Bishop of Nicodemia
Wednesday September 16, 2020 / September 3, 2020
15th Week after Pentecost. Tone five.
Fast. By Monastic Charter: Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)
Hieromartyr Anthimus, bishop of Nicomedia, and those with him: Martyrs Theophilus deacon, Dorotheos, Mardonius, Migdonius, Peter, Indes, Gorgonius, Zeno, the Virgin Domna, and Euthymius (302). Venerable Theoctistus (451), fellow-faster with St. Euthymius the Great. Blessed John “the Hairy,” fool-for-Christ at Rostov (1580). New Hieromartyr Pimen (Belolikov) bishop of Vernensk and Semirechensk, Sergius, Basil, Philip, Vladimir priests, martyr Meletius (1918). New Hieromartyrs Basil and Parthenius priests (1919). New Hieromartyrs Andrew and Theophan priests (1920). New Hieromartyrs Vladimir and Michael priests (1921). New Hieromartyr Nicholas priest (1923). New Hieromartyr Euthymius priest with 4 martyrs (1924). New Hieromartyr Romanus priest (1929). New Hieromartyr Alexis and Elias priests (1937). New Hieromartyr Peter Deacon (1953). St. Phoebe, deaconess at Cenchreae near Corinth (1st c.). Martyr Basilissa of Nicomedia (309). Hieromartyr Aristion, bishop of Alexandria, in Syria (3rd c.). St. Ioannicius II, first patriarch of Serbia (1349). The Pisidia Icon of the Mother of God (608).
The Scripture Readings
The Priest-Martyr Anthymos, Bishop of Nicomedia, and the Martyrs with him
Commemorated on September 3
The PriestMartyr Anthymos, Bishop of Nicomedia, and the Martyrs with him suffered during the time of the persecution against Christians under the emperors Diocletian (284-305) and Maximian (284-305). The persecution of Christians became particularly intense after the occurrence of a conflagration at the imperial court at Nicomedia. The pagans accused the Christians of setting the fire and reacted against them with terrible ferocity. Thus, in Nicomedia alone, on the day of the Nativity of Christ, at a church as many as twenty thousand Christians were burned. But this monstrous inhumanity did not frighten off the Christians: they firmly confessed their faith and accepted a martyr’s death for Christ. And thus during this period of sufferings died Saints Dorotheus, Mardonius, Migdonius, Peter, Indysos and Gorgonios. One of them was beheaded by the sword, others perished – by burning, or being covered over in the ground or by drowning in the sea. Zinon, a soldier, for his bold denunciation of the emperor Maximian was stoned, and then beheaded. Then also perished at the hands of the pagans the holy Virgin-Martyr Domna – a former pagan-priestess, and also Saint Euthymios, because of their concern that the bodies of the holy martyrs should be buried. Bishop Anthymos, who headed the Nicomedia Church, at the request of his flock concealed himself in a village not far from Nicomedia. From there he sent missives to the Christians, urging them to cleave firmly to the holy faith and not to fear tortures. One of his letters, dispatched with the Deacon Theophilos, was intercepted and given over to the emperor Maximian. Theophilos was subjected to interrogation and died under torture, without revealing to his torturers the whereabouts of Bishop Anthymos. But after a certain while Maximian managed to learn where Saint Anthymos was situated, and he sent a detachment of soldiers after him. The bishop himself met up with them along the way. The soldiers did not recognise the identity of the saint. He invited them to join him and provided them a meal, after which he revealed that he was the one that they were searching for.
The soldiers did not know what to do in this instance; indeed, they wanted to leave him be and tell the emperor that they had not found him. Bishop Anthymos was not one to tolerate a lie, and so he would not consent to this. The soldiers themselves came to believe in Christ and accepted holy Baptism. But amidst all this, the saint nonetheless demanded them to carry out the orders of the emperor. When Bishop Anthymos was brought before the emperor, the emperor gave orders that the instruments of execution be brought out and placed before him. “Dost thou think, emperor, to frighten me with these tolls of execution?” – asked the saint. – “No indeed, thou canst not frighten one that doth wish to die for Christ! Execution is frightening only for the cowardly of soul, for whom the present life is most precious”. The emperor then directed that the saint be fiercely tortured and beheaded by the sword. Bishop Anthymos to his last gasp with joy glorified God, for Whom he had been vouchsafed to suffer (+ 302; another account of the Nicomedia Martyrs is located under 28 December).
