WEDNESDAY OF PRODIGAL SON
Pamphilus the Martyr & his Companions, Flavianos, Patriarch of Constantinople, Romanos the Younger
ST. PETER’S SECOND UNIVERSAL LETTER 3:1-18
Beloved, this is now the second letter that I have written to you, and in both of them I have aroused your sincere mind by way of reminder; that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles. First of all you must understand this, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own passions and saying, "Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things have continued as they were from the beginning of creation." They deliberately ignore this fact, that by the word of God heavens existed long ago, and an earth formed out of water and by means of water, through which the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist have been stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up.
Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be kindled and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire! But according to his promise we wait for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
Therefore, beloved, since you wait for these, be zealous to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the forbearance of our Lord as salvation. So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, beware lest you be carried away with the error of lawless men and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
The Lord said to his disciples, “In those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away before all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”
The Holy Martyrs Pamphilius the Presbyter, Valens the Deacon, Paul, Porphyrius, Seleucius, Theodulus, Julian, Samuel, Elias, Daniel, Jeremiah and Isaiah suffered during the persecution against Christians, initiated by the emperor Diocletian in the years 308-309 at Caesarea in Palestine.
The holy martyr Pamphilius, a native of the city of Beirut, was educated at Alexandria, after which he was made a priest at Caesarea. He devoted much labor to collating manuscripts and correcting copyist errors in the texts of the New Testament. The corrected texts of Saint Pamphilius were copied and distributed to anyone who wanted them. Many pagans were converted to Christ through them.
His works were collected into the extensive library of spiritual books available for the enlightening of Christians. Saint Jerome (4th-5th century) deeply respected Saint Pamphilius and considered himself fortunate to have located and acquired several of his manuscripts.
Actively assisting Saint Pamphilius in proclaiming the faith in Christ were Saint Valens, deacon of the church at Eleia, a man stooped with age and well-versed in the Holy Scriptures, and Saint Paul, ardent in faith and love for Christ the Savior. All three were imprisoned for two years by Urban, the governor of Palestinian Caesarea.
During the rule of his successor Firmilian, 130 Christians were sentenced in Egypt and sent to Cilicia (Asia Minor) to work in the gold mines. Five young brothers accompanied them to the place of exile. On their return to Egypt they were detained at Caesarea and thrown into prison for confessing Christ.
The youths appeared before Firmilian, together with those imprisoned earlier: Saints Pamphilius, Valens and Paul. The five Egyptian youths took the names of Old Testament prophets, Elias, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Samuel and Daniel. Asked where they were from, the youths said that they were citizens of Jerusalem, meaning the heavenly Jerusalem. Firmilian knew nothing of such a city, since Jerusalem had been razed to the ground by the emperor Titus in the year 70. The emperor Hadrian (117-138) built a new city on the site, which was called Aelia Capitolina.
Firmilian tortured the youths for a long time. He sought to learn the location of the unknown city, and he sought to persuade the youths to apostatize. But nothing was accomplished, and the governor ordered them to be beheaded by the sword with Pamphilius, Valens and Paul.
Before this occurred, a servant of Pamphilius endured suffering. This was the eighteen-year-old youth Porphyrius, meek and humble. He had heard the sentence of death for the condemned martyrs, and asked the governor’s permission to bury the bodies after their execution. For this he was sentenced to death, and thrown into a fire.
A witness of this execution, the pious Christian Seleucius, a former soldier, in saluting the deeds of the sufferers, went to Pamphilius and told him about the martyric death of Saint Porphyrius. He was seized by soldiers and, on Firmilian’s orders, was beheaded by the sword together with the condemned.
One of the governor’s servants, Theodulus, a man of venerable age and a secret Christian, met the martyrs being led to execution, embraced them and asked them to pray for him. He was taken by soldiers to Firmilian, on whose orders he was crucified.
The young Julian, a native of Cappadocia who had come to Caesarea, saw the bodies of the saints which had been thrown to wild beasts without burial. Julian went down on his knees and venerated the bodies of the sufferers. Soldiers standing by at the wall seized him and took him to the governor, who condemned him to burning. The bodies of all twelve martyrs remained unburied for four days, but neither beasts nor birds would touch them. Embarrassed by this situation, the pagans permitted Christians to take the bodies of the martyrs and bury them.
Saint Maruthas was Bishop of Tagrith (Martyropolis), a city which he founded between the Byzantine Empire and Persia. He was famed for his knowledge and his piety, he wrote about the martyrs, and he suffered for his faith in Christ under the Persian emperor Sapor. He also left behind other works in the Syrian language, among which the most famous are: “Commentary on the Gospel,” “Verses of Maruthas,” “Liturgy of Maruthas” and “The 73 Canons of the Ecumenical Council at Nicea” (325) with an account of the acts of the Council.
