Introduction from "The Passion of St. George" by St. Theodore Bishop of Ancyra (Commemorated on June 7th)
The Encomium which the blessed Abba Theodotus, Bishop of Ancyra in Galatia, pronounced on the day of the glorious commemoration - which is the twenty-third of the month Pharmuthi - of Saint George, the martyr of Diospolis of [p. 275] Palestine, the sun of the truth, the star of the morning, the mighty man of the Galileans from Melitene and the valiant soldier of Christ; and he showed forth his family relationships and the mighty conflicts which he endured, and the honours which he received in heaven; in the peace of God, Amen.
"It is meet and right and fitting for our souls, O holy beloved, that we should commemorate the sufferings and honourable contests of the saints, and more especially of Saint George the mighty, the most excellent and honourable athlete and warrior - whose festival we celebrate to-day in this glorious commemoration - who has shown himself to us approved by God and loveworthy before men, by reason of the righteous deeds which he displayed, through which he was worthy of being called into the healthful sufferings of Christ and of bearing wounds in his body for Christ's sake. He was perfect in great endurance, and mighty valour, and a pure heart, and in giving up his entire will to God through the great zeal which he had in his heart towards God, and in the fear of Him which he had within him, which bore fruit plentifully to Him a hundredfold, sixtyfold, and thirtyfold. Moreover, he forsook his own will, and the multiplying of his great wealth, and his servants, and all his riches, and hearkened unto the voice of God, and took up his cross, and walked after our Lord Jesus, following after Him with an upright heart. On this account he received so great an honour from Christ that He spake to him with an oath, saying, "Among all the martyrs who have existed there shall not be one like unto thee in heaven, neither shall there be any like unto thee for ever."*** He burned with the Holy Spirit and [p. 276] performed his daily life witrh zeal that he might be among those that are chosen and that benefit out souls. In short, he performed the whole will of God and put himself beyod the reach of every thought which could offend the soul. He lived in the service of God, and was remote from the vain sights of this life which are like dreams and which pass away quickly like shadows. For this reason he longed for heaven, remembering what the blessed Paul said, "If ye be risen with Christ, seek after the things which are above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God," and "Remember the things which are above and not those which are upon earth." Neither his father's rank of Count, nor the high birth of his mother, nor the glory of his soldierhood could overcome the decision of the truly noble and holy Saint George, neither could any one of these lead him astray or seduce him to forsake his piety and firm decision and perfect faith. The grace of God perfected him in every thing concerning which he was anxious, and he feared God who watched over him, and God strengthened him on every side, like a precious stone of admant, that he might never be moved. On this account when the time of persecution came, the heart of the holy Saint George was ready, and when God called him into the holy contest he was prompt to obey. Moreover, he went to the holy contest and marched through it by himself; and when they tortured him he became valiant, and was firm and resisted his enemies. He fought with impious governors and received the crown incorruptible for ever, and an imperial sceptre and royal throne from the true and holy Bridgreoom our Lord jesus Christ. And not only himself, but multitudes of souls received crowns through him during the seven years in which they tortured him. If God in His true knowledge permit us, we hope to make manifest to you in this encomium the exalted honours of Saint George, the valiant athlete and soldier of Christ, the holy and noble man of Melitene. For the subject under discussion weighs upon us and compels us to show you everything truly. My heart rejoices greatly within me [p. 277] this day and urges me to speak more especially in honour of Saint George the great luminary, whose festival is celebrated today throughout the whole world. To him the Lord testified by oath, saying, "I swear by Myself and by my Holy Father, and the Holy Spirit, that among all those born of women there is not one like unto John the Baptist, and that in the whole Army of Martyrs there is not one like unto thee, neither shall there be one like unto thee for ever. For thou shalt be more exalted than they all in the kingdom of heaven, and they all shall call thee, "George the beloved of God the Highest."*** I am afraid, O my beloved, to begin to speak in honour of this great illuminator and warrior, for I know the poverty of my intellect and the feebleness of my halting speech and that I shall not attain to the measure of his exalted and excellent contest. But I hope and trust that the Lord will send me the rays of the light of that valiant man to illuminate my heart and to quicken my halting tongue, that I may speak a few words in his honour to a Christ-loving congregation. and since the description of the honour of this valiant man, O beloved, is above the conception of every man upon earth, more especially of my humble tongue, I, who desire to speak in honour of holy Saint George, the valiant martyr, need wisdom from the Lord and a celestial tongue that I may not omit anything of the mighty and exalted contests of that noble and valiant man, which he fought before all people through his great endurance and bravery. And also, he is honourworthy for each deed of valour which he wrought with great sufferings and a great number of contests: and if the Lord permit we will set before you a few of them. But meanwhile we will set before you the qualities of which we have spoken of this brave soldier of Christ, Saint George. And what are these qualities ? His upright and unwavering faith in God; his certain hope; his sincere love; his compassion for every one and the whole human race; his gentleness to all creatures, both great [p. 278] and small; his benignity; his goodness; his zeal; his patient endurance of the cares of this life; his good disposition and the joy of his soul; the blamelessness of his heart; his taking his stand at the tribunal boldly; his freedom of speech before the governors, entirely without shame or fear of man, as David the Psalmist said, "I will speak thy testimonies before kings, and will not be ashamed;" his patient endurance of tortures with great joy of heart; and the other sufferings which he bore for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ. Of these contests we will set forth a few before you, as we promised to do in the beginning of the preface: the contests about which he heard that blessed voice of the Lord, saying, "As My Father has appointed Me a kingdom, so also will I appoint you who stand with Me in My temptation an unending and indestructible kingdom for ever." And again, "Ye shall eat and drink with Me in my kingdom." By reason of the words full of joy and every happiness Saint George was especially ready for the strife: and the remembrance of those good things made suffering light to him. He bore every thing with a ready will, for he was gladly prompt in every thing. Nothing stood in the way of his rigid resolution to suffer, for the sufferings of this world prepared him for the good things of the world to come, and patient endurance prepared for him the crown incorruptiblefor ever in heaven. We have extended our preface until now, O beloved, and have not as yet set forth before you the glorious and marvelworthy sufferings of Saint George the athletic martyr of Christ who warred and fought against impiety. But now we will proclaim to you the things which we have set down, together with those which we shall say after them..."
***For further revealations surrounding these statements by Christ, see the full Encomium linked-to above, or the following post: http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2010/04/vision-of-saint-george-great-martyr-in.html.
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