4TH WEDNESDAY OF LENT
ABSTAIN FROM MEAT, FISH, DAIRY, EGGS, WINE, OLIVE OIL
Basil the Holy Martyr of Ancyra, Kalliniki & Vassilisa the Martyrs, Euthemios the New Martyr
For behold, the LORD is coming forth out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, and the earth will disclose the blood shed upon her, and will no more cover her slain. In that day the LORD with his hard and great and strong sword will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan the twisting serpent, and he will slay the dragon that is in the sea. In that day: “A pleasant vineyard, sing of it! I, the LORD, am its keeper; every moment I water it. Lest any one harm it, I guard it night and day; I have no wrath. Would that I had thorns and briers to battle! I would set out against them, I would burn them up together. Or let them lay hold of my protection, let them make peace with me, let them make peace with me.” In days to come Jacob shall take root, Israel shall blossom and put forth shoots, and fill the whole world with fruit. Has he smitten them as he smote those who smote them? Or have they been slain as their slayers were slain? Measure by measure, by exile thou didst contend with them; he removed them with his fierce blast in the day of the east wind. Therefore by this the guilt of Jacob will be expiated, and this will be the full fruit of the removal of his sin: when he makes all the stones of the altars like chalkstones crushed to pieces, no Asherim or incense altars will remain standing.
The sons of Noah who went forth from the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Ham was the father of Canaan. These three were the sons of Noah; and from these the whole earth was peopled.
Noah was the first tiller of the soil. He planted a vineyard; and he drank of the wine, and became drunk, and lay uncovered in his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it upon both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father; their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father's nakedness. When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, he said, "Cursed be Canaan; a slave of slaves shall he be to his brothers." He also said, "Blessed by the LORD my God be Shem; and let Canaan be his slave. God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem; and let Canaan be his slave." After the flood Noah lived three hundred and fifty years. All the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years; and he died. These are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth; sons were born to them after the flood.
A prudent man conceals his knowledge, but fools proclaim their folly. The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labor. Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. A righteous man turns away from evil, but the way of the wicked leads them astray. A slothful man will not catch his prey, but the diligent man will get precious wealth. In the path of righteousness is life, but the way of error leads to death. A wise son hears his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke. From the fruit of his mouth a good man eats good, but the desire of the treacherous is for violence. He who guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin. The soul of the sluggard craves, and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied. A righteous man hates falsehood, but a wicked man acts shamefully and disgracefully. Righteousness guards him whose way is upright, but sin overthrows the wicked. One man pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth. The ransom of a man’s life is his wealth, but a poor man has no means of redemption. The light of the righteous rejoices, but the lamp of the wicked will be put out.
Hieromartyr Basil of Ancyra
Hieromartyr Basil was a presbyter in Ancyra, Galatia. Fighting against the Arian heresy, he urged his flock to cling firmly to Orthodoxy. Because of this Saint Basil was deposed from his priestly rank by a local Arian council, but a Council of 230 bishops in Palestine reinstated him.
Saint Basil openly continued to preach and denounce the Arians. Therefore, he became the victim of persecution and was subjected to punishment as a man dangerous to the state. Two apostates, Elpidios and Pegasios, were ordered to turn Saint Basil from Orthodoxy. The saint remained unshakable, and was again subjected to tortures.
When the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363) arrived in the city of Ancyra, Saint Basil bravely confessed Christ before him at the trial, and denounced the emperor for his apostasy. Julian ordered that strips of skin be cut from the saint’s back. Saint Basil endured the gruesome torture with great patience.
When they began to beat his shoulders and stomach with red-hot rods, he fell down upon the ground from the torments and cried out, “O Christ, my Light! O Jesus, my Hope! Quiet Haven from the stormy sea. I thank You, O Lord God of my fathers, that You have snatched my soul from the pit of Hell and preserved Your Name in me unstained! Let me finish my life a victor and inherit eternal life according to the promise You gave my fathers. Now accept my soul in peace, remaining steadfast in this confession! For You are merciful and great is Your mercy, You Who live and sojourn throughout all the ages. Amen.”
Having made such prayer, and lacerated all over by the red-hot rods, the saint fell into a sweet slumber, giving up his soul into the hands of God. The Hieromartyr Basil died June 29, 362. His commemoration was transferred to March 22 because of the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul.
This saint should not be confused with Saint Basil of Ancyra (January 1), a layman.
Martyr Drosίs, daughter of Emperor Trajan
The Holy Martyr Drosίs, and five Virgin Martyrs with her: Agalϊda (Αγλαϊδα), Apollinarίa (Ἀπολλιναρία), Daria (Δαρεία), Mamousa (Μαμούσα), and Thaϊs (Θαΐς).
