New Martyrs of the Turkish Yoke – Introduction

6 May 20

INTRODUCTION

Blessed are those whom Thou hast chosen and taken to Thyself; and their commemoration is unto generation and generation.(Cf. Ps.64:4; 101:12)

In commemorating the lives and struggles of the holy New Martyrs who suffered for the sake of Christ’s holy Name, we give thanks to our God, who is worshipped in Trinity, and who in every age has raised up witnesses to his eternal providence and care for us.

“ God is marvelous in his saints.” The Saints are living proof of the applicability of the Gospels. They’re living chapters of holy Scripture. They are imitators of Christ and models of our emulation. This is the reason that God has glorified the saints in our sight: in his love for us, he wants to present us as many different kinds of righteous ones as possible, so that we, regardless of our circumstances in life, might find patterns to live the life in Christ.

The first and most glorious of martyrs is Jesus our Lord, Whose Blood nourishes the members of his holy Body, the Church. In his lovingkindness he has deemed some others worthy to be images and icons of his unique martyrdom, and to spill their blood for the sake of the holy Gospel, as a living witness and renewal for Christians who, seeing the steadfastness of their fellow mortals in the face of torture and death, might themselves become more fervent in the faith.

During the dark days of the Moslem enslavement of the Orthodox people in the Balkans and the Middle East, our holy faith showed its power in the face of the overwhelming force of the Turk. All the vital forces of Orthodoxy continued unabated. Monasticism flourished, theological conscience was alert, popular devotion was cultivated – all of these fueled and nourished by the feats of the illustrious New Martyrs who brought to life before the grateful eyes of the oppressed Christians scenes of the martyrdoms of old, assuring them that indeed “Christ is the same yesterday and today and onto the ages of ages.”

It is this eternal contemporariness of the martyrs that makes a collection of lives such as this so important for us today. more than just a historical review of the martyrs for Christ in a particular time and place, These lives permit us to see a continuity–a golden chain–which links together the Christ-centered glories of the ancient martyrs with those of the Turkish domination, and on to those of china, Serbia, the Balkans and the Russian land under the more modern but nonetheless demonic, hatred of militant atheism, his victims are numbered in the millions, and who are dying for the sake of Christ even as you read these words…

And what is the future? Despite our unworthiness of the martyrs crown, will our Lord vouchsafe this greatest of blessings on Christians of our generation or of those to come? As we progress into this post-Christian era which is an introduction to the times of the Antichrist, Will there be New Martyrs from the US?

Through the fervent prayers of Thy

Holy New Martyrs, O Christ our God,

preserve and strengthen thine Orthodox

people through the fiery trial to come.

Amen.

Rev. Anthony B. Gavalas


Life of Saint John the Theologian – Chapter 20

6 May 20

The Life and Struggles of the
Holy Apostle and Evangelist
John the Theologian

Chapter 20

Governor Aquila’s Wife

“In those days, it happened that Governor Aquila’s wife was in labor or three days and unable to deliver the child. She was nigh unto death. Therefore, the governor sent men unto John, earnestly imploring him: ‘Man of God, com quickly and help us!’ The apostle went quickly and as soon as he approached the house, the woman immediately gave birth. The governor commented: ‘As it is, our home hath been blessed by thee.’ John replied: ‘If thou believest in the Savior Christ, salvation shall come to thy house.’ The governor answered: ‘I believed and believe in Him who hath sent thee, Christ the Salvation of all men.’ Therefore, the apostle of Christ instructed him and baptized him in the name of the Father. and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. His wife also sought baptism, but John said to her: ‘It is not possible now to baptize thee before the passage of forty days.’ The governor then attempted to give John a substantial sum of money , saying: ‘Take this, father, from thy son, and bless my house.’ The apostle of Christ replied: ‘It is not possible to bless thy house for money. But, go thyself and distribute it among the poor; in this manner shall thy house be blessed.’ We stayed in the governor’s house for three days, and then returned to Myron’s house, where many people had gathered and John preached. Afterwards, he ordained presbyters, and they celebrated the divine liturgy, and all communicated of the holy Mysteries, receiving the grace of the Lord, to Whom is due glory, and dominion unto the ages of ages. Amen.

