Orthodox Thought for the Day


Sunday, September 30, 2012

Ways to avoid anger

Silence of lips is better and more wonderful than any edifying conversation.  Strive to acquire humility and submissiveness.  Never insist that anything should be according to your will, for this gives birth to anger.  Do not judge or humiliate anyone, for this gives birth to anger.  Do not judge or humiliate anyone, for this exhausts the heart and blinds the mind, and thereon leads to negligence and makes the heart unfeeling.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Preserve peace of soul

One must by every means strive to preserve peace of soul and not be disturbed by offenses from others; for this one must in every way strive to restrain anger and by means of attentiveness to keep the mind and heart from improper feelings. And therefore we must bear offenses from others with equanimity and accustom ourselves to such a disposition of spirit that these offenses seem to concern not us, but others. Such a practice can give quietness to the human heart and make it as dwelling for God Himself.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A WARNING--on envy and anger

My children, desire to purify your hearts from envy and from anger with each other, lest death should overcome you, and you will be counted among the murderers. For whosoever hates his brother, kills a soul.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

On offering one's self to God

One must act in such a way that the soul does not turn to God only when one is standing in prayer, but should do so as far as possible throughout the day.  It should be an unceasing offering of one's self to Him. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Friday, September 21, 2012

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Following the holy example we've received

Stand firm, then, in these things, and follow the example of the Lord, strong in the faith and immovable, affectionate to the brethren, devoted to one another, united in the truth, serving one another with the gentleness of the Lord, despising no man. 

On good deeds for the departed

From the September 19 entry in The Prologue of Ohrid: 

Even the dead sense and know the good deeds that are performed for them.  Christians need not have any doubt in this.  A good deed spreads through the heavenly world like an electrical current.   

An imperial clerk, Magistrian, was sent by the emperor on an important errand.  Along the way, Magistrian saw a poor dead man, completely naked.  He was moved with pity, removed his shirt, dressed the dead man, and buried him honorably.  After a while, Magistrian had an unfortunate accident: he fell from his horse and broke his leg, and lay sick in bed for a long time.  On one occasion, several doctors gathered around him to take counsel concerning his illness.  The doctors agreed that his leg would have to be amputated.   

That night Magistrian could not sleep, but grieved and wept.  At midnight a man suddenly appeared in his room and asked him, “Why are you weeping?”  When Magistrian explained his condition, the unknown man then rubbed the infected leg with his hand and the leg was healed.  “For God’s sake, tell me—who are you?” asked Magistrian.  The unknown man replied, “Look at me, and see, is not this your shirt?  I am he whom you saw naked and dead, and whom you dressed in this shirt.  And behold, for your good deed God has sent me to heal you.  Give thanks to God!”

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The best almsgiver

The best almsgiver is one who keeps back nothing for himself. 

Where to safely hide money

She preferred to store her money in the stomachs of the needy rather than hide it in a purse. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

On patient endurance

With regard to patience the Lord says, 'You will gain possession of your souls through your patient endurance,' (Luke 21:19).  He did not say 'through your fasting' or 'through your vigils.'  I refer to the patience bestowed by God, which is the queen of virtues, the foundation of courageous actions.  It is patience that is peace amid strife, serenity amid distress, and a steadfast base for those who acquire it.  Once you have attained it with the help of Christ Jesus, no swords and spears, no attacking armies, not even the ranks of demons, the dark phalanx of hostile powers, will be able to do you any harm. 

Spiritual sensitivity is a gift to be transfigured

Certain people often become overwhelmingly distressed about the state of the world.  They are vexed when they see that the will of God is not done today by others and by themselves and they suffer with the physical and psychological pain of others.  This sensitivity is a gift of God.  We find it more frequently among women.  Souls with this sensitivity are especially receptive to the will of God.  These sensitive souls have the ability to advance greatly in the life in Christ, because they love God and do not wish to cause Him vexation.  They do, however, run a danger.  If they do not entrust their life fully to Christ, it is possible for the evil spirit to exploit their sensitivity and to lead them to depression and despair.

