The Holy Apostles Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon And Parmenas All four were numbered among the Seven Deacons and the Seventy Apostles. The remaining deacons were Stephen, Philip and Nicholas. Stephen, the first martyr, is commemorated separately on December 27, and Philip on October 11. Because of his heresy, Nicholas did not enter into the ranks of the saints. The first four do not have separate days of commemoration, but are all commemorated on this day, July 28. Saint Prochorus was consecrated by the Apostle Peter as bishop of Nicomedia. For a time he was in the service of St. John the Evangelist and, on the Island of Patmos, wrote down the Book of Revelation, which he heard from the mouth of St. John. After that, he returned to Nicomedia, where he exerted much effort and labor to convert the people to the Faith. He died a martyr’s death in Antioch, where he was slain by unbelievers. Saint Nicanor suffered in Jerusalem the same day as St. Stephen the Archdeacon and, soon after him, two thousand other Christians were slain by the wicked Jews. Saint Timon was a bishop in Arabia, and suffered on the cross for Christ. Saint Parmenas died before the eyes of the apostles, and was mourned and buried by them.
The Holy Martyr Julian During the reign of Emperor Antoninus, St. Julian crossed over from Dalmatia to Campania in Italy. He was a handsome young man, and his soul was completely devoted to the Lord. En route, he met the soldiers of the emperor, who were on their way to arrest Christians. “Peace be to you, brethren!” Julian addressed them. By such a greeting, and by the gentleness of the young man’s countenance, the soldiers suspected that he was a Christian. Julian answered their questions: “I am a Christian, born in Dalmatia.” Julian also openly admitted that he was traveling with the goal of converting idolaters to the One Living God. The soldiers beat him mercilessly and finally threw him into a pit, where he remained for seven days without any human sustenance. An angel of God appeared to him and gave him heavenly food. When brought to trial, Julian remained as firm in the Faith as a diamond. Witnessing his courage and steadfastness in the Faith, thirty men converted to Christ the Lord. Sentenced to death, Saint Julian knelt and lifted up his prayer to God, giving thanks to Him for his martyrdom and begging Him to have mercy on all those who would honor his memory. He was beheaded with an axe and gave up his soul to God.
The Venerable Paul Of The Monastery Of Xeropotamou Paul was the son of Emperor Michael Kuropalates. Having an excellent education, rare wisdom and meekness, Procopius (as he was first called) was in his youthful years a subject of astonishment to all of Constantinople. In one of his charters, Emperor Romanus the Elder,called him “the greatest of all the philosophers.” Being afraid that his soul would become proud, and desiring that it not perish because of human glory, this brilliant youth dressed in the rags of a beggar and went to Holy Mount Athos, where he received the monastic tonsure from the illustrious Saint Cosmas. After a long period of solitary monastic labor he restored the Monastery Xeropotamou, and shortly after that built the new Monastery of Saint Paul, where he died in old age. When this monastery was consecrated, Emperor Romanus sent a large portion of the Holy and Venerable Cross as a gift, which is preserved there even to this day. It is said that he preached the Holy Gospel in Macedonia and in Serbia. He endured much torment from the wicked iconoclastic Emperor Leo the Armenian, and reposed in the year 820 A.D. At the time of his death, St. Paul said to the brethren: “Behold, the hour comes that my soul has always desired, and which my body has always feared.”
The Holy Martyr Eustathius [Eustace] This martyr for Christ was a soldier in Ancyra. Brought to trial, he was not afraid of tortures, but freely praised the name of the Lord Christ. The commander Cornelius ordered that his feet be drilled through and threaded with a rope, by which they dragged this man of God to a river, and threw him in. Being saved by the power of God and healed of his wounds, Eustathius appeared before the commander completely in full health. When the commander saw him alive, he was so frightened that he drew his sword and stabbed himself. Eustathius lived for some time longer, and died in the Lord in the year 316 A.D.
