The Holy Martyr Thalelaeus Thalelaeus was born in Lebanon. His father was called Berucius and his mother Romila. Thalelaeus was an eighteen-year-old youth: handsome, tall, and with reddish-blonde hair. He was a physician by profession. He suffered for Christ during the reign of Numerian. When he bravely confessed his faith in Christ the Lord before his judge-torturer, the judge ordered the two executioners, Alexander and Asterius, to bore through his knees with a drill, to thread a rope through the perforated bones, and to hang him from a tree. But God, through an invisible power, took away the sight of the executioners. In place of Thalelaeus they bored through a board and hung it from a tree. When the judge-torturer found out, he thought that the executioners had done this intentionally, and he ordered them both flogged. Then Alexander and Asterius cried out in the midst of their flogging: “The Lord is alive to us, and from now on we will also be Christians. We believe in Christ and suffer for Him.” Upon hearing this, the judge-torturer ordered that both be beheaded. Then the judge took the drill to bore the knees of Thalelaeus himself, but his hands became paralyzed and he begged Thalelaeus to save him. This the innocent martyr of Christ did, with the help of prayer. Afterward, Thalelaeus was thrown into water but then appeared alive before his tormentor (for Thalelaeus had prayed to God inwardly to prolong his sufferings, so that he would not die immediately). When he was thrown to wild beasts, they licked his feet and were amicable toward him. Finally, Thalelaeus was beheaded and took up his habitation in life eternal in the year 284 A.D.
The Holy Martyr Asclas Asclas suffered in the town of Antinoe in Egypt during the reign of Diocletian. He was flogged, scraped and burned with candles, but he remained unwavering in the Faith to the end. When the tormentor Arrian was crossing the Nile by boat, Asclas, through prayer, stopped the boat in the middle of the river and would not allow it to move until Arrian wrote that he believed in Christ as the One and Almighty God. But ascribing this miracle to a magical skill of Asclas, the tormentor forgot what he wrote and continued to torment the man of God. Finally they tied a stone around his neck and cast him into the Nile river. On the third day Christians found the body of Asclas along the shore with the stone around his neck (as the martyr foretold to them before his death) and honorably buried him, in the year 287 A.D. Leonides, the holy martyr, also suffered with him. Arrian, their tormentor, later repented, believed in Christ with his whole heart and openly began to express his faith before the pagans. The pagans also killed him, and thus Arrian–a former tormentor of Christians–was made worthy of the martyr’s wreath for Christ.
The Venerable Stefan Of Piperi This saint was born into the Nikšić clan in the village of Župa of poor but devout parents, Radoje and Jaćima. According to tradition, he first lived a life of asceticism in the monastery of Morača, where he was abbot. The Turks drove him out of Morača and he settled in Rovački, Turmanj, in the place which today is called Ćelište. Later, he settled in a cell in Piperi, where he remained in labor and God-pleasing asceticism until his death. He reposed peacefully in the Lord on May 20, 1697 A.D. His relics repose there even today, and with many miracles they glorify Christ God and Stefan, the saint of God.
Hymn Of Praise The Holy Martyr Thalelaeus Attend, O men and angels– In suffering and at the moment of death Thalelaeus prayed to God: “O Lord, Creator of the world, Thine is the mercy, Thine is the vengeance! To Thee I pray: Prolong my life, That for Thee I may endure more pain. In truth, little have I endured In order to merit Thy Kingdom. Horrible were Thy sufferings on Golgotha, Horrible sufferings were endured by Thee, Sinless One! For sinners, they should be more horrible, That, being tortured, they may be cleansed And worthily receive salvation.” That which the most wonderful Thalelaeus prayed for Was granted him by God. His petitions were precious; God permitted him abundant sufferings. To the end, Thalelaeus endured all, All, with joy and with thanksgiving From suffering to suffering he went, As from celebration to an even greater celebration. Thus, the saint glorifies Orthodoxy!
Reflection When a man acquires a Christian conscience, he zealously labors to correct his life and to please God. For him, all else becomes of little importance. We have examples of such men not only among the great ascetics and spiritual fathers but also among powerful rulers. Emperor Theodosius the Great provides us with such an example. For a brief time he fell into heresy but afterward he repented. St. Ambrose, his earlier critic, spoke over his lifeless body: “I loved this man who, divesting himself of all imperial insignias, bewailed his sin openly in church, and, with sighs and tears, begged forgiveness. What ordinary men are ashamed to do, the emperor was not ashamed to do. After his glorious victory over the enemies of the empire, he decided not to approach Holy Communion until the return of his sons, because his enemies had been slain in battle.”
Contemplation Contemplate God the Holy Spirit as an Inspirer of meekness and gentleness:
- How He has inspired meekness and gentleness in ascetics and hermits throughout the ages;
- How He inspired–and inspires even today–meekness and gentleness in all truly repentant souls.
Homily on the spirit of the world and the Spirit of God “We have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God” (1Corinthians 2:12). Brethren, the spirit of this world is the spirit of pride and cruelty, and the Spirit of God is the Spirit of meekness and gentleness. The Apostle of God asserts that the followers of Christ received not the spirit of this world but the Spirit which is of God, that is, which proceeds from God the Father as a sweet-smelling fragrance of flowers, as a good fragrance pouring out on the soul of man, making it mighty, bright, peaceful, thankful and pleasant. Men by nature are meek and gentle. St. Tertullian writes: “The soul of man is by nature Christian,” but it is made irritable and angry by the spirit of this world. The spirit of this world makes wolves out of lambs, while the Spirit of God makes lambs out of wolves. The Apostle adds further that we received the Spirit of God so that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God (1 Corinthians 2:12), thatwe may know then, what is from God in us and what is not from God, and that we may sense the sweetness of that which is from God and the bitterness of that which is not from God but from the spirit of this world. As long as man is outside his nature or beneath his nature, he considers bitterness sweet and sweetness bitter. But when by the Spirit of God he returns to his true nature, then he considers sweetness sweet and bitterness bitter. Who can return man to God? Who can heal man of poisonous sinful bitterness? Who can teach him by experience to distinguish true sweetness from bitterness? No one except the Spirit which is of God. Therefore, my brethren, let us pray that God grant us His Holy Spirit as He granted the Holy Spirit to His apostles and saints. And when the Holy Spirit of God enters into us, the Kingdom of God has come to us, in which is all sweetness, goodness, light, meekness and grace. O Holy Spirit, the Spirit of meekness and gentleness, come and abide in us. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.