Sensitivity cannot be corrected.  It can only be transformed, altered and transfigured so as to become love, joy and worship.  How?  By turning upwards.  By turning every sorrow into knowledge of Christ, love of Christ and worship of Christ.  And Christ, who constantly waits with eagerness to help us, will give you His grace and His strength to transform sorrow into joy, into love for our fellows and worship of Him.  Thus darkness will flee.  Remember St. Paul.  What did he say?  Now I rejoice in my sufferings.

Friday, September 14, 2012

A holy rule for hospitality

Every guest…shall be received as if he were Christ Himself. 
St. Benedict of Nursia  (5th century)

Universal Exaltation of the Holy Cross

From Full of Grace and Truth blogspot, September 14, 2009 entry:

The Universal Exaltation of the

Precious and Life-Giving Cross of Christ

"The joy of human life springs forth from the Cross."
Elder Ephrem of Katounakia

The Universal Elevation or Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross of Christ - Commemorated on September 14 (icon taken from: http://vatopaidi.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/elevatio.gif)
The Elevation of the Venerable and Life-Creating Cross of the Lord: The pagan Roman emperors tried to completely eradicate from human memory the holy places where our Lord Jesus Christ suffered and was resurrected for mankind. The Emperor Hadrian (117-138) gave orders to cover over the ground of Golgotha and the Sepulchre of the Lord, and to build a temple of the pagan goddess Venus and a statue of Jupiter.

Pagans gathered at this place and offered sacrifice to idols there. Eventually after 300 years, by Divine Providence, the great Christian sacred remains, the Sepulchre of the Lord and the Life-Creating Cross were again discovered and opened for veneration. This took place under the Emperor Constantine the Great (306-337) after his victory in the year 312 over Maxentius, ruler of the Western part of the Roman empire, and over Licinius, ruler of its Eastern part. In the year 323 Constantine became the sole ruler of the vast Roman Empire.

In 313 he had issued the Edict of Milan, by which the Christian religion was legalized and the persecutions against Christians in the Western half of the empire were stopped. The ruler Licinius, although he had signed the Edict of Milan to oblige Constantine, still fanatically continued the persecutions against Christians. Only after his conclusive defeat did the 313 Edict of toleration extend also to the Eastern part of the empire. The Holy Equal of the Apostles Emperor Constantine, having gained victory over his enemies in three wars with God's assistance, had seen in the heavens the Sign of the Cross, and written beneath: "By this you shall conquer."

Ardently desiring to find the Cross on which our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified, St Constantine sent his mother, the pious Empress Helen (May 21), to Jerusalem, providing her with a letter to St Macarius, Patriarch of Jerusalem.

Although the holy empress Helen was already in her declining years, she set about completing the task with enthusiasm. The empress gave orders to destroy the pagan temple and the statues in Jerusalem. Searching for the Life-Creating Cross, she made inquiry of Christians and Jews, but for a long time her search remained unsuccessful.

Icon depicting St. Helen and St. Makarios uncovering the Life-giving Cross of Christ (taken from: http://www.ekklisiastikos.com/2009/06/blog-post_1819.html)
Finally, they directed her to a certain elderly Hebrew by the name of Jude who stated that the Cross was buried where the temple of Venus stood. They demolished the pagan temple and, after praying, they began to excavate the ground. Soon the Tomb of the Lord was uncovered. Not far from it were three crosses, a board with the inscription ordered by Pilate, and four nails which had pierced the Lord's Body (March 6).

In order to discern on which of the three crosses the Savior was crucified, Patriarch Macarius alternately touched the crosses to a corpse. When the Cross of the Lord touched the dead one, he came to life. Having beheld the raising of the dead man, everyone was convinced that the Life-Creating Cross was found.

Christians came in a huge throng to venerate the Holy Cross, beseeching St Macarius to elevate the Cross, so that even those far off might reverently contemplate it. Then the Patriarch and other spiritual leaders raised up the Holy Cross, and the people, saying "Lord have mercy," reverently prostrated before the Venerable Wood. This solemn event occurred in the year 326.

