Tuesday, February 22, 2000

Warrior Series: St. Maurice

THE HOLY MARTYR MAURICE AND THE SEVENTY SOLDIERS WITH HIM (305 A.D.)
During the reign of Emperor Maximian there was a great persecution of Christians. In the Syrian town of Apamsea, Maurice was superior of the local army. The pagans reported him to the emperor as being a Christian and a sower of the Christian Faith among the soldiers.

The emperor himself came and conducted an investigation. Along with Maurice seventy Christian soldiers were also brought before the emperor among whom was Photinus, the son of Maurice. Neither the emperor’s flattery nor threats could sway these heroes.

To the threats of the emperor, they replied: “O Emperor, there is no fear in the sound and powerful souls of those who love the Lord!” When the emperor ordered and removed their military belts and garments, they said to him: “Our God will clothe us with incorruptible garments and belts and eternal glory!”

When the emperor rebuked them because they despised the military honor given to them by him, they replied: “Your honor is without honor, for you have forgotten God Who gave you imperial authority!”

Then the emperor commanded and the executioner beheaded Maurice’s son Photinus before his eyes to instill fear in the father and in the others. But, Maurice said: “You have fulfilled our wish O torturer and have sent Photinus, the soldier of Christ before us.”

Then the emperor sentenced them to a most inhuman death: they were brought to a muddy place, stripped, bound to trees and rubbed them with honey, in order to be bitten by mosquitoes, wasps and hornets. After ten days under the most painful sufferings, they gave up their souls to God and departed to rejoice eternally with the holy angels in heaven. Christians secretly removed their bodies and honorably buried them. These courageous soldiers of Christ suffered about the year 305 A.D.

HYMN OF PRAISE

ST. MAURICE AND SAINT PHOTINUS, SOLDIERS OF CHRIST
Of noble root - of noble vine
The young Photinus; to God a sacrifice, beautiful and well-pleasing.
The father witness as they beheaded his son,
As streams of red blood poured out
Maurice, the father courageous; his heart overcome,
Neither screamed he, nor sorrowed nor a tear shed.
To me dear God, you gave him, he said:
O Good One, for all of your love what better could I give?
Of death, make me worthy as You did Photinus,
You Who, for us, sacrificed Your only Son!
Maurice, of the heavenly kingdom, glorious soldier,
Does not receive a gift from earthly rulers,
But, his company, legion of pride, he encourages;
Before the soul-less idols not to bend,
His company into death he leads and through death to life,
To express this rare beauty, the tongue is too weak.
On our flesh, let the wasps and hornets feed,
Nevertheless, we are not defeated; we are not, O soldiers.
Our blood, let the mosquitoes suck; let them be fed,
On that other side, O my brothers, we shall soon be,
Where all of those reign who fought for the Cross,
We did not betray You! To Christ the God, we shall say.

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Thursday, February 17, 2000

Warrior Series: St. Theodore the Tyro

Holy Great Martyr Theodore the Tyro (300 A.D.)

Saint Theodore, the fourth century martyr, is one of the most famous soldier-saints of the East. He was from Amasia of Pontus. When he entered the army, the persecution of Christians began under the Emperor Maximian (286-305). Theodore was called “tyro,” from the Latin tiro meaning “recruit” because he was newly enlisted.
When it was reported that he was a Christian, he boldly confessed Christ. The ruler, hoping that he would repent, gave him time to consider the matter more completely and then give answer. Theodore gave answer by setting fire to the temple of Cybele, the “mother of the gods.”
Legend has it that he was thrown into prison and left to die of starvation. While in prison, the Lord appeared to Theodore and encouraged him saying:
“Fear not, I am with you. Do not partake of earthly food and drink anymore, for you will be with Me in the other world in the heavens – eternal and everlasting.”
There then appeared a multitude of angels in the prison. The guards seeing the angels became terrified. Saint Theodore was taken out, tortured and condemned to death. He suffered a martyr’s death by fire.

HYMN OF PRAISE
SAINT THEODORE TIRO
"Do not be afraid of the world for I have overcome the world."
These are holy words both then and now.
For all who suffer, that is the true balm,
Mostly for the glorious martyrs of God.
Why should you, of the more fearful ones, be afraid?
Of its own shadow, the world is afraid!
The powerful and the ruling ones, why fear?
And of dying things, constantly dying?
Who is with the Householder is not afraid of the house,
The Householder sees everything that is in the house,
And nothing there is, that He would not know,
And His servant, what should he be afraid of?
And yet when he hears the Lord as He says:
"Do not be afraid of the world!" What more do you desire?
"Do not be afraid of the world for I have overcome the world!"
Our Lord reigns and rules over the world.
At the fire and death, Theodore smiled,
For that, wreaths he received, that never fades.

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Tuesday, February 8, 2000

Warrior Series: St. Theodore

THE HOLY GREAT MARTYR THEODORE STRATELATES (319 A.D.)

There are martyrdoms more precious than precious. The preciousness of martyrdom depends upon the greatness of the good which a Christian abandons and in lieu of that, accepts suffering; and still, it depends upon the greatness of the suffering which he endures for Christ’s sake.

St. Theodore, a Roman commander in the army of Emperor Licinius and mayor of the town of Heraclea, scorned his youth, handsome appearance, military rank and the good graces of the emperor. In place of all that, he accepted horrible tortures for the sake of Christ. At first, Theodore was flogged and received six-hundred lashes on his stomach. After this, he was raised on a cross and was completely pierced with lances. Finally, Theodore was beheaded.

Why all of this? Because, St. Theodore loved Christ the Lord above all else in the world. He abhorred the stupid idolatry of the superstitious Emperor Licinius. He smashed the idols of silver and gold and distributed pieces of them to the poor. He converted many to the Faith of Christ and called upon Emperor Licinius himself to reject idolatry and to believe in the One Living God.

During the entire time of his tortures, St. Theodore said repeatedly: “Glory to You my God, glory to You! St. Theodore suffered on February 8, 319 A.D., at 3:00 p.m. and entered into the kingdom of Christ. St. Theodore is considered the Protector of Soldiers who call upon him for assistance. His miracle-working relics were translated from Euchaita to Constantinople and interred in the church of Balchernae.