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Life of Saint John the Theologian – Chapter 19

5 May 20

The Life and Struggles of the
Holy Apostle and Evangelist
John the Theologian

Chapter 19

Healing of the Man With Dropsy

“The following day we went to an arcade called Domestia, where many who had been taught by John had gathered. Close by there was a man who had suffered from dropsy for six years. So grievously was he afflicted with this disease that it was not possible for him to speak. However, by making certain gestures, he motioned for paper and ink, and wrote two lines to John: ‘To the apostle and disciple of Christ: Have mercy on me the miserable sufferer, and take away my illness.’ John took the paper and wrote him back saying: “\’To the man afflicted with dropsy, from John, the apostle of Christ: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, regain thy health.’ When the man with dropsy received the paper, he arose straightway, as one without any ailment. When the people saw this, they cried aloud: ‘Great is the God of John, who worketh such great wonders!’ Many of them came to be baptized, including the man who was formerly stricken with dropsy, who fell at the apostle’s feet and besought him for illumination. And John instructed and baptized him that same day.

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The Life of Saint John the Theologian – Chapter 18

5 May 20

The Life and Struggles of the
Holy Apostle and Evangelist
John the Theologian

Chapter 18

Philo the Jew

“In that city, there was a Jew by the name of Philo, who was a learned man and well-versed in the law Moses. He had a wife who was afflicted with leprosy. Once, he chanced upon John in the marketplace and struck up a debate with him concerning the Books of Moses. Whatever John would say he opposed. Philo remained intransigent for two whole days. On the third day, he still persisted, even after many lengthy discussions; so John said to him: ‘Philo, Philo, the holy Scriptures do not require verbosity, but obedience to their teachings and a pure heart.’ As he was so saying, they came upon a man with a fever who had been placed on the ground by his kinfolk, so that John, as he passed by, might heal him. Therefore, as John was leaving Philo, a young man standing by this afflicted man cried out, saying: ‘Teacher of the Christians, I beseech thee, attend to this sick man and heal him!’ John then approached and said: ‘In the name of Jesus Christ, arise and go to thy home.’ Straightway, the sick one arose and returned to his house, glorifying God. Now Philo witnessed what John had done, and running up to him, took him by the hand and said: ‘ Teacher, what is love?’ The apostle answered: ‘O observer of the law, God is love and he who hath love hath God!’ Philo continued: ‘Therefore show the love of God and come home with me. Let us eat bread together, that God may be with us.’ Immediately John followed him. As he entered Philo’s house, tht very moment Philo’s wife was cleansed of her leprosy. When the former persistent and contentious Philo beheld this, he changed forthwith, and falling prostrate before the apostle, said: ‘Teacher, be not wroth with me on account of my words when I argued against thy divine teachings, but bestow upon me and thine handmaiden, my wife, the seal of Christ.’ John then catechized them and performed baptism over them, with their whole household, remaining there for three days.

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The Life of Saint John the Theologian – Chaper 17

5 May 20

The Life and Struggles of the
Holy Apostle and Evangelist
John the Theologian

Chapter 17

Resurrection of the Three Children

“The people sat on the sand, waiting for Coenops for three days and three nights from time to time crying out in a great voice: ‘O most honored Coenops, help us!’ And, from hunger, thirst, and the burning sun, many of them grew faint and lay senseless. Three of their children died. John watched them and was saddened over their deception and hardness of heart. Sighing and weeping, he prayed to God, saying: ‘O Lord, Fashioner and Protector of all that hath breath and life, for Whom I suffer all these things: hasten to open the hearts of these people, that none may perish.’ Then he turned to the crowd, and said: ‘Men and brethren, hear me! Today is the fourth day ye have not eaten, waiting for Coenops who is unable to return ever again. I beseech ye therefore, depart from this place and let each return to his own home to eat bread.’ Then those whose children had perished from hunger besought John. He then prayed: ‘O Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom those who have fallen asleep from ages past shall rise on the fearful last day when the trumpet shall sound: grant me, Thy servant, the souls of these three children, that I may glorify Thy most holy name unto the salvation of these people.’ And as soon as he completed his prayer, the dead children returned to life. This sign was seen by all of the bystanders, who fell at John’s feet, confessing: ‘Truly we are in great deception; for verily thou art a genuine teacher.’ When the apostle of Christ saw that their spirit was upright and had come to knowledge, he told those remaining: ‘Go in peace to your homes to eat and regain your strength. I am going to the house of the servant of God Myron. Tomorrow I shall return again and speak to you as is meet.’ Then he uttered a prayer and they departed in peace.