In the year 381 Saint Maruthas participated in the Second Ecumenical Council at Constantinople, convened against the heresy of Macedonius. In 383, he attended the Council of Antioch against the Messalians.
During the years 403-404 Saint Maruthas set off to Constantinople to plead with the emperor Arcadius to protect Persian Christians. He was twice sent by the emperor Theodosius the Younger to the Shah Izdegerd to secure the peace between the Empire and Persia.
In the year 414 Saint Maruthas, having done his duty as envoy to the court of Izdegerd, persuaded the Shah to a favorable disposition towards Christians, and he assisted greatly in the freedom of Christians in Persia. He rebuilt Christian churches razed during the persecution by the Persian ruler Sapor. He also located relics of saints who had suffered martyrdom and transferred them to Martyropolis. He died there in 422. The relics of Saint Maruthas were later transferred to Egypt and placed in a skete monastery of the Mother of God.
No information available at this time.
Saint Flavian, Archbishop of Antioch, was a contemporary of Saint John Chrysostom. He attempted to obtain from the emperor Theodosius (379-395) a pardon for the citizens of Antioch, who had angered the emperor by destroying his statue. Saint Flavian’s death was peaceful and without illness. He is also commemorated on September 27.
Saint Nicholas, Enlightener of Japan, was born Ivan Dimitrievich Kasatkin on August 1, 1836 in the village of Berezovsk, Belsk district, Smolensk diocese, where his father served as deacon. At the age of five he lost his mother. He completed the Belsk religious school, and afterwards the Smolensk Theological Seminary. In 1857 Ivan Kasatkin entered the Saint Peterburg Theological Academy. On June 24, 1860, in the academy temple of the Twelve Apostles, Bishop Nectarius tonsured him with the name Nicholas.
On June 29, the Feast of the foremost Apostles Peter and Paul, the monk Nicholas was ordained deacon. The next day, on the altar feast of the academy church, he was ordained to the holy priesthood. Later, at his request, Father Nicholas was assigned to Japan as head of the consular church in the city of Hakodate.
At first, the preaching of the Gospel in Japan seemed completely impossible. In Father Nicholas’s own words: “the Japanese of the time looked upon foreigners as beasts, and on Christianity as a villainous sect, to which only villains and sorcerers could belong.” He spent eight years in studying the country, the language, manners and customs of the people among whom he would preach.
In 1868, the flock of Father Nicholas numbered about twenty Japanese. At the end of 1869 Hieromonk Nicholas reported in person to the Synod in Peterburg about his work. A decision was made, on January 14, 1870, to form a special Russian Spiritual Mission for preaching the Word of God among the pagan Japanese. Father Nicholas was elevated to the rank of archimandrite and appointed as head of this Mission.
Returning to Japan after two years in Russia, he transferred some of the responsibility for the Hakodate flock to Hieromonk Anatolius, and began his missionary work in Tokyo. In 1871 there was a persecution of Christians in Hakodate. Many were arrested (among them, the first Japanese Orthodox priest Paul Sawabe). Only in 1873 did the persecution abate somewhat, and the free preaching of Christianity became possible.
In this year Archimandrite Nicholas began the construction of a stone building in Tokyo which housed a church, a school for fifty men, and later a religious school, which became a seminary in 1878.
In 1874, Bishop Paul of Kamchatka arrived in Tokyo to ordain as priests several Japanese candidates recommended by Archimandrite Nicholas. At the Tokyo Mission, there were four schools: for catechists, for women, for church servers, and a seminary. At Hakodate there were two separate schools for boys and girls.
In the second half of 1877, the Mission began regular publication of the journal “Church Herald.” By the year 1878 there already 4115 Christians in Japan, and there were a number of Christian communities. Church services and classes in Japanese, the publication of religious and moral books permitted the Mission to attain such results in a short time. Archimandrite Nicholas petitioned the Holy Synod in December of 1878 to provide a bishop for Japan.
Archimandrite Nicholas was consecrated bishop on March 30, 1880 in the Trinity Cathedral of Alexander Nevsky Lavra. Returning to Japan, he resumed his apostolic work with increased fervor. He completed construction on the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in Tokyo, he translated the service books, and compiled a special Orthodox theological dictionary in the Japanese language.
Great hardship befell the saint and his flock at the time of the Russo-Japanese War. For his ascetic labor during these difficult years, he was elevated to the rank of Archbishop.
In 1911, half a century had passed since the young hieromonk Nicholas had first set foot on Japanese soil. At that time there were 33,017 Christians in 266 communities of the Japanese Orthodox Church, including 1 Archbishop, 1 bishop, 35 priests, 6 deacons, 14 singing instructors, and 116 catechists.
On February 3, 1912, Archbishop Nicholas departed peacefully to the Lord at the age of seventy-six. The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church glorified him on April 10, 1970, since the saint had long been honored in Japan as a righteous man, and a prayerful intercessor before the Lord.