Hymn Of Praise
Saint Paul Of Xeropotamou
The young Paul, the world highly glorified,
And therefore the young prince left royalty,
And imperial prestige, wealth and power,
Decaying opulence and the intrigues of the city,
And fled from the world, fled from everything–
Into the wilderness, where saints conceal themselves,
And save their souls through strict ascesis,
And day and night praise God, and glorify Him.
His place, Paul found on Mt. Athos
There his soul to make into new dough,
That like that of a child, his soul might become,
And that he might find his own center and that of the world.
Whatever Paul desired, he accomplished,
And on his difficult path God helped him,
Delivering his body from passions destructive,
And from the power of the demons, delivering his soul,
With Christ’s Cross of Crucifixion, he baptized all,
Both body and soul. And as a candle pure,
He was beautifully kindled by the love of God,
And to the heavens he was borne by angels of God.
For young Paul’s abandonment of the earthly kingdom,
God greatly glorified him in the Heavenly Kingdom.
Concerning kindness, St. Nilus of Mt. Sinai writes: “My son, always strive to be simple and kind. Do not have one thing in your heart and another thing on your tongue, for this is a ruse and a lie. Be truthful and not false, for falsehood is of the evil one. Do not return evil for evil, but if someone does you evil forgive him, that God may also forgive you. If you are tormented by the remembrance of wrongs, pray to God for that brother (the evil doer) with your whole heart, and the remembrance of evil thoughts will flee from you.” It is told how a young man decided to serve a very petulant elder, so that God would forgive him his own sins. He endured twelve years in this most torturous service and went to God. A great spiritual father saw the soul of the young man in Paradise as he was praying to God for the evil elder: “Lord, as You had mercy on me because of him, have mercy on him according to Your great goodness, and because of me, Your servant.” After forty days this petulant elder died and, again, that spiritual father saw the soul of that elder reposing in the Kingdom of Heaven. What beautiful and wondrous kindness this patient youth showed–in truth, miraculous!
To contemplate the miraculous burning of the sacrifice on the rock (Judges 6):
- How an angel appeared to Gideon, and Gideon ran to bring bread and meat to offer hospitality to the angel;
- How the angel touched the bread and meat with the top of the staff, and a fire arose and consumed the sacrifice.
About the irrational questions of the irrational ones
“Where is the promise of his coming?” (2 Peter 3:4).
Thus do scoffers question the holy things of God. Those who scoff at the words and works of God also scoff at the promises of God. We the faithful say that the Lord will come, and they scoff and say: “When will He come, since He has not yet come?” We say that the Lord has promised to come, and they scoff and say: “Where is the promise of His coming?” “Our fathers lived and died waiting for His coming,” they say, “and He did not come. Will you, then, still wait for Him?” Yes, brethren, we wait for Him, and we will continue to wait for Him. He has promised to come, and He will come. The Holy apostle confirms the promise of the Lord. Behold, he heard it from the lips of the Lord Himself; from the lips from which only truth proceeds. With the Lord … a thousand years is as one day (2 Peter 3:8). With these words, the apostle shuts the mouths of the scoffers, and teaches us patience. Soon it will be two thousand years since the Son of God gave His promise, that He would return in power and glory to save the faithful and punish the faithless. “But He has not yet come!” say the scoffers. O ignorant scoffers, are two thousand years as long for God as they are for you? Do you not think that, for Him, two thousand years are as two days? Does He have to fulfill all of His promises in the course of two days? He, the Immortal One, is not in a hurry as you mortal ones. You are in a hurry for you will shortly die; but He is immortal, and is not afraid of death. When He comes, He will find you in your graves. The trumpet of the angel will awaken you and you will rise, only to see that He is truthful. You will then be lowered into the dark kingdom of the slanderers–for you slandered the Lord of Truth and accused Him of a lie. Brethren, the Lord does not want us to speculate about the day and the hour when He will come; He only desires that we believe that He will come. When He comes, whether we are dead or alive, we will see His coming. Is this not enough? O Lord God, Our Savior, teach us patience and strengthen us in the Faith. You will come, we know. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.