Martyrs Sophia and her daughters Faith, Hope and Love

Holy Martyrs Sophia and her daughters Faith, Hope, and Love

Wednesday September 30, 2020 / September 17, 2020

17th Week after Pentecost. Tone seven.
Fast. By Monastic Charter: Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)

Martyrs Sophia and her three daughters: Faith (Vera), Hope (Nadezhda), and Love (Lyubov), at Rome (137). New Hieromartyrs Paul, Theodosius, Nicodemus and Seraphim (1918). Virgin-martyr Irene (1931). Martyr John (1941). Virgin-martyr Alexandra (1943). Martyr Theodota at Nicaea (230) and Agathoklea156 Martyrs of Palestine, including bishops Peleus and Nilus, the presbyter Zeno, and the noblemen Patermuthius and Elias (310). St. Joachim, patriarch of Alexandria (1567). “Tsaregrad” (1071) and Makar’evsk “Directress” (1442) Icons of the Mother of God.

The Scripture Readings

Ephesians 3:8-21
Mark 11:23-26

The Holy Martyresses Vera (Faith), Nadezhda (Hope) and Liubov’ (Love)

Commemorated on September 17

      The Holy Martyresses Vera (Faith), Nadezhda (Hope) and Liubov’ (Love) were born in Italy. Their mother, Saint Sophia (Wisdom), was a pious Christian widow. Having named her daughters with the names of the three Christian virtues, Saint Sophia raised them up in love for the Lord Jesus Christ. Saint Sophia and her daughters did not hide their faith in Christ and they openly confessed it before everyone. The official Antiochus made denunciation about them to the emperor Adrian (117-138), who ordered that they be brought to Rome. Realising that they would be taken before the emperor, the holy virgins prayed fervently to the Lord Jesus Christ, asking that He should send them the strength not to fear impending torture and death. When the holy virgins with their mother came before the emperor, everyone present was amazed at their composure: it seemed that they had been called out to some happy festivity, rather than to torture.

Summoning the sisters in turn, Adrian urged them to offer sacrifice to the goddess Artemis. The young girls (Vera was 12, Nadezhda was 10 and Liubov’ was 9) remained unyielding. Then the emperor gave orders to fiercely torture them: they burned at the holy virgins over an iron grating, they threw them into a red-hot oven and then into a cauldron with boiling tar, but the Lord by His Unseen Power preserved them. The youngest one, Liubov’, they tied to a wheel and beat at her with canes, until her body was covered all over with bloody welts. And undergoing unreported torments, the holy virgins glorified their Heavenly Bridegroom and remained steadfast in the faith. They subjected Saint Sophia to another and grievous torture: the mother was forced to look upon the suffering of her daughters. But she displayed adamant courage and during this whole while she urged the girls to endure the torments in the Name of the Heavenly Bridegroom. All three maidens with joy met their martyr’s end. They were beheaded.

© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

HYMN OF PRAISE

THE HOLY MARTYRS VERA, NADA AND LYUBOV,
AND THEIR MOTHER, SOPHIA


Sophia, all-wise, glorified the Lord;

As a sacrifice to Him, she offered three most-beautiful daughters.

To her daughters she said: “Be not afraid, my daughters;

Strengthen yourselves in Christ; endure in the Faith;

And be not afraid of torture or bitter misfortunes.

Do not grieve over your bodies–it is better in heaven:

God will give you wonderful bodies in heaven.

Do not grieve over your beauty–with divine beauty

You will shine among the angels in the Kingdom of God,

As the daughters of the King of kings!

Do not grieve over life–what is this earthly life worth?

Its span is at most a hundred years.

In heaven, life without end awaits you:

Life without end, life without beginning.

Do not grieve for the company of earthly friends,

For the company of wonderful saints awaits you there.

Nor should the company of worldly kinsmen cause you grief–

For your kin in the heavens are the glorious martyrs.”

Thus the saintly mother instructed her holy daughters,

As, one by one, they flew off to heaven:

Three white doves, innocent and pure,

Flew swiftly to the bosom of Christ.

And with her soul uplifted, their mother flew after them,

And joined her glorious daughters in Paradise;

And our merciful God receives their prayers.


REFLECTION

A faithful and God-fearing ruler is a true blessing for all people. King Vatslav of the Czechs was such a ruler. His zeal for the sanctity of the Faith and his steadfastness remind us of the ancient ascetics. During the day he devoted himself to the affairs of the state, and at night to prayer. In winter, he often walked barefoot to the church for Matins with his old servant Podivoi. He often prepared and baked prosphora himself, especially when he desired to receive Holy Communion. Because of his care for the Faith, many churches were built, in which daily services to God were celebrated. He especially concerned himself with the poor and needy. He was a lover of peace, yet also a great and fearless hero. When the neighboring Prince Radislav attacked the Czech lands, Vatslav sent him a letter asking why he was waging war. The proud Radislav replied that he wanted Vatslav to cede all the Czech lands, and his throne, to him. Vatslav promptly amassed a large army and confronted his enemy. Yet, pondering on the two powerful armies, he mourned that so many men would die, and sent a message to Radislav: “The quarrel is between you and me; you desire to rule the land of the Czechs and I will not yield. Agree to resolve this matter with a duel between the two of us. Why shed so much blood in a battle between two armies?” Prince Radislav agreed to this duel, and was defeated by Vatslav. On his knees, he begged him for forgiveness.

CONTEMPLATION

Contemplate the transgressions of Judah, and God’s punishment of those transgressions (I Kings 14):

1. How the people and King Rehoboam did that which is evil in the sight of the Lord;

2. How they erected idols in the temples, and how there were many sodomites in the land;

3. How the king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem and plundered all the gold of the Temple.

HOMILY

on the unity of Essence of the Father and the Son

I and My Father are one (John 10:30).

The more miracles that the Lord Jesus performed, and the closer He came to His death, the more openly He spoke of Himself. The numerous miracles and the increasing length of time to contemplate them worked changes in both the good and the wicked. The good became receptive to the revelation of God’s lofty mysteries. The wicked, clinging to evil, darkened themselves all the more, and became incapable of receiving these mysteries. That is why the wicked took up stones … to kill Him (John 10:31).

I and My Father are one. The Father and the Son are one in Essence, but are not one in Person (hypostasis). Otherwise, one could not call them by two names: Father and Son. Both the Son and the Holy Spirit have all the attributes of the Father’s Essence. However, the attributes of the Person of the Father belong only to the Father, the attributes of the Person of the Son belong only to the Son and the attributes of the Person of the Holy Spirit belong only to the Holy Spirit. But when the discourse is about the Divine Essence, the Son can say, “I and My Father are one,” and the Father can say, “I and the Son are one,” and the Holy Spirit can say, “I and the Father and the Son are one.”

The Lord Jesus Christ expressed the unity of His Being with the Father in the following words: The Father is in Me and I in Him (John 10:38). Can the divinity of the Son be expressed more clearly? Can the human tongue convey the unity of the Triune God in stronger terms? The dogma of the divinity of the Son of God, as well as the dogma of the unity of the Being of God, was revealed and laid out by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Therefore, let no one give credence to the deceits of certain unbelievers and heretics–who pretend that the Lord Jesus did not reveal His divinity, and allege that this dogma was introduced to the Church much later. If Christ had not proclaimed His divinity, why would the Jews have said to Him: Thou … makest Thyself God (John 10:33)? And why would they take up stones against Him?

O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, one in Essence with the Father and the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us and save us by the power and goodness of Thy divinity, almighty and all-righteous.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.