2ND TUESDAY OF LENT
ABSTAIN FROM MEAT, FISH, DAIRY, EGGS, WINE, OLIVE OIL
Agapius the Martyr & His Companions, Manuel the New Martyr of Crete, Holy Apostle Aristobulos of the Seventy, Bishop of Britain
Thus says the Lord: For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his pleasant planting; and he looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, a cry! Woe to those who join house to house, who add field to field, until there is no more room, and you are made to dwell alone in the midst of the land. The LORD of hosts has sworn in my hearing: “Surely many houses shall be desolate, large and beautiful houses, without inhabitant. For ten acres of vineyard shall yield but one bath, and a homer of seed shall yield but an ephah.” Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may run after strong drink, who tarry late into the evening till wine inflames them! They have lyre and harp, timbrel and flute and wine at their feasts; but they do not regard the deeds of the LORD, or see the work of his hands. Therefore my people go into exile for want of knowledge; their honored men are dying of hunger, and their multitude is parched with thirst. Therefore Sheol has enlarged its appetite and opened its mouth beyond measure, and the nobility of Jerusalem and her multitude go down, her throng and he who exults in her. Man is bowed down, and men are brought low, and the eyes of the haughty are humbled. But the LORD of hosts is exalted in justice, and the Holy God shows himself holy in righteousness.
Cain said to Abel his brother, "Let us go out to the field." And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him. Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is Abel your brother?" He said, "I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?" And the LORD said, "What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength; you shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth." Cain said to the LORD, "My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, thou hast driven me this day away from the ground; and from thy face I shall be hidden; and I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will slay me." Then the LORD said to him, "Not so! If any one slays Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold." And the LORD put a mark on Cain, lest any who came upon him should kill him.
My son, be attentive to my wisdom, incline your ear to my understanding; that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge. For the lips of a loose woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol; she does not take heed to the path of life; her ways wander, and she does not know it.
And now, O sons, listen to me, and do not depart from the words of my mouth. Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house; lest you give your honor to others and your years to the merciless; lest strangers take their fill of your strength, and your labors go to the house of an alien; and at the end of your life you groan, when your flesh and body are consumed, and you say, "How I hated discipline, and my heart despised reproof! I did not listen to the voice of my teachers or incline my ear to my instructors. I was at the point of utter ruin in the assembled congregation." Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well.
The Holy Martyrs Agapius, Publius (Pausis), Timolaus, Romulus, Alexander, Alexander, Dionysius and Dionysius suffered under the emperor Diocletian (284-305) in the city of Palestinian Caesarea. During one of the pagan festivals they began to torture and execute Christians who refused to offer sacrifice to idols.
The Martyr Timolaus (August 19) was sentenced to burning, and the Martyrs Agapius and Thekla (August 19) were sentenced to be torn apart by wild beasts. A group of young Christians: Publius, Timolaus, Alexander, another Alexander, Dionysius, and Romulus, the subdeacon of the Diospolis church decided to confess their faith and suffer for Christ.
As a sign of their voluntary deed they tied their own hands behind their backs and appeared before the governor Urbanus. Seeing their youth, the governor tried to persuade them to reconsider their decision, but in vain. He then threw them in prison, where there were already two Christians, Agapius and his servant Dionysius. All these saints were subjected to terrible tortures and beheaded.
The Hieromartyr Alexander was a priest from Sίdē in Pamphylia. He suffered for Christ during a time of persecution in the reign of Emperor Aurelian (270-275). When the ruler Antoninus arrived at Sίdē he ordered Father Alexander to be brought before him for interrogation. He began by asking him, "Who are you?"
The Saint replied, "I am a Christian, a priest, a shepherd of Christ's rational flock."
Antoninus continued, "Where is this flock of Christ?"
The Saint replied, "Christ God created all the people who live in the world; those who believe in Him are the sheep of His flock. Those who have fallen away from their Creator, those such as yourself, who worship idols, which are fashioned by human hands, may not belong to His holy flock. At the Last Judgment, they will be placed on His left side, along with the goats."
The ruler said to him, "Now I am going to torture you for two reasons; first, so that you will show me where to find those who believe in Christ and secondly, so that you can offer sacrifices to our gods."
Again, Antoninus asked Father Alexander, "Who was Christ?"
The Saint replied, "Christ is the Savior of the world, He is Life and Light for those who believe in Him."
Antoninus said: "How can this man who died on a cross be a Savior?"
Saint Alexander declared, "It is indeed marvelous and surprising that He took upon Himself the Cross and death in the flesh of His own will, His Divinity shattered the power of Hades, and released those who were held captive there. He put Death to death, and rose from the dead. Not only did He arise from the dead Himself, He also raised many of the dead with Himself: 'the tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after His Resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many' (Matthew 27:52-53). With Himself, Christ has resurrected the entire human race."
Antoninus exclaimed, "Are you mad? How could a tormented Jew, who was unable to help Himself, possibly help others?"
The Saint replied, "It is not I, but you yourself who are mad. You are spiritually blind, therefore you do not understand the mystery of our salvation, accomplished by Christ the Lord."
Then the ruler ordered that Saint Alexander be tortured. He was beaten, tormented on a wheel, and plunged into a vessel of boiling resin and oil, then he was placed in a fiery furnace. By the grace of God, the Saint was preserved unharmed. When he was thrown into the furnace, the wicked tormentors saw in the flames two young men with handsome faces, praising God along with the Holy Martyr. These were Angels, who cooled the flames of the furnace. The people marveled, for they knew that only one man had entered the furnace, and now there were three.
Antoninus, and those who were with him, regarded all these glorious miracles as magic, because they did not believe in the omnipotent power of Christ God. One of the ruler's servants believed in Christ and fell to the ground before the Saint, begging him to take him along with him to be with Christ. Immediately, the tyrant killed his servant with his sword.
When Saint Alexander emerged from the furnace unscathed, Antoninus ordered that he be hanged, and stabbed with sharp iron needles. The Saint was tortured until his body became one large wound. Those who tortured the Saint marveled at his steadfastness, saying, "How can this man endure such torment? His bones have already been exposed."
Afterward, the Saint was tormented in the fire for a second time, but did not suffer any harm from it. Then his body was stabbed with iron needles and his intestines fell out. Then Saint Alexander was thrown to the wild animals to be devoured, but the beasts did not touch him. This sufferer for Christ endured many other bitter torments, but he remained firm and courageous through all of them. Those who witnessed his suffering were astonished by the power of his patience, which surpassed all human understanding. Finally, the Hieromartyr Alexander was beheaded with a sword.
Just as Antoninus left his judgment seat, he was attacked by the demons he had served. His servants carried him to his home, weeping and sobbing all the way. They did not have time to bring him into the house, however, for he had breathed forth his vile soul.
Saint Alexander was taken to the heavenly abodes to dwell with Christ, His Saints, and His Holy Angels. As for Antoninus, he was cast "into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:41).
After the beheading of Saint Alexander, Eustáthios, an honest man, and a Christian, took the much-suffering body of the Holy Martyr and buried him with honor, glorifyng and praising Christ God.
The Holy Martyr Nicander suffered in Egypt under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). He was a physician and during a time of persecution he visited Christians in prison. He assisted them, brought them food, and buried the dead.
Once, he came to the place where the bodies of the martyrs were thrown to be eaten by wild beasts. Fearing to bury them by day, he waited for night and buried the bodies under cover of darkness. They discovered Saint Nicander and subjected him to terrible tortures: they skinned him alive and then beheaded him in 302.