, καὶ μὴ κατακρίνειν τὸν ἀδελφόν μου, ὅτι εὐλογητὸς εἶ, εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων. Ἀμήν.
O Lord and Master of my life, give me not the spirit of sloth, idle curiosity, lust for power and idle talk.
But grant unto me, Thy servant, a spirit of whole-mindedness, humility, patience and love.
Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see mine own faults and not to judge my brother. For blessed art Thou unto the ages of ages. Amen.
FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:
Fourth Saturday of Lent
Martin the Confessor
Δ΄ ΤΩΝ ΝΗΣΤΕΙΩΝ.
Ἐν ᾗ μνείαν ποιούμεθα τοῦ Ὁσίου Πατρός ἡμῶν Ἰωάννου τοῦ συγγραφέως τῆς Κλίμακος.
Τῶν Ἁγίων ἐνδόξων Ἀποστόλων ἐκ τῶν Ο΄, Ἀριστάρχου, Πούδη καί Τροφίμου.
READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:
First Orthros Gospel
The Gospel of Matthew 28:16-20
At that time, the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshipped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age. Amen."
Κατὰ Ματθαῖον 28.16-20
Οἱ δὲ ἕνδεκα μαθηταὶ ἐπορεύθησαν εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν, εἰς τὸ ὄρος οὗ ἐτάξατο αὐτοῖς ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς. καὶ ἰδόντες αὐτὸν προσεκύνησαν αὐτῷ, οἱ δὲ ἐδίστασαν. καὶ προσελθὼν ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς ἐλάλησεν αὐτοῖς λέγων· ἐδόθη μοι πᾶσα ἐξουσία ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς. πορευθέντες μαθητεύσατε πάντα τὰ ἔθνη, βαπτίζοντες αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ Πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ Υἱοῦ καὶ τοῦ ῾Αγίου Πνεύματος, διδάσκοντες αὐτοὺς τηρεῖν πάντα ὅσα ἐνετειλάμην ὑμῖν· καὶ ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ μεθ᾿ ὑμῶν εἰμι πάσας τὰς ἡμέρας ἕως τῆς συντελείας τοῦ αἰῶνος. ἀμήν.
St. Paul's Letter to the Hebrews 6:13-20
Prokeimenon. Grave Mode.
The Lord will give strength to his people.
Verse: Bring to the Lord, O sons of God, bring to the Lord honor and glory.
BRETHREN, when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore to himself, saying, "Surely I will bless you and multiply you." And thus Abraham, having patiently endured, obtained the promise. Men indeed swear by a greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he interposed with an oath, so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible that God should prove false, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to seize the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner shrine behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.
Πρὸς Ἑβραίους 6:13-20
Προκείμενον. Ἦχος βαρύς.
Κύριος ἰσχὺν τῷ λαῷ αὐτοῦ δώσει.
Στίχ. Ἐνέγκατε τῷ Κυρίῳ υἱοὶ Θεοῦ, ἐνέγκατε τῷ Κυρίῳ δόξαν καὶ τιμήν.
Ἀδελφοί, τῷ Ἀβραὰμ ἐπαγγειλάμενος ὁ θεός, ἐπεὶ κατʼ οὐδενὸς εἶχεν μείζονος ὀμόσαι, ὤμοσεν καθʼ ἑαυτοῦ, λέγων, Ἦ μὴν εὐλογῶν εὐλογήσω σε, καὶ πληθύνων πληθυνῶ σε. Καὶ οὕτως μακροθυμήσας ἐπέτυχεν τῆς ἐπαγγελίας. Ἄνθρωποι μὲν γὰρ κατὰ τοῦ μείζονος ὀμνύουσιν, καὶ πάσης αὐτοῖς ἀντιλογίας πέρας εἰς βεβαίωσιν ὁ ὅρκος. Ἐν ᾧ περισσότερον βουλόμενος ὁ θεὸς ἐπιδεῖξαι τοῖς κληρονόμοις τῆς ἐπαγγελίας τὸ ἀμετάθετον τῆς βουλῆς αὐτοῦ, ἐμεσίτευσεν ὅρκῳ, ἵνα διὰ δύο πραγμάτων ἀμεταθέτων, ἐν οἷς ἀδύνατον ψεύσασθαι θεόν, ἰσχυρὰν παράκλησιν ἔχωμεν οἱ καταφυγόντες κρατῆσαι τῆς προκειμένης ἐλπίδος· ἣν ὡς ἄγκυραν ἔχομεν τῆς ψυχῆς ἀσφαλῆ τε καὶ βεβαίαν, καὶ εἰσερχομένην εἰς τὸ ἐσώτερον τοῦ καταπετάσματος· ὅπου πρόδρομος ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν εἰσῆλθεν Ἰησοῦς, κατὰ τὴν τάξιν Μελχισεδὲκ ἀρχιερεὺς γενόμενος εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα.
The Gospel of Mark 9:17-31
At that time, a man came to Jesus kneeling and saying: "Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a dumb spirit; and wherever it seizes him it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid; and I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able." And he answered them, "O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me." And they brought the boy to him; and when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, "How long has he had this?" And he said, "From childhood. And it has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you can do anything, have pity on us and help us." And Jesus said to him, "If you can! All things are possible to him who believes." Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, "I believe; help my unbelief!" And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, "You dumb and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again." And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse; so that most of them said, "He is dead." But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, "Why could we not cast it out?" And he said to them, "This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting." They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he would not have any one know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, "The Son of man will be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him; and when he is killed, after three days he will rise."