Saint Drosίs was the daughter of Emperor Trajan (98-117), a fierce persecutor of Christians. In the year 99 he revived an earlier law which forbade secret gatherings, and applied it to the Christians. In the year 104 he issued a special edict against Christians.
Beginning in that year, the persecutions continued until the end of his reign. The bodies of martyred Christians often remained unburied in order to intimidate others. Five Christian virgins: Agalϊda, Apollinarίa, Daria, Mamousa, and Thaϊs, took upon themselves the task of burying such Christians. In secret, they took the Martyrs' bodies, anointed them with spices, wrapped them in shrouds, and buried them. When she learned of this, Drosίs, who was a secret Christian (but not yet baptized) asked the holy virgins to take her with them when they went to bury Christians.
Hadrian, an advisor to the Emperor, who was also the suitor of Drosίs, informed Trajan of the women's activities. A guard was posted over those who had been killed, with orders to arrest anyone who attempted to bury them. Saint Drosίs and the five virgins were caught on the very first night. Learning that one of the captives was his own daughter, Trajan ordered her to be held separately, hoping that she would change her mind.
The five Holy Virgin Martyrs were sentenced to burn in a furnace for melting copper. They went to their death courageously, and received their imperishable crowns of martyrdom. This copper, mingled with the ashes of the Martyrs, was used to make tripods for the new public bath which Trajan had built. As as long as these tripods stood in the bath, no one could enter it. Whoever crossed the threshold was struck dead at once. When the pagan priests realized why this was happening, they ordered the tripods to be removed and melted down. Then Hadrian suggested that the Emperor should have five bronze statues of naked virgins made to resemble the Martyrs, and place them before the entrance to the public bath.
When the statues were in place, Trajan saw in a dream five pure lambs pastured in Paradise, and the Shepherd who said to him, “O most wanton and wicked Caesar! Those whose images you placed there to be mocked have been taken away from you and brought here by the Good and Merciful Shepherd. In time your daughter, the pure lamb Drosίs, shall be here as well.”
When he awoke, Trajan was furious, and ordered two huge furnaces to be heated. Nearby, an imperial edict was posted: You who worship the Crucified one; save yourselves from a lot of suffering, and also spare us these labors. Offer sacrifice to the gods. If you do not wish to do this, however, then let each of you voluntarily cast himself into this furnace.”
Many Christians chose martyrdom.
When she heard of this, Saint Drosίs also decided to suffer martyrdom for Christ. She prayed in her prison, asking the Lord to set her free. God heard her prayer, and the guards fell asleep. Saint Drosίs went to the furnace, but she wondered: “How can I go to God without a wedding garment (i.e., without being baptized), for I am impure? But, O King of Kings, Lord Jesus Christ, for Your sake I give up my imperial rank, so that I might become the lowliest handmaiden in Your Kingdom. Baptize me Yourself by Your Holy Spirit.”
After praying in this manner, Saint Drosίs anointed herself with myrrh [chrism], which she had brought with her, and immersing herself in water three times, she said: “The handmaiden of God Drosίs is baptized in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
The Saint hid for seven days, spending her time in fasting and prayer. Some Christians found her and learned from her everything that had occurred. On the eighth day, the Holy Martyr Drosίs went to the furnace and cast herself into the fire.1
1 Some sources state that Saint Drosίs reposed in peace. According to the calendar of the Russian Orthodox Church, however, she is listed as a martyr (Святая мученица Дросида).
Venerable Isaac the Confessor, Founder of the Dalmatian Monastery at Constantinople
Saint Isaac, the founder of the Dalmaton Monastery (Μονή Δαλμάτων) at Constantinople, lived during the IV century, in the reign of Emperor Valens (364-378), who was an adherent of the Arian heresy.
Saint Isaac was tonsured as a monk when he was young, and through his ascetical struggles in the desert, he acquired every virtue. He was also found worthy of receiving the gift of prophecy from God. When he learned that Orthodox Christians were being persecuted, and their churches were being closed or destroyed, he left the wilderness and went to Constantinople to console and encourage the Orthodox, and to oppose the heretics. At that time, the barbarian Goths along the Danube River were waging war against the Empire. They had captured Thrace and were advancing toward Constantinople.
As Emperor Valens was leaving the capital with his soldiers, Saint Isaac cried out, “Emperor, reopen the churches of the Orthodox, and then the Lord will help you!”