“When John and I entered Myron’s house, there was great joy and gladness; and with words inspired by the Holy Spirit, John consoled all the brethren there. A table was then set and we ate and glorified the Lord, rejoicing in our souls. The following morning, a great commotion throughout the city brought all the natives to the house of Myron, and all cried aloud: ‘Myron, most laudable Myron, give us our teacher that we too may be benefitted and enlightened by him!’ But Myron suspected that perhaps they were calling for John to come outside that they might do him some evil, or even slay him. The apostle understood Myron’s fears, and said: ‘Wherefore is thy heart troubled? I believe in Christ that these people mean me no harm.’ When the people beheld John they were exceeding glad and cried aloud, saying: ‘Thou art the benefactor of our souls! Thou art he who will enlighten us concerning the everlasting light!’ The divine John then answered them: ‘Indeed, I am a mortal man like yourselves. Much rather believe in Him Who sent me, Jesus Christ the Son of God, Who is the true Benefactor and guiding Light of men’s souls. He took pity on the race of men, who were plunged into the depths of ignorance and the deception of the demons, and deigned, in His supreme goodness, to become incarnate of the Holy Virgin, and without change becameth Man, though still God, like unto us in all respects save sin. He was crucified of His own will, and by His death abolished death, despoiling hades and delivering the souls of those therein. He arose on the third day, and sent us disciples and other ministers throughout the world to preach His kingdom. By the Holy Spirit, He furnished us with abundant authority against unclean spirits and the power to work miracles and healings of divers illnesses; and, for this, all the nations are turning to the true God and Creator of all. My children, do not close the ears of your hearts, but depart from deception and come to the light of the truth.’ With these and many other things did John exhort and comfort them, and many believed and were baptized there in the house of Myron.

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The Life of Saint John the Theologian – Chapter 16

5 May 20

The Life and Struggles of the
Holy Apostle and Evangelist
John the Theologian

Chapter 16

Coenops the Magician

“There was on the island of Patmos a certain magician by the name Coenops, who had lived in the wilderness and for many years held converse with unclean spirits. On account of predictions uttered by him, most of the inhabitants of the island considered him divine. The priests of Apollo, who were enraged at John for having destroyed the temple of Apollo and because he had made all the people followers of Jesus Christ, went to Ceonops and complained to him of Christ’s apostle, beseeching him to take revenge for the dishonor shown their gods, and they added that even the name of Ceonops was forgotten by the inhabitants. They also told him that Myron and Apollonides had John released from prison after they had complained to governor Aquila. Ceonops, however, did not wish to go to that city himself, since he had lived for many years in that place without leaving. But the citizens all the more often came to him with their request. Then he promised to send a wicked spirit to the house of Myron to seize the soul of John and deliver it to eternal judgement. In the morning he sent to John one of the princes of the evil spirits, commanding him to bring John’s soul to him. Arriving at the house of Myron, the demon stood in the place where John was. But John, perceiving the demon, said unto him: ‘In the name of Christ, I command thee not to leave this place until thou tellest me for what cause thou hast come hither to me.’