Κατὰ Μᾶρκον 9.17-31
Τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ, ἄνθρωπός τις προσῆλθε τῷ Ἰησοῦ λέγων, διδάσκαλε, ἤνεγκα τὸν υἱόν μου πρός σε, ἔχοντα πνεῦμα ἄλαλον. καὶ ὅπου ἂν αὐτὸν καταλάβῃ, ῥήσσει αὐτόν, καὶ ἀφρίζει καὶ τρίζει τοὺς ὀδόντας αὐτοῦ, καὶ ξηραίνεται· καὶ εἶπον τοῖς μαθηταῖς σου ἵνα αὐτὸ ἐκβάλωσι, καὶ οὐκ ἴσχυσαν. ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς αὐτῷ λέγει· ὦ γενεὰ ἄπιστος, ἕως πότε πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἔσομαι; ἕως πότε ἀνέξομαι ὑμῶν; φέρετε αὐτὸν πρός με. καὶ ἤνεγκαν αὐτὸν πρὸς αὐτόν. καὶ ἰδὼν αὐτὸν εὐθέως τὸ πνεῦμα ἐσπάραξεν αὐτόν, καὶ πεσὼν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἐκυλίετο ἀφρίζων. καὶ ἐπηρώτησε τὸν πατέρα αὐτοῦ· πόσος χρόνος ἐστὶν ὡς τοῦτο γέγονεν αὐτῷ; ὁ δὲ εἶπε· παιδιόθεν. καὶ πολλάκις αὐτὸν καὶ εἰς πῦρ ἔβαλε καὶ εἰς ὕδατα, ἵνα ἀπολέσῃ αὐτόν· ἀλλ᾿ εἴ τι δύνασαι, βοήθησον ἡμῖν σπλαγχνισθεὶς ἐφ᾿ ἡμᾶς. ὁ δὲ ᾿Ιησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτῷ τὸ εἰ δύνασαι πιστεῦσαι, πάντα δυνατὰ τῷ πιστεύοντι. καὶ εὐθέως κράξας ὁ πατὴρ τοῦ παιδίου μετὰ δακρύων ἔλεγε· πιστεύω, κύριε· βοήθει μου τῇ ἀπιστίᾳ. ἰδὼν δὲ ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς ὅτι ἐπισυντρέχει ὄχλος, ἐπετίμησε τῷ πνεύματι τῷ ἀκαθάρτῳ λέγων αὐτῷ· τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἄλαλον καὶ κωφόν, ἐγώ σοι ἐπιτάσσω, ἔξελθε ἐξ αὐτοῦ καὶ μηκέτι εἰσέλθῃς εἰς αὐτόν. καὶ κράξαν καὶ πολλὰ σπαράξαν αὐτὸν ἐξῆλθε, καὶ ἐγένετο ὡσεὶ νεκρός, ὥστε πολλοὺς λέγειν ὅτι ἀπέθανεν. ὁ δὲ ᾿Ιησοῦς κρατήσας αὐτὸν τῆς χειρὸς ἤγειρεν αὐτόν, καὶ ἀνέστη. Καὶ εἰσελθόντα αὐτὸν εἰς οἶκον οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ ἐπηρώτων αὐτὸν κατ᾿ ἰδίαν, ὅτι ἡμεῖς οὐκ ἠδυνήθημεν ἐκβαλεῖν αὐτό. καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· τοῦτο τὸ γένος ἐν οὐδενὶ δύναται ἐξελθεῖν εἰ μὴ ἐν προσευχῇ καὶ νηστείᾳ. Καὶ ἐκεῖθεν ἐξελθόντες παρεπορεύοντο διὰ τῆς Γαλιλαίας, καὶ οὐκ ἤθελεν ἵνα τις γνῷ· ἐδίδασκε γὰρ τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ καὶ ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς ὅτι ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου παραδίδοται εἰς χεῖρας ἀνθρώπων, καὶ ἀποκτενοῦσιν αὐτόν, καὶ ἀποκτανθεὶς τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ ἀναστήσεται.
READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:
Τῇ ΙΔ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, Μνήμη τῶν Ἁγίων Ἀποστόλων ἐκ τῶν ἑβδομήκοντα, Ἀριστάρχου, Πούδη καὶ Τροφίμου.
Τιμῶ τὸν Ἀρίσταρχον ὡς ἀριστέα,
Καλῶς ἀριστεύσαντα μέχρι καὶ ξίφους.
Ποῦ δὴ μετέστης, ὡς ἀπετμήθης, Πούδη;
Ποῦ δὴ μετέστην, ἢ πρὸς ἄφθαρτον κλέος;
Τρυφὴν Τρόφιμος οὐρανοῦ ποθῶν ἄκρως,
Τροφὴ προσῆκται τῷ τεθηγμένῳ ξίφει.
Τῇ δεκάτῃ δὲ μαθηταὶ ἀπῆραν καί γε τετάρτῃ.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Μάρτυρος Ἀρδαλίωνος τοῦ Μίμου.
Νῦν Μῖμος ὄντως Ἀρδαλίων ἢ πάλαι.
Μιμούμενος γὰρ Μάρτυρας, τὸ πῦρ στέγει.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τῆς Ἁγίας Μάρτυρος Θωμαΐδος.
Αἰῶνος ἦρας τοῦδε τὴν Θωμαΐδα,
Τὸ τῆς Γραφῆς, μέλλοντος αἰῶνος Πάτερ.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Κυριακῇ τετάρτῃ τῶν Νηστειῶν, μνήμην ποιοῦμεν τοῦ Ὁσίου Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Ἰωάννου, τοῦ Συγγραφέως τῆς Κλίμακος.
