1. THE HOLY MARTYR THEODOTUS OF ANCYRA
This martyr of Christ was secretly a Christian and, as such, helped the Church and honorably buried the bodies of the holy martyrs. Thus, he buried the bodies of seven maidens who suffered for Christ. When the pagans found out about him, they subjected him to tortures and killed him (for more about St. Theodotus see May 18).
2. THE HOLY FEMALE MARTYRS CYRIACA, VALERIA AND MARIA
All three of these female martyrs were from Caesarea in Palestine. When a persecution of Christians began, they withdrew from the city to a hut and there they prayed unceasingly to God, fasting and weeping that the Faith of Christ might be spread throughout the entire world and that the persecution of the Church cease. As a result of slander, they were brought to trial, tortured and in their torments were put to death in the year 304 A.D. Thus, these glorious virgins were crowned with the wreaths of martyrdom.
3. THE PRIESTLY-MARTYR MARCELLUS, POPE OF ROME
During the reign of Maximian, Marcellus was condemned to tend cattle in a designated place. In order to please Diocletian, who had taken him as co-emperor, Maximian began to construct public baths in Rome, the so-called Thermae, and forced the Christians to work on this project, as the one-time pharaoh did to the Hebrews in Egypt. Many Christians perished at this time. Also martyred was the Deacon Cyriacus who possessed great power over demons and who healed Artemia, the demonical daughter of Diocletian, as well as Jovia, the daughter of the Persian emperor, and baptized both of them. Also martyred was Artemia, the deacons Sisinius, Smaragdus and Largius, companions of Cyriacus, the deacon Aphronianus, two newly-baptized Roman soldiers, Papius and Maurus, and the elder Saturninus, Crescentianus and the blessed virgins Priscilla and Lucina who, from their wealth, built a cemetery for the slain Christian martyrs. St. Marcellus, the Pope, tended cattle for a long time and finally from starvation, humiliations and the fury of the soldiers gave up his soul to God and died.
4. THE PRIESTLY-MARTYR MARCELLINUS, POPE OF ROME
Marcellinus was the predecessor of Pope Marcellus on the Roman throne. When Emperor Diocletian summoned him and threatened him with torture, Marcellinus offered sacrifice to the idols for which the emperor presented him with a precious garment. But Marcellinus bitterly repented and began to lament day and night because of his denial of Christ as Peter the Apostle once did. At that time, an assembly of bishops was held in Campania. The pope dressed in sackcloth poured ashes over his head and entered the assembly and, before all, confessed his sin begging them (the bishops) to judge him. The fathers said that he should judge himself. Then Marcellinus said: "I deprive myself of my priestly rank, for which I am not worthy, and even more, do not allow my body to be buried after death but let it be thrown to the dogs!" Having said this, he pronounced a curse on the one who would dare bury him. After that, Marcellinus went to the Emperor Diocletian, threw down the precious garment before him and confessed his faith in Jesus Christ and scorned the idols. The enraged emperor ordered Marcellinus to be tortured and afterwards they killed him outside the city together with three good men: Claudius, Cyrinus and Antoninus. The bodies of these three men were buried immediately but the body of the pope lay there for thirty-six days. Then, St. Peter appeared to the new pope Marcellus and ordered that the body of Marcellinus be buried saying: "He who humbles himself shall be exalted" (St. Luke 18:14).
5. THE VENERABLE DANIEL OF SCETIS
Daniel was the abbot of the famous Egyptian Scete. He was a disciple of St. Arsenius and a teacher of many. Many of his words and teachings are as guiding stars for monks. Once, when the barbarians attacked the Scete, the brethren called him to flee together with them. He answered them: "If God does not care about me, what is the purpose of living?" Daniel also said: "Insomuch as your body becomes obese, in the same manner your soul becomes emaciated." He lived a communal life of asceticism for forty years and after that withdrew to the wilderness in the year 420 A.D. He happened to be in Alexandria when a wicked father-in-law killed his daughter-in-law, St. Thomais (April 13), because of her chastity and Daniel, with his disciple, buried this martyr.
