The Holy Martyr Theodotus Of Ancyra This martyr of Christ was secretly a Christian and, as such, he helped the Church and honorably buried the bodies of the holy martyrs. Thus, he buried the bodies of seven maidens who had suffered for Christ. When the pagans found out about him, they subjected him to tortures and killed him. (For more about St. Theodotus see May 18.)
The Holy Female Martyrs Cyriaca, Valeria And Maria All three of these female martyrs were from Caesarea in Palestine. When a persecution of Christians began, they withdrew from the city to a hut, and there they prayed unceasingly to God, fasting and weeping that the Faith of Christ might be spread throughout the world and that the persecution of the Church might cease. As a result of slander, they were brought to trial, tortured, and in torments put to death in the year 304 A.D. Thus these glorious virgins were crowned with wreaths of martyrdom.
The Priestly-Martyr Marcellus, Pope Of Rome During the reign of Maximian, Marcellus was sentenced to tend cattle in a designated place. In order to please Diocletian, who had taken him as co- emperor, Maximian began to construct public baths in Rome, the so-called Thermae, and forced the Christians to work on this project, as once Pharaoh compelled the Hebrews in Egypt. Many Christians perished at this time. Among those martyred was the deacon Cyriacus, who possessed great power over demons and had healed Artemia, the possessed daughter of Diocletian, as well as Jovia, the daughter of the Persian emperor, and had baptized both of them. Also martyred were Artemia; the deacons Sisinius, Smaragdus and Largius, companions of Cyriacus; the deacon Aphronianus; two newly-baptized Roman soldiers, Papius and Maurus; the elder Saturninus; Crescentianus; and the blessed virgins Priscilla and Lucina, who with their wealth had built a cemetery for the slain Christian martyrs. The holy Pope Marcellus tended cattle for a long time, and finally, from starvation, humiliation, and torture by the soldiers, he reposed and gave up his soul to God.
The Priestly-Martyr Marcellinus, Pope Of Rome Marcellinus was the predecessor of Pope Marcellus on the Roman patriarchal throne. When Emperor Diocletian summoned him and threatened him with torture, Marcellinus offered sacrifice to the idols, for which the emperor presented him with a precious garment. But Marcellinus bitterly repented and began day and night to lament his denial of Christ, as once had Peter the Apostle. At that time an assembly of bishops was held in Campania. The pope dressed in sackcloth, poured ashes over his head and entered the assembly, confessing his sin before all and begging them (the bishops) to judge him. The fathers said that he should judge himself. Then Marcellinus said: “I deprive myself of my priestly rank, of which I am not worthy; and even more, do not allow my body to be buried after death, but let it be thrown to the dogs!” Having said this, he pronounced a curse on anyone who would dare to bury him. Marcellinus later went to the Emperor Diocletian, threw down the precious garment before him, confessed his faith in Jesus Christ and cursed the idols. The enraged emperor ordered Marcellinus to be tortured and then killed outside the city, together with three good men: Claudius, Cyrinus and Antoninus. The bodies of these three men were buried immediately, but the body of the pope lay there for thirty-six days. Then St. Peter appeared to the new pope, Marcellus, and ordered that the body of Marcellinus be buried, saying: He who humbles himself shall be exalted (St. Luke 18:14).
The Venerable Daniel Of Scetis Daniel was the abbot of the famous Egyptian Scetis. He was a disciple of St. Arsenius and a teacher of many. Many of his words and teachings are as guiding stars for monks. Once, when the barbarians attacked the Scete, the brethren called him to flee together with them. He answered them: “If God does not take care of me, what is the purpose of living?” Daniel also said: “The more obese your body becomes, the more emaciated your soul becomes.” He lived a communal life of asceticism for forty years but later withdrew to the wilderness, in the year 420 A.D. He happened to be in Alexandria when a wicked father-in-law killed his daughter-in-law, St. Thomais (see April 13), because of her chastity. Daniel and his disciple buried this martyr.