Ὁ σάρκα καὶ ζῶν νεκρὸς ὢν Ἰωάννης,
Αἰωνίως ζῇ, καὶ νεκρὸς φανεὶς ἄπνους.
Σύγγραμμα λιπὼν Κλίμακα τῇ ἀνόδῳ,
Δείκνυσιν αὐτοῦ πορείαν τῆς ἀνόδου.
Ταῖς αὐτοῦ πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεός, ἐλέησον, καὶ σῶσον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.
Apolytikion in the Second Tone
Ἀπόστολοι, Μάρτυρες, καὶ Προφῆται, Ἱεράρχαι, Ὅσιοι καὶ Δίκαιοι, οἱ καλῶς τὸν ἀγῶνα τελέσαντες, καὶ τὴν Πίστιν τηρήσαντες, παρρησίαν ἔχοντες πρὸς τὸν Σωτῆρα, ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν αὐτὸν ἱκετεύσατε, σωθῆναι δεόμεθα τὰς ψυχὰς ἡμῶν.
O Apostles, martyrs, prophets, hierarchs, righteous, and just ones, who have finished your course well and have kept the Faith: seeing ye have boldness with the Saviour, beseech Him for us, since He is good, that our souls be saved, we pray.
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Μετὰ τῶν Ἁγίων ἀνάπαυσον Χριστέ, τὰς ψυχὰς τῶν δούλων σου, ἔνθα οὐκ ἔστι πόνος, οὐ λύπη, οὐ στεναγμός, ἀλλὰ ζωὴ ἀτελεύτητος.
Give rest, O Christ, among the Saints to the souls of Your servants, where there is no pain, no sorrow, no grieving, but life everlasting.
Saint Martin was born in Tuscany. He had been the papal delegate at Constantinople; upon the death of Pope Theodore, Saint Martin was elected his successor. At this time the Emperor Constans II, also known as Constantine Pogonatus (reigned 641-668), was seeking support of his confession of faith called the Typos, which espoused the Monothelite heresy, that is, that there is only one will and energy in the Incarnate Son of God. But the newly-consecrated Pope not only did not accept the Typos, but convened the Lateran Council of 649 (attended by 105 of his bishops, and Saint Maximus the Confessor, who was then in Rome), which anathematized the Typos and the Monothelite heresy. Because of this Saint Martin was seized by an imperial force in 653 and brought to Constantinople, where he was charged with sending money to the Saracens and conspiring with them, and blaspheming against the most holy Mother of God. Though innocent of these accusations, he was exiled to Cherson on the Black Sea, where, after many sufferings and privations, he received the crown of his courageous confession in the year 655.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Ὁ Θεὸς τῶν Πατέρων ἡμῶν, ὁ ποιῶν ἀεὶ μεθ΄ ἡμῶν, κατὰ τὴν σὴν ἐπιείκειαν, μὴ ἀποστήσῃς τὸ ἔλεός σου ἀφ΄ ἡμῶν. Ἀλλὰ ταῖς αὐτῶν ἱκεσίαις, ἐν εἰρήνῃ κυβέρνησον τὴν ζωὴν ἡμῶν.
O God of our Fathers, ever dealing with us according to Thy gentleness: take not Thy mercy from us, but by their entreaties guide our life in peace.
Είναι βρωμερές επιθυμίες και πάθη, που γεννά στην ψυχή των ανθρώπων ο διάβολος. Κ' είναι αγνότης λογισμών και δύναμη θελήσεως, που τα εμπνέει η θεία χάρη. Βρέθηκε πολλές φορές αντιμέτωπη η αγνότης προς το πάθος και νίκησε η αγνότης ακόμη και με θυσία και με θάνατο της σαρκός. Γεμάτη τέτοια παραδείγματα είναι η ζωή της Εκκλησίας κι ένα από τα πιο ζωντανά είναι η θυσία της αγίας μάρτυρος Θωμαΐδος της οποίας η Εκκλησία σήμερα τιμά την μνήμη. Μια οικογενειακή τραγωδία είναι η ιστορία της, που δεν είναι δυστυχώς η μόνη, που συνέβη κάποτε. Στις ημέρες μας ο Τύπος τακτικά μιλεί για παρόμοια εγκλήματα, για βρωμιές που συμβαίνουν μέσα στην οικογένεια. Το λυπηρό είναι πως άφοβα τέτοια πράγματα γράφονται κι ευχάριστα διαβάζονται, και το λυπηρότερο πως πολλές φορές δεν υπάρχει καν αντίσταση και θυσία για χάρη της αγνότητος.