Another icon of the Exaltation of the Precious Cross, also most likely depicting people being healed in the foreground (taken from: http://christopherklitou.com/icon_14_sept_exaltation_of_cross.htm)

During the discovery of the Life-Creating Cross another miracle took place: a grievously sick woman, beneath the shadow of the Holy Cross, was healed instantly. The elder Jude and other Jews there believed in Christ and accepted Holy Baptism. Jude received the name Cyriacus and afterwards was consecrated Bishop of Jerusalem. During the reign of Julian the Apostate (361-363) he accepted a martyr's death for Christ (see October 28). The holy empress Helen journeyed to the holy places connected with the earthly life of the Savior, building more than 80 churches, at Bethlehem the birthplace of Christ, and on the Mount of Olives where the Lord ascended to Heaven, and at Gethsemane where the Savior prayed before His sufferings and where the Mother of God was buried after her death.

St Helen took part of the Life-Creating Wood and nails with her to Constantinople. The holy emperor Constantine gave orders to build at Jerusalem a majestic and spacious church in honor of the Resurrection of Christ, also including under its roof the Life-Giving Tomb of the Lord and Golgotha. The temple was constructed in about ten years. St Helen did not survive until the dedication of the temple, she died in the year 327. The church was consecrated on September 13, 335. On the following day, September 14, the festal celebration of the Exaltation of the Venerable and Life-Creating Cross was established.

Another event connected to the Cross of the Lord is remembered also on this day: its return to Jerusalem from Persia after a fourteen year captivity. During the reign of the Byzantine emperor Phocas (602-610) the Persian emperor Khozroes II in a war against the Greeks defeated the Greek army, plundered Jerusalem and captured both the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord and the Holy Patriarch Zachariah (609-633).

The Cross remained in Persia for fourteen years and only under the emperor Heraclius (610-641), who with the help of God defeated Khozroes and concluded peace with his successor and son Syroes, was the Cross of the Lord returned to the Christians.

"This is the largest known fragement of the True Cross in the world. It is treasured at the Holy Monastery of Xeropotamou, Mt. Athos. A hole from the nail that went through our Saviour's right hand, can be seen surrounded by diamonds at the lower portion of the vertical cross-bar." (taken from: http://uncutmountainsupply.com/proddetail.asp?prod=GTC10)

With great solemnity the Life-creating Cross was transferred to Jerusalem. Emperor Heraclius in imperial crown and royal purple carried the Cross of Christ into the temple of the Resurrection. With the emperor went Patriarch Zacharios. At the gates by which they ascended Golgotha, the emperor suddenly stopped and was not able to proceed farther. The holy Patriarch explained to the emperor that an angel of the Lord was blocking his way. The emperor was told to remove his royal trappings and to walk barefoot, since He Who bore the Cross for the salvation of the world from sin had made His way to Golgotha in all humility. Then Heraclius donned plain garb, and without further hindrance, carried the Cross of Christ into the church.

In a sermon on the Exaltation of the Cross, St Andrew of Crete (July 4) says: "The Cross is exalted, and everything true gathers together, the Cross is exalted, and the city makes solemn, and the people celebrate the feast". (taken from: http://ocafs.oca.org/FeastSaintsViewer.asp?SID=4&ID=1&FSID=102610)

Another icon of the Exaltation of the Precious Cross (taken from: http://ocafs.oca.org/FeastSaintsViewer.asp?SID=4&ID=1&FSID=102610)

St John Maximovitch on The Exaltation of the Precious Cross"Before the time of Christ, the cross was an instrument of punishment; it evoked fear and aversion. But after Christ's death on the Cross it became the instrument of our salvation. Through the Cross, Christ destroyed the devil; from the Cross He descended into hades and, having liberated those languishing there, led them into the Kingdom of Heaven. The sign of the Cross is terrifying to demons and, as the sign of Christ, it is honored by Christians.

"O Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance. Grant victory unto Orthodox Christians over their adversaries, and by the virtue of Thy Cross, preserve Thy community."

The beginning of this prayer is taken from the twenty-seventh Psalm. In the Old Testament the word "people" designated only those who confessed the true faith, people faithful to God. "Inheritance" referred to everything which properly belonged to God, God's property, which in the New Testament is the Church of Christ. In praying for the salvation of God's people (the Christians), both from eternal torments and from earthly calamities, we beseech the Lord to bless, to send down grace, His good gifts upon the whole Church as well, and inwardly strengthen her.

The petition for granting "victory to kings" (Grant victory to Orthodox Christians over their adversaries) (ie: to the bearers of Supreme authority), has its basis in Psalm 143, verse 10, and recalls the victories of King David achieved by God's power, and likewise the victories granted Emperor Constantine through the Cross of the Lord.