The Emperor ignored the Saint's words and continued on his way. The next day, Isaac ran out to warn the Emperor again. Valens, moved by Isaac's boldness and sincerity, was almost persuaded to do as he asked. However, one of his advisors (an Arian) convinced him not to grant the Saint's request. On the third day the Saint stood in Emperor's path and grabbed the bridle of his horse, repeating his request; sometimes in a pleading tone, and sometimes in a reproachful manner. He also threatened divine retribution if Valens did not honor his request. Offended by Isaac's audacity, Valens had him thrown into a deep pit filled with mud and thorns, from which it was impossible to escape.
With God’s help, however, Saint Isaac was able to get out of the pit. He overtook the Emperor and said, “You wanted to destroy me, but Angels pulled me out of the mire. Hear me! Reopen the churches for the Orthodox and you shall defeat the enemy. If you do not heed me, however, then you shall not return. You will be captured and burned alive. Learn from experience that it hurts you to kick against the goads" (Acts 26:14).1
The Emperor was astonished at the Saint's boldness and ordered his attendants Saturninus and Victor to seize the monk and keep him in prison until his return.
Saint Isaac’s prophecy was soon fulfilled. On August 9, 378 a fierce battle was fought near Adrianoupolis, during which the imperial army was defeated, and many excellent generals were killed. Valens and his chief of staff took refuge in a barn filled with straw, and the attackers set it ablaze. The two men were burnt alive, just as Isaac had foretold.
Back in Constantinople, some of the soldiers who survived the battle came to Isaac's prison cell and said to him, "Prepare to make your defense before the Emperor, who is coming to put you on trial."
Isaac replied, "The stench of his charred bones has assailed my nostrils for more than seven days."
When this event became known, the clergy and the people released Saint Isaac from prison. With great respect, they approached him in order to receive his blessing, Then the holy Emperor Theodosios the Great (379-395) came to the throne. On the advice of Saturninus and Victor, he summoned the Elder, according him much honor. Obeying his instructions, he banished the Arians from Constantinople and restored the churches to the Orthodox. Saint Isaac wanted to return to his desert, but Saturninus and Victor begged him not to leave the city, but to remain and protect it by his prayers.
Saint Isaac was present at the Second Ecumenical Council at Constantinople in 381, where he was responsible for much of its success because of his zeal in defending Orthodox doctrine.
Saturninus built a monastery for the Saint in Constantinople, where monks gathered around him. Saint Isaac was the monastery’s Igoumen and spiritual guide. He also nourished laypeople, and helped many of the poor and suffering.
Sensing his approaching death, Saint Isaac appointed Saint Dalmatios (August 3) to succeed him as the Igoumen. The monastery was later renamed for Saint Dalmatios (Δαλμάτιος).
Saint Isaac went to the Lord in the year 383. He is also commemorated with Saints Dalmatios and Faustos on August 3. In Greek usage, however, Saint Isaac is commemorated on May 30.
1 A Greek proverb signifying that resistance is futile. Examples may be found in the plays of Euripides (Bacchae); Aeschylus (Agamemnon & Prometheus); and in Pindar's second Pythian Ode).
Monastic Martyr Euthymius of Prodromou, Mount Athos
This holy New Martyr of Christ was born in Demitsana in the Peloponnesos. His parents were Panagiotes and Maria, and he was given the name Eleutherius in Baptism. Eleutherius was the youngest of five children (the others were George, Christos, John, and Katerina).
After attending school in Demetsana, Eleutherius and John traveled to Constantinople to enroll in the Patriarchal Academy. Later, they went to Jassy, Romania where their father and brothers were in business. Some time afterwards, Eleutherius decided to go to Mt. Athos to become a monk. Because of a war between Russia and Turkey, he was able to travel only as far as Bucharest. There he stayed with the French consul, then with an employee of the Russian consul.
Eleutherius began to pursue a life of pleasure, putting aside his thoughts of monasticism. When hostilities ceased, Eleutherius made his way to Constantinople in the company of some Moslems. On the way, he turned from Orthodoxy and embraced Islam. He was circumcised and given the name Reschid. Soon his conscience began to torment him for his denial of Christ. The other Moslems began to notice a change in his attitude, so they restricted his movements and kept a close watch on him.
One day Eleutherius was seen wearing a cross, so the others reported him to the master of the house, Rais Efendi. The master favored Eleutherius, which made the others jealous. He told them it was still too early for Eleutherius to give up all his Christian ways.
