The Priestly-Martyr Hermolaus Hermolaus was a priest in Nicomedia during the reign of Emperor Maximian. He was among the two thousand martyrs who the emperor condemned to be burned with their church (December 28). Somehow, Hermolaus and two other priests, Hermippas and Hermocrates, escaped death. Hermolaus later baptized Saint Panteleimon (July 27), with whom he was brought to trial, tortured and finally beheaded. Hermippas and Hermocrates suffered with them, and all were crowned with the wreaths of victory and glory in the Kingdom of Christ. They honorably suffered in about the year 304 A.D.
The Venerable Female Martyr Parasceva [Parasceve] Parasceva was born in Rome of Christian parents, and from her youth was instructed in the Faith of Christ. With great fervor, St. Parasceva endeavored to fulfill all the commandments of God in her life. Believing firmly and living according to her faith, Parasceva directed others on the path of salvation and in the pious life. When her parents died, Parasceva distributed all of her property to the poor, and was tonsured a nun. As a nun, she preached the Christian Faith with an even greater zeal, not hiding from anyone, even though at that time the Roman authorities were conducting a bloody persecution against the Christian Faith. Then, the pernicious Jews denounced St. Parasceva for preaching forbidden faith, and she was brought to trial before Emperor Antoninus. All the flatteries of the emperor did not shake the faith of this handmaiden of God. They then subjected her to torture by fire, and placed a red-hot helmet on her head. The Lord miraculously saved her, and Parasceva was freed, and left Rome. She continued traveling from city to city to convert pagans to the True Faith. She was brought before princes and judges in two more cities, and was tortured for her Lord, at which time she worked great miracles and, by the power of God, quickly recovered from her pains and wounds. The pagans, as always, ascribed her miracles to magic and her swift recoveries to the mercy of their gods. St. Parasceva once said to the prince who was torturing her: “O prince, it is not your gods who have healed me, but my Christ, the True God.” Finally, a certain Prince Tarasius beheaded her with the sword. Thus, this saint gloriously ended her fruitful life. Her relics were later translated to Constantinople. She suffered honorably for Christ in the second century.
The Venerable Moses Of Ugrian He was at the court of the young Russian Prince Boris. When the godless Svyatopolk murdered Boris, Moses escaped and fled to Kiev. A little later he was taken to Poland, by the Polish King Boleslav, as a slave–and was sold there for a thousand gold coins to a young and depraved widow, the wife of one of Boleslav’s commanders who had been slain. This wicked woman tempted Moses to commit fornication but Moses would not be tempted, for he had vowed to live chastely before the Lord. She then suggested marriage to him, but he rejected that as well. Moses then secretly received the monastic tonsure from an Athonite monk, and appeared before his owner in the monastic habit. She bound him, and ordered that he be flogged and castrated. Altogether, this shameful woman’s oppression of him lasted for five years–five years of pain and torture! Then King Boleslav was slain unexpectedly in an uprising, during which this woman was also killed. Moses was now free to go to Kiev, where at the Monastery of St. Anthony he devoted his life to prayer and stillness. Having completely conquered shameful vice in himself, Moses assisted many others to be saved from it. His holy relics helped many (see the life of St. John, the Much- suffering, July 8). After ten years of silence in the Monastery of the Caves, St. Moses found rest on July 26, 1043 A.D., and took up his habitation in the eternal, virginal Kingdom of Christ.
Hymn Of Praise
Saint Moses Of Ugrian
Purity before God, Moses vowed,
And free in the spirit, in spite of his shackles,
Replied to the rich and loathsome woman,
Who was shackled by passion and a slave to debauchery:
“What man has ever, by heeding a woman,
Saved his own, passion-enslaved soul?
Because of a woman, Adam was expelled from Paradise.
Because of Delilah, Samson perished without glory.
Solomon the all-wise, by a woman was seduced
And to idolatrous foolishness lowered himself.
Herod’s head, by a woman was charmed,
And the honorable head of John the Forerunner he cut off.