This appearance of the Cross made emperors who had formerly persecuted Christians into defenders of the Church from her external enemies, into "external bishops," to use the expression of the holy Emperor Constantine. The Church, inwardly strong by God's grace and protected outwardly, is, for Orthodox Christians, "the city of God." Heavenly Jerusalem has its beginning. Various calamities have shaken the world, entire peoples have disappeared, cities and states have perished, but the Church, in spite of persecutions and even internal conflicts, stands invincible; for the gates of hell shall not prevail against her (Matt. 16:18).

Today, when world leaders try in vain to establish order on earth, the only dependable instrument of peace is that about which the Church sings:

"The Cross is the guardian of the whole world; the Cross is the beauty of the Church, the Cross is the might of kings; the Cross is the confirmation of the faithful, the Cross is the glory of angels and the wounding of demons." (Exapostilarion of the Exaltation of the Cross)"

(from a sermon on the Exaltation of the Cross by St John of Shanghai and San Francisco; taken from: http://www.orthodox.net/articles/exaltation.html; see the following for another sermon by St. John Maximovitch on the Holy Cross: http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2009/09/cross-preserver-of-universe.html)
"Why do we honor the Cross with such reverence that we make mention of its power in our prayers after asking for the intercession of the Mother of God and the Heavenly Powers, before asking for that of the Saints, and sometimes even before asking for that of the Heavenly Powers? Because after the Saviour's sufferings, the Cross became the sign of the Son of Man, that is, the Cross signifies the Lord Himself, incarnate and suffering for our salvation."
St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ (http://www.monachos.net/content/forum/showthread.php?t=4057&highlight=akathist+cross)
Detail of icon of showing the Exaltation of the Precious Cross (taken from: http://vatopaidi.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/feast_of_the_cross.jpg)
Apolytikion in the First ToneSave, O Lord, your people, and bless your inheritance, granting victory to the faithful over the enemy, and by your Cross protecting your commonwealth.*
(*Note: this is the text adopted by the National Forum of Greek Orthodox Church Musicians.)
Kontakion in the Fourth ToneYou who were lifted on the cross voluntarily, O Christ our God, bestow Your tender compassions upon Your new community to which You gave Your name. Cause our faithful emperors to be glad in Your power, granting them the victories against their adversaries. And for an ally, Lord, may they have You, peace as their armor, the trophy invincible.

OikosPaul, who was caught up into Paradise beyond the third heaven, and who heard the unspeakable and divine words that it is not permissible for tongues to utter, writes to the Galatians what you, as lovers of the Scriptures, have read and already know. “God forbid,” says he, “that I should boast except in the Cross of the Lord, whereby He suffered and thus killed the passions.” This very Cross of the Lord, then, let us all surely hold as our boast. For this wood is our salvation, the shield of peace, the trophy invincible.

Doxastikon of the Praises in the Plagal of the Second Tone
Today the Cross of the Lord comes out, and the faithful receive it with longing, and they obtain healings of soul and body and of every infirmity. Let us kiss it with joy and with fear: with fear, for we are unworthy because of sin; and with joy, because of the salvation, which Christ the Lord grants us, since He was nailed to the Cross, and He has great mercy.
(hymns taken from: http://sgpm.goarch.org/ematins/bilingual/Sep14.pdf; also, the Engomia (Lamentations) of the Holy Cross (in Greek) are available here: http://voutsinasilias.blogspot.com/2009/09/14.html, the Akathist to the Holy Cross (in English) is available here: http://www.geocities.com/canonical_orthodox_2000/akathist_holy_cross.html, and the Paraklesis (Supplication) service of the Precious Cross (in Greek) is available here: http://www.agiooros.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=50&t=5589.)

Your Cross do we worship O Master, and Your Holy Resurrection do we glorify!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Love thy neighbor

I am astonished when I think about the things men have studied to do for the hurt of their neighbors. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

May this be true of us all

As you move forward, attract others to go along with you.  Desire to have companions on the road to the Lord. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

On forgiveness and pride

When you are depressed, bear in mind the Lord's command to Peter to forgive a sinner seventy times seven (cf. Matt. 18:22).  And you may be sure that He Who gave this command to another will Himself do very much more.  But if, on the other hand, we become too self-assured, let us remember what has been said about the person who keeps the whole spiritual law and yet, having slipped into one passion, that of pride, is guilty of all (cf. James 2:10). 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Proverbs 3:27

From the Tuesday, June 5, 2012 entry on the blog site, Mystagogy:

That We Ought Not To Deny The Needy

"Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do it" (Proverbs 3:27). 