Rais Efendi and his household journeyed to Adrianople, arriving on a Saturday. Metropolitan Cyril, who later became Patriarch of Constantinople, was serving Vespers in one of the city’s churches. Eleutherius pretended to have letters for Metropolitan Cyril, but he sent someone else to receive them. When Eleutherius told this man that he wanted Christian clothes, he became suspicious and sent him away.
Back in Constantinople, Rais Efendi gave Eleutherius costly presents, hoping to influence him to remain a Moslem. Eleutherius, however, prayed that God would permit him to escape. He ran off at the first opportunity, seeking out a priest from the Peloponnesos who lived near the Patriarchate. After relating his story, Eleutherius asked the priest to help him get away. The priest refused to assist him, fearing reprisals if he should be caught. He gave Eleutherius some advice, then sent him away.
With some assistance from the Russian embassy, Eleutherius boarded a ship and sailed to Mt. Athos. At the Great Lavra Eleutherius was chrismated and received back into the Orthodox Church, and also became a monk with the name Euthymius.
Euthymius read the New Martyrologion of Saint Νikόdēmos (July 14), and was inspired by the example of the New Martyrs. He then became consumed with a desire to wipe out his apostasy with the blood of martyrdom.
Saint Euthymius went to Constantinople with a monk named Gregory, arriving on March 19, 1814. A few days later, on Palm Sunday, he received Holy Communion. Removing his monastic garb, he dressed himself as a Moslem and went to the palace of the Grand Vizier, Rusud Pasha. Saint Euthymius, holding palms in his hand, confessed that he was an Orthodox Christian, and wished to die for Christ. He denounced Mohammed and the Moslem religion, then trampled upon the turban he had worn on his head, which led the Vizier to believe that he was either drunk or crazy.
The valiant warrior of Christ assured the Vizier that he was in his right mind, and was not drunk. Euthymius was thrown into a dark cell and bound with chains. After an hour or so, they brought him out again. With flattery and promises of wealth, the Vizier tried to convince Euthymius to return to the Moslem faith. The saint boldly declared that Islam was a religion based on fables and falsehood, and that he would not deny Christ again even if he were to be tortured and slain.
The Grand Vizier ordered the saint to be beaten and returned to prison. After three hours, Saint Euthymius was brought before Rusud Pasha, who said to him, “Have you reconsidered, or do you remain stubborn?”
Euthymius replied, “There is only one true Faith, that of the Orthodox Christians. How can I believe in your false prophet Mohammed?”
Now the Vizier realized that he would never convince Euthymius to return to Islam, so he ordered him to be put to death by the sword. When the executioner attempted to tie the saint’s hands he said, “I came here voluntarily, so there is no need to bind my hands.Allow me to meet my death untied.”
Saint Euthymius was allowed to walk to the place of execution unbound. He went joyfully and unafraid, holding a cross in his right hand, and palms in his left. When they arrived at the site, Euthymius faced east and began to pray. He thanked God for making him worthy of martyrdom for His sake. He also prayed for his family and friends, asking God to grant all their petitions which are unto salvation.
Then Saint Euthymius kissed the cross he was holding, then knelt and bent his neck. The executioner struck a fierce blow with the sword, but this did not behead him. He struck again, and failed to kill him. Finally, he took a knife and slit the martyr’s throat.
Saint Euthymius was killed about noon on March 22, 1814 in Constantinople, thereby earning a place in the heavenly Kingdom where he glorifies the holy, consubstantial, and life-creating Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, forevermore.
The head of Saint Euthymius is in the Russian monastery of Saint Panteleimon on Mt Athos.
Martyrs Kalliniki and Basilissa
Saints Basilissa (Βασίλισσα) and Kalliniki (Καλλίνικη) were from Galatia. Since Saint Basilissa was wealthy, she gave money to Saint Kalliniki to go to the prison and distribute it to the Christians who were confined there for their sustenance, and so they would pray for her. She wished to prepare them for martyrdom and to stand by them so that they would not lose their courage amid their tribulations.
One day Saint Kalliniki was arrested and they asked her why she was giving the prisoners money. Since she did not know how to lie, she admitted the truth. That is why they tied her up and handed her over to the ruler. Afterward, Saint Basilissa was arrested and was brought before him in court. Both women boldly confessed Christ and were subjected to various tortures, in an attempt to make them deny their faith and offer sacrifice to the idols.
Since they could not be persuaded to do so, their sacred heads were cut off with swords. In this manner they defeated the devil and rejoiced in the Kingdom of Heaven. The martyrdom of the Holy Martyrs Basilissa and and Kalliniki took place in the year 252, during the reign of Emperor Gallus (251-253).