Οἱ Ἅγιοι Ἀρίσταρχος, Πούδης καὶ Τρόφιμος Ἀπόστολοι ἀπὸ τοὺς 70
Ἦταν καὶ οἱ τρεῖς ἀπὸ τοὺς ἑβδομήκοντα Ἀποστόλους καὶ ἀφοσιωμένοι συνεργάτες τοῦ Ἀποστόλου Παύλου. Τὸν Ἀρίσταρχο ὁ Ἀπόστολος Παῦλος ἀναφέρει στὴν πρὸς Κολασσαεῖς (δ´ 10) ἐπιστολή του σὰν συναιχμάλωτό του στὴ Ῥώμη, καθὼς καὶ στὴν πρὸς Φιλήμονα (στ´ 24) σὰν συνεργάτη του. Γιὰ τὸν Πούδη κάνει λόγο στὴ Β´ πρὸς Τιμόθεον (δ´ 22) ἐπιστολή του, ἀπὸ τὴν ὁποία καταλαβαίνουμε ὅτι ὁ Ἀπόστολος Πούδης ἦταν ἀπὸ αὐτοὺς ποὺ συνεργάστηκαν ὑπὲρ τοῦ Εὐαγγελίου στὴ Ῥώμη. Τὸν Τρόφιμο ἔφερε στὴν χριστιανικὴ πίστη ὁ Ἀπόστολος Παῦλος, ὅταν πῆγε στὴν Ἔφεσο. Ἀπὸ τότε, τὸν ἀκολούθησε στὰ Ἱεροσόλυμα, ἀλλὰ καὶ στὴ Ῥώμη, γιὰ νὰ συνεργασθεῖ καὶ νὰ κακοπάθει μαζὶ μὲ τὸ διδάσκαλό του. Στὸν Τρόφιμο ἀναφέρεται ὁ Ἀπόστολος Παῦλος στὴ Β´ πρὸς Τιμόθεον (δ´ 20) ἐπιστολή του. Στὸ φοβερὸ διωγμὸ τοῦ Νέρωνα καὶ οἱ τρεῖς αὐτοὶ συνεργάτες τοῦ Παύλου ἀξιώθηκαν νὰ μαρτυρήσουν μὲ θάνατο δι᾿ ἀποκεφαλισμοῦ. Κατόρθωσαν, ἔτσι, μὲ τὴν χάρη τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ μὲ τὸν προσωπικό τους ἀγῶνα, νὰ γίνουν «συνεργοὶ εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ». Δηλαδή, συνεργάτες γιὰ τὴν διάδοση τῆς βασιλείας τοῦ Θεοῦ.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Ἀρδαλίων ὁ μῖμος
Μὲ τὴν σημερινὴ ὁρολογία ἦταν ἠθοποιός, στὰ χρόνια του Διοκλητιανοῦ (298). Ἐργαζόταν στὰ θέατρα καὶ ἔπαιζε κωμῳδίες καὶ δράματα. Μία μέρα λοιπὸν τοῦ ἦλθε ἡ ἰδέα, νὰ μιμηθεῖ τὴν ἀντίσταση τῶν χριστιανῶν μπροστὰ στοὺς τυράννους. Κρεμάστηκε ψηλά, ἐπάνω στὴ σκηνή, καὶ δῆθεν ξεσχιζόταν ἐπειδὴ δὲν ἤθελε νὰ προσφέρει θυσία στοὺς θεούς. Ἡ παράσταση ἦταν - σὰ δρᾶμα- τόσο καταπληκτική, ὥστε ὁ λαὸς ἄρχισε νὰ χειροκροτεῖ θερμὰ τὴν ἐπιδεξιότητα τοῦ Ἀρδαλίωνα καὶ τὴν γενναιοκαρδία τῶν χριστιανῶν. Τότε ὁ Ἀρδαλίων φώναξε δυνατὰ καὶ εἶπε στὸ λαὸ νὰ σωπάσει, διότι καὶ αὐτὸς ἦταν στ᾿ ἀλήθεια χριστιανός. Ὅταν τὸ ἄκουσε αὐτὸ ὁ ἄρχοντας, τοῦ εἶπε ν᾿ ἀλλάξει γνώμη. Ἀλλ᾿ ἐπειδὴ ὁ Ἀρδαλίων ἐπέμενε στὴν ὁμολογία τοῦ Χριστοῦ, τὸν ἔριξαν μέσα στὴ φωτιὰ καὶ ἔτσι ἔλαβε τὸ στεφάνι τοῦ μαρτυρίου.
Ἡ Ἁγία Θωμαΐς
Καταγόταν ἀπὸ τὴν Ἀλεξάνδρεια καὶ οἱ εὐσεβεῖς γονεῖς της τὴν ἀνέθρεψαν ἐν παιδείᾳ καὶ νουθεσίᾳ Κυρίου. Ὅταν ἦλθε σὲ κατάλληλη ἡλικία τὴν πάντρεψαν μὲ κάποιο νέο, μὲ τὸν ὁποῖο ζοῦσε ἁρμονικὰ καὶ μὲ μεγάλη σωφροσύνη. Ἀλλὰ κατὰ τὴν ἀπουσία τοῦ ἀνδρός της, ὁ πεθερός της ποὺ συνοικοῦσε μαζί τους, προσπαθοῦσε μὲ κάθε τρόπο νὰ τὴν ἑλκύσει σὲ συνουσία. Μάταια ἡ καλὴ νύφη προσπαθοῦσε νὰ λογικέψει τὸν πόρνο γέροντα. Αὐτὸς ὅμως, ἐπειδὴ δὲν μπόρεσε νὰ καταφέρει τὰ ἄνομα σχέδια του, καὶ τυφλωμένος ἀπὸ τὸ πάθος, μαχαίρωσε τὴν νύφη του. Ὅταν τὸ ἔμαθε αὐτὸ ὁ ἄρχοντας τῆς Ἀλεξάνδρειας, καταδίκασε τὸν πόρνο γέροντα σὲ θάνατο. Τὸ δὲ λείψανο τῆς Θωμαΐδας, παρέλαβε ὁ ἀββᾶς Δανιήλ, ὁ ἀπὸ τὴν Σκήτη, καὶ τὴν ἔθαψε στὸ κοιμητήριο, ἐπειδὴ ἔδωσε τὸ αἷμα της γιὰ τὴν σωφροσύνη.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Δημήτριος ὁ Πελοποννήσιος