HYMN OF PRAISE
O sinner, cast out despair,
And to God, offer repentance,
Despair to the devil, rejoicing.
Behold, Marcellinus, a hierarch was,
And to torture, they led him
He, before the emperor, betrayed the Lord,
But to despair, himself did not give,
But the terrible sin openly confessed
And by his blood gloriously washed it away.
O sinner, do not despondent become
And as a serpent, sins do not conceal,
Sin concealed, serpent in the bosom!
The heart of furtive sinners, it eats.
Peter sinned and quickly cast away sin.
That is how true sinners do,
When an apostle and pope sinned
And were forgiven by God,
How then for you, can there not be forgiveness,
Only repent, but without being late.
Bitter death can make you late
And from God, separate you forever.
Quickly, quickly, cast out despair,
And quickly offer repentance!
Among the saints exists a very sharp [acute] conscience. That which average people consider a minor sin, the saints consider to be a great transgression. It is said of the Abba Daniel that on three occasions robbers captured him and took him into the forest. Fortunately, on two occasions he saved himself from slavery but the third time when he wanted to escape, he struck one of them with a stone, killed him and fled. This murder preyed on his conscience as heavy as lead. Perplexed as to what he should do, he went to the Alexandrian Patriarch Timothy, confessed to him and sought advice. The patriarch consoled him and absolved him from any epitimija [penance]. But his conscience still worried him and he went to the pope in Rome. The pope told him the same thing as did Patriarch Timothy. Still dissatisfied, Daniel visited in succession the other patriarchs in Constantinople, Antioch and Jerusalem confessing to all of them and seeking advice. But, he remained unsatisfied. Then he returned to Alexandria and declared himself to the authorities as a murderer. The authorities arrested him. When the trial was held before the prince, Daniel related everything that had happened and begged to be killed in order to save his soul from eternal fire. The prince was amazed at all of this and said to him: "Go, Father, and pray to God for me even though you kill seven more!" Dissatisfied with this, Daniel then decided to take a leperous man into his cell and to serve him until his death and when this one dies to take another. Thus he did and so, in this manner, quieted his conscience.
To contemplate the miraculous healing of the woman with the issue of blood:
"And, behold a woman which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind Him and touched the hem of His garment. For she said within herself, if I may but touch His garment, I shall be whole. But Jesus turned around and when He saw her, He said, daughter, be a good comfort; your faith has made you whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour" (St. Matthew 9:20-22):
1. How, with great faith, the woman with the issue of blood touched the hem of the garment of the Lord Jesus and was made whole;
2. How my soul is also like a woman with the issue of blood as long as it is a slave to the flesh and blood;
3. How, with one touch by Christ the Lord, my soul can be healed and spiritualized.
About emulating the ant
"Go to the ant, O sluggard, study her ways and learn wisdom" (Proverbs 6:6).
It is the will of the Creator who sent us into this world that we work as long as we are in this world. The Lord Jesus Himself commanded: "Work; Keep Watch!" He praises those who multiply their given talents and condemns the slothful who bury their talents. He calls His time on earth, service and says that He did not come to be served but to serve. He uses as an example His Heavenly Father and says: "My Father works even until now, and I work" (St. John 5:17). He commands His disciples: "Work while you still have light."
O what a terrible shame for man when an ant, an irrational creature, is used to emphasize an example of diligence. But when man does not know how to look up to the diligence of God, it is necessary to direct him, at least, to emulate the ant. An ant works all summer and prepares food for itself for winter. Brethren, do we also prepare winter stores that we will open and display after death? O, may we not come with empty hands before Him Who, with full hands, gives to us as long as we are in this life.
Slothfulness is one of the deadly sins for it deadens the soul in man. A slothful soul is the nest of vices; the slothful soul is the habitation of the devils.
O Lord Almighty, You Who are, at the same time, all peace and all work, deliver us from destructive slothfulness and move us by Your Holy Spirit toward all good works for the sake of the salvation of our souls.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen