Wednesday March 16, 2022 / March 3, 2022
Second Week of the Great Lent. Tone five.
Great Lent. By Monastic Charter: Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)
Martyr Eutropius of Amasea, and with him Martyrs Cleonicus and Basiliscus (308). Virgin-martyr Martha and martyr Michael (1938). Venerable Piama, virgin (337). Sts. Zeno and Zoilus. “Volokolamsk” Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos (1572)
The Scripture Readings
The Holy Martyr Theodore of Tyre
Commemorated on Saturday of the 1st week of the Great Lent, February 17
The Holy Martyr Theodore of Tyre was a soldier in the city of Alasium of the Pontine district (northeast province of Asia Minor, stretching alongside the coast of the Pontus Euxine, i.e. the Black Sea), under the command of a certain Brincus. They commanded him to offer sacrifice to idols. Saint Theodore firmly and in a loud voice confessed his faith in Christ the Saviour. The commander gave him several days to think it over, during which time Saint Theodore prayed intensely. They charged him with setting afire a pagan temple and threw him into prison for death by starvation. The Lord Jesus Christ appeared to him there, comforting and encouraging him. Brought again to the governor, Saint Theodore yet once more boldly and fearlessly confessed his faith, for which he was subjected to new torments and condemned to burning. The martyr Theodore without hesitation climbed onto the bon-fire and with prayer and laudation gave up his holy soul to God.
This occurred in about the year 306 under the Roman emperor Gallerius (305-311). Unharmed by the fire, the body of Saint Theodore was buried in the city of Eukhaitakheia, not far from Amasium. His relics were afterwards transferred to Tsar’grad, to a church dedicated to his name. His head is situated in Italy, in the city of Gaeto.
Later on, 50 years after the martyr’s death of Saint Theodore, the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363), wanting to commit an outrage upon the christians, commanded the city-commander of Constantinople during the first week of Great Lent to sprinkle all the food provisions in the market-places with the blood of idol-sacrifices. Saint Theodore, having appeared in a dream to archbishop Eudoxios, ordered him to inform all the christians, – that no one should buy anything at the market-places, but rather to eat cooked wheat with honey – kolivo ( kut’ya or sochivo). In memory of this occurrence the Orthodox Church annually makes celebration of the holy GreatMartyr Theodore of Tyre on Saturday of the first week of Great Lent. On the eve of Saturday, on Friday, in the Divine Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts after the amvon prayer there is read the molieben-kanon to the holy GreatMartyr Theodore, compiled by the monk John Damascene. After this, kolivo is blessed and distributed to the faithful. The celebration to the GreatMartyr Theodore on Saturday of the first week of Great Lent was set by the Patriarch of Constantinople Nektarios (381-397).
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.
HYMN OF PRAISE
SAINTS EUTROPIUS, CLEONICUS AND BASILISCUS
The mind at peace and raised to God the Most High,
The heart inflamed with love toward Him,
These do not care about pains or worry about the body:
Over such as these, only the Lord rules.
The mind fixed on Christ–that is most important.
Saint Eutropius recognized this during his torments;
And Cleonicus his brother and beloved Basiliscus–
All three were in the fire as though in the morning dew.
A mind fixed on Christ does not care about tortures.
If pain persists, so also does prayer.
The mind fixed on Christ does not think about pain, but weaves prayer.
He who fears God does not fear pain.
Two blood brothers raised upon the Cross:
Their bodies convulse, but the spirit does not stir.
Both glorify God Who glorified them;
Such an honorable death He gave to them.
The garment of the flesh is rent and removed
And the spirit races toward heaven.
The spirit is stronger than the body.
“Receive, O God,” they cry out, “our spirits in the heights,
To Thee be eternal glory, O Son of God!”
Speaking in human terms, Christ, by His obedience, elevated Himself to primacy in the Church, in the world, and in the history of mankind. No one can be a good leader who has not completed the school of obedience. Adam forfeited his authority and dominion over living creatures and the elements of nature at the very moment when he showed himself disobedient to God. Abba Moses said: “Obedience begets obedience; if someone listens to God, God also listens to him.” It is obvious, then, that God listens to man more than man listens to God, especially when one takes into consideration how often and in how many ways man sins daily against the commandments of God. It is a fact that the Eternal God listens to us, corruptible as we are, more than we listen to Him. This should fill all of us with shame who still have a conscience. When St. Eutropius was being tortured along with his two companions, he prayed to God: “Come to our aid as Thou camest to Thy servant Theodore the Tyro.” Suddenly, the ground shook and the obedient Lord appeared with His angels and St. Theodore. The Lord said to the sufferers: “During the time of your torture, I stood before your faces and observed your patience. I will write your names in the Book of Life.”
Contemplate the Lord Jesus at the Mystical Supper:
1. How He chose bread and wine, two ordinary elements of nourishment, and through them instituted His visible and invisible bond with the Church until the end;
2. How the Mystical Supper has been preserved until today, and how it will be preserved until the end of time as the Mystery of Communion;
3. How every day, and almost every hour, somewhere in the world, a priest consecrates the bread and wine and receives them as the Body and Blood of Christ. What a wonderful vision that is!
on love for your neighbor
“Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you” (Philippians 1:24).
Illumined with the love of Christ, the Apostle Paul acknowledged, in his Epistle to the Philippians, that for him death is a gain because his life is Christ’s. Paul’s love for Christ draws him toward death so that he may stand by Christ as soon as possible, but his love for the faithful compels him to remain in the flesh. However, these are not two loves that attract the Apostle and pull him in two directions, but one and the same love that opens before him two treasures of wealth. One treasure is the blessed world in heaven, and the other treasure is the souls of the faithful on earth. That heavenly treasure is increased by that earthly treasure; both treasures flow together into one. To go to heaven–to that the Apostle is drawn by love and reward; to remain on earth–to that he is drawn by love and duty.
When mortal man, my brethren, discovers that it is more important to remain in the flesh out of love for his brothers, how is it strange that the Eternal God knew, before the Apostle, that it was more important to be in the flesh for the salvation of mankind than out of the flesh in the spiritual kingdom? Does not this confession of Paul before the Philippians explain to us with complete clarity the reasons for the Incarnation of the Son of God? There, in heaven, is the true Kingdom of Christ and the true life of Christ, without the mingling of sin and death. But the Son of God’s love toward men deemed it necessary to remain in the flesh on earth among men. Truly, we need to be thankful to the Apostle Paul that he, in explaining himself to us, explained the mystery of Christ’s coming and His dwelling in the flesh.
O Lord, wonderful art Thou in Thy saints.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.