The Lord does not deny you that which you need, neither should you deny the man whom the Lord has sent to encounter you in order to test your heart. If a beggar extends his hand to you for help once in your life, give to him and do not refuse. Remember how many years there are in your life and how many are the hours in a day and how many are the minutes in an hour - every minute of so many, many thousands of days you extend your hand to the Lord and the Lord gives and does not refuse. Remember the mercy of God and your lack of mercy will burn you as a live coal and it will never give you any peace until you repent and soften your heart. 

Do not ever say: "These beggars annoy me!" So many millions of men live on earth and all are beggars before the Lord; emperors as well as laborers, the wealthy as well as servants, all are beggars before the Lord and the Lord never said: "These beggars annoy me!"  

O man, give thanksgiving to God that someone seeks something good from you, be it material, or spiritual! This means that you are a man of God's trust: God has entrusted some of His goods to you because all goods belong to God. Show yourself worthy of this trust, show yourself worthy in lesser things so that you may be entrusted with greater things. 

O Lord, most rich, soften our hearts and enlighten our understanding that we may be merciful in the goods which You, the All-merciful, have entrusted to us. To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Gifts and ministries of the All-Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit sets us all on different paths: one man lives a life of silent solitude in the desert; another prays for mankind; still another is called to minister to Christ's flock; to a fourth it is given to comfort or preach to the suffering; while yet another serves his neighbor by his goods or by the fruits of his labor - and all these are gifts of the Holy Spirit given in varying degrees: to one man thirtyfold, to another sixty and to some a hundred. If we love one another in simplicity of heart, the Lord through the Holy Spirit would show us many miracles and reveal great mysteries. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

The reality of the Christian path

The way of God from the beginning of time and from the creation of the human race has been the way of the cross and death.  How did you get your idea that everything is just the opposite?  You must realize that you are outside the way of God, that you are far from Him, that you do not wish to walk in the steps of the Saints, but want to make some special way for yourself and travel by it without sufferings.  The way of God is a daily cross.  No one has climbed to heaven by living a life of pleasure. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The importance of a pure heart

Now the antecedent purpose of our profession is purity of heart, while its ultimate end is the Kingdom of Heaven.  It is, thus, impossible for the Kingdom of God to come to us without purity of heart.  Thus, let our minds be fixed on this purpose at all times; and let us be zealous always to direct our thoughts, words and deeds to it.  And if it should happen that our heart departs from the straight path, let us bring it back at once and rectify it --- using our purpose like a carpenter's plumb line. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Taking a person away from God

I have realized that the destruction of man lies in the abundance of material goods, because it prevents him from experiencing the presence of God and appreciating His benevolence. If you want to take someone away from God, give him plenty of material goods. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Where to look for beauty

Praise and hatred and love based on physical beauty belong to unchaste souls.  Seek instead for beauty of soul. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

On this 1st day of the Ecclesiastical Year

On this day, I send greetings to all my dear women friends who are namesakes of the 40 Holy Virgin Martyrs along with their teacher, St. Ammoun, celebrated on this day.  Please take time to appreciate the beautiful entry from September 1, 2009 which appeared on the Grace and Truth blogspot.  That is where the article below is sourced.  Xronia Polla to all and may these Holy Martyrs remember those of us who honor their memories.  Pres. Candace