Γεννήθηκε στὸ χωριὸ Λιγούδιστα τῆς Ἀρκαδίας καὶ σὲ μικρὴ ἡλικία ἦλθε μαζὶ μὲ τὸν ἀδελφό του στὴν Τρίπολη, ὅπου ἐργαζόταν μαζὶ μὲ κάποιους κτίστες. Ἐπειδὴ ὅμως αὐτοὶ τὸν βασάνιζαν, ἔφυγε ἀπὸ τὴν συντροφιά τους καὶ πῆγε στὸ σπίτι ἑνὸς Τούρκου κουρέα, ὁ ὁποῖος καὶ κατόρθωσε τὸν ἐξισλαμισμό του, ὀνομάζοντας τὸν Μεχμέτ. Ἀργότερα ὁ Δημήτριος ἐγκατέλειψε τὴν Τρίπολη, μετάνιωσε γιὰ τὴν ἀποστασία του καὶ ἦλθε στὸ Ἄργος. Ἀπὸ τὸ Ἄργος, γιὰ μεγαλύτερη ἀσφάλεια, πῆγε στὴ Σμύρνη καὶ ἀπὸ ἐκεῖ στὴ Μονὴ τοῦ Προδρόμου κοντὰ στὶς Κυδωνιές, ὅπου βρῆκε εὐσεβῆ πνευματικό, ἐξομολογήθηκε καὶ ζήτησε τὶς συμβουλές του. Μὲ τὴν προτροπὴ τοῦ πνευματικοῦ αὐτοῦ ὁ Δημήτριος ἦλθε στὴ Χίο, ὅπου ἔμεινε γιὰ ἀρκετὸ καιρὸ κοντὰ σὲ ἄλλο φημισμένο πνευματικό, μὲ προσευχὴ καὶ μετάνοια. Προετοιμάσθηκε γιὰ τὸ μαρτύριο καὶ πῆγε στὸ Ἄργος, ὅπου παρέμεινε κρυμμένος καὶ χειραγωγούμενος ἀπὸ τὸν Ἱερέα Ἀντώνιο Σακελάριο καὶ ἀπὸ ἐκεῖ ἔφτασε στὴν Τρίπολη. Παρουσιάστηκε μπροστὰ στὸν Τοῦρκο Διοικητή, δήλωσε ὅτι πιστεύει στὸν Χριστὸ καὶ ὅτι εἶναι ἕτοιμος νὰ χύσει καὶ τὸ αἷμα του γι᾿ Αὐτόν. Τὰ βασανιστήρια ποὺ ἀκολούθησαν ἦταν φρικτά, ἀλλὰ ὁ Δημήτριος ἔμεινε ἀμετακίνητος στὴν πίστη του καὶ ἔτσι στὶς 14 Ἀπριλίου 1803 τὸν ἀποκεφάλισαν στὴν Τρίπολη. Τὸ ἱερό του λείψανο διασώθηκε ἀπὸ τοὺς χριστιανοὺς στὸν Ναὸ τῆς Μονῆς τοῦ Ἁγ. Νικολάου Βαρσῶν. Στὴν κεντρικὴ ἀγορὰ τῆς Τρίπολης, μικρὸς ναὸς τιμᾶται στὸ ὄνομα τοῦ Νεομάρτυρα αὐτοῦ.
Apostles Aristarchus, Pudens and Trophimus of the Seventy
All three are mentioned by name by the Apostle Paul.
Aristarchus is mentioned in Acts 19:29, Colossians 4:10 and Philemon 24. He was bishop of Apamea in Syria; St Paul calls him 'my fellow-prisoner' and 'my fellow-laborer'.
Pudens is mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:21. He was a prominent Roman citizen who gave refuge to Christians; his house was first a place of refuge for the Apostles, then one of the first churches in Rome.
Trophimus is mentioned with Pudens in 2 Timothy 4:21, and in Acts 21:29, where we learn that he was from Ephesus. He accompanied the Apostle Paul on some of his missions.
All three, like St Paul, were beheaded during Nero's persecutions.
Holy Martyr Ardalion the Actor (3rd c.)
He was a comic actor whose specialty was an act which mocked the Christian martyrs. But during an especially fierce persecution under the Emperor Maximian, his heart was changed in an unknown way, and during one of his performances he called out to the crowd that he was a Christian and that they must not laugh. For this, Ardalion was arrested and tried, and died by torture, as the Prologue says, "playing the role of martyr in very truth and with honour."
Sainted Martin the Confessor, Pope of Rome, was a native of the Tuscany region of Italy. He received a fine education and entered into the clergy of the Roman Church. After the death of Pope Theodore I (642-649), presbyter Martin was chosen to the throne.
At this time the peace of the Church was disturbed by the Monothelite heresy, which had become widespread.
The endless disputes of the Monothelites with the Orthodox took place in all levels of the population. Even the emperor Constans (641-668) and the Constantinople Patriarch Paul II (641-654) were adherents of the Monothelite heresy. The emperor Constans published the heretical "Pattern of Faith" (Tupos), obligatory for all the population. In it was forbidden all further disputes.
