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.
Rev. Anthony B. Gavalas