The Forty Holy Virgin Martyrs and Their Teacher, St. Ammoun the Deacon

Icon of St. Ammoun the Deacon (taken from: http://christopherklitou.com/icon_1_sept_ammoun_the%20_deacon.htm)
The following is an account of the Forty Holy Virgin Martyrs who are celebrated on September 1st, along with St. Ammoun the Deacon. It is taken from a longer article from the St. Nicodemos Publications site (http://www.saintnicodemos.org/articles/christianmartyrdom.php). Also scattered throughout are additional icons of some of the Forty Virgin Martyrs; many of the names of these Martyrs are popular Greek names.
The Forty Virgin Martyrs and Their Deacon Ammoun
One of the prophesies about the life of virginity, very prevalent in the New Testament, can be found in the 44th Psalm of David. There, Prophet David sees his distant, precious daughter, the Most Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, and prophesies: "Virgins shall be brought to the king after her. With joy and gladness they will be led to the temple of the king." The life of the Theotokos, the Birthgiver of God, as a model and fortress of the virgins, propelled many souls to devote themselves to Christ totally.
Icon of St. Ourania the Virgin Martyr (taken from: http://christopherklitou.com/icon_1_sept_urania.htm)

The Holy Spirit in the epistles of St. Paul, especially in the beginning of 1 Corinthians, exalts the state of virginity: "Now concerning the things which you wrote to me, it is good for a man not to touch a woman." In verse eight, St. Paul continues, "But I say to the unmarried and to the widows, it is good for them if they remain even as I am," meaning celibate. A few verses down (v. 32) St. Paul says, "But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord how he may please the Lord. But he who is married cares for the things of the world how he may please his wife, or husband."So according to these verses of St. Paul, it is very clear that virginity and celibacy is more conducive to a higher spirituality. This is not to say that holiness cannot be reached within marriage that is also very, very possible. However, the great life of the Most Holy Theotokos, the Ever-Virgin, and the grace given to us in the New Testament and these great verses of St. Paul, spark a great love in Christians for a life of virginity and total devotion to the Lord.

Many young women lived in the homes of their parents. Just like the daughters of the deacon Philip, they lived a life of virginity, prayer, and devotion to the early Church. Although we did not have organized monasticism before the fourth century, all the elements of the ascetical or monastic lifestyle flourished in the life of the Church, and added to the Mother Church millions of martyrs.
Icon of St. Penelope the Virgin Martyr (taken from: http://christopherklitou.com/icon_1_sept_penelope.htm)

On the first day of September, which marks the opening of our ecclesiastical year, the Church opens its golden pages of martyrdom by celebrating the resolve of the forty women virgin ascetic martyrs who put to shame the torture mechanisms of Licinius. The forty women virgin martyrs lived in Adrianoupolis of Thrace, in northeast Greece, and they were disciples of Deacon Ammoun. During that time, around 305 AD, the emperor of the eastern region of the Roman Empire was Licinius, a dreadful persecutor of Christianity. Licinius had instituted a decree for the annihilation of all Christians who refused to sacrifice to idols. The decree of this bloodthirsty tyrant soon reached all cities, towns, and villages. Christians were slaughtered like lambs, refusing to submit to his soul-destroying promises and choosing rather to die for the love of their heavenly bridegroom.

Icon of St. Margarita (Margaret) the Virgin Martyr (taken from: http://christopherklitou.com/icon_1_sept_margaret.htm)

During these horrible years, the forty virgin martyrs were apprehended and put to the test along with their deacon Ammoun. The names of these glorious Christian women are as follows: Adamantine, Athena, Akrive, Antigone, Arivea, Aspasia, Aphrodite, Dione, Dodone, Elpinike, Erasmia, Erato, Ermeneia, Evterpe, Thaleia, Theanoe, Theano, Theonymphe, Theophane, Kalliroe, Kalliste, Kleio, Kleonike, Kleopatra, Koralia, Lambro, Margarita, Marianthe, Melpomene, Moscho, Ourania, Pandora, Penelope, Polymnia, Polynike, Sapfo, Terpsichore, Troada, Haido, and Harikleia.

By their daily ascetic struggles, by their prayers, vigils, and fasting, the seed of faith rooted, sprouted, and blossomed in the fertile ground of the virgins' souls. Steadfast faith, precise keeping of Christ's commandments, and obedience to their pious spiritual father Ammoun, made them as pure as lilies. This purity invites and hosts the two theological virtues of humility and love, which further house the Trinity in the Christian heart.

Icon of St. Athena the Virgin Martyr (taken from: http://christopherklitou.com/icon_1_sept_athena.htm)

The intimidations, threats, and tortures did not sway the virgins. The idolater archon Varos of Adrianoupolis did not sway the unshakable faith of this holy team of virgin martyrs. They united their godly prayers, and immediately and miraculously the priest of the idols was airborne. He remained suspended and hung in midair, thus punished for many, many hours, and finally he landed on the ground and breathed his last.

