FRIDAY OF THE 9TH WEEK
ABSTAIN FROM MEAT, FISH, DAIRY, EGGS, WINE, OLIVE OIL
Plato the Great Martyr of Ancyra, Holy Martyr Romanus, Zaccheus the Deacon, Holy New Martyr Anastasius of Paramythia, Martyr Romanos the Deacon, Anastasios the New Martyr
ST. PAUL’S FIRST LETTER TO THE THESSALONIANS 2:14-20
Brethren, you became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus which are in Judea; for you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all men by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they may be saved – so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But God’s wrath has come upon them at last! But since we were bereft of you, brethren, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face; because we wanted to come to you – I, Paul, again and again – but Satan hindered us. For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.
LUKE 16:15-18; 17:1-4
The Lord said to the Jews who came to him, "You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts; for what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God. The law and the prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and every one enters it violently. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one dot of the law to become void. Every one who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery." And he said to his disciples, "Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung round his neck and he were cast into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. Take heed to yourselves; if your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him; and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, and says, 'I repent, ' you must forgive him.
Martyr Platon of Ancyra
The Holy Martyr Platon, brother of the holy Martyr Antiochus the Physician (July 16), was born at the city of Ancyra in Galatia. While still a youth he left home and went through the cities, preaching the Word of God to pagans, amazing his audience with the persuasiveness and beauty of his speech, and his profound knowledge of Greek learning.
Because of his preaching he was arrested and brought for trial to the temple of Zeus before the governor Agrippinus. At first, the judge attempted to persuade the saint to turn away from Christ by flattery. He assured the youth that he might be on a par of intellect with the greatest of the philosophers Plato, if only he worshipped also the pagan gods. To this Saint Platon answered, that the wisdom of the philosopher, although great, was but ephemeral and limited, whereas the true, eternal and unbounded wisdom comprised the Gospel teachings. Then the judge promised to give him his beautiful niece for his wife if he would deny Christ. He also threatened him with torture and death if he refused. Saint Platon replied that he chose a temporal death for the sake of eternal life. The patience of the governor was exhausted, and he gave orders to mercilessly beat the martyr, and then send him off to prison.
When they led Saint Platon off to prison, he turned to the people gathered about the temple, and he called on them not to forsake the Christian Faith. Seven days later they again led the Martyr Platon for trial before Agrippinus in the temple of Zeus, where they had the implements of torture already prepared: boiling cauldrons, red-hot iron and sharp hooks. The judge offered the martyr a choice: either to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, or to feel the effects of these implements of torture on his body. Again the saint steadfastly refused to worship idols, and after his tortures they threw him in prison for eighteen more days without bread or water. But seeing that this did not shake the martyr, they offered him his life and freedom if he would only say, “Great is the god Apollo.” The martyr refused to deny Christ or to sacrifice to the idols. Therefore, Agrippinus ordered the holy Martyr Platon to be beheaded.
Martyr Romanus the Deacon of Caesarea
Information concerning Saint Romanus is found in Books 3 and 12 of the Church History of Eusebius. Saint Romanus was born in Palestine, and served as a deacon in Caesarea. At the time of the persecution against Christians, he was living in Antioch. Through his preaching, he encouraged the faithful to stand firm in their confession of Christ when the Eparch Asclypiades wanted to raze the church to its foundations. Saint Romanus told the people that they must fight to prevent the destruction of the house of God, assuring them that even if they died in their efforts they would sing a hymn of victory in heaven.
At that time there a festival was being celebrated in honor of the idols, and Saint Romanus went to the pagan temple to upbraid the Eparch and the unbelievers for their impiety. As Asclypiades was about to enter the temple, Saint Romanus fearlessly proclaimed that the idols were not gods, and that only Jesus Christ was truly God.
Asclypiades ordered the saint to be beaten, and even tried to persuade him to deny Christ. When this failed, the Eparch ordered that Saint Romanus be tortured. He was suspended and beaten, and his sides were scraped with metal blades. Bravely enduring these torments, Saint Romanus confessed Christ, and chastised Asclypiades for his obstinate refusal to see the truth.