Hymn Of Praise
O sinner, cast out despair,
And unto God offer repentance.
Despair, for the devil, is rejoicing.
Behold, Marcellinus, a hierarch was,
And when to torture they led him
He, before the emperor, betrayed the Lord.
Yet to despair, he did not give himself,
But the terrible sin openly confessed
And by his blood washed it away in glory.
O sinner, do not despondent become,
And like a serpent, sins do not conceal.
Sin concealed is a serpent in the bosom!
The heart of secret sinners it eats.
Peter sinned–and quickly cast away sin;
That is what true penitents do.
When an apostle and a pope sinned
And were forgiven by God,
How then, for you, can there not be forgiveness?
Only repent, but without being late.
A bitter death can make you late
And from God separate you forever.
Quickly, quickly, cast out despair,
And quickly offer repentance!
Within the saints there exists a very sharp [acute] conscience. That which average people consider a minor sin, the saints consider to be a great transgression. It is said of Abba Daniel that on three occasions robbers captured him and took him into the forest. Fortunately, on two occasions he saved himself from slavery, but the third time, when he wanted to escape, he struck one of them with a stone, killed him, and fled. This murder weighed on his conscience as heavily as lead. Perplexed as to what he should do, he went to the Alexandrian patriarch, Timothy, confessed to him and sought advice. The patriarch consoled him and released him from any epitimija [penance]. But his conscience still troubled him, and he went to the pope in Rome. The pope told him the same thing as had Patriarch Timothy. Still dissatisfied, Daniel visited in succession the other patriarchs, in Constantinople, Antioch and Jerusalem, confessing to all of them and seeking advice. But he remained unsatisfied. Then he returned to Alexandria and declared himself to the authorities as a murderer. The authorities arrested him. When the trial was held before the prince, Daniel related everything that had happened and begged to be killed in order to save his soul from eternal fire. The prince was amazed at all of this and said to him: “Go, Father, and pray to God for me, even if you kill seven more!” Dissatisfied with this, Daniel then decided to take a leprous man into his cell and serve him until his death, and when this one died, to take another. So he did, and thus he quieted his conscience.
To contemplate the miraculous healing of the woman with an issue of blood: And, behold a woman which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind Him and touched the hem of His garment. For she said within herself, if I may but touch His garment, I shall be whole. But Jesus turned around and when He saw her, He said, daughter, be a good comfort; your faith has made you whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour (St. Matthew 9:20-22):
- How, with great faith, the woman with an issue of blood touched the hem of the garment of the Lord Jesus and was made whole;
- How my soul is also like the woman with an issue of blood, as long as it is a slave to flesh and blood;
- How, with one touch by Christ the Lord, my soul can be healed and inspired.
Homily About emulating the ant “Go to the ant, O sluggard, study her ways and learn wisdom” (Proverbs 6:6).
It is the will of the Creator, Who sent us into this world, that we work as long as we are in this world. The Lord Jesus Himself commands: “Work; Keep Watch!” He praises those who multiply their given talents and condemns the slothful who bury their talents. He calls His time on earth service and says that He did not come to be served but to serve. He uses as an example His Heavenly Father and says: My Father works even until now, and I work (St. John 5:17). He commands His disciples: “Work while you still have light.” Oh, what a terrible shame for man when an ant, an irrational creature, is used as an example of diligence. But when man does not know how to emulate the diligence of God, it is necessary to direct him at least to emulate the ant. An ant works all summer and prepares food for itself for winter. Brethren, do we also prepare winter stores that we will open and display after death? Oh, may we not come with empty hands before Him Who gives to us with full hands as long as we are in this life! Slothfulness is one of the deadly sins, for it deadens the soul in man. A slothful soul is the nest of vices; a slothful soul is a habitation of the devil. O Lord Almighty, You Who, at the same time, are all peace and all work, deliver us from destructive slothfulness and move us by Your Holy Spirit toward all good works, for the sake of the salvation of our souls. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.