Orthodox Thought for the Day


Thursday, March 8, 2012

On the 40 Holy Martyrs of Sebaste

A greatly known and beloved group of Holy Martyrs, the 40 who gave their lives at Sebaste are commemorated today, March 9.  One of the most beautiful and thorough pages I've seen that commemorates this group of holy martyrs is found at http://full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.com/2010/03/holy-forty-martyrs-of-sebaste.html.

I have selected a few choice writings that refer to the blessed martyrs that I will share with you here:
O holy martyrs, you were not frightened
     By the supple sword because you took courage
In the fire of divinity, which you had put on.
     Because you had met with frost and cold
And endured lightning flashes from on high,
     You gained crowns.
Casting aside all the armor of the flesh,
     You advanced, naked, into the midst of the lake.
Tortured by cold, yet warmed by faith,
    You passed through fire and water
Worthily victorious; in the sight of God
    You gained crowns.
Holy ones who did not fear the supple sword,
    When you were willingly cast into the icy lake,
You were nobly patient under the whips of the tyrants.
    Now the powers of Heaven rejoice,
And the race of men is happy and delighted because
    You gained crowns.
 From the Kontakia of St. Romanos

What is a Christian?  What must he have?  Certainly, he must have much patience in everything.   The road that takes wayfarers to the city of Paradise is completely strewn with thorns; those who travel along it will bleed.  But the hope of enjoying Paradise overcomes everything and provides the wayfarers with patience—as the forty holy martyrs said when they were thrown into the frozen lake: ‘Winter is bitter, but Paradise is sweet; the frost is painful, but the enjoyment will be sweet.’  Elder Ephraim of the Holy Mountain (Athos)

It is my privilege to share with you this meditation on this day (which is my Name Day) as I have the feminine form of the name of one of the 40 Holy Martyrs of Sebaste, St. Kandidos, who was a spokesman for the group.  I am known in Greek as "Kandia."  Pres. C.

Prologue from Ohrid, March 9 entry:  "But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved, " Matthew 24:13.

O Lord most wonderful, You have endured all, all to the end.  That is why You became not only blessed but the source of blessings for all men who desire good for themselves throughout the ages of ages.

The apostles endured all to the end and entered into blessed eternity.  The saints willingly endured the difficulties and sufferings to the end and were glorified, both in heaven and on earth.

The martyrs willingly endured all pains to the end and became the adopted co-inheritors of the Kingdom of Christ.

Every founder of a new organization recruits followers for himself with the promise of good fruits and many pleasures but deliberately remains silent about the hardships and labors which lead to those fruits and pleasures.  Our Lord Jesus is the only one Who spoke the whole truth to His followers, both the bitter and the sweet side of the truth.  He did not promise fruits without service, nor glory without suffering, nor ultimate rest without the thorny path, nor victory without struggle, nor pleasure without bitterness, nor the kingdom without tears and self-denial.

Although our Lord counted the many difficulties which would befall His followers, in the end He does not abandon them without comfort.  He gives meaning to their sufferings and does not leave them in darkness.  He says, "The one who perseveres to the end will be saved."  What is that blessing which awaits those who endure to the end that He Jesus fully revealed and that has been witnessed even until today and is being witnessed by many saints, who, have either appeared in glory to the faithful from the other world or who, while yet in the flesh, were uplifted in the spirit to a vision of that glory and blessedness which await the faithful, the chosen and persevering?

O Lord, You are our strength.  Help us to endure to the end with faith that You are beside us.

No comments:

Post a Comment