Then Saint Romanus was condemned to death by fire. As soon as the fire was lit, however, a rain fell and put it out. Then the Eparch ordered the saint’s tongue to be cut out, because he still confessed Christ and reviled the idolaters. Even after his tongue was cut out, the saint continued to speak as before.
Finally, Saint Romanus was nailed to a keg, and he was strangled in his prison cell. Having completed his contest for Christ, he was found worthy of the heavenly Kingdom, where he continuously glorifies the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit throughout all ages.
Martyr Barulas the Youth of Caesarea
Saint Barulas was a child in the crowd of people who witnessed the torture of Saint Romanus. Christ’s holy martyr told the Eparch Asclypiades that the young child was wiser than he was, because he knew the true God, while the Eparch did not.
Asclypiades asked the boy what gods he worshiped, and he replied that he worshiped Christ. “Your gods are demons,” the child stated, “and they have not created anything.”
With these and other words, the young child put the idolaters to shame. Seeing that he could not convince Saint Barulas to worship the false gods, he had the boy tortured. His mother stood by, encouraging him to remain faithful to the Savior Christ. “Do not be afraid of death, my son,” she told him. “You shall not die, but shall live forever. When you are beheaded, you will behold Christ’s glory, and you will dwell with Him in unspeakable joy.”
After the child was executed, his mother took his body and buried it, rejoicing because he had shed his blood for Christ.
New Martyr Anastasius of Epirus
Saint Anastasius and his sister were mid-18th century peasants living in Epirus during Ottoman times. When a band of Turks entered their village, its leader, Musa, was struck by the beauty of Anastasius' sister and tried to seize her, but Anastasius fought off the Turks, enabling his sister to escape. As a result, Anastasius was arrested, imprisoned, and tortured in an effort to get him to deny the Christian faith.
Moved by the manner in which Anastasius bore his sufferings, Musa wanted to know more about the faith that sustained him. Going secretly to Anastasius' cell, Musa saw two young men of shining appearance with Anastasius, but they vanished when Musa entered. Anastasius told him that these were angels who guard every Christian, especially when they suffer for Christ. He also explained the Gospel of Jesus Christ and how it had inspired him and others to place little value on worldly things. In response, Musa expressed his desire to embrace Christianity. Anastasius told him to wait until the proper time, because his conversion would bring about a persecution of the region's Christians. A few days later, in 1750, Anastasius was beheaded by order of Musa's father, the Pasha.
Subsequently, Musa was granted a vision of Anastasius encircled in light, who urged him to continue on the road to Christ. Musa fled his father's domain to the Peleponnese where he was instructed in the faith by an aged ascetic. After he was baptized, he became a monk on Corfu, receiving the monastic name of Daniel, and founded a church dedicated in honor of Saint Anastasius.
Martyrs Zacchaeus the Deacon, and Alphaeus, of Caesarea in Palestine
The Holy Martyrs Zacchaeus, Deacon of Gadara, and Alphaeus, Reader of Caesarea, suffered under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). Among those arrested during the most fierce persecution against Christians was Saint Zacchaeus, a deacon of the Gadara church, who openly confessed his faith and did not renounce Christ under torture.
The Diocletian persecution was so fierce that many did not endure, and frightened of the tortures, they agreed to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. Saint Alphaeus, a reader of the church of Caesarea, zealous for the glory of God, approached a crowd of those fallen away from Christ on their way to offer pagan sacrifice. He urged them not to defile themselves with the impious sacrifices.
They arrested Saint Alphaeus and after tortures and torments they shackled him together with Saint Zacchaeus. They threw the martyrs into prison for the night, where they prayed continually, supporting one another in their resolve to endure all the sufferings for the name of Christ and thereby gain eternal life. The next morning, the holy Martyrs Zacchaeus and Alphaeus were beheaded for confessing Christ.