The heretical "Pattern of Faith" was received at Rome in the year 649. Holy Pope Martin, a firm supporter of Orthodoxy, convened at Rome the local (Lateran) Council, which condemned the Monothelite heresy. At the same time Saint Martin sent a letter to the Constantinople Patriarch Paul with an exhortation to return to the Orthodox confession. The enraged emperor ordered the military commander Olympios to bring Saint Martin to trial. But Olympios, being at Rome, feared the clergy and the people who had descended upon the Council, and he dispatched a soldier to secretly murder the holy Pope. When the assassin approached Saint Martin, he was unexpectedly blinded. The terrified Olympios hastily journeyed to Sicily and was soon killed in battle.
In 654 the emperor with his former aim sent to Rome another military commander, Theodore, who accused Saint Martin of the serious charges of being in secret correspondence with the enemies of the empire -- the Saracens, and of blaspheming the MostHoly Mother of God, and of uncanonically entering upon the papal throne. Despite the presenting by Roman clergy and laity of proof of full innocence of the holy Pope, the military commander Theodore with a detachment of soldiers seized hold of Saint Martin by night and took him to one of the Cycladian islands, -- Naxos, in the Aegean Sea. Saint Martin spent an entire year on this almost unpopulated island, suffering deprivation and abuse from the guards. Then they sent the exhausted confessor for trial to Constantinople.
They brought the sick elder on a stretcher, but the judges callously ordered him to raise himself up and give answer standing. Again there came an interrogation, and soldiers propped up the saint weakened by illness. At the trial false-witnesses came forward, slandering the saint and imputing treasonous relations with the Saracens. The biased judges did not even bother to hear the defence of the saint. In profound grief he said: "To the Lord is known, what great kindliness ye would show me, if quickly ye would deliver me over to death".
After suchlike trial they brought forth the saint in tattered garb to the jeering of a crowd, which they forced to shout: "Anathema to Pope Martin!" But those who knew the holy Pope was suffering innocently, withdrew in tears. Finally the sakellarios (shield-bearer), sent by the emperor, approached the military commander and declared the sentence -- to deprive the Pope of his dignity and deliver him to death by execution. They put the half-naked saint into chains and dragged him to prison, where they locked him up with thieves. These were more merciful to the saint than the heretics.
Amidst this the emperor went to the dying Patriarch of Constantinople Paul and told him about the trial over Saint Martin. That one turned away from the emperor and said: "Woe is me! Yet another deed towards my judgement", -- and he besought that the tortures of Saint Martin be stopped. The emperor again sent a notary and other persons to the saint in prison for continued interrogation. The saint answered them: "If even they smash me up, I wilt not have relations with the Constantinople Church while it dwelleth in bad-faith". The torturers were astonished at the boldness of the confessor and they commuted his death by execution with exile in the faraway Tauridian Chersonesus.
There also the saint died, exhausted by sickness, want, hunger and deprivations (+ 16 September 655). He was buried outside the city in the Blakhernae church in the name of the MostHoly Mother of God.
The Monothelite heresy was condemned at the VI OEcumenical Council in the year 680. The relics of the holy confessor Pope Martin were transferred to Constantinople, and thence to Rome.
The Holy Martyrs Antonii, John and Eustathii suffered for Christ under the Lithuanian GreatPrince Ol'gerd (1345-1377). The prince was married to the Vitebsk Orthodox princess Maria Yaroslavna (+ 1346). He himself was baptised and during the lifetime of his spouse he allowed the preaching of Christianity. Two brothers by birth, Nezhilo and Kumets, received holy Baptism from the clergy of the princess the priest Nestor, and they received the names Antonii and John. And at the request of Maria Yaroslavna there was even built at Vilna an Orthodox church.
But after the death of his spouse, prince Ol'gerd began openly to support the pagan priests of the fire-worshippers, who started a persecution against Christians. Saints John and Antonii endeavoured not to display their belonging to the Christians, but still they did not observe the pagan customs, they did not cut their hair as the pagans did, and on fastdays they did not eat forbidden foods.
The prince soon became suspicious of the brothers in the renunciation of faith, so he interrogated them and they confessed themselves Christians. Then they demanded them to eat meat (it was a fast day). The holy brothers refused, and the prince locked them up in prison. The brothers spent an entire year incarcerated. John took fright at the impending tortures and declared, that he would fulfill all the demands of the GreatPrince. The delighted Ol'gerd released both brothers and drew them near to himself.
But Antonii did not betray Christ. When he again refused to eat meat on a fast day, the prince again locked him up in prison and subjected him to brutal tortures. The renouncing brother remained free, but as a traitor not only did the Christians not associate with him, but neither did the pagans. Repenting of his sin, John went to the priest Nestor and asked him to intercede before his brother, so that he would forgive him and consort with him. "When he openly confesses Christ, everything betwixt us wilt be reconciled", -- answered the martyr Antonii. Once, serving the prince at the bath, Saint John spoke privately with him about his reconciliation with the Church. Ol'gerd did not display any anger and gave him to understand, that this was his personal matter and that he could believe in Christ, but conduct himself like all the pagans. Then Saint John confessed himself a Christian in the presence of numerous courtiers. They beat him fiercely with canes and dispatched him to his brother in prison. The martyrs met with joy in prison and on that day did partake of the Holy Mysteries.
A throng of the people approached the prison so as to view the new confessor. By their preaching the brothers converted many to Christ. The prison was transformed into a Christian teaching-place. The frightened pagan-priests demanded the execution of the brothers, but now already they did not fear temporal parting. On the morning of 14 April 1347 the Martyr Antonii after receiving the Holy Mysteries was hung on a tree. This oak, considered by the pagans as sacred, became from that time truly sacred for Orthodox Christians.