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.
HYMN OF PRAISE
THE HIEROMARTYR ANTHIMUS
Holy Anthimus encouraged his flock:
“My children, my beloved children,
Bearers of Christ’s yoke,
Now is the time for great renunciation,
O soldiers of the Crucified Christ,
Who gloriously resurrected from the dead!
Now is the time of cruel persecution;
Now is the time of struggle and patience;
For the harvest of heroes is prepared.
The brilliant wreath is radiant above you:
Fear not the dark executioners
For the power of man does not last forever,
But the power of God lasts unto ages of ages.
Blessed is he who fears God!
Your tears will be wiped away
In heaven by the hands of angels;
Your wounds will be healed
In heaven with paradisal balm.
Death will be transformed into life!
The despised will be crowned with a wreath!
Brief torture, but eternal blessings.
My dear children, do not fear.”
He who desires to be saved must be absolutely obedient to spiritual authority. Without this obedience, a man can perish even with the greatest desire for salvation. The great saints, who prescribed obedience as the condition for salvation, also fulfilled the act of obedience to perfection. When St. Simeon chose the pillar for his ascesis, it struck the other ascetics as some kind of novelty. Because they did not know if this form of asceticism was of the Spirit of God or of the spirit of pride, the desert fathers sent spiritual men to determine the answer. The monks were to command Simeon in their name to come down from the pillar. If he did not want to come down, it would have meant that his elevation on the pillar was from the spirit of pride. But if he obeyed the command and began to descend, they were to leave him as he was, for his readiness to obey would show that his asceticism was from the Holy Spirit. When those sent arrived and told Simeon that the council of the holy fathers of the desert commanded him to descend from the pillar, Simeon immediately began to climb down the ladder. Seeing his obedience, they cried out to him rejoicing: “Do not come down, holy Father, but remain where you are. We see now that your asceticism is of God.”
Contemplate God’s punishment of David for his sins (II Samuel 13):
1. How Amnon, David’s son, defiled David’s daughter, Tamara;
2. How Absalom, David’s son, slew Amnon his brother because of this;
3. How David wept bitterly.
on the Word of God revealed in the flesh
And the Word was made flesh (John 1:14).
Here, brethren, is a new, blessed and salvific beginning for us–the beginning of our salvation. Adam was in the flesh when he fell under the authority of sin and death. Now the Creator of Adam has appeared in the flesh, to deliver Adam and Adam’s posterity from the power of sin and death. The Son of God–the Word, Wisdom, Light and Life–descended among men in human flesh and with a human soul. He was incarnate but not divided from His Divinity. He descended without being separated from His Father. He retained all that He had been and would be for all eternity, and yet He received something new: human nature. His eternal attributes were not diminished by the Incarnation, neither was His relationship to the Father and the Spirit changed. Lo, the Father testified to this, both on the Jordan and on Mount Tabor: This is my beloved Son! He did not say: “This was my Son,” but “This is my Son.” The Holy Spirit was with Him at His bodily conception and throughout His mission on earth. The divine and human nature were united in Him, but not intermingled. How? Do not ask, you who do not even know how to explain yourself to yourself, and cannot say how your soul and body are united in you. Only know this: God came to visit the earth, bringing unspeakably rich treasures for mankind–royal gifts, incorruptible, eternal, priceless and irreplaceable gifts. Know this and let your heart dance for joy. Strive to cleanse your hands, purify your senses, wash your soul, whiten your heart, and set your mind straight, that you may receive the royal gifts. For they are not given to the unclean.
O Lord Jesus Christ, help us to cleanse and wash ourselves by Thy blood and Thy Spirit, that we may be made worthy of Thy royal gifts.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.