“Bound by John’s word, the demon was held fast and said to John: ‘The priests of Apollo came to Ceonops and besought him to go to the city and bring death down upon thee, but he did not wish to go saying: “I have lived in this place for many years, not going forth. Why should I trouble myself now over a worthless paltry man? Go your way, and in the morning I shall send my spirit, and he shall take his soul and bring it to me, and I shall give it over to eternal judgement.”‘ John then said to the demon: ‘Hath he sent thee at any other time to seize a human soul and bring it to him?’ The demon answered: ‘Indeed, he hath sent me and I slew a man, but never did I bring him the soul.’ John then asked: ‘For what reason dost thou submit to Coenops?’ The demon replied: ‘All the power of Satan is with him and he hath made a covenant with our princes, and we with him – Coenops obeyeth us and we him.’ Then Johnsaid: ‘I, an apostle of Jesus Christ, do command thee, evil spirit! Neither enter into the dwellings of men, nor return to Coenops, but go forth from this island into torment!’ Straightway the demon left the island. Coenops seeing that the demon did not return, sent another, but that demon suffered the same fate. Then two more of the princes of the dark powers did he send; one he commanded to go in unto John, but the other to keep watch to bring him back word. The demon that went in unto John suffered the same fate as those that came earlier; but the demon that stood guard, beholding the misfortune of his fellow demon, fled back to Coenops and related to him what had happened. Coenops was filled with wrath and, taking with him a great multitude of demons, went to the city. The whole cty rejoiced, seeing Coenops, and, approaching him, all bowed down in homage. Finding John amongst the people, Coenops was greatly incensed and said unto the crowd: ‘O ye blind men who have wandered from the true path, hearken unto me! If John is righteous, and all that he saith is true, let him converse with me and perform such wonders as I do; and ye shall see which of us is greater: John or I. If he seemeth more powerful than I, then I also shall believe his words and deeds.’

Coenops said to a certain youth: ‘Young man, is thy father alive!’ He answered saying: ‘He is dead.’ And Coenops said: ‘How did he die?’ The youth replied: ‘He was a sailor, and when his ship capsized, he drowned in the sea.’ Coenops said to John: ‘Now show thy power, John, that we may believe thy words: produce this boy’s father alive.’ John answered: ‘Christ hath not sent me to bring forth the dead from the sea, but to teach deluded people.’ Ceonops said to all the people: ‘Now will you believe me, that John is a liar who deceiveth you. Seize him and hold him fast while I bring forth the boy’s father alive. ‘

“Thy laid hold of John, and then Ceonops extended his hands and struck the water with them. When a splash was heard on the sea, all were afrighted; and eonops became invisible. All cried out: ‘Great art thou O Ceonops!’ And all of a sudden Ceonops came forth from the dea holding, as it were, the boys father. All were astounded. Ceonops sad: ‘Is this thy father?’ ‘Yea sir,’ the youth replied. Then the people fell at Ceoonops’ feet and would have killed John. But Ceonops forbade them saying: ‘When ye see greater than this ye may lay him.’ Then summoning another man he said: ‘Didst thou not have a son?’ And he answered: ‘Ye, sir, I had, but someone slew him out of envy.Ceonops cried out aloud, calling by name both the murderer and the slain, and both stood before him. Ceonops said to John: ‘Art thou not astonished, O John?’ Saint John replied: ‘Nay, I am not amazed by this.’ Ceonops sad: ‘Thou shalt see more, and then shalt thou marvel; and thou shalt not die until until I frighten thee with signs.’ John answered Coenops: ‘Thy signs will son come to naught.’ Hearing such words, the people fell upon John and beat him until they thought him dead. Then Ceonops spoke unto the people saying: ‘Leave him without burial; let the birds rend him to pieces!’ Leaving that place, they rejoiced with Ceonops.

“At 2:00 AM, when a great stillness reigned over the city, I approached John and heard him say: ‘Prochorus, my child.’ Weeping I replied: ‘What is it sir?’ He said to me: ‘Hasten to Myron’s house, where all the brethren have gathered, and inform them that John liveth yet and hath suffered no ill, and he shall come there again.’ Therefore, I left for Myron’s house and found all the brethren there weeping over John. All were astonished at seeing me, and I said to them: ‘Brethren, grieve not, but rejoice in the Lord, for our teacher liveth! He hath sent me to inform you all that ye may be at peace.’ When they heard from me that John was alive, they would not hear anything else. All arose at once and left quickly to find John, whom they found standing in prayer, after which they all exclaimed ‘Amen’, and then embraced one another. While all were weeping for joy and glorifying God, John said to them: ‘Brethren, see that none of you are deceived by the signs of Ceonops, for all he createth are phantoms. therefore, stay away from him and remain in peace in Myron’s hose, and ye shall behold the grace of God.’ With this and many other things did he encourage the brethren, and dismissed them in peace.