The hopes of the pagan priests, that with the death of Saint Antonii the preaching about Christ would stop, were not justified. A multitude of the people as before gathered at the walls of the prison, where Saint John was situated. On 24 April 1347 they strangled and hung him dead upon the same oak. The venerable bodies of both martyrs were buried by Christians in a church of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker.
A third sufferer for faith in Christ was Kruglets. At Baptism the priest Nestor gave him the name Eustathii. He was a relative of the holy brothers. Within the retinue of the GreatPrince of Lithuania, Kruglets stood out by his comeliness, valour and bravery, but even moreso in mind and virtue of soul. A favourite of Ol'gerd, he could count on an excellent future. But one time he also like the martyred brothers refused to eat meat at the festal table. Saint Eustathii openly declared, that he was a Christian and would not eat meat because of the Nativity fast. Hereupon they began to beat him with iron rods, but the youth let out not a groan. The prince tried refining the torture. There was a bitter frost. Ol'gerd gave orders to strip the martyr naked, take him out on the street and to pour icy water in his mouth. But this did not break the spirit of the saint. Then they broke his ankle-bones, and tore off from his head the hair with the skin and cut off his ears and nose. Saint Eustathii endured the torments with such gladness and courage, that the very torturers themselves were astounded by this Divine power, which strengthened him. After the torture the martyr Eustathii was sentenced to death and hung on that oak (+ 13 December 1347), where earlier Saints John and Antonii received a martyr's death.
During the course of 3 days it was not permitted to take down the body of the martyr, and a column of cloud protected it from birds and beasts of prey. A church was afterwards built on the hill where the holy martyrs suffered. The trinity of venerable passion-bearers glorified the True God worshipped in the Holy Trinity, Father and Son and Holy Spirit -- wherefore the church was consecrated in the Name of the MostHoly Trinity. The prestol' (altar-table) was secured on the base of the sacred oak, on which the martyrs accepted death. Soon their relics were uncovered undecayed. Already in the year 1364 the Constantinople Patriarch Philotheos (1354-1355, 1362-1376) sent to the Monk Sergei of Radonezh (+ 1392, Comm. 25 September) a cross with the relics of the holy martyrs. The Church established the celebration of memory of all three martyrs on a single day, 14 April.
The act of the holy martyrs held immense significance for all the Western frontier. Vilensk monastery in the Name of the Holy Trinity, at which the holy relics are kept, became a stronghold of Orthodoxy and peace on this frontier. In the year 1915 during the invasion of the Germans, these relics as very precious in the Baltic frontier were taken to the heart of Russia -- Moscow.
Within the memory of believers at Vilnius and to this day there live sorrowful recollections about parting from the holy martyrs and joyful memories -- about the solemn meeting of the relics of the holy passion-bearers in 1946 at the Vilensk Holy-Spirit monastery. The date of their return -- 13 (26) July -- from that time is solemnly noted annually at the monastery.
The Holy Martyr Ardalion accepted death for Christ under the emperor Maximian Galerius (305-311). Saint Ardalion was a talented mimic actor.
One time at the circus he played the rolé of a christian. The actor, on the intent of the play-author, was to at first refuse to offer sacrifice to idols, but later to consent to renounce Christ. Along the course of the action they suspended him upon a wooden torture device and tore at him with iron hooks. He so naturally depicted the suffering, that the spectators were delighted and loudly declared their praise of his artistry. Suddenly the saint ordered all to be quiet and declared, that he actually was a Christian and did not renounce the Lord. The governor of the city tried to explain the matter thus, that Saint Ardalion was continuing to play the rolé, and at the end of the show he would renounce Christ and offer sacrifice to the gods. But Saint Ardalion continued to confess his faith in Christ. Then the governor gave orders to throw the martyr onto a red-hot iron-pan. Thus did Saint Ardalion merit a martyr's crown.
The Holy Martyr Christophoros Savvaites was murdered by Saracens in the VIII Century in Palestine.
The Vilensk Icon of the Mother of God was written by the holy Evangelist Luke. For a long time it was in the family of the Greek emperors at Constantinople. In 1472 Sophia Paleologa, spouse of the Moscow GreatPrince Ivan III (1462-1505), transferred the icon to Moscow. In 1495 the GreatPrince blessed his daughter Elena with this icon before giving her in marriage to the Lithuanian king Alexander. In honour of the transfer of the icon to Vilna a feast was established 15 February. Later on they placed the holy icon in the John the ForeRunner church, in which princess Elena was buried. And afterwards they transferred the icon to the Vilensk Holy-Trinity monastery.
THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:
1. SAINT MARTIN THE CONFESSOR, POPE OF ROME
Martin became pope on July 5, 649 A.D., at the time of the furious debates between the Orthodox and the Monothelete heretics, who adhered to the belief in a single will in Christ. Reigning at that time was Constans II, the grandson of Heraclius. The Patriarch of Constantinople was Paul. In order to establish peace in the Church, the emperor complied a booklet, entitled Type [Typos] which was very favorable to the heretics. Pope Martin convoked a Council of one-hundred five bishops (in the Church of the Holy Savior in the Lateran Palace in October) which condemned this pamphlet of the emperor. At the same time, the pope wrote a letter to Patriarch Paul imploring him to adhere to the purity of the Orthodox Faith and to counsel the emperor to renounce this heretical sophistry. This letter angered both the emperor and the patriarch. The emperor dispatched Olympius, one of his commanders, to Rome to bring the pope to Constantinople in bonds. The commander did not dare to bind the pope but bribed a soldier to slay him in church with a sword. When the soldier entered the church with the concealed sword, he was instantly blinded. Thus, by the Providence of God, Martin escaped death. At that time, the Saracens attacked Sicily and Olympius was ordered to Sicily and there he died. Then, according to the intrigue of the heretical Patriarch Paul, the emperor dispatched Theodore, another commander, to bind the pope and to bring him to Constantinople under the accusation that he, Pope Martin, was in collaboration with the Saracens and does not honor the All-Pure Mother of God. When the commander arrived in Rome and read the accusation against him, Pope Martin responded that: "This was slanderous and that he has no association with the Saracens, the adversaries of Christianity. As regards the All-Pure Mother of God; if one does not honor her and does not confess her and does not reverence her, let him be cursed in this world and in the next." However, this did not alter the decision of the commander. Pope Martin was bound and brought to Constantinople where he lay for a long time in prison, painfully ill, suffering from anxiety and hunger, until finally, he was sentenced to exile to Cherson. Pope Martin lived for two years in exile and died in the year 655 A.D., offering his soul to the Lord, for Whom he suffered much. Two years prior to Pope Martin's death, the repentant Paul died. When the emperor visited him before his death, Paul turned his head toward the wall and wept, confessing that he had greatly sinned against Pope Martin and begged the emperor to release him.
2. THE HOLY MARTYRS ANTHONY, JOHN AND EUSTACE [EUSTATHIUS]
All three were pagans and, at first, were fire worshippers. All of them were servants in the palace of the Lithuanian Prince Olgard in Vilna. They were formerly called: KRUGLETZ, KUMETZ AND NEZILO. All three were baptized by Nestor, the priest. All three were hanged, one after the other on the same oak tree in the year 1347 A.D. Christians cut down the tree and erected a church in honor of the Holy Trinity. The revered relics of these martyrs were then placed in this church and a holy altar table was carved from the stump of the oak tree. Their relics repose in Vilna.
3. THE HOLY MARTYR ARDALION, THE ACTOR
At first Ardalion was an actor-comedian. For the sake of entertaining the people, he eagerly played the role of a martyr for the Faith deriding Christians in every possible manner. When a persecution surfaced during the reign of Emperor Maximian, his spirit completely changed. In front of the crowd, he cried out in a loud voice that he is a Christian and that he was not jesting. For this, Ardalion was condemned, suffered for Christ and died tied to a red hot framework of rods thus portraying a true and honorable role of a martyr.
HYMN OF PRAISE
Saint Martin the Pope, before the Senate speaks:
May my body be crushed and burned,
And the most cruel sufferings, I will joyfully endure;
But, the True Faith, I will not deny.
The Good Savior was God and Man,
Two natures different with two wills, He bore,
But, two natures in one person,
And, both wills in a single light.
Such a Faith, all the Fathers passed on to us,
For such a Faith, many suffered.
May I suffer also; of all, the least
The servant of my Lord, of all the most sinful!
Thus, Martin confessed his faith to all
And truth did he speak before the heretics.
O what is the worth of man when he fears God:
Above little men, he [Martin] stands as a mountain!
"It is befitting for a monk to love God as a son and to fear Him [God] as a slave," says St. Evgarius. Naturally, this is also befitting to every Christian, even though he might not be a monk. It is a great art for anyone to unite love for God and to have fear of God. Many other Holy Fathers whenever they speak about love for God, at the same time, also mention fear of God, and vice-versa. In his homily: "On Perfect Love," St. John Chrysostom speaks about suffering and the pains of Hell at the same time. Why? Because the great love of man toward God without fear, imperceptibly crosses over into pride and then, again, a great fear of God without love leads to despair.
To contemplate the resurrected Lord Jesus:
1. How He appeared to the disciples on the shore of the lake and addresses them as “children” (St. John 21:5).
2. How He fills their nets again with fish and they knew Him but did not dare to ask Him, “Who are You?” (St. John 21:12).
About the personal experience of all the apostles
“What we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands---We proclaim now to you” (1 St. John 1:1).
Behold, such is the apostolic preaching! The apostles do not speak as worldly sages, nor like philosophers and even less as theoreticians who make suppositions about something in order to discover something. The apostles speak about things which they have not sought but which unexpectedly surrounded them; about the fact which they did not discover but, so to speak, unexpectedly found them and seized them. They did not occupy themselves with spiritual researches nor have they studied psychology, neither did they, much less, occupy themselves with spiritism. Their occupation was fishing – one totally experiential physical occupation. While they were fishing, the God-Man [Jesus] appeared to them and cautiously and slowly introduced them to a new vocation in the service of Himself. At first, they did not believe Him but they, still more cautiously and slowly with fear and hesitation and much wavering, came toward Him and recognized Him. Until the apostles saw Him many times with their own eyes and until they discussed Him many times among themselves and, until they felt Him with their own hands, their experienced fact is supernatural but their method of recognizing this fact is thoroughly sensory and positively learned. Not even one contemporary scholar would be able to use a more positive method to know Christ. The apostles saw not only one miracle but numerous miracles. They heard not only one lesson but many lessons which could not be contained in numerous books. They saw the resurrected Lord for forty days; they walked with Him, they conversed with Him, they ate with Him, and they touched Him. In a word: they personally and first handedly had thousands of wondrous facts by which they learned and confirmed one great fact, I.e., that Christ is the God-Man, the Son of the Living God, the Man-loving Savior of mankind and the All-Powerful Judge of the living and the dead.
O resurrected Lord confirm us in the faith and ardor of Your Holy Apostles.