God’s servant, I am, O woman, leave me alone!
For yourself, seek a companion in the world.
To your will, I will not submit;
With you, in a bond, I see no happiness.
I must be pure in body, O woman:
Before the Lord, that is my sacred duty!
Neither flattery, nor gold, nor all of your power,
In either mind or body shall lead me astray.
The Lord is Almighty: help me, He will.
Only pure water bubbles forth in Paradise.
God is the God of purity; pure He has created us.
He desires us to be pure and, as pure, He saves us–
Purity, O woman, is the glory of a Christian!”
Not one passion is conquered without a great struggle. The Holy Fathers have referred to the passion of fornication as death. When a fornicator is saved from the passion of fornication, it is as though he has risen from the dead. For those who live in the world, the passion of fornication is chiefly inflamed through sight, while for those who live a life of asceticism in the wilderness the passion is inflamed through thoughts and imagination. Saint Sarah, a great female ascetic, was tortured by the demon of fornication for thirty years. She always defeated it by prayer and drove it away from her. Once the demon of fornication came to her in bodily form, and said: “Sarah, you have defeated me!” Sarah humbly answered: “I have not defeated you, but the Lord Christ has defeated you.” From that time on, the thought of fornification left her forever. When Saint Poemen was asked how a man can struggle against the demon of fornication, he replied: “If man surpresses his stomach and his tongue, then he will be able to rule over himself.” St. Anthony said that three kinds of impulse exist in the body: “The first is from nature, the second is from lack of restraint in food and the third is from the demons.” Others have said that the vice of fornication is strengthened by anger and pride. But all agree that, in addition to man’s sobriety and spiritual effort, God’s help is necessary to uproot this repulsive passion completely. The life of St. Moses the Ugrian, among many others, is a witness that it is possible for man to preserve himself in purity. St. Moses lived fifty years in the world and ten years in the monastery; altogether, a total of sixty years lived in complete virginal purity.
To contemplate the miraculous victory over the Amorites (Joshua 24):
- How God sent hornets against the Amorites, and they all fell into confusion and were defeated by the Israelites;
- How the Lord God is mighty; and how He destroys the proud and unjust, with the aid of small things.
About the misfortune of those who come to Christ and then apostatize from Him (fall away)
“For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning” (2 Peter 2:20).
Brethren, bright is the sun, but brighter still are the words of the apostle. The sun illumines bodies, brethren, but it cannot illumine souls–while the apostolic words illumine the souls. The apostle clearly sees the heights and depths of a soul, and he illumines it for us out of fervent love, in order to lead us on the pure path of salvation. He gives us two great instructions in a few words. The first is that one cannot flee from the impurity of this world except through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Without knowledge of the Lord Jesus, one is unable to see or to know the impurity of this world, and without the knowledge of the Lord Jesus man is unable to be cleansed from this impurity. The second instruction is that when a man flees from the impurity of this world through knowledge of the Lord Jesus but turns back to be entangled in it again, then for him the latter end is worse than the beginning. For having known the light, he returns again to the darkness, and the darkness becomes even darker. Having known righteousness, he again sinks into unrighteousness, and his punishment is more severe. Having known holiness, he falls back into brutishness–and his bestial nature becomes more fierce than ever. The holy apostle does not hesitate to equate this turning back with a dog who returns to his own vomit, and with a sow which, having been washed, returns to wallow in the mire. Whoever knows the Lord Jesus Christ also knows all that is needed for his salvation: he receives sight so as to see impurities, lies and injustice, and he receives the power to flee all of that. Therefore let him not turn back, lest eternal death swallow him up. Let him not tempt God countless times: for, if God was quick to save him the first time, He will be slower the second time; and even slower the third time. Oh, how illumining the apostle’s words are, my brethren! O Lord Jesus, Savior, Almighty and All-Good, do not depart from us in the hour of our weakness; deliver us when the impurities of this world attempt to draw us back to them. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.