The Hieromartyr [Priest-Martyr] Basil, Presbyter Of Ancyra Under Emperor Constantius, Basil endured and suffered much at the hands of the Arians. He was renowned as a great zealot of Orthodoxy and a true shepherd of his entrusted flock in Ancyra. When Julian the Apostate ascended the throne, he began to persecute Christians. Because Basil openly condemned this new evil and strengthened his people in the Faith, he was cast into prison. When Emperor Julian came to Ancyra, Basil was brought before him. The emperor tried to persuade Basil to abandon his faith in Christ, promising him honors and riches. Basil answered the emperor: “I believe in my Christ, Whom you denied and Who gave you this earthly kingdom; but that will be taken away from you shortly. Have you no shame before the sacred altar, under which you were saved when they sought to kill you as an eight year old child? Therefore, this temporary kingdom will be taken from you shortly, and your body will not be buried after your soul has been violently wrested from you in bitter pains.” Julian became enraged and ordered that seven strips of skin be pealed from Basil’s body every day. The tormentors did this for several days. When Basil appeared again before the emperor, he pealed off a strip of his own skin and threw it into Julian’s face, and crying out to him, he said: “Take it, Julian, and eat, if this kind of food is sweet to you; but for me, Christ is Life.” This incident was proclaimed throughout the towns, and the emperor, out of shame, secretly departed from Ancyra to Antioch. They continued to torture Basil with red hot irons until he gave up his soul to God, for Whom he suffered, in the year 363 A.D.
Saint Drosida Drosida was the daughter of Emperor Trajan. She was captured with five other women at night while they were gathering the bodies of the tortured martyrs of Christ. For this she was severely disfigured by the emperor. The five other women were horribly tortured, and in the end they were thrown into a vat of molten copper, where they gave up their souls to their Lord. Drosida remained under the strict guard of the emperor. She escaped from the palace and baptized herself in a river. After eight days she gave up her soul to God.
The Venerable Martyr Euthymius Euthymius was born in the village of Dimitsana in the Peloponnese. As a child, he lived as a Christian, but later he went to Romania where he gave himself over to a life of great debauchery. In this debauchery an evil spirit led him to become a Moslem. As soon as he did that, Euthymius began to repent bitterly. He returned to the Christian Faith and was tonsured a monk on the Holy Mountain. After several years spent in strict fasting and prayer, he decided to die for Christ. With the blessing of his spiritual father, he traveled to Constantinople, where he somehow succeeded in coming before the grand vizier. Euthymius crossed himself, praised Christ, and insulted Mohammed in the presence of the vizier. After prolonged torture he was sentenced to death and beheaded on Palm Sunday, March 22, 1814 A.D. Many miraculous healings of the sick occurred over his relics. His honorable head is preserved in the Russian Monastery of St. Panteleimon on the Holy Mountain. And so, this twenty-year old youth first died to Christ and then died for Christ.
Hymn Of Praise Christ The Lord As A Fisherman Thou art a wonderful Fisherman, O Christ our Lord! Throughout the whole world Thou dost spread Thy nets; For pure pearls Thou trawlest the waters deep. The invisible net, woven by the Spirit, Woven with love, moistened with tears, Is everywhere upheld by angelic hands. Everyone to whom a mother gave birth and who was reared by the Spirit, All the most beautiful souls that the world can give, All who have entered into the number of Thy rich catch: All of these will Thy silk net capture, When Thou wilt raise Thy nets from the sea of life. Nothing will remain but the muddy scum. O Most Wonderful Fisherman of pure pearls, We sinners were at one time Thy pearls. Now we are far away from Thy throne, Covered under the sediment of dark passions. But may Thy net seize us as well. And from Thy countenance we will shine as the stars.
Reflection Even in His pain on the Cross, the Lord Jesus did not condemn sinners but offered up pardon for their sins to His Father, saying: They know not what they do(Luke 23:34)! Let us not judge anyone so that we will not be judged. For no one is certain that, before his death, he will not commit the same sin by which he condemns his brother. St. Anastasius of Sinai teaches: “Even if you see someone sinning, do not judge him, for you do not know what the end of his life will be like. The thief who was crucified with Christ was a murderer, while Judas was an apostle of Jesus, but the thief entered into the Kingdom, and the apostle went to perdition. Even if you see someone sinning, bear in mind that you do not know his good works. For many have sinned openly and repented in secret; we see their sins, but we do not know their repentance. Therefore, brethren, let us not judge anyone so that we will not be judged.”
Contemplation Contemplate the Lord Jesus crucified on the Cross:
- How infinite was His sorrow for mankind blinded by sin;
- How His thoughts on the Cross were directed more to His Heavenly Father than to Himself;
- How His concerns on the Cross were directed more to mankind than to Himself;
- How, even on the Cross, He was certain of His victory and Resurrection.
Homily on the majesty of Christ the Victor “His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire” (Revelation 1:14). That is how John the God-seer saw Jesus after His Resurrection and victory. He saw Him as the Son of Man, clothed in a lengthy garment, girded about with a golden sash, with seven stars in His right hand, and His face shining like the sun at its brightest (cf. Revelation 1:16). It was with this kind of power and glory that He appeared–He Who on the Cross was not radiant and Who seemed to be the weakest among the sons of men to every passersby. Why was His hair as white as wool and snow? Was not our Lord not yet thirty- four years old when they killed Him? From where, then, comes His white hair? Does not white hair indicate old age? It is true that white hair does indicate old age with mortal man, but with Christ in Glory it indicated more than old age–it indicated eternity. Eternal youthful age! Old age is the past, and youth is the future. At the same time, is He not both? More than all the times past and all times to come, and even beyond time, Christ is eternity beyond time. Why were His eyes like a flame of fire? Because He is the All-seeing. All sorts of things can be hidden from the sun, but of all that is in the heavens, on the earth, or under the earth, nothing can be hidden from His sight. He perceives all the threads of the fabric of nature; He perceives all the atoms in the stones, every drop of water in the sea, every particle of air, and all the thoughts and desires of every created soul. This is the One and the same and no other; He who out of compassion for the human race came to earth, clothed Himself in a mortal and suffering body, was ridiculed, was mocked and was spat upon by sinful men. That is the same One and no other, Who without radiance hung on the Cross between thieves, and as a dead man was buried by Joseph and Nicodemus. O brethren, how awesome it is to ponder upon what a great and majestic Visitor the earth had! It is even more terrible (awesome) to ponder Him against Whom deranged men lifted up their hands! O Majestic Lord, forgive us our sins and remember us all in Thy power and glory. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.