The Holy Apostles Silas, Silvanus, Crescens, Epaenetus And Andronicus They were numbered among the Seventy Apostles. St. Silas was sent from Jerusalem to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas to settle the dispute between the faithful there regarding circumcision: namely, whether or not it was necessary to circumcise pagans when they convert to Christianity. Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole Church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren (Acts 15:22). After this, Silas traveled with Paul throughout Asia and Macedonia, and was appointed as the bishop in Corinth, where he died peacefully. St. Silvanus assisted both of the Chief Apostles. By Silvanus, a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose, I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand (1 Peter 5:12); For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, Who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in him was yea (2 Corinthians 1:19). As Bishop of Thessalonica, Silvanus labored much and suffered much, until he finally exchanged this earthly life for the heavenly life. St. Crescens was a companion of the Apostle Paul and then Bishop of Galatia and a missionary in Gaul–where he died as a martyr for Christ during the reign of Emperor Trajan. For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia (2 Timothy 4:10). St. Epaenetus is mentioned by the Apostle Paul and was Bishop of Carthage. Salute my well beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ (Romans 16:5). St. Andronicus, Bishop of Pannonia, is also commemorated separately on May 17. Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me (Romans 16:7).
The Holy Priestly-Martyr Valentine Valentine was the bishop of the Italian City of Interamna. He cured the brother of the Roman tribune, Frontanus, of an illness. When Cherimon, the son of the renowned philosopher Craton, took ill, Craton, taking the advice of Frontanus, summoned Bishop Valentine to Rome. Cherimon was completely contorted, and so bent over that his head was between his knees. Valentine seculded himself in a room with Cherimon and spent the entire night in prayer. The next day he brought Cherimon out completely healed and presented him to his father. Then Craton, his entire household, and three of his disciples were baptized. Cherimon left the home of his father and went with Valentine. Abundius, the son of the Roman eparch, was also baptized then. Enraged at this, the eparch arrested Valentine and beheaded him after much torture. Three disciples of Craton: Proclus, Abibus and Apollonius, were also beheaded then. Abundius took their bodies and buried them with honor. They all suffered in the year 273 A.D. and became citizens of the Heavenly Kingdom.
The Priestly-Martyr Polychronius, Bishop Of Babylon When Emperor Decius overran Babylon, he captured Polychronius with three presbyters, two deacons and two baptized princes, Abdon and Senin. Polychronius made no reply before the emperor and remained silent, while St.Parmenius, a presbyter, spoke on behalf of all. The emperor took the bishop and priests to Persia, to the city of Kordoba, where they were beheaded. Decius took the princes Abdon and Senin to Rome, and there they were thrown to the wild beasts, then slain by the sword. They all suffered honorably in the year 251 A.D.
Saint John The Soldier John was secretly a Christian. He was sent by Emperor Julian the Apostate to slay Christians, but helped them to hide instead. Julian cast him into a prison in Constantinople. When the evil Emperor Julian perished, John gave himself over to a life of asceticism, living in purity and holiness. He died peacefully in old age. After his death, he appeared to those who needed his help. Prayers directed to St. John are of help in tracking down robbers.
The Venerable Mother Angelina Angelina was a Serbian Princess [Despotica]. Her relics repose in the Monastery of Krušedol (see her life on December 12).
Hymn Of Praise
The pagan ruler, the terrible Emperor Decius,
In fury cried out: “O Polychronius,
Why do you not honor the gods of Rome, O Elder?
The royal commands, why do you not obey?”
But the saint said nothing, and remained silent.
Again the emperor asked him and the saint did not speak.
“This man is a mute!” said Decius.
“Our father is not a mute,” Parmenius replied,
But by not speaking he keeps his mouth pure,
H ekeeps his mouth pure by the command of Christ:
Give not that which is holy unto the dogs,
Neither cast ye your pearls before swine!
The saint is guarding his pearl, keeping it to himself,
That he not sully his mouth by speaking with you."
Decius was enraged like never before,
And demanded that Parmenius’s tongue be severed.
They cut off his tongue–but to him, what did that mean?
The saint’s speech was now more beautiful, and stronger.
The Lord fights for His zealous servants,
And guards them from shame and the mockery of men.
It is necessary to distinguish a sinner from a penitent. If you have taken it upon yourself to rebuke a sinner, take care that you do not rebuke the penitent also. The Parable of the Prodigal Son demonstrates how dear a repentant sinner is to God. Therefore, let one who has become dear to God, be very dear to you. One time, a monk succumbed to sin, for which he was banished from his monastery. This monk went to St. Anthony, confessed his sin, repented, and remained with Anthony for a period of time. Then Anthony sent him back again to his monastery, but they did not receive him, and again drove him out. Again the penitent went to St. Anthony. Again, Anthony sent him back to the monastery, with a message to the fathers there: “A ship suffered shipwreck and lost its cargo, and only with great difficulty did that boat reach the harbor–and you want to sink even that which was saved from sinking!” Hearing this wise message, the fathers received the penitent brother into the monastery with joy.
To contemplate the miraculous victory of Gideon over the Midianites (Judges 7):
- How Gideon gathered thirty-two thousand soldiers and set out against the Midianites;
- How God commanded him to reduce the number, so that the Israelites would not brag about themselves and say that they were victorious, and not God;
- How Gideon selected only three hundred soldiers, and defeated the Midianites, who were numerous “as grasshoppers” (Judges 7:12).
About the coming of the Dreadful Day of the Lord
“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10).
Dreadful is the day of the Lord, Oh, how inexpressibly dreadful! It is dreadful because of its inexorable justice, and its unexpectedness. The Lord Himself commanded: Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour (Matthew 25:13), and the apostle, who heard these words with his own ears, repeats them. He who is afraid of thieves watches every night, so that the thieves will not surprise him. He who fears the Day of the Lord watches every day and every hour, so that the day and the hour will not catch him unprepared, in sin. We are so accustomed to the ordinary flow of time–the predictable passage of day and night–that we cannot comprehend the coming thunder of that day, which will overshadow all other days, which will stop the wheel of time and smash its slender spokes. It will be as if the sun were to thrust its fiery face over millions of wax candles, overwhelming their light and melting them away. Dreadful, dreadful, dreadful is the Day of the Lord! When that day raises its fiery face over the candles of the days of our present lives, these will be snuffed out and darkened; and the heavens, by which the present average days are counted, shall pass away with great noise, and the material elements, including earth, water, air and fire, shall melt with fervent heat. They will cease to be, and everything will be new. Our earthly homeland and all its works will be burned up. They will cease to be. Everything will be new. All our works will burn up–if God does not feel sorry for His works, why should He then feel sorry for our works? God will not seek works, but workers. All workers will appear before Him for judgment; but their works He will burn up. And all will be new. He who is to be condemned, will be condemned; he who is to be rewarded, will be rewarded–for all eternity. Dreadful, brethren, truly dreadful is the Day of the Lord! It is dreadful because of its unexpectedness, and because of the inexorable justice of God. O Just Lord, make us sober and vigilant! Command Your holy angels to keep us in sobriety and vigilance, so that sin does not inebriate us and lull us to sleep. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.