6TH WEDNESDAY OF LENT
ABSTAIN FROM MEAT, FISH, DAIRY, EGGS, WINE, OLIVE OIL
Martin the Confessor, Pope of Rome, Theodosios the Martyr, Zoilos the Martyr
Thus says the LORD: "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet; declare to my people their transgression, to the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that did righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments, they delight to draw near to God. 'Why have we fasted, and thou seest it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and thou takest no knowledge of it?' Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers. Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high. Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a man to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a rush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the LORD? "Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you, the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, "Here I am." "If you take away from the midst of you the yoke, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your desire with good things, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.
GENESIS 43:26-31; 45:1-16
When Joseph came home, they brought into the house to him the present which they had with them, and bowed down to him to the ground. And he inquired about their welfare, and said, “Is your father well, the old man of whom you spoke? Is he still alive?” They said, “Your servant our father is well, he is still alive.” And they bowed their heads and made obeisance. And he lifted up his eyes, and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother’s son, and said, “Is this your youngest brother, of whom you spoke to me? God be gracious to you, my son!” Then Joseph made haste, for his heart yearned for his brother, and he sought a place to weep. And he entered his chamber and wept there. Then he washed his face and came out; and controlling himself he said, “Let food be served.” (Chapter 45:1-16) Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him; and he cried, “Make every one go out from me.” So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he wept aloud, so that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it. And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph; is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence. So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, I pray you.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years; and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God; and he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. Make haste and go up to my father and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not tarry; you shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children, and your flocks, your herds, and all that you have; and there I will provide for you, for there are yet five years of famine to come; lest you and your household, and all that you have, come to poverty.’ And now your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see, that it is my mouth that speaks to you. You must tell my father of all my splendor in Egypt, and of all that you have seen. Make haste and bring my father down here.” Then he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept; and Benjamin wept upon his neck. And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them; and after that his brothers talked with him. When the report was heard in Pharaoh’s house, “Joseph’s brothers have come, ” it pleased Pharaoh and his servants well.
He who keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble. "Scoffer" is the name of the proud, haughty man who acts with arrogant pride. The desire of the sluggard kills him for his hands refuse to labor. All day long the wicked covets, but the righteous gives and does not hold back. The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination; how much more when he brings it with evil intent. A false witness will perish, but the word of a man who hears will endure. A wicked man puts on a bold face, but an upright man considers his ways. No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel, can avail against the LORD. The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD. A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold. The rich and the poor meet together; the LORD is the maker of them all. A prudent man sees danger and hides himself; but the simple go on, and suffer for it. The reward for humility and fear of the LORD is riches and honor and life.
The Hieromartyr Artémon was born of Christian parents in Laodίkeia, Syria in the III century. From his youth, he devoted himself to the service of the Church, and was a Reader for sixteen years. For his zeal, Bishop Sisίnnius ordained him as a Deacon. Saint Artémon also carried out this service with fervor and diligence for twenty-eight years, then he was ordained to the priesthood. In that position, Saint Artémon served the Church of God for another thirty-three years, preaching Christianity among pagans. When Emperor Diocletian (reigned 284-305) began his fierce persecution of the Church, issuing an edict ordering Christians to offer sacrifice to the idols, Saint Artémon was already quite old.
Knowing of the impending arrival of the military commander Patricius at Laodίkeia, Saint Sisίnnius went with the priest Artémon and some other Christians into the temple of the "goddess" Artemis. There they smashed and burned the idols, reducing them all to dust.
Afterward, Saint Sisίnnius and Saint Artémon gathered the flock into the church and fervently exhorted the Christians to remain firm in the Faith, and not to fear the threats of torturers.
When he arrived in Laodίkeia, Patricius celebrated a five-day festival in honor of the pagan "gods," and then entered the temple of Artemis to offer sacrifice. When he was told who had destroyed the temple, he went with a detachment of soldiers to the church where the Christians were praying.
As he approached the church, Patricius suddenly felt a chill, and then developed a fever, which left him scarcely alive. He was carried him home and put to bed. “The Christians have put a curse on me, and their God torments me,” he said to those around him. Although Patricius prayed to the idols, they did not relieve his sufferings. He sent a messenger to Bishop Sisίnnius, asking for his help, and promised to set up a gold statue of that Hierarch in the middle of the city. The Saint replied, “Keep your gold, but if you believe in Christ, He will heal you.”
Patricius was afraid of death, so he declared that he believed in Christ, and the affliction left him. But even this miracle did not affect the obdurate pagan's soul. Although he did not raise a hand against Bishop Sisίnnius, he did enforce the imperial edict against other Christians in the city of Caesarea.
Along the way he encountered Saint Artémon, who was followed by six wild donkeys and two deer. When Patricius asked how he was able to control these wild beasts, Saint Artémon replied that he held them with the Word of Christ. Patricius learned from the idolaters that it was Artémon who had destroyed the pagan temple of Artemis, so he ordered that Artémon be arrested and taken to the city of Caesarea. The Saint went with the soldiers without fear, but he told the animals to go to Saint Sisίnnius. Seeing the animals, Bishop Sisίnnius asked, “Why have these animals come here?”
A doe received the gift of speech from God and said, “The servant of God Artémon is being held by the impious Patricius, and is being brought to Caesarea in chains. He commanded us to come here to give you this news.”
Do not be astonished that the Lord, Who opened the mouth of Balaam’s ass (Numbers 22:28), also permitted the doe to speak. The Bishop sent Deacon Phileas to Caesarea to verify what he had been told.
