Motto: “Sleepwalking Christians are the heart of the crisis of Western civilization in our day. They are unwilling or unable to offer explicitly Biblical alternatives to the collapsing humanist order. Until about 1980, they fervently believed that the humanists possessed some legitimate title to the seats of power in this world, and they still believe that common natural law moral and legal principles are sufficient to hold the world system together until Jesus comes back in glory. So they sit on the sidelines of life, waiting for Jesus to bail them out, or “up”, literally. Just as He bailed out Israel when the Assyrians arrived? Just as He bailed out Judah when the Babylonians arrived? Just as He bailed out Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania when the Soviet troops arrived? But we’re different, of course. We’re Americans. No need to worry. And if 1.5 million babies are aborted here each year, it isn’t the Christians’ fault. Jesus is coming soon. Sit tight. Pray. And don’t miss the Superbowl next Sunday…”
(Gary North in the “Healer of the Nations” )
All of them were soldiers in the Roman army and steadfastly believed in the Lord Jesus. When the persecution of Christians began during the reign of Licinius, they were brought to trial before the commander. When he threatened to strip them of their honor as soldiers, one of them, St. Candidus, responded, “Not only the honor of being a soldier, but take away our bodies, for nothing is more dear or honorable, to us than Christ our God.” After that, the commander ordered his servants to stone the holy martyrs. While the servants were hurling stones at the Christians, the stones turned and fell back on the servants, severely striking them. One of the stones struck the commander’s face and knocked out his teeth. The torturers, angry as wild beasts, bound all of the holy martyrs and tossed them into the lake and stationed a guard around it so as to prevent any of them from escaping. There was a terrible frost and the lake froze around the bodies of the martyrs. So that their pain and suffering would be worsened, and in order to persuade one of them to deny Christ and acknowledge the idols of Rome, the torturers heated a bath by the side of the lake in sight of the frozen martyrs. Indeed, one of them was persuaded. He came out of the water and entered the bath. And behold, an extraordinary light appeared from heaven which warmed the water in the lake and the bodies of the martyrs. With that light, thirty-nine wreaths descended from heaven over their heads. Upon seeing this, a guard on the shore removed all his clothes, confessed the Name of the Lord Jesus and entered the lake so that he could become worthy of the fortieth wreath in place of the betrayer. Indeed, the last wreath descended upon him. The next day the entire town was astonished when they saw that the martyrs were still alive.
Then, the wicked judges ordered that the lower part of their legs be broken and their bodies thrown into the water so Christians could not recover them. On the third day the martyrs appeared to Peter, the local bishop, and summoned him to gather their relics and remove them from the water The bishop with his clergy went out into the dark of night and beheld the relics of the martyrs shining brightly in the water. Every bone which was separated from their bodies floated to the top and glowed like a candle.
Bishop Peter gathered and honorably buried them. The souls of these martyrs, who suffered for all of us, went to the Lord Jesus, resurrected with glory. They suffered honorably and were crowned with unfading glory in the year 320 A.D.
(Written by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich in “The PROLOG FROM OHRID”)
The 40 Holy Martyrs from Lake Sebaste, celebrated on March 9, formed a community of witnesses who confessed Christ, being thrown into a frozen lake, where they were warmed by the love they manifested for each other.
These Holy Martyrs remind us much more than an event that took place 1700 years ago; they show us “the way of the Christian”, the way that contemporary martyrs and confessors for Christ had followed, while suffering in communist concentration camps or earlier persecution under the pagan Roman law.
We remember today a brilliant Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn – when asked at a press conference his opinion on why the terrible events behind the Iron Curtain had occurred, why millions of Christians were carted away, tortured, starved and worked to death in Gulag slave camps, he gave this simple, yet startling, response: “Man has forgotten God”…and, we remember many more – with a pure and sincere love for Christ who had the “guts” to reject a life of compromise and wickedness. “Now is the time for repentance!” cried out from his deathbed confessor Valeriu Gafencu martyred for Christ in the concentration camps.
The message of martyrdom is the same at all times and places and, it has the same value today, because it is the message of our crucified Savior.
Let us pray to the Holy 40 martyrs and to all the saints to enlighten and show us the way in these unstable and confusing times. Amen!
Please also see: Let us honor the Martyrs – by father George Calciu
Quotes from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
“Man has set for himself the goal of conquering the world but in the processes loses his soul.”
“The salvation of mankind lies only in making everything the concern of all”
“Own only what you can always carry with you: know languages, know countries, and know people. Let your memory be your travel bag.”
“Justice is conscience, not a personal conscience but the conscience of the whole of humanity. Those who clearly recognize the voice of their own conscience usually recognize also the voice of justice.”
“A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny.”
“For a country to have a great writer is like having a second government. That is why no regime has ever loved great writers, only minor ones.”
“Hastiness and superficiality are the psychic diseases of the 20th century, and more than anywhere else this disease is reflected in the press. “
“I have spent all my life under a Communist regime, and I will tell you that a society without any objective legal scale is a terrible one indeed. But a society with no other scale but the legal one is not quite worthy of man either.”
“You only have power over people so long as you don’t take everything away from them. But when you’ve robbed a man of everything, he’s no longer in your power – he’s free again.”