Icon of St. Aspasia the Virgin Martyr (taken from: http://christopherklitou.com/icon_1_sept_aspasia.htm)
Deacon Ammoun was hanged, and had his ribcage opened with knives. After this, a red-hot iron helmet was placed on his head. The above tortures caused no apparent harm to this athlete of Christ, so he was transported to Heraklea of Thrace, to the tyrant Licinius, along with the holy virgins. Licinius ordered to have ten of the virgin martyrs burned by fire, and another eight beheaded, along with deacon Ammoun. Another ten were put to death by the sword, being struck in the mouth or in the heart, thus giving up their spirit. Of those remaining, six were martyred by being forced to swallow sizzling hot iron marbles, and the last six were cut to pieces by knives.
Icon of St. Aphrodite the Virgin Martyr (taken from: http://christopherklitou.com/icon_1_sept_aphrodite.htm)
The forty martyred women and the martyr Ammoun exercised their faith, hope, and love toward Christ in an amazing way. They proved to the world that the Christian Gospel is not some ideology, but the source of life and power. They proved indefatigably that the Church of Christ is a divine creation. The fools for Christ defeated the wise.The weak defeated the mighty.. The words of St. John the Chrysostom find their full justification through the centuries: "The Church, under persecution, scores victories. When insulted, it becomes even more radiant. It receives injuries, but it does not succumb to the wounds. It sails through rough seas, but it does not sink. It fights, but it is never defeated. O man, there is nothing more powerful than the Church."

Icon of St. Antigone (Antigona) the Virgin Martyr (taken from: http://christopherklitou.com/icon_1_sept_antigona.htm)
With the unshakable and steadfast faith in the Resurrected Savior, the forty virgin martyrs did not simply show patience and perseverance through these various tortures. They didn't simply display boldness and heroism, but a characteristic element of Christian martyrdom the presence of joy, a joy quite inexplicable to the idolaters, and the cause of many conversions. Curious bystanders were often the eyewitnesses of a great marvel and profound mysteryPeople heavily injured dismembered, severely beaten, hanging on a cross (or about to be hung), engulfed by flames were full of joy. Instead of mourning,weeping and chest-beating, they were glorifying God. The day of martyrdom was a day of joy. They were rejoicing because they were deemed worthy to confess Christ, the cause of all joy. They irrigated the tree of the Church with their blood. There is no greater sermon, there is no better way to show to the unbelievers and idolaters that Christ is the true God. The blood of one martyr would bring in dozens of new believers to the Church often thousands.

Icon of St. Adamantina the Virgin Martyr (taken from: http://christopherklitou.com/icon_1_sept_adamantina.htm)

Eusebius, the early church historian, informs us, "They didn't seem to worry when faced with persecution and all kinds of tortures, but they displayed fearless boldness through their faith in the God of all, and they welcomed their final decision of death with joy and laughter and great rejoicing. Therefore they chanted hymns and offered thanksgiving to the God of all, up until their last breath" (Ecclesiastical History, Volume 8, 9:5).

Icon of the Forty Holy Virgin Martyrs, with St. Ammoun the Deacon (taken from: http://christopherklitou.com/icon_1_sept_the_forty_virginmaryrs.htm)
Dismissal hymn of the martyrs, Plagal First tone:
O athletes of Christ, come and participate, And the forty maidens, along with pious Ammoun, Exalt with glorious festivities, For they fought the great fight, And by their ascesis in Christ, Were made powerful and radiant. Intercede to the Lord, For the salvation of our souls.

Stichera Prosomia of Vespers, Fourth Tone:
Let us all hymn Deacon Ammoun, Athena and Antigone, Elpinike, Moscho, Haido, Harikleia, With Pandora, Lambro, Kalliste, Troada, and Dodone, Erasmia, Erato, Kleonike and Thaleia, Marianthe, Evterpe, Arivea, Akrive with Aspasia, let us praise with joyous songs.

St. Ammoun the Deacon, surrounded by his holy disciples, the Holy Forty Virgin Martyrs (http://vatopaidi.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/o-avvas-ammoun-kai-oi-40-parthenomartyres-mathitries-tou.jpg)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!