At Caesarea, Patricius brought Saint Artémon to trial and tried to force him to offer sacrifice in the temple of Asclepius. In that pagan temple there were many poisonous vipers. The pagan priest never opened the doors, nor did he place the sacrifice before the idol. But Saint Artémon, calling on the Name of Jesus Christ, went into the temple and drove the snakes out. The pagans fled, but the Saint stopped them and killed the snakes by his breath. Vitalius, one of the pagan priests, believed in Christ and asked Saint Artémon to baptize him.
Patricius thought that Saint Artémon killed the snakes by sorcery, and again he interrogated and tortured him. Then the doe which had spoken arrived at Caesarea. She lay down at the Martyr's feet, licking his wounds. By God’s command the doe spoke again, denouncing the impious pagans. Addressing Patricius, the doe predicted that he would be seized by two birds of prey, and dropped into a cauldron of burning pitch. Patricius was enraged because he had been censured by a wild beast. He commanded his soldiers to shoot the doe with arrows, but she escaped. Afraid that the miracles performed by Saint Artémon would attract more people to him, Patricius ordered his execution.
An enormous cauldron was filled with boiling pitch, and the soldiers intended to throw Saint Artémon into it. But when Patricius rode up to the cauldron on horseback to see if the pitch was indeed boiling, two Angels in the form of eagles seized him and dropped him into the cauldron. His body was consumed so that not a single bone remained, but Saint Artémon survived.
Seeing this miracle, everyone ran away except Saint Artémon, who blessed and glorified God. When the Saint finished his prayer, a spring of water gushed forth from the ground. Saint Artémon baptized the pagan priest Vitalius and many pagans, who had come to believe in Christ. On the following morning, Saint Artémon communed the newly-baptized with the Holy Mysteries. Many of the baptized were ordained to the diaconate and the priesthood, and Vitalius was made Bishop of Palestine.
The Bishop of Caesarea came to visit Saint Artémon, noting the place where he had suffered. Subsequently, a church was built on that site.
Instructed by God's voice, Saint Artémon preached the Gospel in Asia Minor. Then an Angel appeared and transported him to the place which had been revealed to him, and there he converted many to Christ. The pagans arrested the Saint and beheaded him († 303).
In the Roman Martyrology, Saint Artémon is listed under October 8, while in Greek usage he is commemorated on April 12.
Saint Artémon the Presbyter of Laodίkeia should not be confused with Saint Artémon the Bishop of Seleukeia (March 24).
The Holy Martyr Crescens (Kreskes) was descended from an illustrious family and lived in Myra of Lycia. When a throng of city inhabitants were on the way to the pagan temple, he urged them to forsake paganism and come to Christ. This incident became known to the city prefect.
When the prefect asked the saint about his parentage, the saint, not wishing to bring unpleasantness to his parents, said nothing except that he was a Christian. The prefect knew Saint Crescens’ father and wanted to do him a favor. He suggested that Saint Crescens only appear to offer sacrifice to idols, while remaining a Christian.
The holy martyr replied, “It is impossible for the body not to do as the soul thinks, since the soul governs and moves the body.” They beat the holy martyr Crescens and raked him with iron claws, and then burned him in a fire.
Saint Andrew of Crete (July 4) mentions the Martyr Crescens in his Sermon on the Feast of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker (December 6), who also came from Myra of Lycia.
The Holy martyr Thomais was born into a Christian family in the city of Alexandria. She was raised in piety, and loved to read spiritual books.
When she was fifteen, the girl married a fisherman, who was also a Christian. The young couple lived in the house of her husband’s family, where Saint Thomais was loved for her mild and gentle disposition, and for other good traits.
Saint Thomais’ father-in-law, at the prompting of the devil, was captivated by her beauty. One night, when his son went out fishing, he attempted to lead his daughter-in-law into sin. Horrified, Saint Thomais admonished the senseless old man, reminding him of the Last Judgment and the penalty for sin. Infuriated by her steadfastness, he seized a sword and threatened to cut off her head. Saint Thomais answered resolutely, “Even if you cut me to pieces, I shall not stray from the commandments of the Lord.” Overcome with passion, the old man cut Saint Thomais in two with the sword. The saint received the crown of martyrdom in the year 476.
Divine punishment overtook the murderer. He became blind and could not find the door in order to escape. In the morning, the companions of the saint’s husband came to the door. They saw the body of the saint, and the blind old man covered with blood. The murderer confessed his evil deed and asked to be taken to the judge for punishment. He was beheaded for his crime.
At this time, Saint Daniel of Skete (June 7) happened to be in Alexandria. He told the monks of the Oktodekadian monastery (at the eighteenth mile on the road leading west from Alexandria) to bring the body of the martyr to the monastery and bury her in the cemetery with the departed fathers. Some of the monks were scandalized because he wanted to bury a woman’s body with the monks. Saint Daniel replied, “She is a mother to me and to you, because she died for her chastity.”
After the funeral Saint Daniel returned to his own skete. Soon one of the young monks began to complain to him that he was tormented by fleshly passions. Saint Daniel ordered him to go and pray at the grave of the holy martyr Thomais. The monk did the bidding of the Elder. While he prayed at the grave, he fell into a light sleep. Saint Thomais appeared to him and said, “Father, accept my blessing and go in peace.”
When he awakened, the monk felt joy and peace in his soul. After this, he told Saint Daniel that he was no longer bothered by the temptations of the flesh. Abba Daniel exclaimed, “Great is the boldness of those who have struggled for chastity.”
Many found both spiritual joy and release from their passions at the grave of Saint Thomais. Her holy relics were transferred to Constantinople to one of the women’s monasteries. The Russian pilgrim Archdeacon Zosimas venerated them in 1420.
Saint Thomais is invoked by those seeking deliverance from sexual impurity. Other saints whose intercession we seek for this purpose are: Saint John the Much-Suffering (July 18) and Saint Moses the Hungarian (July 26).