During a ninth-century war between the Byzantine Emperor Theophilus and the Saracens, the Saracens managed to besiege the city of Ammoria. As a result of treason by the military commander Baditses, Ammoria fell and forty-two of its generals were taken captive and sent off to Syria. During the seven years of their imprisonment, their captors tried in vain to persuade them to renounce Christianity and accept Islam. The captives stubbornly resisted all their seductive offers and bravely held out against terrible threats. After many torments failed to break the spirit of the Christian soldiers, they condemned them to death, hoping to shake the determination of the saints before executing them. The martyrs remained steadfast. The executioners took each one separately and led him off to be beheaded, then threw the bodies into the River Euphrates. In the service of them, these holy passion-bearers are glorified as : the “All-Blessed” Theodore, the “Unconquered” Callistus, the “Valiant” Constantine, the “Wondrous” Theophilus, and “the Most Blessed” Basoes. Saint Aetius and Melissenus were also among the martyrs.
O Lord our God, your holy martyrs have deserved the crown of immortality on account of their good fight. Armed with your strength, they vanquished their persecutors and crushed Satan’s dreadful might. Through their supplications, O Christ our God, save our souls.
We bring crowns of glory to these newly appearing stars who manifested their faith by suffering for Christ. As real pillars and helpers of Christ’s reign, they pray to Him on behalf of all of us.
These are the descendants of Noah. Noah was a righteous man and blameless in his generation; Noah walked with God. Noah begot three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japeth.
But the earth was corrupt in the view of God and full of lawlessness. When God saw how corrupt the earth had become, since all mortals had corrupted their ways on earth, God said to Noah: I see that the end of all mortals has come, for the earth is full of lawlessness because of them. So I am going to destroy them with the earth.
Make yourself an ark of gopherwood, equip the ark with various compartments, and cover it inside and out with pitch. This is how you shall build it: the length of the ark will be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. Make an opening for daylight and finish the ark a cubit above it. Put the ark’s entrance on its side; you will make it with bottom, second and third decks. I, on my part, am about to bring the flood waters on the earth, to destroy all creatures under the sky in which there is the breadth of life; everything on earth shall perish. I will establish my covenant with you. You shall go into the ark, you and your sons, your wife and your sons’ wives with you. Of all living creatures you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, one male, one female, to keep them alive along with you. Of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal, and of every kind of thing that crawls on the ground, two of each will come to you, that you may keep them alive. Moreover, you are to provide yourself with all the food that is to be eaten, and store it away, that it may serve as provisions for you and for them. Noah complied; he did just as God commanded him.
Does not Wisdom call, and Understanding raise her voice?
On the top of the heights along the road, at the crossroads she takes her stand;
By the gates at the approached of the city, in the entryways she cries aloud:
“To you, O people, I call; my appeal is to you mortals.
You naive ones, gain prudence, you fools, gain sense.
Listen! For noble things I speak; my lips proclaim honest words.
Indeed, my mouth utters truth, and my lips abhor wickedness.
All of them are straightforward to the intelligent, and right to those who attain knowledge.
Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold.
[For Wisdom is better than corals, and no treasure can compare with her.]
I, Wisdom, dwell with prudence, and useful knowledge I have.
[The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil;] Pride, arrogance, the evil way, and the perverse mouth I hate.
Mine are counsel and advice; mine is strength; I am understanding.
By me kings reign, and rulers enact justice;
By me princes govern, and nobles, all the judges of the earth.
Those who love me I also love, and those who seek me find me.
With me are riches and honor, wealth that endures, and righteousness.
My fruit is better than gold, even pure gold, and my yield than choice silver.
On the way of righteousness I walk, along the paths of justice,
Granting wealth to those who love me, and filling their treasuries.”
Icon courtesy of Jack Figel, Eastern Christian Publications – ecpubs.com
Sunday, March 5 –