“It was not long before the heathen learned that that John was teaching in the place where they stoned criminals. Ceonops summoned a demon with whose help he wrought necromancy, and coming to that place Ceonops sad to John: ‘I plan to wreak upon thee yet greater disgrace and shame, for which cause I have left thee alive; come thou to the sandy shore of the sea. There thou shalt behold my glory and be put to shame.’ He then turned to the crowd that was following him, and said: ‘Hold this man while I show even greater signs than before; then I will send him into eternal punishment.’ When they reached the shore, many men and women were there who perfumed the area with incense and prayed. The moment they beheld Ceonops, they they fell down and paid homage to him. Three demons accompanied him, those whom people considered men that Coenops had raised from the dead. Ceonops then said to those holding John: ‘Do not release him, neither let any depart from this place until I have returned in glory.’ And clapping his hands together with great might, Ceonops plunged into the sea and was lost from sight. ‘Great art thou, O Ceonops!’ shouted the crowd, ‘and there is none greater than thee!’ Then John spread his arms in the form of a Cross and commanded the demons, who were standing therein human form, not to depart. He then prayed: ‘O God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who by the figure of Thy Cross didst enable Thy servant Moses to put Amalek to flight: bring down in the abyss of the sea the deceiver Ceonops, that he may never see the sun again, or be numbered among the living.’ And thus it happened, for there was a great peal of thunder, and the sea suddenly was troubled and waves were stirred up. And Ceonops did not emerge from the sea, but remained in the depths, like wretched Pharaoh of old.

“To the demons, whom the crowd considered men raised from the dead, John said: ‘In the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified and rose again on the third day, depart from this island.’ And they straightway vanished. But those who thought they had back those who were dead, hat is, the father who drowned and the son who was slain, were vexed with John. One said unto him: ‘Sorcerer, restore to me my son!’ The other said: ‘Banished one, imposter, give me my father!’ Then all were saying: ‘If thou wert a good man, thou wouldst gather together the scattered and lost! But because thou art perverse, thou hast cast out them whom our benefactor Ceonops brought back. Therefore bring back those men who have vanished or thou wilt die this instant!’ Some of the enraged ones moved to slay John, but others restrained them, saying: ‘Let us not slay him until the great Ceonops returns. He will tell us what to do.

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The Life of Saint John the Theologian – Chapter 15

5 May 20

The Life and Struggles of the
Holy Apostle and Evangelist
John the Theologian

Chapter 15

Karus the Jew

“After the passage of those days, we left Myron’s house and went to a place by the sea called Proklo, which had shops in which hides were tanned. One of those tanners was a Jew called Karus,who began a discussion with John concerning the Pentateuch. Inspired by the spirit, the apostle of Christ explained ot the Jew the meaning of the Scriptures. Karus was contentious and gainsaid the words spoken by John. Nevertheless, the apostle,wth utmost meekness, set at naught all the words of the Jew, parallelling and applying the words of the prophets to the Son of God, the dispensation of the incarnation, the cross and the resurrection, which they all foretold. After Karus heard this, he thought it all blasphemy, and said to John: ‘Be silent, addled one!’ And with these words, the Jew became deaf and mute. All present marvelled how John rendered him speechless, and they believed in Christ. John then turned to them and said: ‘Why marvel ye, O men? He hath brought this judgement on himself! Know ye not that they who are not persuaded by these words are adjudged and prevailed upon by force, and then they yield?’ The philosopher Areotes stood nearby, and said to John: ‘Teacher, honey knoweth no bitterness, andmilk hath nothing bad.’ Then Areotes gestured to Karus, and motioned for him to fall at the apostle’s feet. Areotes then continued: ‘Father, I beseech thee to free this man who thou hast bound, as it is meet for the sake of love and compassion.’ John then took pity on Karus and said: ‘In the name of Jesus Christ thy mouth hath been closed; in His name again, let thy lips be opened.’ And straightway as John spoke, Karus regained his speech. All were amazed, and believed, and received baptism in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. After that, we went to Rhoda’s house to sojourn for a time. The following day, Karus sought us out and found us and falling at John’s feet, and said to him: ‘Rabbi, thou knowest from the Scriptures that our fathers grieved and provoked the wrath of God, and renounced Him Who was their life, Who is the boast and hope of all the nations. Because I have sinned against God and thyself, who was sent by Him, I beg thy forgiveness and implore thee to grant me the seal of Christ.’ John, therefore, catechized Karus and baptized him in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

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